Saturday, February 28, 2009

DB: Flourless Chocolate Cake and Homemade Ice Cream

I totally waited until the last minute, yet again! I thought originally this cake would have been perfect for Valentine's Day. It is the day before the hubs and my anniversary (5 years baby!). The night before our wedding we had the most amazing flourless chocolate torte. I have always been meaning to make one, and this year seemed perfect. I even had a recipe!

Alas, I did not and so I ended up making it in the 11th hour.

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef. We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge. February’s challenge is a Flourless Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Valentino, inspired by Malaysia’s “most flamboyant food ambassador”, Chef Wan. Recipe comes from Sweet Treats by Chef Wan

This recipe thankfully was okay for someone who was a procrastinator....for it only contains 3 ingredients! I baked mine in small heart shaped ramekins.

Chocolate Valentino
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Ingredients: 16 ounces (1 pound) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
5 large eggs separated
Instructions: Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling, butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.
Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two large bowls. Whip the egg whites in a large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry). With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter.
Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F. Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will have crumbs.Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

The challenge also called to make ice cream and gave us two recipes. Since I was so late and without an ice cream maker, I chose to do a simple ice cream. I also followed David Lebovitz's link for making ice cream without an ice cream freezer.

Wendy's Ice Cream Recipe
Vanilla Philadelphia Style Recipe
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
2 cups (473 ml) of half and half (1 cup of heavy cream and 1 cup of whole, full fat milk)
1 cup (237 ml) heavy cream
2/3 (128 grams) cup sugar
Dash of salt
1 (12 grams) tablespoon of vanilla
Mix all ingredients together (we do this in a plastic pitcher and mix with an emulsifier hand blender-whisking works too).
Refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer
Mix in your ice cream maker as directed.
I ended up having a nice frozen layer on top for the pic and first serving. I left it in the freezer overnight, and it was still delicious. A little more like icemilk...but still fabulous.
And that’s it! As usual, check out the other Daring Bakers’ posts here. Please join us!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Creamy Roasted Mushroom and Garlic Soup

The weather here has been doing crazy things lately. One day it is 70 degrees with a bright sun. My oldest spends an hour outside just blowing bubbles. I am dreaming of light dishes, using lemons and thinking about springtime decorating. The next day it is 30 degrees, gloomy, and the bubble solution that she left outside is frozen. All I can think about on days like this is warm comforting soup.
I had purchased some button mushrooms for another recipe that I ended up not doing. Worried that the mushrooms would get gross if they sat for another day in the fridge I decided to try making a creamy mushroom soup.
I am not a huge fan of raw mushrooms. They need to be cooked, really cooked, for me to enjoy them. Otherwise, they have a weird texture that I sometimes have a hard time with. To me, nothing brings out the flavors of something as roasting. It also is one of the best "hands off" way to prepare a meal. Once I put the mushrooms in the oven, I realized that I was missing a great opportunity to add another level of flavor by roasting some garlic (another thing that I am not a huge fan of in raw form).
The results were fantastic, a creamy, well-balanced dish that was simple and satisfying. We ate this with some sourdough bread, but next time I think I'll spring for either the individual sourdough bread bowls...or maybe I'll even attempt my own sourdough starter (thank you Joie de Vivre!).

Creamy Roasted Mushroom and Garlic Soup
1 pound button mushrooms, cut in half and then in thirds
5-6 large garlic cloves
olive oil, salt, and pepper
4 cups chicken stock (or more depending on thickness)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white wine (I used a chardonnay)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet (I used my jelly roll pan) with foil. Put the mushrooms on the prepared sheet and drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper; tossing to coat. Cover with foil.

Prepare your "packet" to roast garlic. Take a piece (about 1 foot) and place the garlic in the center. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Create a "tent" with the foil, folding to crimp. Seal the sides.
Place on top of the foil topped mushrooms.

Put the pan in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Remove the foil from the mushrooms, keeping the pouch of garlic intact, and roast for an additional 10 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, drizzle about a teaspoon of olive oil in the bottom of a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onion, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and saute until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and scrape any bits at the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking until the wine basically evaporates, 5-10 minutes more.Sprinke the flour and stir to combine. Continue stirring as the flour cooks, about 2 minutes. Add 4 cups stock, cream, and thyme. Let simmer while you prepare the mushrooms and garlic.

Put 1/2 of the cooled mushrooms and all of the garlic into a food processor or blender. Add a couple of tablespoons of chicken stock and puree until smooth.

Add the puree and remaining mushrooms to the pot. Stir to combine. Check for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the parsley, serve, and enjoy!

I'm submitting this to one of my favorite blogs Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sundays. I hope everyone enjoys it!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Carrot Cake Cookies

I was interested immediately when I saw Donna's at My Tasty Treasures recipe for Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies. Anything involving carrot cake is aces in my book....the cream cheese frosting alone has me drooling. I tried the recipe, adapting a little bit from what I had on hand, but mine turned out a little more puffy. Making them into sandwiches just didn't seem like a good idea. That and I was making them for my #1 sous chef's preschool snack. While the filling is tasty, making my daughter's wonderful teachers clean up frosting just didn't seem fair. So, I drizzled mine on top. It worked out well, we put the first initial of everyone in the class on top...a lesson and a yummy treat all in one!

Carrot Cake Cookies
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup white sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups quick cooking rolled oats
scant 2 cups grated carrots

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 bar (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the oats and carrots. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the sugars and butter. Beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one and a time, scraping the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat until well combined.

With the mixer on low, add the flour slowly, mixing until just blended. Mix in the carrot mixture. Place in the refrigerator and chill for at least one hour.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Once the mixture is fully chilled spoon 1 tablespoon (I used my small cookie scoop) onto the prepared sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool on a drying rack. Prepare the cream cheese frosting.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese and butter until light. With the mixer on low, slowly add the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla and mix until blended.

Once cooled, frost with the cream cheese frosting and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fish Tostadas with Lime Cream

As the spring comes, lighter dishes including citrus are always on my mind. I make fish tacos quite often in the summer, but never tried it as a tostada. The result was a crunchy, light dish that is definitely going to be a part of our rotation!

I used tilapia, but cod would work well in this dish too.

Fish Tostadas with Chile-Lime Cream
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
3 (6oz) tilapia fillets
1 teaspoon chile powder
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 cup sour cream
6 6-inch tostada shells
1 1/2 cups shedded cabbage mix
1 avocado, sliced
12 cherry tomatoes, quartered

Preheat the broiler. In a sheet pan lined with foil, sprinkle on side of the fish with salt, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon chile powder. Broil the fish for 4-6 minutes until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Shred the fish and set aside.

For the chile-lime cream. Combine the sour cream, lime juice, and remaining chile powder.

Meanwhile in a 350 degree oven, warm the tostada shells for 5 minutes.
To assemble, place a tostada shell and top with the flaked fish. Top with about 1/4 cup shredded cabbage, a few avocado slices, and tomatoes. Drizzle with the lime cream and enjoy!

Monday, February 23, 2009

I present, Iron Cupcake: Coffee

There are certain steps that I take each and every morning after being woken up by one of my sous chefs. Fix one a severly watered down juice and the other some milk, let the dog out, and make coffee for the hubby and myself. When the challenge was announced, you can bet your butt I was excited. A good cup of coffee is always accepted around here.

I am not too much of a fancy coffee drinker. Don't get me wrong, my oldest knows the starbucks logo. I just usually stick to regular coffee or my current fav: Cinnamon Dolce Latte. Did you know that if you have a starbucks gift card and you register it with them most of the syrups are free and you also get free refills of regular coffee?? Also, 2 hours of internet a day?? Seriously, I am going off on a major tanget here. Okay, back to the cupcakes.

I decided to make something that would remind me of a vanilla latte. To keep it light, I just used egg whites and for the coffee kick I added instant espresso. To top it off, a wonderful whipped cream frosting.

I'll include the recipe in a later post. Right now I need to get this thing sent off or else I won't be eligible...way to wait until the last minute!

You can vote for my cupcake and check out the other amazing Iron Cupcake bakers HERE from March 1st to March 6th. What would I win?

This month our Etsy Prize Pack is from artists:
Artwork from artist DIANA EVANS

A pair of cupcake earrings from LOTS OF SPRINKLES.
PLUS, IronCupcake:Earth can not forget our good friend, CAKESPY.

As an added bonus for February, SWEET CUPPIN CAKES BAKERY AND CUPCAKERY SUPPLY will be tossing in a variety of cupcaking supplies!

We also have presents from our awesome corporate prize providers:

HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson

Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers.
Wanna join in the fun? Learn more about Iron Cupcake HERE!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lemon Cake with Berry Filling and Lemon Glaze

I am a huge fan of lemons. They can be used in sweet and savory dishes and always add brightness to a dish. Alas, the weather in Kansas isn't that conducive to lemon trees. Nevertheless, as spring comes slowly upon us, my mind wanders to lighter sun-filled days. Using lemons in dessert always makes for happy times.

I used my favorite 6 by 2 inch cake pan, but this recipe would definitely work for 2 8 inch cake pans. If you go that route, plan on doubling the filling.

Lemon Cake with Berry Filling and Lemon Glaze

For the cake:
1 3/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour (sift prior to measuring)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
juice from one lemon (about 3-4 tablespoons)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs

Prepare the cake pan(s). Spray the pans with a little bit of butter flavored cooking spray. Line the bottom(s) with a piece of parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, combine the sifted flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a glass measuring dish, combine the milk and lemon. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition. With the mixer set to low, alternate adding between dry and wet ingredients starting and ending with the dry.

Divide the mixture into the prepared pan(s) and bake until a knife inserted comes out clean. For me, using my 6 inch pan filled 3/4 the way full, it was about 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling.

For the filling:
1 cup frozen mixed berries
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Puree the berries in a bender until smooth.
In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients and let bubble for about 2 minutes.
Set aside to cool.

Once the cake is finished, let cool in the pans for about 10 minutes. Invert and let cool on a wire rack. To assemble, I cut my cake in half, topped one half with the filling, covered with the other half. I then topped that with the glaze.
To make the glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
juice of one lemon
Whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl. Top the cake, cut, serve, and enjoy!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Inspired, but not inspiring....

I've kind of hit a wall. Since my blog is about my cooking, I guess my cooking is what's to blame. I just don't have much to report, so I haven't shared anything lately. That isn't to say that I haven't made new dishes. In fact, each day so far has been something new. It just wasn't, you know, blogworthy.

To top off my apathy in the kitchen, my lead sous chef caught some stomach bug and has been sick for the last 24 hours. She seems better now, and I think is enjoying just sitting on the sofa watching the Food Network. Ina is on, and that's always a good time.

I thought instead of writing about something that I have cooked, I would highlight a few foodie friends that I have met along this journey who are whipping up some freakin-fantastic dishes. All of these are on my menu in the next two weeks, maybe they will end up on your menu too!

Just one look at the pictures alone now have me salivating.

Five Star Foodie's Four Cheese Chipotle Sirloin

Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice's Loaded Biscuit Burgers

The Homegrown Housewife's Banana Walnut Cake

Thank you for the inspiration ladies! I hope to return the favor soon.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Carmelized Onion Pasta with Goat Cheese

I am a fan of all things goat cheese, so when received my daily email from Everyday Food entitled, "Pasta with Onion, Bacon, and Goat Cheese" it was immediately put in the "to try" file. It looked easy and fast and it included bacon, which means nothing but good stuff.
Tonight was just that kind of night.
Once I started making the recipe that I printed out, it kind of took on a life of it's own.
I will preface that I used bacon on Meatless Monday. If you don't do bacon, I totally understand but I would say this isn't the recipe for you. However, if you do is yummy yumminess that can't be denied.
Carmelized Onion Pasta with Goat Cheese and Bacon
1 pound campanelle pasta
6 slices bacon, sliced into 1 inch pieces
3 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon white sugar
4 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 tablespoon dried thyme
kosher salt and cracked pepper
4 ounces soft goat cheese
Put a large pot of water to boil. Once the water is boiling, salt the water and add the pasta. Cook for about 9 minutes or until al-dente.
While the pasta is cooking, in a large bowl, crumble the 4 ounces of goat cheese. Take about 1 1/4 cup of the boiling pasta water and combine with the goat cheese, stirring to combine. Add the drained pasta to the goat cheese mixture and stir.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon turning until browned, about 8-10 minutes. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.
Turn the heat up to medium-high. Add the onions to the fat in the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Add the sugar. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Uncover, add the garlic and thyme and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until the onions are golden.
Add the onion mixture the pasta and combine. Top with the bacon. Enjoy!
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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

My apologies, I wish I had taken better pictures!
I have been rather obsessed with red velvet cupcakes lately. I made them Monday for a bake sale Tuesday at sous chef #1's preschool. On Tuesday I made mini's for the second day of the bake sale on Wednesday. On Thursday, I had some leftovers that I delivered to the people that work at my gym. If you eat a cupcake at a gym it is like 2 calories, right? Well, better they eat them than me! On Thursday I made more cupcakes for my husband to take to work Friday. I ran out of powdered sugar for frosting, so I still have about 20 mini cupcakes sitting unfrosted in the fridge. Okay, maybe more like 15. Those little babies make for a great little treats!

I adapted the recipe just a bit from one that I got from Paula Deen years ago. Hers used buttermilk and I never have that stuff lying around. This time I filled my cupcake liners a little over half the way full and I am able to make 24 regular and 24 mini cupcakes.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar
1 cup skim milk, room temperature
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon red food coloring
Preheat the oven to 350. Line your cupcake tins with liners and set aside.

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, put in the dry ingredients (flour through cocoa powder) and stir to combine. In a glass measuring dish, put the tablespoon of vinegar. Add just enough milk to reach the 1 cup level. Add the oil, eggs, and extract, stirring to break up the eggs and combine. With the mixer on low, add the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix until just combined. Scrape the bowl down and add the food coloring, stir on low to combine.

Fill the cupcake liners and bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Once cooked, let sit in the pans for another 5 minutes then removed to racks to cool completely.

Now for the frosting....yum.

For me, red velvet cupcakes require cream cheese frosting. And to me cream cheese frosting doesn't need to be piled high like buttercream. The star of the show, after all, is the the red velvet. With that said, I still put about 1 1/2 tablespoons of frosting on each one. If you like more, feel free to double this!

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 8oz package cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound (scant 4 cups) powdered sugar

Blend the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add the salt and extract. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Top cooled cupcakes.

I topped mine with some sanding sugar in a heart shape. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

BB: Real Spaghetti and Meatballs

It's Barefoot Blogger time again! This week's recipe comes from Rebecca of Ezra Poundcake who chose Real Spaghetti and Meatballs.

Definitely one of the hubs favorite meals, spaghetti and meatballs is certainly our idea of comfort food. I have been blessed with a fabulous Barefoot Contessa loving mother-in-law who has made this in the past and now it was my turn to give it a try.
Plus, there is wine involved. How bad can that be?

I myself would have just used the lean ground beef we had in the house instead of the adding pork and veal, but when it comes to me and the Barefoot Bloggers the hubs thinks that I should stay true to the recipe. I am glad that we did! The meatballs turned out tender and delicious. They definitely tasted better the second day. It makes a ton, and they are huge. I came up with about 20 total, a far cry from the 14-16 that Ina makes.

I tried to stay true and pan fry the meatballs. But, like dredging....I don't really do frying. I think is a patience thing for me, I mean 10 minutes a batch?? Not to mention the mess, the unneeded fat, yada yada yada. These particular meatballs were so moist, I just didn't see how they could hold up. I started with the first batch on the stove and quickly decided that my usual way works just fine.

The sauce really is nothing spectacular but the wine is what makes it. If you don't cook with wine I would definitely add some herbs or maybe red pepper flakes to give it some punch. Otherwise, it is just tomatoes, garlic, and onion.

Thanks to Rebecca of Ezra Poundcake for choosing a fantastic meal. As always, be sure to check out the Barefoot Blogger's website to see how this one turned out for the rest of the bloggers. While you are there, think about joining us!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Steak Fajita Salad

I had fajitas on the menu for this week, but when the day came I wasn't in the mood. It was also a perfect 70 degrees here in Kansas (don't worry, it is snowing/raining, and about 40 degrees today) and a salad sounded great.

This came together fast and can be made with a lot of variation.

Steak Fajita Salad

1 1/2 pounds flank steak
1 can black beans
1 can diced tomatoes
shredded mexican blend cheese
two large heads of romaine lettuce
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2-3 tablespoons lime juice
salt and pepper

I used flank steak again and made 1 1/2 times the amount of seasoning rub. Season the meat with the rub, setting aside the extra 1/2 amount. Cook the meat in a grill pan or outside...whatever you fancy!

In a small sauce pan, add the beans and tomatoes along with the remaining rub. Let warm over medium to low heat. I added a little bit of lime juice as well. Set aside to cool for a few minutes before assembling.

In a large bowl, tear the lettuce into bite size pieces. Add the cheese and cooked steak. Top with the bean/tomato mixture.

In a small bowl, add the sour cream, mayo, and lime juice stirring to combine. I put mine in a small ziploc bag and cut a small triangle in one end (basically made my own pastry bag) and drizzled it on top.

Grab some tongs, serve it up and enjoy!

Notes: Next time I would probably add some chipotle pepper to the bean mixture, also I would saute or grill cook a pepper and onion. Slices of avocado would be perfect as well (mine weren't ripe enough). For a little added crunch, some tortilla strips would rock. Again, anything goes!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Tilapia with Lemon-Parsley Vinaigrette

I know I have said it before, but I love meals that come together quickly and without fuss. I also love it when that all happens on Monday.

Tilapia with Lemon-Parsley Vinaigrette
4 (6oz) tilapia fillets
flour, salt, pepper
zest and juice of two lemons
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup olive oil

In a shallow dish, mix about 1 cup of flour, a pinch of salt and a couple cranks of pepper.
Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a little olive oil and about a teaspoon of butter.
Once hot, dredge the tilapia in the flour mixture and place in the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes a side, or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining 3 ingredients in a small bowl. As you continue to whisk, slowly add the olive oil. You can also combine these in a blender or small food processor if you don't want to have to cut everything up so small....the machine will do it for you.

I like the bite that the lemon juice offers, but you can always add more olive oil to taste.

Serve the fish topped with a little sauce! I like serving roasted potatoes and broccoli with the fish because they too taste good with the vinaigrette. Enjoy!
One note: yes there is a bit of garlic on top of my fish. Even when I have the fastest recipe working my sous chef can still sneak in some chopped garlic of her own!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Best Laid Plans...

Argh, I wanted to share the bread pudding that I made for lead sous chef's Friday night pot luck...and then I forgot to take a picture. It was a small victory for me because I had never made bread pudding or eaten it before and from what I can tell it was a hit. I even caught a few people who weren't involved with our dinner sneaking a bowl-ful. I'll definitely make it again, and post the recipe.

To be fair, I thought I would pass along my challah recipe. I utilize the bread machine for this one every Friday, and I TOTALLY LOVE doing so. If you don't have a bread machine, think about asking for it for your next foodie gift. If anything, just to make challah. It makes the best french toast too!

Bread Machine Challah
1 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp yeast (or one packet)
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
scant 1 tablespoon salt
2 eggs, room temperature
4 cups flour, plus more for kneading/braiding
In the order listed, put all ingredients in the bread machine. Put the setting on "dough" and start. Once finished, let rise in the machine for another hour. Remove and place in a bowl sprayed with cooking spray. Cover with a towel and let rise for an hour. Punch the dough down and put on your counter dusted with flour. Knead the bread for a minute or two, incorporating more flour if the dough is sticky.
At this point you can divide the dough in half and make two medium loafs or one large one.
With each divided section, seperate the dough into four sections. Braid the sections. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with a kitchen towel, and let rise for another hour.
When ready to bake, brush the loaf(s) with an egg wash and put in a 325 degree oven for 35-45 minutes or until golden.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

But it's not Friday yet!

Why on earth would the head sous chef and I be making a challah bread a day early??

Don't you just love teasers???

I also wanted to take a second and thank Katherine at Smoky Mountain Cafe for giving me my very first award and to Kendra at The Homegrown Housewife for giving me my second! What a joy it is to have such great foodie friends! I'll be sure to nominate some of my favorites soon and share the blogger love.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Crab and Corn Bisque

I'll be the first to admit it...I've never made a bisque before. In fact, I don't think I have ever eaten it before either. Heck, this may not even be a true bisque! All I know is that I used ingredients that I had on hand and it was good.

And since I am already sharing everything with you I'll also go ahead and make some more disclaimers:

  • I used frozen corn. It's February
  • I used a can of crab meat. I'm in the midwest and I'm on a budget. If you are lucky enough to live somewhere with access to fresh crab meat you have a right to holler at me all you want, and then send me some crab meat.

Corn and Crab Bisque

1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 medium celery, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1/2 cup white wine
Homemade Creole Seasoning, see below
3 tablespoons blond roux
1 cup skim milk
2 cups heavy cream
6 oz lump crab meat
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Put a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add about a teaspoon of olive oil. Once hot, add the onions, celery, and corn. Add a pinch of salt and about 10 grinds of black pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes or until the veggies are tender. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute longer, stirring constantly. Season with about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of Creole Seasoning (to taste). Add the white wine and let cook down. Add the milk and cream, bring to a boil. Meanwhile make the roux.

For the roux: in a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons flour. Stir constantly until the mixture is a medium blond color (about 4-5 minutes).

Once the roux is to the color desired, add that to the large saucepan. Stir to combine and continue to stir as the soup thickens, about a minute or two.

Turn the heat to low and add the crab meat and Worcestershire. Let simmer for 5 minutes.

Check the seasonings and serve with a crusty bread (sourdough works great). Enjoy!

Creole Seasoning (adapted from Emeril's Essence)

1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I missed the last day

My resolution to post every day for the remainder of January crashed and burned yesterday. I woke up yesterday and thought that I should give myself a well-deserved day off.

What a more perfect day to do so than my youngest sous chef's very first birthday. It got to a perfect 70 degrees JANUARY! I just couldn't bring myself to turn the computer on.

I have really learned a lot in blogging every day. I have met new foodie friends and I hope to continue that trend. I also have started paying attention when I am cooking so that I can share what I just did with the blogosphere. It's been fun!
I am not sure yet what I should resolve to do in February...any suggestions?

Enjoy the Super Bowl!