Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sneak Peek at Tall and Creamy Cheesecake -- Tuesdays with Dorie

(before baking)

Just a quick peek at my cheesecake for TWD...I made it on Monday afternoon and it's resting in the fridge waiting for New Year's Eve :) I used all sour cream (when it gives the option of sour cream or cream) and plan to have a little "top your own cheesecake" station set up at our New Year's party. It rose a lot in the oven but sank back down during cooling. I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season and that your cheesecakes turned out perfectly, I can't wait to visit everyone and see all the variations!
Oh, forgot to add I skipped the waterbath -- I've made cheesecakes with and without waterbaths in the past and prefer not to do the waterbath. I don't mind the cracks on top :)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Butterscotch Puddin' -- Tuesdays with Dorie

Somehow I've managed to keep up with Tuesdays with Dorie during this super busy holiday season, and not much else blog wise. Christmas season at our house with three little ones is more chaotic than usual, but it's a nice chaos. The sights, sounds, and smells of the season, mixed with three very excited members of the three and under club, well, let's just say enough to keep your head spinning :)

The treat of the week for TWD is Real Butterscotch Pudding, picked by Donna of Spatulas, Corkscrews & Suitcases (recipe available at her blog)-- I know lots of people are making pies and other delicious treats with this pudding but we kept it simple and just made pudding. My only change to the ingredient list was to leave out the eggs. Not an egg fan and the cornstarch in this recipe is plenty to thicken the pudding to perfect pudding consistency (try to say that one three times fast!)

I also skipped the food processor, and had no problems with a whisk on the stovetop. We are not big drinkers (more like not drinkers at all) but I have been buying some here and there and sending my husband out for liquors and wines for recipes quite a bit lately and I think we have acquired quite a stocked liqour cabinet. Add to the collection of bottles opened only for a tablespoon or two -- Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch Whiskey. Here is how our conversation went...
"Honey, can you pick me up some single malt scotch whiskey for a recipe,"
"Which one do you want scotch or whiskey?"
"Scotch whiskey"
"Well they aren't the same thing..."
"According to this recipe you can get scotch whiskey, and I need a strong single malt,"
"Let me see the recipe, you must be reading it wrong,"
Next thing I know my husband arrives home from Sam's Club with a jumbo pack of diapers and $150 worth of various libations we have no idea how to serve or what to do with but that looked like fun. I still don't like the taste of alcohol but if you want a Pama Martini come on over.
I actually really liked this, even warm! My husband thought it tasted too much like alcohol, I told him it only had two tablespoons in the whole thing but he did not like it. My three and one year old loved it, but then I got kind of paranoid about there being alcohol in it and gave them some yogurt instead. Happy holidays!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fresh Fettuccine Alfredo -- Tyler Florence Fridays

This week for Tyler Florence Fridays I took a chance and tried Tyler's take on one of my favorite dishes ever -- fettuccine alfredo! I rarely make this because it's so indulgent but it was totally worth it! I've tried tons of alfredo recipes over the years and have never really settled on a favorite recipe, well, I think I now have with this one! It was perfectly creamy, perfectly cheesy, not clumpy, not overdone with garlic or nutmeg -- a little of which is sometimes nice, but this one was just plain perfect. Sorry about the picture though, I didn't garnish with fresh parsley or make it fancy at all -- it was just a fun little dinner for the kiddos and me while hubby was working late.
This was a two part recipe, the pasta and the sauce. The pasta recipe I did in my Lello Pasta Master 3000 with the "tagliatella media" (small fettuccine) extrusion disc. This wonderful pasta maker was a gift for my birthday last summer, I'm such a lucky girl! I've used it a few times and this was the first time I've used a pasta recipe that wasn't in the instruction manual. I loved it! Tyler was right on and I can't wait to use this recipe again, next time I think I will try half semolina flour, which I haven't had a chance to try yet, but have waiting in the pantry.

The only slight problem I had was that since I made 'small fettuccine' I didn't even think to decrease the cooking time, so at 3 minutes my pasta was done slightly more than I like it. Oh-well. I will know better next time, but I'm sure if I had made a bigger fettuccine 3 minutes would probably have been perfect.

Tyler Florence's Fettuccine Alfredo
Pasta Dough

3 cups flour or unbleached all-purpose, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs plus 2 yolks
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon water
Cornmeal, for dusting (did not use)

To make pasta dough: Combine the flour and salt; shape into a mound on your work surface and make a well in the center. Add whole eggs, yolks, and 1 tablespoon olive oil to the well and lightly beat with a fork. Gradually draw in the flour from the inside wall of the well in a circular motion. Use 1 hand for mixing and the other to protect the outer wall. Continue to incorporate all the flour until it forms a ball. Knead and fold the dough until elastic and smooth, this should take about 10 minutes. Brush the surface with remaining olive oil and wrap the dough in plastic wrap; let rest for about 30 minutes to allow the gluten to relax. Divide the ball of dough in small sections, cover and reserve the dough you are not immediately using to prevent it from drying out. Form the dough into a rectangle and roll it through the pasta machine, 2 or 3 times, at widest setting. Pull and stretch the sheet of dough with the palm of your hand as it emerges from the rollers. Reduce the setting and crank dough through again, 2 or 3 times. Continue tightening and rolling until the sheet is about 1/4-inch thick. Keep in mind, overly thick pasta tastes gummy. Cut the long sheet into workable 18-inch pieces. Now, using the fettuccine cutting attachment, run the sheets through the cutting slot. Dust the noodles and a baking sheet with cornmeal. Coil the strands into a nest. Allow to dry for about 10 minutes before cooking.
Alfredo Sauce

1 pint (2 cups) heavy cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Freshly cracked black pepper (I skipped this, not a pepper fan)

To prepare alfredo sauce: Heat heavy cream over low-medium heat in a deep saute pan. Add butter and whisk gently to melt. Sprinkle in cheese and stir to incorporate.
In a large stockpot, cook pasta in plenty of boiling salted water for 3 minutes. Quickly drain the pasta and add it to the saute pan, gently toss the noodles to coat in the alfredo. Transfer pasta to a warm serving bowl. Top with more grated cheese and chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Buttery Lingonberry Jam Cookies -- Tuesdays with Dorie

Thank you to Heather of Randomosity and the Girl who chose Buttery Jam Cookies as our TWD treat of the week! These were wonderful and probably our family favorite cookie that we've tried so far in Dorie's book. I baked at 350 (my standard for cookies) instead of 375 and decided to roll the cookies into little balls and then flatted them a little before baking. I did my first sheet as a drop cookie and they looked more like jagged drop biscuits and didn't spread at all. You can see in the picture below the ones on the left were the rolled ones. They were really easy to roll so that was a plus.

Here is a shot of the bottoms, which ended up nicely browned even though the top of the cookie was rather pale. Some powdered sugar really dressed these little gems up.

I used lingonberry jam -- a favorite of mine that I first had in Sweden years ago, and now I must have in my pantry or fridge at all times :)

I know that of all the TWD cookies we've tried so far these will probably be made most often since they are easy and the flavor is wonderful, I love the fruity sweetness from the jam and you can't really put your finger on the ginger but it gives it a little kick. Can't wait to try another batch with a different jam!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ricotta Pancakes with Roasted Apples -- Tyler Florence Fridays

This week for Tyler Florence Fridays I tried Tyler's Ricotta Pancakes with Roasted Golden Delicious Apples and Roasted Prosciutto. I left out the prosciutto, of course ;)

Ricotta Pancakes with Roasted Apples

4 Golden Delicious apples
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup maple syrup

For the pancakes

2 cups ricotta
4 large eggs, separated
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
Butter, for cooking
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting, optional
1 cup maple syrup, warmed on stove-top

For the topping:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut each apple into thirds, remove the cheeks and discard the core. Slice each piece into 4 and toss with butter and maple syrup in a large bowl. Transfer to a roasting pan and place in the oven. Roast the apples until they are fork-tender and slightly caramelized on the top, about 30 to 45 minutes depending on ripeness of the fruit.

here are the apples before roasting

Combine the ricotta, egg yolks, buttermilk, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl. Sift the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together into the ricotta mixture and stir until fully combined. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form and then gently fold into the batter.

Heat a large nonstick pan over medium heat and add a little butter (I did the pancakes on a griddle). Cook 2 to 3 pancakes at a time using a 6-ounce ladle or measuring cup to pour the batter into the pan. The trick to perfect round pancakes to carefully pour all the batter in the same spot and let it roll out to a complete circle. Cook the pancakes on 1 side until they set.

When small bubbles appear on the uncooked surface, flip the pancakes and cook until golden on both sides, about 6 minutes. Keep the pancakes on a plate set at the back of the stove under a dry towel to keep warm while you make the rest. To serve, lay the pancakes on a plate and dust with confectioners' sugar. Serve with roasted apples and warm maple syrup.

We are big pancake fans in this family! I love to try new recipes for pancakes, but my kids and husband have a favorite recipe I make and are not quite as enthuastic as I am about trying new recipes. These pancakes were okay, I liked them, not a favorite, but my husband and the kids weren't impressed. I'd say these are more souffle-ish grown-up style pancakes that my family just wasn't expecting. Oh-well. The apples were nice but didn't get browned or caramelized a little like I'd expected even though I baked them the entire time. All in all it was a nice dish that was a touch more work than the average pancake breakfast.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

All-Occasion Sugar Cookie Bars for Tuesdays with Dorie -- and -- Orange Rum Pizzelles for Pizzelle Party Week

Holiday baking is now in full swing! What fun! This week for Tuesdays with Dorie we took a chance with "Grandma’s All-Occasion Sugar Cookies" picked by Ulrike of Küchenlatein -- you can visit her website for the recipe or find it in Dorie's book, Baking From My Home To Yours.

I made these twice, the first time around I had planned to use these as out cut-out Christmastime cookies, complete with frosting and sprinkles and lots of cute shapes. We did a trial run with a few shapes...

and found that they were really difficult to roll out, even after chilling. Totally impossible to roll, cut, and transfer to a baking sheet, so I tried to roll them out on the cookie sheet and then pull the excess dough up around them and just bake the shapes. Didn't really work out that well. So for the rest of the dough I figured I'd do the 'roll and slice' method -- then continue with the frosting and sprinkles, for the kids. Here they are after baking, we taste tested one and they taste nice but are not the kind of cookies I imagined they'd be. I love thick, soft, chewy sugar cookies and these were more dense, crunchy sugar cookies. We didn't end up frosting them, but between my husband and the kids this small batch of cookies lasted barely more than a day -- yikes! I would call these more 'butter cookies' than 'sugar cookies' -- almost like a shortbread.

Which brings me to my second batch of these cookies -- I hadn't had a chance to try my new 12 Days Of Christmas shortbread pan (by Chicago Metallic), and thought these would be perfect to give it a go. The recipe as written made just enough to fit into the pan, but the shapes didn't turn out too well, probably because I had a tough time smooshing the cookie dough down in there...

Good news is that the pan performed beautifully and released the cookies with no problem. I can't wait to try this pan again with an actual shortbread recipe :)

What I ended up with were sugar cookie bars and they ended up being amazing! Go figure -- we thought these turned out much better than the cookies from the same dough. The only change I made to the recipe the second time around was to add a whole second egg, rather than just a second egg yolk.

Aren't the delicious looking?

That's all for TWD this week, but I do have another cookie to share, yesterday I started Pizzelle Party Week here at Nummy Kitchen, and today I have a recipe for...
Orange Rum Pizzelles
3 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons rum
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1/2 cup melted and cooled butter
Juice of one orange -- about 1/4 cup
Sift together flour and baking powder in small bowl. In medium bowl whisk together eggs and sugar. Add cooled melted butter, rum, orange juice and zest. Slowly whisk in flour. Drop by tablespoons onto pizzelle iron and bake for about 30 seconds -- depending on your pizzelle maker.
Love that orange zest!
The pizzelle maker I'm sharing today is a Salton Holiday Pizzelle maker from the late 1990s. It makes two pizzelles at a time and each has two different holiday designs, a santa face and a Christmas tree, and holly berries and a deer. The pizzelle designs are also available on a pizzelle maker made by Windmere, they are the exact same plates on the inside, but the Windmere pizzelle press is white and the Salton model is black.
Yes, that's Jimmy Buffett's Christmas Island CD off to the left side :) My husband loves to laugh at me as I dance around the house to Christmas music from October - January. Sometimes I have to break out a Christmas CD in July because I miss the holidays but don't tell anyone.

Happy Holiday Baking!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Mickey Mouse Cookie Baker -- Pizzelle Party Week

Time for a special "Maker Monday" where I share about an unnecessary but fun small kitchen appliance :) I thought this would be the perfect week to do some posts about pizzelles, thin Italian cookies. Pizzelles are usually baked on a special waffle iron type maker, or sometimes on pizzelle irons that you can cook over the stove. They are very popular around Christmastime and long ago in Italy many families had special pizzelle irons with their family crest on them and they could make batches of these cookies to pass on to friends for the holidays. Pizzelle cookies can be flavored many different ways, but I think that anise is the most traditional and popular. I will try out a new pizzelle recipe every day this week, so preheat your pizzelle irons and get ready to have some fun in the kitchen!

The first pizzelle iron I have to share is the Villaware Mickey Cookie Baker. This one is a favorite of my 2 year old, who was Mickey Mouse for Halloween and loves Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. We made "Original Mickey Cookies" which is just a traditional pizzelle recipe that makes a small batch (30 cookies) and is a great base recipe to play with.

Original Mickey Cookies

3 eggs
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon pure anise extract
1/2 cup butter, margarine - melted - or oil
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla

Beat eggs and sugar. Add cool melted butter or margarine, and vanilla and anise. Sift flour and baking powder and add to egg mixture. Batter will be stuff enough to be dropped by soon. Batter can be refrigerated to be used at a later time.

Recipe courtesy of Villaware Mickey Cookie Baker Recipe & Instruction Booklet.

Check back tomorrow for Tuesdays with Dorie and another fun pizzelle maker and recipe!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My Kitchen My World -- Ethiopia

This week My Kitchen My World got to try some Ethiopian cuisine, thank you Elra and Lauren. I had heard quite a bit about Ethiopian food but never had any. I made an amazing bread that we all loved, Ethiopian Honey Bread Aka Yemarina Yewotet Dabo. The directions are very vague so I just went with the ingredient list and found my own way with the baking and rising, I ended up baking it for 30 minutes at 350 and it was perfect! The spices were lovely and the honey made it just a touch sweet. I was debating the coriander amount, one tablespoon of any spice seems like way too much, but I had it on hand and thought, well, what if it really makes this recipe, so I went with the whole tablespoon and was not disappointed or overwhelmed with the coriander in the finished loaf. The kids, my mom, my husband, and myself all loved this bread -- a very rare occurrence around here, since we are a house of picky eaters. I can tell that this will be a new family favorite bread.

I also made an Ethiopian lentil dish, Berbere Stew, which was delicious. I loved that it had the spice mixture for berbere since pre-blended is not something I can find around here. The only spice I was missing was fenugreek, and I hadn't heard about that since I was taking it as a supplement a year and a half ago. While I was taking it as a supplement I had no idea it was also a spice.

I really enjoy the spices and flavors of both of these recipes and can't wait to try some more Ethiopian foods! I am really close to ordering some teff flour so I can make injera which sounds like something I'd really enjoy. What a fun MKMW pick :)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Szechwan Eggplant Stir-Fry -- Tyler Florence Fridays

I can't believe I haven't posted since Tuesday and here it is Friday already, wow! The older I get the faster time seems to go by, especially around the holidays. I hope everyone is having a wonderful December and having lots of fun in the kitchen :) Time for a Tyler Florence recipe for Tyler Florence Fridays -- this week I chose a quick Chinese style dish --

Szechwan Eggplant Stir-Fry courtesy Tyler Florence and JoAnn Cianciulli.

5 Asian eggplants, about 2 pounds (I used two medium sized regular eggplants)
3 tablespoons peanut oil (used vegetable oil)
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 green onions, white and green parts, sliced on a diagonal
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 fresh red chile, sliced (used a little chili sauce instead)
1/2 cup chicken broth (used vegetable broth)
3 tablespoons soy
1 tablespoon
rice vinegar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Thai holy basil and fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

Cut the eggplants in 1/2 lengthwise and then slice crosswise into wedges, no more than 1-inch wide.

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high flame and add the oils; tilt the pan to coat all sides. When you see a slight smoke, add a layer of eggplant, stir-fry until seared and sticky, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the eggplant to a side platter and cook the remaining eggplant in same manner, adding more oil, if needed.

After all the eggplant is out of the pan, add the green onions, ginger, garlic, and chile; stir-fry for a minute until fragrant. Add the broth. In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and cornstarch until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved. Pour the soy sauce mixture into the wok and cook another minute, until the sauce has thickened. Put the eggplant back in the pan, tossing quickly, until the sauce is absorbed. Garnish with sesame seeds, Thai basil, and cilantro and serve.


Even though I made some substitutions and skipped a couple hard to find ingredients this still turned out really tasty. I am a big eggplant fan so I knew I would love this. I made it for a quick lunch and was wishing I had made some noodles or rice to go with, I feel kind of silly that I didn't looking back, since the eggplants have such a strong flavor, oh-well. I loved the sauce and think it would be great with any kind of veggie stir fry. Can't wait to try this one again with Asian eggplants if I can ever find them. I've been thinking of starting a garden next spring and if that ever happens, I plan to grow a few varities of eggplants, and Asian will be one of them.

Thank you to Natashya, Deb, and Megan, for hosting this wonderful group! I can't wait to see what Tyler recipes everyone else has tried this week :)
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