Friday, January 30, 2009

Creature Calzones and Banana Bread -- Tyler Florence Fridays

This week for Tyler Florence Fridays I made two Tyler recipes, the first one, Spinach and Three Cheese Calzones was for Megan's Challenge and the second recipe was Tyler's Banana Bread.

The calzone filling was great, I added mushrooms, used frozen spinach, and left out the egg.

I sauteed the mushrooms and spinach and then added the cheeses into the same large pan and mixed it all up then filled the calzones.

I brushed the tops with butter and sprinkled two with Italian seasoning and freshly shredded parmesan.

The came out of the oven looking like fault for goofing up the dough and letting it rise way too long...oops!

And how could I not turn this one into a creature?

The banana bread was really easy and I liked that I got to use up four over ripe bananas in one loaf! The baking time seemed a little long and mine was ready at one hour instead of the suggested 1 hour and 15 minutes. Everyone loved it and this banana bread recipe will go into the 'would make again' banana bread file!

Sorry for the short post, today is my husband's birthday and I'm still under the weather so I'm way behind in birthday preparations...wish me luck! Happy Tyler Florence Friday, everyone :)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sweetheart French Tuiles -- Daring Bakers

Daring Bakers, I'm back! I missed last month but am happy to share January's challenge, tuiles, with you all! I had heard of and seen tuiles and probably tasted them at some point but this was my first time actually making them.
This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux. I used the Savory tuile/cornet recipe from Thomas Keller's "the French Laundry Cookbook." I did drop down the kosher salt from 1 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon though and that was right on -- I think even 1/4 teaspoon would have been plenty.
Here is my batter ready to go in the oven. I did not have a heart stencil so I did these with the tip of a knife, that's why they are all a little different.
At first I was planning savory parmesan tuiles but at the last minute -- after I had prepared the batter -- I switched courses and went with sweet. After the hearts, my next batch went in the oven -- circles so that I could roll them or mold them into cups or rolls to fill with whipped cream and ice cream.
Although I did burn my fingers a tiny bit rolling these, I really ejoyed this challenge. Now I know that basics of tuiles and can't wait to try some new savory and sweet variations. These quick little crispy treats can really dress up a dish and give it that little something extra :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread Cake -- Tuesdays with Dorie

Just a quick post for TWD this week, I am feeling under the weather with a head cold. The recipe of the week is Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread, from Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking From My Home To Yours, picked for Tuesdays with Dorie by Heather of Sherry Trifle , thanks Heather :)

I've had my eye on this recipe for a while and couldn't wait to give it a try. Everything came together easily and I decided to use a 10 inch springform pan instead of the 9 by 9 because the amount of batter was more than I am used to using in a 9 by 9 and I didn't want any over flow. The 10 inch springform was perfect! I baked for 40 minutes exactly and the cake tested done.

The taste was wonderful, it was so moist and spicy and just a wonderful flavor combination. The texture was wonderful as well and it made me remember the Caramel Peanut Topped Brownie Cake we did for Tuesdays with Dorie last October, and what a dry disapointment that one was. I was thinking...if you adjust the spices on this chocolate gingerbread, I'm sure it would be a wonderful brownie cake base.

Changes I made to the recipe were minimal, vanilla instead of coffee in the frosting and semisweet instead of bittersweet chocolate in both the cake and frosting. In our family we prefer semisweet over bittersweet in most recipes. I can see making this again for the holidays, maybe decorating with some crushed peppermint candycanes. I would leave out the fresh ginger though, it seemed like when I got a piece in a bite of the gingerbread it was just too much and clashed with the comforting warm spice that is gingerbread -- it just kind of bit you back if you know what I mean and I just didn't care for it in this recipe, even though I really thought I would. Other than that, I loved this recipe and will more than likely be making it again :)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Pressure Cooker Vegetable Soup and Cornbread Loafies

In the recipe book that came with my new pressure cooker (Cook's Essentials brand -- 5 quart) there was a recipe titled "Easy Corn Chowder" which sounded delicious, but after reading the recipe and ultimately making it, it is really nothing like I would expect corn chowder to be, but delicious none the less. Here is my adapted version, pretty much the same except I added more carrots and skipped the onion in the original recipe.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups sliced carrots

1-2 cups sliced celery
3 medium-large potatoes, diced
2 cups frozen corn

1 cup frozen peas
6 cups of your favorite broth or stock
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups wide egg noodles

Heat oil in pressure cooker using the "brown" setting. Add carrots, celery, and potatoes. Brown until soft (I browned for about 5 minutes, stirring as needed.)

Add corn and peas. (My husband was not crazy about the pea texture after being pressure cooked, I think you could probably add these later when you add the noodles and that might help.)

Cover, set to high pressure, set timer for 8 minutes.

Let the pressure drop using quick release method. Unlock and remove lid. Season with salt and pepper.

Turn on steam setting and add noddles and cook until desired doneness, about 5-8 minutes depending on what noodles you use. The steam setting is pretty much like a pot of boiling soup on the stove.

I loved this soup and will be making different variations of it again I'm sure. It was a nice recipe to try out the different settings on the pressure cooker and help become acquainted with all the features.

For the Sour Cream Cornbread Loafies I used this recipe from Land 'o Lakes:

1/4 cup LAND O LAKES® Butter, softened
3 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk (I used buttermilk)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Heat oven to 425°F (I dropped it down to 375).

Combine butter and sugar in small bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in sour cream and milk.

Reduce speed to low; add all remaining ingredients. Beat just until mixed.

Spoon batter into 12 greased or paper-lined muffin cups (I used my mini loaf pan and was able to fill 6 of the 8 mini loafies). Bake for 15 to 18 (I did 20 minutes since the loafies are bigger than regular muffins and I dropped the oven temperature) minutes or until golden brown.

We thought these were wonderful, they were a little different than our favorite cornbread recipe but I had some sour cream I wanted to use up and these were a nice use of that. My whole family liked them and my husband commented that they were more cakey than my usual recipe, which I enjoyed. The kids called them cornbread loafie cakes and loved them as well.

My three year old couldn't wait to get her hands on a cornbread loafie :)

The soup and cornbread went together well and was a warm and comforting easy weekend lunch. The wonderful Deb at Kahakai Kitchen has a weekly Souper Sundays event that will have you heading to the kitchen to cook up a warm pot of something yummy, go check it out :)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Sweetheart Buttermilk Biscuits -- Tyler Florence Fridays

This week for Tyler Florence Fridays I tried a batch of Tyler's Better Buttermilk Biscuits. There are a few biscuit recipes on the foodnetwork website with Tyler's name on them, but these had the best rating and I love buttermilk biscuits so I just had to give them a try.

Better Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons
baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, chilled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup buttermilk

In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients together with a fork. Cut in the shortening using a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and add buttermilk. Quickly fold dry ingredients into buttermilk with your hands until a sticky dough forms.

Turn dough out onto floured surface. Gently fold the dough over itself 3 or 4 times to create layers. Roll dough out to 3/4-inch thick. Cut with a 3-inch biscuit cutter. Transfer dough rounds to a sheet pan. Gather scraps and repeat. Make a dimple in the center to help the top rise evenly. Brush with butter. Bake for 15 minutes in a preheated 400 degree oven until golden brown.

Look at that biscuit height!

Changes I made to ingredients were using a 1/2 cup of margarine (one stick of Blue Bonnet) instead of vegetable shortening. I probably would have used butter flavored Crisco sticks but didn't realize I was out. I was debating using butter or margarine but figured I'd give the margarine a try and it worked perfectly! That was the only change to ingredients. I decided to try mixing the ingredients in my food processor and that was also a success, first I pulsed the dry ingredients, then the margarine in until it was the texture of coarse crumbs, then I added the buttermilk and pulsed until it was all mixed together. It looked a little dry...

but it really was not, once I touched it I knew it was perfect biscuit dough consistency. I smooshed it all together, then went through Tyler's method of folding over about four times to make layers, and then patting back out. I used a heart cookie cutter instead of a biscuit cutter (you could really use anything, an upside down glass, basic shaped cookie cutter, etc.) and was able to get 10 biscuits out of the dough.

I brushed the tops with melted butter, then sprinkled red sugar sprinkles on 3 of them, parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning on 3 of them, and left 4 plain with just butter.

I dropped the baking temp to 375, I was afraid of burned bottoms at 400 -- but may try 400 next time just to see if I could get the tops more brown. I'm just so leery to use 400 because I hate burned bottoms -- you know, now that I'm thinking about I bet 400 on an insulated baking sheet would probably be just perfect -- I used a single ply sheet this time. The browned tops didn't end up mattering much after we tasted these though. I bet cooking them in a cast iron skillet would be wonderful as well and will have to try that next time.

The bottoms were a perfect crispy golden brown, the insides were tender and flaky, the flavor was perfect!

We loved these biscuits. One of the best part of the recipe is how easy it it, especially utilizing the food processor for the mixing. I can not wait to make strawberry shortcakes with these biscuits when strawberry season arrives! Strawberry shortcakes are a favorite dessert of my husband and I make them all the time in the summer. I may even have to buy some off season strawberries and make shortcakes next week for my husband's birthday :)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Easy Sticky Buns -- Barefoot Bloggers

For our second Barefoot Bloggers recipe of January, Melissa of Made by Melissa picked Easy Sticky Buns, from Ina Garten's book Back to Basics, page 240. Thanks, Melissa! I love cinnamon rolls but was not really familiar with sticky buns. Here is the recipe...

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup pecans, chopped in very large pieces
1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a 12-cup standard muffin tin on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the 12 tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Place 1 rounded tablespoon of the mixture in each of the 12 muffin cups. Distribute the pecans evenly among the 12 muffin cups on top of the butter and sugar mixture.

Lightly flour a wooden board or stone surface. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry with the folds going left to right. Brush the whole sheet with half of the melted butter. Leaving a 1-inch border on the puff pastry, sprinkle each sheet with 1/3 cup of the brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of the raisins. Starting with the end nearest you, roll the pastry up snugly like a jelly roll around the filling, finishing the roll with the seam side down.

Trim the ends of the roll about 1/2 inch and discard. Slice the roll in 6 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2 inches wide. Place each piece, spiral side up, in 6 of the muffin cups. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry to make 12 sticky buns.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden to dark brown on top and firm to the touch. Allow to cool for 5 minutes only, invert the buns onto the parchment paper (ease the filling and pecans out onto the buns with a spoon), and cool completely.

I decided to do a half batch of these since I wasn't sure how well they would go over at our house. I used my Baker's Secret jumbo muffin pan instead of a regular muffin pan to prevent any overflow. I dropped the baking temperature to 375 which I have found through trial and error works best when baking with puff pastry. At 400 it seems that the outside gets overly brown and the inside does not cook as well and is kind of gummy. At 350 it seems that the other components of the dish get overdone and the puff pastry never fully puffs up or gets golden brown. I flipped these out into a small glass baking dish right after taking them out of the oven, I was a little nervous about them sticking if I had let them cool in the pan even for 5 minutes.

These were a fun pick and were indeed easy and sticky, but I hate to say it, I think I've had too much puff pastry lately! Is that possible? The kids liked them but were more interested in picking out the raisins and pecans and just eating those, while leaving the puff pastry behind. I am a huge fan of pillowy soft cinnamon rolls and after having this puff pastry version, I am feeling the need to make a batch of my favorite cinnamon rolls with gooey cream cheese frosting and tons of cinnamon sugar inside :) Oh so naughty, but oh so good.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Berry Surprise Cake -- Tuesdays with Dorie

This week for Tuesdays with Dorie, Mary Ann of Meet Me in the Kitchen chose Berry Surprise Cake. What a fun pick, thank you Mary Ann! This cake was a little complicated and even though I think I got it right it was a little dense (but not dry, yay!) and I was wishing I had poked the inside where you brush the syrup before and let it saturate a little bit. Oh-well. Let's see, this is how my egg sugar mixture looked...ribbons? Eh, not so much, but maybe, if you squint...

I don't know though, some people may have different ideas about was kind of hard for me to judge...I set the timer for 5 minutes of beating (that sounds lovely, doesn't it?), then went an extra minute after just to make sure.

While I'm sure I have an 8 inch springform somewhere, after reading through this recipe I knew the pan I wanted to go searching for through my kitchen was my Betty Crocker Bake 'n Fill Pan -- that I bought a few years ago thanks to an infomercial (hangs head in shame) -- I've used it maybe 3 or 4 times since then and I do like it, no regrets on the infomercial purchase this time, I just don't have a reason to use it that often. Berry Surprise Cake seemed like the perfect excuse for me to go dig out it out.

There are actually 4 pans in the Bake 'n Fill set, I decided to go with the smaller dome and was going to use the base pan but there was not enough batter. Usually there is a thin regular 8 inch cake base that is baked along with the dome cake and you put that over the filling part, just like in Dorie's recipe, minus the cutting, etc. It seemed like this pan set was made for this recipe!

I was really nervous about the cooking time, I figured since I was using the same volume of batter I could use the books 32ish minute guideline, but then I referred to the Bake 'n Fill pan recipe book, to see how long those cakes bake for, and they said 50-60 minutes, yikes! Quite a time difference. Well, at about 32 minutes (I had my timer set for 35) I decided it was time to pull the cake out of the oven, it just smelled like it was getting over done, even though I could not see the actual cake thanks to the locking inner pan. At that point I was really nervous and ready to throw in the towel if I had a burned or way underdone cake -- I planned to admit it was my fault for not using the pan specified in the recipe and just post my mistake cake. I waited 20 minutes to remove the inner pan just like I was supposed to, it was such a long 20 minutes! I gently turned the inner pan, waiting for underdone batter, burned cake, or cake stuck, and got neither, I was pleasantly surprised with how the cake looked. Golden brown, fully baked, not stuck to the pan, okay team, we're in business now :)

At that point I set up my little cake station on the dining room table. I had my syrup, my filling, my fresh raspberries, and was ready to go. I had so much fun putting this cake together. The pictures do not do this cake justice, really, they are pathetic, but that cake was beautiful, promise. But how did it taste? Wonderful! My kids especially enjoyed this cake and all the raspberries -- which were the sweetest off-season berries I've ever had, really delicious! My only regret with this cake, I wish I would have soaked in some more syrup into the cake before adding the filling, since the cake was kind of dense, very sponge cake like. Next week with TWD we get to try chocolate gingerbread, I don't know about you, but that recipe has intrigued me since my first flip through of Baking From My Home To Yours, I can't wait to give it a try. Thanks for visiting, I hope everyone had as much fun this week as I did with Berry Surprise Cake!

Oops -- I forgot to mention that I did make a couple of changes to the filling, I used only 4 ounces of cream cheese, and only 1/2 cup of cream, and doubled the sugar. After tasting the filling at that point I decided it was perfect and there was no need to add the extra 2/3 cup of cream.

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