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the urban baker

the urban baker

the urban baker

The Urban Baker is deliciously photographed blog about nourishing your family's soul through life in the kitchen. The recipes for fabulous savories and sweets are easily replicated and will inspire you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Truffle Brownie Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites

Thanksgiving is around the corner, and I can honestly say, I am still a little obsessed with pumpkin.  I cannot wait for pumpkin pie, I am making my pumpkin soup as I write this, and I am thinking about attempting some sort of pumpkin macaroon (have lots of egg whites on hand).

My Thanksgiving menu is already set and organized and I am not planning on adding to it.  However, my kids are off from school this week and later today, we are meeting friends for a hike.  Our plan is to go out for lunch after the hike, yet I knew everyone is going to end up back at our house to play for a bit.  I wanted to have some snacks on hand.  I whipped up these truffle brownie pumpkin cheesecake bites as I had some left over pumpkin puree in the fridge.  Rather than making them in a 9x9" pan, I opted to make individuals in my silicone baking muffin pans.  These are going to be the perfect compliment to a big bowl of pomegranate seeds and a white bean dip with roasted pita chips.  Maybe, we will skip lunch all together and simply come home for the snacks!

Truffle Brownie + Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites
yield: 28 mini bites

4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 stick of butter, cubed
2 Tbls. unsweetened cocoa
1 Tbls. espresso powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1 cup flour
8 oz. cream cheese
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbls. flour
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

• preheat oven to 350*
for the brownie layer:
• melt chocolate, butter, cocoa, and espresso powder in a bowl over simmering water.
• remove bowl from the heat and add the sugar, vanilla, and salt.  add the egg and mix until smooth.
• fold in the flour.
• using a small ice cream scoop, scoop batter into individual muffin tins. set aside while you make the cheesecake
for the cheesecake layer:
• in the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth.
• add the sugar and combine
• add the egg and the vanilla and mix to combine
• mix in the remaining ingredients until fully incorporated.
• using the same ice cream scooper(cleaned, of course), scoop over brownie mixture and fill muffin cups almost to the top.
• using a toothpick or small skewer swirl the cheesecake mixture slightly to form a pattern with the brownie mixture.
• bake 20-25 minutes, rotating pans back to front mid through.  brownie bites are done when the top of the cheesecake feels slightly firm to the touch.
• let cool on a wire rack.  once cool, stick in the fridge for about 45 minutes.  once totally firm, pop the brownie bites out of the muffin cups and enjoy!!

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Apple Slab Pie

Raise your hand if you have an over abundance of apples right now.  I thought so!  There are many things I want to do with my apples; make apple challah, apple sauce, apple cake, and an apple slab pie.  Well, 1 out of 4 isn't so bad now, is it?

This past summer I made a cherry slab pie and it was so good.  I shared it with my friends and, without tooting my own horn, we are still talking about it.  So, why not an apple slab pie?  The pastry from the cherry slab pie was near perfect.  I made another batch of the dough and then simply switched out the fruit. Apples cook differently than cherries, so I adapted the filling from a recipe from The Cook's Country Cookbook.  Slab pies are great for a crowd.  And this pie fed a huge crowd.  It was demolished in about 15 minutes.  I had one teeny tiny bite.  That teeny tiny bite was really good.  I am going to make this many times over throughout out the next few months.  Next time I will pair my apples with some fresh pomegranate seeds!

Think about this apple slab pie for your Thanksgiving Dessert Table. Maybe add some cranberries or some pomegranate seeds! Your guests will thank you later!!

Apple Slab Pie
crust adapted from here
yield: 16 servings

7 lbs apples (3 1/2 lbs tart apples, 3 1/2 lbs. sweet apples) peeled, cored + cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 Tbls. unsalted butter, melted
4 Tbls. cornstarch
3 Tbls. fresh lemon juice
zest of two lemons
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt

• roll out dough according to this.
• preheat oven to 350* and butter + flour a 10" x 15" jelly roll pan
• toss the apples with 1 cup of sugar and place in a colander set over a bowl (to catch the juices). reserve the "apple juice".  in a large bowl, mix the apples, cornstarch, lemon juice, zest, cinnamon, and salt.  add 2 tablespoons of the reserved juice.
• spread the apple mixture over the bottom layer of crust.  place the second dough over the apples and with the overlap of the bottom layer of crust, seal the top and bottom crust together.
• brush the entire surface with an egg wash (1 egg + 1 tablespoon of water, whisked) and then sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
• with a knife, make a few slits in the top of the crust so the steam can release during baking.
• bake the pie until the juices are bubbling, and the crust is golden brown, about 1 hour.  Let the pie cool on a wire rack!
• cut into 3" squares and serve!

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Thanksgiving Round-Up

I think I have mentioned that I love the holidays.  Valentine's day we make lots and lots of candy, Easter, we decorate eggs and love a good Easter egg hunt, Passover we become a macaroon factory, Fourth of July it's all about the red, white and blue accents, New Years it' all about the cocktail, and Thanksgiving - it's all about the sides, the table decorations, and the annual Salzman family turkey "football" bowl.

I started collecting Thanksgiving recipes all the way back in the late 70's.  Even before Miguel and I were married (25 years ago!), I enjoyed making Thanksgiving dinner.  The more guests, the merrier.  I love to feed a crowd and Thanksgiving is that one holiday that makes feeding a crowd really fun.  I love to mix the flavors, the colors, the savory with the sweet.  And I especially love Thanksgiving because it is that one holiday where nothing is expected.  No gifts, no candy, no gestures.  It is just a way to get everyone together, be grateful, and simply say "thanks".

This year, I am sticking with some old favorites, but introducing some new hopefuls!

Family Favorites
My mac 'n cheese coins
Parmesan -White Cheddar Straws
Artichoke-Olive dip
Cranberry-Raspberry Sauce
Squash Gratin
Mom's Turkey
Mom's Gravy

New Additions:

Rustic Apple Galette
Brussels Sprout Salad

The balance of the meal; sweet potatoes, more veggies,etc, will be made by other family members.  I promise to share a recap of our holiday feast, after I have digested this meal.  Which may take a few days.  So be patient!

This cranberry recipe was my dad's favorite.  He would eat it with a spoon.  Now, my son-Eli, has taken on that role and requests this cranberry sauce all year around. I always made a double recipe, one for our table and one for my dad to take home.  I will set a place for him this Thanksgiving holiday and be grateful for the 46 years that he was in my life.  

Cranberry-Raspberry Sauce
yield: 4 cups

1 lb. fresh cranberries
2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1/2  cup sugar
10 oz. frozen raspberries, thawed and drained
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon

• throw all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.  pulse until chunky.
• refrigerate.  can stay for about 1 month.

Brussels Sprout Salad

There is a restaurant in my neighborhood (The Six) that is a great place to grab lunch or eat an early dinner before a movie.  The menu constantly changes and uses mostly seasonal, fresh ingredients.  I look forward to their shaved brussels sprout salad and am always disappointed when it is not on the menu.  Inspired by The Six, I decided to create one of my own.  It's delicious, if I do say so myself!

1/4 cup grainy Dijon mustard
2 Tbls. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbls. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbls. sugar
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

candied pecans:
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 Tbls. unsalted butter
3/4 cup pecans, chopped + toasted

1 1/2 lbs brussels sprouts, trimmed
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

• preheat oven to 325*
• bring a pot of water to boil
for the candied pecans
• in a heavy duty pan, melt butter with sugar.  bring to a boil.  boil for one minute.
• remove from heat and add the pecans.
• spread mixture onto a silpat lined baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes.
• cool completely
for the dressing
• make dressing, combine all ingredients and mix well.  taste for seasoning. set aside
• once the water has boiled, add 1 tablespoon kosher salt.  add brussels sprouts and cook for
5 minutes or until tender.
• drain, rinse with cold water.  cool on paper towels.
• using a food processor fitted with the 1/8 or 1/4" slicing disc, slice brussels sprouts.  transfer to a large bowl.  cover and chill.
when ready to assemble
• toss brussels sprouts with enough dressing to coat.  let marinate for 30 minutes.
• top with candied pecans and pomegranate seeds.

Rustic Herbed Stuffing
adapted from Bon Appetit
yield: 8-10 servings

Stuffing is never my department.  My mom has always made the stuffing (another one of my dad's favorites) and she ALWAYS stuffs it in the bird.  It happens to be really delicious and really moist and has a very distinct flavor.  But as my mom gets older, it becomes harder and harder for her to do tasks such as these.  So, this year, we are veering off of tradition, just a little, and I am making this rustic herbed stuffing.  We did a trial run.  Eli ate half the pan and gave it two thumbs up!

11 cups (16oz.) country style french bread, cut into 1" cubes
10 Tbls. unsalted butter
2 bunches green onions, thinly sliced
2 cups chopped celery
3/4 cups chopped, fresh italian parsley
1 Tbls. chopped, fresh oregano
1 Tbls. chopped, fresh sage
1 Tbls. chopped fresh thyme
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1 large bunch of Swiss chard, stems removed, chopped coarse (12 cups)
3 large eggs
3/4 cup chicken stock (I used homemade)
3 oz. grated Parmesan cheese
2 oz. grated Gruyere cheese

• preheat oven to 375*.  butter a large casserole dish.
• spread bread cubes on a large sheet pan.  bake until very dry, 15 minutes.  cool.
• melt butter in a heavy large skillet over high heat.  add green onions and next 8 ingredients.  saute until celery is tender, 6-8 minutes.
• add Swiss chard and saute for 3 minutes.
• place bread crumbs in a very large bowl.  add warm veggies and toss to coat.
• whisk eggs and 3/4 cups broth(i used a 1/2 cup more) and add this to the bread mixture. mix in Parmesan.
• transfer to prepared dish. cover with buttered foil and bake for 30 minutes.  remove foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes or until golden.

*will post photos and recipes after Thanksgiving

I wish Thanksgiving was a week long holiday.  If it were, I could then make all the dishes that I desire. Here are some amazing recipes that have inspired me:

Spiced-Mulled-Cider by Organic Spark

Chestnut Soup by The Italian Dish

Bacon-Sweet Potato-Spinach Salad by Family Fresh Cooking

Pumpkin Scones by The Little Teochew

Gluten Free Stuffing by Gluten Free Girl

Carmelized Onion Cornbread Stuffing by Organically Delicious

Pumpkin, Quinoa + Hazelnut Gnocchi by Cannelle et Vanilla

Roasted Turkey Breast by What's Gaby Cooking

Thankful Cookies + Blessings by I am Mommy

Spiced Pear + Cranberry Pocket Pies by The Cilantropist

Pumpkin Crumble Cake by Indigo's Sugar Spectrum

Pear-Frangipani Galette by The Wives with Knives

How to make Pie Crust by Brown Eyed Baker

for more great recipes and inspiration, check out Tastespotting and Foodgawker.

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