Sunday, December 5, 2010

Heavenly Cake Bakers-Chocolate Velvet Fudge Cake

I assumed settling into a new job would get easier. A month later, I may know more but I feel like I know less. It felt so "good" baking this last weekend. Kind of like going home after a long time away. What a great ice breaker baking the Chocolate Velvet Fudge cake for the Heavenly Cake Bakers. I loved making the chocolate paste with boiling water and Valhrona cocoa powder. What a dark and rich base! The batter had a wonderful thickness to it but my cake baked for a little less then 50 minutes with me using a 10-cup Bundt pan. Rose's baking directions stated 50 to 65 minutes. I am definitely not complaining. =)

I sprinkled vanilla infused powdered sugar over the top and served slices with whipped heavy cream infused with vanilla bean paste and sprinkled with mini-chocolate chips. What a perfect dessert to go with a nice Sunday dinner~.

Breakfast Frittata and the Gutsy Cooks

Who, besides me, gets a brain freeze on the weekend when the word "breakfast" is uttered? If I do not prepare what I am fixing for breakfast at LEAST a day in advance, Saturday morning I just want to pull the covers up over my head.

Whenever I need an extra boost of help, I go to Gale Gand and her BRUNCH! cookbook. She has never let me down. I take one of her recipes as a base and ad-lib away; which is what I did with her frittata recipe.

Red pepper Gouda, sharp Cheddar cheese, Fontina, wilted baby spinach, sauteed green bell pepper and 4 ounces of Pancetta, 1 cup of cooked spaghetti, along with Gale Gands base recipe for a Frittata (okay I played with the base recipe too) all when together for an amazing breakfast. I even heated up some marinara sauce to serve over the top!

I LoVe baby spinach!
Gale's base recipe for a Frittata is this:
6 eggs
1/4 c. heavy cream or whole milk
1/4 t. salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
2 T. grated Parmesan cheese (This amount is my change)
Filling ingredients:
I used 1/2 c. red pepper Gouda, 1/3 c. sharp Cheddar cheese, and 1/3 c. creamy Fontina, along with sauteing 4 ounces of diced Pancetta and 1 seeded and diced green bell pepper. Left over spaghetti was in the refrigerator so I added 1 cup of cooked noodles. I also added 1 cup of fresh baby spinach to the sauteed Pancetta and bell pepper just long enough to wilt the leaves.
2 Tablespoons of butter and store bought Marinara sauce is also used.

In a medium bowl, mix the eggs with a fork. Blend in the cream, salt, pepper, and Parmesan. Add in your filling ingredients and stir to blend.
In an 8-inch nonstick saute pan, heat the butter over medium heat until it foams. Pour in the egg mixture and start to cook it. After about 2 minutes, stick a wooded spoon into the egg at the edge of the pan, lift up the cooked egg, and let some of the uncooked egg mixture seep underneath. Make a hole in the center of the frittata to let some of the uncooked egg seep under.
Turn the heat down to low, place a rounded lid on the pan (make sure you allow room for the egg to puff up), and cook until the egg mixture is completely set, about 10 minutes. Once the frittata is cooked all the way through, flip it out onto a serving platter, using a spatula or knife to loosen it from the pan and letting it fall onto the platter browned side up. Serve hot, cut into wedges with a little warmed marinara sauce. Easy and Delicious!

The GUTSY COOKS Week 1 of December! The menu? I goofed! Instead of making Raymond's choice of recipes: Chicken a la King, Spinach Timbales, and Kasha Pilaf, I made the week previous' recipes of: Minestrone and Roast Beef Tenderloin with Red Currant Jus from the cookbook The Illustrated Kitchen Bible. Raymond from Your Just Dessert choose the month of December's menus and I am going to play catch-up this week to make the RIGHT recipes. I can not believe I goofed but I will try and get the menu made by Tuesday. Yeesh!

I seriously altered the recipe and used salt pork, onion, and garlic first.

Baby Lima beans replaced white kidney beans (cannellini beans), along with extras like dried basil, baby spinach, and corn. I also doubled the recipe so I would have enough to freeze for future dinners.

The minestrone turned out amazing and packed full of delicious flavor!

The soup was topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. A meal all on its' own.

The roast beef tenderloin jus was tender and the jus drizzled over the top with crispy bacon, Port wine, beef stock and currant jelly was perfect together. It is hard to imagine Port and currant jelly being cooked down, creating a winning combination but the currant added a sweet depth. Bacon goes without saying.

I made creamy mashed potatoes infused with crisp bacon and green onions along with steamed corn, creating a hearty Sunday evening dinner.

For the Mashed Potatoes:
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 cloves garlic, peeled
5 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup low-fat milk, warmed
1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper

In a large pot, immerse the potatoes and garlic in water.
Boil until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 30 minutes.
Fry the bacon in a skillet until crisp; drain on paper towels.
Pour out all but 1 teaspoon of the bacon drippings from the pan.
Add the green onions to the drippings, and saute until soft but not brown. Return the bacon to the skillet and stir to combine.
Drain the potatoes and garlic and return to the pot.
Mash the potatoes with the milk, sour cream, salt, and pepper. Stir in the bacon and green onions.
Reheat, if necessary, before serving.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Heavenly Cake Baker's - Swedish Pear and Alomond Cream Cake

The Heavenly Cake Baker's is an amazing group! I continue to be challenged on just about every recipe we have tried. On November 8th, the HCB group made the Swedish Pear and Almond Cream bundt cake and I missed out baking it. All I saw was beautiful, moist cakes on all the member's blog sites and I couldn't quit thinking about baking one of my own.

I bought the ingredients last week. All I had to do was assemble. I was wondering how everyone achieved getting the pears covered with cake since the recipe calls for only a 1/4-inch groove to be made for the almond cream, then the layer of pear slices on top.

I was the one to be shocked when pulling the cake out of the oven. No pears visible!

The cake is moist, the almond and pear combination delicious, and I will be re-baking the recipe again. We really loved it! I am actually thinking about "not" sharing but that wouldn't be very nice =).
This week is a free choice week so check out what other HCB'ers did for their choices by clicking here for the blog roll; you will not be disappointed. I never am; happy baking!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

SMS - Strawberry Muffins with Fresh Lemon and Rosemary along with Gutsy Cooks

Sweet Melissa Sunday's is such a fun group! I love everyone here. I have felt terrible because I am still adjusting to my new work schedule and I seem to be bombing everything else. My kitties don't even know me right now =).

This weekend is my birthday weekend so Larry and I went to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert in Seattle Key Arena Saturday afternoon.

We sat close to the bottom row of the arena and towards the back. When fire shot out, we could feel the heat from where we sat. I felt bad for the people towards the front because I know they were cooking. Amazing show! Laser lights, fireworks, flames, hair flinging and the music, Wow! Loved it!
Know what else we loved? The Strawberry, Lemon and Rosemary Muffins! My choice for this week. Rosemary has a distinctive flavor all its' own so I wasn't sure if the flavor would over-power the fruit but we were pleasantly surprised. I am hoping you were too.

Here is Melissa's recipe for the Sweet Muffins with strawberries, lemon zest and Rosemary:
2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. plus 1 t. baking powder
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 t. kosher salt
8 T. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/3 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 c. heavy cream, at room temperature
1/2 cup minus 2 T. whole milk, at room temperature
(You can use more or less milk according to the juiciness of the fruit)
1 1/2 t. freshly grated zest of a lemon
1 cup strawberries, cut into 1/4 to 1/2 - inch pieces
1 T. vanilla sugar or granulated sugar for sprinkling
(To make vanilla sugar, combine the split and scraped pod and seeds of 1 vanilla bean with 8 cups of sugar. Rub them together with your hands. Store in an airtight container.)
Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with muffin papers (or butter and flour the cups or spray with nonstick vegetable cooking spray).
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, granulated sugar, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, and eggs until smooth - -no lumps. Whisk in the heavy cream and milk until combined.

3. Add the lemon zest and 3/4 t. finely chopped fresh rosemary to rub into the flour mixture with your hands, releasing the oils and breaking up the bits. Add the fresh strawberries and gently toss with your fingers to combine. Make a well in the center of the bowl. Pour the butter mixture into the center of the well and, using a rubber spatula, gently pull the flour mixture into
the center of the well until just combined.

4. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each cup until full. Bake for (I bake for 18 to 22 minutes) but Melissa states to bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden and a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack and sprinkle with sugar. Let cool to warm.

I sprinkled the vanilla sugar on the muffin dough before inserting into the oven. I also baked 6 LARGE muffins and 13 mini-muffin caps. We loved the flavor and texture.

Too cute! Thank you everyone for baking along with me! I can not wait for next week's Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie!
Check out the rest of the SMS baker's muffins by clicking here for the list of blogs. =)

Gutsy Cooks

I am a whole week behind BUT I wanted to show off the Spanish Vegetable Tortilla and the Cod in Tomato Sauce! Jenn, Monica of Sweetbites co-anchor, chose the month of November's recipes and I "will" catch up.

I LOVED both dishes! The Spanish Vegetable Tortilla was altered a little by me doubling the amount of the broccoli, peas, and adding in 1 cup of sauteed mushrooms. What a delicious tortilla. Mine baked a little darker then the photo in The Illustrated Kitchen Bible but did not taste over cooked. Relief!

Doesn't all the ingredients together look fresh, chunky, and delicious?
My only downside is the filling tasted a little to eggy for us but the rest was perfect!
Then there was the fresh fish, Rockfish to be precise! So good for us and I never get enough fish in my dinner menus for the week. I try but for some reason the idea of fish always slips past me.

LOVED, loved, loved the fresh Roma tomato sauce with sauteed onions, white wine, and seasonings. Would definitely make this again! Thank you Jenn for the great menu choices!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

SMS- Ginger Custard Pumpkin Pie

Sweet Melissa Sunday! I just had to bake along with Debbie of Every Day Blessings! Debbie hosted this week and what a great choice - a Ginger Custard Pumpkin Pie.

I am late posting today but in my defense, I had to work this weekend and also baked my baby sugar pumpkins last night to make my own pumpkin puree. The pie just finished baking and I had a warm sliver so I knew what I was typing about =). YUM!

Isn't the pumpkin puree pretty with little brown flecks from being baked?

I used a pie crust recipe from the Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Beranbaum for the crust. I LOVE her cookbooks too. Butter ready to go into the food processor with the pastry flour.

While my crust was chilling, we simmered the crushed cinnamon sticks and chopped, fresh ginger.

Okay, maybe I can share a boo-boo. Everyone needs a laugh once in a while. I was buzzing along, straining my ginger and cinnamon pieces out of the cream BEFORE adding to the whipped eggs and egg yolks, Melissa says to do the straining after but I just couldn't, THEN Guess WHAT?
I poured the custard into the pie shell and put the pie into the oven. No pumpkin puree. Panic sets in the minute I leave the kitchen. I run back, grab the pie out of the oven, pour the custard out and my pie shell starts to slide and cave. I whip the pumpkin puree into the custard sauce, re-direct the shell as best I can and put back into the oven, hoping for the best. So here we are, looking pretty good for what COULD have happened. =)
Thank you Debbie for hosting this week. Go see Debbie's site here for the recipe and to check out her delicious pie. Also check out the other SMS baker's pies if you really want to get hungry enough to bake one of your own!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

CEiMB - Mushroom, Onion and Basil Pizza

This post is going to be fast. Craving Ellie in My Belly is such a great group of people and I have been enjoying cooking along with the group immensely. This pizza is no exception! I made my own pizza crust and used fresh tomatoes instead of sun dried. So GOOD!

My MISHAP was baking the pizza a little too long. The crust, infortunately, became REALLY brown on the outside. The rest of the pizza was perfect.

Thank you Joanne of Apple Crumble for such a delicious choice this week and for hosting. You ROCK! Go see her pizza and if you want the recipe, click here. (Still Joanne's site)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

SMS - Goat Cheese, Olive and Thyme Muffins, combines with the Gutsy Cooks Oxtail Stew and Polenta - Plus Some

It is Hanaa's week to host for Sweet Melissa Sundays! Hooray for Hanaa of Hanaa's Kitchen! Such a wonderful baking friend and always helpful with cooking/baking tips and knowledge. Hanaa chose Goat Cheese, Olive and Thyme Muffins. Since I have missed the last two weeks with the Gutsy Cooks, who also post on Sundays, I caught up by making a full dinner by combining the menus from both groups. Hopefully I am not confusing anyone here =).

I stuffed my muffin cups with batter since I decided on baking a full batch. Melissa says the recipe only makes 12 muffins but the last 3 times I have baked this recipe, using the different add-in ingredients, the recipe has made more like 18 muffins.

Melissa's baking time is a little too long, according to my oven. The muffins were done in 18 minutes.

The filling with goat cheese, olives, and rosemary is delicious! I wish I had added more rosemary because the fresh herb seemed to get lost in my muffin.
Thank you Hanaa for the easy and delicious choice. Look at other SMS's bakers twists on the recipe by clicking here or go to Hanaa's blog here for the recipe. Now, ON TO GUTSY COOKS!
I may not have been posting the blog BUT I have been cooking right along with the Gutsy Cooks. My excuse, after looking for work in the Northwest for the last 10 months, I have officially started a new job and what a relief~! I am exhausted getting by at 4:15 a.m. and not getting home till after 7 p.m. but I will take the schedule any day over the stress of job hunting.
Now on toooo this week's menu chosen by Monica as the last week of October: Oxtail Stew with Wine and Herbs over Polenta. The recipes are found in The Illustrated Kitchen Bible by Victoria Blashford-Snell and to get the recipes, you will need to buy her cookbook. The author has not given permission for the host to post the recipe. Dessert is last week's Vanilla Custards.
My first time EVER trying oxtail anything. I went to my local butcher, the only place out of 4 major grocery stores to carry oxtail, and the butcher only had 1 package weighing 2 pounds. They sell out on a regular basis - who knew? I ordered another 5 pounds to be picked up next Friday, encase we loved the stew. My husband and I enjoy trying new dishes and this is definitely new for the both of us. I already had beef soup bones with lots of beef still attached so I made up the difference of 4 1/2 pounds with beef.
The recipe calls for fresh thyme and rosemary, a drizzle of honey, salt and pepper for seasonings.
Chopped onions, carrots, fennel, garlic cloves (I added 4 minced) and 2 hot red chiles are all sauteed until tender (about 5 to 6 minutes) then add with the browned oxtail tail and beef bones. A bottle of hearty red wine Cabernet Sauvignon was added as the liquid base for the stew to slowly braise in.

2 1/2 hours later, the oxtail stew came out of the oven and smelled amazing with all the slow roasted vegetables and meat. The sauce had a deep brown color and the flavor picked up all the fresh herbs, vegetables, and meat to make an amazing gravy, poured over the polenta with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
I was raised around brown and white rice, potatoes, and pasta for versions of side dishes. Polenta is a newer dish for me, in fact, this recipe will be the third time I have made polenta. We like it but the texture is still an adjustment.
The verdict is we LOVED the oxtail stew. Oxtail meat does not taste like beef and pulling the meat off of the bone takes a little doing. Definitely tender but a different texture and the meat can kind of a sweeter, different taste that I liked but just can not put my finger on to compare with anything else I have eaten. I am curious to see what others already know about the meat so I can get a better idea of what is normal to expect.

Then there is the vanilla custard. I baked the custards in a water bath the same as the coconut custards we tried earlier ONLY this time I baked the custards a LOT longer. The custards baked along with the oxtail stew but only for 40 minutes at 300 degrees F.

What is not admire and enjoy as a true comfort food the a custard whose base starts with a fresh vanilla bean, simmering in heavy cream and whole milk? Whipped egg yolks and honey are whipped into a thick frenzy and the simmered and soaked vanilla bean mixture is slowly added. Pour into 6 oz. ramekins, set in a water bath containing boiling water and slowly bake until set. Did I mention what is not to like? What a relief to have several dishes turn out right.
I feel terrible saying such a think BUT the empanadas and coconut custards did not turn out and I was having a little trouble pushing myself to keep trying the next recipes. Now, I am glad we did! Thank you Monica, the creator of the Gutsy Cooks group, for choosing all the recipes for the month of October. Last night's dinner kicked butt and was delicious!
Here is the photos of the Empanadas and White Bean Soup for the week of October 17. I really added twists to the bean soup. First I did not blend the beans up in the puree. Also, I simmered the beans with a smoked ham hock. I later took the bone out, pulled the ham and added the pulled meat back into the simmered beans with celery and carrots. I omitted the Pancetta, even though I bought it because, well simply stated, I forgot.
I am not sure if this soup counts since I deviated a LOT from the recipe but we loved it.

The empanadas are a different story. I made a big mess trying and we really did want to like these. The dough is what caught us up and I already changed up the filling ingredients. I just could not do Tuna. The thought made my tummy flip-flop.

Maybe I rolled the dough to thick but the flavor was bland and dry.

I used diced pork with the chopped tomatoes and 2 tsp.'s of tomato paste along with a jar of chipotle corn salsa.

The filling was okay but the whole empanada was hard to eat more then one. I pulled out more salsa for dipping, still we did not eat even half of them. I felt bad posting a negative response but I think being part of a group is knowing that we all have different tastes and this just didn't hit ours.

I do want to try empanadas again, with a different dough recipe, since this was also a first for me to make and the idea was a wonderful one. Thank you Monica for widening our horizons in the kitchen!