Monday, February 25, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie

I am posting my first baking results participating with Tuesdays with Dorie. This is a group of bloggers who pick a recipe from Dorie Greenspans cookbook Baking-From My Home to Yours. This week the recipe was Pecan Sour Cream Biscuits. I have to admit to being a terrible biscuit maker. I over mix and they never rise. So before baking I read and reread the whole recipe from Dorie. I got all my ingredients out and prepared mentally. Alas, I over mixed, but not to my usual level, so I have hope that if I keep baking biscuits, I will make light and fluffy biscuits soon. These are delicious though. After about 8 minutes in the oven the wonderful aroma hit me. Pecans and brown sugar baking is the best. After letting them cool we all sampled them and went back for more. Maybe next time I will shape them like a scone instead. My scones always are soft and yummy.

Pecan Sour Cream Biscuits
(Makes about 12 biscuits)
2 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour and 1/3 cup cake flour)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
1/2 cup cold sour cream
1/4 cold whole milk
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans, preferably toasted

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Get out a sharp 2-inch-diameter biscuit cutter and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.Whisk the flour(s), baking powder, salt, and baking soda together in a bow. Stir in the brown sugar, making certain there are no lumps. Drop in the butter and, using your fingers, toss to coat the pieces of butter with flour. Quickly, working with your fingertips (my favorite method) or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly. You'll have pea-size pieces, pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pieces the size of everything in between-- and that's just right.Stir the sour cream and milk together and pour over the dry ingredients. Grab a fork and gently toss and turn the ingredients together until you've got a nice soft dough. Now reach into the bowl with your hands and give the dough a quick gentle kneading-- 3 or 4 turns should be just enough to bring everything together. Toss in the pecans and knead 2 to 3 times to incorporate them.Lightly dust a work surface with flour and turn out the dough. Dust the top of the dough very lightly with flour, pat the dough out with your hands or toll it with a pin until it is about 1/2 inch high. Don't worry if the dough isn't completely even-- a quick, light touch is more important than accuracy. Use the biscuit cutter to cut out as many biscuits as you can. Try to cut the biscuits close to one another so you get the most you can out of the first round. By hand or with a small spatula, transfer the biscuits to the baking sheet. Gather together the scraps, working with them as little as possible, pat out to a 1/2-inch thickness and cut as many additional biscuits as you can; transfer these to the sheet. (The biscuits ca be made to this point and frozen on the baking sheet, then wrapped airtight and kept for up to 2 months. Bake without defrosting-- just add a couple more minutes to the oven time.)Bake the biscuits for 14-18 minutes, or until they are tall, puffed and golden brown. Transfer them to a serving basket

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Happy Birthday to you...

Today is David's 36th Birthday and we are having a family dinner. The house smells so good. When the kids came in from school, Owen started sniffing and looking for what smelled so good. What smelled so good was the Caramel Cake! Oh my it does smell good, I hope it tastes so good. It has a ton if butter in it so it shoud be good. The recipe I used was from Paula Deen from the Food Network. She is not known for her healthy recipes and this is no different. But is sounded so good.

We are also having Tangerine and Rosemary Glazed Roasted Chicken and Roasred Root Vegetables and Orzo. All from the Food Network. David loves chicken on the bone and this combination sounds wonderful. For the vegetables I am using carrots, beets and purple baby potatoes. It is beautiful too.

Bobby's Caramel Cake
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen, 2007
Paula's Home Cooking
Happy Birthday

For the cake: 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature

2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
3 cups sifted self-rising flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the filling:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream, or more if needed
1 (16-ounce) box confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped nuts, optional
For the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 3 (9-inch) cake pans.
Using an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add granulated sugar and continue to cream well for 6 to 8 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and continue to beat until just mixed. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Level batter in each pan by holding pan 3 or 4-inches above counter dropping it flat onto counter. Do this several times to release air bubbles and assure you of a more level cake. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
For the filling: While cake is baking, in a saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, and milk. Cook and stir over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Remove cake layers from oven and allow cake to remain in pans as you prepare to stack and fill. Remove first layer and invert onto cake plate. Pierce cake layer with a toothpick over entire surface. Spread 1/3 of filling mixture on cake layer. Top with second layer, repeat process. Top with last layer and repeat process again.
*Cook's Note: As I stack layers together, I stick them with toothpicks to prevent cake from shifting.
For the frosting: Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat and stir in brown sugar and cream. Bring to a boil, and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Beat with a handheld electric mixer until it reaches a spreading consistency. At this time it may be necessary to add a tablespoon of heavy cream, or more, if frosting gets too thick. Just be sure to add cream is small amounts because you can always "add to", but you can't take away. Frost cake and sprinkle top with chopped nuts, if desired.

Whole Roasted Chicken Infused with Tangerines and Rosemary with a Tangerine Glaze
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse

The Essence of Emeril
1 whole chicken, about 4 pounds
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and pepper
1 yellow onion, quartered
3 tangerines, quartered
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 cup fresh tangerine juice
1 tablespoon honey
Salt and pepper
8 roasted new potatoes, cut into wedges,
warm 1 cup assorted roasted baby root vegetables
, i.e. baby carrots, red, and golden beets, warm
2 fresh rosemary sprigs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Rub the entire chicken with the butter. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and Essence, including the cavity and the area between the skin and the breast meat. Season with onions and tangerines with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity with the onions, tangerines, and fresh rosemary.
Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan. Place in the oven. Roast the chicken for 45 minutes to an hour or until the juices run clear. After the chicken has roasted for 20 minutes, baste the entire bird with the pan drippings. Baste every ten minutes.
For the glaze: Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to rest, reserving the pan drippings. In a hot saute pan, add the pan drippings, tangerine juice, and honey. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce the sauce to 1/2 cup, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Place the roasted chicken on a platter. Arrange the roasted vegetables around the roasted chicken. Drizzle the sauce over the chicken and garnish with rosemary sprigs.
Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William and Morrow, 1993.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Baking on a Snow Day

We are all home again, no school and 1/4 inch of snow. Who decides these things. As usual the whole neighborhood came over to my house after trying to sled in 1/4 inch of snow, which by the way does not work. First thing we made Nestle Mexican Hot Chocolate which is really good. It has cinnamon in it and is really chocolaty.

Then came the brownies. My pesonal all time favorite brownies come from Ruth Riechl's book, Tender at the Bone. The brownies are called Artpark brownies. They are perfect. Waffer top chewy and fundgy and in the middle. You have to folow the recipe exactly to get the right results.

Artpark Brownies

2/3 C butter
5 oz unsweetend, best-quality chocolate
2 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
2 C sugar
1 C sifted flour

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F
Butter and flour a baking tray (9 inch square is ideal)
Melt butter and chocolate in double boiler
When melted, add vanilla
Beat eggs and salt in mixer. Add sugar and beat on high for around 10 minutes (or until mixture is quite white)
Add chocolate mixture to egg mixture, beating on low until just mixed.
Add flour and combine quickly until no white streaks remain.
Place batter in pan.
Put pan in over and immediately turn temperature down to 350 degrees.
Bake for about 40 minutes - the brownies will be quite fudgy so even a toothpick test when the brownies are done should come out not-quite-clean.

After that Miranda and I still had the baking bug and made some Valentine Cup cakes. My mon had given me a decorating kit from King Arthurs Flour and we used the topings and paper cups and made some Orange Chocolate chip Muffins with Vanilla Cream Cheese icing. Miranda decorated.

Orange Chocolate Muffins from

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
Finely grated zest of 1 navel orange
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/4 cups semisweet mini chocolate chips (7 1/2 oz)
1 /4 cup heavy cream
Special equipment: a muffin tin with 12 (1/2 up) muffin cups, plus paper liners

PreparationPreheat oven to 350°F. Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, then beat in egg, zest, and vanilla.
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and mix into butter mixture at low speed, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
Fold in 1/2 cup chips and divide batter among lined muffin cups.
Bake in middle of oven until pale golden and a tester comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Turn cupcakes out onto a rack to cool completely.
Bring cream to a simmer in a small heavy saucepan and add remaining 3/4 cup chips, whisking until smooth. Spread frosting on cupcakes.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Testing 123

We have started to cook at 123. And today we got the "burger". Wa hoo! 80/20 is the fat count and boy are they good! I mean good. Even plain and slightly burnt on one side and they are still good.
Yesterday we did paninis or as we lovingly call them, tasty, hot and crispies. They were a big hit. We also tasted two slaws and everyone liked the one with pepper jelly and cilantro.
Tomorrow we are going to do a few appitizers, bacon wrapped dates, hummus, roasted nuts, chicken on a stick, maybe meatballs.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Soup and Muffins

After looking outside and deciding it was just to cold to go to the store I made potato-leek soup with what I could find in the fridge. It turned out to be very tasty and warm and gets better each day.

For a late evening snack we had popcorn, which Owen made.

Later we will make The Worlds Best Zucchini Muffins, Owen's favorite food in the world.

The Worlds Best Zucchini Muffins

By Eileen Goudge

2 cups grated zucchini
2 t orange zest
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 t salt
2 1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t cloves
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup orange juice
2/3 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottoms of muffin tins (we also use small bread pans).
Combine zucchini and zest and set aside.
Sift together four, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer on low. Add the suger a little at a time, mixing until well blended. Add the oil, juice and zucchini and beat till blended. Add the flour mixture and nuts and beat on low till just incorporated. Pour into pans.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean and tops are nicely browned. Let cool for 5 minutes then remove from the pans and place on a wire rack to cool.
Keeps well for lunches during the week!

The funny thing about these muffins to me is normally Owen would NEVER eat zucchini but put it in a muffin and he asks for it every day.

Friday, February 1, 2008

An Eating Dilemma

Last nights dinner was really good and the conversation great. We had the 40 clove garlic chicken, lentils, a simple salad with fig in marscarpone cheese, fresh homemade bread and 3 desserts. I made an apple tatin. Megan brought a pumpkin roll from Nunas Bakery and Jenn made a cinnamon cake. We all talked about the Omnivore's Dilemma and tried to come up with way sto change our own behaviors and eating habits to be heathier and better for the planet and environment ( no high frucose corn syrup). The hardest part -including our kids in the process. We all felt like we would like to make an effert to eat more locally and fresher and not prepare 3 seperate meals everynight tailored to each persons food preferences.

Apple Cake Tatin

from Ina Garten

6 T (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 small apples, peeled and sliced

1 3/4 cups sugar, divided

2 extra large eggs, at room temperature

1/3 cup sour cream

1/2 t grated lemon zest

1/2 t pure vanilla extract

1 c plus 2T all-purpose flour

1/2 t baking powder

1/4 t salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Generously butter a 9-inch glass pie dish and arrnage apples in the dish.

Combine 1 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small soucepan and cook ove high heat until it turns a warm amber color, about 360 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Swirl the pan but don't stir. Pour evenly over the apple slices.

Meanwhile, cream the 6 T of butter and the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Lower speed and beat in the eggs one at a time. Add sour cream, zest, and vanilla. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and with the mixer on low, add to the butter mixture.. Mix only till combined.

Pour cake better evenly over aplle slices and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until teater comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto a flat plate. Dust with powdered sugar to serve.