May 31, 2009

Bruschetta with Sauteed Sweet Peppers and Goat Cheese

The end of the month has snuck up on me once again. I'm excited that time is flying but I feel like I scheduled (and didn't quite finish) this post ages ago- can it be June already? That's a good thing, though, since my baby ticker informs me I have 113 (Arizona Summer) days to go. This Bruschetta from Ina is quick and easy for any of those- I made it with my brother and he even did all the slicing without any whining. If he can do it, you can.

I adapted the recipe for the ingredients I had (goat cheese and mini bell peppers from Costco) but it's plenty flexible- use your favorite cheese or veggie for endless variations. See the other Barefoot Bloggers for more ideas. And next time I'll try these on the grill to keep the flavor in and the heat out- especially important as the temperature rises!

Bruschetta with Sauteed Sweet Peppers and Goat Cheese
adapted from Ina Garten

Good olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon capers, drained
2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces creamy Gorgonzola or other blue cheese, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the peppers and cook until soft, about 12 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the sugar and continue cooking for 2 more minutes. Stir in the capers and basil, and season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Slice the baguette crosswise into 18 thin round slices. Brush the bread rounds lightly with olive oil on 1 side. Arrange them in rows, oil side up, on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and toast in the oven until lightly browned, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Top each toast round with a teaspoonful of the pepper mixture. Place 2 small pieces of Gorgonzola on top. Return the toast to the oven for 1 to 2 minutes and warm through. Serve immediately.

May 28, 2009

Ina's Outrageous Brownies

Sometimes things are understated- words like "KitchenAid". To the unsuspecting eye, you might think of a nice little helper to wipe the counters behind you, not the kitchen appliance that will change the way you cook and make the kitchen your favorite room (what, that's just me?) Some things, though, are a serious understatement. Like any baked good that Ina Garten describes as "outrageous". Well we all love to laugh at the amount of butter in the beloved Contessa's recipes (and I'll stick up for Ina and say she's not nearly as bad as Paula Deen), even Ina admits a certain fondness for butter. So with that said, you know when Ina calls it outrageous, that you'd better watch out.

And of course, she delivers. These brownies really were ridiculously delicious. I took the liberty of halving the recipe since I didn't feel right about actually using a pound of butter in a single dessert (except for my beloved Brioche Snails or Pecan Honey Sticky Buns). I omitted the coffee as usual and used my slacker large (not extra large) eggs. I baked them in a small, rectangular Pyrex and think any smaller dish would do (like an 8 by 8- it will just change the thickness a little, which is a matter of personal preference anyways). I did under bake them in my attempts not to over bake them per Ina's dire warning at the end of the recipe. Nonetheless, these tasted as good gooey as I imagine they do fully cooked. And next time I'll serve them with a little ice cream. Even Paula Deen would admit that's outrageous.

Outrageous Brownies
adapted from Ina Garten
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
14 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, divided
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons real vanilla extract
1 cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/8 cups)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (plus 2 tablespoons for the chips and nuts)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup diced walnut pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8 by 8 inch pan.

Melt together the butter, 8 ounces chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler. Cool slightly. Stir together the eggs, vanilla and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.

Stir together 1/2 cup of the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and remaining 6 ounces of chocolate chips with 2 tablespoons of flour to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tester just comes out clean. Halfway through the baking, rap the pan against the oven shelf to allow air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Do not over-bake! Cool thoroughly, refrigerate well and cut into squares.

Don't forget to check out the rest of the Barefoot Bloggers' Outrageous Brownies. It'll have you busting out your double boiler (and our of your jeans, likely) in no time.

May 26, 2009

TWD- Chipster Topped Brownies

Nestled away in this little dish and covered with deliciousness, these cookie topped brownies almost look like a success. But don't be deceived. After plenty of time in the kitchen, more butter than Paula Deen could stomach, and lots of tasty chocolate- these brownies go down in my TWD repertoire as a big fat (and delicious) failure.

After only fourty minutes in the oven they were totally browned and smelled done. I knew the top couldn't take any more and should have tented them early on, but I was distracted by articles about not eating the batter after I had finished eating some of the most delicious brownie batter I've ever tried. It was too late, so I removed them, and after cooled, was shocked by this molten caramel river of goo running through the brownies! I'm not one to shy away from undercooked foods, though (except for ground beef) so I grabbed a spoon. While they were delicious, they were disappointing. I'll have to try again and get a few tricks up my sleeve from the other bakers- because with this much butter and chocolate, this recipe has got to be worth it, right? *Update* After sitting over night, these are much more cohesive and freaking good. Dorie wins again (even if they don't look so hot!)

Grab the recipe at Beth's blog, or here- where's these actually look beautiful (and surely tasted delicious!)

And stay tuned for next week's Cinnamon Squares, some amazing Ina recipes, and the results from my ultrasound later this week! It is a boy or a girl? Your guess is as good as mine...

May 21, 2009

Phyllo Apple Pies

Since my brother got back from Greece, he's been begging me to make something with Phyllo dough. Anything. Well, anything except Spanakopita. You should hear him say it- it sounds like a curse. So when I found boxes of Phyllo dough for only a buck at Safeway, I knew it was time. I thawed the beast Alton Brown style (one minute in the microwave, thank you) and went to work. I'll admit there were a few casualties, but I'm not sure that it was the thawing or my total inexperience.

I melted some butter, greased up the mini pie pans, and layered quarter sheets of phyllo (that I cut with kitchen shears for ultra precision, ahem) around the circle with a little bit of butter in between. Meanwhile, I used my sweet apple corer/peeler/slicer to make quick work of four apples. I threw them in a glass bowl, added a bit of water and cinnamon, covered with saran wrap, and nuked for five minutes. When they came out all soft and delicious, I added a bit of sugar and stirred. I dumped some apples into the little shells, pulled all the phyllo pieces to the middle for a quick topping, and drizzled a bit of extra butter on top. I figured I might as well not throw it away. After a few in the oven, these babies came out beautiful and tempting. And I was only 30 minutes in (counting the baking!)

While the final product isn't exactly Greek (sorry Bro) the taste of apples and butter is definitely one of my favorites. I know there's butter in the pastry, but there's hardly any added to the dish, and it just tasted SO good. I'm thinking of making a big version of these cute little minis. It's tender, flavorful, and doesn't even require ice cream on the side. Though I'm sure not even the Greeks would mind a little scoop of vanilla.

Phyllo Apple Pies
from Anne Strawberry
makes six mini pies

4 Medium Apples (I like something a little tart, like Fujis)
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 tablespoon Water
1/4 Cup Sugar

6 Sheets of Phyllo dough, thawed
2 tablespoons butter, melted (plus or minus)

Preheat the oven to 375.

Peel, core, and slice the apples as you would for apple pie. Place in glass bowl with cinnamon and water, cover with saran wrap, and microwave for five minutes. Carefully remove plastic and stir in sugar. Set aside.

Cut phyllo sheets into quarters and brush pie pans with a little butter. Layer one piece of pastry at a time, then brush on a bit of butter, and put in another piece at a slight angle, repeating until you've made it around the circle (about four pieces per dish- more if you'd like the crust thicker).

Place 1/4 cup of apple mixture inside each prepared pie dish. Pull the pastry sheets together toward the center, pinching and tucking until it looks about right. Drizzle a tiny bit of butter on top. Place on baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar or with ice cream.

May 19, 2009

TWD- Mango Bread

I've never baked with mango before and was excited about this week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe when I first saw it was selected. Sure enough, this recipe delivered. This quick bread is simple and easy to throw together and packs a lot of flavor- cinnamon, ginger, lime zest, and mango (am I the only one who thinks of SNL every time I see the word "Mango?")

I skipped the raisins in favor of walnuts. The one run in I had with the recipe was my stingy mango- it only gave me half the fruit the recipe called for. I just ended up halving the recipe and baking it in a smaller pan. It worked great and was delicious. I did have to tent the cake to keep it from over browning but it was yummy and quick and a recipe I'll come back to (though probably with a little less ginger and some different fruits- apple maybe next time?) Thanks Kelly for a fun choice that everyone loved. Stop by her blog for the recipe and enjoy!

May 12, 2009

TWD- Tartest Lemon Tart (sans crust!)

This would have been the perfect Mother's Day dessert. Before that (I love having all the recipes for Tuesdays with Dorie announced early) it would have been the perfect dinner party dessert. However, misreading the instructions (What's that, Dorie, you said partially baked tart crust? I followed your hints and cooked this thing until it was nice and golden brown...) and using my son's naptime on Sunday to nap myself prevented me from making these for either of those events. Instead, I found myself Monday night making this tart in the few minutes I had before my husband got home from work. Since we've gotten into our first real house of our own, my baking even seems to be dictated by the on peak/off peak hours for the electricity (my Dad would be so bugged to know I never learned these things while I was in his house).

So instead of making the time and electricity intensive crust (I don't mind the process at all, I love making tart shells now), I opted to make this beautiful tart into crustless ramekins. I followed the advice to remove the pith but just peeling the lemon with a vegetable peeler to remove the zest in big strips, then peeling the lemon like an orange (discard the pith), removing the seeds and throwing it all into the food processor. I was shocked at how quickly this came together- a few minutes pulverizing and it was smooth and delicious. I poured the cream into buttered ramekins, placed them in a dish with a hot water bath, and baked at 325 for about 30 minutes. After the were about set, I let them cool on the counter before putting them in the fridge for an hour. At this point they were begging for whipped cream, but my little guy has a tendency to rush out of bed if he hears the KitchenAid, so I ate mine without. Wow. This tartest crustless tart was AMAZING. It was thick on top and a little runny on the bottom- not quite puckery lemon but enough to liven things up. You can bet I'm whipping up some cream for tomorrows breakfast. These babies deserve it. Grab the recipe at Babette's and see for yourself (my modifications follow). You can bet I'm making this with a crust in the near future. During off peak hours, of course.

Tartest Lemon Tart

adapted from Baking by Dorie Greenspan
1 1/2 lemons, scrubbed and dried
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temp
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled (I used room temperature butter, but it's warm in my AZ kitchen!)
Whipped cream

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Peel lemon with a vegetable peeler to remove zest. Remove all pith by peeling like an orange, then slice whole lemon in half and pull out seeds. Repeat with the rest of the lemon.

Put lemons and sugar in blender and pulse, blend and scrape down sides until you have smooth mix. Add remaining filling ingredients and pulse and blend until filling is homogeneous. Rap bowl on counter several times to de-bubble filling as much as possible, and pour it into buttered ramekins placed inside a casserole dish. Set into oven and fill the dish with hot water half way up the ramekins. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until almost set. Chill, if you'd like, before serving with cream or dusting of confectioners' sugar.

May 6, 2009

Pies with That- Anne Strawberry Tart

When I was little, people used to call me Annie Banannie and I hated it! One day my uncle asked what I liked and I told him I liked strawberries, so he started calling me Annie Strawberry. It's stuck around and everyone knows strawberries are my very favorite food. That and lasagna. So when I read about a family favorites pie for Pies with That, I knew it had to be strawberry. Cream pies are a favorite with my family, too, so I put in a nice thick layer of pastry cream. I even went all out and used a vanilla bean (for my husband, since we're including all the family in this!)

I also went with a tart shell instead of a pie crust because I find they are a little less fussy and easier to put together in a hurry. Since my tall man also prefers a crunchy cookie crust this swap was even better for him. The added pecans gave it beautiful flavor and color, too. This tart is adaptable- add blueberries instead for my dad, a chocolate crust instead for my best friend, or even chocolate pastry cream. It's easy and flexible- which is what makes it a family favorite. And I'll be honest. I make one of these every month or two (that's often since I'm trying so many new desserts) and every time I'm whisked back to Paris. That alone makes this a family favorite.

Anne Strawberry Tart
One fully baked 9 inch tart shell, recipe below
Half a batch of Vanilla bean pastry cream, recipe below
1 pound strawberries, washed, stems removed, and sliced in half
2 tablespoons strawberry jam
Powdered sugar, for serving

Line baked and cooled tart shell with the pastry cream, spreading evenly over the bottom of the shell. Arrange the strawberries in a pattern, squeezing in tightly.

Heat strawberry jam until warm and spreadable in the microwave or a small saucepan. Brush over strawberries to create a shiny topping. Slice and sprinkle each piece with a little powdered sugar (using a sieve) and serve.

Sweet Tart Dough
with Nuts
From Baking by Dorie Greenspan

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup ground nuts (walnuts, pecans, etc- just pulse in food processor with a little powdered sugar)
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 T) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

Put the flour, nuts, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in- you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal fakes and others the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses- about 10 seconds each- until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change- heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate and dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

To press the dough into the pan: butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Don’t be too heavy handed- press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferable longer, before baking.

To partially or fully bake the crust: center a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.

Butter the shiny side of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, against the crust. (since you froze it, you can bake it without weights). Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, carefully press it down with the back of a spoon. For partially baked crust, patch the crust if necessary, then transfer the crust to a cooling rack. To fully bake the crust, bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. Transfer pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.

Pastry Cream
From Baking by Dorie Greenspan

2 cups whole milk (I add an extra half a cup for my desired consistency)
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits at room temperature
Seeds from one vanilla bean (optional)

Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan.

Meanwhile, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks together with the sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended. Still whisking, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk-- this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won't curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the milk. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (making sure to get the edges of the pot), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are full incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth and silky. Scrape the cream into a bowl. You can press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the pastry cream until cold or, if you want to cool it quickly--as I always do--put the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water, and stir the pastry cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.

May 5, 2009

Pineapple and Tomatillo Pulled Pork for Cinco de Mayo

Today is Cinco de Mayo which is a pretty big deal in Arizona. To celebrate, we made some pulled pork slow cooked with pineapple, green chiles, and tomatillo (green) salsa. My cousin has a killer recipe for green salsa and if she doesn't mind I'll post it soon. I found the pork recipe at Prudy's and modified it to go with what I had on hand. Chicken would work great here, too (especially if you're still thinking about a certain flu and pork just doesn't sound yummy!)

I'm also including my favorite recipe for refried beans. Also done in the slow cooker, these are incredibly easy and so cheap- dried beans are a bargain especially for all the nutrition they pack! They taste so good that you'll forget all about those jarred beans. I know I don't even buy jarred pinto or refried beans anymore.

Pineapple and Tomatillo Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
adapted from Prudence Pennywise
2 pounds of pork (loin, chops, etc) or boneless chicken
1 large can of pineapple tidbits with juice
1 cup tomatillo salsa (green salsa or salsa verde)
2 4 ounce cans green chiles, undrained
1/3 cup brown sugar
Lime wedges

Combine all ingredients in the crock pot and cook on high for four hours or on low for six to eight hours. Shred pork, season to taste with salt and pepper and serve in soft flour tortillas with lettuce, tomatoes, chopped bell peppers, beans (if desired), cheese, and lime wedges. Alternate idea- omit the tortilla and serve as a salad.

Refried Beans
from Dinner's Ready
3 cups of dry pinto beans (rinsed)
1 onion, peeled & halved
9 cups of water
5 t salt
1 3/4 t pepper
2 T minced garlic (I use granulated when I'm in a hurry)
1/8 t ground cumin

Put all the ingredients in a crockpot and cook on high for about 8 hours. After the beans are soft, drain, reserving the liquid. Mash beans with a potato masher or use an immersion blender to reach the desired consistency. Add liquid, a bit at a time, to desired thickness, remembering they will thicken with time. Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

These also taste amazing with our favorite Cafe Rio copycat recipe.