Saturday, March 31, 2012
It's my turn to host for Club: BAKED! I thought it would be fun to give these Red Velvet Whoopie Pies a go and then forgot to add the red food coloring, go figure! So here are my Brown Velvet Whoopie Pies :) I've never had or made whoopie pies before although I see them all over. They've always looked like a fun treat to me and now I know that they are!
Yield:10-12 large or 15-17 small pies
For the Whoopie Pies
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder ( like Valrhona)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening, at room temperature
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon red gel food coloring
For the Cream Cheese Filling
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the Assembly
1/2 cup toasted walnuts,chopped coarsely
Make the Pies
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour,cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a small bowl, whisk together the canola oil and buttermilk.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and shortening until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and add the sugars. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the red gel food coloring, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds to incorporate. Do not over mix.
Turn the mixer to low. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk mixture, in three separate additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture until just combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl , then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill the batter in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.
Remove the batter from the refrigerator. Us a a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism to drop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Bake for 10-20 minutes, until the cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean. Let the cookies cool completely on the pan while you make the filling.
Make the Cream Cheese Filling
Sift the confectioners' sugar into a medium bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until it is completely smooth. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined.
Add the confectioner's sugar, vanilla, and salt and beat until smooth. Be careful not to over beat the filling or it will lose structure. (The filling can be made 1 day ahead. Cover the bowl tightly and put it in the refrigerator. Let the filling soften at room temperature before using.)
Assemble the Whoopie Pies
Spread the walnuts in an even layer on a small plate.
Turn half of the cooled cookies upside down (flat side facing up)
Use an ice cream scoop or a tablespoon to drop a large dollop of filling onto the flat side of the cookie. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling. Press down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edges of the cookie. Turn the whoopie on its side and roll through the walnuts. Repeat until all the cookies are used. Put the whoopie pies in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm up before serving.
The whoopie pies will keep for up to 3 days on a parchment lined baking sheet covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator.
This was probably my favorite Random Recipe so far! It was such a delicious lunch even though it was a bit tricky to get the noodle pancake just right. One of my very favorite things at one of my favorite Chinese restaurants is called Pan Fried Golden Noodle and it is pretty much this recipe! It is not on a lot of Chinese restaurant menus and I'd never tried to make it at home because I never thought I'd be able to find the right type of noodle but the lo mein noodles I tried were very similar to the restaurant noodles. I will be making this one again for sure, some crunchy tofu would be perfect with this. Although it is a bit time consuming for lunch, it was worth it :)
I can't believe we are done cooking Tessa Kiros' recipes over at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week! When we started with Tessa, I honestly hadn't even heard of her, so checked out two of her books from the library -- Apples for Jam and Falling Cloudberries, the only two of her books available in our state library database! As soon as those were returned I knew I would enjoy her books so bought them all over the past six months. I think my favorite would have to be Food From Many Greek Kitchens since I've always loved Greek food and didn't know too much about it. I also loved Twelve and Apples for Jam, although all her books are gorgeous.
This simple recipe for White Milk Bread (or rolls) is from Apples for Jam...
White Milk Bread
1 cup warm (comfortable to your fingers) milk
One 1/4 ounce package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon honey
3 and 2/3 cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Put the milk, yeast, and honey in a small bowl and stir until the honey melts. Leave it for about 10 minutes, or until it begins to froth a bit. Put the flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt into a larger bowl. Add the yeast mixture, the egg, and butter, and mix through well. Knead 10 minutes or so and, if it seems sticky, just hold the bowl firmly and move the dough around with your hand, rather than adding more flour. Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave in a warm, draft free place to rise for 1 and 1 1/2 to 2 hours until it has puffed up well.
Lightly grease a 12 by 4 inch loaf pan and dust it with flour. Punch down the dough to flatten it and shape it into a rough loaf of a size to fit the pan. Cover with a cloth and leave in the warm place for another 45 to 60 minutes, or until it puffs right up in the pan. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375.
Put the pan in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the top is firm and crusty and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from oven, knock the loaf out of the pan, and cool on a rack in a fly-free zone. This is best sliced warm and spread with butter, but you can keep the loaf for a few days in an airtight container (not a plastic bag) for excellent toast. Makes one large loaf or about 18 small rolls.
Both the bread and soup were delicious. My whole family loved the bread and the leftovers made perfect French toast bread. I was a big fan of the soup. The rest of the family thought it was okay, they are their bowl for Saturday lunch but did not want seconds or left overs. Which means that I ate the left overs for about a week myself, but didn't mind one bit. I had never heard of Fasolada before and when I was looking it up online it was neat to find that it is considered the national soup of Greece, and that it is available in cans there already made! It was nice to use some of my huge bean stockpile and I would make this again but probably a half batch since I was the only real fan.
Since this is the last Tessa Kiros I Heart Cooking Clubs week, I thought I'd share my personal favorite recipes...a lot of these weren't big hits with picky husband or the kids, but I loved them :) Here are my top five in no particular order...
1. Ricotta Gnocchi with Tomato Pesto -- This was my first Tessa recipe, so yummy!
2. Whole Wheat Apple and Pluot Pie -- This was a hit with the kids and I loved using apples we had just picked at the orchard.
3. Winter Squash Pizza Bake -- I was the only one who really liked this but it had such a neat flavor combo that really got me.
4. Greek Almond Halva -- this was another one that only I liked, but it was so yummy, I'm just waiting for an occasion to make another batch!
5. Tuscan Baked Eggplant -- this was so yummy, I wanted to make batch after batch of this one, a must try for eggplant fans!
I had a great time cooking and baking along with the I Heart Cooking Clubs crew and can't wait to start on our next adventure cooking with Rick Bayless :)
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
These delicious pancakes were my pick for My Kitchen My World -- Finland. I found the recipe in a Pancake cookbook I have, and also found the recipe here online in an old newspaper article. The article is from a November 1957 edition of the Park City Daily News from Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Okay guys, time for another Random Recipe! This week's random cookbook was A World of Pasta. I haven't had this book very long, a year or so, I bought it used from amazon one day while I was looking for a different cookbook. It just looked like an interesting book, I love the older recipes in cookbooks that may have been forgotten over the years. This book was originally published in 1978 but I have the 1985 version. I hadn't had a chance to try a recipe from this book yet so this is my first one.
My random recipe this week was Ziti al Forno made with Filetto Sauce, I had never heard of filetto sauce before and wondered what filetto sauce even was, so was pleasantly surprised to find it was similar to a marinara sauce. In the Filetto Sauce recipe preface it says...This is a special light sauce that restauranteurs in Italy make on Sundays and serve to themselves and their staffs on fresh pasta that day. It is a special sauce for us, too, to which we often add other igredients when we wish to vary it. It freezes well, thus we usually make up a big batch. Its creators use proscuitto fat to saute the onions and garlic, but we've found that olive oil does the job nicely.
4 tablespoons of olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minves
4 large onions, finely chopped (I used onion powder)
1 and 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons dry oregano
2 tablespoons dry basil
1/8 teaspoon of hot red-pepper flakes
3 pounds of very rupe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped, or 2 two pound cans of Italian plum tomatoes (with basil), run through a food mill (I skipped the food mill)
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
In a pot, heat the oil, and saute the garlic until soft. Add the onions and cook until soft. Stir in the salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and red-pepper flakes, blending well. Add the tomatoes and sugar, stirring them into the other ingredients until well mixed. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook, oncovered, for about 35 minutes, stirring often. The appeal of this sauce is its lightness, so do not overcook. When you can move a wooden spoon across the top of the sauce without leaving a watery trail, it is ready. It should be smooth and thick but not heavy. Do not revert to other pasta sauce techniques and use either tomato paste of the "crushed tomatoes" that come in a can. This destroys the personality of Filetto Sauce.
Ziti al Forno
adapted from A World of Pasta -- Maris Luisa Scott and Jack Denton Scott
Italy -- This is the Italian pasta lover's favorite. Al forno simply means in the oven, baked.
1 pound of ziti (a large, long pasta tube), in 1 inch pieces, cooked very al dente, drained
3 tablespoons of butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon of black pepper (I left this off since I didn't want this too peppery for the kids and there is already pepper in the filetto sauce)
1/2 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese (I used Asiago and upped it to 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese (I upped this to 3/4 cup also)
1 pound of fresh ricotto cheese, about 1 and 1/2 cups
2 cups of Filetto Sauce (I upped this to 3 cups since it seemed pretty dry with only 2 -- you could probably use any tomato based pasta sauce here)
In a bowl place the ziti, butter, and pepper; toss well. Add half of the asiago and romano; toss well.
In a baking dish (I used a 9 by 13 pyrex) make a layer of pasta, sprinkle with asiago and romano, add a layer of ricotta...
cover with sauce. Repeat the procedure until the pasta, cheeses, and sauce are used; the lasy layer should be sauce and grated cheese.
Cook, uncovered, in a preheated 375 degree oven until bubbling and browned. (This took about 30 minutes for me.)
This was a very yummy basic baked ziti. I really liked it but I am a baked ziti fan. My youngest loved the sauce and all three kids ate their plates of ziti, although I did hear some whining about not liking the ricotta cheese. I thought the bites of ricotta were one of the best parts but I love ricotta. Picky husband had a few bites but he does not like pasta without meat (except for homemade macaroni and cheese) so he wasn't really a fan. Oh-well. I think that most people would like this recipe.
I do have a favorite baked ziti recipe that is super cheesey, with provolone, mozzarella (actually this was the first ziti I've tried that didn't have mozzarella), and more. I usually make it for get togethers at our house and serve it along side picky husband's favorite meat lasagna so people can have a meatless option. This recipe won't be replacing my old one, but I thought it was great and the leftovers reheated perfectly and made a nice lunch the next day. I enjoyed learning about Filetto sauce and would make this recipe again :)
Thursday, March 22, 2012
I've got another nut filled Greek treat to share this week -- Baklava! This one is from Tessa Kiros' book Food From Many Greek Kitchens and I am sharing it with I Heart Cooking Clubs for their Getting a Little Nutty theme of the week. I enjoy baklava and had made it one time before, but it is not something that picky husband likes so I hadn't made it again. I was hoping that now that my kids are a little older they would love baklava, so I gave it another go...
Tessa Kiros -- Food From Many Greek Kitchens
Makes about 30
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons honey
juice of 1/2 lemon
strip of lemon peel
2 or 3 small cinnamon sticks
1 cup almonds, crushed but with some texture
1 cup walnuts, crushed but with some texture
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
22 sheets phyllo pastry, cut to the dimensions of your dish (I used a 9 by 13 baking dish and did not have to cut my phyllo at all)
2/3 cup (1 and 1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted to golden brown
30 or so whole cloves for decoration
Preheat oven to 350. To make the syrup, put the sugar, honet, lemon juice, lemon peel, and cinnamon in a saucepan with 1 cup water and bring to a boil, stirring. Simmer for 5 to 6 minutes, then take off the heat and cool.
Mix the almonds, walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon together in a bowl. Habe the phyllo sheets ready, covered by a dish cloth to prevent them from drying out. Brush the base of an 8 and 1/2 by 12 inch baking dish (I used a 9 by 13 pyrex) with butter. Lay 1 sheet of phyllo on the bottom and brush with butter. Cover with another sheet, brush it with butter and continue in this way until you have a neat stack of 10 sheets lining the bottom of the dish. Spread half the nut mixture over the phyllo, patting it down firmly and leveling the surface. Cover with another 2 sheets of phyllo, buttering each one. Scatter the rest of the nuts over evenly and press down gently. Now lay down the last 10 sheets of phyllo, butter each one, of course, and finishing with the last layer buttered.
Using a small sharp knife, cut diamonds on the diagonal of about 2 and 1/2 by 2 and 1/2 inches. Cut all the way through the layers of phyllo, as this will make it easier to lift out the pieces when serving. Flick just a little cold water over the top to prevent the layers from curling up.
Stuf the center of each diamond with a clove. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until gently golden on top. Gently pour half of the syrup all over the baklava. Wait for it to be adsorbed, then pour over the rest. Leave to cool totally before serving. Will keep, unrefridgerated, for at least a week, covered with a dish cloth or foil to deter bees and flies.
This was so yummy! It was very sticky syrupy and crispy crunchy on top followed by a softer soaked bottom. Delicious stuff! I shared some with the neighbors and heard it was great. Picky husband didn't want to try any, the kids did try some but didn't like it :( 0h-well. I've had lots of baklava at restaurants and such and this was right up there with the best. I missed the pistachio flavor though, so would definitely add those in next time. This is definitely a great baklava recipe, I just wish my family would have liked it more!
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
This is my new favorite sweet treat. Seriously. I don't know why but I fell in love with this stuff. It is so delicious to me. Picky husband and all three of my kids don't like it. So I can't promise a recipe your whole family will love, but they might, you never know. Prior to making this Greek Halva for I Heart Cooking Clubs theme of the week -- Getting a little Nutty! -- I wasn't really sure what it even was. I always thought of it as a Middle Eastern sweet, something not quite a cake and not quite a candy, and I guess that's pretty much what it is, but I was not prepared to like it as much as I did! For some reason it reminded me of the hard lumps / clumps that sometimes happen when you make cream of wheat and don't stir properly. I love those and have since I was a child. If you do not like those I don't think you'll care for this, but again, you never know. That's always how I look at recipes, you'll never know if you'll like it if you don't try!
Housewives' Halva -- Halva Tis Nikokiras
Tessa Kiros -- Food From Many Greek Kitchens
Serves an Extended Family (I made a half batch)
Serves an Extended Family (I made a half batch)
2 and 2/3 cups sugar
2 and 2/3 cups sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
long strip of lemon rind
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
1 cup olive oil (I did half olive oil and half coconut oil, in the recipe preface it is mentioned that butter is also sometimes used)
2/3 cup almonds, skin on, coarsely chopped
1 cup fine semolina
1 cup coarse semolina (I only had one type, so that's what I used)
For the syrup, put the sugar, lemon juice and rind, cinnamon stick and cloves into a pot with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes or so.
Warm the oil in a big heavy bottomed pot.
Add the almonds and cook over medium heat, stirring, until lightly toasted.
Stir in the semolina and dry-roast them too until a bit golden here and there (okay, that didn't really make sense to me, I reread it a bunch of times but with so much oil in the pan I'm not sure how it would be "dry" roasting, but in the end it was great so I guess I shouldn't have worried about it) stirring constantly and taking care that it doesn't burn.
Lightly oil a 6 cup capacity savarin or ring pan. Scoop out the lemon rind and spices from the syrup, then gradually stir into the roasting semolina. Take care when you pour it in, as it will bubble and splash. Stir it constantly over low heat until the liquid is all absorbed by the semolina and it comes away from the side of the pot.
Remove from heat and scrape into the pan. Flatten with the back of a soup spoon or spatula to push out any creases or small spaces. Let it cool for a few minutes (I set the timer for 10), then ease the halva away from the sides of the pan in a few places using a thin knife. Quickly turn the pan over and unmold the halva onto a flat plate. Scatter with the ground cinnamon and cut into slivers to serve. You only need thin pieces.
Even though no one else liked this but me, I LOVED it! Not sure when I would make it again, just because I was the only fan, but definitely for a Greek potluck or something like that, not that I've ever had or been invited to a Greek potluck (wait, I take that back, when I was in high school we had a Greek potluck in humanities class, but that was over a decade ago :) ), but it sure sounds like fun. Anyway, the aroma while the semolina "toasted" in the oil was so yummy and reminded me of a middle eastern restaurant. Mmmm! If you like to try new things like I do, give this a go :)