Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
I used this recipe since it had some nice praises sung about it.
I couldn't tell the difference between these pancakes and normal buttermilk-y ones, so this was clearly a successful swap. I did end up doing half pastry flour (white) and half whole wheat since I didn't have any whole wheat pastry flour.
Makes enough to fill me & cjr very happily.
1/2 cup (white) pastry flour + 1/2 cup whole wheat flour OR 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk (I used 2%, nonfat is fine)
1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt (I used Greek yogurt -- nonfat is fine)
1 cup blueberries, sliced strawberries, sliced bananas, or basically any other fruit you like in pancakes (optional)
1 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1. Mix the dry goods (flour, baking soda and baking powder).
2. Mix the yogurt, milk, and egg in a separate bowl.
3. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir to combine. Do not beat out all the lumps! Leave the batter lumpy as it will give you a less 'runny/thin' pancake.
4. Over medium-high heat, heat up a griddle or frying pan and butter it or spray it with canola oil. Pour a small amount of batter onto pan or griddle (enough to make a 3-4 inch diameter pancake) and allow to cook on that side until bubbles start to appear in the center of the pancake. Flip at this moment. Allow to cook another 30 seconds to a minute and remove from heat. Store in a warmed oven (about 200 degrees) until ready to serve - which should be almost immediately after preparation.
5. If you want to add fruit or chocolate, do so after you pour the mixture onto the griddle/pan. I always just add a few blueberries as it's cooking and then when it flips the blueberries burst into their warm gooey goodness.
This is a nice - but basic - recipe with minimal ingredients. You an always doctor it up with toppings (fruit salad? chocolate sauce? MAGIC SHELL?).
Also, as long as your ice cream machine is ready, no need to stash the yogurt mixture in a fridge overnight as it should already be refrigerator cold as long as your yogurt has been stored in the fridge up until its use (and I would hope so!).
Also, it's easy to experiment with more interesting flavors. Fresh fruit is an obvious choice. Puree some fruit and put it in there adjusting the sweetness to account for the added fruit sugar. Or, replace the honey with preserves (which contain more or less an equivalent amount of sweetness). You could even add some peppermint extract, say about a tsp, and throw in some chocolate (melt the chocolate and drizzle in as your ice cream is churning). Or even some frozen cherries (roughly chopped) and chocolate (same deal was the peppermint kind). Make sure to "sample" your creation before churning and remember -- things don't taste as sweet when frozen so err on the side of "slightly too sweet" rather than "slightly not sweet enough".
2 cups (1 pint) Greek Yogurt*
50 grams honey [about 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon of honey]
1/4 tsp of vanilla (optional)**
1. Mix the ingredients together. Taste, if you want it more sweet, go ahead add some more honey.
2. Freeze as per the directions of your ice cream maker.
3. Serve immediately (soft serve) or after about an hour in the freezer. You really don't want to let it freeze all the way... Frozen Yogurt doesn't freeze as well as Ice Cream since it's likely to contain less fat and sugar.
*Note on Yogurt: I used the 2% variety but I'm sure no one will complain if you use full fat. I'm not sure how the texture would work with non-fat but if someone wants to try it and report back, that's fine by me.
**Note on Vanilla: Adding too much vanilla will make your yogurt start tasting more like "vanilla" yogurt rather than honey yogurt, so if you don't want that, just skip it.
Lavender Jasmine Green Tea "Concentrate"
About 4 Tablespoons (Jasmine) Green Tea (loose) (See note re: Bags)
1/4-1/2 tsp dried lavender leaves (See note to follow)
1 quart water
1. Boil a quart of water, pour over loose leaves - I don't use a tea ball here because its way too much tea and the tea expands. A large French Press does the job beautifully.
2. Steep for 3 minutes
3. Strain off the leaves
4. Stash in fridge to cool.
If you don't have loose you can use regular the tea bags (I'd use about 6), just get a large bowl and let the tea bags float in there with the lavender. When the tea is done steeping, just fish out the bags and then strain off the lavender.
You have two options 1. Purchase fresh lavender if you can find it or 2. Buy some dried lavender (plenty of online sources). Either way make sure you're buying CULINARY lavender as the other stuff is often treated with nasty not-for-eating chemicals.
To Dry Your Own Lavender:
Let it sit out near a window or in a dry hot place until dry - take about a week. I just put mine in a vase without water and just let it hang out. Remove flowers/buds from the stems and store in tightly sealed container.
Mint Infused Syrup
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
A few stalks of fresh mint leaves (About a quarter to half a bunch is more than enough usually)
1. Heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan just until the sugar dissolves completely. Cut the heat.
2. Add the fresh mint and let it sit for 30 minutes. Remove the mint.
3. Store and use to sweeten whatever you like. For me, I often use it in tea. Green tea + mint infused syrup makes a pretty fast "Moroccan Mint Green" tea.
Note on Storage:
I put it in the fridge, though I doubt anything this sugary will sustain life... the fridge may encourages crystallization so I always get a layer of rock candy on the bottom of my container.
Your "tea" mixture is going to be very strong so dilute it to your liking. Usually, I use 1/3 cup tea concentrate and add another 2/3 cup water to dilute. You may find that you prefer 1/2 cup concentrate + 1/2 cup water -- Always best to start less dilute, taste, and then continue to dilute if you think it's still too strong. Then add your desired amount of syrup. I usually add about a half to a tablespoon of syrup for each cup of tea I end up with. Again, always add less and then add more as you taste to find your optimal sweetness level.
No more, I say, bring the sheet cake back! It's so simple, every bit as delicious as cupcakes, and has a higher surface area for frosting and no need to pre portion out how much cake everyone gets, you decide how big or small a slice you want.
I am of the belief that good cake recipe makes a good cupcake and the other way around, so when I saw this Banana cake recipe in Martha's book I decided it's time for the 9x13 pyrex pan to come out. Also, I don't have sour cream, but I did have lowfat greek yogurt which I used in it's place.
And sure, you can make cupcakes out of this if you like. Makes about 16 cupcakes or one sheet cake.
3 ripe bananas
2 cups cake (not the self rising kind) or pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup low fat yogurt (I used 2% greek)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, toasted in a pan and chopped (optional)
Honey-Cinnamon Frosting [Directions to follow]
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Place the bananas on a cookie sheet and roast for about 15 minutes (they'll get pretty dark). When the bananas are done roasting, remove them and allow to cool before attempting to peel.
3. In the meantime, grease a 9x13 baking dish with some canola oil or butter.
4. Mix the cake flour, baking soda and powder, and salt.
5. Cream/Mix the butter and sugar until pale and fluffly. Add the egg yolks, one a time, to the mixture and mix until fully incorporated.
6. Peel the (cooled) bananas and remove the inside and mash the insides (discard the black peel!). Add the bananas to the butter/sugar/egg mixture.
7. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 3 batches. Alternate between adding a batch of flour and a batch of yogurt.
8. Add in the vanilla.
9. In another bowl, whip the eggs until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the rest of the batter to lighten the batter. Then, fold in another 1/3 of the egg whites before adding in the last 1/3.
10. Fold in the pecans (optional).
11 .Pour into the greased 9x13 inch glass dish and spread out evenly. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the edges begin to brown and a toothpick inserted into hte middle of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool before frosting (recipe follows).
12. Use an offset spatula and frost the sheet cake. Or, cut into bars and allow people to frost their own slices so they can decide how much or how little to take (trust me, there will be A LOT of frosting).
13. For bonus point presentation, drizzle top with a bit of additional honey and a sprinkling of cinnamon.
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened and at room temperature
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tablespoons honey
1.5 cups powdered sugar.
1. Mix/Blend all the ingredients together until well combined. I used my trusty hand held mixer to do the job.
Well, low and behold, they're not really grown in CA. Shucks. But they are grown in Idaho! And the Berkeley Bowl seems to get them (shh don't tell my locavore friends! like you've never eaten a mango people....). Idaho isn't far, right?
Well, either way, I snatched up 2 lbs of these guys (and I needed every last one for this recipe!) and the plan was in motion.
You can also use this to make a regular, circular pie. But keep the filling amount the same and multiply all the ingredients of the crust by 2/3.
Pie Dough for Slab Pie (1.5 x normal pie dough recipe).
1.5 cups of water
4 or 5 ice cubes
3.75 cups of flour
1.5 tablespoons of sugar
1 tsp of salt
3 sticks of VERY COLD butter (1.5 cups) in 1/2 inch cubes
1. Place the ice cubes in the water and allow to chill out.
2. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a very large bowl or in the workbowl of a food processor.
3. If you are using a food processor, pulse until the butter is in pea size pieces. Otherwise, use a hand held pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour until the pieces are pea size. Avoid using your hands as it will heat up the butter. Larger irregular sized pieces are better than smaller fully incorporated ones.
4. Start adding the ice cold water (without the ice please!) by adding a cup to the flour/butter mixture and combine either in the food processor with a few quick pulses or using a rubber spatula if by hand. Keep adding small amounts (a few tablespoons at a time) of water until the mixture comes together. You may need your hands to 'stick' the clumps all together.
5. Divide the dough into two equally sized pieces, wrap in plastic wrap, form into 6 inch disks and stash in the fridge for at least 1 hour though 2 hours is better. You can also keep the dough ready for about a week in the fridge or freeze it for longer term storage -- just add some bonus layers of plastic wrap or Aluminum foil to seal it shut.
Now... the filling!
2-3 lbs of cherries (or 6 cups of cherries, pitted -- pitting instructions follow)
3/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
juice of half a lemon
pinch of salt
one egg, beaten with a table spoon of water.
1. You'll need to pit the cherries and I have no use for a unitasker like a pitter. I do, however, have a round piping tip which has an opening the exact same size as a cherry pit. So, to pit the cherries, I got out a cutting board and put the piping tip large side down (small opening up) like a little teepee. Then I took a cherry and placed it upside down (the part that attaches to the stem down) and with pushed it halfway down on the tip and twisted it to release the pit. You should be left with a scooped out looking cherry, minus the pit but still completely in tact! No smashing with the back of a knife required. There are other ways too, Martha has a one involving a paper clip.
2. Now the hard part is done! Mix the rest of the ingredients together with the pitted cherries and set aside.
Assembling the pie
Extra ingredient: One egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water.
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a RIMMED cookie sheet with parchment.
2. Take one of your two dough packets and roll it out until it's a bit larger than the bottom of the cookie sheet. You'll want to generously flour your surface, top of the flour, and rolling pin to do this. And to turn the dough often to make sure it doesn't stick, if it starts to stick, it's time for another sprinkle of flour! When your dough is large enough, roll it up onto your rolling pin and transport it to the cookie sheet where you can roll it out again into the cookie sheet. Allow the dough edges to hang over the edge.
3. Dump your filling into the center and spread out as evenly as possible.
4. Prepare the second piece of dough just like the first. Move it ontop of the filling and bring the bottom crust over hang up and over the top crust and pinch shut.
5. Brush with the egg/water mixture and prick all over with a fork to let the steam out.
6. Bake for about 40-50 minutes until the crust is a nice golden brown color.
7. Allow to cool fully, then prepare the glaze (recipe follows) and drizzle on top.
1 cup powdered sugar
1+ tablespoons of water
1. Mix the sugar and the water until the consistency of a glaze (just slightly thicker than honey) is achieved. You shouldn't need much more than 2 tablespoons if that.
The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.
So what is a "Mallow" well it's kind of like a cookie version of a s'more. You take a biscuit, add some marshmallow, and dip in chocolate. There was a decent recipe for a veggie marshmallows that had the right texture but not quite the right structure, so I had to improvise on technique and ended up with square instead of circular mallows. Also, I think this recipe would've been better off with a different cookie bottom. For example, I bet smitten kitchen's graham crackers would've been perfect. The cookie base in this recipe was a bit to 'eggy' for my taste. Also, the cookie recipe makes WAY TOO MUCH. So I've scaled it down to a third of the original amounts.
Okay, here's the recipe:
Mallows(Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website
1 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 egg, whisked
Some butter/canola oil to grease pan.
Marshmallows, recipe follows
Chocolate glaze, recipe follows
1. Combine the dry ingredients and mix.
2. Using a handheld or stand mixer (paddle attachment), put the dry ingredients in the bowl of the mixer (or whatever you have) and add the butter just until sandy.
3. Add the egg and mix.
4. Form into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap/parchment and stash in fridge for 1 hour or up to 3 days.
5. Before baking, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Here is where my method departs from the posted recipe:
6. Line a casserole dish [9x13 pyrex dish for example] with parchment paper (cut out the shape of the bottom of the dish].
7. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness in the exact shape/size of the parchment sheet you just cut out in step 6.
8. Transfer to the dough into the casserole dish and bake for 10-20 minutes or until light golden brown. Note, the center will take longer to cook than the edges, so turn the pan frequently. If you have some cake strips, this would be the time to use them.
9. When you remove the cookie from the oven you will need to score it. Using a knife/pizza cutter/pastry cutter 'score' the cookie into 1inch squares. [Scoring means making cuts into the cookie without separating the cookies from each other think the lines on a chocolate bar that allow you to break it apart easily] Let cool to room temperature.
10. When the cookies have cooled completely, make that marshmallow mixture. Grease the sides of your pan with the cookie bottom with some butter or vegetable oil spray (marshmallow sticks to everything!) and pour the marshmallow mixture on top of the cookies and stash in the fridge overnight until "set".
11. When the marshmallow have set, go ahead and prepare the chocolate glaze. Line a cookie sheet with parchment so that you have a place to put the glazed cookies.
12. Go ahead and "break apart" your cookies, It may be hard to dig underneath to get the first one, but if you scored well they should be easy to separate. Then, dunk the cookies into the chocolate glaze and coat well (a fork is handy for this).
13. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.
14. Place on the cookie sheet and put back in the fridge to set (the marshmallows will get runny if left out!) until the coating is firm, about an hour.
12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
2 ounces vegetable oil or cocoa butter
1. Melt the 9-10 ounces of the chocolate and the vegetable oil in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water. Once melted, remove from heat and add remaining chocolate and mix until all the chocolate is melted (give it some time!).
*Note, I've doubled the recipe from what I used because I think it could use more marshmallow-y goodness.
Recipe from: Demolition Desserts
120 mL water
1/4 tsp of cream of tartar
510 grams sugar
510 grams light corn syrup
1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp extract
170 grams egg whites (about 6 egg whites)
10 grams Xanthan Gum (Bob's Red Mill makes a good one)
If making actual marshmallows and not just mallows from above
LOTS OF CORNSTARCH
1. Grind Xanthan with 2 tablespoons of the sugar and set aside.
2. Caveat: you will need a candy thermometer! Gently heat water, cream of tartar, remaining sugar, corn syrup, and the vanilla until it reaches 120F.
3. While the mixture is heating, use the balloon whisk of your stand mixer and beat the egg whites to soft-to-stiff peaks (somewhere in between is best). Slow the mixing down and add the hot syrup slowly. Sprinkle in the Xanthan gum and crank up the speed of the mixer. Continue mixing until the meringue pulls away from sides of bowls and starts creeping up the whisk.
4. Proceed from step 10 of Mallow recipe.
ALTERNATIVE STEP 4: (if you want to make actual "Marshmallows").
Get out a 9x13 baking dish and grease with butter/canola oil and then sprinkle with cornstarch (liberally to coat). Next, pour in the marshmallow-y mixture. Sprinkle the top with some more cornstarch and then stash in fridge to set. Cut using a knife that's been greased and dipped in cornstarch and then roll cut pieces in some more cornstarch to store. Stash in fridge. [These marshmallows have a tendency to 'spread' when left out at room temp... trust me, I learned this the hard wash]
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Here's a sampling of my favorites that I find myself using over and over again:
Lemons: I don't keep salad dressing, but I do keep lemons. Lemons + Olive Oil + Salt is what I grew up on. Good for, you know, everything else I make. As a kid, going to sleepeovers I'd have dinner at my friends' houses and I would be shocked that they had no fresh lemons for their salads. Sometimes, your semi-foreign-ness sticks out like a sore thumb.
Canned tomatoes: I don't buy the jarred sauce, too much money, not enough flavor. But a can of diced/whole/crushed tomatoes and you're basically 5 minutes away (or your pasta cooking time) away from "homemade" sauce. Saute some minced garlic in olive oil, add the tomatoes, some salt and cook down. In the final moments through in some chopped basil and you're good to go. Also, wonderful for adding some body to soups and stews!
Quinoa: cooks faster than brown rice, tastier, better for you, and almost impossible to mess up. Use it wherever you'd normally use couscous, rice, bulgur, barley, etc... You just might have to adjust the cooking time/method.
Tahini: Good for some impromptu hummus or mix with some olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and thin with water and you've got yourself a mighty fine salad dressing!
Cumin/Paprika/Coriander/Cayenne Pepper: One of my favorite classic Moroccan spice combinations. I use these so much more often than dried basil/oregano/garlic/onion which is probably what most people are used to. Use it to make Harissa, any kind of meat, most fishes, in Hummus, stews... mmmmmm.
Honey: I guess most people have some on hand, but I go through it like crazy. I mix a bit of honey + lime or lemon juice and pour it over fruit salad. I sweeten most of tea with the stuff, I mix it with ricotta to make a delicious frosting.
Frozen fruit: Great to make Mark Bittman's Pseudo-Sorbet or just to eat in a bowl (microwave until unthawed!) when they're out of season. One of my favorite things is taking a bag of almost any kind of berry and turning it into berry sauce for pancakes or french toast.... so easy but you always look like the hero!
Fresh Spinach: I don't like salads made of JUST spinach, but spinach is so good at 'hiding'. I mix it 50:50 with mixed greens for my salads and I almost never notice it, I add it to my pasta sauces, stews, and soups. I sprinkle it on my omelettes. Healthy and you can hardly tell it's there! Sometimes I just take some baby spinach and put it in a skillet with some feta cheese until the spinach wilts and the cheese melts and just eat I like that! Like a spanikopita minus the phyllo dough.
Frozen Gnocchi: Ok, I'm not perfect. I don't make everything from scratch. I've tried and failed at making my own Gnocchi (or rather, it's just never as good as the Trader Joe's kind). Sometimes I'll add some chopped spinach into Trader Joe's Gnocchi Alla Sorentina and call it a meal!
Egg Whites: The kind in the carton. I prefer them for eating (never cared for yolks) and they're perfect for making swiss meringue butter cream because they're pasteurized so they don't have that nasty salmonilla problem! Great for baking.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
2 large peaches
3 tablespoons sugar
5 tsp vodka
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1. Boil water deep enough to blanch the peaches. When the water is boiling, add the peaches and turn after 30 seconds just until the skin is coming off. Remove from water, and peel. Remove the pit and cut into chunks.
2. In a food processor, process the peach chunks with the remaining ingredients. You can leave this layer chunky if you like [my preference] or attempt to pass through a fine sieve if you like it more smooth.
3. Get out the number of popsicles you've calculated that you need. and fill one quarter full (for 1/4 cup popsicle molds that equals 1 tablespoon) and put in freezer to set the first layer. Do not put in the popsicle sticks yet.
1 pint blueberries
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tsp vodka
2 tsp lemon juice
1. Puree all the the blueberry layer ingredients in the food processor until smooth and then pass through a fine sieve [you don't want those gritty seeds!].
Assembling the layers
1. Once the first layer starts to set (about 20 min) add another 1/4 amount of the blueberry puree (1 tablespoon). Again, allow another 20 min to set.
2. Repeat, alternating with another peach layer followed by another blueberry layer. Allow each layer to set for 20 minutes before pouring in the next one. Finally, put in the popsicle mold sticks and allow to freeze until set for a few hours. Remember, the popsicle sticks need to get in there before the thing sets completely so don't wait too long between layers.
Endnote, to be honest, I found the layers a bit fussy. I think next time I will just pour individual blueberry and peach popsicles.
Some notes: I present here the simplest possible recipe. Also, I like to omit the garlic because it starts overwhelming the flavor when left in the fridge but if you feel so inclined, just before serving mince a clove and mix it in. Also, I've omitted things like cilantro, parsley, cumin, paprika, etc.. because well that would be fussy. I leave those as optional "to taste" ingredients. The only things you absolutely must have are: a can of beans, lemons, salt, olive oil, and tahini or peanut butter. You will also need a food processor or a good blender.
1 can (15 oz-16 oz) red kidney beans -- or whatever bean you have around.
juice of 1-2 lemons, to taste
2 tablespoons tahini (or peanut butter)
1 tablespoon olive oil + more for garnish
salt, to taste
(Optional) 3 cloves garlic minced
(Optional) 1/4 cup minced cilantro or parsley
(Optional) tsp cumin
(Optional) tsp paprika, sweet or smoked
0. [Optional] If you're adding the garlic in the beginning, I recommend putting the cloves in the food processor first, pulsing them to mince and then moving on to the next step. I use the smaller bowl that fits inside the larger one of my food processor for this dish.
1. Drain and rinse the can of beans. Place the beans in the food processor (Again, I have a small bowl that fits into the larger one that was the right size for this task). Add juice of one lemon along with the tahini or the peanut butter and process until very smooth.
2. To serve: mix in optional clove of garlic, and then spread a layer onto a plate and then drizzle
some olive oil on top along with a small pinch of salt and a sprinkle of paprika or cumin if you like.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Makes about 30 mini cupcake size cakes
1.25 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, plus more for buttering the cupcake pan
1 cup all-purpose flour, and more for coating the cupcake pan
1.25 cups almond meal [or ground up unblanched almonds, you can leave those skins!]
1 cup sugar
1 tsp coarse salt [or 1/2 tsp regular salt, remember always use less table salt than course]
5 egg whites [I use the ones in the carton so as to not make yolk waste]
4 tsp kirsch (cherry brandy) or regular brandy if you don't have any kirsch [I used regular]
At least 30 sweet cherries, stems attached
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Butter up your mini muffin tin and coat it with a fine layer of flour, shaking off the excess.
2. Brown the butter: in a small saucepan on medium/medium-high heat melt the butter. Swirl occasionally until the butter is just slightly brown. Before removing from heat, skin off any foam on top.
3. Combine the flour, almond meal, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Once combined, whisk in the egg whites and continue to mix until smooth.
4. Add the kirsch or brandy followed by the browned butter [leave those burnt bits in the bottom of the pan, you do not want that in your food - bleh]. Allow your batter to rest for at least 20 minutes.
Now you have two options, option 5a is the way I did it [cherries showing] option 5b is the way Martha does it [cherries covered]
5a (if not using 5b). Fill the mini cupcake tray tins about 3/4 of the way with batter. Lightly press a cherry [stem up!] into the center so it's just slightly submerged [think buoy in water, about halfway] and bake for 12-15 minutes until a toothpick goes through the cupcakes [on their sides, not through the cherry] and comes out clean.
5b (if not using 5a). Fill the mini cupcake tray tins about halfway with batter. Next, press a cherry into the middle of the cupcakes and then pour some more dough on top just enough to cover the cherry [make sure the stem is still poking through!]. Bake for 12-15 minutes until a toothpick goes through the cupcakes [on the side or just before hitting the cherry] clean.
6. Allow to cool for 10 minute and then run a knife around the edges to loosen them and then flip them over and out of the pan and enjoy!
And, as a public service announcement do not refrigerate tomatoes! They will be mealy and very not tasty in this dish. If you think you hate tomatoes but you've only had the cold gross kind, buy some [good/local], leave them out and then consume! I have never looked back...
This will probably serve about 3-4 people depending on what it's served with.
About 10 medium to small sized heirloom tomato - various colors, washed.
1 bunch basil, roughly chopped/minced
1/2-3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Olive oil for drizzling
Pinch of salt [sea salt/regular salt/whatever you've got]
1. Cut tomatoes big chunks. I just cut them into quarters and then cut the quarters in half again for reasonably small tomatoes. Lay the tomatoes down on the plate in a single layer and sprinkle a pinch of salt on top. Salt really brings out that delicious fresh heirloom tomato taste.
2. Add the basil in a layer on top of the tomatoes
4. Sprinkle a bit of olive oil [say a tablespoon or two] and then one more pinch of salt [if you like].
That's it! Such a beautiful, simple presentation that really only requires good quality tomatoes. Of course, to make it more pesto-y you could go ahead and sprinkle some (chopped) pine nuts on top. But that's just not my style...
Sunday, July 12, 2009
As an added bonus, I've been looking for an excuse to make my own ricotta forever! It's so simple, and it takes about ten minutes to do.
To get the sage flavor into the cupcakes I decided the best thing to do was to steep the milk as I'm making the ricotta. It added a more subtle infusion of flavor instead of a traditional 'mince sage dump in frosting' time preparation [would work, but wouldn't be as fun!]. If you're going to use homemade ricotta, obviously you can omit the sage completely or you can replace the honey with a homemade simple syrup that's infused with sage. Or you could probably blend up some sage with a touch of water and sugar in a food processor/blender until it's smooth and creamy and mix that into the ricotta. Pick your poison. As for my method, I found that just dropping in a nice size sage stick into the milk as it's boiling works like a charm [as does the giant-tea-ball bouquet garni method of mincing up the sage and putting it inside a tea ball/tied up cheese cloth and fishing it out later].
I added some candied sage leaves [very simple!] to the top of the cupcakes to remind people what they're tasting and add to the preparation. I went with a basic peach cupcake because I just love peaches, honey, sage and cream as a flavor combination. I simplified the peach recipe because it had nutmeg and orange zest in and I thought that might just be too much. At the end of the day, it's a white cupcake with peach chunks but it's a mighty fine classic.
Homemade Sage Infused Ricotta
Makes about 10 oz [nearly 2 cups]
1/2 gallon whole milk
1 cup cream
2 decent size sprigs fresh sage (kept whole)
1/2 tsp salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice [approx juice of one medium size lemon]
A strainer/colander lined with cheesecloth and set on top of a large bowl [just in case your cheese clothes gets away from you, the extra bowl will act as 'insurance' in case some of your cheese curds fall through your sieve - and yes, I learned this the hard way].
1. Over high heat, put the milk, cream, salt, and sage in a nonreactive pot to boil.
2. When a boil is reached, reduce heat to medium and add lemon juice. Your mixture will start to curdle almost immediately.
3. Continue to cook for two minutes and then pour into your colander/strainer and allow to drain (you may need to empty the liquid from the bottom of your insurance bowl as you go so that your mixture keeps draining!). This should take about an hour or so. Check on it ever so often to pour off any liquid that runs off.
4. Store your ricotta in the fridge until you're ready to use.
Peach Cupcakes [Adapted from 52 Cupcakes]
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1.25 cups sugar
1/2 cup (One stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cups milk
2 peaches blanched [submerged in boiling water for 30 seconds to soften peel], peeled, and then diced into tiny 1/4 inch chunks.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. Cream butter and sugar using stand mixer or hand mixer.
4. Add eggs one at a time to the butter/sugar mixture.
5. Add vanilla to eggs,butter, and sugar
6. Add one third of the flour and mix. Then add one half of the milk and mix. Add another third of the flour and mix and then the remaining milk followed by the remaining flour.
7. Fold in the peaches.
8. Pour into cupcake liners and bake for about 25 minutes [until starting to brown and passing the 'toothpick through the middle = clean' test] if using full size cupcakes or about 10-15 min for mini size.
9. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
Ricotta Honey Frosting
10 oz sage infused ricotta [recipe above]
4-6 tablespoons of honey [to taste]
1. Mix the ricotta and 4 tablespoons of honey and combine well until ricotta is very creamy. Taste and add more honey as needed. You will be adding more honey later on as a garnish, so stick towards the 'less sweet' side.
Candied Sage Leaves
24 medium to small-ish size sage leaves [or big if you like] whole.
1 egg white [I used the kind in the carton that's been pasteurized]
Finely granulated sugar [have at least a cup handy].
1. Dip the leaves in the egg white and drip off any excess. Next, coat them evenly in sugar and place them on a wire rack or baking sheet to dry. Flip them over after they start to dry and make sure to place them either on a different baking sheet or on a spot that is dry [you can just put all the first round on one half of your sheet and use the other half of the baking sheet or wire rack for the flip]. Takes about an hour.
1. Rustically spread some frosting onto the cupcakes using an offset spatula. Drizzle a little bit of honey on top and then carefully lay a candied sage leaf on top for garnish. Enjoy!
Transportation tip: Don't drizzle the honey/add the candied sage until just before serving. Transport with just frosting and have a bottle of honey handy. Transport the candied sage leaves in single layers with wax/parchment paper separating each layer.
Nitty gritty of iron cupcake earth:
Our June ETSY PRIZE-PACK is from artists:
Last and certainly not least, don’t forget our corporate prize providers: HEAD CHEFS by FIESTA PRODUCTS, http://www.fiestaproducts.com, HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, http://blog.hellocupcakebook.com, JESSIE STEELE APRONS http://www.jessiesteele.com; TASTE OF HOME books, http://www.tasteofhome.com; a t-shirt from UPWITHCUPCAKES.COM http://www.upwithcupcakes.com/. Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers, http://www.1800flowers.com .
- A sweet cupcake ID bracelet by INSANEJELLYFISH, http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5021935
- A delicious treat from CIRCLEMONKEY http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5335273
- a sweet surprise from Sweet Cuppin' Cakes Cupcakery, http://www.acupcakery.com/
- PLUS, IronCupcake:Earth can not forget our good friend, CAKESPY, http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5243382, who is now going to be doing a piece for our winner each month until further notice - sweet!