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the urban baker

the urban baker: August 2010

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, August 30, 2010

Olive Oil Citrus Cake

In my house, olive oil, zest and the juice from citrus, generally means - marinate the chicken breasts and light the BBQ.  However, today, I used these few ingredients in a whole new way.  In a cake!

The fusion of the citrus zest and the olive oil, mixing around in my kitchen aid, permeated my kitchen with the most wonderful scent.  I could not wait for this cake to emerge from the oven.

I am going to make this cake over and over again.  Next time, mini olive oil citrus cakes, anyone?

Olive Oil Citrus Cake
adapted from rustic fruit desserts
1 8" cake

1 1/4 cups unsifted cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 Tbls plus 3/4 cup sugar
zest of 1 grapefruit
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 - 1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 Tbls. freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

• preheat oven to 350*.  using a paper towel, coat a 8" round baking pan with olive oil, then sprinkle with one tablespoon of sugar. set pan aside.
for the cake
• sift the flour, baking powder, and salt, twice.
• using your mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and the zests on high speed for 5 minutes, until the eggs thickened.
• add the vanilla, turn the mixer down to low speed and add the olive oil into the batter, pouring slowly along the edge of the bowl.
• add the flour and mix on low speed until incorporated.  pour into prepared pan.
• bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cake is golden and has domed in the center.  cool to room temperature.
for the glaze
• sift the confectioners' sugar into a bowl.  whisk in the grapefruit juice to combine.  pour over the cooled cake.

wrapped in plastic wrap, the cake will keep for 2-3 days!

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Mini Zucchini-Pecan Cakes

I am thinking of many ways to use up all the zucchini that I currently have on hand.  I had bought some at the farmers market and then my sister-in-law brought me a few beautiful zucchini's from her garden.  I have made a vegetable tian (layered potatoes, Roma tomatoes, + zucchini, over caramelized onions, baked and topped with Gruyere ), zucchini feta fritters, and now these wonderful, bite-size cakes.  I feel the secret to the success of these cakes was the olive oil!

The original recipe called for a cake pan.  Yet, I needed something that one could grab and go.  I baked this recipe off in my mini bundt pans.  Glad I did!  The cake was light, sweet, savory and utterly delicious!

Zucchini-Pecan Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from Bon Apettit Magaizne
yield: 22 mini bundts

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. coarse salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 cup olive oil ( not extra virgin )
1 cup sucanat ( or light brown sugar )
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini (8 oz)
3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

cream cheese frosting
8 oz. full fat cream cheese, room temperature
3 Tbls. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

for the cake
• preheat oven to 350*.  Brush two mini bundt pans (12 bundt capacity) with melted, unsalted butter.  set aside
• whisk flour, baking powder, coarse salt, cinnamon, and ginger.
• in another bowl, whisk oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla, mix to blend.
• fold in the flour mixture
• fold in the zucchini and pecans.
• fill up bundt pans a little more than 1/2 way full.  place bundt pans on a baking sheet
• bake cakes until tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes.
• cool completely on wire racks.  turn cakes out onto a platter and set aside
for the frosting:
• using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until combined.  add remaining ingredients and beat until thick ( you may need more sugar).
• pipe a dollop on each cake.
• can be made a day ahead ( I made the cakes the day before and frosted the day of ).  cover and chill in fridge.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bite Sized Ricotta Cheesecakes

I live in house of cheesecake lovers.  Big, small, bite-sized or sliced, it really doesn't matter.  Up until today, the household favorites have always been the raspberry ( or chocolate ) swirl cheesecakes (here) and the  mini mascarpone - chocolate cheesecakes (here).  However, today, we have added yet another version of a cheesecake to the top of the list.

I had saved this recipe from a back issue of donna hay magazine.  Yet, another recipe in my overflowing "file" of all things edible that I hope to accomplish in this life time!  I was reminded of it when I was reading Patricia's blog, Technicolor Kitchen, and of course, she beat me to it!  Hers looked perfectly perfect.

I wanted to give these a trial run for an upcoming dinner event I have next month. My three trustworthy taste testers gave them the thumbs up!  And, I am confident you will too!

Vanilla + Macadamia Crumble Mini Cheesecakes
adapted from donna hay magazine #17
yield 48 bite sized morsels of goodness

cheese cake
370g ricotta cheese
300g cream cheese
1 1/3 cups (267g) caster sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla

125g shortbread cookies ( I used these )
1/2 cup (50g) almond meal
45g unsalted butter, melted

crumble topping
100g shortbread cookies
1/2 cup (70g) unsalted macadamia nuts
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbls. brown sugar, packed
50g unsalted butter, melted

• preheat oven to 285*
for the base:
• in the bowl of a food processor, process the cookies ( I had some lemon scented sables in the freezer that I baked off, however any shortbread would work ) until crushed.  add the almond meal and the butter and process until combined.
• press 2 tsp. of the crumbs into mini silicone muffin tins. using a 1/8 cup measuring cup ( or a small bottle) flatten the crumbs into the bottom of the pans. refrigerate the crumbs until ready to use.
for the cream cheese filling:
• place the ricotta and the cream cheese in a food processor and process until smooth. add the sugar, eggs and the vanilla and process until combined and smooth.
• pour the mixture almost to the top of the baking cup.  set the silicone muffin pans on a baking sheet.
• bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until set.  rotating pans half way through.
 make the crumb mixture:
• while the cheesecakes are baking, place the cookies, macadamia nuts, vanilla, sugar, and the butter in the bowl of the food processor and process until roughly chopped.
• after baking the cheesecakes, top them with the crumb mixture and bake for another 10 minutes or until the tops are golden.
• cool completely to room temperature.
• once cooled, place trays in the freezer.  once frozen the cheesecakes pop out beautifully.  serve at room temperature!

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Monday, August 23, 2010

BLT De-Constructed

My friend Jo ( Mylastbite) came over for lunch last week.  Jo is the ULTIMATE foodie and has eaten in every restaurant across the globe.  In addition, she rubs elbows with 90% of the top Los Angeles chefs and confidently calls them her friends!

I wasn't going to serve Jo a "sissy" salad.  Jo likes to eat and I wanted something that was going to stick to her ribs.  I have been coveting a recipe from Carrie's blog, Deliciously Organic for her Bacon - Tomato Hash.  After reading the ingredients ( the best kind of recipe - 6 ingredients ), I immediately thought, this is synonymous with a BLT and was looking for a way to incorporate an avocado.

I used Carrie's recipe, in it's authentic state, and added a fresh, french baguette and a perfectly ripe, organic avocado.  The end result was perfection.  The "BLT bruschetta" was a huge hit.  Not only with Jo, but with my boys.  This recipe, with or without the avocado, is a keeper!

BLT + Avocado Bruschetta
originally from Nigella Lawson
yield 2 servings

1 tsp. olive oil
5 pieces antibiotic free bacon ( I used applegate farms)
2 cloves garlic, minced
30 organic cherry tomatoes
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbls. fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

1 french baguette
1 ripe avocado

• preheat oven to 350*.  cut french bread, on an angle, and set on a cookie sheet lined with parchment.  brush, lightly, with olive oil.
• heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  when the oil is hot, add the chopped bacon and cook until crispy. I drained a little of the bacon fat.  when the bacon is done, add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds.  Add the tomatoes, Worcestershire, and the parsley (save a little to sprinkle on top).
• while the tomatoes cook, put the bread in the oven (5 minutes)
• transfer bacon mixture to a bowl and season with kosher salt and pepper.
• mash the avocado
• spread the mashed avocado onto the bread.  sprinkle a little salt onto the avocado. top with the hash and enjoy!!!

I served this with a simple side salad and some mint infused iced green tea!  After we ate, Jo taught me the art of "Twittering".  When Jo left, I sat in front of the computer for 2 hours, and became addicted to "tweet deck".  I'm in trouble!

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Scallion Pancakes - Chinese Style

When ever we go to a Chinese Restaurant, the first thing I look for, on the menu, are the scallion pancakes.  I was first introduced to these savory yet flakey dough pancakes back in the mid 80's.  Back in the day when MIguel and I had the luxury and freedom to pretty much do what ever we wanted, when ever we wanted,  On those care free evenings, we would hit Mandarette for a late night snack.  We always ordered the same thing
( unless we were others ); scallion pancakes, cold summer noodles, and the pan fried string beans with fresh garlic.  So good!

I have not been able to find a scallion pancake as good, until yesterday.  This pancake, made in my very own little kitchen was just as good as the savory pockets of dough with green onions that are reminiscent of those leisurely, late night snacks.

Scallion Pancakes
inspired from here
yield: 2 large pancakes

250g (8.8 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
110 ml (3.9 ounces) warm water
20g scallions, green part only, chopped
vegetable oil or ghee for frying

• sift flour and salt in a large bowl. make a well in the middle and add the warm water.  using your hands, slowly  mix to a dough.
• cover the dough in plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes ( I let it rest longer ).
• divide the dough into 2 equal parts
• place one of the portions of dough on a lightly floured surface ( I use a marble slab ).  using a rolling pin, roll it out to a circle, as thin as possible.  the thinner the better as it will make a flakier pancake.
• brush the surface with the oil and sprinkle half the scallions over the top.
• roll up the dough, like a cigar, pinching the edges to seal in all the goodness inside.
• now take your "cigar" of dough and coil it, like a snail. once coiled, flatten slightly with the palm of your hand.  using your rolling pin, roll out to a large circle.
• heat a non-stick pan with a little bit of ghee.  over medium heat, cook the pancake about 4-5 minutes per side, until lightly golden brown, crisp, but not burnt.
• repeat with other pancake.

I served my pancakes with two dipping sauces.  one was straight rice wine vinegar with julienned ginger and the other was a mixture of plum sauce, hoisin sauce and a very little bit of rice wine vinegar.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Peach Tea Cakes - For One

I have a huge bowl of peaches.  I don't really know what compelled me to buy, what seems to be, a bushel of peaches at the farmers market the other day.  But I did.  My quest is to "use them up"!

Last summer I made a stone fruit tea cake (here) that was absolutely delicious.  I have recreated the recipe, but individual size.  I have not delivered sweets to the G's in a while.  I have neglected them.  Hopefully, these little portions of sweet pastry dough with fresh peaches will redeem me.  I am also going to take a few to my father-in-law.  He loves anything with fruit in it!

This dough is really sticky.  I froze the dough for about an hour before working with it.  Then, cut the dough in half and put one half in the freezer while I created the bottom crust.  I pressed one ounce size portions in the palm of my hands and then put each disk in the bottom of each ramekin.  Freezing the dough made it much easier to work with.

You can use any stone fruit ( plums, apricots, nectarines, etc.) for this dish.  I just happened to have lots of peaches on hand.  These really are a must make dessert.  If I wasn't watching my girlish figure, I would have eaten all 12 of them!

Stone Fruit Tea Cakes
adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts
yield: 12 individual portions

2 Tbls. unsalted butter, for the ramekins
2 1/4 cups (11 1/2 oz.) all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sea salt
1 cup (7oz.) sugar
6 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
3 eggs
1 Tbls. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups stone fruit, coarsely chopped
turbinado sugar

• whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together.
• cream the sugar and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, until light and fluffy
• add the eggs, one at a time.  stir in the vanilla.
• add the flour mixture, stir until a smooth dough forms.  wrap in plastic wrap. freeze for 30 minutes to an hour.
• preheat oven to 375*.  melt some butter and brush each ramekin with the melted butter.  set aside.
• divide dough in half.  measure out 1 ounce pieces of dough from one of the portions of dough and flatten into each ramekin.  top with a good scoop of your stone fruit.  from the other half of the dough, pinch off another 1 ounce portion of dough and break it apart, unevenly, on top of the fruit.  sprinkle with turbinado sugar.  place ramekins on a parchment lined baking sheet.
• bake for about 30-35 minutes, rotating back to front half way through baking.  cool before serving or eat at room temperature.
• these keep for a couple of days so can be made the day before.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

PIckled Veggies

Isaac and I have established that a burger isn't a burger without pickles.  We both agreed that our pulled pork sandwiches ( last nights dinner ) was no exception to the pickle rule.  I love pretty much anything pickled.  I have been a pickle lover ever since I could remember.

Growing up, my elementary school, Erwin Street Elementary had a fall festival each year.  Some classrooms had a different game theme, one classroom housed all the prizes where one could "buy" stuff with the winning tickets. Yet, my most favorite classroom of all had a huge barrel filled with the fattest pickles I had ever seen.  The classroom with the barrel of pickles was the place I searched out first.  I could still remember what they tasted like.  And I can still remember the feeling I got with that first bite of that sour, tart pickle!

Each summer I end up pickling some sort of veggies.  This past week I choose English cucumbers, radishes, and purple onions.  I also threw in a shallot, sliced thin!  The pulled pork could stand on it's own, but adding these veggies made it that much better.

Wish I had some photos of the sandwiches.  I made 5 pounds.  Thinking it was way too much, I decided to invite some friends over.  All 5 pounds was polished off, leaving NO leftovers.  Thus, no photos!  Guess, I am just going to have to make another roast.  I don't think my family will be disappointed!

Pickled Vegetables
original recipe here
yield: 4 cups

1 English cucumber, sliced thin
1 small red onion, sliced thin
10 radishes, sliced thin
1 shallot, sliced thin
3 Tbls. coarse salt
2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 Tbls. whole black peppercorns
2 tsp. mustard seeds
2 tsp. whole coriander seeds

• using a madoline( mine is 30 years old and probably the least expensive one out there), slice veggies about 1/8" - 1/4" thick.  toss veggies with 2 tablespoons kosher salt in a large colander, set over a bowl.  Set in fridge for an hour.
• rinse veggies well.  pat dry and place in a clean glass jar.
• bring remaining 1 tablespoon salt, vinegar, sugar, peppercorns, mustard and coriander seeds to a simmer in a small saucepan.  simmer 5 minutes.
• pour over vegetables, let cool for 1 hour.  cover, and refrigerate overnight or up to 3 weeks.

* they also make a terrific, low-cal, mid afternoon snack!

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Frozen Mocha Lattes - Kahlua Style!

I had a very brief moment (stressing on the "very brief")to sit down and read my newest Bon Appetit Magazine.  I savor those moments and am always overly inspired. I love reading cooking magazines, cook books, food blogs and the New York Times Food section.  The problem is, upon reading these various periodicals, I want to make and create almost everything on the pages.  My "recipes to try" folder is overflowing and I am hoping, in this lifetime, I get to make each and every one of them.

This recipe didn't make it into the "recipes to try" file.  This drink was made immediately.  It was served to  at the end of a weeknight meal, neighbors included.  Prior to devouring this drink, we dined on roasted pulled pork sandwiches, pickled veggies (cucumbers, radish's, + red onions), broccoli slaw, twice fried, fries!  Although we were all stuffed, we all felt the meal would not have been complete without this "dessert" drink.

I made a slightly less mocha version for the kids ( used more cocoa, non fat milk, and WAY less espresso - 1 tsp. ).  Blended theirs with a little bit of whole milk, goats milk yogurt and a little cinnamon.  They LOVED it!  Add a little protein powder and some blueberries and you a perfectly delicious breakfast!

Kahlua-Spiked Frozen Mocha Lattes
adapted from here
yield: 8 servings

mocha ice cubes
3/4 cup sugar
5 1/2 tsp. instant espresso powder
4 tsp. natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 pinches of salt
2 1/2 cups water, divided
2 cups half and half
3/4 cup Kahlua or other flavored coffee drink

vanilla whipped cream (optional)
3/4 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 Tbls. packed, light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

for the mocha cubes
• whisk first three ingredients and pinch of salt in a medium saucepan
• gradually whisk in 1 cup of water, whisking until smooth
• cook over medium high heat until sugar dissolves and mixture just begins to boil
• remove pan from heat.  add 1 1/2 cups water and half and half, whisk to blend
• pour espresso mixture into ice cube trays, filling almost to the top ( made about 48 cubes)
• freeze ( can be stored for 1 month in Ziploc freezer bags.
for the whipped cream
• using an electric mixer ( I used my and held one ), beat the cream, brown sugar, vanilla, and pinch of salt in medium bowl until peaks form.  cover and chill.

• freeze mugs or glasses in freezer for at least 15 minutes.
• working in batches, place 14 espresso ice cubes and 1/4 cup Kahlua in the blender. blend until smooth.
• divide among the glasses and either drink right away or store in the freezer.  when ready to serve, top with the whipped cream.

frozen mochas for breakfast, anyone?  I cannot wait to start
my day off with this frozen beverage (sans the Kahlua)!

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Apple - Pomegranate Crumble

I have a problem with my fridge.  I have had this problem since it entered my house.  The bottom drawer, where I like to keep some of my produce, freezes my fruits and veggies.  I like my apples cold.  Aside from the obvious fruits, this is the one fruit that I have to eat cold.  Up until this week, I have continued to keep my apples in the bottom drawer ( creature of habit ).  If I don't eat them within a few days, they are virtually ruined.  I am tired of throwing away perfectly good ( and expensive ) produce.   I was determined to not throw 6 frozen apples down the drain.  I peeled these sorry little creatures, cored and cubed them and made a perfectly healthy and delicious dessert.

I added a few new apples into the mix along with some frozen pomegranate seeds and viola, no more waste.  I no longer store my apples in the bottom drawer of the fridge.  They reside in a large bowl, on my counter along with some of their friends; plums, peaches, nectarines, bananas, and avocados.  Each night, before I go to bed, I put one apple in the fridge.  The next day, I have my perfectly chilled apple which makes me very happy.

Hence, the drawer did not stay empty for too long.  It has become the perfect home for all my alternative flours!

Apple - Pomegranate Crumble
yield: 8-10 servings

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp. fine salt
5 oz. unsalted butter, melted

6-8 large apples, peeled, cored and cubed
1 1/2 cups frozen pomegranate seeds
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbls. cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
juice of 1/2 lemon
zest from one lemon

• preheat oven to 375*.  Spray a 3 quart oval baking dish with cooking spray.
to make the topping:
• mix the oats, flour, brown sugar, and salt together in a bowl.  stir in the butter and mix until it comes together.  it should be clumpy.  put the topping in the fridge or freezer ( can be frozen for 1 month )
to make the filling:
• combine the apples and frozen pomegranates, and the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.  mix until it all comes together.
• put filling in prepared baking dish.
• press the crumb topping onto the fruit.
• bake 45 - 55 minutes, or until lightly golden and bubbling around the perimeter.
• if serving immediately, cool for 20 minutes.
• best served the same day along with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Cherry Slab Pie

I have not really made any cherry desserts this summer. After all, cherry season is almost behind us and I felt it only fitting to make a cherry something or another.  I love cherries.  Aside from plums and pineapple, they are my favorite fruit.  I like dried cherries in almost everything, cherries straight out of the bag while perusing the grocery isles (shhh...don't tell anyone ), and a humongous slice of cherry pie.

I have been wanting to make this for YEARS!  Now this dessert has a purpose.  Gaby from What's Gaby Cookin has thrown together a pot luck picnic with some of our food blogger friends.  Because this dessert makes a huge tray ( a 15" x 10" jelly roll pan ), it proved to be the perfect dessert for both the youngest in the crowd as well as the oldest ( no doubt, will be me )!

It was fun spending the day with Gaby (what's gaby cookin), Esi (dishingupdelight ), Carrie and her family
(deliciouslyorganic), and Allison (aforaubergine).  It was fun talking about food, family, restaurants and the upcoming Blogher Food 2010 event in October. There were several of you that were missed, however look forward to our next lunch, dinner or a simple hang out!

I will miss cherry season.  In the meantime, I will happily enjoy this pie.

Cherry Slab Pie
Baking Handbook by Martha Stewart
yield: 16-ish servings

for the crust:
3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
3 sticks ( 12 oz ) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
1/2 cup ice water

for the pie:
2 1/2 lbs. (about 6 cups) fresh sour cherries, stemmed and pitted
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbls. heavy cream
sanding sugar for sprinkling

for the pate brise:
• place flour, sugar, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor. pulse a few times.  scatter the butter over the flour mixture and pulse a few times.  the mixture resembles coarse meal. don't over mix.
• while the machine is running, add the water, 2 tablespoons at a time.  keep adding the water through the feed tube until the dough just holds together when squeezed.
• turn dough out onto a clean work surface.  divide into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other.  flatten dough and wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1  hour or overnight.

for the filling:
• preheat oven to 375*. spray a 10 x 15" sheet pan with cooking spray.
• on a lightly floured surface ( I use a marble surface ), roll the larger dough to an 18" x 13" rectangle.  fit it into the sheet pan, pressing into corners and letting some hang off the sides.  chill while assembling the filling.
• roll out the other piece of dough to a 16" x 11" rectangle.  place on parchment and let rest in fridge as well.
• in a large bowl, combine the fruit, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt.  stir to combine. spread mixture over chilled pie shell
• using the second piece of dough, drape over filling.  fold edge of bottom dough over the top dough.  pinch edges to seal.  prick the top dough all over with a fork.
• brush entire surface of the pie with the cream and sprinkle with sanding sugar.
• bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling, 40 - 55 minutes.
• transfer to a wire rack to cool.
• serve warm or at room temperature.
• this is best eaten the same day.  don't worry it wont last...cuz whatever doesn't get eaten, i will happily polish off!

thank god for my cherry pitter.  I couldn't have done this with out it!

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Friday, August 6, 2010

Cafe au Lait Pots de Creme

Doesn't this sound intimidating?  Well, it isn't.  Pots de Creme is just a really fancy way of saying, PUDDING!  Yet, with the volume turned up.

Isaac loves Pot de Creme.  I make mine in little 2 ounce custard dishes ( actually, they are Chinese tea cups ) and on a good day I can get 8 custards out of one recipe.  All 8 disappear within 2-3 days and most likely it is Isaac whom has eaten them all!

I licked the spoon.  These are creamy, flavorful from the espresso, and bowl lickin good!  I believe the secret ingredient in this recipe is the brown sugar.  I altered the original recipe just a tad, regardless the results were delicious!  This is the perfect week night dessert as it takes minutes to make and can be ready in a flash.

Cafe au Lait Pots de Creme
adapted from Melissa d'Arabian

3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup cream
2 Tbls. sugar
2 Tbls sucanat
1 Tbls. espresso powder
1/2 vanilla bean ( beans scraped from the pod)
pinch of salt
1 egg plus 2 egg yolks

• preheat oven to 325*
• warm some water in a tea kettle
• in a small saucepan, combine the milk, cream, sugars, espresso, vanilla bean ( scrape the beans from the pod and put both the pod and the beans into the saucepan ), and salt.  Heat over low heat just until starting to boil.
• in a measuring cup whisk the egg yolks and the one egg.
• once milk mixture reaches the almost boiling point, pour about a 1/4 cup of the mixture into the egg mixture.  do this slowly, you don't want to "cook" the eggs.  keep adding the milk mixture a little at a time until all is incorporated.
• pour the custard into 8-2 oz. ramekins or 4-4oz ramekins and place in a baking dish.
• fill the baking dish to the halfway point of the ramekins with the heated water ( I like to put my ramekins into the baking dish and put it in the oven.  once steady, i pour the hot water into the pan.  push the oven tray back, gently and close the oven door).
• bake until the edges are set, but still a little wobbly, about 20-25 minutes.
• remove ramekins from the water and place on a small sheet pan filled with ice water.  let cool.
• refrigerate until serving

I dusted each custard dish with a little cocoa powder

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Chocolate "Stout" Cake + Peanut Butter Frosting

Chocolate + beer + peanut butter = CAKE.  I don't see anything wrong with this equation.

Sitting on my desk is the 50th issue of donna hay magazine. What I love most about this magazine are the photographs.  Don't get me wrong, the recipes are truly inspirational, but it is really the photography that makes me want to create what is on the page.  Both visually and gastronomically!  I have been reading this magazine for a few years now and each month, when the new issue comes out, I am filled with an abundance of excitement.  The magazines give me pure joy.

In celebrating 50 glorious issues, I made one of the cakes that grace the pages of this magazine.  The Chocolate Stout Peanut Butter Cake.  The cake was so light, so chocolaty and so delicious.  I may have over beat the frosting, yet no one who ate it complained!

Happy Birthday, donna hay!

Chocolate Stout Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting
donna hay magazine issue 50
yield: 6-8 servings

1 cup stout beer
225g butter, chopped
3/4 cup (75g) cocoa, sifted
2 eggs
2/3 cup (160g) sour cream
2 cups (300g) all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda, sifted
2 cups (440g) caster (superfine) sugar

1 cup (160g) confectioners sugar, sifted
1 cup (280g) smooth peanut butter
80 g butter, room temp
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup (80ml) heavy cream

for the cake:
• preheat oven to 325*.  lightly grease a 9 x 4" loaf pan and line with parchment.
• in a saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter and the stout beer. stir to dissolve butter. remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa.  set aside.
• whisk together the eggs and the sour cream. add to the stout mixture, mix thoroughly.  add the dry ingredients and mix to combine.
• pour into prepared pan. bake for 1 hour 20 minutes or until cooked when tested  with a skewer.  allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes ( i let it cool longer ).  turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
for the frosting:
• place the sugar, peanut butter, butter and vanilla in an electric mixer and beat for about 6 minutes or until fluffy.  add the cream and beat for another 2 minutes.  spread peanut butter frosting over cake.


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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Giveaway Winner!

I want to thank all of you for commenting and sharing your favorite cookie recipes with me.  It was so fun reading all your comments and all your stories about cookie memories.  I wish I had a set of these wonderful measuring cups and measuring spoons for all of you, but I only have one.  And, we have a winner:

Jocelyn is the winner!  I love and adore my set of spoons and measuring cups and I know she will as well.   I am so excited to give her package of goodies.  I am including a batch of one of my FAVORITE cookie along with the white, porcelain set.  I have been making Oatmeal Cookies since I was 10 years old ( a very long time ).  Originally I only made Oatmeal - Raisin ( recipe from the back of the Quaker oats box ).  Over the years, I have created other combos and recently I have experimented with alternative flours, sugars and have added really good bittersweet chocolate to the dough.  I feel, I have come up with a winning combo.  

I love these cookies and so do my kids.  They have no idea that they are made with alternative ingredients. 
Jury is still out!  Let's see how Jocelyn feels about them!


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Monday, August 2, 2010

French Toast Muffins

I like to wake up early, while the house is really, really quiet and have a little "me" time.  Generally, I make myself a cup of tea, read the NY Times and the LA Times food and life style section ( on line ), read my emails and check out my favorite blogs.  I love that 1 hour in the a.m. right before all the turmoil and chatter begins.

Yesterday, I was reading Sprinkle Bites and she had posted a recipe for French Toast Muffins.  Before I had finished reading the post, I was on my way into the kitchen to make these for the family for breakfast.  I love, love, love one bowl recipes.  To not have to drag out my mixer and all its parts is truly a wonderful thing.  This is one of those recipes.  Easy, quick, pantry ingredients and scrumptious.

Eli, as usual, gave it two thumbs up, Levi ate every bite, and Isaac - my savory, loving, Doritos eating chow hound ate every last morsel and asked for seconds.  The reviews are in - 3 thumbs up!

French Toast Muffins
adapted from Sprinkle Bites ( a seriously wonderful blog)
yield: 12 muffins

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup melted butter
maple syrup
powdered sugar, for dusting

• preheat oven to 400*.  line cupcake pan with 12 liners.
• whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
• in another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter.
• make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the buttermilk mixture.  stir until just incorporated, don't over mix.
• fill cupcake liners half full.  bake 10-15 minutes.  muffins are done when toothpick comes out clean
• poke holes in the muffin tops and gently spoon over 1-2 tablespoons of good maple syrup.  dust with powdered sugar.

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