Monday, September 14, 2009

Easy peasy cobbler

In the last 3 days I've made 2 cobblers. It's a VERY easy recipe in fact I don't measure anything at all. Unfortunately I don't have pictures but I did want to post about it. I am going to make another one for a BBQ I'm going to this weekend so hopefully I'll have pictures to post then.

For this I've just been using the pre made pie crusts because I've not wanted to spend the time on a home made one.

I did use fresh peaches today in the past I've just used a bag of frozen ones, they work great but the fresh ones were sooo much better.

I used 4 peaches peeled and wedged. Then I added a pint of blueberries. One I made I used blackberries because generally I like blackberries better than blue but for the cobbler I like the blueberries better so I went back to them today for the one I made. Then I added in aprox 3/4 cup of brown sugar, the brown sugar over the white gives it a much richer flavor I think. And I added 2 tbls of butter.

Mix the fruit, sugar, and butter in a bowl just to make sure that your fruit is dusted with sugar. The peaches I used today were so juicy that the brown sugar started to dissolve right on the fruit. Place a pie crust in the bottom of your baking dish. I like a deep round dish but today I was baking at a friends so I used what they had which ended up being a 9" square pyrex dish and that worked great as well. Pile your fruit mix into the pie crust. Place another pie crust on top and add a couple of slices into the top of the pastery to allow it to breath. Place in a preheated oven at 350 degrees and bake for aprox 45 min.

It will be extreamly juicy and extreamly good! Enjoy

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Rum-Drenched Vanilla Cake

Oh My God I LOVE this recipe. This one will defiantly make it into a regular rotation. Birthdays, pot lucks, no reason at all other than it's damn good. Again I made this one on my vacation. It is so good the first cake didn't last a day. There were two loafs made from the batter. I'm working on the second one now. Trying to see if I can manage to save a slice for The Brother and The Sister. The Boyfriend gets a slice tonight.

This one is very easy to make. I didn't use anything other than a hand whisk to mix it all. This one is like a pound cake very dense very yummy. And the smell while cooking is to die for. You don't have to use the rum in this recipe if you want to you can just have a yummy vanilla cake if you so desire or you can even use rum extract, not the same flavor exactly but still good.

2 2/3 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 1/3 cup sugar
2 plump, moist vanilla beans, split lenghtwise, seeds scraped out and reserved, or 1 1/2 tbl pure vanilla extract
6 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 tbl dark rum
1 stick plus 7 tbl (15 tbl) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

for the syrup:
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark rum

sift the flour baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. Add the sugar and the pulp from the vanilla beans and mix well in a large bowl until the sugar is moist and imbued with the fragrance of vanilla. If you're using the vanilla extract (as I did) add it to the mixture after you add in the eggs.
With the sugar add in eggs and whisk into the sugar until thoroughly mixed, then add in the extract if using that, then the cream, followed by the rum. Once all are mixed well slowly add in the flour mixture in 3 or 4 parts. Make sure it's well mixed between each addition of the flour mixture. Then fold in the melted butter in 2 or 3 parts. The mixture will be smooth and thick.
Then divide the mixture into 2 9 inch loaf pans. Bake at 350 for 55 or 60 min. Again I sprayed the pans with pam didn't butter or powder the pans. If they start to brown too quickly cover them lightly with a foil tent.

While the cakes are in the oven make the syrup so that it can cool down while the cakes finish baking. In a sauce pan mix the water and the sugar over medium heat and bring to a boil. Once it starts to boil remove from the heat and mix in the rum. It will look pretty much like clear liquid, at least it did to me. Set aside and once the cakes are done let them cool for about 5-10 minutes. Then poke holes all over the top of the cake with a thin skewer, or do like I did and just make a few slices into the cake I went about half way down into the cake. Gently brush the syrup onto the top be sure to go slowly so that the cake can sop it up.

Wait if you can or eat it warm it is SO delicious. In fact...I'm gonna go have another small slice. Enjoy!

Allspice Crumb Muffins

So I am on vacation this week and on Sunday night I went over to a friends house to hang out and do a little baking. Decided I was gonna do some muffins that looked yummy from my new cookbook which btw is Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. They looked pretty yummy from the pic and I haven't made muffins in years so I gave 'em a shot. These muffins have a streusel on top of them which I've not done before but was actually pretty easy.


For the Streusel:
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed)
1/2 tsp ground allspice
5 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter
cut into bits

For the muffins:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup light brown sugar (packed)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter melted & cooled
2 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the streusel:
Mix all ingredients except the butter in a bowl and lightly sift though them with your fingers to blend. Then add in the bits of cold butter and toss them in to get them covered with the dry ingredients. Work it with your fingers breaking the butter up into smaller clumps. Set aside in the refrigerator for now. According to the recipe the crumbs can be held for up to 3 days ahead of time. And honestly for the amount of flour and such I'd probably make it with more butter next time. Maybe go with 6 tablespoons instead of 5. I would have this time around but unfortunately was short on butter.

For the muffins:
Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, allspice & salt in a large bowl. Then stir in the brown sugar making sure there are no lumps. In a separate container whisk the melted butter, eggs, milk & vanilla extract until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry and gently but quickly stir together, you can use a whisk or a rubber spatula to combine the ingredients. The batter will be lump don't worry about it that's the way it should be.

At this point you get to fill your muffin pan. I just sprayed mine with some pam didn't use muffin cups or anything else. They came out pretty easy. This recipe makes EXACTLY 12 muffins. I've honestly never seen such an exact division in all the years I've been baking muffins. Whether from scratch or from a box mix. Then once you've divided the batter get your streusel from your fridge. For this to make sure you divide it evenly I'd start by adding just a little bit to each muffin then keep dividing till it's gone. I didn't do that and my first muffin had plenty of streusel the last one not so much. Use your fingertips to gently press the crumbs into the batter.

Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and test done with a knife or toothpick.

I didn't die over these muffins. My friends who's house I was baking at really did enjoy them. They weren't bad. I think part of it was that, as I said earlier, I didn't have much butter and actually had to use margarine. I'll probably try them again with all butter this time and more butter for the streusel. I had some strawberry butter on them and that was really good. I left the muffins at my friends house they said they had them the next morning along with some store bought cinnamon buns. They even said that having the cinnamon roll after the allspice muffins made the store bought roll taste better. So that I think is a good thing yes?

All in all a very easy recipe to do and I give it a thumbs up not my favorite thing but not bad.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Eggs eggs eggs

So I was in the mood for a quiche. Having never made one I pulled up a couple of recipes got an idea of the ratio on what to put in it and away I went to the grocery store. Cheese, eggs, spinach, crab (yum.)
I ended up making 2 one for me and The Brother and one for The Sister. She doesn't eat crab and me and he both love seafood.

So we started each one off with
4 eggs
1 cup half and half
quarter bell pepper chopped
1 & 1/2 cup fresh grated baby swiss
3-4 artichoke hearts (I got marinated ones for this)
salt & pepper to taste
aprox 1 tsp garlic powder (or fresh garlic if you like it's not an exact recipe)

Once we got the basics out of the way we switched up the main ingredients one for a spinach/bacon and one for a crab quiche.

On the crab one I added about a cup of crab to the above mix and for the spinach & bacon one I added about a cup of chopped spinach 4 slices of bacon roughly chopped and pre cooked in the pan. The Sister's recommendation is to make sure it's fried up rather crispy. I also added some diced up green onions into hers.

I baked them both about 40 min in a 350 degree oven. I appeared to over cook them because they got a bit watery and The Brother said that was like over cooking scrambled eggs.

Even a bit watery they were good. Everyone here seemed to enjoy them. I think I'll play with the spices a bit more if I do one next time. I enjoyed the flavor of the bell pepper but didn't so much care for the texture. But that's a personal thing for me.

My opinion of quiches make them your own. Once you have the basic down play with it and throw in random things that you want to eat and enjoy.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I made cookies!

A few weeks ago when I dived into the foodie world online I ended up on Cooks Illustrated website. Upon said site I signed up for a free copy of one of their magazines. The one I received had a recipe for the Ultimate Oatmeal Cookie. I was intrigued. It included nuts...not being a nut eater I was actually still intrigued. So I started collecting the components for said recipe. I was looking forward to trying the Ultimate (imagine that being said in the Movie Preview guys voice) Oatmeal Cookie. I've never made them before. I enjoy a good oatmeal cookie not my favorite but they are good. The hardest thing to find was dried cherries. They are not something that Wal-Mart has deemed to carry. I'm sure there are places around but the one I ended up going to was a whole foods store and the dried cherries I got were organic and eight bucks. So these were gonna be expensive cookies.
This is my mix of pecans, chocolate, dried cherries, and oats looks kinda yummy I think.

This is the 4 part mix from above mixed in with everything else in the mixer. May not look so hot but it mixed together really well. I followed the recipe on this one exactly, even to the point I let my butter soften but stay cool.

1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 c old-fashioned rolled oats
1 c pecans toasted & chopped
1 c dried sour cherries
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks
12 Tbl unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. In second bowl, stir together oats, pecans, cherries, and chocolate.
In a stand mixer beat butter & sugar at medium speed until no lumps remain. Scrape down the sides and add the egg & vanilla and beat on low/med until fully incorporated. Scrap down sides again then at low speed add the flour mixture and mix till fully combined. While mixer is still running add in oat mixture and mix until just incorporated. Give a manual stir to make sure no pockets with trapped flour exist.
At this point I used a ice cream scoop about 3/4 full to make my cookies. I did try a batch of smaller ones but they came out a bit darker around the edges than the larger ones did so I went back to the larger cookie. You want to cook for about 12 min then rotate pan 180 and bake for another 6-8 min. The cookies might still look a bit under done but they aren't and should have a chewy center and crispy edges.

The cookies turned out really well. I ate around the nuts personally but I enjoyed them and the Brother really enjoyed them. I also took a couple of them to work and let some co-workers enjoyed them. They were liked by all. So I say it's def a success but I do think before I try again I'll find a cheaper source of dried cherries.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The deep south

Pecan pie and it's pronounced PeeCan just so ya know. I'm from Texas, I don't have much of an accent to speak of so I'm told. But there are a few area's in which it comes out and that's the fact that I say Ya'll, the fact that it's PeeCan not Pehcon, and the fact that tea only comes in sweet.

Now some people say that making pecan pies are one of the hardest pies to make. I've never had any trouble with them. Last night I tried a new recipe cause my recipe book with my mom's recipe in it is packed away out of sight somewhere and The Sister wanted to have a pecan pie and I didn't mind making one. So I found a recipe on All Recipes again and followed it to the letter. It was a simple one to make. The first one I've seen that doesn't involve light corn syrup which intrigued me and is why I went with that recipe.

1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a large bowl, beat eggs until foamy, and stir in melted butter. Stir in the brown sugar, white sugar and the flour; mix well. Last add the milk, vanilla and nuts.

Pour into an unbaked 9-in pie shell. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until done.

The pecans in this one didn't rise to the top the way the normally do and I think I'd actually try it with more next time than the cup that it called for. As I said in my previous post The Brother really enjoyed it and wants to use the recipe but I'm not sure I'd use it again. I might tweak it abit and see what comes of it we shall see. I did let The Sister know that if she bought another bag of pecans I'd make another pie so we'll see if that happens. If it does of course I'll post here and let ya know how it works. It did taste good The Sister went back for a second slice the same night so that's a good vote of confidence.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Chicken Bastilla & Apple Chutney

I've been scouring food blogs for weeks now drooling over all kinds of things I want to make. My shopping lists get created while I sit in front of the computer and read off ingredients I need for the next thing I want to make. It's been satisfying and fun to go and find new things to cook and different flavors to try. I still have my limits because I am what some would call a picky eater but I'm expanding my horizons slowly and some things are just really yummy.

So tonight was a few new things for me. First I'd never worked with phyllo dough before. And I'd never made a chutney before. Let me say right off the bat one should never decide to work with phyllo dough when your pastry brush is packed away. A finger does indeed work but it's much more tedious. With the Bastilla there are a couple of ways to cook it; some say a flat pan (or in my case a baking stone) is best because it's easy to cut and serve, others say a pie pan or cake dish is best because you have something to hold the sides up. Today I used a baking stone and it cooked it wonderfully but it did cause a bit of smoke when the juice seeped out and started to burn on the bottom of the oven. So next time around I'll try the pie/cake pan method.

So the Chicken Bastilla I tried was a combination of two different recipes really. My original inspiration was from Savour Fare the second was from An Edible Symphony. Mine ended up leaning more towards the Savour Fare one than the second.

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs 1 large onion sliced 3 T olive oil ½ tsp ground ginger 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp hot curry powder
salt and pepper
7-9 large artichoke hearts
large bunch cilantro, chopped
7 large sheets phy
llo about 3oz melted butter Peal and slice the onion and add to a sauce pan over medium heat with the olive oil saute till the onions start to wilt.
Once the onions are cooked add to the pan chicken and spices then mix in the artichoke hearts separating them up a bit unless you want large chunks of artichoke in your bastilla. Cook on the stove over medium heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally for aprox 20-30 min or until the onions start to brown (On my end I found the chicken started to brown before the onions did and after 25 min I went ahead and moved it even though my onions weren't brown at all.)

While the chicken is in the works take your phyllo sheets and layer 5 of them over each other rotating the pan as you put each one on. Brush each layer with the melted butter before adding the next sheet. After you have 5 sheets layered put your chicken mixture in the middle and fold the edges up and lay on top of the mixture in the middle.

Add 2 more sheets to the top again adding butter between each layer then sprinkle lightly with cinnamon and sugar. Put into a pre-heated 400 degree oven for aprox 30 minutes.

I really ended up enjoying this dish. Wasn't a huge fan of the onion chunks myself but I have a real thing with textures. The actual flavor was great so I just ate around the onions a bit myself. However I did get good reviews from both The Sister and The Brother-In-Law. We all liked it so much in fact that there wasn't any left by the end of the night. Of the Bastilla or the Chutney. Which I always consider a success...unless of course the reason there's none left is because it got tossed in the garbage which luckily for me was not the case tonight. The only thing The Brother recommended was to add something red, unfortunately for him I'd already gone shopping for the day and didn't have anything red nor did he or The Sister. So no red was in this one.
The Apple Chutney I actually got off of All Recipes and I followed that one almost exactly. The only change I made was that I had no cardamom so I left that out I also added in a bit of the hot curry powder that I had used in the Bastilla.

2-1/4 tart apples - peeled, cored, and finely chopped
1/8 yellow onion, quartered
1/2 (1 inch) piece fresh ginger root, peeled
2 tablespoons and 1-1/4 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon and 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1 tablespoon and 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

In a saucepan, mix the apples, onion, ginger, vinegar, white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, white pepper, cardamom, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cover. Simmer 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until the apples are tender. Mix in some water if necessary to keep the ingredients moist. Remove the onion and ginger, and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

I found that when I added the lid I didn't have to add any water the moister from the apples collected on the lid and when I lifted it to stir I just let it fall back into the pan to keep it from drying out. This was really good. I was extreamly happy with the outcome. And The Sister who doesn't normally mix sweet & savory enjoyed this chutney with the Bastilla quite well.

Overall tonight I was quite pleased with the results. I think I could have added 3 full apples instead of the 2 and a half I used. Would have given everyone a bit more to enjoy but no one went hungry tonight and that's a good thing. I also made a pecan pie tonight because The Sister had been wanting one. I'll post that tomorrow cause it's late and I'm getting tired but The Brother said he's stealing the recipe on that one so apparently it was good as well.


Well this is a new blog for me. One where I'll post my different culinary escapades. I'll post the recipes I use and of course credit them if it wasn't something I whipped up myself. Sometimes I follow the original recipe exactly sometimes I play around with it. I'll post pictures as well when I remember to take them. Sometimes that happens sometimes not. Right now as far as food goes my critics are The Boyfriend, The Sister, and The Brother-in-law.