Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Orange Berry Muffins

This is another Tuesdays with Dorie rewind recipe from the early days of TWD. I decided that starting this week I would start back at the beginning of the book and try to work my way through the recipes that I missed in the order they appear in the book. I'm planning on doing this on the "off Tuesdays" since next week we will start the new TWD group with the book, Baking With Julia (so excited!) and only post every other Tuesday.

The first recipe in the book is Orange Berry Muffins, these sounded so delicious and I was happy to give them a try. I love oranges and blueberries, and the recipe calls for buttermilk, which I love using in baked goods for that extra moist crumb.

Orange Berry Muffins
Dorie Greenspan

Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
About 3/4 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
3 Tablespoons honey
1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup blueberries - fresh, preferably, or frozen (not thawed) -- I used frozen

Decorating sugar, for topping (optional) -- I skipped this, but kind of wish I wouldn't have

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. -- I had my oven temperature at 350, I like my oven temp a little lower when I'm using silicone bakeware, just personal preference -- Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Alternatively, use a silicone muffin pan, which needs neither greasing nor paper cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

Pour the orange juice into a large glass measuring cup or a bowl and pour in enough buttermilk to make 1 cup. Whisk in the eggs, honey and melted butter.

In a large bowl, rub the sugar and orange zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of orange is strong. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don't worry about being thorough - the batter will be lumpy and bubbly, and that's just the way it should be. Just a note, don't leave any clumps of dry flour. Stir in the blueberries. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. I had enough for two pans of heart muffins and a small pan of mini muffins.

Bake for 22 to 25 minutes. If you want to top the muffins with decorating sugar, sprinkle on the sugar after the muffins have baked for 10 minutes. When fully baked, the tops of the muffins will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins will come out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.


I made these as an after school snack for my kids and they loved them warm from the oven. I thought they were delicious too, not too sweet, and can be eaten plain or served with butter and honey. Using frozen berries worked out fine but I bet they'd be even better with fresh. As much of a hit as these were fresh from the oven, the next morning the kids weren't liking them as much, I thought they were just fine, but their texture did change a bit, so I'd plan to serve these fresh. It was so fun to finally try the first recipe from Baking From My Home To Yours :)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Star Speculaas

These delicious cookies are our Club: BAKED recipe for the 1st of February! We are posting a little early because we are teaming up with another baking group that is also baking through Baked Explorations for this pick. You can find the recipe for these cookies here at Baked Sunday Mornings if you do not have the book and would like to give these a try.

I decided to mix up this cookie dough in my food processor since it specified a hand pastry mixer to get the dough blended together and I just find using the processor so much easier and more consistent that using my hand pastry mixer. This dough formed perfectly in the food processor, it was such a cinch to toss all the ingredients in there and let it work some magic :)

This dough was very easy to work with and roll out and cut. I am not used to rolling out cookie dough this thin -- 1/4 inch, so it was a touch tricky to transfer my star Speculaas to the cookie sheet, but I managed to get the job done.

I baked my cookies for 10 minutes at 350 on insulated baking sheets, they were plenty done by that time and I think if I'd have baked them for 15 minutes they would have been burned.

They were plenty crispy crunchy at the 10 minute mark. Their aroma reminded my family of gingerbread, and I loved the little citrus twist from the orange zest. They were perfectly spiced and ideal for tea. I decided to add a little frosting and sprinkle border to half of the cookies.

I had a new shaker of Valentine's Day nonpareils (or shall I call them hundreds and thousands? I just can't resist, I love that name) that were begging be used even though it isn't quite February yet. I think the cookies turned out so pretty! All three of my little ones and picky husband liked these cookies very much, yay!

Even though I'm traditionally more of a thick gooey chewy cookie fan, I thought these were wonderful and enjoyed every crispy crunchy bite. They reminded me of the Moravian Spice cookies that I used to get as a child while visiting Winston Salem, North Carolina. I'm such a nostalgic person, and any cookie that can conjure up childhood memories is a win :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Broth Braised Potatoes

Time for another French Fridays with Dorie recipe! Our pick this week is Broth Braised Potatoes, the recipe can be found on page 358 of Dorie's book, Around My French Table. I didn't get too many photographs of this recipe since I made them to go with dinner and we ate them up quickly. My favorite is the above photo, taken just after putting the potatoes in the broth and before cooking. You can really see the pretty purple potato color along with the baby Yukon golds and baby red potatoes.

Here is the broth mixture heating up, I pretty much followed the recipe exactly except for using vegetarian vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. The flavor from the lemon peel was a nice surprise, and I was very happy to use some rosemary sprigs from my little potted herb garden.

Here are the potatoes all done and ready to eat, after simmering for a little under fifteen minutes. And below the potatoes are in their serving bowl ready for dinner! I served them with some green beans and chicken (for hubby and kids) -- I had some plain linguine pasta leftover for myself and drizzled some of the braising broth over the noodles and it made such yummy sauce!

The whole family enjoyed these potatoes, they had such a great flavor and the cooking times were right on. I don't cook potatoes a lot, seems like I just never know what to do with them and they are usually just for holidays, but can see making this recipe again for sure. The kids especially liked the purple potatoes and we decided to look up their origins online after dinner, from what I can tell they are native to South America and one site said that the Mayans and Incas used to serve these special purple potatoes to their kings. Not sure how accurate that is, but it was an interesting little food trivia tidbit for the night :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sweet Jamaican Plantain Dumplings

I found this recipe for Jamaican Plantain Dumplings at foodnetwork.com while searching for a Jamaican recipe to make for the My Kitchen My World January destination, Jamaica. I think these are served as a bread / side for dinner, but since I was making these for an afternoon snack, the cinnamon and sugar coating sounded just right. I was also thinking the kids would be more willing to try these if I presented them as a sweet snack...

Jamaican Dumplings with Plantains
Tyler Florence via foodnetwork
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup milk (I had to use 1 full cup of skim milk to get the dough to the right consistency)
  • 1 ripe plantain, peeled and cut into coins (I used 1 and 1/2 plantains)
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

Add the flour, salt and baking powder to a food processor and pulse to combine. Toss in the cold butter cubes and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.

Add milk, a little bit at a time until it is completely worked into the dough. Once it comes together into a nice consistent ball and pulls away from the sides of the food processor, divide the dough into about 12 little balls.

Push a slice of plantain into the middle of each ball and pinch the dough around the plantain so it is completely covered by the dough.

Press each ball flat into a little cake, cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes before frying.

Set a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and add 1/4 cup of vegetable oil. Prick the dumplings all over with a fork. Working in batches, pan-fry dumplings until golden and slightly puffy, about 3 to 5 minutes per side.

Season with salt (I used cinnamon and sugar instead) and serve warm.

Season with salt (I rolled them in cinnamon sugar instead) and serve warm.

The dumpling had a great flavor and went well with the cinnamon and sugar even though the dumpling dough was not sweet itself. The plantain flavor was subtle yet yummy. My mom who was visiting liked these a lot and said they reminded her of paczkis. Unfortunately the kids did not really like these, not sure why, I think they were a little unsure about the plantains since they looked like blackened bananas, which they noticed when I was making these...oh-well. This were definitely a fun recipe to make, and I thought they were delicious :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mushroom Manchego Risotto Balls

I made these delicious risotto balls shortly after I made this recipe for Mushroom Risotto and am sharing the recipe this week for I Heart Cooking Clubs January Potluck. It seems like everyone at IHCC was making some type of risotto balls and I just had to give it a go, especially since I had just made mushroom risotto and had a half batch leftover in the fridge. The recipe I used suggested mozzarella cubes inside of tomato risotto balls, which sounds wonderful, but I went with some Manchego cheese to stuff inside of these mushroom risotto balls and it was a match made in heaven!

Fried Risotto Balls
adapted from Tessa Kiros -- Apples for Jam

About 3 cups cold risotto (1/2 batch cooked risotto leftovers, I probably had closer to 4 cups)
4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cups small cubed cheese
1 and 1/2 cups dry bread crumbs (I used Italian seasoned bread crumbs)
oil for frying
optional lemon wedges to serve

Mix the risotto and parmesan together in a bowl. Lightly beat one of the eggs and gradually stir into the risotto, stopping when the risotto is damp but still firm enough to be shaped.

Moisten your hands with a little water; take a heaping tablespoon of mixture, and roll it into a ball. Make a tunnel into the center with your finger and push a cheese cube into it. Squeeze the ball to close the opening and seal in the cheese. Do this with the rest of the mixture.

Lightly beat the other egg in a flat bowl. Put the bread crumbs on a plate.

Roll the balls in the egg and then the bread crumbs and put on a cookie sheet or large plate. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Pour about 1 inch of oil into a frying pan and heat until hot but not smoking. (I used my electric skillet for frying these, which is my new favorite way to deep fry, it is so easy. I had about 3 inches of oil and my oil temperature was about 355-360.) Fry the balls in batches, gently moving them around in the oil and turning them often so they brown evenly. Each batch will take about 2 minutes, then you can lift them out onto a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.

Fried risotto balls are best served warm with a squeeze of lemon of juice but are also fine eaten at room temperature.


I love this photo with the stringy cheese, it reminds me when I first learned about fried Italian rice balls (many years ago, before they were uber popular, in one of my old cookbooks) with the name Suppli al Telefono, meaning telephone wires because the string from the cheese when you take a bite is long like telephone wires :)

These were absolutely delicious, the flavors of the cheese and mushroom risotto went so well together. In the recipe preface in the book the author mentions her children love risotto balls, so I was half expecting my kids to like these too, especially with the cute saying about telephone wires, but nope, all three of my kids gave these a try and did not like them :( I'm hoping it was because the manchego and mushroom flavors are a touch too "grown-up"? Ah well. Guess I will have to try the tomato risotto with mozzarella version for a more kid friendly risotto ball!

Blueberry Brown Sugar Plain Cake

Another Tuesday eve and another Tuesdays with Dorie treat that I missed posting but baked along with the group on -- Blueberry Brown Sugar Plain Cake. This was our pick back in June 2011, and was hosted by Cindy at Everyday Insanity, thank you, Cindy! You can find the recipe for this simple and delicious cake here at Cindy's site if you do not have Dorie's book, Baking From My Home To Yours.

I remember being excited to make this cake since I love blueberries and "plain" / "no frosting required" cakes. This was a super simple recipe and the cake was so yummy. My kids loved it and I remember baking a second one of these shortly after the first one was gone because the kids requested it again. I only got a few pictures of this cake before it was finished off by my crew. This was a great recipe for sure, I loved the blueberries huddled together at the bottom, I think I'll be making this one again here very soon :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Quatre Quarts Cake

Today's French Fridays with Dorie recipe is called Quatre-Quarts, a French cake described as similar to an American pound cake. This recipe can be found on page 434 of Dorie Greenspan's book, Around My French Table.

Above are my ingredients all ready to go -- beaten egg whites, butter/sugar/egg yolk/vanilla mixture, and flour/baking powder/pinch of salt mixture.

Here is the cake batter in a heart shaped springform pan, sprinkled with brown sugar and ready to be popped in the oven.

Here is the cake after baking, the brown sugar sunk into the cake...

and formed little pockets of melted brown sugar around the bottom of the cake, visible in the above photo on the bottom right of the cake slice, yummy!

There are several suggestions on what to serve the cake with, sugared berries, jam, fruit coulis, whipped cream, creme fraiche, or ice cream with chocolate sauce. Dorie mentions this cake is served by mothers across France who make this as an after-school treat for their children, so that is exactly what I did.

My first grader (with her super excited "we're having cake" smile, pictured above) absolutely loved her slice of cake with sugared lingonberries and whipped cream. My two boys were too eager to play Sonic the Hedgehog so my little girl and I enjoyed a slice all to ourselves. A little while later the boys reemerged from their Sonic madness and also had a slice, this cake was enjoyed by all. Picky husband even had a piece with just whipped cream (he does not like lingonberries, crazy, I know) and said it was very good.

This was a wonderful after school or whenever treat and I'm sure I'll be making this cake again and again.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Pasta

This is such a delicious pasta dish, especially if you are a goat cheese fan. I found this recipe here at foodnetwork.com one day when I was looking for something to make with some extra tomatoes I had. I used red Campari tomatoes and yellow cherry tomatoes.

Pasta with Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Goat Cheese
Sara Moulton via foodnetwork.com
  • 2 pounds red and yellow cherry tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 pound penne -- I used fusilli
  • 6 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces -- I was out of fresh basil so used a little dried to sprinkle on top
  • Additional kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Halve each tomato and place cut side up in 1 flat layer on the baking sheets. Drizzle the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and sprinkle on the salt.

Roast until the tomatoes are dried around the edges but still moist, about 2 hours.

Crumble the goat cheese into large chunks and refrigerate until ready to serve the pasta.

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to the package directions.

Remove 1 cup of the cooking liquid and reserve. Drain the pasta well and return to the pot.

Add the tomatoes, goat cheese, basil, reserved cooking liquid, and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Toss well and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm.


This is one of my new favorite pasta dishes. I can't wait to make it with fresh basil and garden fresh tomatoes. Even the kids liked this one and they are usually a little unsure about tomato dishes. One of the best parts is how easy this one is, all you have to do it start the tomatoes mid morning, and by lunch time you will be ready to make this dish.

I am sending this over to Alisha of Cook. Craft. Enjoy., who is hosting Presto Pasta Nights #247, thanks Ruth and Alisha!

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