Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Swiss Chard Happiness

 I love Wednesdays because that is when my organic produce is delivered, and this week I received a beautiful bunch of Swiss Chard. Additionally, I have been having a wicked beet craving, so naturally I thought about goat cheese, and knew what I wanted. This recipe is an adaptation from Epicurious (which by the way, I do miss when it was just Bon Appetit recipes).

3 Beets
1 Bunch of Swiss Chard
1/2 a small onion
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bunch of scallions, sliced
Soft Chevre
Pinenuts (Toasted)

First, preheat oven to 400°F. Wrap the beets (after cutting the green off first) in foil and roast for about an hour, until soft and peelable. Peel, then dice into bit size pieces. Put your beet bits in a bowl in the fridge. Be wary of beet juice in this process.

 Next stage, de-stem the swiss chard. To do this, fold Swiss chard leaves in half lengthwise and cut stalks away from leaves. Then coarsely chop the leaves (about one inch), and slice the stems thinly across their bow (crosswise). Keep them in seperate piles. 

To begin the cooking, boil a large pot of water and salt, bring to a boil. Add leaves and blanch for about a minute. Heat oil in heavy large pot over high heat, I used my DeBuyer monster. Add your stalks and saute until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the onion, scallions, and garlic. Keep sauteing.  Turn the burner down and simmer until it's all nice and saucy, probably 10 minutes...ish...Add your chard leaves and stir. Season with salt and pepper. 

Now you can plate from here, by putting your leaf conncoction on a platter and decoratively sprinkle the beets, pine nuts and chevre about. Or you can add it all to the pot and put it on your plate next to a hunk of crusty bread. Your call.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Rustic Pear Galette

I know this is dreadfully early for me to be posting, you'll survive I'm sure. On the bright side, I do have pictures. So I was rumaging around in my freezer and found some pie crust that I made not long ago. Pie crusts freeze beautifully by the way. So I thawed it out when my produce box from Door to Door Organics showed up (Love!). This left me with a disturbing number of pears, red, bosc, d' was excessive. Solution? Rustic Galette (aka lazy pie).

You will need:
- 2-3 pears, firmer is better
- 1 home made pie crust (like for one side)
- Sugar
- Cinnamon
- Flour (for dusting)

 Let's Begin! Preheat over to 350. So we take our room temperature pie crust, put it on a floured surface and roll into a rough round.

 Then we flip the round into our baking vessel. I am using a metal pie tin. You can do this on a baking sheet too.

Now we are going to slice up the pears. After using the slicer/corer, I then halfed or third'ed the slices so they are thinner. You will notice I did not peel my pears. I like the color and frankly was just being lazy. It's your call.

I arranged my pears in a pretty overlaping pattern. No real point besides presentation, but it does help if you have the round edges to the edge of your crust for the next part.

We then fold the edges over the pears, creating the side wall crust. Sprinkle the pears with sugar and cinnamon.

Then you slide it in the oven and walk away for say....20 - 30 minutes, keep a weather eye on it. The crust should be golden and firm, the pears soft and juicy. And it should smell excellent.
Let it cool for a moment, this is important.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Not Quite a Spanish Omelet

I have been MIA for a while, I realize this. I could make excuses, like I was in Roatan for 10 days, I had finals, my aunt has engaged me in biological warfare vis a vis a virulent virus causing flu like symptoms. Regardless (note the correct usage of that word), I had a quick dinner post for when you haven't gone grocery shopping in a while and require something more substantial than that sad lonely can of chicken noodle soup forgotten in the back of your pantry.
Now a traditional Spanish omelet involves potatoes, onions, and eggs. I do not particularly eat potatoes other than sweet and thus do not typically have them laying around. Therefore this involves onions and eggs, a little EVOO, salt and pepper. As a side note, I do have a number of sweet potatoes laying around but wasn't feeling brave enough to make them into my omelet. Another time.

2 - 3 medium yellow onions
- 6 large eggs
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste

To start, peel your onions, half and quarter them, then slice into approximately quarter inch thin strips. Then heat up a large saute pan, like my sexy DeBuyer stainless steel monster (aka not teflon coated). Add enough EVOO to thinly coat the pan. Add onions and saute. I like to allow a touch of carmelization, but you want the onions to cook down so they are soft and translucent.
Remove the pan from heat. Break all the eggs into a bowl and mixed them, adding a little salt and pepper. At this point you want to take a non stick pan, preferably with nice rounded up eggs and add a sprinkling of EVOO and heat up. Add the onions to your egg mixture.
Once the non stick pan is warm/hot, add egg/onion mixture. It should begin setting up fairly promptly. Once the eggs are a little set, turn down the heat slightly. Grab a dinner plate.
Once the eggs start to lightly brown and the egdes are fairly cooked, but the center is still runny (like should be pretty runny), carefully place the dinner plate over the pan so it fully covers your omelet. You may want to run a spatula around the edges to help ensure none of the omelet is sticking to the pan. This will make the next stage easier.
Pick up the pan and walk over to the sink. Put your hand on top of the plate and smoothly and quickly flip the pan over so the omelet lands on the plate. This takes practice. Don't be alarmed, this is why we do it over the sink. Now turn pan right side up and then slide the omelet off the plate back on to the pan so that the runny uncooked side is now down on the hot surface of the pan.
It started to take on the resemblance of a crust-less omelet to me at this point. Continue to cook this bad boy.
After about 3 - 5 minutes, your omelet should be fairly set. Run a spatula around the edge and slightly under to make sure your egg pancake is pretty firm. Slide it onto a dinner plate and walk away for about 2 minutes. Maybe sprinkle some cheese on it if you are feeling dirty.
Slice it like you would a pie. I like hot sauce and ketchup on mine. Also makes an excellent sandwich with any left overs.

You want pictures? Tough. I'll take some next time I make one.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Food Hack: Pumpkin Scones

These scones are redolent of autumn and a snap to make. You probably have most of the ingredients laying around your pantry anyway. This is also a “food hack,” sort of like the cake doctor, but for breakfast.

  • 2 cups of Bisquick
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (approx.)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice (to taste)
  • ¼ - ½ cup brown sugar (sweeten to taste)
  • 2-3 tbsp honey or maple syrup

Preheat oven to 400°
Step One, add the ingredients to the bowl, starting with the dry and adding the wet. So it should be Bisquick, brown sugar, spices, pumpkin vanilla. Hold off on the honey/syrup.
Step Two, stir briskly with a fork. For like 5 or more minutes. The pumpkin has a surprising amount of moisture but it takes some work to incorporate.
Step Three, Add maple syrup or honey until well incorporated. Your dough should be moist with no dry or white spots. Make sure you taste it at this point. Feel free to add more spices or honey/syrup to taste.
Step Four, using two spoons, drop rounded mounds onto a cookie sheet. You should fit about 6 scones on a sheet. Sprinkle a little brown sugar over your unbaked mounds of dough.
Step Five, bake for approx. 17-20 minutes. The scones should be relatively firm but still moist. (Yay for pumpkin)

Allow your scones to cool. I like to eat them warm with honey or cinnamon butter. Maple butter would be delectable as well. I can't get over how simple these scones are, or how fabulously moist they remain a day or two after baking. If they do make it past the first few hours out of the oven, store in an airtight container.

Good Baking!

Roasted Vegetables

So something about the changing seasons, etc. could be said here for the merits of roasting vegetables. Frankly, I do not care. I am enjoying the seasons, don't get me wrong, but I do not need an excuse to roast my vegetables. For some reason, people find this complicated. It's not. Don't be afraid

I am going to list a few quick recipes for easy roasted vegetables that will impress mom, the boy, the girl, or whoever you are aiming at.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes
2 Large Yams/Sweet Potatoes, washed
2-3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Salt (to Taste)
1 tsp Pepper (to Taste)
1 tsp Rosemary (not the powdered kind)

Pre heat oven to 375° Cube the yams into about 3/4 inch cubed. You do not need to peel the yams. Cut out any coarse or nasty spots. Put the cubed yams in a large plastic Ziploc type bag. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bag with the yams. Close the bag and shake it until the yams are evenly coated. Pour the coated yams onto a baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes. The yams should be slightly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. I recommend shaking the baking sheet half way through cooking.

Roasted Asparagus
1 Bunch Asparagus
1-2 tbsp EVOO
1 tsp salt (to Taste)
1 tsp pepper (to taste)

Pre heat oven to 350°. Wash the asparagus and cut the ends off, about 1 inch. You want to remove all the tough parts. Put the asparagus into a large Ziploc type bag and add the rest of the ingredients. Close the bag and shake until asparagus is evenly coated. Spread the asparagus spears on a baking sheet, I like to make sure none are overlapping and usually pointed all the same direction. Bake for about 15 minutes. Check periodically and shake the baking sheet. The asparagus spears should darken and become slightly crispy.

Roasted New Potatoes - Now I would like to note that you can use the recipe for yams unaltered for regular potatoes. This is a little fancier but no less simple
1-2 lbs of new or fingerling potatoes
3 tbsp chopped white or yellow onion
3-4 tbsp EVOO
2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Crushed Rosemary
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Pre heat oven to 375°. Wash potatoes and make sure they are all roughly the same size (you may need to cut fingerlings in half if some are particularly large). You need everything to be about the same size so that it cooks at the same rate. Your onion should be chopped to approximately 1/3 inch, or your fingernail size. Put everything (Spices, Potatoes, Onions, EVOO) in a large Ziploc type bag, close, and shake until evenly coated. Pour your coated potatoes on to a baking sheet. Roast potatoes for approximately 25 minutes. Check occasionally and shake once during roasting process. The potatoes should be soft and fluffy all the way through when done.

I will add pictures when I get around to taking them.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Whiskey Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Frosting

Whiskey Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Frosting
Welcome for my first edition of Adventures of a Late Night Baker. So I have been plotting a more grown up, whiskey based cupcake for a little while, and tonight, I began  executing my plan.
    These cupcakes are for a friend's birthday party. I wanted them to be vaguely reminiscent of a birthday cake (read: vanilla bean frosting) but with a more adult kick (hence the whiskey.) I adapted Billy's Vanilla Vanilla Cupcakes, seen here cupcake recipe. I am going to walk you through how I made my creations.
An Auspicious Start to an Evening
  • 3 cups white all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vanilla porter (I used Breckenridge Brewery Vanilla Porter)
  • 1/2 cup Jameson Irish Whiskey
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Put your cupcake liners into that muffin tin.
     So Step One Mix all of your dry ingredients together in a large bowl. This means your flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
     Step Two Mix your cubed butter into your dry ingredients. I ended up using my thoroughly washed hands, like you would a shortbread, to mix the butter and dry ingredients until it was a fine crumble.
     Step Three Crack 4 eggs into a larger glass liquid measure. Add 1/4 cup of milk and whisk together, should become smooth and pale yellow, but not overbeaten, just combined. Slowly pour your milk/eggs into your dry ingredients, with mixer running, until mostly incorporated.
Batter while filling the first tin
     Step Four  Rinse out that liquid measure. Pour your porter and whiskey into measuring glass. Slowly pour into your batter while running the mixer until it is pale, smooth, and combined.

      Step Five Using two spoons, fill your cupcake liners to 2/3 full. Bake your cupcakes for 17-20 minutes (I took 20), until a utensil inserted comes out clean.

These beauties will have a smooth, nearly caramelized top, crispy and whiskey-esque. Do not be afraid when your batter gets bubbly when waiting to fill your muffin tin a second time. Beer has yeast in it and it does yeast-y things.

Out of the Oven to Cool!
Here you see my first batch out of the oven, lined up to cool. You may notice the dark papers, you'll get a better view of my sweet baking papers when I show you the icing.

Like we agreed, this will be a vanilla bean frosting. I acquired a few vanilla beans. You could also use a vanilla paste, but just pure vanilla extract probably won't cut it here.

Here is the base for my frosting Frosting Recipe. I am doubling the recipe because I am going to do some serious frosting. Try not to be disturbed by the quantity. I used slightly more confectioners sugar as well, I like a fairly stick icing however, that depends on your preference. I had about an additional 1/4 cup confectioners sugar.

  • 3 cup confectioners' sugar (add more until it reaches your preferred consistency)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Scraped insides of 2-3 vanilla beans. It depends on the size.
  • 2 tablespoon milk
Creaming the butter, pre-sugar
Directions -
Step One, Mix together sugar and butter until they are blended and creamy. Think fluffy!
Step Two, Add vanilla bean scrapings and milk and continue to beat for another minute.
Step Three, If desired, add more vanilla bean scrapings to taste, or more confectioners' sugar to make it stiffer., as I did.

Now lets talk about icing these bad boys. I filled up a pastry bag and using a large star tip did drop stars covering all of the cupcakes. I didn't want the frosting too thick because of how rich there are.

Close up of star drops icing.
When doing a drop star, you just squeeze out a little of the icing to the size star you want, and lift up with a slight turn of the wrist.
These cupcakes are super moist and have a strong whiskey flavor. You will be told repeated that whiskey never tasted this good.
Good baking!