Sunday, February 19, 2017

Chocolate Cake

I still love the denser (almost pound-cake-like) chocolate beet cake. But for a more basic version, I find this one's a bit moister and richer than the chocolate cake recipe I've used previously.

2 C sugar
1¾ C flour
¾ C unsweetened cocoa powder
2 T unsweetened dark cocoa powder*
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
2 eggs
1 C buttermilk
1 C coffee*
½ C vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla

* I used more of the dark cocoa powder...simply a matter of preference. And I don't like coffee; a little coffee boosts the dark/bitter flavor of the chocolate without any strong coffee flavor taking over the cake, but a whole cup is too much for me! However, any similar liquid option will do. Water doesn't alter the flavor. Fruit juices could be fun to try (orange, cranberry, raspberry, pomegranate...). I stuck with water this time knowing I had chopped peanuts and caramel as a filling between a couple layers...

Preheat oven to 350˚. Grease and flour pans, or coat with non-stick cooking spray, and line bottoms with parchment. 2 9" pans, 1 9x13" pan, or cupcake tins.

Whisk together (or use low setting of electric mixer) sugar, flour, cocoa(s), baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes.

Pour batter (which will be thin) evenly into pans. Bake...about 30-35 min for rounds, 35-40 min for 9x13, 18-22 min for cupcakes. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to finish cooling on wire rack.

Frost as desired.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Ground Beef (or Elk) Stroganoff

Beef is, obviously, traditional. However, thanks to Dad's hunting success and generosity, I have ground elk on hand. :)

2 T butter
8 oz sliced baby portabella mushrooms
1 C chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lb lean ground beef, elk or other meat
1½ C beef broth
1½ T Worchesershire
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ C flour
1½ C sour cream (+ more to garnish at serving)
Italian parsley, finely chopped for garnish

noodles or rice

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat; cook mushrooms, onion and garlic until tender (6-8 minutes). Transfer to small bowl; set aside.

Brown ground beef (or elk...) in skillet over medium high heat. While meat is cooking, whisk flour into ½ cup beef broth; set aside. Add remaining broth, Worcestershire, salt, pepper and nutmeg to browned meat; bring to boil. Add flour and broth mixture, stirring as it thickens. Stir in mushroom and onion mixture; cool slightly. Stir in sour cream.

Serve over noodles or rice, garnished with a dollop of sour cream and chopped parsley.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Peppered Ricotta & Honey Crostini

I've long been a fan of peppered cheese; Boursin's peppered cheese is probably what got me started (photo below; black pepper, so it doesn't look as 'pretty', but it's still a good option, especially if you're short on time). And I learned to really love honey drizzled cheese in Italy, where it was served often. So when I saw a Crostini with Ricotta and Pink Peppercorns recipe in this month's Food Network Magazine I was excited to give it a try! Crunchy crostini, creamy ricotta, savory cheese, sweet honey and a kick from peppercorns...there's a lot to love!

baguette (about 1/2 baguette for generously spread crostini)
extra virgin olive oil
kosher/coarse salt

Ricotta spread
1 C ricotta cheese
1 tsp lemon zest
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1/8  tsp kosher salt

¼ C honey
1½ T flaky salt*
2 T pink peppercorns, crushed

* With the pink peppercorns, I used a pink Himalayan salt to coordinate the look. However, for my taste, salting the crostini, a pinch of salt in the cheese, and then 1½ T of salt dusting them at the finish was too much salt. I like it on the finish (topping) so it is 'flavor forward' in each bite. I'd probably do without it in the ricotta. Go easy on it at first, and taste before you use it all.

As peppercorns go, green are my favorite. The pink is a pretty look -- and I'd love to try this completed crostini with sliced strawberries sometime. I think the flavors would go really well together. I'd also like to try green peppercorns sometime...a more earth-y looking presentation, and subtle flavor difference.

Preheat oven to 400˚. Cut the baguette on a slight bias into ¼" slices. Place on baking sheet, brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Whisk together ricotta, lemon zest, olive oil and salt.

Once cool, top each crostini generously with  with ricotta mixture. Drizzle with honey, sprinkle with flaky salt and crushed pink peppercorns.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Red (or purple) Velvet Rolled Cookies

I already have a red velvet drop cookie recipe. These were in Better Homes & Gardens magazine this month--specifically with red hearts for Valentine's Day (I'd link to it here, but I can't access it online; red heart photo is theirs). I opted for purple food coloring as I plan to take them to my students at NVHS...if the snow ever melts, roads clear and we actually have school again! Any color could be used, though with a bit of cocoa powder in these, if you want light or pastel colors it would be better to make a rolled sugar cookie.

1 C butter, softened
1¼ C sugar
2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 eggs
1 T liquid food coloring
1 tsp vanilla
2¾ C flour
    powdered sugar for dusting

Cream butter and sugar. Add cocoa, baking powder and salt; beat, scraping sides of bowl to fully incorporate all ingredients. Beat in eggs, food coloring and vanilla.

Slowly add flour and stir until just combined. Chill 1 hour or until easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 375˚. Roll dough on lightly floured surface to " thick; Cut with cookie cutters and place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 7 to 9 minutes, until bottoms are very light brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Sprinkle cooled cookies with powdered sugar, using stencils if desired for decoration.

Makes about 3 dozen 2 - 2½" cookies.