Friday, August 27, 2010

Salad Caprese, The Sequel

This is my favorite summer time treat (besides ice cream!)  Tomatoes fresh off the vine (not ours unfortunately, this year), fresh mozarella cheese, basil and splashes of good olive oil and balsamic vinegar, seasoned to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.  The classic Italian Salad Caprese. 

It is so simple with such a small number of ingredients yet the finished dish is ever so satisfying.  The Italians are very good at putting together recipes like this.  I have blogged this salad before here, but I'm particularly pleased with this version using heirloom tomatoes.  I just think they're gorgeous.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fun Buns

Here is another buttermilk recipe; the third I've made this summer - starting with buttermilk fried chicken, then the buttermilk pie and now these.  This recipe was the easiest of all with a quick 6 minute knead using the dough hook on my mixer and then letting the dough rise a couple of times.  The results made me smile.  The rolls turned out so big and fluffy.  They are a very bready roll, not particularly light in texture but very tasty.  Now I can't wait for winter so I can start making hearty soups and stews again, with these delicious rolls as an accompaniment.

Buttermilk Cluster

1⁄4 oz. active dry yeast
1⁄2 tsp. sugar
1 3⁄4 cups buttermilk
1 tbsp. honey
5 cups flour
1 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
Unsalted butter, for greasing
1 egg

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine yeast, sugar, and 1⁄4 cup water heated to 115°; let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Whisk in buttermilk and honey; add flour and salt. Mix on medium-low speed until dough forms a ball and pulls away from the side of the bowl, 6–8 minutes. (Sprinkle in a little water if dough seems dry.) Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to let dough rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
2. Heat oven to 400˚. Grease a 9" round springform pan with butter. Uncover dough; divide into 12 portions. Roll each dough piece into a ball; transfer ball to pan; repeat with remaining dough. Cover pan with plastic wrap and set aside to let dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and 1 tsp. water. Uncover dough and brush egg mixture over the top.  Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of dough registers 190°, about 35 minutes. (Mine took 45 minutes).  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Buttermilk Pie

Sounds strange, doesn't it?  A buttermilk pie....what in the world would that taste like?  I had recently made fried chicken which called for a buttermilk soak overnight and had a 1/2 quart of the stuff leftover.  I have heard about this Southern specialty before so thought I would give it a try.

This is basically a custard pie but instead of the normal cream or milk based custard filling, it utilizes the slightly tangy and may I mention, lower fat buttermilk.  This was a very easy pie to make as I cheated and used a pre-made frozen crust.  Here's the verdict from our house:  I liked it alright though not enough to make again and The Husband gave me his version of a thumbs down by stating he wouldn't care if he ever had a piece of that pie again.   So, if the unusual ingredient of buttermilk turns you on, knock yourself out making this easy to bake pie.
Buttermilk Pie

3 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp flour, plus a little for dusting
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
nutmeg (optional)
1 unbaked 9 inch pie shell

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Beat eggs slightly and add sugar and flour.  Then add melted butter and mix well.  Add buttermilk and vanilla and mix.

Dust the unbaked pie shell with a little bit of flour.  Pour batter into shell and place on a baking sheet.  Dust the top if desired with a sprinkle of nutmeg.  Bake until custard is set, approximately 1 hour.  Cool before cutting into slices.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Someone Had A Birthday

Isn't it nifty? The Husband turned fifty!  And to celebrate this monumental occasion, I made him some of his favorite candy - Peppermint patties.  This is a recipe I obtained from the now defunct (and sorely missed) Gourmet magazine a few years ago.  These are so simple to make and the results far surpass the silver foil covered patties in the store.   Happy Birthday dear!!
I made some revisions in this recipe when I made them and instead of rolling out the fondant and cutting with a cookie cutter, I just rolled it into a log, cut it into 1/4inch slices and then flattened those into rounds.  I also used coating chocolate instead of the tempering method as described below.  I just find that too tedious to deal with. I also need to work on my dipping techniques so I can perfect some fancy swirls or a signature mark of some sort.  Practice makes perfect.

Happy Birthday Husband!!
Peppermint Patties

2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar (less than 1 pound), divided
1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening (preferably trans-fat-free)
10 ounces 70%-cacao bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Beat 2 1/4 cups confectioners sugar with corn syrup, water, peppermint extract, shortening, and a pinch of salt using an electric mixer (with paddle attachment if using a stand mixer) at medium speed until just combined. Knead on a work surface dusted with remaining 1/4 cup confectioners sugar until smooth. Roll out between sheets of parchment paper on a large baking sheet into a 7- to 8-inch round (less than 1/4 inch thick). Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Remove top sheet of paper and sprinkle round with confectioners sugar. Replace top sheet, then flip round over and repeat sprinkling on other side.

Cut out as many rounds as possible with cutter, transferring to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze until firm, at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, gather scraps, reroll, and freeze, then cut out more rounds, freezing them.  (Or do as I did and just roll the kneaded fondant into a log about 7-8 inches long, freeze for 15 minutes or so, then cut into 1/4 inc slices and smash those down into a circle.
Melt three fourths of chocolate in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Remove bowl from pan and add remaining chocolate, stirring until smooth. Cool until thermometer inserted at least 1/2 inch into chocolate registers 80°F.

Return water in pan to a boil and remove from heat. Set bowl with cooled chocolate over pan and reheat, stirring, until thermometer registers 88 to 91°F. Remove bowl from pan.

Balance 1 peppermint round on a fork and submerge in melted chocolate, letting excess drip off and scraping back of fork against rim of bowl if necessary, then return patty to sheet (to make decorative ridges on patty, immediately set bottom of fork briefly on top of patty, then lift fork straight up). Coat remaining rounds, rewarming chocolate to 88 to 91°F as necessary. Let patties stand until chocolate is set, about 1 hour.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Favorite Cookbook

Cooking vegetarian isn't something I choose to do that often, but when I do, Mollie Katzen's original Moosewood Cookbook is one of my go to cookbooks.  I'm sharing two recipes today; one for baked falafel (or as The Husband says " You can't say falafel without saying awful"), and lemon-tahini dressing. 

Unfortunately, I totally blanked out as I made the lemon-tahini sauce which is the recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook that I wanted to blog about so I have no pictures today.  I will provide you with the recipe along with some excellent baked falafel.  This is an experiment that went very well.  Usually falafel is fried in oil but I tried instead to bake them and see what happened.  They turned out to be slightly crisp using just a tad bit of olive oil on the bottom of the baking dish.  A much healthier alternative to the original method.

I just love falafel and lemon-tahini together with veggies as a sandwich in pita bread along with some cucumber tzatziki sauce as I have blogged about previously, or just falafel mashed up over a bowl of brown rice with the lemon-tahini sauce over the top.  It's a very filling alternative to a meat based meal.
Baked Falafel

1 15-19 oz can well drained and rinsed chickpeas
2 finely minced green onions
2 finely minced garlic cloves
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp tahini
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Drizzle olive oil evenly in baking dish.

Mash chickpeas with a potato masher, then add onions and garlic and blend together.  Add remaining ingredients and mix until well combined. 

With floured hands, shape mix into ping-pong size balls and place in baking dish.  Bake 15-20 minutes on one side, then turn them over and bake another 15-20 minutes until golden brown.  Serve hot or at room temperature.

Lemon-Tahini Sauce

3/4 cups tahini
3/4 cups plain Greek style yogurt
1 medium clove of garlic, minced well
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 finely minced green onion
3 Tbsp finely minced parsley
Salt to taste
dash or two of cayenne pepper
dash or two of paprika
1 tsp ground cumin

Beat all of the ingredients together well, using a whisk or wooden spoon.  The more you whip it, the thicker it becomes.  Serve at room temperature over falafel, sauteed vegetables or if thinned, this makes an excellent salad dressing.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Creamsicle Ice Cream

You all remember those little cups of ice cream from the school cafeteria with half vanilla, half orange sherbet, don't you?  Well here is an ice cream that tastes just like those cups of yummy and it's so easy to make.  No cooking or fussing with a custard base.  This is made by just mixing 5 ingredients together, throwing them into the ice cream maker and 25 minutes later, voila creamsicle ice cream.  Enjoy!

Creamsicle Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups cream
1 1/2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla

Mix all of the ingredients together until sugar is dissolved.  Chill in refrigerator for a couple hours until very cold.  Mix in ice cream maker as directed by manufacturer.