Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Next on My Brunch Menu. . .

So remember I told you my mom was in the hospital. Well, while hanging out there we watch the Food Network all day where I saw Ina Garden make the below treat. We all love cinnamon rolls, right? But who has time for the dough to rise (okay, I have time but not patience). She made them with Puff Pastry in muffin tins. That woman is GENIUS!

Also, she does a whole segment on Brunch on ABC- http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Recipes/story?id=6425883

Easy Sticky Buns (Script and Recipe from Segment)

We used to make really delicious sticky buns at Barefoot Contessa, but they took two days to make because the yeast dough needed to rise overnight in the refrigerator. I was dying to find a way to make them easier, so I decided to try baking them with Pepperidge Farm puff pastry dough, instead. OMG are they good ... and they're really easy to make! Light, flaky dough filled with brown sugar, toasted pecans, and sweet raisins -- my friends go crazy when I make these.

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup pecans, chopped in very large pieces
1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted for the filling
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup raisins

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the 12 tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Place 1 rounded tablespoon of the mixture in each of the 12 muffin cups. Distribute the pecans evenly among the 12 muffin cups on top of the butter and sugar mixture.

Lightly flour a wooden board or stone surface. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry with the folds going left to right. Brush the whole sheet with half of the melted butter. Leaving a 1-inch border on the puff pastry, sprinkle each sheet with 1/3 cup of the brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of the raisins. Starting with the end nearest you, roll the pastry up snugly like a jelly roll around the filling, finishing the roll with the seam side down.

Trim the ends of the roll about 1/2 inch and discard. Slice the roll in 6 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2 inches wide. Place each piece, spiral side up, in 6 of the muffin cups. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry to make 12 sticky buns.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden to dark brown on top and firm to the touch. Allow to cool for 5 minutes only, invert the buns onto the parchment paper (ease the filling and pecans out onto the buns with a spoon), and cool completely.

Asparagus Tart

This weekend was the Encore Reunion Brunch and the food was GREAT. If it is one thing a bunch of Shop Gals can do it is COOK... well, and shop! It was so nice to catch up and to sample everyone's recipes.

Menu (all homemade... no kits here, folks)
Popovers with homemade blueberry jam
Sticky Buns
Handmade Bagels with Salmon, Dill Cream Cheese Whip, Capers and Olives
Asparagus Potato Tart
Cheese Tray
Coconut Cake

I made my famous Calorie filled Coconut Cake and a new recipe... Asparagus Potato Tart.
This was great. Hearty, yet springy... an interesting texture. Would be a great addition to Easter or Mother's Day Brunch.

Asparagus Potato Tart

1pound potatoes, peeled and cut into chunk
Sea salt
1 pound asparagus spears, woody ends removed
1 sheet puff pastry
3 eggs
pinch of nutmeg
black pepper
1/2 cup cream (I used half and half)
1 cup sharp white cheddar cheese
1 clove garlic

Boil potatoes until tender. Mash. Add cream, salt and pepper, garlic and cheese. Whip until smooth. Add three eggs.
Steam asparagus for 4 minutes.
Roll puff pastry to fit 9*13 casserole dish. Place pastry over dish and dust with nutmeg. Add mixture. Cover with asparagus, placed top to bottom to cover width of dish.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bob Wisdom...

So, thanks to my mom's hospital visit (she is okay) I was in Martinsville last weekend. My dad said two things to me that stuck-

1- In regards to my job search: "Even when the worms are scarce, the birds keep on scratching"
2- In regards to my recent increase in baking (and cookie consumption): "You better be working out more."

A wise man... I am continuing to scratch and have walked a total of 15 miles this week (it's Wednesday)!

Wise and adorable, huh?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Food+Wine+Richmond= A New Attitude and New Jeans?

This weekend I escaped to Richmond, VA for a little F & S--- some people travel for R & R, I go for the food and the shopping. When I checked my bank account you would think that I went on a shopping spree but no... all food... and wine. I did come back rejuvenated (many thanks to Esra, Jess and Katie) and a little heavier (thank you CanCan, Mezzanine, Sensi, Maggiannos and Verbena)... but it was totally worth it.

Culinary Highlights:
This restaurant is owned by a friend of mine from high school...
Located in Carytown, they have many, many more small plate options.
It is small and was packed... we sat at the bar and it cozy!

Ahi Tuna and Sweet Potato Fritters
(also a yummy wine tasting--thanks to Todd and Randy!)

CanCan Brasserie
My favorite resteraunt in Richmond, I had to have food there twice. It has a great
atmosphere with Old World French charm. Oh, and amazing food.
Dinner- Braised Lamb with Pear and Celery Root Puree and Root Vegetables
Brunch- Beignets, Braised Pork and Gouda Omelet, Peach Bellini

A chain but a yummy one... while shopping I had to help my self to Gnocchi in Vodka Sauce and
Fried Calamari

A little bit of a let down BUT still inspired by the Lime Basil Risotto with Seared Scallops

Locate two blocks away from Esra's was my favorite new fine. Quaint, artsy and sophisticated. The menu is the same... Went there after Sensi so just enjoyed wine and great conversation. Loved the upscale/unstuffy bar located upstairs. Wish we had someplace like this in the NRV... next time I will have to try the lamb!

until next time, Richmond... you will see me again soon!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Say Thanks with Caffeine!

This weekend I am heading to Richmond and will stay at Esra's, one of my best friends or cat sister as I call her. She and her husband are out of town and I want them to know just how much I appreciate my fee-free stay at the Calvert Inn...they really do have a nice home. I am making a basket of E's favorite things including Espresso Brownies. We are both coffee lovers so I thought
these would be appropriate.
This is a new recipe that is in the oven as we speak... the batter tasted great!

Espresso Brownies

Makes 12 or 16 brownies

8 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
6 tablespoons butter, cut into 12 pieces
1/3 cup plus 6 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons espresso powder
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line an 9 x 13 baking dish with nonstick foil, then coat with cooking spray.
Put chocolate and butter in a heat bath and stir just until chocolate is smooth;
be careful not to over heat. Set aside to cool slightly.Combine the flour and salt in a bowl and whisk thoroughly. Set aside. In a cup mix 2 tablespoons espresso powder with 3 tablespoons boiling water (I used the hot water from double broiler). Let steep. In another bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla with an electric
mixer on high speed until thick and light-colored, about 2 minutes. Whisk
in the chocolate. Add espresso mixture and remaining 1 tablespoon espresso. Gently fold in the flour mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 30 to 35 minutes.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Oranga Gonna Come Over?

Jill is coming over for Coffee Catch Up tomorrow so of course, I use it as a chance to try out a recipe. As kids we both enjoyed orange rolls so I thought I would add some memories to our java...

I got this recipe out of Southern Living... definitely richer than the ones I had as a kid but so good. So easy especially since it is semi-homemade...

Orange Cream Cheese Rolls

Prep: 15 min., Bake: 30 min. Your family will definitely want to rise, shine, and dine when they smell these baking in the oven.

1/2 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest
1 (11-oz.) can refrigerated French bread dough
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon orange juice

Preheat oven to 375°. Beat cream cheese, light brown sugar, and orange zest at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Unroll French bread dough onto a lightly floured surface. Spread cream cheese mixture over dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Gently roll up dough, starting at 1 long side. Cut into 11 (1 1/4-inch) slices. Place slices in a lightly greased 8-inch round cake pan. Brush top of dough with melted butter. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden. Stir together powdered sugar and orange juice in a small bowl until smooth. Drizzle over hot rolls. Serve immediately.

For testing purposes only, we used Pillsbury Crusty French Loaf.

Southern Living, DECEMBER 2008

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Thai Tonight?

Okay... I just ate WAY TOO MUCH of a new dish that I am in LOVE with.
Again, I made up the recipe but based on something I saw Rachel Ray make this week.

Thai Chicken
1 lb chicken, cubed and marinated in coconut milk, salted and peppered
2 tablespoons curry paste
3 scallions, chopped
15 shitake mushrooms, chopped
1 can roasted red pepper
5 asparagus spears, cut at angle
2 inch grated ginger
2 garlic cloves grated
1 cup quinoa
pinch salt
pinch pepper
1/2 can coconut milk

Saute chicken in 2 tablespoons of EVOO. Add garlic and ginger. Brown and add veggies and curry paste. Add milk and quinoa. Cook for 20 minutes on medium.

So yummy!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

My Quest for the BEST Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

My favorite dessert is BY FAR a cookie. Scott calls me a COOKIE MONSTER. I believe my love of the cookie came from the Famous Amos Cookies when I was a wee one... I am sure it dates back further than that and maybe and encounter in my mother's womb. As a child I never had real homemade cookies (sorry Mom). Now don't get me wrong... I do love a cookie from a roll but I want to know exactly what goes in my food these days... even if it is white flour and butter.

It amazes me that something so simple--- flour, sugar, chocolate and eggs can vary so much from recipe to recipe. With more time on my hands I will take on the challenge of finding the BEST CC Cookie recipe... ever. I probably should not admit it, but when I make cookies I can consume 4 to 5 in one sitting. They are my weakness. My quest and this fun culinary adventure starts today with...

Crispy, Chewy Chocolaty, Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from AllRecipes.com

So these are RICH and Dark CHOCOLATY-- more so than Jill's recipe or the other recipe I have on here. So yummy... I make them small since they pack such a punch.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 bag of bittersweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.

3. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.

4. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time (for giant cookies) or a tablespoon at a time (for smaller cookies) onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart. I sprinkle with a little salt before baking!

5. Bake larger cookies for 15 to 17 minutes, or 10 to 12 minutes for smaller ones (check your cookies before they’re done; depending on your scoop size, your baking time will vary) in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Roasted Red Pepper Chickpea Burgers

I just noticed that my past two out of three entries have been with Quinoa... I told you it was my favorite new SUPERFOOD! Today, with all my new time, I pre-made dinner before I went to class (I teach until 8 p.m. It turned out so yummy that I had to share. Sorry no picture :(

Roasted Red Pepper Chickpea Burger
1 can of chickpeas
1\4 onion
1/4 jar roasted red pepper
Teaspoon + cumin, red pepper, curry, salt, pepper
1 cup homemade bread crumbs (3 slices fiber flax seed bread)
1 egg
1 cup cooked quinoa

Put in food processor and then form into patties. Refrigerate for 2 plus hours. Brush with evoo and bake for 10 minutes each side at 350...

Garlic Avocado Sauce
1 avocado
1 minced clove of garlic
3 tablespoons greek yogurt
juice of lemon
pinch salt and pepper
Process til smooth

I served in romaine boats. And PS- Made 11 burgers so froze some. I will let you know how they are reheated.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

They call them Oatmeal Cookies--- I call them comfort!

You know you are a baker when you can't keep food down and you want to try a new recipe.
Last week I felt horrible and I saw this recipe for Chewy Oatmeal Cookies and I had to try them. With one bite, I immediately felt better (oatmeal is healthy, right?)

PS- the trick to getting a really thick, chewy cookie is to chill the dough before you bake it. You can scoop it and then chill it, or, if you’re like us, scoop it, freeze them and store them in a freezer bag so you can bake them as you wish. I find they’re always thicker when baked from the cold — only a couple extra minutes baking is needed.

PPS- This is a half recipe. It makes a couple dozen standard-size cookies.

Chewy, Thick Oatmeal Comfort Cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) butter, softened
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt (I often use a half teaspoon, but I like more salt in my baked goods)
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Stir this into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the oats, raisins and walnuts, if using them.

At this point you can either chill the dough for a bit in the fridge and then scoop it, or scoop the cookies onto a sheet and then chill the whole tray before baking them. You could also bake them right away, if you’re impatient, but I do find that they end up slighly less thick.

Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes (your baking time will vary, depending on your oven and how cold the cookies were going in), taking them out when golden at the edges but still a little undercooked-looking on top. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool.