Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer Colors

Some colors of the summer to share.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Buns In The Oven

One of my nephews and his wife just brought a new baby into the world, a beautiful little girl. She is my third grand niece and I can't wait to meet her.  My family is getting larger and every addition adds a great new dimension to the mix. We are very blessed.

Today I tried my hand at making my own buns to bake in the oven, hamburger buns.  I found this recipe courtesy of Annie from her wonderful food blog called Annie's Eats. It's an amazing place to visit if you want great recipe ideas and amazing photographs.  This recipe couldn't be easier and the only thing to consider is the time it takes to make the buns. It takes two rises of 1-2 hours each, so plan ahead. They can easily be made and kept in the freezer well wrapped for a couple of weeks.

Our meal today consisted of barbecued pulled pork on these delicious buns and potato salad. It felt like summer even though the temperature outside wasn't all that convincing. I'll share my recipe for pulled pork another time, but be forewarned, I use commercial barbecue sauce.

Light Brioche Burger Buns

3 tbsp. warm milk
1 cup warm water
2 tsp. instant yeast
2½ tbsp. sugar
1½ tsp. salt
1 large egg
3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2½ tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

For topping:
1 large egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water, for egg wash
Sesame seeds

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the milk, water, yeast, sugar, salt and egg. Mix briefly to combine. Add the flours to the bowl, and mix until incorporated. Mix in the butter. Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed for about 6-8 minutes. The dough will be somewhat tacky, but you want to avoid adding too much extra flour which will create tough buns.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1-2 hours.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Using a dough scraper, divide the dough into 8 equal parts. Gently roll each portion of dough into a ball and place on the baking sheet, 2-3 inches apart. Cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise again, 1-2 hours, until puffed up and nearly doubled.
Set a large metal pan of water on the lowest rack of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400˚ F with a rack in the center. Brush the tops of the buns lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake the buns about 15 minutes rotating halfway through baking, until the tops are golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Cocktail Time

Here is a favorite cocktail I can't believe I've never blogged about; the Cosmopolitan.  Made famous during the run of Sex in the City, this rather "girly" drink is a refreshing substitute for my Perfect Friday Night Martini.  Be forewarned though, unlike the traditional martini, this cocktail goes down quite smoothly so be sure and pace yourself if you are having more than one.

The recipe I share with you is great as it can easily make as needed without too much fuss and bother. The measurements below make two drinks, but just do the math and you could make them by the pitcherful.  Now wouldn't that be a fun party!
The Cosmopolitan

1 part fresh squeezed lime juice
2 parts triple sec (orange flavored liqueur)
2 parts cranberry juice
4 parts citrus vodka

Put all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with 5-6 ice cubes and shake vigorously for 60 shakes. Pour into pre-chilled martini glasses and serve.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Chocolate Tiramisu

Here is a delicious dessert that is quite sublime.  It is the Italian classic, Tiramisu with a twist; chocolate. The traditional Tiramisu is layers of marcapone cheese mixed with eggs, lady fingers dipped in espresso, maybe some whipped cream, and liberal sprinklings of chocolate shavings.

This recipe, obtained from the June volume of Bon Appetit magazine, is made using a chocolate mousse.  It is absolutely divine with it's varied textures of fluffy mousse, cake like coffee flavored lady fingers, and the creamy marscapone cheese on top. This was a multi-faceted dessert to make but from start to finish, probably only took an hour. They did need to sit in the refrigerator a few hours to set.  

If you are looking for a medium challenge in the kitchen and a dessert to impress your family or guests, this just might be the recipe for you.

P.S.  As there were only three of us for dinner the night I served these, I was easily able to cut this recipe in half, making only 4 portions as opposed to the 8 the recipe below makes.

Chocolate Tiramisu
Espresso Syrup

1 1/2 cups espresso or strong coffee
1/4 cup sugar


1 3/4 cups mascarpone cheese, divided
2 Tbsp. plus 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. unflavored gelatin
4 large egg yolks
1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream, divided
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped, plus more for shaving
About 48 soft ladyfingers


Espresso Syrup
Stir espresso and sugar in a small bowl until sugar dissolves; set aside.

Combine 1 cup mascarpone, 2 Tbsp. sugar, and vanilla in a small bowl and whisk to blend; cover and chill.

Place 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand until gelatin softens, 10-15 minutes. Whisk the remaining sugar, yolks, 1/4 cup cream, and 1/4 cup water in a medium metal bowl to blend. Place bowl over a large saucepan of boiling water (do not let bottom of bowl touch water) and whisk constantly until custard thickens and temperature reaches 160° on an instant-read thermometer, 3-4 minutes. Remove bowl; add gelatin mixture and whisk until dissolved, 15-20 seconds. Return bowl over water, add chocolate, and whisk until almost melted, about 30 seconds.

Set bowl in a large bowl of ice water and whisk until chocolate is melted and custard is cool, 5-6 minutes. Whisk in the remaining mascarpone. In another medium bowl, beat remaining 3/4 cup chilled cream until firm peaks form. Fold cream into custard in 2 additions to make a chocolate mousse.

Spread 1/4 cup chocolate mousse in bottom of each of eight 1-cup teacups or ramekins. Dunk ladyfingers in the espresso syrup and arrange in a single layer on top of the mousse, about 2 to 3 ladyfingers per cup. Repeat layering with chocolate mousse and soaked ladyfingers. Spread 2 Tbsp. mascarpone topping over ladyfingers. Garnish with chocolate shavings and serve.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Exploring With New Ingredients

Recently I discovered a new ingredient, Quinoa. It is a grain-like product which is all the rage on many of the food blogs I read. It is nutritious, easy to cook, and very adaptable in recipes by picking up on flavors it is mixed with. Here is a link to Wikepedia for all of you interested readers who want to learn more about this remarkable food.

As I was making a Mediterranean inspired dinner with grilled lemon chicken breasts for the main dish, roasted asparagus, and Tiramisu for dessert, I decided to use the quinoa I had recently purchased and experimented to create a Greek style salad.  With no recipe at hand when I made this salad, please take these measurements and adjust them to your liking.  I was very pleased with the results and I hope you will be too.

Quinoa Greek Salad
1 cup quinoa
1 3/4 cup water
3 oz. crumbled Feta cheese
2 roma tomatoes, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 large cucumber, cut into bite size pieces
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and cut in half
3 Tbsp. chopped parsley
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
6 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. dried dill
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Make quinoa. Bring water to boil then add quinoa and let simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered, until water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and take off heat to cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, add all of the vegetables, cheese and cooled quinoa;  mix gently. 
Make the dressing. Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, dill, oregano, salt and pepper until slightly emulsified.  Pour over salad and gently mix until it is all well coated.  Refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving.