Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Goodbye Dessert!

Today is one of my favorite co-worker's last day. She found an amazing new job, and i'm so happy for her! I told her I'd make something for the office for her last day, and I asked her what she liked. She told me cheesecake, anything chocolate, and mango and peach things. I thought surely someone's come up with some kind of mango cheesecake - and Giada did!
The recipe can be found here. I made mine the same, but I didn't make the basil syrup. I had a hard enough time convincing other co-workers that mango cheesecake would be good, I don't think they'd like a sweet basil syrup.
I didn't have any foil, so I couldn't cook this in a water bath, hence it got a little brown. Hopefully it's still good!
For the crust, Giada's recipe just says 8 oz. biscotti. Biscotti is pretty expensive in the store, so I made the Lenox Almond Biscotti by Dorie.

Mango Cheesecake

Mango Cheesecake:
8 ounces biscotti
3/4 cup butter, melted
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese, room temperature
2 cups mango puree (I used 3 mangos)
4 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar

Basil Lemon Syrup:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 packed cup fresh basil leaves
Special equipment: 9-inch springform pan
For the Mango Cheesecake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Wrap the outside of a 9-inch springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with 2 layers of heavy-duty foil. Finely grind the biscotti in a food processor. Add the melted butter and process until the crumbs are moistened. Press the crumb mixture over the bottom (not the sides) of the prepared pan. Bake until the crust is golden, about 15 minutes. Cool the crust completely on a cooling rack.
Blend the cream cheese and ricotta in a food processor. Add the mango puree, eggs, and sugar and pulse until the mixture is smooth.
Pour the mango mixture over the crust in the pan. Place the springform pan in a large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and moves slightly when the pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour 30 minutes. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack to cool for 30 minutes. Place in the refrigerator and cool completely, at least 8 hours and up to 2 days.
For the Basil Lemon Syrup: Place the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the sugar is dissolved. Cool the syrup completely. In a food processor combine the basil and the cooled syrup. Pulse until the herbs are finely chopped. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve.
Slice the cheesecake and place on a serving plate. Drizzle with the syrup and serve.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie #9

I was so excited about today's TWD choice because I love honey, cornbread, and figs. I enjoyed this, though it was a bit sweet. I don't know that the figs added to the cake, next time I might use nuts, like almonds or macadamia. It wasn't really a breakfast food, or dessert, more like an afternoon tea-time pick-me-up dish. It was like cornbread, but much more tender and soft. I like how the corn meal gave it a little texture. Overall, a great recipe, but next time I'd make a few adjustments!

Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

About 16 moist, plump dried Mission or Kadota figs, stemmed
1 c. medium-grain polenta or yellow cornmeal
½ c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 c. ricotta
1/3 c. tepid water
¾ c. sugar
¾ c. honey (if you’re a real honey lover, use a full-flavored honey such as chestnut, pine, or buckwheat)
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 10 ½-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
Check that the figs are, indeed, moist and plump. If they are the least bit hard, toss them into a small pan of boiling water and steep for a minute, then drain and pat dry. If the figs are large (bigger than a bite), snip them in half.
Whisk the polenta, flour, baking powder, and salt together.
Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the ricotta and water together on low speed until very smooth. With the mixer at medium speed, add the sugar, honey, and lemon zest and beat until light. Beat in the melted butter, then add the eggs one at a time, beating until the mixture is smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are fully incorporated. You’ll have a sleek, smooth, pourable batter.
Pour about one third of the batter into the pan and scatter over the figs. Pour in the rest of the batter, smooth the top with a rubber spatula, if necessary, and dot the batter evenly with the chilled bits of butter.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. The cake should be honey brown and pulling away just a little from the sides of the panm, and the butter will have left light-colored circles in the top. Transfer the cake to a rack and remove the sides of the pan after about 5 minutes. Cool to warm, or cool completely.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Bolivia - #1

This meal is my favorite kind of meal, tons of coloful veggies with fresh herbs and beans. This recipe is what made me choose Bolivia this week. I believe that when you eat a rainbow of foods, you're eating healthy (unless you're eating M&M's)! This is a wonderful fresh, summery meal that is versatile. The author says you can add shrimp, chicken, turkey, or ham to the salad. I chose to add tofu cubes to mine, and grilled chicken marinated in a lime vinegarette for my husband. Please enjoy my first Bolivian meal, with quinoa, of course!

Ensalada de Quinua con Frejoles Negros y Choclo

(Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Corn)


1 cup quinoa

6 cups water

1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup corn kernels

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 green pepper, diced

1/2 cup red onion, diced

1/2 cup sliced scallions

8 oz. meat, cubed (optional)

1/2 cup minced cilantro


1/3 cup EVOO
2 tbso. sherry vinegar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
pinch of sugar

8 cherry tomatoes, halved
salad greens

1. To make the salad: place quinoa in a mesh strainer, run under cold water until it runs clear. Dump the quinoa in a pot of boiling water, cook for 12 minutes until transparent. Drain and rinse, then place back in the pot and cook on low for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Place in a large mixing bowl to cool.
2. Add the beans, corn, peppers, onion, scallions, and meat, toss well to combine.
3. To make vinaigrette: add all ingredients to a jar and shake to combine.
4. Toss the salad with the dressing, taste for salt. Place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
5. Before serving, toss in cilantro. Plate over lettuce, garnish with tomatoes and cilantro.

The South American Table, Maria Baez Kijac. Harvard Common Press: Boston, 2003.

Country Challenge # 9 - Bolivia


For this week's country challenge, I decided to go back to South America. When I was researching recipes for Argentina, I found many for Bolivia as well. What struck me most were the number of recipes using Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), a grain native from the Andes. The Incas spread the use of Quinoa all over South America. Quinoa is naturally bitter, and must be rinsed many times. It declined in popularity in the nineteenth centry due to widespread belief that it was killing pigs owned by peasants. They stopped growing it, and it almost disappeared.

Recently, I have seen quinoa appear in many cooking magazines and shows because of it's health benefits. The dishes I have chosen for Bolivia all use quinoa in one form or another, showing it's versatility.
For information about the history and culture of Bolivia, go here.

PSA: I was watching the Today Show this morning, and it's where in the world is Matt Laer week. He was in Buenos Aries, Argentina this morning. There were a few segments about the culture and cusine, and of course, Dulce de Leche and Empanadas were shown and tasted! If you'd like to make these yourself at home, click on them and it will take you to the recipes I made for Argentina week!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Another revamped Mac and Cheese

Every now and then I have random half used ingredients in the fridge that I like to mix up and create something with. For lunch today, I decided to weed through the meat/cheese drawer to make JJ's lunch. I found some pancetta, sun-dried tomatoes, and cheeses. I asked him how mac and cheese sounded, and of course, he gave me the thumbs up. I had to pick a pasta out of the pantry, and I chose the O's that I got at Trader Joe's. They were an impulse buy...I thought they were so cute, but had no idea what to do with them. I did see they were imported from Italy, though. I noticed that all of the ingredients I had were Italian, and the color of Italy's flag, so I came up with...

Italian Flag Mac and Cheese

1/2 lb. pasta, any cut
1/8 c. pancetta, cubed
1/2 yellow onion, grated
2 tbsp. flour
1 c. milk
1/2 c. chicken stock
1/2 c. provolone cheese
1/2 c. parmiggiano reggiano cheese
1 c. mozzarella cheese
6 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
10 basil leaves, torn
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Pinch oregano
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs

Cook pasta according to directions, drain, and set aside.
In a large skillet, cook pancetta over medium-high until fat is rendered out. Grate in onion, and sprinkle in flour. Whisk to cook flour. Add in the milk and stock, bring to a low bubble. When thickened, add in cheeses, stirring. Turn heat to low. Add in tomatoes, basil, and season.
Pour into ramekins, and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes, or until browned on top.

Brunch, Part II

Quiche is my favorite brunch food. I love vegetables and cheese, and it's the best way to enjoy them at breakfast. A Quiche is so easy to make (Liv....), anyone can whip one up flawlessly. It's another 'method' not recipe, you can add any veggie and cheese combo, or meat/veggie/cheese combo. I asked JJ what vegetables his parents liked, and he said spinach. When choosing a cheese to pair with the spinach, I landed on the wedge of gouda I got at Trader Joe's last weekend.
I made my pie crust in the food processor, and rolled it into the pan on Friday night, so on Saturday I just poured in the quiche mixture and baked it off. You can use a premade pie crust, though.

Spinach and Gouda Quiche

1 pie crust (recipe follows)
6 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup skim milk
2 cups frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup gouda, shredded
1 tsp. hot sauce
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lay pie crust in pie plate. Crumble spinach into the pie crust, sprinkle half the cheese on top. In a bowl, mix the eggs, milk, hot sauce, and spices. Pour evenly over the spinach and cheese. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over top.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown and puffy. Serve right away, or at room temperature (the puff will deflate as it sits, but it's ok!)

Pie Crust - makes 2 - 10" rounds

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 sticks frozen butter, very cold, diced
1/2 cup shortening, in 1/2 cup ice water

Add flour, salt and sugar to food processor. Pulse in diced butter until it's in pea size crumbles. pinch in shortening and pulse until fat is in tiny pieces, pulse in water a few tbsp. at a time, until dough comes together. Shape into a ball, and put in the fridge for at least an hour, or freeze. Divide in half and roll on a silicone mat dusted in flour.

Brunch, Part I

I wanted to make a nice breakfast for Saturday morning with the in-laws visiting. I had the other half of the brioche I made for this TWD recipe in the freezer, so I decided to use it. I found a recipe in Baking: From My Home to Yours that called for half a recipe of brioche, Pecan Honey Sticky Buns, that sounded wonderful. My husband and I love honey, so this was it. When I made my glaze, I over-cooked it a bit, so it became more of a pecan-honey crunch, with a littly syrup. I actually really liked the crunch more than a sticky syrup, so I was happy with my mistake. It reminded me of the cinnamon-crunch bagels at Panera.

Pecan Honey Sticky Buns

For the Glaze: (I halved this)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 stick butter
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 cups pecans

For the Fillings:
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon
3 tbsp. butter at room temp.

For the buns:
1/2 recipe for Golden Brioche Loaves

Putter a 9x13 pan (I used an 8" round).
Make the glaze: In a saucepan, bring brown sugar, honey, and butter to a boil over medium-low heat. Pour into the pan, sprinkle the pecans over the glaze.
Make the filling: Mix the sugars and cinnamon in a bowl.
Shape the buns: Roll the dough into a 16" square. Spread the butter over the dough, sprinkle the cinnamon-sugars over top. Roll into a cylinder, keeping tight. Cut into 1 inch rolls. Fit in the pan. Let the rolls sit for 1 hour and 45 minutes, until puffy, soft, and doubled in volume.
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
Bake for 30 minutes. The glaze will be bubbling up into the buns. Invert the pan over a plate and remove the sticky buns right away or they won't come out.

(I made the buns the night before and put in the fridge, made the glaze in the morning and baked off right away)

Southern Style Dessert!

Every time I go to JJ's house, there's banana pudding in the fridge. I've never made it before, but thought it sounded good for dessert when his parents came. I searched on food network for recipes, and found Paula Deen's. It sounded good, but very high in sugar/calories. I did like how she used chessman cookies though, they made it a bit more elegant looking. I decided to just go with it and make mine up. Here's what I came up with, like a lasagna, not necessarily traditional.

Banana Pudding

1 box sugar free vanilla pudding
3 cups skim milk
4 bananas, sliced
1 box chessman cookies
1 cup fat free cool whip

Prepare the pudding, fold in the whipped cream.
Lay 6 cookies in the bottom of a baking dish. Add 1/2 the pudding mixture, then half the bananas.
Lay another 6 cookies on, then top with the bananas and the remaining pudding.
Top with 6 more cookies.
Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie #9

This week, carrot cake was chosen for Tuesdays with Dorie. I am happy, but my husband is thrilled! Carrot cake is his absolute favorite. I made cupcakes because they're much easier to transport and eat. I got 22 cupcakes out of this batter. I piped carrots on these because I alwas pipe carrots on a carrot cake. It was super hot in my kitchen, so I added another 1/2 cup of powdered sugar to my icing, but it was still a bit wet. The craisins and coconut were truly delicious in this cake, and I might agree with Dorie, this is the best carrot cake ever!

Bill's Big Carrot CakeBaking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Yields 10 servings
For the cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
3 cups grated carrots (about 9 carrots, you can grate them in food processor fitted w/ a shredding a blade or use a box grater)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
½ cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs

For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick ( 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound or 3 and ¾ cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
½ cup shredded coconut (optional)
Finely chopped toasted nuts and/or toasted shredded coconut (optional)

Getting ready:Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter three 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, flour the insides, and tap out the excess. Put the two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.
To make the cake:Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.
Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. The cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.
To make the frosting: Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice or extract. If you'd like coconut in the filling, scoop about half of the frosting and stir the coconut into this position.
To assemble the cake:Put one layer top side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. If you added the coconut to the frosting, use half of the coconut frosting to generously cover the first layer (or generously cover with plain frosting). Use an offset spatula or a spoon to smooth the frosting all the way to the edges of the layer. Top with the second layer, this time placing the cake stop side down, and frost with the remainder of the coconut frosting or plain frosting. Top with the last layer, right side up, and frost the top- and the sides- of the cake. Finish the top with swirls of frosting. If you want to top the cake with toasted nuts or coconut, sprinkle them on now while the frosting is soft.
Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, just to set the frosting before serving.
Serving: This cake can be served as soon as the frosting is set. It can also wait, at room temperature and covered with a cake keeper overnight. The cake is best served in thick slices at room temperature and while it's good plain, it's even better with vanilla ice cream or some lemon curd. Storing:The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. It can also be frozen. Freeze it uncovered, then when it's firm, wrap airtight and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tuesday's with Dorie - #8

This week's Tuedays With Dorie recipe is Marshmallows!!! My husand always looks forward to hearing the recipes, but he felt cheated with Marshmallows. I'm not a huge marshmallow fan, but at Christmastime, I saw many food network chefs make them and say there's no comparison between fresh, homemade marshmallows, and store bought, dried out marshmallows.
These did not disappoint AT ALL!!! They were also very easy to make! One thing that I love about this cookbook is Dorie gives you a few other options with each recipe in her "playing around" section. There was a chocolate option, which I jumped at! The marshmallows were puffing up and growing nicely in the final whipping stage, but as soon as I added a bit of cocoa powder, it reduced in size by half! I was worried I had ruined them, but I carried on and poured them into the pan. They ended up setting nicely. I knew I was going to make s'mores, double chocolate, but now, I'm thinking, "why didn't I buy chocolate grahams and make triple chocolate s'mores?!?!"
I hope you try making these, they're delicious!


Makes about 1 pound marshmallows:
About 1 cup potato starch (found in the kosher foods section of supermarkets) or cornstarch
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 1/4-ounce packets unflavored gelatin
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar

GETTING READY: Line a rimmed baking sheet -- choose one with a rim that is 1 inch high -- with parchment paper and dust the paper generously with potato starch or cornstarch. Have a candy thermometer at hand.
Put 1/3 cup of the water, 1 1/4 cups of the sugar and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved, continue to cook the syrup -- without stirring -- until it reaches 265 degrees F on the candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.
While the syrup is cooking, work on the gelatin and egg whites. In a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining cold water (a scant 7 tablespoons) and let it sit for about 5 minutes, until it is spongy, then heat the gelatin in a microwave oven for 20 to 30 seconds to liquefy it. (Alternatively, you can dissolve the gelatin in a saucepan over low heat.)
Working in the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in another large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until firm but still glossy -- don't overbeat them and have them go dull.
As soon as the syrup reaches 265 degrees F, remove the pan from the heat and, with the mixer on medium speed, add the syrup, pouring it between the spinning beater(s) and the sides of the bowl. Add the gelatin and continue to beat for another 3 minutes, so that the syrup and the gelatin are fully incorporated. Beat in the vanilla.
Using a large rubber spatula, scrape the meringue mixture onto the baking sheet, laying it down close to a short end of the sheet. Then spread it into the corners and continue to spread it out, taking care to keep the height of the batter at 1 inch; you won't fill the pan. Lift the excess parchment paper up to meet the edge of the batter, then rest something against the paper so that it stays in place (I use custard cups).
Dust the top of the marshmallows with potato starch or cornstarch and let the marshmallows set in a cool, dry place. They'll need about 3 hours, but they can rest for 12 hours or more.
Once they are cool and set, cut the marshmallows with a pair of scissors or a long thin knife. Whatever you use, you'll have to rinse and dry it frequently. Have a big bowl with the remaining potato starch or cornstarch at hand and cut the marshmallows as you'd like -- into squares, rectangles or even strips (as they're cut in France). As each piece is cut, drop it into the bowl. When you've got 4 or 5 marshmallows in the bowl, reach in with your fingers and turn the marshmallows to coat them with starch, then, one by one, toss the marshmallows from one hand to the other to shake off the excess starch; transfer them to a serving bowl. Cut and coat the rest of the batch.

SERVING: Put the marshmallows out and let everyone nibble as they wish. Sometimes I fill a tall glass vase with the marshmallows and put it in the center of the table -- it never fails to make friends smile. You can also top hot chocolate or cold sundaes with the marshmallows.

STORING: Keep the marshmallows in a cool, dry place; don't cover them closely. Stored in this way, they will keep for about 1 week -- they might develop a little crust on the outside or they might get a little firmer on the inside, but they'll still be very good.

Playing Around
RASPBERRY MARSHMALLOWS: Fruit purees are excellent for flavoring these candies.
For raspberry marshmallows, you'll need a generous 1/3 cup of puree; reduce the vanilla extract to 1/4 teaspoon. After the batter is mixed, gently fold in the puree with a rubber spatula. You can use the same measurements and technique for other purees, such as strawberry, mango and passion fruit.
CAPPUCCINO MARSHMALLOWS: Sift 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon together into a small bowl. Stir in 1/3 cup boiling water and mix until smooth. Reduce the vanilla extract to 1/2 teaspoon, and add it to the espresso mix. After you add the sugar syrup and gelatin to the meringue, beat in the espresso mixture and continue.
LIGHT CHOCOLATE MARSHMALLOWS: Melt 3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate and stir in 2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder. Reduce the vanilla extract to 1/4 teaspoon, and after the marshmallow batter is mixed, fold in the chocolate mixture with a large rubber spatula.
PUMPKIN SPICE MARSHMALLOWS: Whisk together 1/2 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg and a pinch of ground allspice. After the marshmallow batter is mixed, fold in the spiced pumpkin with a large rubber spatula.

Monday, April 14, 2008

It's Tax Day!!!

I could not be happier that tomorrow is the tax deadline. I am an accountant, and it has been crazy at work! For the first time in my life, I worked a 65 hour week... so I'm ready to celebrate! Our office has a wine and cheese party every year at lunchtime on April 15, so I thought I'd make a fun cake. There was nothing I could think to make because really, accountants are boring! This was the only thing I could come up with - an adding machine.
I had planned to work on this over the weekend, but I had to work, so it was a last minute thing. I didn't have the ingredients I needed to make fondant, so I covered the cake in just buttercream, and made the keys out of fondant. The tape is made out of gumpaste, and the screen is a chocolate bar. I filled it with chocolate mousse, and iced it in almond buttercream. The cake is a chocolate cake, the recipe is found here. I made a 1/4 sheet cake, cut it in half, and stacked it. I'll post some pictures tomorrow of the inside if I remember to bring my camera to work! I used this recipe for Kristine's wedding cake, it's a delicious recipe!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

German Soft Pretzels with Beer Cheese

My sister, Becky, isn't a big fan of German food, except for the Pretzels and Beer Cheese. The pretzels are a Nanny Munchinger recipe, and the beer cheese is a recipe I worked out. We used to make these pretzels with my mom when we were younger, it was so fun shaping them how ever we wanted.
Enjoy these with a nice, cold German beer!

German Soft Prezels with Beer Cheese

1 cup warm water
1 packet yeast
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. salt
3 cups flour
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten
Kosher salt for topping

Add yeast, water, and sugar to a bowl, let the yeast bloom for 10 minutes.
Add the salt, four, oil, and water/yeast/sugar mix to a mixer with a dough hook, turn on medium and run for 3 minutes, until dough is elastic and smooth. If it's too sticky, add a bit more flour.
Cover with a damp towel and let it rise for an hour.
Punch down, and divide into 10 balls on a silicone mat, cover them with the towel, and let them rise for another hour.
Turn oven to 450 degrees. Roll out the prezels and shape them, lay on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush the egg mixture on the pretzels and sprinkle with salt.
Bake for 12 minutes until brown.

Beer Cheese:
1 cup beer
2 cups cheddar cheese
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. dry mustard

Toss cheese, cornstarch, and mustard in a bowl.
Heat a saucepan with the beer over medium-high. Bring it to a boil, turn heat off.
Add in the cheese mixture, and stir until combined.

(To all who speak German, I hope this isn't too bad! Please email me corrections!)
Meine Schwester liebt Brezeln und Bierkäse. Das Brezeln Rezept ist meiner Großmutter, und der Bierkäse ist mein. Ich liebe Bier mit mein Brezeln und Bierkase.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

TWD #7

This week's TWD recipe was a choice between an Orange Tart, and a Lemon Tart. Since I knew I'd be bringing it to work, I took a vote, and Orange was chosen (though I was really hoping for lemon!) This recipe was good, but it tasted a bit buttery to me (which isn't shocking because it contained 2 3/4 sticks of butter!) The process seems to be long, but it only took me maybe 30 minutes, not so bad.
I did things a little different from Dorie, I made my tart shell, then my filling, and instead of putting the filling in the fridge and then the next day filling the crust, I just poured it right in to set. I took the leftover filling and put it in the fridge, then I put it in a piping bag the next day, and piped little borders. I also used orange segments to garnish. The crust was delicious!
Overall, I enjoyed this, but I did think it was a bit buttery in texture.

Usually, I get TWD recipes typed up and mailed to me, haven't gotten one yet, so if I don't I'll type it up tonight!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Fiji - #5

These scones were so delicious! From working at Starbucks for so long, I know how heavy and dense scones can be, but these were very light and they had just the right amout of sweetness. Since I worked there, I only ever knew triangle scones. A year ago when I saw a round scone, I had no idea what it was!
I had a pretty tough time finding currants. I looked for fresh, but dried was the best I could do. They pretty much tasted just like raisins to me, and look like rodent poop. Yeah, very appetizing!

Fiji Rum Currant Scones

1/2 cup currants
3 tbsp. Fijian dark rum
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 eggs beaten separately (I used 1 in the dough, and milk to wash the scones)
1/2 cup buttermilk
Cinnamon and Sugar for dusting

Soak the currants in the rum.
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, cut in the butter. When it's combined, add in the egg, buttermilk, and currants in rum. Mix until just combined. Wrap dough in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
Roll out to 3/4" thickness and cut into triangles. Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, brush with milk, and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top.
Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, until lightly golden brown.

Sam Choy's Polynesian Kitchen, Sam Choy.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Portugal #1

Portuguese cornbread is a staple at the dinner table. It is unlike many cornbreads because it contains yeast. It is slightly more grainy, but very delicious.

Portuguese Corn Bread – Broa

1 package active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 ¼ cups warm water
¾ cup warm milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cups cornmeal
3 cups flour

In a small bowl mix the yeast, sugar, and ¼ cup of the water.
While that sits, mix the remaining water, milk, salt, oil and cornmeal in a large bowl. Add the yeast mix, stir and slowly add flour to make a soft dough that is not too sticky. Add a bit more or less flour as needed
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, cover, and allow to rise in a warm place for one hour.
Punch down, knead again for 5 minutes, then form into a round loaf. Place in a greased 9" pie pan, allow to rise again until doubled in bulk, about one hour.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Recipe from:
Portuguese Cooking - The Authentic and Robust Cuisine of Portugal, Robertson, Carol. North Atlantic Books: Berkley, CA, 1993.

Welcome Home!

Many have noticed that there haven't been any blog updates this week. This is because my Husband took our laptop with him on a work conference in Chicago. I still cooked, and I'll post those Portuguese recipes after this. I took the opportunity to spring clean with the house being empty. I also wanted to do a little spring decorating.
I found this cookie jar at Hobby Lobby while I was looking for wreaths. Everything in the store was 50% off, so I couldn't pass it up. I figured I'd have some cookies waiting in it for JJ when we got home (even though he was very well fed working for Gatorade!)
Well, last night he walked in the door, and saw the cookie jar within 30 seconds. Truly amazing! I chose to make these cookies because they're simply the only thing I could make with what I had on hand. They're my go-to cookie, yet everyone I make them for absolutely loves them!

Frosted Ginger Cookes
**The Recipe will be posted later when I can find it online!**

I tried to find a nice wreath, but they're so overpriced! I found this plain wood twisted wreath for $3, and 3 sprigs of flowers and berries for $2 each. I found flowers at Kmart for $3 each, and rosemary for $2. I got the planters last fall at Michael's for $9 each. Very inexpensive and pretty! A few things really make a difference!

I have chosen my kitchen window to be the 'holiday' window in the house. I don't really buy a lot of seasonal decorating items because I don't have the space to store them, and too much starts to look bad, in my opinion! I found these chicks at Target, as well as the tulip. I like how the chicks are a little eclectic, but not too far. They were $7 each, the tulip was $4.

I also cleaned my house from top to bottom with Method cleaners, they're "green" products. Please check out my sister's blog, Green Kristine, to find out more information about being green!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie #6

Thank goodness, back to chocolate!!! This week's TWD recipe is Gooey Chooclate Cake, also known as Molten Chocolate Cake or Lava Cake. It is a classic chocolate cake with a gooey middle. Like most of my baked goods, I planned to bring this to work with me. It serves 6 in ramekins, but I have 12 people at the office, so I made it in mini-muffin tins. They came out pretty good, the chocolate didn't sink enough because it wasn't heavy, but you still got the melted chocolate and it was so good. This is a classic dessert, and I'm so glad I now have a great recipe! Thanks Dorie!

Gooey Chocolate Cake

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate,
4 ounces coarsely chopped,
1 ounce very finely chopped
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
6 tablespoons of sugar

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. butter (or spray – it’s easier) 6 cups of a regular-size muffin pan, preferably a disposable aluminum foil pan, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Put the muffin pan on a baking sheet.
Sift the flour, cocoa and salt together.

Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water, put the coarsely chopped chocolate and the butter in the bowl and stir occasionally over the simmering water just until they are melted – you don’t want them to get so hot that the butter separates. Remove the bowl from the pan of water.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and yolk until homogenous. Add the sugar and whisk until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add the dry ingredients and, still using the whisk, stir (don’t beat) them into the eggs. Little by little, and using a light hand, stir in the melted chocolate and butter. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and sprinkle the finely chopped chocolate over the batter.

Bake the cakes for 13 minutes. Transfer them, still on the baking sheet, to a rack to cool for 3 minutes. (There is no way to test that these cakes are properly baked, because the inside remains liquid.)

Line a cutting board with a silicone baking mat or parchment or wax paper, and, after the 3-minute rest, unmold the cakes onto the board. Use a wide metal spatula to lift the cakes onto dessert plates.
These are the mini cakes in the muffin tin. I sprayed it with non-stick spray and they all came out beautifully, no problems!