Feb 28, 2014

Corn and Crab Bisque


Corn and Crab Bisque

This corn and crab bisque is absolutely elegant and flavorful, and is the perfect soup for a dinner party. It it spicy and rich, and the mix of the sweet corn and crab flavors spiced with cayenne is reminiscent of the flavors of Cajun and Creole food. 

When I tasted this soup after making it, I pretty much jumped up and down. It was that good. 

The recipe is at the end of this post.  

I found this recipe in Around the World in 450 Recipes, a book I received from Emily, aka Yinzerella of Dinner is Served.


Emily thought I might like it because of my participation in Wok Wednesdays. How right on she was! Check out the cute note she sent me.


Her blog is fabulous and quirky, and she has a cat named Brian. Brian. Love that. She started her blog to cook through her gramsy's olive colored recipe box of Dinner is Served recipe cards. She's into vintage cooking, including cocktails. You've got me there Yinzerella! Thank you so much for sharing this cookbook.

I am participating in the Food Blogger Cookbook Swap, hosted by Alyssa of Everyday Maven and Faith of An Edible MosaicI sent a cookbook to a food blogger and received this cookbook in return! 

The last time they organized a swap, it was for food props. As you can see, my photos are pretty bare bones....

Corn and Crab Bisque

Participating in that swap was out of the question. It just wouldn't be a win-win. I seriously need to work on my food styling skills as well as my food prop collection. But cookbooks? Do I have an obsession with those! 

As a bread head, I was pretty excited to be matched with Joanne of Eats Well with Others (gorgeous photos on her site btw). She makes bread! She has a section in her recipe index for bread! I crossed my fingers and sent her a copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking. 

This was seriously fun. Here are links to all of the other awesome participants:

Corn and Crab Bisque

Ingredients

8 ears of corn
12 1/2 C cold water
3 bay leaves
1 tsp salt
1 T chicken demi glace, 2 packets of Swanson Flavor Boost, or chicken bouillon to taste
1 T concentrated vegetable bouillon
(in lieu of the bouillons, you can add crab or shrimp shells to the broth with the corn cobs)
2 T butter
2 T flour
1 1/2 C cream
12 ounces lump crab meat
8 scallions, thinly sliced
white pepper, cayenne pepper, hot sauce, and salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Remove the husks and silk from the corn and discard.
  2. Cut the kernels from the corn cobs and set aside. 
  3. Place the stripped cobs in an 8 quart pot and cover with the water. Add the bay leaves, salt, and bouillons. 
  4. Bring the pot to a boil, and boil for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove the cobs and bay leaves from the pot, and discard. Boil hard for another 10 minutes to reduce. 
  6. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and add the flour and stir over low heat until creamy and golden. Add about a cup of the corn broth to the pan and whisk until thickened. Add the flour mixture to the broth and bring to a boil. 
  7. Add the corn and boil for about 5 to 10 minutes, to taste. 
  8. Add the cream, crab, scallions, pepper, cayenne, hot sauce, and salt and simmer for another two minutes. 
Amazing!

This recipe has been inspired by Around the World in 450 Recipes.

Feb 23, 2014

Beef and Sweet Potato Stir-Fry

Beef and Sweet Potato Stir-Fry Karen's Kitchen Stories

This beef and sweet potato stir-fry is really simple to make and easy to whip up on a week night. If you marinate the beef in the morning, you can create this dinner in less than 20 minutes. No rice required, and it's healthy! If you are into "clean eating," this recipe is perfect for you.

Beef and Sweet Potato Stir-Fry Karen's Kitchen Stories

It's Secret Recipe Club reveal day! Each month we are assigned a food blog from which to make a recipe. This month I was assigned Natural Noshing, a blog by Nora. Her blog is focused on gluten and sugar free recipes, as well as natural foods. Check her out. She is adorable.

Beef and Sweet Potato Stir-Fry Karen's Kitchen Stories

I chose this recipe because I love making stir fried meals, and the combination of flavors sounded so intriguing.

The verdict? Yum! Thanks so much Nora!

Beef and Sweet Potato Stir-Fry

Adapted from Natural Noshings, adapted from Clean Eating Magazine 

Ingredients

1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 T apple butter
Pinch of cinnamon
dash of ground cloves
1 T soy sauce 
1/2 tsp crushed red peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T grated fresh ginger
1 lb. flank steak, cut into 2 inch by 1/8 inch slices
1 C of 1 inch chunks of sweet potatoes
1 heaping cup of green beans
1 T peanut or grape seed oil  
1 C of thinly sliced sweet onions
1 C baby spinach

Instructions

  1. Mix the sesame oil, apple butter, cinnamon, cloves, soy sauce, red peppers, garlic, and ginger. 
  2. Toss the above ingredients with the beef, cover, and refrigerate to marinate.
  3. Bring about 2 1/2 cups of water to boil and add the sweet potato chunks. Boil for 5 to 7 minutes. 
  4. With a spider or slotted spoon, remove the potatoes from the pot. 
  5. Add the green beans and boil for about 4 minutes. Drain and add the beans to the potatoes.
  6. Heat a wok, and when it is ready, add the oil. 
  7. Add the beef and the onions and spread over the wok. Let cook for about a minute without disturbing. Begin stir frying and toss for another two minutes. 
  8. Add the rest of the vegetables. including the spinach and stir fry for 1 to 2 minutes, until the beef is cooked through. 
Enjoy!

Bran-Encrusted Levain Bread

Bran-Encrusted Levain Bread from Karen's Kitchen Stories

This bran-encrusted levain bread brings together the whole grain, but reconstructed. This is a hybrid leavened dough, with a combination of sourdough starter (levain) and a small amount of yeast in the final dough.

Reconstructed you ask? This is an almost white sourdough with added wheat germ and encrusted with wheat bran. The bran on the crust tastes so toasty and nutty after baking, and it keeps the crust fairly thin and crispy. You can purchase wheat bran, or you can sift it out of whole wheat flour like I did with the bread in this post.

Bran-Encrusted Levain Bread Karen's Kitchen Stories

Using the wheat germ brought back memories of my dad. He had been a college football player and all around athlete stuck with four daughters in the pre Title IX days. At the time, the only opportunities for women in sports were individual events such as swimming and track and field. Rarely were these sports offered in high school.

My dad got us all involved in swimming, and at some point, we joined an AAU team, and were pretty seriously into it. I remember practicing daily, both in the morning before school, and then again for a couple of hours after school. My local hero was Sharon Stouder. I wanted to be her (this was before I wanted to be That Girl! Marlo Thomas).

While I was a decent swimmer, I was never even close to Olympics material. However, I did own the South HIlls Country Club 12 and under breast stroke record for several years (take that, Amanda Beard!), and I have great memories of racing and sensing my dad walking along the side of pool and cheering me on. I knew he was there.

So what does this have to do with this bread you ask? Wheat germ. We had to add wheat germ on a daily basis to our cereal to give us "energy for swimming." At the time it was considered a "health food," and there was always a jar of Kretschmer Wheat Germ in the refrigerator.

Bran-Encrusted Levain Bread Karen's Kitchen Stories

Guess what brand of wheat germ is sitting in my fridge right now? Love you dad, thank you for seeing your daughters as athletes, and thank you for cheering us on.  I miss you so much.

Bran Encrusted Levain Bread

To make this bread, plan on starting first thing in the morning to bake the loaves the following morning. 

Levain

100 g 80% hydration active levain that is 80% white flour and 20% whole wheat flour
400 g white flour
100 g whole wheat flour
400 g lukewarm (85 to 90 degrees F) water

Final Dough

800 g white flour
30 g wheat germ
620 g lukewarm water
21 g fine sea salt or salt
2 g/ 1/2 tsp instant yeast
360 g of the levain
20 g wheat bran for coating the crust

Instructions

  1. Mix the levain ingedients by hand until just incorporated, cover, and let rest for 6 to 8 hours.
  2. In a very large bowl, large rectangular plastic storage container, or a 12 quart Cambro bucket, mix the white flour and the wheat germ. 
  3. Add the water and mix by hand until just incorporated. Cover and let it rest for 30 minutes. 
  4. Sprinkle the top of the dough with the salt and yeast. Add 360 g of the levain. 
  5. Dip your hands in water and mix the dough by alternatively pinching it with your fingers and folding it. This should not take very long. 
  6. Cover the container and let it rise for about 5 hours, until it has more than doubled, folding four times every half hour during the first 2 hours of rising. (there is a link to a demonstration video in step 8 on this post
  7. Gently remove the dough from the bucket/bowl, onto a lightly floured counter, and divide it in half with a bench knife or dough scraper. 
  8. Rub two bannetons or flour sack lined 9 inch bowls with flour, and then coat with the bran. 
  9. Shape the dough halves into boules and place them seam side down into the bowls.
  10. Cover with plastic wrap or place in large plastic bags and refrigerate immediately. 
  11. 12 to 14 hours later, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F, and place two heat proof Dutch ovens in your oven. I recommend using this one. If you only have one pan, leave the other loaf in the refrigerator while the first one bakes. 
  12. When you are ready to bake, cut parchment into two 9 inch by 15+ inch pieces. 
  13. Remove the Dutch ovens from the oven and remove the tops. One loaf at a time, remove the plastic wrap, place the parchment over the dough and place a plate over it. Flip the dough over, remove the basket, and lift and place the loaf in the Dutch oven by using the parchment as a sling (leave the paper under the dough). Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the hot oven. Repeat with the second loaf. If you are using the Lodge combo cooker, use the lid on the bottom and the larger pan on top. This makes it much easier to maneuver with the parchment paper. 
  14. Bake covered for 30 minutes, and then remove the Dutch ovens from the hot oven, uncover, and place the loaves on a baking sheet. Be careful not to burn yourself! Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes more, until the interior of the bread reaches 205 to 210 degrees F and the bread is a deep brown. You don't have to move your loaves to baking sheets, but I like to do it to prevent burning on the bottom. 
This recipe has been adapted from Ken Forkish's Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza.

Sharing with Yeastspotting

Feb 18, 2014

Chinese Cuban Fried Rice | Wok Wednesdays

Chinese Cuban Fried Rice

According to Grace Young, the author of Stir Frying to the Sky's Edge, there are many Chinese Cuban restaurants in New York City. In one restaurant she describes, the waiters all speak perfect Chinese, Spanish, and English. That is pretty cool.

Maybe these restaurants are the inspiration for the Korean Mexican fusion food trucks we have here in Los Angeles (well... probably not).

Chinese Cuban Fried Rice | Wok Wednesdays

This rice dish is very simple, only containing a few ingredients. The rice gets its flavor and color from dark soy sauce, which is not typical of Chinese fried rice. There was no mincing garlic or ginger, and no rice wine required, just a few ingredients to make an amazingly delicious rice dish.


Onions, bay shrimp, scallions, salt, oil, dark soy, and long grain rice made the day before are all you need.

Oh right. And bean sprouts. That's when I found out about the great bean sprout ban. Uh oh.

Not wanting to spend my Sunday hunting down bean sprouts, and not having enough time to grow my own, I decided to try pea sprouts that I found at a local organic market instead. They are crunchy like bean sprouts, and taste a lot like them. (P.S. I've since found out on the Interwebs that any sprouts can be problematic, so I don't understand why bean sprouts were singled out.) While they may not have produced the results that Grace had in mind, we loved the rice, and fought over the leftovers in this house (I won).

The biggest hassle to making this recipe, beside the sprouts, is that you have to make your rice a day in advance. Just do it. You will love this rice.

This recipe can be found on page 264 of Grace Young's Stir Frying to the Sky's Edge.

If you'd like to Wok along, check out the Wok Wednesday's blog page and Facebook page, both created and watched over by Matthew Lardie. It's a great group, and we are coached along by Grace Young Herself!
Chinese Cuban Fried Rice

Raspberry Fudge Sandwich Cookies

Raspberry Fudge Sandwich Cookies

You know how the top of a batch of brownies gets all crackly? The cookies for these raspberry fudge sandwich cookies do just that.

Raspberry Fudge Sandwich Cookies
I like to park myself in front of my oven window and obsessively watch what happens to food while it bakes. These cookies put on a show. First they spread out into flat pools studded with chocolate chips. Next, they puffed up to what seemed like 1/2 inch high. Finally, they settled into these crackly, fudgy "brownie tops" filled with melty chocolate chips. All in eleven minutes.

Raspberry Fudge Sandwich Cookies

Can you believe that there is only one cup of flour in 48 sandwich cookies? That translates to 96 individual cookie halves (I'm very good at math). I did not go to baking school, and I need to really study my copy of Ratio, but I do know that these cookies are a lot like these Chocolate Truffle Cookies, only thinner.

These cookies are filled with thick raspberry preserves, but you can use any kind of filling you like, such as chocolate malt filling, or the chocolate cream filling from these sandwich cookies. I think the raspberry fudge combination is pretty amazing, and even gets better over time as the flavors meld.

Raspberry Fudge Sandwich Cookies

Makes 48 sandwich cookies

Ingredients

1 stick (1/2 C) unsalted butter, slightly softened
2 C sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 tsp (heaping) salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 C (4.25 ounces) unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 C (2.25 ounces) Dutch process cocoa
3/4 tsp baking powder
12 ounces chocolate chips
1/2 to 3/4 C raspberry preserves

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment. You can reuse the baking sheets and parchment as soon as the baking sheet cools. 
  2. With a stand mixer or hand mixer, mix the butter and sugar until blended. It might be a bit grainy. 
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until each one is incorporated. 
  4. Add the salt and vanilla and beat the mixture briefly. 
  5. Whisk the flour, cocoa, and baking powder together in a separate bowl. 
  6. Slowly add the flour/cocoa mixture to the butter/sugar/egg mixture and beat until incorporated. Do not over mix. 
  7. Fold in the chocolate chips. 
  8. Drop rounded teaspoonfuls of the dough 1 1/2 inches apart onto the baking sheets, and bake, one sheet at a time, for 11 to 12 minutes. 
  9. Cool the cookies on a wire rack. 
  10. Once the cookies are cooled, sandwich about a tsp of raspberry jam between two cookies. 
Leftover cookies will stay delicious for about three or four days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

It's time again for the Creative Cookie Exchange!
The theme this month is Berries and Chocolate--because we all have a little spring fever!  To join the group, just contact Laura at thespicedlife AT gmail DOT com and she will get you added to our Facebook group, where we discuss our cookies and share links.

You can also just use us as a great resource for cookie recipes--be sure to check out our Facebook page, our Pinterest Board, and our monthly posts. You will be able to find new cookie recipes from the group on the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:



Feb 15, 2014

Blood Orange, Butter Lettuce, Radicchio, and Endive Salad with Fennel and Tangelos

Blood Orange, Butter Lettuce, Radicchio, and Endive Salad with Fennel

This Blood Orange, Butter Lettuce, Radicchio, and Endive Salad with Fennel is one of the most refreshing salads ever.

As a teacher, I try to caution my students about making sweeping statements about anything, and here I just made one.

Blood Orange, Butter Lettuce, Radicchio, and Endive Salad with Fennel

This salad is the perfect antidote for winter with the combination of the blood oranges, tangelos, and the Citronette dressing.

Blood Orange, Butter Lettuce, Radicchio, and Endive Salad with Fennel and Tangelos

I wish blood oranges were more available, because they have an amazing flavor, and they are so beautiful. There is only one local specialty store nearby that carries them even though I live in an area where you can pretty much find anything you need. If you can't find blood oranges, you can substitute navel oranges without sacrificing flavor.

Blood Orange, Butter Lettuce, Radicchio, and Endive Salad with Fennel and Tangelos

The citronette dressing for this salad contains both lemon juice and orange or tangelo zest, and is both sweet and tart at the same time.

Blood Orange, Butter Lettuce, Radicchio, and Endive Salad with Fennel and Tangelos

Blood Orange, Butter Lettuce, Radicchio, and Endive Salad with Fennel and Tangelos

Serves 4

Ingredients


Citronette Dressing

Zest of 1/2 of an orange or one tangelo
1 tsp sugar
2/3 tsp kosher salt
Juice of one lemon or Meyer lemon
5 T extra virgin olive oil

Salad ingredients

2 blood oranges
1 navel orange, two tangerines, or one large tangelo (I used the tangelo)
2 small heads of butter lettuce, washed and torn into bite sized pieces
1 head endive, washed and broken into leaves
1/2 head radicchio, washed and torn into bite sized leaves
1/2 bulb fennel, very thinly sliced
1/4 C flat leaf parsley leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Place all of the dressing ingredients into a container, cover, and shake to emulsify. 
  2. Slice the bottom and top of the blood orange and then cut away the peel and pith. 
  3. Cut the slices of fruit away from the membrane and drop the slices into a large bowl. 
  4. Do the same with the orange, tangerines, or tangelo. 
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients, the dressing, and the salt and pepper, and toss together. 
Enjoy!

recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

I am participating in the Eating from A to Z Recipe Challenge. This month's letters are A & B... as in blood oranges and butter lettuce.

Want to participate? Check out the guidelines. This is my second year participating and I've loved exploring new healthy recipes.

Eat A to Z Healthy Recipe Challenge

Feb 13, 2014

Barbecue Beef Sliders

Barbecue Beef Sliders

These barbecue beef sliders are so easy to make and the beef makes excellent leftovers.

The beef is braised for about three hours in barbecue sauce, shredded, and then piled onto slider sized buns (I used these rolls and they were excellent with this beef).  This recipe makes about 24 mini sandwiches.

Barbecue Beef Sliders

The beef can be made a day in advance and reheated for serving.

Barbecue Beef Sliders

Ingredients

1 T olive oil
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
1 28 ounce whole tomatoes
1 18 ounce bottle of barbecue sauce (I used Bulls Eye)
3 pound chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat
Pepper
24 slider buns

Instructions

  1. In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and saute about five minutes on medium.
  2. Add the tomatoes and break them up in the pot. Pour in the barbecue sauce and simmer on medium for 10 minutes. 
  3. Add the beef, cover, and simmer on low, stirring every once in awhile, for about 3 hours. 
  4. Remove the meat from the dutch oven and shred it into small pieces with two forks, discarding any extra fat. Cover with foil and set it aside.
  5. Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce it until thick, stirring regularly. 
  6. Once the sauce has thickened, add the beef back into the sauce and heat on low until the beef is thoroughly warmed. Add pepper to taste. 
  7. Serve on slider buns. 
One of my all-time favorite food blogs is Simply Recipes by Elise Bauer. Each post is simply that... a short narrative, a recipe, and usually one gorgeous photo of the finished dish. I am amazed at how regularly she posts new recipes and I've never been disappointed with any of the ones that I have tried. This recipe has been slightly adapted from Simply Recipes.

Feb 12, 2014

Pain au Levain (Sourdough) with Caramelized Onions

Pain au Levain (Sourdough) with Caramelized Onions

Pain au Levain is made with a sourdough starter rather than cultivated yeasts. It takes longer to make because the starter works more slowly, but the result is a much more flavorful bread.

Pain au Levain (Sourdough) with Caramelized Onions

One of my favorite foods is caramelized onions. I love them. Pissaladiere... French onion soup... on burgers...  caramelized onion jam... onion and goat cheese tarts... and this bread.

Pain au Levain (Sourdough) with Caramelized Onions

This flour is a combination of 2/3 bread flour and 1/3 whole wheat flour. The water to flour ratio is about 62% but likely increases with the addition of the caramelized onions.

The crust is thin and crisp, and the bread is slightly sweet from the onions. As my friend David suggested, the bread makes amazing grilled cheese sandwiches.  The aroma of the caramelized onions in the bread is wonderful.

Pain au Levain (Sourdough) with Caramelized Onions

Pain au Levain (Sourdough) with Caramelized Onions

Ingredients


Levain

227 g bread flour
227 g water
45 g sourdough starter

Caramelized Onions

1 large onion (I used a sweet onion)
1 T olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp sugar

Final dough

372 g water
454 g levain
457 g bread flour
228 g whole wheat
17 g salt
Caramelized onions

Instructions

  1. About 8 to 10 hours before mixing the dough, mix the levain ingredients and cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit at room temperature. 
  2. Coarsely chop the onion. Heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet, add the onion, salt, pepper, and sugar. Saute the onions on medium low, stirring regularly, until lightly browned, but still very soft. Let cool. 
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the levain and the water with a spoon to break up the levain. Add the flour and mix on low until the flour and water are mixed, about a minute. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes. 
  4. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and mix on low with the dough hook for three minutes. Mix on the second speed for 3 more minutes, adding the onions during the last minute. 
  5. Place the dough in an oiled bowl or dough rising bucket and allow to rise for 2 1/4 hours, with two stretch and folds at 45 minute intervals. 
  6. Divide the dough in half and pre-shape it into boules. Cover with plastic wrap to rest for 15 minutes. 
  7. Flour two 9-inch bannetons, brotforms, or towel lined bowls. (I use a combination of wheat and rice flour to prevent sticking)
  8. Shape the dough into boules and place them into the baskets/bowls, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 2 hours. 
  9. Preheat the oven with a baking stone to 450 degrees F and prepare it for steam (see this post). 
  10. Bake the loaves for about 40 minutes, until they reach an interior temperature of about 200 to 205 degrees F. 
  11. Cool on a rack before slicing. 
Sharing with Yeastspotting

Feb 10, 2014

Kalamata Olive and Oregano Mini Loaves

Kalamata Olive and Oregano Mini Loaves from Karen's Kitchen Stories

These savory little Kalamata Olive and Oregano Mini Loaves are perfect for an afternoon tea table.

I think they would also be lovely cut into tiny slices and spread with a bit of goat cheese or tomato jam and served as an appetizer.

Kalamata Olive and Oregano Mini Loaves from Karen's Kitchen Stories

They are loaded with Kalamata olives and fresh oregano, and are really easy to make. They are super moist (buttermilk!) even though there is only a small amount of butter.

The recipe calls for baking these mini loaves in these linked mini loaf pans. I didn't have that set of pans, but I did happen to have this one. Don't fret if you don't have mini pans because you can make one regular sized loaf in a 9 inch by 5 inch pan. It's just that mini is so much cuter, right?

Kalamata Olive and Oregano Mini Loaves from Karen's Kitchen Stories

I love the look of the fresh oregano (home grown!) sprinkled on top of the loaves right before baking.

Kalamata Olive and Oregano Mini Loaves from Karen's Kitchen Stories

This recipe is from a new cookbook Easy As Pie Pops: Small in Size and Huge on Flavor and Fun by Andrea Smetona.The book is full of adorable mini desserts such as pie pops (mini pies on a stick!), cake pops, and mini tea loaves. The author is the owner of Cakewalk Desserts (www.cakewalkdesserts.com) in Laguna Niguel, California. The book is filled with beautiful photographs, step-by-step instructions, and links to resources for supplies. I can't wait to try baking and tasting the different  mini pies. (I also love that the author includes both the volume and weight of the ingredients.)

Kalamata, Olive & Oregano Mini Loaves


YIELD: 8 MINI LOAVES OR ONE 9" X 5" (22 X 12 CM) LOAF

1 tbsp (14 ml) olive oil
1 C (151 g) finely chopped yellow onion
2 C (198 g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 C (236 ml) buttermilk
2 tbsp (28 g) butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 C (180 g) pitted and chopped kalamata olives
3 tbsp (9 g) fresh oregano, chopped plus extra for sprinkling on loaves

Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Grease and flour an eight-loaf linked mini loaf pan or one 9 x 5-inch (22 x 12 cm) loaf pan.

Heat the oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat; add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes, or until tender. Set aside.

Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the center of the mixture.

In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, melted butter and eggs, stirring with a whisk. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the well of the flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. Fold in the cooked onions, olives and oregano.

Transfer to the prepared mini loaf pan and sprinkle the tops with more chopped oregano. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes (or 25 to 35 minutes using a 9 x 5-inch pan [22 x 12 cm]), or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.


Let cool for at least 15 minutes in the pan before transferring to a cooling rack and serving.

Recipe is from Easy as Pie Pops: Small in Size and Huge on Flavor and Fun by Andrea Smetona. Page Street Publishing, November, 2013. Printed with permission.

Disclosure: The nice folks at Page Street Publishing provided a copy of the book for review. Opinions are my own. 

Feb 9, 2014

The Tanjeen Negroni

Tanjeen Negroni

This Tanjeen Negroni is different from the traditional Negroni, in that it substitutes the red vermouth with the juice of of a tangerine. For this cocktail, I substituted the juice of a tangelo.

Don't let the pretty color fool you into thinking that this is a girlie drink. While Campari is in the liqueur family, it is quite bitter, flavored by herbs, fruits, spices, and other botanicals. According to the Williams Sonoma Bar Guide, Campari is "considered an acquired taste." In Milan, where it was introduced, it is said that you must drink it three times before you enjoy it.


Tanjeen Negroni

This cocktail is, for those of us who like crisp and somewhat bitter aperitifs, amazing and refreshing.



The Tanjeen Negroni

Ingredients

2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce Campari
The juice of one tangelo or one tangerine
Thin slice of tangerine or a twist for garnish

Instructions

  1. Pour all of the ingredients into an ice filled glass or shaker and stir or shake for about a minute. 
  2. Strain into a chilled glass and garnish. 
Cheers!

This recipe is from The Best Craft Cocktails & Bartending with Flair: An Incredible Collection of Extraordinary Drinks.The book is by Jeremy LeBlanc, lead bartender at Altitude Sky Lounge in the San Diego Gas Lamp. According to the book, the bar is listed by Conde Nast as one of the top ten roof top bars in the world. The cocktails in this book are one-of-a-kind, and the photographs are gorgeous. 

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher without obligation. 

Feb 6, 2014

Tuscan Coffeecake

Tuscan coffeecake

This Tuscan coffeecake was developed by PJ Hamel (of King Arthur Flour fame) after visiting an Italian bakery in Vermont. As she describes it, it was "Italian-Italian, not American-Italian."


While this is called a coffeecake, it is actually a yeasted bread filled with fruit, nuts, and lightly enriched with a bit of sugar and butter.. but not too much. It is brushed with a vanilla sugar mixture prior to baking to give it a nice crunchy glaze. It's reminiscent of panettone, without all of the fuss.

Tuscan coffeecake

Only issue? How to evenly distribute the fruit throughout the loaf when shaping. I'll have to work on that.

Knowing that certain members of my family who shall remain nameless would probably not like the walnuts included in the original recipe, I substituted chopped dried apricots. I also substituted dried cherries for the dates called for in the original recipe. In addition, I added 1/8 tsp of Fiori de Sicilia, an Italian flavoring that combines the flavors and scents of vanilla and citrus.

Keep in mind that you will need to make the starter the night before making the bread. It can sit out on your counter for several hours to get bubbly and develop flavor. It's super easy so don't let the word "starter" stop you from trying this delicious bread.

This bread was chosen for the Avid Bakers Challenge for February. Each month, we are baking a recipe from the King Arthur Flour website. To see how other bakers fared, check out the Avid Bakers Challenge page. You'll find lots of delicious looking variations.

Tuscan Coffee Cake

Ingredients

Starter

1 cup / 4.25 ounces King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or European-Style Flour (I used the European style)
1/2 cup cool water
1/16 teaspoon instant yeast


Final Dough

All of the starter
2/3 cup water
2 3/4 cups / 11.7 ounces King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or European-Style Flour
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 large egg
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/8 tsp Fiori de Sicilia, optional

Add Ins

1 cup dried apricots, chopped
3/4 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup dried cherries, soaked in hot water and then drained

Glaze

2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon water

Instructions

  1. Mix the starter ingredients in a one quart bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to sit overnight, until bubbly.
  2. Mix all of the dough ingredients in a stand mixer or bread machine until smooth, about 7 minutes. 
  3. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for about an hour (if your kitchen is really cold, you should let it rise longer). If it doesn't completely double, that's okay. 
  4. Knead the fruit into the dough, and shape it into a ball. Place the ball into an oiled 9 inch cake pan and flatten it a bit, cover with plastic wrap, and allow it to rise for about 30 minutes. It should just crest over the top of the pan (the loaf will rise even more in the oven). 
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Mix the glaze ingredients and brush the top of the loaf with the mixture. 
  7. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the top is golden and the interior of the loaf reaches 190 degrees F. 
  8. Allow it to cool in the pan for five minutes. Remove it from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack. 
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Feb 5, 2014

Sichuan Pork with Peppers and Peanuts | Wok Wednesdays

Sichuan pork with peppers and peanuts

The recipe for this Sichuan pork with peppers and peanuts is from Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge by Grace Young, the James Beard award winning cookbook filled with amazing stir-fry dishes.

This pork stir-fry calls for ingredients that are fairly easy to find, and because I have been participating in Wok Wednesdays, I actually had all of the ingredients on hand, with the exception of the pork, bell peppers, and the peanuts. Yes, I have a jar of chili bean sauce. In fact, I've been so in love with making the dishes from this book that I've taken over a couple of shelves in our refrigerator with ingredients.

Sichuan Pork with Peppers and Peanuts | Wok Wednesdays

Even better, this dish is super easy to make on a weeknight.

This recipe consists of pork, red bell peppers, and peanuts flavored with lots of garlic, red onion, soy sauce, Shao Hsing rice wine, white pepper, chili bean sauce, and Chinkiang or balsamic vinegar. After the initial prep, it takes about five minutes to make.

Verdict? One of my favorites from the book. Totally dinner party worthy. How does Grace do it?

The recipe (although doubled in volume) can be found on the NPR website. Even better, get the book. It's full of all kinds of information about cooking with a wok. I'm totally hooked.