August 28, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers- Butterflied (Lemon Rosemary) Chicken

This week's Barefoot Bloggers recipe come from Stefany and it was such a great choice! It's nice to "have" to try something new besides a dessert recipe (though they are still my favorite to make!) This Barefoot Contessa recipe is simple, easy, and flavorful- exactly what Ina is known for. Because the Safeway butcher said he couldn't debone a chicken (and gave me a friendly laugh at the suggestion) I decided to buy chicken breasts with the skin and bone. I followed the recipe, making a little extra seasoning to cover the extra surface area, and baked the chicken in the oven after searing it on the grill pan. It took about thirty minutes to reach 165 and came out beautiful and fragrant. I tossed the chicken in a big bowl, served it with some of Ina's Parmesan Mashed Potatoes and broccoli for a hearty summer dinner- perfect to share with friends. The chicken was so moist and flavorful. I used the leftover chicken for sandwiches and salads and everyone was happy . What can I say... we love Ina around here! We finished the meal with her Berry Pavlova, made into miniatures and snatched up too quickly to get a picture. Imagine two toddlers eating mixed berry soaked meringue cookies and licking the juice off the plate when it was all done. Well, the adults did about the same thing...

Butterflied Chicken
by Ina Garten
1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary leaves, plus 2 sprigs
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
Good olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 roasting chickens (2 1/2 to 3 pounds each), deboned and butterflied
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced

Mix the chopped rosemary, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together in a small bowl to make a paste.

Place the chickens on a sheet pan, skin side up, and loosen the skin from the meat with your fingers. Place 1/2 of the paste under the skin of each chicken. Rub any remaining paste on the outside and underside of the chickens.

Turn the chicken skin side down and scatter the lemon slices and sprigs of rosemary over each chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Roll each chicken up, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Heat a grill with coals. Spread the coals out in 1 dense layer and brush the grill with oil. Unroll the chickens, place them on the grill and cook for 12 minutes on each side. (Or bake on a baking sheet at 425 until internal temperature reaches 165, about 30 minutes).

August 26, 2008

Raspberry Cream Sandwiches

You know how people say they have the most vivid dreams when they are pregnant? Well, I dream like that ALL the time. My husband says I should write a book, but no one would believe it. So last night, I told him I was sad because for the first time, I hadn't made my Dorie treat. He asked why not and I said, "Well, ice cream isn't something I can just hand off to the neighbors, we didn't have a good occasion, you don't eat chocolate or dairy really, and I love both of those things- and I just can't make myself an enormous torte!" He assured me my reasons were good but told me he was sorry I would miss the fun of Tuesday morning emails and blogging! So having talked about Dorie, you can imagine my dreams last night. Dorie stopped by to say hello (like she might on your blog, but she did at my real life fabulous house in Paris... yep, a dream) and she wanted to bake with me! I asked her questions, she signed my book, we took some pictures together, and she even played with my son a little bit, laughing about baking with a toddler underfoot. I was sad to see her go and felt like I was saying good bye to my best friend, but even sadder to wake and realize it was just a dream (especially that house in Paris!) So today, instead of a beautiful ice cream torte, I bring you Raspberry Sandwich Cookies, not from Baking (I know, I know) but definitely something to enjoy making in your kitchen with a friend. Whether that friend is Dorie, your toddler, or even your girlfriend, these are a great cookie to make and share- homey, beautiful, and flavorful.

So this leads me to my cookies. I made them last week to celebrate the birth of my friend Sasha's second little girl. I saw the picture and the beautiful raspberry cream that just screamed GIRL! I'd actually made these cookies about three years ago when I used to subscribe to Martha Stewart. However, I didn't use a vanilla bean or very high quality chocolate (student budget!). Needless to say, they came out just right this time with the addition of those ingredients, even without Dorie's help.

~Be sure to use a vanilla bean for really great flavor- try buying online to get a great price and product
~Don't scrimp on chocolate since it really makes the filling
~After assembling the filling, keep whisking for a few minutes while it lightens up
~Use an ice cream scoop to form the cookies and smoosh them a little with your hand or a flat spatula before baking- a thinner cookie will sandwich better
~Store these cookies in the refridgerator to keep the filling set
~Try other flavor combos- strawberry, mint, or even mango would taste great (but not altogether!)

Raspberry Cream Sandwiches
From Martha Stewart's Cookies, page 93

Makes 3 dozen.

* 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
* 1 1/2 cups plus 2 teaspoons sugar
* 1 large egg
* 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
* 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
* 6 ounces (1 cup) fresh raspberries
* 7 1/2 ounces best-quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped
* 1/3 cup heavy cream (add 1 t. Meringue Powder)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
2. Mix butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add egg, extract, and vanilla seeds; mix until smooth. Reduce speed to low. Gradually mix in flour mixture.
3. Scoop batter using a 1-inch ice cream scoop; space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
4. Bake cookies 4 minutes. Remove from oven; gently tap baking sheets on counter to flatten cookies. Return to oven, switching positions of sheets; bake until cookies are just set, 4 to 6 minutes more. Let cool on parchment on wire racks.
5. Puree raspberries and remaining 2 teaspoons sugar in a food processor. Pour mixture through a fine sieve into a small bowl, pressing to extract juice; discard seeds. Set mixture aside.
6. Melt white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Remove from heat; whisk in cream in a slow stream. Whisk in reserved raspberry mixture. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
7. Spread 1 heaping teaspoon raspberry cream on the undersides of half the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies. Cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container up to 2 days.

August 25, 2008

Pineapple Sorbet

A few weeks ago I mentioned my new ice cream maker. Since I got it, I've made several recipes and had several flops. I don't normally have such problems when I'm trying something new so I've been determined to get it right. A couple of times I didn't freeze the bowl long enough so I ended up with soup (the case of the Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream and the Banana Sorbet I attempted this weekend). Then, I made Peach Frozen Yogurt from the recipe in the manual and no one liked it (too sour- I think we all love Golden Spoon!). I also made Dorie's Vanilla Ice Cream but in the course of cooking the custard and chasing the baby I ended up cooking it to about 15 degrees higher than recommended. Needless to say, when it froze it tasted pretty crazy (though the cooked version reminded me a bit of pastry cream, which I love!).

So anyways, last night I was determined to do something right with this sweet new appliance. I froze the bowl over night and decided to try Pineapple sorbet. I used frozen pineapple from Trader Joe's so it was nice and cold before going into the mixer even. I'm sure canned pineapple (or fresh) would work too but would take longer to freeze. The resulting sorbet was flavorful, fresh, and so pretty. Finally. You can see my assistant couldn't hardly keep his hands off it for the photos. Let's just say, I'm going to try and clear a spot in the freezer and I'll be making this again. And please let me know if you have some amazing ice cream recipes!

Frozen Pineapple Sorbet
by Anne Strawberry

1 lb Frozen Pineapple Chunks
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Light Corn Syrup
6 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
1/3 Cup Water

Combine all ingredients in food processor with metal blade and pulse until smooth. Pour into freezer bowl of ice cream maker and churn until thick. Eat immediately or allow two hours in the freezer to harden sorbet.

August 24, 2008

World Peace Cookies

I have been on a baking binge lately. I know, most people say, "Aren't you always on a baking binge?" Well let me tell you, I actually was on a crazy baking spree this week. I started by making Dorie's World Peace Cookies last Sunday.

I took them to my friend Sasha and she went into labor that night, so she said they really are miracle cookies! I loved the sandy texture, sweet and salty combination, and the rich chocolate flavor and color. I took some cute pictures on my new red swirl platter and they looked great.

So I know you're thinking, "What's with the third grader style Paint picture?" Well, my son ran off with my SD card. That's right, he's a tricky little toddler. I put it in my card reader, downloaded a few pictures, and when I came back to finish a few hours later (you know how distractions interrupt things) it was missing. Well, I was so upset I went to the other room and watched three Barefoot Contessa episodes I had on the DVR (He was napping, no way I watch that while he's up, when the only thing we watch are doggies!), and came back at peace with the fact that my pictures are gone. Which left me with the Paint option.

UPDATE- *IT'S BEEN FOUND!!!!* Naturally, he put the SD Card into the DVD drive and when my husband took apart the computer we found it. I don't know why we didn't look there first... lol.

Also on my lost card are photos for Thursday's Barefoot Bloggers post and tons of cookies. I got Martha Stewart's new book at the library on Monday and wanted to try it out. I made the Giant Chocolate Sugar cookies (good flavor, bad texture), Raspberry Cream Sandwiches (Vanilla Bean cookies filled with Raspberry White Chocolate Ganache, amazing as they sound!), Milk Chocolate Cookies (delicious!), and the cover cookie- Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies (great texture, but weird flavor combos for me). So, pretend like you just saw some beautiful cookies and then go buy the book. The index is beautiful, it lies flat while you use it, and the recipes are nicely laid out and delicious. And in the mean time, go make yourself some world peace (cookies I suppose). Serve with a big glass of milk and enjoy. And let me know if you see my SD card lying around.

World Peace Cookies
From Baking by Dorie Greenspan

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.

Turn off the mixer. Pour in the dry ingredients, drape a kitchen towel over the stand mixer to protect yourself and your kitchen from flying flour and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. Take a peek — if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of times more; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough — for the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don't be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If you've frozen the dough, you needn't defrost it before baking — just slice the logs into cookies and bake the cookies 1 minute longer.)

Getting Ready to Bake:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Using a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. (The rounds are likely to crack as you're cutting them — don't be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes — they won't look done, nor will they be firm, but that's just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature.

August 19, 2008

TWD- Granola Grabbers

I don't consider myself a picky eater, but I'm really not a fan of oatmeal or coconut. It's a texture thing. Well that, and the fact that coconut tastes like sunblock to me (I know, I know, it's the other way around, but growing up in the valley of the Sun, it's just too strong of an association!) Nonetheless, I was determined to make these cookies since my husband LOVES oatmeal cookies.

I'm so glad I did make them! (Albeit with a *few* modifications- but whole wheat? It's all for the better!).

My little niece Lily helped me stir the granola and make sure all the ingredients were of the highest quality. While she nibbled on the nuts, she couldn't get enough of the white chocolate chips. I told her "just one" and she kept saying, "okay, just another one" over and over. It was adorable.

To suit these cookies to a few picky eater (myself apparently, though we do have someone who refuses cooked raisins and those don't bug me) I used Craisins and white chocolate chips in these. Because I didn't buy any wheat germ and I didn't want coconut, I used whole wheat flour and some extra nuts to help bulk up the dough.

This weeks choice came from Michelle and I'm so glad she picked it, since these cookies were amazing and I know I wouldn't have made them on my own. That's the beauty of Tuesdays with Dorie.

Granola Grabbers
Adapted from Baking by Dorie Greenspan

3 Cups Granola without Fruit (Traders Joe's Pecan Praline Granola)
3/4 Cup Craisins, plumped in 1/2 Cup boiling water then drained
1/2 Cup Chopped Raw Cashews
1/2 Cup Chopped Pecans
1/2 Cup White Chocolate Chips
1 3/4 Sticks (or 14 tablespoons) Butter, softened
3/4 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, packed
3/4 Cup Sugar
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour

Preheat the oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment or Silpats.

Put the granola into a large bowl and break up any large clumps. Add nuts and chocolate and stir to combine.

In a Stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until smooth and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, and salt and beat until well blended. Reduce to low and add the craisins until just combined. Add the flour, pulse to combine, and dump in the granola mix. Blend until just mixed and then stir with a silicone spatula to make sure everything is combined.

For drop cookies:
Scoop out cookies onto sheet (about 12 per pan), flatten slightly with your palm or a large flat spatula, and bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned but not too firm- be careful not to overbake! Remove from oven to a cooling rack and let rest for a couple minutes before removing from pan.

For bar cookies:
Smooth 1/2 the dough into a lightly greased 8 x 8 pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden and fragrant, being careful not to over bake. Remove pan from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Turn pan out onto a cooling rack and let block cool for a couple minutes, then carefully cut with a large chef knife.

Enjoy cookies within three days or freeze for up to 2 months.

August 15, 2008

Carlee's Chocolate Cupcakes (Eggless)

Last night, we celebrated my niece's second birthday and I was in charge of dessert. Since this party was mostly to be attended by toddlers, I wanted something cute and pink for the birthday girl. However...

This little pretty is allergic to eggs so I had to go hunting for an eggless cupcake recipe (none of those in Baking!). Although I've made many cupcakes, I'd never made any without eggs. So, I asked my Dorie friends for suggestions and did a little research (I can't wait to try soy flour next time). This cute blog, MJay Knits, led me to a chocolate cupcake recipe that worked out great. It's even vegan (sans icing). Even though Carlee is still pretty little, I think cupcake culture imprints early- she was SO excited when I walked carrying a huge try of cupcakes! She kept yelling "Cake! Fire!" until we finally lit the candles.

I was pleasantly surprised by these cupcakes. They had the right amount of leavening and turned out great. I actually thought they tasted better the next day and they came out of the wrappers easier on day two. They're not going to be my go to recipe, but if I'm out of eggs and need something in a pinch, this fast, easy recipe works great. Dressed up with a nice icing, I don't think most people will notice the different type of cake.

I found the batter to be pretty runny so I added a tablespoon of cake flour. Next time, I'll be careful not to over-fill the muffin tins because those cupcakes poofed a little too much and stuck to the top of the pan. With my modifications, I'd say this recipe makes about 14 regular cupcakes, filled 2/3 full before baking. I used plain Hershey's cocoa powder but I think a little variation in that could really change the flavor of the recipe. Next time I'll try adding chocolate chips, too, just for kicks.

Carlee's Cupcakes (Eggless Chocolate Cupcakes)
adapted from Allrecipes

1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon cake flour
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a regular muffin pan with 12 to 14 cupcake papers, or grease and flour the pan.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Make a well in the center and add the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Beat until smooth and pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Anne's Easy Chocolate Icing
(generously frosts a dozen)

2 tablespoons Neufchatel or cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of milk

Cream butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until light and smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients, cover mixer with a dish towel, and turn onto low until combined. Increase speed to high and whip frosting until smooth. Add 1/2 teaspoon of milk at a time until desired consistency. Spread of pipe onto cooled cupcakes and top with sprinkles.

For added stability, add 1 tablespoon of meringue powder with the powdered sugar (but not if the birthday girl is allergic to eggs!).

And just to keep it real... a real life photo of my "studio"- after three kinds of cupcakes, Dorie's vanilla bean ice cream, three icings, Ina's smoked salmon dip, a spur of the moment pantry reorganization, and Carlee's present waiting to be wrapped. At least the first picture looks glamorous. And at least the living room is clean, because I'll be honest, this kitchen took 2 hours to clean! I'm sure it's worth it, though. Store bought icing? Yuck!

August 14, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers- Panzanella

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I love Ina Garten. So I can't help but enjoy the Barefoot Bloggers Event. A few weeks ago I was googling something about her and stumbled on a nasty board where everyone was raving about how pretentious and insincere she is and I was hurt. LOL. I think she's wonderful and can't wait to watch every episode. Aside from her beautiful house, fine German automobiles, and cute relationship with her husband, she has the BEST recipes. I gathered the ingredients for this Italian salad last minute and didn't know how it was going to come together. I don't know why I was worried, though, because it was amazing. I think everyone that ate it agreed it was the best salad we've had in a long time. One of the great things about Panzanella is that it's kind of a "leftover salad", using day old bread, whatever tomatoes and veggies you have on hand and tossing with a simple vinaigrette. This is the kind of thing that is easy to through together and improvise, too. And for the sake of improvisation, I subconsciously forgot to add the cucumbers sitting happily in the fridge to mine. So go ahead and make it your own- it will still be tangy, sweet, crunchy, and delicious.

Coincidentally, a just saw Alton Brown's tomato episode so I incorporated a few tricks from his Panzanella recipe into Ina's. He sears half of the tomatoes for another texture, so I did that before adding the bread to the pan to crisp. I also sliced and baked my bread for a few minutes to replicate Alton's step of leaving it out overnight. Then, I added one head of romaine lettuce to the final product. I thought it came out just perfect and I LOVED Ina's dressing. I'm always looking for a good vinaigrette that pleases many different palates- not too sweet, not to sour, not too tangy, not to bland. This one was wonderful and while the recipe made more than I needed for the Panzanella, I was happy to put the leftovers in the fridge for our next salad. Thanks Melissa, for the awesome choice!

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties
Note: This salad makes a very large portion and is best served immediately after tossing. I would half it for 2 adults and serve with Rotisserie chicken for an easy summer meal.

3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes (I used about 3 cups of grape tomatoes)
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons capers, drained
1 head of Romaine Lettuce, chopped

For the vinaigrette: (even with the lettuce, I only used about 2/3 of this, so pare down according to your tastes)
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, lettuce, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

August 13, 2008

Brown Sugar Pecan Shortbread Cookies (TWD Bonus!)

It's been too long since I baked a cookie so I thought I would head into the rewind list for TWD and see if I could find one. I joined back in March, so I only missed a few, and I'd like to catch up. This recipe was quick and simple to throw together- and the recipe that started it all. (And Laurie... it's a brilliant idea... thanks for letting us join in!)

I've only got a few left to do... (so to my family and friends... next time you'd like me to bring something to our get together, look over this list!)
January 1, 2008 - Brown Sugar-Pecan Shortbread, page 127
January 8, 2008 - Quintuple Chocolate Brownies, pages 99-100
January 15, 2008 - Hidden Berry Cream Cheese Torte, pages 240-242
January 22, 2008 - Perfection Pound Cake, pages 222 and 223
January 29, 2008 - Orange Berry Muffins, page 3
February 5, 2008 - Black and White Chocolate Cake, pages 258-260
February 12, 2008 - Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake, pages 238-239
February 19, 2008 - Almost-Fudge Gateau, pages 218-219
February 26, 2008 - Pecan Sour Cream Biscuits, page 25
March 4, 2008 - Snickery Squares, pages 120-122
March 11, 2008 - Russian Grandmothers’ Apple Pie-Cake, pages 310-311

These shortbread cookies are buttery, rich, and flavorful with the pecans and cloves. I loved them! Next time, I'll be sure I don't over bake them (emergency diaper change, as noted below) and try to make half a batch... since I really don't need these around the house. And they won't be languishing on the counter for long!

Brown Sugar-Pecan Shortbread Cookies
from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground cloves
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup finely ground pecans (about 2/3 Cup pecan pieces, pulsed in the food processor with 1 tsp of cornstarch)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)

1. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt and cloves.

2. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. Add the pecans and give the mixer a couple of turns, just to get the nuts into the dough.

3. Using a rubber spatula, transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9×10-1/2-inch rectangle that’s 1/4-inch thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.

4. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

5. Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board (discard the bag) and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1-1/2 inch squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet. (If the dough is getting soft, refridgerate cut cookies for a few minutes to prevent too much spreading)

6. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The shortbreads will be very pale - they shouldn’t take on much color. Transfer the cookies to a rack. (I baked mine for about 19 minutes, and three minutes or so longer than I should have, due to an emergency diaper change... watch them carefully so they don't get too crisp!)

7. If you’d like, dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while they are still hot. Cool the cookies to room temperature before serving. (I skipped this... these are plenty rich and cute too!)

August 12, 2008

TWD- Blueberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream

I'm becoming a kitchen appliance fanatic. I've always loved them, but now, more than ever, I find myself wandering the home section of Macy's or TJ Maxx and envisioning how pretty some of these things would look on my counter, and how delicious their products would be. So, I've been interested in a fancy little ice cream maker for a while and thought this week's Tuesdays with Dorie was the perfect excuse. Try as I might, though, I couldn't find a good deal on the little Cuisinart of KitchenAid attachment. I decided to check Craigslist and found the brand new Cuisinart for $15, sealed in the box. I called the guy and happily picked it up, eager to try the new recipe.

Things seemed to be going my way. I had exactly one cup of fresh blueberries in the fridge. It looked beautiful, but a little dry, in the sauce pan, and I quickly looked at the book and realized I'd forgotten the JUICE of the lemon!

I added in the juice and got to work on my blueberry, sugar, and lemon compote. It was so pretty and then suddenly...

The blueberries burst and turned purple! It boiled and smelled delicious.

I poured it into the blender, pureed, and I'll admit I snitched a little spoonful. Yum.

Next, I added the cream and sour cream and blended. It got the okay for sweetness from my Dad, who is the blueberry king, so I put it into the fridge to cool.

After it was chilled, I ran and picked up the ice cream maker from the nice guy a few miles over. Totally brand new and so cheap. That makes me happy. I washed it, threw the bowl in the freezer, waited about two hours, poured the ice cream puree into the bowl, and started the mixing. I know some of you are thinking, "Two hours? Mine takes longer than that. I wonder if her cool cheapo Craigslist ice cream maker has super powers or something..." No, it doesn't, as you can see from the rest of the pictures.

After it thickened a little, I added some chopped white chocolate chips for a little added flavor. And then, it never thickened any more. In my haste I neglected to follow the directions to freeze the bowl overnight. So, I tried to compensate by following some of the ice cream without an ice cream maker directions. It never thickened completely but was good to go, if not totally photogenic, by the end of the night.

I served up a dish for my dad, complete with freezer burned blueberries (I used all the fresh earlier) and he took two bites and told me in his nicest voice that he was full. Well, he never says anything bad about my cooking and he always loves ice cream, so I told him to tell me what he thought and my feelings wouldn't be hurt. He said it was WAY too sour (and I secretly agreed!). Then, my husband came and poked his nose in the kitchen, grabbed a spoon and made a crazy face letting me know he thought the same thing.

So there you have it. This was a ton of fun to make and a great excuse to get a cute little rock-salt-free ice cream maker (the old one is going to Goodwill once it comes out of storage!) Despite it's beautiful color and great ingredients, this just wasn't a hit at my house, even for the blueberry lovers. I'll try the technique again, though, and loved making it. I'll admit, too, that not liking a Dorie recipe is not such a bad thing for my skinny-jeans goal. LOL. Thanks, Dolores, for choosing a fun recipe. I can't wait to plow through the rest of the ice cream recipes in Dorie's book, since we have enough Arizona summer left to get through them!

August 7, 2008

Oreo Cheesecake Brownies with Mint Ganache

I really struggled to find a decent title for this recipe and I think I failed. Hopefully, though, the description drew you in enough to decide to make them! This past week I went as a leader to girl's camp with the teenagers in my Church. I was their cabin mom for the week and wanted to bring them something really special to welcome them to camp. Plus, I used to teach them every week and spoiled them rotten bringing treats all the time, so I really needed something great! I was reading Picky Palate and found just the thing. I made a few modifications and instead of going with peanut butter, I saw some mini-York Peppermint Patties that had melted (on my counter, I'm not kidding you... dang Arizona!) and that I had tossed into the fridge to be reincarnated into something delicious. When I saw this recipe I knew they were just the thing. The photos don't do justice to these brownies that I'm going to say are probably the best I've ever made (and as you can guess, I've made many batches of brownies!)

I've recently made Dorie's French Brownies a couple of times, the Brownie Buttons (which I loved so much I left Dorie a ridiculously mushy comment on her blog about!), and the Quintuple Chocolate Brownies. Honestly, I think whatever brownie base you use is fine, since some like it cakey and some like it fudgey. You can even use a box mix (but buy a good one!) if you are trying to pack, take care of the baby and husband, make dinner, and get to bed before 2 in the morning the night before camp. Whatever works for you.

Either way, go the extra mile with the Oreos, cream cheese (or Neufchatel in my case), and ganache, and you won't regret. You'll want to go the extra mile on the treadmill, too, but I think it's worth it. And don't forget to stop by Picky Palate. Jenny is so creative and nice- you'll be glad you did!

Oreo Cheesecake Brownies with Mint Ganache

adapted from Picky Palate

10 Oreos (Plus 14 for garnish, if desired)
5 Tablespoons softened Cream Cheese (or Neufchatel)
1 9 x 13 Pan of prepared brownies, unbaked
1/3 Cup SemiSweet Chocolate Chips
3 York Mini York Peppermint Patties (1 Tablespoon of Peanut Butter would work too)
3 Tablespoons Heavy Cream or Half and Half

Preheat the oven to 350.

Prepare your favorite brownie (mix, homemade, I won't judge!) and pour into a foil lined and greased 9 x 13 pan.

Lightly crush 10 Oreos (you'll want to keep some chunks so it's not perfectly smooth) and fold in the softened cream cheese until just combined. Spoon over top of the brownies and lightly marble the upper layer of the batter.

Bake for 30-45 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove pan from oven and let cool for about ten minutes. Then, gently lift the edges of the foil to remove the brownies from the pan. Set on cooling rack for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare ganache by melting chocolate and mint (or peanut butter, whatever you prefer) on low power in the microwave, working on 30 second intervals. A double boiler works even better but is a little slower and messier, so take your pick. When chocolate is smooth but not too hot (you don't want to burn it, so lean toward the cooler side) slowly pour in the cream and stir until shiny and smooth. Pour ganache over the brownies and smooth to the edges. Top with evenly spaced Oreos to garnish and cut after ganache has set.

Serve with milk and enjoy within two days, or put them into the freezer for instant gratification later!

August 5, 2008

TWD- The Black and White Banana Loaf

Last week, I was out of town and really missed my favorite blogging day of the week- Tuesday (I did make my favorite brownies yet... check back later this week)! So I tried to play catch up and made this delicious Banana bread today. It was pretty straight forward and fun to try a new recipe. My recipe I usually use doesn't have chocolate in it (though I often top the loaves with mini-chocolate chips) and has more banana, so I was interested to see how I would like Dorie's recipe. I'll admit, I wasn't too worried, since I like just about everything I've tried out of her book! Of course, she didn't fail me, and this banana bread (or cake, let's not pretend this is healthy!) was delicious.

I used milk chocolate since that enourmous bag of chocolate I bought recently seems to have disappeared. Next time I'll use bittersweet to give a more pronounced flavor. I also halved the nutmeg because I can't stand the flavor, but I think it's a good addition as long as it's really subtle. As for other modifications, I substituted about 3/4 tsp. Rum flavoring for the rum. Maybe the minimal liquid helped thicken my batter. For bananas, I used about 1 1/2 regular sized bananas instead of 2 because lots of people commented their batter was too runny. Mine turned out great but I like a more pronounced banana flavor, so next time I'll use two and make sure they are super ripe. Usually when my bananas get too ripe (and I like them a little green so that happens fast around here!) I just peel them and toss them in baggies to freeze. It's economical and great to have ripe bananas on hand, because whenever you want them, you won't be able to find them anywhere!

I love the look and texture of this banana bread and would encourage you to check out the recipe at Ashlee's blog. Don't miss the other creative, beautiful loaves from everyone at TWD- it'll have you craving bananas!