Sunday, June 27, 2010

Red Lentil and Chickpea Stew

Last week as I was floundering for something simple and light to make, I had decided on quinoa.  Instead, I was surprised to discovered that there was no quinoa hiding in my pantry.  I had three types of dried beans, four types of lentils, bulgur, three types of rice, two types of split peas, couscous, and pasta galore, but no quinoa.  I decided it was time to maybe start working on clearing out my pantry.  As an added challenge, while waiting for my grocery store to reopen, I decided to see how much I could make for dinner this week without buying anything from the store.  Of course, I got to the store to buy food for breakfast, milk, ingredients for a pie, and discovered it's summer and the Val-Mont's selection of cheap fruits and vegetables is amazing right now.  I caved and got some cheap red bell pepper to remake (I know that doesn't happen often, but this recipe is worth it!) the peanut curry noodles without the seafood and I bought some strawberries and raspberries that were too cheap and delicious looking to resist, but I held strong when I saw the fleur d'ail ... mainly because I wasn't 100% sure garlic flowers were the same as garlic scapes (they are!) and also because I couldn't remember the recipes that I had seen them in ... maybe next week.

I was torn between making this recipe first and a black lentil and split pea curry from 660 Curries.  Then, I ended up using my chickpeas as pie weights and decided that instead of trying to find a container to store them (there weren't many left), I should just start soaking them for this dish.  I skipped on the onion and celery for this dish, because I wasn't in a celery mood and when I went to chop my onions, they weren't looking too great, so I just substituted 1 tsp onion powder.  For some reason I don't have cardamon in my cupboard (much to my surprise!), so I substituted 1/2 tsp each cinnamon and nutmeg based on online suggestions.  I used beef stock because I was out of chicken and vegetable stock (and now I am out of beef!).  This makes a lot, so expect leftovers.

Red Lentil and Chickpea Stew (from Kalyn's Kitchen)

1 large onion, finely chopped (or 1 tsp onion powder)
1 Tbsp olive oil 

2 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. Garam Masala
1 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom (or 1/2 tsp each nutmeg and cinnamon)
1/2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
6 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable stock 

1 1/2 cups red lentils
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, rinsed until no more foam appears (or dried, soaked and pre-cooked)
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes (I used 19oz as that's what I had, do not drain tomatoes)
cooked rice for serving (optional)

1. Heat olive oil in a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add onions, ginger, garlic, and turmeric and gently saute, stirring often, for about 7 minutes, or until onions are quite soft but not browned. 
2. Add garam masala, ground cardamom, cayenne pepper, and ground cumin and saute a couple minutes more.
3. Add the stock, red lentils, canned tomatoes, and rinsed chickpeas and bring mixture to a gentle boil.
4. When it starts to bubble, reduce heat to the barest simmer and cover pan with lid. Let mixture simmer, stirring a few times, until lentils are dissolved enough that mixture has thickened into a chunky stew. (The shorter time you cook it, the more chunky it will be. I cooked mine at the barest simmer for about 60 minutes.)
5. Serve hot, over rice and topped with sour cream or plain yogurt if desired.

Raspberry Lemonade

What to do when you find cheap raspberries and lemons and don't feel like baking?  Make lemonade of course.  A drink that tastes like summer even when it doesn't feel like summer outside!

Raspberry Lemonade (from My Baking Addiction)

1 cup sugar
 ¾ cup raspberries; pureed and pushed through a fine mesh sieve; plus more whole berries for garnish if desired
1 cup fresh lemon juice

1. Make a simple syrup by combining the sugar with 1 cup of water in a saucepan. Place over medium heat and heat until the sugar in completely dissolved; swirl the pan occasionally. Let cool.
2. Measure 3/4 cup of fresh raspberries and puree them in your blender or food processor.  (I just used 1 6 oz package of raspberries, it worked out to roughly 3/4 cup.)
3. Push the raspberry puree through a fine mesh sieve to separate the seeds from the pulp.
4. Once the simple syrup has cooled, combine the raspberry puree, simple syrup and lemon juice in a large pitcher.
5. Add 4-6 cups of cold water. The amount of water you use will depend on your taste, so add as little or as much as you want to achieve your perfect sweet/tart balance.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Blackberry Lemon Meringue Pie

I've been eyeing this recipe for 3 months.  When I first saw it, it looked amazing and was crying out to be made, but blackberries were horribly expensive.  Lately blackberries have been cheaper, but I've been too busy for a recipe this involved and it's been too warm to spend quality time with the oven at 425.  This weekend, however, I miraculously found myself with nothing but time on my hands (and soccer to watch!).  The summer heat has also given way to cool weather again (when I stepped outside to go to the grocery store, I briefly considered grabbing a jacket ... summer in Canada still confuses me sometimes).  Berries are also cheap and plentiful (I only meant to buy blackberries, but somehow ended up with raspberries and strawberries too!).  This will be my last baking adventure until my Metro reopens (less than one week!) as I am now out of flour, sugar, vanilla, and cornstarch, but oh was it worth it!

The original recipe was for two pies.  I only made one and am including the version for one below.  The only annoying thing is the curds each call for 3 egg yolks, which scales rather un-nicely.  Just whisk the 3 yolks together in a small bowl and then split it evenly between the two curds.  I also didn't have meyer lemons (I have yet to see them in Montreal although I'm sure they're hiding somewhere), so I just used regular lemons.

Blackberry Lemon Meringue Pie (from Desserts for Breakfast)

for pastry crust:
2 1/2 cups AP flour
1/4 cup sugar
7 Tbspn butter
1 egg yolk
2 Tbspn freshly grated meyer lemon zest
2 Tbspn freshly squeezed meyer lemon juice
2 Tbspn cold water

1. Combine the ingredients except the water in a food processor and pulse until the butter is the size of small peas.
2. Gradually add the water and pulse just until a dough begins to form.
3. Remove the pastry dough from the food processor, form it into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap or parchment paper and chill for 30 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
5. Roll out the pastry crust. Prick the bottom of the crust several times with a fork. Then, line the pastry with parchment paper and weigh down with pie weights (or dry beans).
6. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the pastry looks golden.
7. Remove from the oven and let cool.

for lemon curd:
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbspn corn starch
1/8 tspn salt
1/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup freshly squeezed meyer lemon juice
1 1/2 egg yolks
1 Tbspn butter
2/3 cups boiling water
1/2 Tbspn freshly grated meyer lemon zest

1. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Gradually blend in the cold water and lemon juice.
2. Add the egg yolks and butter, blending until smooth.
3. Gradually add in the boiling water, stirring constantly.
4. Place the saucepan on medium high heat and bring to a full boil, stirring gently with a spatula and scraping the bottom (to prevent burning).  Once the mixture begins to thicken, reduce the heat and simmer for one minute.
5. Remove the curd from heat and mix in the lemon zest. Let cool.

for blackberry curd::
1 cups fresh or thawed, frozen blackberries
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbspn corn starch
1/8 tspn salt
1/2 Tbspn creme de cassis
1/2 Tbspn freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 egg yolks
1 Tbspn butter
2/3 cup boiling water

1. In a food processor or blender, puree the blackberries until smooth. 
2. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Gradually blend in the blackberry puree, creme de cassis, and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
3. Add the egg yolks and butter, blending until smooth.
4. Gradually add in the boiling water, stirring constantly.
5. Place the saucepan on medium high heat and bring to a full boil, stirring gently with a spatula and scraping the bottom (to prevent burning).  Once the mixture begins to thicken, reduce the heat and simmer for one minute.
6. Remove the curd from heat and let cool.

for meringue and assembly:
4 egg whites
1/4 tspn cream of tartar
2 1/2 Tbspn sugar
3/4 tspn vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Place egg whites in a clean mixer bowl with the whisk attachment. Begin to whip at low until the egg whites
start to foam.
3. Add the cream of tartar and increase speed to medium high. Gradually add the sugar.
4. Whip the egg whites until glossy stiff peaks, being careful not to overwhip.
5. Add the vanilla extract and whip the egg whites on high for about three seconds, "sealing" the meringue.
6. Spoon the blackberry and lemon curds alternatively into the prepared pie crusts. Top with meringue, making sure to seal the meringue to the pie crust at the outer edges.
7. Place pies in the lower shelf of the oven, and bake at 425 for three minutes, until the tips of the meringue become golden.  Then, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue to bake for 7-8 more minutes, until you reach the desired color on the meringue.  Remove and let cool.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Potato Pesto Pizza

I've been on a pizza kick lately.  Not for standard pizzas, but for unique combinations that you wouldn't necessarily expect on pizzas.  After the success of the potato pasta, I started noticing posts for potato pizza.  Initially, I was tempted by the mashed potato pizza ... similar to an appetizer I used to enjoy in New Jersey.  Eventually, though, I saw this post.  Sliced potatoes with pesto seemed even better than a loaded baked potato pizza.

I didn't really follow the recipe at all, so click on the link above if you want to try the original.  Regular pesto didn't appeal to me much, so I decided to try the broccoli pesto I'd made before (I think this would also be amazing with the asparagus pesto!).  This was delicious.

Potato Pesto Pizza

1 pizza crust (homemade  or another idea or bought)
1 cup broccoli pesto (I made the full recipe and mixed the leftovers with some leftover cooked potatoes ... delicious!)
2 cups potatoes (I used tiny baby potatoes)
1 cup grated mozzarella
1/3 cup grated Parmesan (optional)

1. Preheat oven with pizza stone inside to 500F.  (Perhaps it's about time to stop making pizzas ... or switch to grilling them!)
2. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Place potatoes inside and boil for 15 - 20 minutes.  If you're making broccoli pesto, you can save a pot by adding in the broccoli for the last few minutes.
3. Drain potatoes, cool slightly, and slice.  (You could save some time by slicing first and then boiling.)
4. Top pizza crust with pesto and mozzarella.  Layer on potato slices.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
5. Slide pizza onto stone with a pizza peel.  Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Broccoli, Tomato, Goat Cheese Pasta

Last Sunday, I had a delicious brunch (although the service was awful) ... poached eggs in avocados covered with a tomato sauce and melted cheese.  The only problem was by the time dinner rolled around, I really wasn't hungry.  Certainly not hungry enough to try making what I had planned for dinner.  I needed something light, so enter this improvisation based on what I had on hand.  I'll leave the measurements up to you.  I was pleasantly surprised by how it turned out.  Slow-roasted tomatoes would've probably been better for this, but it was a last minute adaptation.

Broccoli, Tomato, and Goat Cheese Pasta

penne or other cut pasta
cherry tomatoes
olive oil
goat cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1. Oil a small skillet and heat over low heat.  Heat cherry tomatoes and allow them to break down (about 15 - 20 minutes).
2. While tomatoes are cooking, bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta according to package directions.  A few minutes before the pasta should be done, add in the broccoli (you could also steam the broccoli if you prefer it crispier, but this saves a pan!).
3. Drain pasta and broccoli.  Add in cherry tomatoes.  Salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste.  Crumble goat cheese over the top and serve.

Blueberry Crumb Bars

I'm so behind on posting things.  Between having entirely too much to do lately and migraines that keep making an appearance (thank you low pressure fronts), posting has been the last thing on my mind.  But, thankfully today is a holiday, my headache is gone, the weather is encouraging me to stay inside this morning, and most of the people I know are out of town.  Hello, relaxation!

One more week until my grocery store re-opens and then I can buy cheap cereal again and I won't have to make breakfast foods!  Aren't you excited?  I scaled the recipe in half, but the original is included below.

Blueberry Crumb Bars (from mybakingaddiction ... also appeared on Smitten Kitchen)

1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsalted butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
zest of two lemons

4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
3 teaspoons cornstarch

1.Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
2.In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, salt, lemon zest and baking powder.
3. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and vanilla together until combined.
4. Use pastry cutter or your food processor (you can also freeze the butter and grate it like cheese and then hand mix it in ... I found this method a bit odd ... I think I'm too used to snacking on cheese as I grate!) to blend the flour mixture with the butter and egg/vanilla mixture. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.
5. In another bowl, stir together 1/2 sugar and cornstarch. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.
6. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Lemon Curd Cream Pavlovas with Strawberries

This recipe has been staring at me for a while, but the stars never seem to align to make it.  I'm always low on something, but after entirely too much time of not baking for fun, I decided it was time to change that and dedicate an evening to relaxation and cooking.  Thankfully it was also relatively cool today so leaving my oven on for hours on end didn't matter too much!

I scaled down the pavlovas to only make 2 because I was low on eggs, but left the full amount of lemon curd.  (Scaled recipe is included below.)  The lemon curd is divine and I'm sure you can find more uses for it, so don't worry about having extra.  I wasn't sure what to expect from making this, but it was delicious and definitely worth the time.  Light and airy, it's a taste of summer.  I should never even question this blog when it comes to desserts, I should just make them.

Lemon Curd Cream Pavlovas with Strawberries (from Desserts for Breakfast)

for meringue:
2 egg whites
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 Tbspn corn starch, sifted
2/3 tspn white vinegar
2/3 tspn vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment (or realize that you're out, curse, and just grease a sheet well).
2. Begin whipping the egg whites on low until they become foamy.  Then, increase speed to medium-high, gradually adding the superfine sugar.  Beat until glossy stiff peaks.
3. Whisk in the corn starch, vinegar, and vanilla extract, being careful not to overmix.
4. Spoon the meringue onto the sheet, shaping the meringues with spoons for your desired size.  Make an indent with the back of a spoon on top of each meringue (this recipe should make 2).
5. Place the meringues in the preheated oven.  Immediately lower the oven temperature to 250 degrees F and bake for an hour to an hour and a half, until the outside of the meringues are dry.  Turn off the oven and allow the meringues to cool inside the oven. 

for lemon curd cream:
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 large egg
pinch of salt
3 Tbspn unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
zest of one lemon, freshly grated
1 cup heavy whipping or manufacturing cream, cold
2 Tbspn powdered sugar

1. Prepare a fine mesh strainer over a bowl.
2. In a pan over low heat (or you can use a double boiler, but that seemed a bit much for tonight!), whisk together the lemon juice, sugar, egg yolk, egg, salt, and cut butter.  Cook until the butter is completely melted and the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon (patience!!).
3. Remove the lemon curd from heat and strain through the prepared sieve.  Mix in the freshly grated lemon zest.  Allow the curd to cool completely.
4. In a chilled bowl, whip the cream just until stiff peaks form.  Whisk in the powdered sugar and then quickly fold in the cooled lemon curd, being careful not to overmix.  Use immediately.

for assembly:
strawberries, hulled and chopped
vanilla sugar (I just used regular sugar)
lemon juice

1. Place the chopped strawberries in a bowl.  Sprinkle lightly with vanilla sugar and lemon juice and mix to combine.  Let sit for a few minutes (or in the refrigerator for few hours, if you want to make this ahead of time.)
2. Top each meringue with a generous helping of lemon curd cream and macerated strawberries.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Muffins

Strawberry season is in full swing and of course I couldn't resist buying a ridiculously large bundle of fresh Quebec strawberries at the Val-Mont ... especially after I saw someone pull up in a pickup truck and start unloading strawberries.  I decided strawberry muffins should be the breakfast of the week and started searching on foodgawker for some inspiration ... maybe with cream cheese?  I stumbled upon this recipe and couldn't pass by the concept, but there was something lacking in the execution.  Granted, I made changes, but that's only because I looked at the recipe and got a little too skeptical ... melted butter?  dumping everything in at once?  strawberry extract? oh no that won't do!  I may have to revisit this recipe again ... without the strawberry jam (with strawberries this amazing who needs jam?).

Strawberry Cream Cheese Muffins (adapted from She's Becoming DoughMessTic)

2 cups All Purpose Flour
1/4 cup Sugar
2 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
3/4 tsp Salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
zest of one lemon (optional)
1 cup diced fresh strawberries
2/3 cup Strawberry Jam
Cream Cheese Center
1/2 cup Cream Cheese, softened
3 Tbsp. Sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Line 12 muffin tins.
2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. In stand mixer, cream together butter and 1/4 cup sugar.
4. Mix in eggs one at a time.
5. Mix in vanilla and lemon zest.
6. Mix in 1/3 flour mixture, followed by half of the milk, 1/3 flour mixture, remaining half of milk and finishing with final third of flour mixture.
7. Fold in berries and jam.
8. In separate bowl, stir sugar and cream cheese together until well combined.
9. Pour muffin batter into muffin tins. Spoon cream cheese mixture into each tin equally, pressing it into the center of the batter.
10. Bake at 350 for 20 - 25 minutes.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sausage and Goat Cheese Macaroni

It's summer in Montreal and that seems to mean only one thing.  My will to cook is in a free-fall.  I'll happily throw together some hamburgers for friends at a barbecue, but cooking at home and using the oven?  I'd much rather be outside at the park or wandering Mont Royal.  Unfortunately, baked meals reheat better than stir-fry (at least in my opinion), so if I want quality meals for lunch, I need to bake ... or find a way to make salads more filling.

This recipe caught my eye a while ago and I'm finally getting around to it because I've been too busy and uninspired lately to find new recipes.  Ordinarily, I would've kept it vegetarian, but the idea of sausage entered my head today before an afternoon barbecue.  We ended up going the hamburger direction, which was delicious, but I still needed to have some sausage.  Granted, this is not just any sausage.  This is William Walters deer with red wine sausage and it's definitely worth the trip to Jean Talon or Mont Royal to try some.  If you want to keep this recipe vegetarian, the original calls for pine nuts and basil as well (1/2 cup each).  I skipped it because of the sausage, but I would add it back in.

I used a mixture of regular goat cheese and pepper flavoured, so I skipped on the extra pepper (note this was the crumbly goat cheese, not a wheel of brie!)  I skipped roasting peppers myself and just used a small jar of roasted peppers.

Sausage and Goat Cheese Macaroni (adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian ... ironically enough)

2 1/2 cups milk
450g elbow pasta
2 sausages, casings removed
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 cup grated cheddar (I used aged medium)
1 cup goat cheese (I used a mixture of pepper and plain)
2 roasted red bell peppers, chopped
1/2 cup bread crumbs (a great use for leftover baguette)

1. Preheat the oven to 400F.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.
2. Cook the milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  When small bubbles appears, turn off the heat and let stand.
3. Pan fry the sausage and set aside.
4. Cook the pasta 1- 2 minutes short of package directions, drain, rinse, and set aside.
5. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add the flour and cook, stirring until the mixture browns.
6. Slowly add the milk to the butter, stirring with a wire whisk.  Add milk slowly until mixture is thick and smooth.  Add the cheddar a little bit at a time, stirring until fully incorporated.
7. Pour the sauce over the noodles, toss in the sausage, goat cheese, and peppers.  If desired, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
8. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan.  Top with bread crumbs.
9. Bake 15 minutes or until crumbs are browned.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Jalapeno-Cheddar Scones

I don't understand scones.  I think it's a northern thing.  The first scone I ever had was from Starbucks.  It was dense and flavourless.  I couldn't remember ever seeing them before and I didn't understand why anyone in their right minds would choose a scone when there are biscuits available.  Delicious biscuits ... light, fluffy, flaky ... but almost impossible to make well at home.  They always come so close, but then lead to disappointment.  (As an aside, I checked my Texas Home Cooking cookbook to try to decide if it was a regional thing.  Number of biscuit entries: 5.  Number of scones: 0 ... so maybe I'm not crazy.)

This week at our potluck brunch someone brought dried cranberry scones.  They were good and they didn't make me yearn for biscuits or even muffins, so perhaps scones have their place.  While searching for something to make to use up leftover jalapenos, I stumbled across this scone recipe on Smitten Kitchen and decided to give scones another try ... it was certainly better than going to the grocery store!  I'm not sure I'm a scone convert yet, but these are definitely a step in that direction.

I cut the recipe in half to avoid scone overload and skipped on the egg wash, but I'm including the original below.  I also used aged medium cheddar (pretty amazing cheddar ... thank you Val-Mont and your expensive cheeses).

Jalapeno-Cheddar Scones (from Smitten Kitchen) (Adapted Peter Oleyer at Calexico Carne Asada in Brooklyn, via NYMag)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, diced
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 eggs, divided
115g sharp Cheddar cheese, diced
2 small jalapeños pepper, minced

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. In a small skillet, melt 1/2 tablespoon of butter and sauté the jalapeños in it until soft, about two minutes. Let them cool, then place them in a small bowl with the cheddar cheese and coat them with one tablespoon of the flour.
2. Combine the remaining flour with the baking powder and salt. Cut in the remaining butter with a pastry blender, fork or two knives, until the butter bits are pea sized.
3. Lightly whip two of the eggs and cream and add to the flour-butter mixture. Using a wooden spoon, fold mixture until it begins to come together.
4. Add the cheddar-jalapeño mixture to the dough and mix until everything is incorporated.
5. Turn out the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead gently for less than one minute. Pat dough out to a 3/4- to 1-inch thickness and either cut into 8 triangles or the shape of your choice with a biscuit cutter.
6. Make an egg wash by beating the remaining egg with a teaspoon of water. Brush the scones with egg wash and place on a parchment-lined (or well-oiled) baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Blackberry Coffee Cake

I needed to make something for a potluck breakfast that I had organized at work to welcome a new employee.  I had a box of blackberries left in my fridge from an impulsive "ooo, blackberries are on sale, I'm sure I can find something to do with them," so off I went in search of a recipe.  I don't have any large tupperware dishes, so making some kind of coffee cake seemed like a good bet to me.  While searching I stumbled across a blackberry lemon coffee cake recipe.  As I read through the ingredient list, sour cream caught my eye.  Perfect!  I had a tub of leftover sour cream from the potluck dinner a few nights before.  As I haven't yet developed a taste for sour cream as a topping, baking with it seemed like the best way to prevent it from languishing in my fridge past the expiration date.  I managed to run out of lemons over the weekend, but a friend had very conveniently left a lime at my house, so I decided it would become a blackberry lime coffee cake, fancy no?  Finally, my glass pan with convenient plastic lid for transporting is slightly smaller than 9x13, so the fact that I had a 170g container of blackberries (I think it's about 1 cup) rather than 1 1/2 cups didn't seem to matter.  There was plenty of blackberry goodness.  I was a little skeptical after making that batter about this cake because it seemed absurdly thick, but it baked up to be moist and fairly light.  I was also a little concerned when I pulled it out of the oven, that there was extra butter on the top just sitting there melted (I was too lazy to trim/measure and just tossed the final remnants of butter than I had in the microwave to make the topping and I think it was a bit more than 1/4 cup), but I mopped a little up with a paper towel and cooked it a little longer and there were no complaints.

Blackberry Coffee Cake (only slightly adapted from Week of Menus)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of one lime
170g fresh blackberries
1/4 cup butter melted
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar

1. Butter a 9X13 pan.  Preheat oven to 350. 
2. In a bowl whisk together the flour, the baking powder, and a pinch of salt.
3. In another bowl stir together the sour cream and the baking soda.  (It should bubble up a bit in the time it takes you to do everything else.)
4. In a large bowl cream together the butter and 1 cup of the granulated sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy, add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, and beat in the vanilla and lemon zest.
5. Stir in the flour mixture alternately with the sour cream mixture and stir the batter until it is combined well. (1/3 flour, 1/2 sour cream, 1/3 flour, 1/2 sour cream, 1/3 flour until it's all mixed together)
6. Pour (more like spoon) the batter into a buttered 9 X 13 cake pan. Sprinkle blackberries evenly on top.
7. In a small bowl stir together melted butter, flour and sugar until it is sort of dough like and stuck together.
8. Crumble topping mixture all over cake.
9. Bake the cake in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Transfer it to a rack, and let it cool.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Fajita Steak Quesadillas

I'm not sure if this counts as a recipe.  It's more of a way to use leftovers that seems completely obvious, but tastes amazingly delicious.  The problem with leftover fajita meat is invariably when you reheat it in the microwave, it ends up tasting dry.  So why not fix that by smoothering it with something that will keep it from drying out?  Of course, a quesadilla.

Fajita Steak Quesadillas

leftover fajita meat and red bell peppers
shredded cheese (cheddar, monterrey jack, colby or a mix)
leftover pico de gallo
large flour tortillas
olive oil
sour cream and guacamole for serving

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Brush a large tortilla with olive oil (this helps make it crispy, you can skip the oil if you prefer).  Place olive oil side down on a baking sheet.  Top with steak, bell peppers, and a little bit of pico.  Cover with a sprinkling of cheese.  Top with another tortilla and brush the tortilla with oil.
3. Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and meat is warmed through.
4. Slice like a pizza and serve with sour cream and guacamole.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Another Tex-Mex Extravaganza

It's been five months since I was in Texas and to say I'm starting to miss/crave Tex-Mex again is putting it mildly.  I decided it was time to fix that and what better way than cooking a lot and having people over?  Initially, I had a grand plan of making chile rellenos.  Then, I scaled back and decided on something easier, but classic ... fajitas.

The only problem with fajitas is that they should be grilled and (1) rain is not ideal weather for grilling and (2) I don't have a grill!  Back-up plans for cooking fajitas?  Broil?  No thank you, I don't want to overheat my kitchen.  Fry?  Too much work for a dinner party ... works well for cooking for 1 or 2.  Slow cooker?  Ding, ding, ding ... we have a winner.

I decided to go with the widely published Ninfa's fajita recipe since it is a Houston institution.  I made a few substitutions, but nothing too crazy.  I substituted Chardonnay for the sherry/Zinfandel because that's what I had and used fresh squeezed orange juice in place of pineapple juice, which I'll blame on my Metro still being closed.  I also added a little extra water since I was cooking it in the slow-cooker.  I roughly doubled the recipe because I was cooking 1.6 kg of meat ... that's a lot of steak!  Finally, maison du roti doesn't seem to have skirt steak or flank steak.  When I told them I was making fajitas they suggested, Boston steak.   Oooookay.  Not exactly what I was going for, but I guess it works.  The recipe below is un-doubled.

Ninfa's Showcase Fajitas (from The Tex-Mex Cookbook)

zest of 1 large orange (1 tbsp)
juice of 2 lemons (1/4 cup) plus 2 tsp zest
1/4 cup orange juice (or pineapple if you're feeling fancy)
1/4 cup sherry or Zinfandel (or Chardonnay)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 glove garlic, minced
1 tbsp ground black pepper
3 dried whole chiles de arbol, crushed
3 tbsp clarified butter
2 skirt steaks, cut into thin strips (0.75 - 1 kg)
2 - 3 red bell peppers, sliced
12 warm flour tortillas
sour cream, shredded cheese, guacamole, and pico de gallo (see recipe below) 

1. Combine citrus, wine, soy sauce, garlic, pepper, chiles, and butter.  Place steak in the slow cooker and cover with sauce.  Cook on low for 6 - 7 hours (or marinate at room temperature for 2 hours and then grill).
2. Add bell pepper to slow cooker and cook for an hour or so (I did not submerge them so they would stay somewhat crispier).
3. Serve with tortillas and condiments.

Pico de Gallo (from The Tex-Mex Cookbook)

3 tbsp lime juice (ideally key lime, but it's impossible to get here)
1/2 cup chopped onion (ideally Texas 1015, Vidalia, or Maui)
2 cups ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp jalapeno, minced
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp chopped cilantro

1. Combine onion and lime juice and marinate for 20 minutes or more.
2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl just before serving and mix well.

Blackberry White Wine Sangria
I surprised myself by not having much to do before people arrived and getting bored, so I decided to try making some sangria with what I had on hand.  This could be enhanced with additional fruit ... maybe peaches?

1 bottle white wine
170g blackberries
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup creme de cassis
2 tbsp lemon juice

1. In a small sauce pan, combine berries, sugar, and water.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
2. In a pitcher, combine white wine, creme de cassis, lemon juice, and sliced fruit if you have some.
3. Allow the sugar mixture to cool slightly, then strain into the wine mixture.  Discard the berries.
4. Mix and chill for 4 - 24 hours (or less if you're impatient to try it!).

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Savoury Bread Pudding

Aka what to do when you have leftover baguette, some mozzarella you picked up on sale, and olives languishing in the fridge.  I didn't follow the recipe exactly (I may have substituted dried herbs, cut down on the milk because I was running low, and guesstimated everything else), but I'm retyping the original because I'm feeling slightly lazy.  I skipped the bain marie though and think you should too, so I'm not including that.  This wasn't amazing, but it's decently good and uses things that you likely have lying around anyways ... a good emergency meal.

Savoury Bread Pudding (from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian)

3 cups milk
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped basil
salt and pepper
enough day old bread to fill your pan (8 slices rye?)
3 eggs
1/4 cup chopped black olives
2 cups grated or sliced mozzarella

1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Warm milk, butter, basil, tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste in a small saucepan until the butter melts.
2. Butter or grease an 8 inch square baking dish.  Cut bread into bite sized pieces.
3. Put the bread in the baking dish and pour milk over it.  Let it sit, submerging bread that rises to the top.
4. In a small bowl, beat the eggs and stir them into the bread along with the olives and cheese.
5. Bake for 45 - 60 minutes.