Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Pomegranate Italian Ice
Adapted from Sherry Yard's Desserts By the Yard
1 1/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup pomegranate juice (I used POM Wonderful)
3 6-oz ramekins
Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
Stir in pomegranate juice and pour into ramekins. Freeze until solid.
Slush up, serve and enjoy!
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Kitchen Sink Cookies
Adapted from Jill O'Connor's Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey
Makes 2 dozen cookies
1/2 cup (2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup Cocoa Pebbles
3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup Reeses Pieces
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the sugars. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt and then beat into the butter mixture.
Using a large wooden spoon, stir in the cereal, oats, chips, and Reeses Pieces.
Using a spoon or cookie scoop, scoop up a Tbsp of cookie dough and place on baking sheet. Line the balls at least 2 inches apart. Flatten each ball with two wet fingers and bake until the cookies are brown and a little puffy, about 12-15 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet before removing to cooling rack.
Serve and enjoy!
Monday, September 28, 2009
PS Sorry for the randomness of this post. My pregnancy brain has me thinking of nothing but Funfetti cake.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
I am so happy to finally be posting a DB challenge on the reveal date! I think the real challenge for me is posting on the right date, not the actual DB challenge itself. This is a great dessert to get back into the gear of things. It's beautiful, it's fancy, and it's delicious. It requires some effort because you are making pastry dough. I kept getting reminded of how difficult it is to roll out and fold up pastry dough when the butter isn't chilled enough (gooey mess anyone?). The dessert required just a little more patience than I anticipated but I got it done and afterward the difficult decision laid in what to fill the goodie with. Because I wanted to eat these for breakfast I filled them with some skillet apples and topped them with a powdered sugar glaze. They came out absolutely perfect and were worth the chilling time and rolling 6 and folding six times.
Thanks to Steph (she has a GREAT blog!) for the selection and make sure to head over to the Daring Kitchen site to see what else is going on with us DBers.
Vols-au-Vent with Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough
-metal bench scraper (optional, but recommended)
-silicone baking mat (optional, but recommended)
-set of round cutters (optional, but recommended)
-sharp chef’s knife
-about 4-5 hours to prepare the puff pastry dough (much of this time is inactive, while you wait for the dough to chill between turns…it can be stretched out over an even longer period of time if that better suits your schedule)
-about 1.5 hours to shape, chill and bake the vols-au-vent after your puff pastry dough is complete
Forming and Baking the Vols-au-Vent
Yield: 1/3 of the puff pastry recipe below will yield about 8-10 1.5” vols-au-vent or 4 4” vols-au-vent
-well-chilled puff pastry dough (recipe below)
-egg wash (1 egg or yolk beaten with a small amount of water)
-your filling of choice
Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
Using a knife or metal bench scraper, divided your chilled puff pastry dough into three equal pieces. Work with one piece of the dough, and leave the rest wrapped and chilled. (If you are looking to make more vols-au-vent than the yield stated above, you can roll and cut the remaining two pieces of dough as well…if not, then leave refrigerated for the time being or prepare it for longer-term freezer storage. See the “Tips” section below for more storage info.)
On a lightly floured surface, roll the piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick. Transfer it to the baking sheet and refrigerate for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the cutting.
(This assumes you will be using round cutters, but if you do not have them, it is possible to cut square vols-au-vents using a sharp chef’s knife.) For smaller, hors d'oeuvre sized vols-au-vent, use a 1.5” round cutter to cut out 8-10 circles. For larger sized vols-au-vent, fit for a main course or dessert, use a 4” cutter to cut out about 4 circles. Make clean, sharp cuts and try not to twist your cutters back and forth or drag your knife through the dough. Half of these rounds will be for the bases, and the other half will be for the sides. (Save any scrap by stacking—not wadding up—the pieces…they can be re-rolled and used if you need extra dough. If you do need to re-roll scrap to get enough disks, be sure to use any rounds cut from it for the bases, not the ring-shaped sides.)
Using a ¾-inch cutter for small vols-au-vent, or a 2- to 2.5-inch round cutter for large, cut centers from half of the rounds to make rings. These rings will become the sides of the vols-au-vent, while the solid disks will be the bottoms. You can either save the center cut-outs to bake off as little “caps” for you vols-au-vent, or put them in the scrap pile.
Dock the solid bottom rounds with a fork (prick them lightly, making sure not to go all the way through the pastry) and lightly brush them with egg wash. Place the rings directly on top of the bottom rounds and very lightly press them to adhere. Brush the top rings lightly with egg wash, trying not to drip any down the sides (which may inhibit rise). If you are using the little “caps,” dock and egg wash them as well.
Refrigerate the assembled vols-au-vent on the lined baking sheet while you pre-heat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). (You could also cover and refrigerate them for a few hours at this point.)
Once the oven is heated, remove the sheet from the refrigerator and place a silicon baking mat (preferred because of its weight) or another sheet of parchment over top of the shells. This will help them rise evenly. Bake the shells until they have risen and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF (180ºC), and remove the silicon mat or parchment sheet from the top of the vols-au-vent. If the centers have risen up inside the vols-au-vent, you can gently press them down. Continue baking (with no sheet on top) until the layers are golden, about 15-20 minutes more. (If you are baking the center “caps” they will likely be finished well ahead of the shells, so keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven when browned.)
Remove to a rack to cool. Cool to room temperature for cold fillings or to warm for hot fillings.
Fill and serve.
*For additional rise on the larger-sized vols-au-vents, you can stack one or two additional ring layers on top of each other (using egg wash to "glue"). This will give higher sides to larger vols-au-vents, but is not advisable for the smaller ones, whose bases may not be large enough to support the extra weight.
*Although they are at their best filled and eaten soon after baking, baked vols-au-vent shells can be stored airtight for a day.
*Shaped, unbaked vols-au-vent can be wrapped and frozen for up to a month (bake from frozen, egg-washing them first).
Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough
2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
1 pound (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butter
plus extra flour for dusting work surface
Mixing the Dough:
Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it cannot hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them.
Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers. (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.)
Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that's about 1" thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.
Incorporating the Butter:
Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry) with your rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin without handles), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10" square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with "ears," or flaps.
Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don't just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8" square.
To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.
Making the Turns:
Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24" (don't worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24", everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).
With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.
Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24" and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.
Chilling the Dough:
If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you've completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.
The total number of turns needed is six. If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.
Friday, September 25, 2009
After chugging a bottle down, I decided to make this juice a little bit unhealthy. How, you ask? I made some pomegranate jello and topped that baby with some pomegranate whipped cream. These two recipes are perfect for showcasing the flavor of the juice without taking one ounce of it's natural flavor away.
Source: Alton Brown
Enough for 2 servings.
1 cup POM Wonderful
1 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoons sugar
Place 1/4 cup of the pomegranate juice into a medium mixing bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Mix together and set aside.
Place the remaining juice and the sugar into a small saucepan and place over high heat. Bring just to a boil. Remove from the heat and add to the juice and gelatin mixture, stirring to combine.
Pour liquid in mold of your choice and refrigerate until hardened, about 90 minutes.
Top with pomegranate whipped cream and enjoy!
Pomegranate Whipped Cream
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp powdered sugar
2 Tbsp POM Wonderful
Combine heavy cream and powdered sugar in a small bowl and whip until it starts to thicken. Add the pomegranate juice and continue to whip until the cream holds peaks.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Great Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: David Lebovitz's Great Book of Chocolate
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch (1cm) pieces
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped (I omitted)
Adjust the oven rack to the top 1/3 of the oven and preheat to 300F. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.
Beat the sugars and butters together until smooth. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and baking soda. Stir together the flour and salt, then mix them into the batter. Mix in the chocolate chips and nuts.
Scoop the cookie dough into 2-tablespoon balls and place 8 balls, spaced 4 inches apart, on each of the baking sheets.
Bake for 18 minutes, or until pale golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Thanks to Jacque of Daisy Lane Cakes for this week's selection. I probably would have never tried this recipe had it not been for her selecting it, so thank you for making this a challenge for me! Make sure to check out her blog for the recipe and the TWD site to see how other people did this week.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Baked Rigatoni with Bechamel Sauce
Source: Food Network (here)
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup and 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 quart whole milk, at room temperature
Pinch of fresh nutmeg
Sea salt and white pepper
I cup fontina (I used parmesan instead)
1/2 Lb thinly sliced prosciutto, julienned (I omitted)
1 lb dry rigatoni
3 Tbsp butter unsalted butter, diced
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Source: Jigglebuns on Tasty Kitchen (here)
2 cups All-purpose Flour
1 cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Butter, Softened
¾ cups Sugar
¾ cups Brown Sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
2 whole Eggs
1 cup Miniature Chocolate Chips
2 cups Miniature Marshmallows
3 whole Hershey's Bars, Chopped
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together. In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one. Slowly mix in the flour mixture, beating until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 8 minutes and remove from oven. Push 3 or 4 marshmallows and a couple of pieces of chocolate into each cookie. Return to oven and bake an additional 3-4 minutes until cookie is cooked and marshmallows are beginning to brown. Cool cookies on wire rack.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Thanks to Julie of Someone’s in the Kitchen for this week's selection. Make sure to check out her blog for the recipe and to head over to the TWD site to see what everyone else thought of the apple turnovers.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Versailles is your traditional Cuban restaurant. A Miami establishment that has lined 8th Street for years and years. Their menu is loaded with Cuban goodies. Beware though...the menus are in Spanish. Or at least the menus we got were in Spanish. Since this was a late night meal, we took it easy. We munched on the toasted Cuban bread, which is always my favorite part of dining at Cuban restaurants because the bread is soaked in some kind of garlic butter.
We both ordered a vanilla shake. My favorite shakes on the planet are at Cuban restaurants. The shakes are creamy, silky, and not difficult to drink. I absolutely hate shakes that require you to squeeze out your brain as you try to suck up the sweets. What I love the most is that you don't feel full from these shakes.
We shared an appetizer platter that included chicken and spinach croquetas, empanadas, fried yuca, and fried plantains served with a mojo sauce. The croquetas were just as you'd expect them to be, a crisp breading layer on the outside and a ground, mashed up filling on the inside. The empanadas were my favorite. The outside layer is pastry dough and the inside was ground up meat. I'm usually not a fan of yuca (in Cuban food, it is used almost as much as potatoes) because I think it's too tough, but I actually liked these. I think frying them softened them up a bit. The fried plantains were great and tasted even better with the mojo sauce. Virtually everything on this dish could have been dipped in the mojo suace because the sauce was mild tasting with a hint of citrus. I just realized that everything on this platter is fried. Oops. Maybe we didn't take it that easy ;-)
Versailles is located at 3555 SW 8th Street and is extremely affordable.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
We walked around Savannah and tried to get our stomachs hungry enough for the buffet. This is me before we ate. Can you see the naive look on my face?? Yes it's partly happiness that we were eating at Paula Deen's restaurant but it's also the look of overconfidence. I thought I'd be making several trips to the buffet. Boy, was I wrong.
They start you off by bringing you two slices of starch. One of them was a corn pancake and the other I think was a cheddar bread. Both were extremely good but you could feel the grease swimming around inside you. I liked the corn pancake the best because you could really taste the corn. Out of curiosity, I wanted to see how many times I had to dab a piece of the corn pancake to get all the oil out. I had to dab it 11 times to get all the gunk out of it. Can you believe that? No wonder there is a warning on the menu that says they aren't afraid to use peanut oil.
Thank goodness we had some lemonade to wash all the grease down. Despite the sweetness of the lemonade, this helped us feel just a little bit healthier. Until......We made the trip to the buffet. As I said earlier, the plan was to make multiple trips to the buffet. There were a dozen southern dishes in the buffet, but we both stuck to basics and got mashed potatoes with gravy, mac & cheese, fried chicken, and baked chicken. I wasn't a fan of the mac & cheese because it didn't have enough flavor in it and it seemed kind of pasty. I blame that on it being a buffet food item. The mashed potatoes and gravy were classic and just right. The real winner was the fried chicken. OMG the flavor was amazing. The chicken was incredibly juicy and tender and the complete opposite of bland. The baked chicken was just as good, but the crunch of the fried chicken really was the star of the show. After this serving I was done. I couldn't even think about standing up. I felt like I swallowed a brick and was hoping someone would offer me a wheelchair or something so that I didn't have to walk anymore.
Paula Deen obviously doesn't realize how filling her food is and included dessert in the buffet. The dessert sizes were extremely appropriate. You could knock these babies out with 4 bites. Unfortunately, because I was so full I was only able to take half a bite of my butter cake. I took the rest to go. The cake matched it's name. It was very rich and buttery and had this been any other day I would have probably loved it, but since I was so full the thought of eating it repulsed me. Alex toughed it out. He actually ate all of his dessert. He ordered the banana pudding and said it was delicious. The bananas were ripe and the pudding had the perfect flavor combination of cream and banana.
After lunch, we walked around the city some more. After being defeated by the buffet we hoped we wouldn't be defeated to the point where we'd never eat again. The food was very, very, very good but it was extremely heavy. This meal could easily be the only meal you eat in a day. I'm sure the breads alone had enough calories for the day.