Monday, January 2, 2017

Yellow Cake (2)

I already have a yellow cake recipe, but it was a bit dry. I came across another, richer version. This is a combination or compromise of the two, and much better. Delicious with chocolate frosting, or topped with fresh berries and whipped cream!

1 C butter
1¼ C sugar
2 eggs
4 egg yolks*
2 tsp vanilla
¾ C milk
2 C cake flour*
1 T baking powder
½ tsp salt

* For a less rich cake -- and lighter yellow color -- substitute 2 eggs for the 4 yolks (for 4 eggs total). All purpose flour works too, though the cake will not be quite as finely textured. If you'd like, you can reduce the flour by 2 T and add cornstarch instead for a substitute for cake flour.

Preheat oven to 350˚. Grease and flour two 8" pans, or coat with non-stick spray.

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until well combined.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture by thirds, alternately with milk blending after each addition. Divide evenly between pans (or scoop into muffin tins lined with cupcake papers). Bake 25 minutes (or approx 18 minutes for cupcakes).

Cool in pans 15 minutes before turning out onto cooling racks.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Morsures de Concombre Bruschetta (Cucumber Bruschetta Bites)

Simple, but fancy...especially if you use the French ("morsures de concombre..."); I took these to this year's Christmas dinner party, our annual Fête de Noël, with my French lady friends.

1 English cucumber
½ C bruschetta*
¼ C crumbled chevre (feta would also work well)
fresh cracked pepper and basil leaves to garnish

* This time, I used a purchased bruschetta mix; but a quick mix of tomato, garlic, basil, maybe a little onion or olive or other herbs like oregano or a dash of paprika...anything similar would work! 

If desired, peel cucumber (I used a julienne slicer to partially peel the cucumber for added visual appeal.) Slice the cucumber. Top each slice with a half teaspoon of bruschetta. Garnish with crumbled chevre and a basil leave. Sprinkle with coarse ground black pepper.

Steak au Poivre

I suppose you could create this in entrée size portions, but I've only done it as an amuse bouche or appetizer. This recipe makes a couple dozen tasty little bites! The photo's not was taken with my phone when I took these to a 'Fête de Noël' dinner party with my French ladies. :)

1 lb baby yellow potatoes (small Yukon Golds)
2 Tbl butter
½ red onion, thinly sliced
1 shallot, thinkly sliced
1 Tbl fresh thyme
kosher salt and coarse ground pepper to taste
1½ tsp brown sugar
2 Tbl red wine vinegar
1 Tbl Worcestershire sauce
1½ Tbl mixed peppercorns, crushed or ground
     (or use more coarse ground pepper)
2 tsp kosher salt
1 8-oz filet mignon steak (thick cut, and cut into 4 strips)
¼ C sour cream
vegetable oil, for frying

The day before serving, thinly slice the potatoes (about ¼"); place in bowl of water, refrigerate. Change water every 6-8 hours. (Potatoes will be crispier when fried.)

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in pan or pot over medium heat; cook onion, shallot, thyme until very soft (about 30 min). Season with salt and pepper; stir in brown sugar, red wine vinegar and Worcestershire, cooking about another 10 minutes until liquid has evaporated or been absorbed by onions. Remove from heat and set aside.

Combine crushed peppercorns and 2 tsp kosher salt in a bowl. Toss steak with salt and crushed peppercorns to coat, pressing mixture into meat. Melt remaining tablespoon butter in skillet over medium high heat; cook steak to medium-rare, turning to brown on all sides. (Do not overcook steak -- especially if you plan to reheat just before serving!) Remove from heat onto cutting board; let rest 10 minutes.

While steak rests, drain potatoes and pat dry. Heat large pot with enough oil to cover potatoes. Fry potatoes in hot oil until golden brown on both sides, stirring and turning as needed. Remove from oil (to a rack set over a baking sheet, or onto paper towel...) season with salt. (Potatoes can be fried ahead and reheated in the oven just before assembling and serving.)

Thinly slice steak. Spoon and spread onion mixture onto each potato slice; top with a slice of steak, and a dollop of sour cream. Sprinkle with remaining crushed peppercorns.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Gravlax with Hovmästarsås Sauce

Subbing for a fellow culinary teacher (I'm on a 1-year leave from my regular position) I showed (and watched with multiple classes) a video demonstration of a chef making gravlax. I knew I had salmon in the freezer, and was inspired to try it out! Gravlax is Scandinavian, Nordic especially, and similar to lox -- a cured but not smoked salmon specialty. Traditionally the salmon is cured with salt, sugar, and dill; frequently other spices (juniper berry, horseradish) and liquor are also incorporated. Historically, the fish was buried during curing ("grav"+ "lax" ...grave salmon), so frequently a weight is placed on the fish during curing which helps the curing elements penetrate the salmon. Most often gravlax is served with hovmästarsås  which is simply a mustard-dill sauce.

Here's a very simple version. Easy, but it needs to cure about 3 days, so plan ahead.

1 lb salmon filet
1/2 C sugar
1/3 C salt (kosher or sea salt)
1 C chopped fresh dill OR 1/3 C dried dill

Serve with...
hovmästarsås sauce (recipe follows)
toasted bread / crostini
butter or cream cheese
fresh dill sprigs for garnish

About 3 days before serving...
Combine sugar and salt in small bowl. Using about 1/3 of the sugar-salt mixture, sprinkle a layer on the bottom of a pan or glass dish just big enough for salmon filet. Top with 1/3 of the dill. Set salmon filet into pan, skin side down. Sprinkle with remaining dill; top with remaining sugar-salt mixture. Cover with plastic wrap. Place a heavy pot or a pan filled with weights (or canned goods) on top of the fish and refigerate for 3 days.

About every 12 hours, drain excess liquid from the pan, flip the filet, re-weight and refrigerate.

To serve...scrape the curing elements from both sides of the fish and pat dry. Place salmon on a cutting board, skin side down; slice very thin, on a slant, across the grain, leaving the skin. Slices can be fanned on a platter for service; keep refrigerated.

Serve on thin sliced bread (a dark, heavy bread is traditional) or crostini. Spread butter or cream cheese onto bread, layer with a lettuce leaf and gravlax slice(s), top with a teaspoon of hovmästarsås sauce and garnish with a dill sprig.

Hovmästarsås Sauce Recipe:

1 small garlic clove, finely minced
2 T cider vinegar
2+ T brown sugar, to taste
2/3 C mustard (preferably coarse grain dark mustard)
1/3 C fresh chopped dill

Blend all ingredients, season to taste. Refrigerate until serving; serve at room temperature.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Turnips Anna

This one comes from Sunset Magazine. Inspired by Pommes Anna, with turnips instead of the traditional potatoes. I'm always looking for tasty ways to get more veggies into my diet. A little cheese and bacon in this recipe go a long way. In fact, though it was delicious as is, a little less bacon would still be delicious; or at least with the cured bacon, I would do without the salt next time I make this recipe. And add a little extra of the thyme, which I personally love. Personalize it to your own taste!

6 T butter, melted
6 oz sliced bacon
½ C shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 T flour
½ tsp fresh thyme leaves, minced
     (additional thyme sprigs for garnishing)
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 lbs small - medium turnips, peeled and trimmed

Generously brush a 9" pie pan with butter. Preheat oven to 425˚, with rack in lower third of oven.

Brown bacon until crisp; drain, and chop.

Combine bacon, cheese, flour, minced thyme, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Thinly slice turnips into rounds - easiest using a handheld slicer or mandoline. Arrange one sixth of the turnips in concentric, slightly overlapping circles, in a layer in a pie pan. (I only did 4 layers.) Evenly sprinkle a heaping 2 tablespoons of bacon-cheese mixture over turnips, and drizzle with about 2 tablespoons melted butter. Repeat layers, ending with turnips.

Lightly butter bottom of another 9" pie pan; set on top of turnips and add pie weights, dried beans or other oven-proof weights. Set layered pans on a rimmed baking sheet to catch bubbling butter. Bake until edge turns golden (about 50 minutes). Remove top pie pan with weights. Continue to bake until browned on top (10-15 minutes more).

Loosen Anna from pan with a knife; invert onto/into serving plate or dish. Garnish with additional thyme sprigs.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

This is an approximate recipe...but soup is easy to make by tasting and adjusting along the way!

¼ C olive oil
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
2 yellow onions, rough chopped
50-60 oz canned, diced tomatoes (with juice)
2 C chicken broth
¼ C sugar
2 tsp dried oregano
12-15 large, fresh basil leaves
1-2 C cream
salt & pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan or stock pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic; heat until fragrant. Add chopped onions, cooking until soft and translucent (8-10 minutes), stirring frequently.

Add diced tomatoes, broth, sugar, oregano and basil; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 30 minutes (more is fine, let those flavors blend). Using an immersion blender, purée until smooth.* Add cream as you purée, return to boil. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

Serving suggestions: Serve with cheese lace (pictured), topped with shredded parmesan, a dollop of sour cream, a fresh basil leaf...

* If you don't have an immersion blender, simply work in batches to purée soup in a standard blender.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Apple Bacon Muffins

Apple + bacon = delicious! The bacon in this recipe wasn't particularly prominent.Maybe it just needs a little more. I added a some crumble topping, and maybe I should have put some bacon in it to boost the flavor. They were definitely good enough to try again, and fiddle with the recipe a little.

½ C brown sugar
¼ C butter, softened
2 eggs
2/3 C milk
2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 T cinnamon
¾ C apple, finely chopped
½ C cooked, drained, chopped bacon

Preheat oven to 350˚. Spray muffin tin cups or line with paper liners.

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs. Combine dry ingredients, then add to creamed mixture, alternately with milk. Fold in apple and bacon just until blended.

Fill muffin cups full. [Optional - top with crumble topping.] Bake 20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in the pan, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Pumpkin Bars

Generally I bake these in a jelly roll pan (baking sheet with a 1" lip) and cut them into bars, though they're more cake-like in texture than like a bar cookie. I'd love a good pumpkin cookie recipe, but I've yet to find a good recipe that really has a cookie-like texture. Most of them are more cake or muffin like in texture. I baked some of these up like mini cupcakes recently (pictured), and that worked just fine too. 

11/3 C sugar
4 eggs
½ C oil
½ C applesauce
15 oz pumpkin puree
2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350˚. Grease and flour (or coat with non-stick cooking spray) a jelly roll pan or line with parchment.

Blend first 5 ingredients until smooth. Combine dry ingredients, including spices; add to pumpkin mixture. Pour into prepared pan, smoothing and spreading as needed to an even depth.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes until center is dry (the 'clean toothpick' test works here).

Top with sweetened whipped cream, cream cheese frosting, or a simple powdered sugar icing.
Or do like I did: I didn't use a recipe for the topping...just blended cream cheese with some maple syrup, a little cinnamon, folded in some whipped cream...

Monday, August 29, 2016

Quick and Easy Apple Tart

This isn't the best apple tart I've ever had, but it IS quick and easy. It's from 'The Pioneer Woman'.  Recipe  It's not fall yet (though the leaves across the vacant lot that is currently my main view are turning yellow), so I'm NOT reaching for the pumpkin and spice just yet. is overcast and rainy -- well, showers -- and an apple tart just sounded delicious today.

I dusted mine with a little powdered sugar, but I like her idea of drizzling it with some caramel. I'll try that next time...

Friday, August 12, 2016

Stuffed Cabbage (Polish - gołąbki)

Maybe not a recipe that will especially entice a lot of people, but...I had 1/2 a cabbage leftover from another recipe, and I'm always interested in trying something new (especially something that combines more vegetables with the meat), I figured I'd give it a shot. After perusing a variety of recipes and noting consistently common ingredients in all, this is an amalgamation of two different recipes, choosing the ingredients based on flavors I know I like personally. I really don't know how 'traditional' it may be.

Sauce Ingredients
1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes, with juice
1 C mire poix (1/2 C onion, 1/4 C carrot, 1/4 C celery - all finely diced*)
½ C brown sugar
¼ C red wine vinegar
¼ C lemon juice
2 T cornstarch, dissolved in ¼ C water

* I'm not a fan of celery, so I tend to go light on the celery and throw in a little extra onion and/or carrot.

Stuffed Cabbage Ingredients
½ large (or 1 small) head cabbage
1 lb ground beef (or combination beef & pork)
1½ C cooked rice (cook in chicken stock for extra flavor; I used a whole grain, wild rice blend)
2 eggs
½ C bread crumbs
½ C caramelized onions
¼ C brown sugar
½ tsp thyme
¼ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp each salt & pepper

Prepare cabbage...  Use a pairing knife to remove core. For the most tender leaves, freeze the cabbage the day ahead. With or without freezing, bring a large pot of water to boil; boil cabbage until leaves are tender and pull apart easily (approx. 5 minutes, or slightly more if not frozen). If ribs are still too tough, trim thickest parts.

Mix sauce...  In saute pan, cook mire poix with a little oil until onions are translucent and carrots have softened. Dissolve cornstarch in water; combine mire poix, cornstarch and remaining ingredients in saucepan, bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for ½ hour.

Prepare filling... stir together ground beef, cooked rice, bread crumbs, caramelized onions, brown sugar, thyme, garlic powder, salt & pepper. (Add a little extra bread crumbs or a little of the sauce if mixture is too soggy or too dry...should be a relatively firm meatloaf consistency.)

Pre-heat oven to 375˚.
Pour a thin layer of sauce to cover the bottom of 9x13 baking dish. Place generous ½ cup of meat filling near the rib end of a cabbage leaf; roll toward the outer leaf, tucking in sides as you go. Place seam side down in baking dish. Continue until all meat mixture is rolled in leaves and placed in baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over rolls. To retain moisture during cooking, spread remaining cabbage leaves over top of rolls. Cook 1 hour. 

Stuffed Cabbage rolls -- and the extra sauce -- can be served with mashed potatoes, rice or pasta.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Roasted Figs

8-10 fresh, ripe figs
3 oz (+/-) chevre or ricotta
¼ C honey
1-2 T balsamic glaze
flakey salt

Preheat oven to 400˚.

Slice figs in half, lengthwise; place in baking dish, cut side up. Top each fig with a teaspoon or more of chevre. (To really dress up these figs, wrap the m with prosciutto before baking.) Bake 10-12 minutes, until figs are very soft.

While figs are roasting...
In a small bowl, mix honey and balsamic.

Cool figs slightly; drizzle with honey-balsamic mixture, sprinkle lightly with salt.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sausage & Mushroom stuffed Mini-Peppers

Using up leftovers...

1 lb sausage (actually a little more than a pound)
8 oz mushrooms
1 green bell pepper
½ medium onion
1 tsp minced garlic
8 oz cream cheese
1 tsp dried basil
s & p to taste
¼ cup bread crumbs
15-18 sweet, mini-peppers

Pre-heat oven to 375˚.

Finely dice mushrooms, bell pepper and onion. In skillet, brown sausage. Add mushrooms to brown (or brown separately first). Add onion, diced bell pepper and garlic; cook until softened. Reduce heat; add cream cheese and dried basil, stirring until fully incorporated. Remove from heat. Salt & pepper to taste.

Halve mini-peppers, removing ribs and seeds. Place halved side up in baking dish drizzled very lightly with oil. Spoon sausage & mushroom mixture into each pepper half. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake 25 minutes.