Monday, October 27, 2008

I heart Bran Muffins

I'll admit it. I like bran muffins. A lot. My mom makes them all the time so in this time of need for extra fiber I called her for the recipe. Turns out she uses the recipe from the All-Bran cereal box and a recipe that my Grandmother gave her that uses Raisin Bran. Since I'm not a big fan of raisins in my bran muffin I went with the first recipe here this time around. Apparently the beauty of the Raisin Bran recipe is that you can keep the dough refrigerated for up to 6 weeks and use it when you want to bake some fresh mufins. Either way, they're great for breakfast or a snack (Allen was even eating them) and especially delicious with a little butter and honey and if left to my own devices I could eat two or three in one sitting.

"Our Best Bran Muffins"
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups Kellogg's All-Bran cereal
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil

1. Stir together flour, sugar, salt and baking powder; set aside.

2. In large mixing bowl, combine Kellogg's All-Bran cereal and milk. Let stand about 3 minutes or until cereal softens. Add egg and oil, mix well. Add flour mixture, stirring only until combined. Portion batter evenly into 12 lightly greased 2 1/2 - inch muffin- pan cups.

3. Bake in 400 degree F oven about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.
Yield: 12 muffins

From the Kitchen of ..........Irene Albracht
Bran Muffins
1 15 oz. box Raisin Bran
3 cups sugar
5 cups flour
2 tablespoons soda
2 teaspoons salt
4 eggs
1 cup oil
1 quart buttermilk

Mix all ingredients together. Put in a closed container. Never bake immediately after first mixing. Keep in refrigeraor up to six weeks. Bake at 400 degrees 15 to 10 minutes.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Banana Pudding

Allen likes Banana Pudding for his birthday instead of cake. I've made a few different recipes over the years but I thought I'd try the Nilla Wafer Back of the Box traditional recipe, again, this year despite thinking it a royal pain in the a*#&$ last time I made it. It's a little laborious but the taste is well worth the extra effort of making the custard and whipped topping verses buying a package of vanilla pudding and Cool Whip.

Original Nilla Banana Pudding

Layers of Nilla wafers, creamy pudding and fresh banana slices are the stars of this American classic.

Prep: 30 mins - Cook: 15 mins - Cool: 15 mins

3/4 cup sugar, divided
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Dash salt
3 eggs, separated
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
45 NILLA Wafers, divided
5 ripe bananas, sliced (about 3 1/2 cups), divided
Additional NILLA Wafers and banana slices, for garnish

1. Mix 1/2 cup sugar, flour and salt in top of double boiler. Blend in 3 egg yolks and milk. Cook, uncovered, over boiling water, stirring constantly for 10 to 12 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. (This step, for some reason, takes longer for me than 12 minutes...more like 25.)

2. Reserve 10 wafers for garnish. Spread small amount of custard on bottom of 1 1/2-quart casserole; cover with a layer of wafers and a layer of sliced bananas. Pour about 1/3 of custard over bananas. Continue to layer wafers, bananas and custard to make a total of 3 layers of each, ending with custard.

3. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form; gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff but not dry. Spoon on top of pudding, spreading evenly to cover entire surface and sealing well to edges.

4. Bake at 350°F in top half of oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until browned. Cool slightly or refrigerate. Garnish with additional wafers and banana slices just before serving.

Makes 8 servings

Nutritional Info Per Serving:
287 calories, 6 g protein, 50 g carbohydrate, 7 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 117 mg cholesterol, 134 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Wisconsin Bratwurst

Allen got a gas grill for his birthday! Yay! So, we decided to break it in with an old recipe, one we use to make in Los Angeles on the old charcoal gril. Beer Brats.

I got three bratwursts from Whole Foods and halved the rest of the ingredients. It's an easy recipe and it's great to have grilled brats and spicy mustard and not as many pots an pans to clean after dinner.

2 pounds fresh bratwurst sausages
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 cup butter
6 (12 fluid ounce) cans or bottles beer
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
10 hoagie rolls

1. Prick bratwurst with fork to prevent them from exploding as they cook. Place in a large stock pot with the onions, butter, and beer. Place pot over medium heat, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
2. Preheat grill for medium-high heat.
3. Lightly oil grate. Cook bratwurst on preheated grill for 10 to 14 minutes, turning occasionally to brown evenly. Serve hot off the grill with onions on hoagie rolls.
Oh, I got this recipe off in '04. It's a keeper.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I'm baaack

Between Ike, my new job and the traveling I've done since August I'm about two months behind in life. However, it doesn't mean I haven't been cooking and baking and using this blog. While staying with my good friends Megan and Travis I pulled up the old intransnets and put to use the Miso and Garlic Pork Chops recipe. M & T said they loved the meal and I think they've even made the chops once since. I can see how, without power, a hard copy recipe could always come in handy but, since I've learned, without power I also don't have a stove, microwave or refrigeration I'm going to continue to post my recipes and search for them online each week while I make out my grocery list instead of spend an hour thumbing through my giant binder. Huzzah for the intreaznets.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Elise's Sesame Noodles

I don't know who Elise is but a few weeks ago Allen emailed me this recipe that he found on Yahoo. Since he rarely interjects ideas I thought I'd try it out with the caveat that I won't eat just noodles so I tried to make tofu for the first time as well. It's not a bad recipe but for the love of God do not make the whole recipe or you'll be eating it for a week.

Tofu: (some Yelpers helped me out with this one)

Take the block of tofu (they suggested straining in a colander with a heavy plate or something on top but the block I got was fairly drained) cut it into cubes, marinate in a mixture of your favorite ingredients (soy sauce, oyster sauce, hot sauce, onions, peanut sauce) and bake at 350 degrees for 30-plus minutes until it's nice and firm and has absorbed the sauce.

1 pound whole-wheat spaghetti
1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar or lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 bunch scallions, sliced, divided
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided (optional)
4 cups snow peas, trimmed and sliced on the bias
1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook spaghetti until just tender, 9 to 11 minutes or according to package directions. Drain; rinse under cold water.
2. Meanwhile, whisk soy sauce, sesame oil, canola oil, vinegar (or lime juice), crushed red pepper, 1/4 cup scallions and 2 tablespoons cilantro (if using). Add noodles, snow peas and bell pepper; toss to coat.

3. To serve, mix in sesame seeds and garnish with the remaining scallions and cilantro.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

I like dark meat and Allen likes white meat. It's a story that's been around as long as married couples have been squabbling over what to eat for dinner.

I was craving fried chicken and recently saw one of the Alton Brown's "Good Eats" fried chicken episodes so I when I had some leftover buttermilk sitting around I thought I'd give it a try. Turns out that I also had an "Everyday Foods" recipe for fried chicken and that's what Allen decided to use ("looks a little easier") when he ended up making the fried chicken because I was too busy.
It's a good recipe. It takes a while in the skillet and makes quite a bit of grease but I enjoyed my dark meat and the cold drumsticks turned out to be a great snack the next day.

2 cups low-fat buttermilk
Coarse salt
3 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 whole chickens (2-½ to 3 pounds each), each cut into 10 serving pieces (wings, thighs, drumsticks, and 4 breast pieces)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups vegetable oil

Marinating the chicken in buttermilk makes the meat moist and flavorful. Chicken breasts cook faster than other parts, so fry them separately in the last batch. For fried chicken with less fat and fewer calories, remove the skin before marinating.

In each of two 1-gallon resealable plastic bags, combine 1 cup buttermilk, 1/2 tablespoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, and half the chicken pieces. Shake to coat; refrigerate up to 2 days.
In a large, shallow bowl, whisk flour with 2 tablespoons salt and remaining 2 teaspoons cayenne. (This pungent spice is made from ground dried chiles. Used in small quantities, it adds heat to dishes without being overpowering.) Dredge chicken pieces, one at a time, in mixture, shaking off excess.

In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet (or other heavy-bottom skillet), heat oil to 350° on a deep-fry thermometer (or until a pinch of flour sizzles when dropped in the oil). Carefully add 1/3 of the chicken. Cook 10 minutes; turn chicken with tongs. Cook until golden brown, juices run clear, and internal temperature is 165°, about 10 minutes more. Transfer to a rack to drain. Season with salt, if desired.

Return oil temperature to 350°. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Key Lime Cupcakes

Cupcakes are (maybe "were" now) the new black. The cupcake craze has gone a little overboard this year with cupcakeries cropping up all and selling the tiny cakes at $3.50 a pop. After spending $7 on two dry cupcakes at Sugarbaby's I decided maybe I don't need to eat cupcakes (I have, however, heard great things about Crave). But, when I saw this Key Lime Cupcake recipe in bon appetit, originally from Buttersweet Bakery in Altanta, I thought it sounded fun and it would give me a reason to buy neon-green food coloring. I also had some amazing Key Lime Cheesecake Cupcakes at a shower recently and so it's been on my mind.

Turns out this recipe is a keeper. The cupcakes are incredibly dense but the lime flavoring isn't too strong and the icing is just perfect. I have always heard that the secret to good Key Lime Cheesecake is using real key limes and I would suspect that would also help out this recipe.

After I had all the batter mixed I had a flashback to the Avocado Soup I made recently. It was almost the identical color and texture. We're taking these to a BBQ today and Allen has already decided we'll tell everyone they're spinach cupcakes. We'll see how that goes over.

Cupcake Ingredients:
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lime peel
1/4 teaspoon neon-green food coloring
3/4 cup buttermilk

Frosting Ingredients:
1 8-oz package cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon finely grated lime peel
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard cupcake pan with 12 paper liners. Whisk both flours in medium bowl until smooth. Add sugar, beat to blend. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then next 3 ingredients (batter may look curdled). Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions.

Spoon scant 1/3 cup batter into each liner.

2. Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool 10 minute. Remove from pan; cool.

Beat all ingredients in a medium bowl until smooth. Spread over cupcakes.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Stilton Pear Salad

I know, I know. Salad? Boooring. But wait! This one's boring but tasty!

My sister started making this recipe about 10 years ago (I'm getting freak'n old!) and at the time I didn't like blue cheese or pears (still really don't love either but have come to respect what that they can do for a salad) and so I've made many versions of this recipe substituting with goat cheese and apple or other cheeses and fruits it is really malleable to your liking (though best with the original recipe). Also, if you don't have Stilton any of the blues will do, including Roquefort or Gorgonzola.

2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
6 cups red- or green- leaf lettuce (preferably young lettuce, available at specialty produce markets and some supermarkets), or a combination of both, rinsed and spun dry
1 large red Bartlett pear
1/4 pound Stilton, crumbled (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup candied pecans

In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, the mustard, and salt and pepper to taste, add the oil in a stream, whisking, and whisk the dressing until it is emulsified. In a bowl toss the lettuce with half the dressing and divide the salad among 4 plates. Halve and core the pear and cut it lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange one fourth of the pear slices decoratively on each plate, divide the Stilton and the pecans among the salads, and drizzle the remaining dressing on top.

Caramelized Pecans Ingredients:
1/2 tablespoon Butter
1/2 cup Pecan halves

Melt butter in small skillet over medium-high heat and add sugar and nuts. Stir constantly until sugar loses grainy appearance, about 5 minutes. Pour nuts onto sheet of aluminum foil and let cool about 15 minutes.

A few random notes:
1. Lately my candied pecans have turned into rock candy surrounding pecans. You really have to let the sugar melt at a pretty high heat and then stir constantly to get the pecans covered in the caramelized sugar. I can't find my original recipe for this salad but I'm not sure if that's the issue or if my caramelizing skills have gone down hill.
2. My mom has ingrained in my head to save up little glass jars for making vinaigrette and dressing. You can just pour all the ingredients in the jars and shake. Plus, if you have leftover you can put the lid on it and use it for your next salad.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Chicken Piccata

The first episode of last season's Top Chef was a competition to reinvent a classic dish. Chicken Piccata was one of those dishes and while this recipe doesn't reinvent anything I still think it could have held up against over-salted shrimp scampi! We make this fairly frequently. It's really not too pasta heavy and it makes for great leftovers.

Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 pounds chicken cutlets
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces linguine
3 packed cups loose baby spinach (about 5 ounces), torn into pieces
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Place flour in a shallow bowl. Season cutlets with salt and pepper, then dip into flour, turning to coat; shake off excess.

2. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add half the chicken; cook until lightly browned and opaque throughout, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate; cover with foil to keep warm. Repeat with remaining tablespoon oil and chicken (reserve skillet for sauce).

3. Meanwhile, cook linguine in boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. Add spinach, and stir until submerged. Drain pasta mixture and return to pot. Toss with 1 tablespoon butter; season generously with salt and pepper. Add some reserved pasta water if necessary. Cover to keep warm.

4. Into skillet, pour wine and lemon juice. Cook over medium-high, stirring to loosen browned bits, until liquid has reduced to 1/3 cup, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat; swirl in 2 remaining tablespoons butter until melted. (For a smoother sauce, strain through a fine-mesh sieve, if desired.) Add capers, and season with salt and pepper. Divide chicken and linguine among four serving plates; top chicken with sauce.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Ultrafast Avocado Soup

Yay! Another recipe to put in the "don't want to ever make again" file!

I've been reading/watching Mark Bittman's recipes and blogs from the New York Times now for almost a year and I think this is the first recipe I've actually tried. The recipe is so easy that in his video blog he didn't even need speak. I thought, "This recipe is for me!"

I sure wish I had actually read the recipe. Maybe that would have helped? Because when I made it it was way too thick and rich. Now that I see his written recipe I realize maybe I didn't add enough milk? Regardless, I won't be trying this again soon. BUT, the shrimp skewers were fine and on sale pre-prepared for $1.50/skewer at WF it was quite the bargain. Too bad a few shrimp don't make for a filling meal.

Recipe: Ultrafast Avocado Soup

Time: 10 minutes, plus chilling
About 2 cups chopped ripe avocado flesh (3 or 4 small avocados)
3 cups milk, preferably whole
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, or to taste
A handful or more of small cooked shrimp
Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley leaves.

1. Put chopped avocado in a blender. Add half the milk, a large pinch of salt and a small pinch of cayenne; process to a purée. Add remaining milk and purée, then chill for up to 6 hours if you have time (press a piece of plastic wrap to surface of soup so it does not discolor).

2. Add lime juice, taste, then adjust seasoning, if necessary. Garnish with shrimp and parsley or cilantro, and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Shitake Mushrooms with Cheese Tortillini

A mushroom walks into a bar. The bartenders says, "We don't allow your kind in here." The mushrooms says, "What do you have against me? I'm a fungi!"

I told that joke as an intro to a presentation on fungus in college. Yes, I have a biology degree and all I remember is that joke.

I saw this recipe on Everyday Foods. I stopped getting the magazine and pretty much stopped recording the show but I happened across one of the Everyday Food chefs making this and thought I'd give it a try. Turns out it's almost the exact same recipe that we make with green peas instead of mushrooms (a recipe from an old Everyday Foods magazine...imagine that) .

1/2 lb shitake mushrooms (sliced)
2 cloves garlic (minced), this was pretty garlicy
flat leaf parsley (a lot, chopped)
3 tbsp grated parmesan (more for top)
1 tbsp butter
1 package cheese tortellini

Heat a bit of oil in a pan, add mushrooms and soften, add garlic, stir, add 3/4 cup water and season with salt and pepper. Let reduce for 5 minutes.

Make tortellini per package instructions.

Add cooked pasta, parsley, parmesan and butter. Toss and serve with parmesan sprinkled on top.

Monday, July 14, 2008

perugian-style chocolate hazelnut cheesecake (torta di cioccolata al forno con vaniglia e nocciola)

I got this recipe out of the April issue of Gourmet. It was okay. Not great, just okay. My favorite thing about it was that I had an excuse to buy those Carr's whole wheat crackers. If you're looking for a Christmas present for me think Carr's whole wheat crackers...I love 'em that much. (I like them more than this torta.)

For crust:
1/4 pound wheatmeal crackers finely crushed (about 1 cup)
1 ounce fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (no more than 60% cacao if marked), grated
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

For filling:
1/2 pound fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (no more than 60% cacao if marked), chopped
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 pound 2 ounce cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2/3 cup superfine granulated sugar

1 cup hazelnuts (4 1/2 ounces), toasted loose skins rubbed off in a kitchen towel while still warm, and nuts chopped (this is, sort of, a pain in the butt)

Make crust:Combine all ingredients, then press onto bottom of springform pan.

Make filling and bake cheesecake:Preheat oven to 325°F with rack in middle.

Melt chocolate with butter, then remove from heat and whisk in cream cheese until smooth. Whisk in sour cream and vanilla.

Whisk together eggs and sugar in a large bowl until mixture has a mousse-like consistency, then stir in chocolate mixture and nuts.

Pour filling into crust and bake 1 1/2 hours. (Top will be slightly cracked.)

Cool to room temperature in pan on a rack, about 1 hour, then chill at least 1 hour. (Cake will sink slightly.)

Cooks' notes:

•Wheatmeal biscuits are British-style whole-wheat crackers. Look for Carr's (labeled "Whole Wheat Crackers" and found at most supermarkets) or McVitie's brand (found at some specialty foods shops).

•Chocolate hazelnut cheesecake can be chilled up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Guest Chef: Lisa White

Lisa White is my first guest Chef...I hope she doesn't mind.

We've had the great pleasure and honor of eating two lovely meals prepared (in part) by Lisa White. One in Galveston where despite the hazardous conditions and a power outage she fried up some wonderful shrimp, scallops, and oysters on a makeshift fryer on the gas grill...outside, in the rain, and with a smile...when others weren't so jolly.

The batter was a mixture of fish fry batter and crackers (I can't for the life of me think of what kind of crackers they were and it's Jen Gardner's family recipe!). Seriously, the best fried seafood I've ever had and the whole meal was wonderful (as was the night's before).

In Austin, over the 4th of July weekend, Lisa invited a bunch out to her house for dinner and again she hit the grill this time with burgers, drumsticks, Meyer's sausage, kabobs, and eggplant. She's got impeccable timing with the grill and everything was cooked perfectly. She also made homemade strawberry lemonade (with Vodka) and a delicious white bean salad that I'm planning on making at home this week.
White Bean Salad:
1 can of white beans
red onion chopped
cherry tomatoes, halved
a little olive oil
parmesan cheese
I found the grilled eggplant recipe online and I thought it was very good -- though mostly it was because Lisa grilled it so well.
Grilled eggplant:
1 large eggplant
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, very finely minced
1 pinch each thyme, basil, dill, and oregano
salt and freshly grated black pepper
Three cheers for Lisa White!

Thursday, July 3, 2008


This stuff, when made properly, is really good. I don't know why but the three simple (really five if you include corn meal and oil) ingredients go perfectly together. Whenever okra was in season and we had some in the garden mom would make this hash as a side for dinner. If I remember correctly we use to call goulash but it's not's just hash. There's no recipe that I know of and when I've tried to make it on my own it's never turned out quite right...until now.

This time. I cut up 1/2 onion (less), cubed three small new potatoes and cut 5-6 okra and tossed with corn meal (you could probably toss with egg or add a bit of water but the stickyness of the okra will help the corn meal to attach nicely).

The key is not to cook everything at once. Potatoes, okra, then onion. Since the potatoes take a lot longer start them in a large pan on medium heat with a little oil (I used olive oil) for 10 minutes or so until they start to brown and soften. Move them to the side of the pan, add a bit more olive oil and then cook the okra (try not to mix with the potatoes right away) until slightly fried and the breading adheres then add the onion similarly.

I was pretty happy with the turn out and the leftovers tasted just as good the next day. Allen didn't seem as enthusiastic about the whole thing so I'm guessing my nostalgia for the dish factors in a bit. I still think it's worth trying and it's a great use of okra!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Lamb Rib Chops with Quick Cherry Pan Sauce

Wow. I never realized how expensive lamb rib chops are...and also how delicious. (On a side note: some people that work for my parents put a couple of sheep out at my parent's ranch and it's funny to hear my mom baa and meh over the phone when she's trying to tell me how they were keeping her up at night.) I've never made them before and subsequently never bought them at the store. I also never realized how small they are...this is beginning to sound like the game "I've never"...
This is an easy recipe even if you pit the cherries yourself. I like cherries and all but I also think the lamb would be tasty on it's own or with another topping.

3 tablespoons all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 3/4- to 1-inch-thick lamb rib chops
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, halved, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1 cup unsweetened black cherry juice
1 cup halved pitted fresh Bing cherries or other dark sweet cherries (about 7 ounces whole unpitted cherries)
1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh basil, divided

Preheat oven to 250°F. Mix flour, 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper on large plate. Lightly coat lamb chops with flour mixture; shake off excess. Melt butter with oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add lamb chops and cook to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer chops to baking sheet and keep warm in oven while preparing sauce (do not clean skillet).

Add onion to same skillet and sauté 2 minutes. Add cherry juice and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Boil until liquid is slightly reduced and onion is slightly softened, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes. Stir in cherries and half of basil and cook 1 minute. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Place 2 lamb chops on each of 4 plates. Spoon sauce over. Sprinkle remaining basil over and serve.

I made this with the mesculun and cherry salad with warm goat cheese and found both recipes in the June 2008 issue of bon appetit!

Brioche dough

I took a Brioche baking class at Whole Foods Culinary Institute awhile back and it was a wonderful experience. The instructor, Amy Osborn, was a great teacher and within just a few hours we had made Brioche à tête, Nanterre, and cinnamon rolls. Through the class we received the recipe below for Brioche though I realize now there weren't written instructions for the different breads but hopefully my notes will suffice for when I try and make this at home. I'll also post more information that I received on rich doughs and the fermenting process.

4 oz milk
1 oz yeast, fresh
4 oz bread flour

7 oz egg
1 lb bread flour
1 oz sugar
1/4 oz. salt
7 oz butter, softened

Sponge Method:
Warm milk to about 100 degrees F. Dissolve yeas in the milk. Add flour and mix by hand until it comes together to make a sponge. Let it rise until doubles in size.

Once the sponge has doubled in size, gradually mix in eggs and then dry ingredients to make a soft dough.

Beat in butter, a little at a time, until completely absorbed and dough is smooth. Dough will be very soft and tacky to the touch.

Fermentation: Place in a slightly sprayed bag or in covered bowl and place in retarder over night.

Proof (2nd stage of fermentation, allowing the dough to rise in a humid environment) loosely covered with a lightly moist thin town or saran wrap in a warm spot for 20 minutes to an hour depending on heat.
To make Brioche à tête (means "with a head" and they are rolls panned in fluted tins with a small spherical piece of dough placed on top) measure off dough in 1 1/4 oz sizes and shape. Brush with a light egg wash and bake 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

To make Brioche Nanterre (A loaf of brioche panned in a standard loaf pan. Instead of shaping one piece of dough and baking it, two rows of small pieces of dough are placed in the pan. Loaves are then proofed in the pan, fusing the pieces together.) roll the dough (18 0z) in long log. Cut into six even piece and place them going the width of a loaf pan. Take scissors and cut the top of bread in a pattern and bake at 375 degrees.

To make Brioche cinnamon rolls take 8 oz of dough, roll out to a thin dough in a wide rectangle (6" long) and cover with cinnamon, nuts, raisins (whatever you like), then roll up into a log. Cut the log into 5 - 6 even pieces. Place the rolls in a baking pan and proof 20 - 40 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees. To make icing combine powdered sugar and milk or cream to the correct constancy -- ad liquid to powdered sugar -- and any extra flavor such as orange zest, lemon juice or almond extract. Heat and drizzle over the top of cooked rolls.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Grits, Cheese, and Onion Souffle

I made my first souffle and it was a savory one (if that gives you any indication of my food preferences) and it wasn't bad (if I do say so myself)!

This recipe is pretty straight forward. I used smaller (7 oz) ramekins and I actually think any more would have made for a heavy dish. Next time I make it I'll be sure I have enough eggs on hand in case I mess something up. And, I don't like recipes that tell you that ingredients will be divided but don't say how much until you read the directions but I do realize now that I'm too lazy to figure out how to better post it that this is the easiest explanation. Otherwise, I can't think of anything to suggest except you'd better start working out that upper body if you're going to whip those white by hand!

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped leek
1 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup quick-cooking grits
4 large eggs, separated
3 green onions, chopped

1 cup (packed) grated hot pepper Monterey Jack cheese (about 4 ounces), divided

Preheat oven to 425°F. Butter four 1 1/4-cup soufflé dishes. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and leek; sauté 3 minutes. Mix in 1 1/4 cups whole milk and 1/2 teaspoon salt, then grits; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until thick, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk remaining 1/4 cup milk and yolks in small bowl to blend. Remove grits from heat. Stir in yolk mixture, then green onions and 3/4 cup cheese. Beat whites in medium bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold into grits in 3 additions. Divide mixture among prepared dishes (mixture will come all the way to top of dishes). Sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese.

Bake soufflés until puffed and brown on top, about 18 minutes. Serve immediately.

Garlic-Miso Pork Chops with Orange Bell Pepper and Arugula

YUM! This is one of my favorite dishes I've made in awhile and it's so very easy. I was a bit worried when I sauteed the pork that I had burned it but it was the miso toasting and crisping and it flaked off very easily. (Next time I may wipe off all the excess marinade before I saute it but, then again, it may help with the flavor?) I didn't find the rib chop at Krogers so I just got a regular pork chop and it worked well. Apparently the only difference is that the rib chop doesn't have the tenderloin but I'm not sure because I've never been good with cuts of meat. Oh, and the salad is simple but really good.

Regardless, try this! You won't regret it. You can find miso at most stores and certainly at a Whole Foods and there are plenty of other great things you can make with the remaining miso.

4 3/4-inch-thick pork rib chops
2 large garlic cloves, pressed
1/3 cup white miso (fermented soybean paste)
3 tablespoons dry Sherry
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
2 cups (packed) baby arugula
1 orange bell pepper, seeded, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar

Place pork in large shallow dish. Spread garlic thinly on all sides of chops, then spread miso generously over. Sprinkle with Sherry and let stand 5 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork. Sauté until just cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Meanwhile, combine arugula and bell pepper in medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons oil and vinegar; toss to coat. Season salad with salt and pepper.

Place 1 pork chop on each of 4 plates. Serve with salad; drizzle with any pan juices and more oil, if desired.

From Bon Appétit June 2008
Per serving: 333 calories, 17g fat (4g saturated), 68mg cholesterol, 923mg sodium, 11g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 2g protein (nutritional analysis provided by Nutrition Data)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Six Can Tortilla Soup

This is the lazy man's tortilla soup (or maybe, the working woman's). It's too easy but it's also tastes pretty good, it's healthy, and if you fix it up with some avocado, tortilla chips, shredded cheese or sour cream it adds a little authenticity for a six can recipe.

1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth (low fat and low sodium)
1 (10 ounce) can chunk chicken*
1 (15 ounce) can black beans (rinse beans)
1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chile peppers, drained

Open the cans of corn, chicken broth, chunk chicken, black beans, and diced tomatoes with green chilies. Pour everything into a large saucepan or stock pot. Simmer over medium heat until chicken is heated through. THAT'S IT!!

Season in with some cumin, chili powder, pepper, garlic powder or jalapenos to your liking. (I highly recommend the cumin!)

*I do boil one or two chicken breasts and shred them instead of using canned chicken but it does add an extra step.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mesculun and Cherry Salad with Warm Goat Cheese

I love goat cheese so it was a no-brainer that I try this recipe. I've always wondered how restaurants made goat cheese rounds and now that I've learned it's a snap I'm sure to put on the pounds. Now that I think of it, I've got leftover goat cheese in the fridge from a pasta salad I just made -- maybe I'll go make some "dessert" goat cheese rounds.

Anyhoo, this was a great salad. Almost just as good as the lamb rib chops (also pictured). I hope to eat a lot of it, and often. I will say that mesculun is a fancy term for "whatever greens you want to use" and bigger isn't neccessarily better when it comes to the goat cheese rounds. More rounds is better but bigger, not so much.

2 tablespoons roasted almond oil or olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
3/4 cup sliced almonds (about 3 ounces)

1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
1 11-ounce log soft fresh goat cheese, cut crosswise into 6 rounds
6 cups (packed) mixed baby greens or baby spinach
1 cup halved pitted fresh Bing cherries or other dark sweet cherries (about 7 ounces whole unpitted cherries)
1/2 cup 2x1/4-inch strips fresh fennel bulb

Preheat oven to 400°F. Whisk first 5 ingredients in small bowl. Season dressing generously with salt and pepper. Spread almonds on plate. Whisk egg and 1 tablespoon water in small bowl; sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Turn goat cheese rounds in egg mixture, then coat with sliced almonds, covering all sides. Place on rimmed baking sheet. DO AHEAD: Dressing and goat cheese rounds can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover separately and chill. Bring dressing to room temperature and whisk before using.

Bake goat cheese rounds until cheese is warm but not melted, about 10 minutes.
Combine greens, cherries, and fennel in large bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Divide salad among 6 plates. Place 1 cheese round on each plate and serve.

Pan-Seared Steak

What You'll Need: 
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 boneless rib-eye or New York strip (shell) steak, 1 1/2 to 2 pounds and 2 1/2 inches thick at room temperature
coarse salt and cracked pepper
steak butter (see below)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat oil in a large cast-iron (or non-stick skillet) over medium-high until it begins to smoke. Pat steak dry with paper towels. Season each side with 1 tsp coarse salt and 1 tsp cracked pepper.
2. Cook steak in skillet over medium-high heat until a dark crust has formed, 5 - 7 minutes per side (reduce heat if meat is browning too quickly). Holding steak with tongs, quickly brown all edges, turning as necessary; lay steak flat in skillet.
3. Transfer skillet to oven. Roast until an instant thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the steak registers desired doneness, 5 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a plate; spread with 1 tablespoon steak butter. Cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest 5 to 10 minutes (temperature will then rise another 5 to 10 degrees). Slice across the grain; serve with remaining steak butter. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers (great for salads) up to 2 days.

Internal temperatures (before resting): 
Rare: 115 degrees
Medium-rare: 125 degrees
Medium: 140 degrees
...I'm not giving you any more options because that's just blasphemy.

Steak butters: 
In a small bowl, mix the ingredient combination of your choice (below) with 4 tablespoons room temperature butter. Season with course salt and ground pepper.

Blue cheese: 
2 tbsp (1 ounce) crumbled blue cheese
1 scallion, minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 garlic clove, minced

Horseradish-Mustard (this is the one I've now made twice)
2 tbsp prepared-white horseradish (squeezed of excess liquid)
1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Monday, June 9, 2008

Tuscan Soup

This is my favorite in our soup rotation. The potatoes, spinach, and Italian sausage are a great combination. I've make this a dozen times now and I'm still not tired of making or eating it.

6 cups chicken broth
1 onion, chopped
3 (3.5 ounce) links spicy Italian sausage
3 large potatoes, cubed
1 bunch fresh spinach, washed and chopped
1/4 cup evaporated milk
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste

1. Remove skin from sausage and crumble into frying pan. Add chopped onion, and cook over medium heat until meat is no longer pink (I strain off any grease or fat but that's optional, sometimes I rinse the meat under cold water).
2. Place meat in a large pot, add stock an potatoes. Boil until potato is cooked (about 18 - 20 minutes, depending on the size of the cubes).
3. Add spinach. Continue boiling until spinach is lightly cooked.
4. Remove soup from heat, stir in evaporated milk, and season to taste. I don't add salt because even the low-sodium broth has enough to make it plenty salty.

Now I've gone and made myself hungry.

(I've also put a small picture at the bottom of the page this time because it's such a bad photo. U like my shady marketing techniques? Eh? Eh?)

Best Cookies on Earth

The ladies of Athens don't lie. These are pretty damn good cookies. (Ooh, maybe the ladies of Athens wouldn't appreciate me saying the word "Damn"?) I got this recipe from a friend who stole it from "Under the Magnolia, A Tasteful Tour of Athens" cookbook. I mix 'em up and Allen bakes 'em -- we've got division of labor worked out in the cookie department. We've also finally learned our lesson and we freeze most of the dough and just pull it out when we need a sweet treat. (Otherwise, Allen eats them all and they're gone in just a couple of days.) We also like baking them when we have friends over for dinner. They're the best cookies on earth when they're pulled out of the oven and paired with some vanilla ice cream.

2 sticks butter (or margarine)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/2 cups oatmeal
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries
1 (7.5 oz) package of toffee bits

Cream butter and sugars, add egg and vanilla mixing well. Blend in flour, oatmeal, chocolate chips, cranberries and toffee bits. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool slightly before transferring to cooling rack (or your mouth).
Unfortunately they're not as big as Allen's (unusually small) head.

Doong Goo, Mook Yee, Chow Ngau (Stir Fried Beef and Three Mushrooms)

This is another recipe I found in "The Melting Pot "cookbook. The entree is from the Chinese Kitchen section. We liked the coconut curry shrimp a bit more and have made it several times now but I do think this one is worth trying and maybe working on to get a stronger flavor. I was thrown by the metric system on this one too so maybe that's partial to blame. Otherwise, if you like mushrooms and could have fun exploring new mushrooms and combinations this is a keeper.
300g beef (sirloin or rump)...about 3/4 lb
A large handful of dried Chinese mushrooms (try the bulk aisle at CM or WF)
50g wood ear (or chestnut) mushrooms (these are thick, dried and really flavorful)...about 2 oz
2 cloves garlic
5 cm ginger....1/2 inch
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp light soy sauce
peanut oil (or other oil for frying)
2 spring onions
100ml oyster sauce...3 1/2 ounces
1. Rinse the dried Chinese mushrooms and wood ear mushrooms and soak for 30 minutes in hot water.

2. Wash them quickly with cold water and remove any stick bits
3. Slice all the mushrooms
4. Peel and chop the garlic, ginger and the white part of the spring onion, setting aside the green part
5. Slice the beef and rub it with sesame oil and soy sauce

1. Heat the peanut oil in a wok until very hot, add the garlic, the white part of the spring onion and ginger; fry off with the Chinese mushrooms.
2. Add beef and stir fry quickly then add the other mushrooms, saute, and toss in the oyster sauce. Keep turning the mushrooms and beef so they do not overcook but get coated in sauce. Served immediately garnished with a little chopped green spring onion.

I got a little confused on her mushroom instructions and I think I combined the mushrooms when I was suppose to let them soak separately. I also didn't do a great job of measuring the mushrooms (the more the better, right?) but it turned out fine. I would like to add a little heat or a stronger flavor but I'm not sure what/how yet.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

BBQ Dry Rub

We make tenderloin a bit too often. It's just so easy when you don't want to cook but you want something good an healthy to eat at home. I've got two recipes that I've been using lately and this is one of 'em (the other uses bread crumbs or Panko and I haven't taken a picture but I will next time I make it). I like to make a sweet potato* and roasted cauliflower with this tenderloin because you can pretty much prep everything and stick it all in the oven at the same time. And, it's delicious.

2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons of white sugar
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons of brown sugar
1 teaspoon and 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon paprika

Mix everything together, rub onto pork 10 minutes prior to grilling (or baking). That's it!

I preheat the oven to 350 degrees and let it bake for 20 - 25 minutes then check it for pinkness. I finally got a kitchen thermometer but it doesn't work well for me. Usually I just look at the color and make sure it's not too pink and the juices run clear.

*For the sweet potato I just clean it, poke it with holes using a fork, microwave it wrapped in a damp paper towel for 8 - 10 minutes and then just put in the oven around the same time as the pork. I put it straight on the rack and hope to remember to put a pan below it in case it leaks.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pasta Fagioli Soup

I've never been been one to eat minestrone but I do like this recipe and with all the pasta, beans, and other stuff going on it's not too heavy on the tomato broth. Pasta e fagioli means "pasta and beans" and I believe most traditional fagioli recipes use cannelloni beans so I'm not sure Cooking Light got the name entirely right here. Regardless, it's pretty good and Allen now calls it his favorite of our soup recipes it that means anything to you. It's tasty, super easy to make and it does have a lot of fiber and it's a good way to get me to eat some zucchini (though I prefer zucchini bread).

12 ounces Santa Fe chicken sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced (such as Amy's) -- this is what the recipe says but I haven't found any Amy's in the store. I have bought sausage at CM that's worked and spicy Italian sausage too.
3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup uncooked pasta shells (I use the baby shells)
2 cups coarsely chopped zucchini (about 2 small zucchini) -- I had some extra yellow squash one night and threw it in and it also works.
1 (14.5-ounce) can stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano object
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) shredded Asiago cheese

Instructions: Heat a large saucepan over high heat. Add sausage; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add broth and pasta; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 4 minutes. Add zucchini and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes. Stir in basil, oregano, and beans; cover and simmer for 3 minutes or until pasta and zucchini are tender. Sprinkle with cheese.

5 servings (serving size: about 1 1/3 cups soup and about 1 tablespoon asiago cheese)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 319(26% from fat); FAT 9.2g (sat 3.3g,mono 3.8g,poly 0.8g); PROTEIN 21.9g; CHOLESTEROL 56mg; CALCIUM 56mg; SODIUM 858mg; FIBER 9.6g; IRON 4.4mg; CARBOHYDRATE 39.7g

Grilled Tuna Steak Burgers

I've got to thank Fayza for this dish. When she moved to San Francisco she let me raid her freezer and I got these Whole Foods frozen Yellowfin tuna steaks. I decided to try out tuna burgers. I use to order 'em at Hyde Park Bar and Grill when I was a pescatarian but I never tried to recreate them at home. Turns out that Hyde Park's were better but this is a good do-it-yourself version. Basically you just get sandwich fix'ns and...

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
2 small bay leaves, broken
4 ounce ahi tuna steaks

Remoulade Sauce:
1/2 cup mayo
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 tsp minced fresh Italian Parsley
1 tsp grated onion
1 tsp anchovy paste
2 hard-boiled large egg yolks
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp capers (drained)

1. Thaw out the frozen tuna as instructed on the packaging.
2. Combine oil, vinegar, and bay leaves in a plastic bag, shake to blend, add tuna and chil for 1-2 hours turning the bag occasionally.
2. Grill them on each side in a sprayed pan or on the grill until it's no longer too pink inside. A few minutes on each side.
You can heat the bun and throw it together like a burger with mayo and all the fixins. Or, mix up the remoulade sauce.

For sauce: Wisk first 6 ingredients in bowl to blend. Useing fine grater, grade egg in yolks. Whisk in oil, then capers. Season with Salt and pepper.

This is an recipe!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Apple Radish BBQ Ribs

Again, thank me later. Or maybe just start checking out because this is another winner I got from that site. I never really ate baby back ribs before trying out this recipe and now I only eat them at home because I don't think they'll get any better. It's about $12 for a rack of ribs at the store and with some mashed potatoes and a salad or green on the side I can't think of a better dinner.

4 pounds pork spare ribs (I just get a rack)
2 pounds apple juice (I just get a large plastic jug.)
3 cups barbecue sauce (I just get the largest size...2 plus cups)
1/2 cup prepared horseradish
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt

1. Place ribs in a stock pot, and cover with apple juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 to 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together barbecue sauce, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic salt. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the apple juice from the ribs.

3. Brush underside of ribs with 1/3 of the sauce. Turn them over, and place in roasting pan. Brush tops with remaining sauces.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 35 minutes, brushing occasionally with sauce.

P.s. It helps to put down a layer of aluminum foil in your roasting pan (I use a pyrex) so you don't have to work on cleaning out the baked-on sauce that inevitably pools in your pan.