Monday, February 28, 2011

Dulce de Leche

I'm sitting at home this morning winding away the last of my time off from the vacation that wasn't. There's something ridiculously nice about having the morning off after a busy weekend. I woke up without my alarm and stayed in bed for a bit, then spent some time reading, did a few chores around the house that never seem to get done, and still I have a little time left free before the trip to work. It's a wonder I don't do this more often, although somehow I think it will always take surprise events to separate me from my vacation time and force me to just slow down and relax at home.

This isn't much of a recipe, but I needed it to make something that will be posted shortly (and I didn't want to lose the method for future reference, although this is so simple maybe I'll even remember it!).

One year ago: Penne with Potatoes and Arugula ... mmm, carbs

Dulce de Leche (from David Lebovitz)

One can of sweetened condensed milk
sea salt

1. Preheat the oven to 425° F (220° C).
2. Pour one can of sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk) into a glass pie plate or shallow baking dish. Stir in a few flecks of sea salt.
3. Set the pie plate within a larger pan, such as a roasting pan, and add hot water until it reaches halfway up the side of the pie plate.
4. Cover the pie plate snugly with aluminum foil and bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours. (Check a few times during baking and add more water to the roasting pan as necessary).
5. Once the Dulce de Leche is nicely browned and caramelized, remove from the oven and let cool. Once cool, whisk until smooth.
6. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Warm gently in a warm water bath or microwave oven before using.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lemon Raspberry Pudding Cake

All weekend long, I've had the phrase "when life hands you lemons ..." stuck in my head, so I decided it was only appropriate that I make a lemony dessert while trying to make the best of a weekend vacation that didn't happen.

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this dessert, but it seemed like I couldn't go wrong with lemon and raspberry. The top layer ends up being light and airy like a souffle. The bottom becomes a pudding. I added the frozen raspberries and then reduced the milk slightly per the blogger's suggestion, but the pudding was still a little on the thin side. Maybe less milk is the answer, maybe not, but even if the pudding is a little thin, this is still a delicious dessert that reminds me of summer ... even if summer is still a few months away here. (And in the spirit of making the best of a less than ideal situation, I just need to keep reminding myself that at least in the winter, I can back as much as I want without worrying about overheating the apartment!)

One year ago: Broccoli and Roasted Tomato Pseudo Frittata

Lemon Raspberry Pudding Cake (from Get Off Your Butt and BAKE!, originally the Martha Stewart Website)

Unsalted butter, room temperature, for custard cups
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 to 3 teaspoons grated lemon zest, (1 lemon)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup milk (maybe even only 1/2 a cup, see notes above)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup frozen raspberries, crushed

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set a kettle of water to boil. Butter six 6-ounce custard cups and place in a dish towel-lined baking dish or roasting pan.
2. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks, vanilla and sugar until light; whisk in flour.
3. Gradually whisk in lemon juice, then milk and zest.
4. With an electric mixer in a separate bowl, beat egg whites and salt until soft peaks form.
5. Add whites to lemon batter and fold in gently with a whisk (batter will be quite liquid).
6. Fold in crushed raspberries.
7. Divide batter among prepared custard cups; place baking dish in oven and fill with boiling water to reach halfway up sides of cups. Bake until puffed and lightly browned (but pudding is still visible in bottom), 20 to 25 minutes.
8. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Stir-fried Orange Beef

My plans to escape the winter failed miserably yesterday, so instead of enjoying a weekend of Carolina barbecue and Southern buttermilk biscuits (and oh year, 20 degree weather), I'm here in the frozen city. Luckily for you, that means I plan on cooking.

I love orange beef and this recipe was the perfect balance of citrus flavour and just a little bit of heat. I added some noodles to the dish because I wasn't in much of a rice mood. I wish there had been just a little bit more sauce because the noodles absorbed a bit too much. If you're using rice, keep the sauce the same. If you want noodles, you might want to double the sauce. The only other major change I made to the recipe was to use beef fondue meat instead of ribeye. The original calls for cubes of meat, but I prefer thinner cuts for stir fry.

One year ago: A multitude of baked goods made during the Olympics hockey games

Stir-fried Orange Beef (adapted from Seasaltwithfood)

350g beef fondue meat
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
A pinch of Sea Salt
2 Tbsp Cornstarch
10-15 Dried Red Chilies, cut into ½-inch pieces (if your chilies are particularly spicy, go light on these)

35 g Ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
 (I just grated and estimated)
3 Cloves Garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp of Fresh Orange Zest
100 - 200g Chinese noodles
4 Scallions, cut into ½-inch pieces

3 Tbsp of Peanut Oil

1 Cup (250 ml) Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice (2 large oranges)

1 Tbsp Sugar

1 ½ Tbsp Soy Sauce

1 Tbsp Dark Soy Sauce

1 Tbsp Shaoxing Wine
1 tsp Chinese White Rice Vinegar

1 tsp Cornstarch

1. Combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

2. Toss the beef with black pepper, sea salt, and coat with corn flour. 

3. Heat 2 Tbsp of oil in a large wok or cast iron pan until hot. Add beef into the pan and brown for 10 to 12 seconds on each side over a moderate to high heat. (Cook the beef in 2 to 3 batches) Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

4. Add in the remaining 1 Tbsp of oil. Then mix in the dried chilies and stir-fry briefly until they are fragrant and just changing color (do not burn them).
5. Add the ginger, garlic and stir-fry for a few seconds more, then add the orange zest and stir-fry until the oil is fragrant.

6. Add the sauce, stirring as it thickens.
7. Add the noodles and stir-fry until cooked.
8. Tip in the beef and stir vigorously to coat it in sauce.
9. Toss in the scallions and stir a few times, switch off the heat, and serve immediately.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Red Lentil, Tomato, and Coconut Soup

Dishes that can be made entirely from things you almost always have on hand are the best. Extra points if they cook up quickly enough to be a weeknight meal and require little supervision. In this case, they're the perfect meal to make when I'm not feeling well and staying upright is not entirely pleasant (and why when I have a headache won't the basement pump shut off? It's not like it's warm enough here today for there to be water melting into the basement!). I made a couple of changes to this recipe. I used a mirepoix (1/4 cup each of chopped carrot, celery, and onion) because I had some pre-frozen and didn't feel up to chopping an onion. Second, I doubled all of the spices and used whole canned tomatoes instead of chopped because I have a weird thing against canned chopped tomatoes. Finally, I used the whole can of coconut milk rather than leaving an extra 100mL to taunt me later.

One year ago: Cauliflower, Chickpeas, and Tomato Couscous

Red Lentil, Tomato, and Coconut Soup (adapted from Greedy Gourmet, originally Melissa Messenger's Family Cookbook)

25g (1 oz) butter
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped (or 1/4 cup each chopped carrot, onion, and celery)
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
400g (14 oz) canned tomatoes
175g (6 oz) red lentils
2 tsp lemon juice
2 cups vegetable stock
1 400ml can coconut milk
salt and freshly ground pepper
naan bread, to serve (I cheated and used flour tortillas)

1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan or dutch oven and add onion (and carrot and celery if using). Cook until onion is translucent.
2. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
3. Add all the spices. Cook for a further 30 seconds.
4. Stir in tomatoes, red lentils, lemon juice, vegetable stock, and coconut milk and bring to the boil.
5. Simmer for 30 minutes until lentils are tender, adding extra hot water if necessary.
6. Season to taste (I added a splash of red wine vinegar here just for fun). If desired, blend to a smooth consistency using an immersion blender.
7. Serve with bread, naan, or tortillas.

Gorgonzola Cheese Shells

A friend of mine printed out this recipe for a weekend lunch at her family's cottage. This is a very rich cheesy dish. We served it with sausages. The directions seemed a bit odd to me, so I fiddled with them a little at the beginning (the original has no butter). We doubled the recipe and I ended up having a bit of difficulty getting the sauce to thicken (I added more flour). I think with a bit more patience, it might not have needed the flour, but if you have the same issues, go ahead and add it.

One year ago: Peanut Butter and Nutella Brownies (a dessert I still have yet to eat!)

Gorgonzola Cheese Shells (slightly adapted from ElizabethBinary on

500 mL Heavy Cream
1c Gorgonzola
1/2c Parmsesan
2 tbsp Flour
2 tbsp butter
Cooked Pasta Shells
5 stems Chives (optional), chopped
Breadcrumbs or Matzo Meal (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In a saucepan, melt butter. Add flour and mix until a golden brown.
3. Slowly add heavy cream, stirring. Stir until sauce thickens ... be patient.
4. Add cheeses a little at a time, stirring until the cheese melts and is combined into the sauce.
5. Add chopped chives to sauce, taste, and add seasonings if needed.
6. Place cooked pasta shells in a baking dish. Pour sauce over top.
4. Cover in thin layer of breadcrumbs or matzo.
5. Bake for 10 minutes uncovered. For a golden brown, broil the top at the very end.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cocoa Brownies

It has been entirely too long since I baked a dessert. In the new year, I've made exactly two desserts: vanilla pudding and a remake of the Christmas lemon cream pie with homemade crust for a friend's birthday. It's not that I haven't wanted to bake, but just finding the time has been difficult. Most of my cooking lately has been done on the weekends and when I've had people over for dinner, I've had to restrain myself from making dessert as well.

Sadly, this means the cocoa powder I bought on my trip to Quebec City has been languishing in the cupboard. One of the lovely things about living in Quebec is that this is a province that knows chocolate. The number of delicious chocolate shops here boggles my mind. The hot chocolate here is rich and thick. I never realized before that hot chocolate could be that way ... almost liquid chocolate instead of just milk with chocolate flavouring. There's also a small chocolate shop a short walk from my house that sells amazing brownies that I don't mind paying $2 for. I think that's why when I make brownies at home, I tend to add crazy embellishments. The plain brownies here are easy to find and out of this world good. Why bother? Except I had some cocoa powder from the chocolate museum in Quebec City (a cute chocolate shop with the brilliant idea of adding a small museum to distinguish itself) waiting to be used. I decided Smitten Kitchen's best cocoa brownies would be the perfect recipe to use my cocoa powder in.

This recipe is a simple, quick, one-bowl affair that doesn't require a mixer. It's barely more work than using a boxed brownie mix ... and the results are delicious. They're moist and rich in a way that I wouldn't expect from using cocoa powder. I passed on the nuts because I'm just not a fan of putting chopped nuts in brownies, but feel free to add in 2/3 cup of walnuts or pecans at the very end. My directions below use the microwave, but you could also do it stovetop as SK does.

Cocoa Brownies (from Smitten Kitchen, originally from Alice Mendrich’s Bittersweet)

10 tablespoons (141 grams) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (280 grams) sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (82 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup (66 grams) all-purpose flour

1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
2. In a medium, microwave safe bowl, melt the butter in the microwave.
3. Add sugar, cocoa, and salt to the butter and stir until combined (it will still be gritty).
4. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon.
5. (Make sure your mixture has cooled enough that your eggs don't scramble, although you should be fine because only the butter was heated.) Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one.
6. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula.
7. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
8. Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.

Curried Lentil Soup

I found this recipe while looking for something to use up my chickpeas. I expected the best part of the soup to be that I didn't need to go to the grocery store to make it. Instead, I found a hearty, flavourful soup that sent me back for seconds on a Saturday afternoon (and I didn't need to go to the grocery store to make it). This is the perfect soup for winter ... and since winter won't be leaving us any time soon, I'm glad it's delicious.

I tried a new method of cooking chickpeas when I made this soup and instructions are included below (thanks, chowhound). It worked perfectly and it was all I could do to keep myself from snacking on the chickpeas while the lentils were cooking! Allegedly, you can freeze the chickpeas after they've been cooked so it's quicker for your next dish. I froze the extras and will have to report back later on how it goes. If you're using canned chickpeas, this recipe is quick enough for a weekday evening. The original recipe calls for 1 medium onion and 1 carrot, chopped. I had sitting in my freezer a combination of 1/4 cup each chopped onion, carrot, and celery, so I used that. Feel free to omit the celery. I skipped on the green onion and lemon wedge garnishes and used canola oil for part of the recipe because the only olive oil I have right now is the good stuff and that seems a waste for sauteing vegetables. I also used chicken stock in place of the water to add a bit more flavour.

One Year Ago: One of my favourite desserts, Chocolate Souffle Cupcakes with Mint Cream

Curried Lentil Soup (from

1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup carrot, finely chopped
1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped, divided
2 tablespoons (or more) curry powder (I used madras masala)
1 cup French green lentils
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup dried chickpeas or 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons butter

1. Cook chickpeas (if needed): Rinse chickpeas. In a dutch oven, cover chickpeas with water at a level twice as tall as the chickpeas. Preheat oven to 350F. Bring water to a boil on the stove. Cover the chickpeas and place in the oven. Cook for 90 minutes or until chickpeas are soft. Drain.
2. Heat canola oil in heavy large pot over medium heat (or your newly drained dutch oven).
3. Add onion and carrot; sprinkle with pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes.
4. Add half of chopped garlic; stir until vegetables are soft but not brown, about 4 minutes longer.
5. Add 2 tablespoons curry powder; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.
6. Add lentils and broth. Sprinkle with pepper. Increase heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
7. Meanwhile, puree chickpeas, lemon juice, water, olive oil, and remaining garlic in processor.
8. Add chickpea puree and butter to lentil soup. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional curry powder, if desired. Add water by 1/4 cupfuls to thin to desired consistency (mine didn't need thinning, but I like thick soups).

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

City Chicken

For Superbowl themed food, I had an idea of what to make for Green Bay and Dallas (the host city), but I was drawing a blank when it came to Pittsburgh. After checking wikipedia (and deciding that pierogi were entirely too much work), I noticed city chicken was on the list of traditional Pittsburgh food. When pork was cheap relative to chicken, this was a cheap, but tasty food. I'd made this dish many years ago and remembered enjoying it (I'm not a huge pork fan and this makes it taste more like chicken!). It's also simple. I think you could probably make this in a slow cooker if you don't have the time to let it simmer for an hour or two on the stove. The original recipe called for dried thyme, but I subbed a sprig of fresh rosemary I had sitting in the freezer. I also skipped on the skewers.

City Chicken (adapted from

570g pork loin, cut into 1 inch pieces
all-purpose flour for coating (the original calls for 1 1/2 cups, this seemed excessive to me)
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups chicken broth
1 sprig fresh rosemary or thyme
1 bay leaf

1. Mix salt, pepper and flour in a bowl. Coat pork cubes with flour mixture.
2. In a skillet, brown pork on all sides in a small amount of vegetable oil (you may need to do this in batches).
3. Add chicken broth, thyme and bay leaf to skillet. Scrape up any brown bits.
4. Reduce heat and simmer 1 hour or until meat is tender and sauce has thickened.

Brisket Tacos

It is definitely still winter. I haven't seen the sun since Saturday and the lack of sun combined with the cold has been making me unbelievably tired. What better way to combat fatigue though than with a recipe that can be made in the slow cooker? (Note if you don't have a slow cooker, the original uses the oven, so click the link below.) I knew as soon as I saw this recipe posted that I needed to make it ... and what better excuse than brisket tacos than to celebrate Arlington hosting the Superbowl? It's not easy to obtain brisket here (or outside of Texas in general according to the internet), so I cheated and used a side cut of beef ribs (mostly meat, just a little bit of bone, and a small layer of protective fat). If you use the same cut of meat, do not make the same mistake I did ... save all of the leftover liquid! I only saved about a cup to keep the meat moist when I reheated later. When I removed the liquid from the fridge, I discovered it had become the most beautiful gelatinous stock and silly me I only saved a little! Next time ...

Brisket Tacos (from Homesick Texan)

For the brisket:
3 pounds brisket, from the flat cut (see notes above)
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or bacon grease
1 large yellow onion, cut into quarters
8 cloves garlic
1/4 cup red wine vinegar (the cheaper stuff is just fine)
2 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 jalapeños, seeds and stems removed, cut in half, lengthwise
2 leafy stems cilantro (I skipped on this because I was serving some cilantro averse friends)
1 bay leaf
For the tacos:
2 poblano chiles (I used bell peppers because I didn't want to go on an ingredient hunt)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, cut into slivers
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (4 ounces)
Corn or flour tortillas
Salsa (Ninfa's red sauce was great)

1. Sprinkle the brisket with salt and black pepper.
2. In a large skillet, heat up the oil on medium-low, and brown the brisket on both sides, about 5 minutes per side.
3. Remove the brisket from the skillet and place in the slow cooker.
4. Add the onions to the skillet. While occasionally stirring, cook until they begin to brown.
5. Add the garlic cloves and cook for another 2 minutes.
6. Turn off the heat and pour into the pot the red wine vinegar, scraping along the bottom to loosen all of the pan drippings. Pour into slow cooker.
7. Pour in the beef broth and add the cumin, jalapeños, cilantro and bay leaf to the slow cooker.
8. Cover the pot and cook on low for up to 8 hours or until it’s fork tender.
9. When you turn off the heat, let it rest in the pot uncovered for 30 minutes.
10. Meanwhile, to make the taco toppings, roast the poblano chiles under the broiler until blackened, about 5 minutes per side. Place chiles in a paper sack or plastic food-storage bag, close it tight and let the chile steam for 20 minutes. Take the chiles out of the bag and rub off the skin. Remove stem and seeds and cut the chiles into strips. (Or just stir-fry the bell peppers.) Heat up the vegetable oil in a skillet on medium low, and add the onion slivers. While occasionally stirring, cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the cut poblano strips and cook for 1 more minute.
11. After the brisket has rested, remove it from the pot, cut off the fat cap and shred the meat with two forks until it’s in long strands.
12. To make the gravy, strain the cooled broth, throwing out the vegetables. Remove the fat from the broth with a gravy separator. Or alternatively, you can take a quart-sized plastic storage bag and pour some broth into it. Snip a bottom corner of the bag and drain the broth, stopping when you get to the fat layer that is on top. Add 2 tablespoons of the gravy to the shredded brisket, reserving the rest for serving. Taste the brisket and adjust seasonings. (You can skip the straining and just store all of it and the fridge and skim the top after it's cooled.)
13. To make the tacos, place on one side of each tortilla some Monterey Jack and slide the tortillas under the broiler for 30 seconds or until the cheese is melted. Fill the tortillas with shredded brisket and top with some of the onions and poblano strips. Serve with the pot juices and salsa.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ninfa's Red Sauce

This sauce may be a bit spicy for some people, so feel free to reduce the amount of chiles. You should also expect a thinner table sauce rather than a thick salsa when making this.

Ninfa's Red Sauce (from The Tex-Mex Cookbook)

1 1/4lb tomatoes, chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 jalapeno chile, stem and seeds removed (or leave the seeds in for something spicier)
2 dried chiles de arbol, diced and seeds removed (or leave in seeds if you want it spicier)
4 cilantro springs, chopped (I removed due to cilantro averse friends)
1 tsp salt

1. In a medium pot, bring a low layer of water to a boil over medium heat.
2. Add the tomatoes and garlic. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, or until tomatoes are soft.
3. Remove from heat and drain or simmer longer to allow the water to evaporate off soon if you didn't put in too much water.
4. Add chiles, cilantro, and salt.
5. With an immersion blender, blend until smooth.
6. Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill.

Shrimp and Avocado in Tamarind Sauce

This is a quick, easy, and flavourful meal if you already have the tamarind and shrimp ready to go. The other prep and cooking of the shrimp should be ready in the time it takes you to cook the rice. I passed on the fried shallots and substituted a jalapeno for the serrano because I had extra on hand. I liked the spice level, but if you're more sensitive to heat, you probably want to leave out the seeds or reduce the amount of pepper.

Shrimp and Avocado in Tamarind Sauce (slightly adapted from

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup tamarind pulp (from a pliable block)
1/2 cup boiling-hot water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 firm-ripe California avocados
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
2 (1 1/2- to 2-inch-long) fresh Thai chiles or 1 serrano/jalapeno, stemmed and minced (including seeds, but see note with regards to the heat level)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 lb large shrimp in shell (21 to 25 per lb), peeled, leaving tail and first segment of shell intact, and deveined
1/3 cup roasted salted peanuts, chopped
cooked rice for serving

1. Soak tamarind pulp in boiling-hot water in a small bowl until softened, about 5 minutes. Force pulp through a sieve into a bowl, discarding solids.
2. To tamarind, add sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce, and 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice and stir until sugar is dissolved.
3. Halve, pit, and peel avocados. Cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks and toss with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice in a bowl.
4. Coat a 12-inch heavy skillet with oil and heat over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté ginger, garlic, chiles, and salt, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
5. Add shrimp and sauté, turning over once, 2 minutes total.
6. Stir in tamarind mixture and simmer until shrimp are just cooked through, about 2 minutes more.
7. Spoon shrimp and avocado over rice, then sprinkle with peanuts.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lemon Souffle Pancakes

The only thing better than waking up and realizing it's Saturday is waking up and realizing you actually managed to sleep in on a Saturday. Usually, I do savoury breakfasts, but for Christmas I wanted something special and sweet instead. I found this recipe on Christmas eve, but quickly ruled in out because it requires ricotta. Sadly, I ran out of butter and eggs over Christmas as well, so pancakes in general were put on hold. Fast-forward a month and half, and I found myself this morning with extra ricotta in the fridge and all of the other ingredients on hand. The wait was worth it. These pancakes are light and fluffy with just a hint of lemon (you may want to up the lemon slightly even). I scaled the recipe down to an amount that serves 2 (scaled version below). I also used regular milk instead of buttermilk without bothering to make a substitute as the amounts are so small.

One year ago: Variations on Sun-dried Tomatoes, Spinach, Feta, and Pine Nuts

Lemon Souffle Pancakes (from Gourmet Today)

3/4 cups flour (cake is ideal, but I don't keep it on hand)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
zest of one lemon
2 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp lemon juice (I used 1 which was underscaled and thought it could use more)
1/4 cup milk (or buttermilk)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
oil for brushing griddle
confectioners' sugar for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 200F.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and zest.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, ricotta, melted butter, lemon juice, butter, and vanilla.
4. Whisk flour mixture into wet mixture.
5. Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until they hold soft peaks.
6. Fold 1/3 of whites into batter.
7. Fold in remaining whites, gently but thoroughly.
8. Heat griddle or 12" heavy skillet over moderate heat. Brush with oil.
9. Drop 1/4 cup batter per pancake onto griddle and cook until bubbles appear and undersides are golden, 1 - 2 minutes. Flip and cook until undersides are golden and pancakes are cooked through, 1 - 2 minutes.
10. Transfer to a heatproof platter and keep warm, uncovered in the oven while you cook the rest of the pancakes. Brush the griddle with more oil as needed.
11. Dust pancakes with sugar before serving. Some fresh raspberries would also be amazing with these!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sweet Tart Dough

I'm horrible at getting gifts for people, so I asked my office mate what she'd like for her birthday. Her choice? The french lemon cream pie I'd made for Christmas and given her leftovers from before I left town to celebrate New Year's. I grumbled over the thought of making the same thing over again within a month and then she upped the ante ... she thought I should make the crust too. I don't make pie crusts. It's some sort of mental block. I thought this one was a disaster when I pulled it out of the oven (I didn't even fill the tart due to my distrust), but in the end, it was good. And the best part? It didn't require any rolling. I'm not sure I'll switch to making my own crust all of the time, but at least I know it can be done!

This is supposed to be enough dough for 1 9" tart, but I had extra.

One Year Ago: Cranberry Pecan Bread

Sweet Tart Dough (from Dorie Greenspan's Baking from My Home to Yours)

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons (128g) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

1. Put the flour, confectioners' sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine.
2. 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 flakes and some the size of peas.
3. 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. [Patience! It will come together, it just may take some time. Also, be careful not to overfill your food processor. If yours is on the smooth side, you may have to do this part in batches.)
4. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.
5. 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.
6. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
7. To partially or fully bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
8. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. (Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights.)
9. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. For a partially baked crust, patch the crust if necessary, then transfer the crust to a cooling rack (keep it in its pan).
10. To fully bake the crust: Bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.