Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Macaroon

This recipe also comes from the HomeMade Life book i just read. I'd been thinking about them ever since i read the recipe, and had preemptively bought the coconut. We awoke this morning to temps in the 30s with sleet/snow/rain coming down. I think that weather recipe calls for a day full of baking warm deliciousness. After eating one macaroon, and only one- that was pretty hard-, I can't stop thinking about the delightful texture. They are like a shout-out to the Almond Joy but with homemade goodness baked right in. I'd call this a cross between candy and cookie. It's something I'd love to pass out at Halloween, except that there are too many parents out there like Dad who suspect a straight pin in every treat. ha. remember that?
Have a glass of water ready to drink after eating one of these. Yes, even Darin will need a full glass of water, not even milk, after this!

Cococut Macaroons with Chocolate Ganache

3 cups lightly packed sweetened shredded coconut
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c egg whites (from about 5 large eggs)
1 1/2 t vanilla
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (it's important to use a fine quality chocolate for ganache. i use ghiradelli. 4 oz = a generous 1/2 c)
1/2 c heavy cream

Place coconut, sugar, and egg whites in heavy 2-3 quart sauce pan and stir well. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently 10-15 minutes. the mixture will look very creamy as it heats and then it will slowly get a bit drier, with indvidual flakes of coconut becoming discernable. stop cooking with it no longer looks creamy but is still quite sticky and moist, not dry. remove from the heat, and stir in the vanilla.

scrape the mixture into a pie plate of small baking sheet, spread it out a bit to allow it to cool quickly and refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes.

preheat oven to 300. line baking sheet with parchment paper. i don't do this b/c i use stoneware.

using your hands or a small ice cream scoop (i use the scoop b/c it's my new found cookie-baking joy), scoop and firmly pack the coconut mixture into small domes. space them evenly on the baking sheet.

bake the macaroons until evenly golden, about 30 minutes. cool completely on the pan on a wire rack. then remove the macaroons from the baking sheet and set them on the rack. set the rack over the baking sheet.

Put the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally until it is hot and steaming. do not allow it to boil. remove the pan from the heat and pour the cream over the chocolate. let it sit for 1 minute then stir until smooth. spoon the warm ganache generously over the macaroons, shaking them gently if needed to coax the ganache down their sides.

refrigerate the macaroons on the rack until the ganache sets at least 2 hours. this is the hardest part b/c you just made these wonderful looking and smelling cookies and you don't get immediate gratification. letting them harden is worth it though! transfer them to airtight container, refrigerate or freeze.

Hmm, what to do with leftover ganache? Oh! I'll use it as a frosting for the "winning hearts and minds cake" i made last week. That was desert tonight! yum! Eric calls this kind of dessert "Death by Chocolate".

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

You know it wouldn't be summer if there wasn't a new zucchini bread recipe posted. this comes from closet cooking, another blog my friend jenn recommended.

1 c zucchini grated
3/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c oil
1/2 c vanilla yogurt
1 egg
1 c flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 c cocoa powder
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 c walnuts (optional)
1/2 c chocolate chips

1. mix zucchini, sugar, oil, yogurt and egg in bowl
2. mix the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, and cinnamon togethe
3. mix the wet and dry ingredients
4. mix in nuts and chocolate chips
5. pour batter into greasted 5x9 loaf pan
6. bake in oven at 350 until tester comes out clean, 50-70 minutes (kinda broad range there! i think mine took about 60 minutes to be done)

More than just Chocolate Cake

I've just finished reading a book by the author of the orangette blog Molly Wizenberg titled A HomeMade Life. It was great. She wrote about stories from her life and a recipe that went along with the story.but some of the recipes weren't so practical for say, a family or were a bit out-there (cabbage salad served with pistachios and chocolate???) i filtered through a few of them though, and the first one i tried was of course, the chocolate cake. She calls it the "winning hearts and minds cake" b/c it is so good and she's always made it for someone she wanted to impress. it's basically a flourless chocolate cake, so you know it's dense, creamy, and rich.

7 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
7 oz butter, cut into cubes
1 c plus 2 T granulated sugar
5 large eggs
1 T flour
lightly sweetened whipped cream, for serving

preheat oven to 375 and butter an 8 inch round cake pan. line bottom of pan with parchment paper and butter this too.

put chocolate and butter into microwave safe bowl. microwave on high for 30 seconds at a time, stirring often, until just smooth. when the mixture is smooth add the sugar, stirring well to combine. set batter aside for 5 minutes to cool.

add the eggs to the chocolate mixture, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. add the flour and stir to mix well. batter should be dark and silky.

pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes until the top is lightly cracked, the edges are puffed and the center of the cake looks set. the center should only jiggle slightyly, if at all, when done.

to remove the cake from the pan, let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes. then do a little dance with a couple of plates and dump the cake onto one plate, transferring back to another plate to get it right side up. or you can just serve it from the pan you baked it in.

**this cake gets better the next day if you put it, covered, in the fridge over night. or she says it also freezes well. it was good the first night, a little warm (bc i couldn't wait to let it cool completely) but it has been even better the next day and the next day b/c i wrapped it well and put it in the fridge. the texture improves with time!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Pain Perdu. Or Just French Toast

This was my dinner before night shift so i was not inspired to take any pictures (night shift is oh so uninspiring) However, it was phenominal and i highly recommend it for breakfast or dinner. from cooking light.

3/4 c milk
2 T sugar, divided
1/2 t cinnamon
1 1/2 t vanilla
1/4 t nutmeg
1/8 t salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
8 (1 oz) sliced diagonally cut day old french bread (about an inch thick)
2 c sliced strawberries (i used peaches b/c i still have lots of them!)
2 t grated orange rind
4 t butter, divided
2 T powdered sugar

1. combine milk, 1 T sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, salt and eggs in a large bowl. stir with a whisk. place bread slices in 13x9 inch baking dish; pour egg mixture over bread, turn to coat. let stand at room temp for 20 minutes, turning occasionally until eggs is absorbed.

2. combine strawberries, orange rind, and remaining 1 T sugar in small bowl. let stand 20 minutes.

3. melt 2 t butter in large non stick skillet over medium heat. add 4 bread slices to pan. cook 3 1/2 minutes on each side until golden. repeat procedure with remaining slices.

4. place 2 bread slices on each of 4 plates. sprinkle with 1 1/2 t powdered sugar and top each with 1/2 c strawberry mixture.

* wish i had pictures b/c it was so yummy looking and tasting.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

These Pork Chops Rocked My Face Off

as soon as you are finished reading this post, go to the grocery store and buy these ingredients and make this ASAP! this has to be one of my new favorite meals of all time! and this is saying a lot b/c Bolivia nearly killed pork for me forever. having it every day for 3 years straight pretty much garanteed i'd never eat pork again. tonight was the first time i've made pork since eric and i have been married (that's 4 years!) we bought a nice center cut boneless pork chop and i'm sure that only helped the recipe.

Grilled Pork Chops with Shallot Butter
8 (7 oz) center cut pork chops ( i bought 4)
1 tsp salt, divided
3/4 t ground black pepper
2 T olive oil
2 t finely chopped fresh chives
1 t finely chopped fresh thyme
1 t finely copped fresh rosemary
3 garlic cloves minced
2 T butter, softened
2 1/2 t minced shallots
1/4 t grated lemon rind

1. prepare grill

2. sprinkle both sides of pork chops evenly with 1/2 t salt and pepper. combine oil, chives, thyme, rosemary and garlic, stirring well. rub oil mixture evenly over both sides of pork. place pork on grill rack and grill 6 minutes each side until done. remove pork from grill and let stand 5 minutes. sprinkle with remaining 1/2 t salt.

3. combine butter, shallots, and lemon rind stirring well. spread about 1 t butter mixture over each pork chop. let pork stand an additional 5 minutes.

we had this with Quinoa with Herbs and Mixed Olives. which also rocked my face off.
both recipes are from cooking light

Quinoa Recipe

2 T olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 c quinoa, well rinsed (at least 3 times)
1/2 c pitted and thinly sliced black and green olives
1/2 c pine nuts, toasted
1/3 c fresh bail leaves, finely chopped
1/3 c cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1/3 c parsley finely chopped

1. in large saucepan or deep skilet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook stirring often until softened about 3 minues. add the garlic and cook just until fragrant about 30 seconds. add quinoa and cook, stirring for about 1 minute.

2. stir in 2 1/4 c water, season with salt and bring to ab oil over high heat. lower heat, cover and simmer unilt the water is absorbed about 15 minutes. let stand for 5 minutes. add the olives, pine nuts, basil, cilantro, and parsley and toss with a frok to combine. season with salt.

just for the pictures

this recipe is good, probably great in fact, but it's nothing too incredibly special. so i wasn't going to post it but the pictures were just so good, and in the end, the final product tasted so good i had to put it up. it's a great standby, something to throw together when you didn't have time to shop that day and aren't sure what to have for dinner. i suggest Bacon Avocado griddle pizzas. loosely based on a rachel ray recipe.

1 c lukewarm water
2 1/4 c flour
One 1/4 oz package active dry yeast
1 t sugar
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 shallot, thinly sliced crosswise (i used a small onion)
1/4 c olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
3 avocados (i only had 1 avocado. oh well)
one 12 oz package bacon (i used however much i felt like. and it wasn't a whole pkg)
1 bunch watercress (i just used some greens i had in the fridge)

1. in large class whisk together the water, 1 T flour, yeast and sugar. let stand 5 minutes until foamy. meanwhile combine flour and 1 tsp salt in mixer bowl. using the dough hook pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture and mix until dough forms a ball. transfer to large greased bowl and cover. let rise until doubled in size about 1hour.

2. in large bowl toss together tomatoes, shallot, olive oil and vinegar. season with s/p. let stand at room temp. in medium bowl mash avocados.

3. preheat large skillet and add bacon, cook until crispy. drain on paper towels.

4. preheat griddle over high heat or 400 degrees. on a lightly floured work surface divide dough into 4 pieces then flatten each one into a disk. stretch each disk into 10 inch round. brush one side of each round with olive oil and working in batches transfer to griddle oiled sides down. ( here i chopped up some garlic and put it in a small bowl with the olive oil. when i brushed the garlic infused olive oil over the dough little pieces of garlic went along and created a mouthwatering smell and taste!)

cook the dough lightly brushing the tops with more garlic oil and flipping once, until browned, about 6 minutes on each side.

5. spread the avocado evenly on a crust, toss the greens with the tomato mixture and scatter over the pizzas. crumble the bacon on top. i also crumbed some goat cheese i had in the fridge on the very top, but i think feta cheese would also taste great.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

the kitchen smells like peaches

that's because i Have 5 pounds of them on the counter waiting to be made into this tomorrow!

Oatmeal Cookie-Peach Cobbler

you can make this in idividual ramekins with one dollop of dough on top of each. baking time remains the same.

1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c butter, softened
2 t vanilla
1 large egg
1 c flour
1 c old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt

11 c sliced peeled peaches (about 5 lbs)
1/3 c sugar
2 T flour
2 T lemon juice
cooking spray

1. preheat oven to 350

2. to prepare topping place first 3 ingredients in large bowl, beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. add vanilla and egg. beat well. combine 1 c flour, oats, baking powder and salt. stir with whisk. add flour mixture to sugar mixture beat at low speed until blended. cover and chill 30 minutes.

3. filling: combine sliced peaches, 1/3 c sugar, 2 T flour, and fresh lemon juice in bowl. toss to coat. spoon mixture into 13x9 baking dish coated with cooking spray. dollop 12 mounds of chilled dough over peach mixture at even intervals. bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly.

Toffee Squares

ohhh i can't wait to make these. actually i can wait b/c i'm tired today, but i am looking forward to making them. it's from sweetamandine blog. i'll post pictures when i make them.

2 sticks butter
1 c brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 t vanilla
2 c flour
1/4 t salt
3-4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/5 c pecans, toasted and chopped

preheat oven to 350

cream together butter and brown sugar. mix in the egg yolk, vanilla, and salt, and then the flour. press dough evenly into an ungreased 9x13 pan. bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden.

remove the baked crust from the oven and immediately sprinkle with the chopped chocolate. using a rubber spatula, spread the melting chocolate in a thin layer over the entire crust. sprinkle the chopped pecans over the top and allow to cool slightly.

cut into squares while still warm (using a pizza cutter) remove squares to rack to cool. allow to cool completely until the chocolate has set.

makes 30-40 squares.

** made these yesterday 9-7-09. and... i was disappointed. they smelled so good and looked so good but the flavor was just not enough toffee for me. but i'm a toffee fiend so maybe 'normal' toffee lovers will like this well enough. and despite the recipe suggesting that you remove them from the pan while warm i was unsuccessful at that. they kept falling apart, falling through the cooling rack wires... i let them cool completely and then removed them and put them in the fridge. today the consistency is much better but still, not enough toffee and too much butter!

Garden Harvest Cake

from cooking light. this isn't a cake. it's a morning bread. and it's dense, moist, and delicious! the first time i made the loaf and the second i made the cupcakes so i could freeze them more easily.

1 c flour
3/4 c sugar
2 t cinnamon
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/2 c grated peeled granny smith apple (about 1 medium)
1/2 c grated carrot (about 1 medium)
1/2 c shredded zucchini
1/4 chopped walnuts, toasted
1/4 c canola oil
1/4 c buttermilk
2 large eggs
cooking spray

1. preheat oven to 350

2. combine flour and the next 4 ingredientws (through salt) in a loarge bowl. add grated apple, grated carrot, shredded zucchini, and walnuts to flour mixture. toss well. combine canola oil, buttermilk, and eggs in a small bowl wtirring with a whisk. add egg mixture to flour mixture stirring just until combined. spoon batter into 8x4 loaf pan coated with cooking spray. bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. cool 10 minutes in pan on wire rack. remove cake from pan. cool completely before slicing.

Lemon Bars

I found this on a blog called sweetamandine. It makes a 9x13 pan, which is a lot of lemon bars, if you ask me. but still, they are delicious!

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
1/2 c sugar
2 c flour
1/4 t salt
1 t vanilla

7 large eggs
2 1/2 c sugar
2 heaping T grated lemon zest (about 6 lemons)
1 c freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 6)
1 c flour
powdered sugar for dusting

preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9x13 pan

make the crust: cream together the butter and sugar in the an electric mixer. mix in the vanilla. combine the flour and salt and with the mixer on low add to the butter until the dough just comes together. using floured hands, gather the dough into a ball and scoop it into the center of the greased baking pan. press the dough evenly into the bottom of the pan, chill.

bake the crust for 15-20 minutes until very lightly browned. let cool on a wire rack. leave the oven on.

make the filling: whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice. slowly add the flour, whisking all the time. pour the filling over the cooled crust. the crust does not need to be room temperature but warm, not hot.

bake for 30-35 minutes until the filling is set. let cool and cut into bars or triangles and dust with powdered sugar.

i dusted the whole pan with sugar and now, a few days later, all the pretty white stuff has absorbed into the lemon bars so it's not nearly as pretty as it was the day i made it. so maybe dust just before serving.