Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
tasteofhom.com, beckoned to me. It just looked and sounded good. Except for the coconut. I decided to sub crushed drained pineapple for the coconut. I also added some salt, vanilla and ginger, and upped the raisins and nuts. These muffins don't puff up and get huge, but they are just really good. And, since they contain fruit, nuts and veggies, I think you can safely say they are a good choice for breakfast.
Monday, December 29, 2008
When I saw Ina Garten make scones, I thought, if anyone would come close to that recipe, it would be she. So I decided to try her scones. I used some coconut flour for part of the flour, to add some fiber; a bit of orange juice concentrate for more orange flavor and some toasted pecans. Ina used her KitchenAid mixer; I used my Cuisinart.
These scones are even better than our local bakery's -- they're lighter and richer. But I will never make them again. They are just too good -- and too overloaded with fat. I'm reprinting the adapted recipe, as I made it. Thankfully, I cut the recipe to 1/4, but still managed to do some serious hip damage with these bad boys. If you're feeling like you need some comfort in the morning -- or any time of the day -- this is where you can get it.
Ina Garten's Cranberry Orange Scones, adapted 1/4 recipe
Rating: 10 out of 10
1 cup all-purpose flour, scooped (I put 2 Tbsp. coconut flour in the bottom of the cup, then added the all-purpose flour.)
2 Tbsp. sugar
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 tsp. finely grated orange zest
6 Tbsp. (3/4 stick) frozen unsalted butter, diced
1 large egg
1/4 cup heavy cream
1-1/2 tsp. frozen orange juice concentrate
1/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries + 1 Tbsp. AP flour
1/4 cup toasted broken pecans
Preheat oven to 400F. In work bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and orange zest. Pulse to mix. Add the diced butter and pulse with quick, short motions, till butter is the size of small peas. Stir egg, heavy cream and OJ concentrate together in a small dish or bowl and add to the flour/butter mixture with short, quick pulses, till mixture forms a dough. Combine cranberries, 1 Tbsp. flour and pecans and add to work bowl. Pulse briefly to combine into dough.
Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it lightly into a ball, being sure you work to distribute the nuts and cranberries evenly throughout. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4" thick. You should still see small bits of butter in the dough. Keep moving the dough on the floured board so it doesn't stick. Flour a 2-1/4" round plain or fluted cutter and cut circles of dough. Place the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Collect the scraps neatly, roll them out, and cut more circles. (Instead of re-rolling, as I cut circles, I realigned the pieces by pushing them up and into the dough.)
Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash or cream; sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The scones will be firm to the touch. (I used a toothpick inserted in center to check doneness, as you would for a cake.) Cool scones for 15 minutes on a wire rack. If you want a drizzled frosting, whisk together 2 Tbsp. 10X sugar with 1 tsp. orange juice and drizzle it over the partly cooled scones.
Yield: will vary according to the size of the cutter and the thickness of the dough. I got 8 scones from this recipe.
Friday, December 26, 2008
I was halfway through this yummy dessert when I remembered the camera sitting on the counter.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Taking photos of food is not difficult when it's just Guy and me. But when company is present, I look right past the camera sitting on the counter as a reminder. Luckily, there were some leftovers from our recent company dinner. And I took them out of the fridge, cold, and photographed them. The potato was unembellished since it was frozen for future use. The meat was cold with congealed fat; and even the mushroom sauce was cold and thick instead of warm and flowing. But at least you can get the idea.
I don't know why men obsess over standing rib roast. As far as I'm concerned, it's a heart attack on a plate. How can you not see all the fat in the meat? But this is what they want. Sara and I loaded up on veggies and soup and nibbled on the beef, while the men chowed down with smiles on their faces that just wouldn't go away. Our menu consisted of Escarole Bean Soup; Standing Rib Roast with Mushroom Sauce; Stuffed Baked Potatoes; Roasted Broccoli, Pea Pods, Carrots and Brussels Sprouts; and Crescent Rolls. For dessert, we had apple crostada and ice cream with Butterscotch Caramel Sauce. Wouldn't this make a wonderful Christmas dinner? Mmmmm.
Standing rib roast is one of the easiest entrees to prepare, yet everyone I know is terrified of it. And, contrary to some opinions, you don't have to shy away from a small 2-rib roast. That's exactly what I had. The roast weighed 3.73 lbs.; and some would say to just cut it into steaks. But the meat roasted into a beautifully rare piece of heaven. Just follow my instructions and you, too, can enjoy this dinner that's fit for a king. And, BTW, 3.73 lbs. would have fed 4 of us comfortably. Instead, Sara and I ate light, the men over-indulged, and there was enough leftover for Guy to have a sandwich for lunch the next day and the remaining piece of meat with the leftover mushroom sauce for dinner.
Herbed Standing Rib Roast with Mushroom Sauce
Source: Judy's Kitchen
Rating: 10 out of 10
1 standing rib roast, choice grade
2 Tbsp. fresh oregano (or 2 tsp. dried)
1 Tbsp. fresh marjoram (or 1 tsp. dried)
2 Tbsp. fresh thyme (or 2 tsp. dried)
2 Tbsp. fresh Basil (or 2 tsp. dried)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder (I used McCormick California Style)
1/2 tsp. onion powder (I used McCormick California Style)
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. softened Smart Balance buttery spread
Take roast out of fridge 2 hours before you cook it, so that it will be at room temperature when it goes into the oven. This is very important. If using fresh herbs, chop them as finely as you can, using no stems, just leaves. In small bowl, mix herbs, garlic and onion powders, salt, pepper and SB till it's like a paste. Spread the paste over the roast with your hands, covering it well.
For a 3-rib roast, preheat oven to 475F. Place roast in a pan with sides 2" - 3" high and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 375F. Cook for 1 to 1-1/4 hours, or till instant meat thermometer registers 115F. (If you don't have an instant meat thermometer, consider buying one to make this roast.) Take the roast out of the oven and place it right on your carving board. Cover it with aluminum foil and let it rest for 25-30 minutes. You can also throw a towel over it if you want. Now you can place all your side dishes in the oven and heat up your mushroom sauce while the roast is resting. And when you're ready to slice the roast, it will be perfectly rare, about 125-130 degrees. (NOTE: For a 2-rib roast, follow directions above, except after roasting at 475F for 1/2 hour, reduce the oven temp to 350F, and cooked for an additional 40-50 minutes.)
Cooking times are guidelines. Oven temperatures vary; use a meat thermometer to determine doneness and begin checking BEFORE stated end time.
Yield guidelines: 3-rib roast will serve 6; 2-rib roast will serve 4. Generally, figure 1 rib will serve 2 people.
INGREDIENTS: 2 tsp. Smart Balance buttery spread
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
3 Tbsp. minced shallots
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 pinches black pepper
1 cup chicken or beef broth
2 tsp. Balsamic vinegar
1/2 Tbsp. Smart Balance or butter
In large heavy skillet, melt the Smart Balance over medium-high heat. When it is sizzling, add
the mushrooms. Saute them till they start to brown, about 3 minutes, turning down heat if necessary. Add the shallots and garlic and cook a few more minutes, stirring to prevent burning. Stir in broth and vinegar and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 Tbsp. Smart Balance; cover; remove from heat; set aside. When roast is resting, reheat the mushroom sauce and serve with the roast.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Though I don't have my whole repertoire of cookie recipes posted, I have made a list for you of some possible candidates for your cookie tray this year. I do hope you'll try some and let me know if you do. As always, I look forward to your comments.
1.Caramel Shortbread Sticks --These are super yummy and super easy.
2.Apricot-Orange Shortbread bars
3.Chocolate Hazelnut Bars
4.Lemon-Orange Curd Bars--fast & easy curd recipe
5.Pecan-Pumpkin Butter Cheesecake Squares--uses pumpkin butter instead of pumpkin
6.Pumpkin Streusel Cheesecake Bars--this is my prize-winning recipe. It's easy and good.
7.Blue Ribbon Rocky Road Caramel Bars--super super yummy
1.King Arthur's Copykat Berger Cookies--These are better than what you think and the first to go on a cookie tray.
2.Chocolate Gingerbread Drops--Glorified chocolate chippers, but oh, so good, and they have the holiday spirit.
3.Judy's Cranberry-Ginger Chai Latte Cookies--great Chai taste
4.Alison's Chewy Chai Meringue Cookies--These are the bomb!
MOLDED AND SHAPED COOKIES:
1.Dee's Chess Pies--An oldie but goodie; they look great on a cookie tray.
2.Peanut Blossoms--Look great on a tray, but not one of my faves because I don't like biting into a big hard piece of chocolate.
3.Cousin Helen Heavenrich's Lemon Ginger Cookies--no great beauties, but, boy, are these good.
4.Checkered Cookies in the Style of Piemonte--This is a Mario Batali recipe, and it's very, very good.
5.Chocolate Cherry Cookies--These are yummy.
6.Kisses--One of my all-time faves -- don't make them with anything except Lekvar, even if you have to make it yourself.
7.Amaretto Butter Balls--these are the best butter balls, IMHO.
1.Rugelach--An all-time fave; a lot of work, but worth it because they're so very good, and this is the best recipe for them.
2.Little Lemon Hearts--Look cute on a tray.
3.Frosted Lemon Cookies--You can decorate these any which way -- red and green sprinkles, nuts, colored icing. They look cute and taste good.
Friday, December 12, 2008
10 Tbsp. Smart Balance 50/50 Butter Blend, or butter
1/4 cup sugar (or 1-1/2 tsp. Stevia)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 egg (2 Tbsp.)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 tsp. strong coffee or coffee brandy
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups quick, 1-minute, rolled oats (not instant)
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
1/4 cup toasted chopped walnuts
1/4 cup toasted chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In large bowl, by hand, beat butter till smooth; gradually add sugars, beating again till smooth. Add egg, vanilla, coffee, baking powder and sea salt, beating till smooth and well combined. Stir in flour till it's absorbed, then stir in oats, chips and nuts till ingredients are well distributed. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes, or till just barely done. Cool on wire racks. Yield: 19 2-1/4" cookies.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
scant 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. sea salt
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
1/8 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. butter
scant 1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. egg
1/8 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. molasses
Combine first seven ingredients in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, by hand, beat the butter, sugar, egg, vanilla and molasses till smooth. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring with a spatula till smooth and well mixed. Form dough into a 2" diameter log and roll on a lightly floured surface. Wrap in plastic wrap; roll on countertop till smooth. Refrigerate or freeze till firm.
When ready to bake cookies, preheat oven to 350F; line baking sheets with parchment. Slice dough into 1/4" rounds with sharp knife. Dip 1 side in sugar (course or regular) and place sugar side up on baking sheet, evenly spaced apart. Leave about 2" between cookies. Bake 7-8 minutes, till completely done for snappy cookies. Or underbake them for softer cookies. Cool 2 minutes before transferring to wire rack to finish cooling. Best eaten the day they are baked.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Chocolate Gingerbread Drops
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
The phyllo crust doesn't have to be full of fat. You can spray non-stick cooking spray between layers and just brush a little butter or Smart Balance on the top layer. It'll taste just as good, and no one will miss the calories. As I've said before, I'm not really a fan of phyllo dough, but for pot pie, it's a good choice, especially when you make it low-fat.
Chicken Pot Pie
Source: Judy's Kitchen
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pot Pie: 1 Tbsp. Smart Balance buttery spread
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 garlic clove, minced or grated
1 Tbsp. fresh marjoram, oregano or thyme, chopped fine without stems
1/4 cup baby carrots
1/4 cup green beans, cut in 1/2" pieces
1/2 tsp. sea salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup leftover mashed potatoes
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup cooked, shredded or cut-up chicken (or turkey)
3/4 cup frozen peas
3 Tbsp. heavy cream (or lite sour cream, if desired)
Phyllo Crust: 4 sheets phyllo dough
non-stick cooking spray
1-1/2 tsp. Smart Balance buttery spread, melted
Preheat oven to 375F. In heavy 12" skillet, saute onions in Smart Balance over medium heat till transparent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and herbs and saute for another minute, stirring. Add carrots, green beans and mashed potatoes and continue to stir till just heated, about 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, raise heat, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to a low simmering boil, and cook, uncovered, about 15 minutes, or till sauce reduces and thickens slightly. Add remaining ingredients and stir till heated through, but do not boil. Taste to adjust seasonings, adding more salt if needed.
In the meantime, lay a sheet of phyllo dough on top of a sheet of plastic wrap. Spray with non-stick cooking spray and add another sheet of phyllo on top; repeat until all 4 sheets are together. Do not spray top sheet of phyllo. Cut the phyllo stack in half vertically, then into thirds, giving you 6 stacks.
Spoon pot pie filling into two 2-cup baking dishes and top each with 3 stacks of phyllo. Brush each top with melted Smart Balance. Place baking dishes on a rimmed cookie sheet and place in oven. Bake about 20 minutes, or till filling is bubbling and crust is golden. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Yield: 2 servings
Monday, December 8, 2008
making no substitutions or changes. I baked some small and some larger.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
"Loaded with Blueberries" Muffins would have to be good. I was disappointed, to say the least. Lauren uses cinnamon and nutmeg to flavor the muffin, and IMHO, those flavors don't work well here. Call me a traditionalist, but I still like lemon and orange zests the best for flavoring anything made with berries. The muffins also come up a little short on sugar, and you know I tend to go light on sugar. But these need a little more. In the rare event you might like to make these, I've adjusted the ingredient amounts below to make these a little sweeter. I added some broken pecans on the tops of the muffins, and I do like the texture and taste of the pecans on the muffin tops. But I won't make this recipe again.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
It's been a long time since I made an apple strudel. I used to make them all the time, with frozen puff pastry. They're easy and fast and perfect for just two people -- not a lot of leftovers. I've been thinking about strudel lately, and I decided to make a recipe I saw on foodnetwork.com, by Robert Bleifer. Instead of brushing melted butter on the layers of Phyllo dough, Robert uses a mixture of beaten egg whites and just a touch of olive oil. Instead of the olive oil, I used melted Smart Balance buttery spread, which I think has a better flavor for a pastry. I made other changes as well, most notably I subbed toasted broken walnuts for the plumped rum-soaked raisins. I served this the other night, when we had a friend for dinner. The dessert got two thumbs up -- way up -- from our friend and from picky Guy. So I guess it's a winner. I'm not a big fan of Phyllo dough, and I've gotten away from strudels, but this was a nice dessert. One last word of warning: Don't serve it with ice cream, or anything for that matter. Let the strudel stand alone so you can appreciate its flavors. Any accompaniment will mask the apple flavors that want to shine on their own. It's a nice, light dessert -- perfect for 4 people. There was one slice left over, and I ate it the next day cold after lunch. It was still good.
Low-Fat Apple Strudel
Adapted from Robert Bleifer's Apple Strudel, Food Network
Rating: 8 out of 10
1 Granny Smith apple
1 Delicious apple Total weight of apples, about 10 oz. (2-1/2 cups)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. lemon zest
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. apricot preserves or apple jelly
1 egg white, room temperature
1 Tbsp. Smart Balance buttery spread, melted or butter
2 Tbsp. Panko breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp. finely chopped almonds
2 Tbsp. sugar + 1 tsp. to sprinkle over top of strudel
5 sheets of phyllo
2 Tbsp. toasted broken walnuts
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Peel and core the apples and grate them on a box grater or slice them thinly. Measure out about 2-1/2 cups and put them in a bowl with the lemon juice, zest, sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, and preserves. Toss to distribute ingredients.
In a medium microwaveable bowl, melt the Smart Balance and let it cool slightly. Add the egg white and whisk it till it's smooth.
In a small bowl or dish combine breadcrumbs, almonds and 2 Tbsp. sugar, stirring to distribute ingredients. Place one sheet of phyllo on a large piece of plastic wrap on a work surface and lightly brush with egg white mixture. Sprinkle about 1 Tbsp. crumb mixture over dough. Top with another layer of phyllo and repeat the process four times. When you get to the last sheet of phyllo, just brush it with the egg white mixture; don't use any crumb mixture on top.
Place the apple mixture on the lower 1/3 of the phyllo tack, being sure to leave a 2" border. Gently lift the bottom edge of the phyllo stack to cover the filling, then fold the side edges over, making an envelope. Continue to roll the stack away from you, until the filling is completely sealed in and the seam is on the bottom.
Transfer to the lined baking sheet, brush the top with the remaining egg white mixture and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tsp. of sugar. Place in oven and bake 30 minutes. Let cool before serving. (I think the phyllo knew I didn't like it. One side looked perfect: see above photo. But the filling leaked out the other side. It's ok, it tasted fine. Puff pastry never did that. I think phyllo is just too thin. Haven't changed my mind; I still don't care for it.)
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
vodka pie crust is absolutely phenomenal and one that will now be a standard in my house. But I had to add spices and flavoring to the pumpkin pie filling. I tasted the filling before it went into the Cuisinart, after cooking it for a while, and it was very good. But after I added the cream and milk, it seemed bland. So I added more ginger and cinnamon, then I added cloves and allspice, then I added rum, and finally it was tasting like a pumpkin pie should. The texture of the pie is great, and it's just sweet enough. But IMHO, CI did not flavor the pie correctly; and it needed just a touch of cloves and allspice to wake it up but not overpower it. (I know this is very subjective; everyone has his own idea of what a pumpkin pie should taste like. While I don't care for a pie that is overwhelmed with spices, I do like to taste some spice in the filling.) The rum just completes the flavor. (If you don't cook with alcohol, I don't have a substitute for you. Just leave the rum out and have a little less flavor.)
Cook's Illustrated 2008 Pumpkin Pie, Adapted
Rating: 8 out of 10
1 cup pumpkin puree (canned or fresh roasted) (I used fresh-roasted pumpkin)
1/2 cup drained canned yams, or 1/2 cup fresh-roasted sweet potatoes (I used the latter)
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1-1/4 tsp. grated fresh ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
Big pinch powdered cloves
Big pinch powdered allspice
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup milk, divided use
1-1/2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk (Or just use 2 large eggs.)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. Barbados rum (or any other good rum that you have)
Preheat oven to 400F. Prebake pie crust and transfer to a wire rack. While crust is baking, start the pumpkin filling: In a 2-quart heavy pot, cook first 10 ingredients (pumpkin, potatoes, sugar, maple syrup, spices and salt) over medium heat. Bring to a sputtering simmer and cook 5-7 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until thick and shiny, 10-15 minutes, while mashing any lumps against side of pot. Transfer mixture to work bowl of a food processor and puree with 1/2 cup of milk. Add eggs, one at a time and pulse to combine each. Transfer mixture back to pot, add remaining ingredients (1/2 cup milk, heavy cream, vanilla, & rum) and stir to combine. (I did this on the cooktop, with stove turned to medium.) Pour hot mixture into warm crust and place on baking sheet on bottom rack of oven, at the lowest setting. Bake for 10 minutes; reduce heat to 325F and bake about 25-35 minutes longer, or till pie is just barely set. (I watch the pie puff up, starting at the edges and working towards the center. When everything but 2" or so of the center is puffed up, and the pie just jiggles slightly, take it out.) Cool at room temperature 2-3 hours, then refrigerate. Serve with rum whipped cream, if desired. Yield: one 9" pie, about 8 servings
Monday, December 1, 2008
Leave it to Cook's Illustrated to come up with a pie crust recipe that uses vodka to get a flaky, tender crust. Naturally, there's a scientific reason for it: 80 Proof vodka is 60% water, 40% alcohol. The alcohol burns off, leaving a tender, flaky crust. The alcohol also does not add to gluten formation, another factor in the incredible flakiness of this crust. So I tried it for my pumpkin pie this year. But we didn't have an 80 Proof vodka -- we had Smirnoff 70 Proof; and it worked just fine, even though it was citrus flavored. You cannot taste the vodka, nor the citrus. Since part of the secret of this recipe is chilling the crust, even after rolling, I decided to use an aluminum pie pan, instead of the usual glass one. CI recommends placing the pie on a cookie sheet and baking it on the bottom oven grate , so I did away with my pizza stone and followed their instructions.