Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Sweet 100

You may have seen "The Omnivore's 100" on food blogs recently - providing people the opportunity to share whether or not they have tried anything from a Big Mac to heirloom tomatoes to snake . . . interesting, but not really my cup of tea.
However, I saw "The Sweet 100" on fellow Barefoot Blogger Audrey's food from books, and I thought maybe it would be fun . . . like Audrey, I'm a fan of lists. So here goes:

Items I have tried are in bold
Items I would not try have been crossed out

1. Red Velvet Cake
2. Princess Torte
3. Whoopie Pie
4. Apple Pie either topped or baked with sharp cheddar (the first pie I ever made was apple and sharp cheddar!)
5. Beignet (at Jazz in Columbia; does it count if it's not in New Orleans?)
6. Baklava
7. Black and white cookie
8. Seven Layer Bar (aka Magic Bar or Hello Dolly bars) (coconut=no)
9. Fried Fruit pie
10. Kringle
11. Just-fried (still hot) doughnut (Krispy Kreme, yum!)
12. Scone with clotted cream (scone, yes . . . clotted cream, no)
13. Betty, Grunt, Slump, Buckle or Pandowdy
14. Halvah
15. Macarons
16. Banana pudding with nilla wafers
17. Bubble tea (with tapioca "pearls") (tried this at a tea place on Broadway in Columbia . . . it was weird, and the place is no longer in business)
18. Dixie Cup (I have probably eaten a dessert out of a Dixie Cup, but nothing called a Dixie Cup!)
19. Rice Krispie treats
20. Alfajores (sounds good)
21. Blondies
22. Croquembouche
23. Girl Scout cookies (Thin Mint is my favorite flavor)
24. Moon cake ($10 to $50 for a cake with a "slightly oily" filling made from salted duck eggs?)
25. Candy Apple
26. Baked Alaska (perhaps I'll make this when Sarah Palin becomes the first female VP)
27. Brooklyn Egg Cream
28. Nanaimo bar (according to wikipedia, a wafer crumb-based layer, topped by a layer of light custard or vanilla butter icing, which is covered in chocolate made from melted chocolate squares . . . why have I not heard of this before???)
29. Baba au rhum
30. King Cake
31. Sachertorte
32. Pavlova (courtesy of the Egg Council)
33. Tres Leches Cake
34. Trifle
35. Shoofly Pie
36. Key Lime Pie
37. Panna Cotta (on the Very Berry Wine Trail in Hermann)
38. New York Cheesecake
39. Napoleon / mille-fueille
40. Russian Tea Cake / Mexican Wedding Cake
41. Anzac biscuits (I'd try them if made without coconut)
42. Pizzelle
43. Kolaches (these are on my to-make list)
44. Buckeyes
45. Malasadas (Portuguese yeast dough, fried and coated in sugar)
46. Moon Pie
47. Dutch baby
48. Boston Cream Pie
49. Homemade chocolate chip cookies
50. Pralines
51. Gooey butter cake (Should I blame my St Louis friends or Paula Deen?)
52. Rusks ("hard, dry biscuit or twice-baked bread" - no thanks!)
53. Daifuku (sounds strange)
54. Green tea cake or cookies
55. Cupcakes from a cupcake shop (Best from the Cupcakery in St Louis)
56. Crème brûlée (Mom and I learned to make crème brûlée at Main Street Kitchen)
57. Some sort of deep fried fair food (twinkie, candy bar, cupcake) (A fried twinkie at the NWSS in Denver and fried oreos at last year's Taste of Palmyra)
58. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting
59. Jelly Roll
60. Pop Tarts
61. Charlotte Russe
62. An "upside down" dessert (such as Pineapple upside down cake or Tarte Tatin)
63. Hummingbird Cake
64. Jell-O from a mold
65. Black forest cake (Oh yeah - I had forgotten - this was the groom's cake at Nick and Kaci's wedding in Texas; I should have done a whole post about their wedding - among other good things, they had Dublin Dr. Pepper)
66. Mock Apple Pie (Ritz Cracker Pie) (why bother?)
67. Kulfi (an Indian milk-based frozen dessert)
68. Linzer torte
69. Churro
70. Stollen
71. Angel Food Cake
72. Mincemeat pie
73. Concha
74. Opera Cake
75. Sfogliatelle / Lobster tail
76. Pain au chocolat
77. A piece of Gingerbread House (Dad and I used to make Gingerbread houses for Christmas)
78. Cassata
79. Cannoli (At D'Agostino's . . . another Columbia place that bit the dust)
80. Rainbow cookies
81. Religieuse
82. Petits fours
83. Chocolate Souffle
84. Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake)
85. Rugelach
86. Hamenstashen
87. Homemade marshmallows
88. Rigo Janci (what?)
89. Pie or cake made with candy bar flavors (Snickers pie, Reeses pie, etc)
90. Divinity
91. Coke or Cola cake (thank you, Cracker Barrel)
92. Gateau Basque
93. S'mores
94. Figgy Pudding
95. Bananas foster or other flaming dessert
96. Joe Froggers
97. Sables
98. Millionaire's Shortbread (this recipe looks good!)
99. Animal crackers
100. Basbousa

Want your own Sweet 100? All you have to do is:
1) Copy this list into your site, including the instructions!
2) Bold all of the sweets you've eaten!
3) Cross out any of them that you'd never ever eat.
4) Consider anything that is not bold or crossed out your "To Do" List.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Shortbread Sugar Cookies

My contribution to the Friday Night Football tailgate this week was shortbread sugar cookies. The recipe comes from The Pastry Queen cookbook by Rebecca Rather. In the cookbook, the recipe is actually Pretty-in-Pink Shortbread Pigs, and the cookies are cutout pigs with pink icing. I turned the dough into squares decorated with orange and white instead (to save time and because orange is the color of the Palmyra Panthers).

The first thing I need to tell you about this recipe is that it is EASY. Much easier than any other sugar cookies I have made before. The hardest part is remembering to leave the butter out long enough to reach room temperature. The results were much better as well; the cookies are tender, sweet, and buttery. I'm contemplating the addition of a pinch of salt next time I make this recipe, but otherwise I wouldn't change a thing.

Shortbread Sugar Cookies
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

Powdered Sugar Icing
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
food coloring

1. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats, or grease generously with butter or cooking spray. Using a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. In a separate bowl, stir together flour and baking powder. Add the flour mixture slowly to the butter mixture, beating on low speed. Stop beating as soon as the flour is incorporated (overbeating will make cookies tough).
2. Form the dough into a ball, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes (I was in a hurry and only refrigerated for 15-20 minutes and it was fine) before rolling it out. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. On a flat, smooth, floured surface, roll chilled dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut the cookies with desired cookie cutter (or cut them into squares/rectangles - I used a pizza wheel for this). Use a spatula to transfer to prepared baking sheets, placing 1/2 inch apart. Combine dough scraps and reroll to cut more cookies (reroll only once, otherwise cookies will be tough due to overhandling). Any subsequent scraps can be formed into a log, wrapped with plastic wrap, and frozen . . . cut 1/4 inch thick slices off the log to make round cookies.
4. Bake cookies 10-12 minutes, or until light brown around the edges. Cool cookies 10 minutes on the baking sheet; remove with a spatula and transfer to cooling racks.
5. When cookies have cooled, whisk together powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and food coloring to make icing. Either dip cookies in icing or spoon icing onto cookies and smooth with back of spoon.

Note (1): Cookies can be stored (when icing is completely dry) in an airtight container for up to a week or tightly wrapped in the freezer for 1 month. Prior to baking, prepared dough can be kept in ghe refrigerator 1 week or freezer 1 month.
Note(2): If you are going to bake all the cookies at once, I recommend doubling the icing recipe.
- Recipe from the Pastry Queen/Rebecca Rather

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers: Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

Chelle of Brown Eyed Baker chose Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup for this week's Barefoot Bloggers recipe. I was excited about this recipe, because I like mushrooms and I like homemade soup. It didn't disappoint. It was kind of time consuming, and there are a few things I would do differently next time . . . but overall, it is a very good recipe.

My friends Amy and Amanda came over to watch the season premiere of Grey's Anatomy (the show, unlike the soup, was kind of disappointing). They both liked this soup . . . and although they are both very polite, I think they would also be honest with me if they didn't like something I made. Amy and Amanda even helped me do dishes after Grey's was over, which I really appreciated (especially since I needed to start a batch of cookies for Friday night football - post coming soon!).

Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup
Recipe Courtesy of Ina Garten, via foodnetwork.com

5 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms
5 ounces fresh portobello mushrooms
5 ounces fresh cremini (or porcini) mushrooms (I used "baby bella," as I couldn't find cremini or porcini)
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/4 pound (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1 cup chopped yellow white onion
1 carrot, chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme plus 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves, divided (no fresh thyme available here; I used dried)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup half-and-half (I used fat free half-and-half)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a dry paper towel. (The recipe says "Don't wash them!" but I didn't have time to wipe each one, so I washed them!) Separate the stems, trim off any bad parts, and coarsely chop the stems. Slice the mushroom caps 1/4-inch thick and, if there are big, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

To make the stock, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped mushroom stems, the onion, carrot, the sprig of thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add 6 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid. (Oops, skipped the straining step) You should have about 4 1/2 cups of stock. If not, add some water.

Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the remaining 1/4 pound of butter and add the leeks. Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the leeks begin to brown. Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes, or until they are browned and tender. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot. Add the mushroom stock, minced thyme leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the half-and-half, cream, and parsley, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and heat through but do not boil. Serve hot.

After a few tastes, we decided some freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano might be a nice addition - and it was! Next time I make this, I would like to:
1. Use chicken stock in place of [at least part of] the water
2. Puree some of the soup to achieve a thicker texture

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Quinoa with Black Beans and Cilantro

Tonight was the first time I have cooked quinoa. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I have always thought it sounded good (particularly this recipe), so I gave it a try. The verdict? It was easy to cook and very tasty! I had only one complaint about this recipe - I did not like the cilantro cooked into the dish. It added a nice flavor, but the texture of cooked cilantro didn't really mesh with the other textures. Next time, I'll just use the fresh cilantro after cooking. This recipe is adapted from Bon Appetit; the original recipe can be found at epicurious.com.

Quinoa with Black Beans and Cilantro

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup chopped white onions
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
Crumbled Cotija cheese or feta cheese (optional; I used feta)

Heat oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and red pepper; sauté until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in next 4 ingredients. Add water; bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until quinoa is almost tender, about 14 minutes. Add beans and 1/4 cup cilantro (I will omit this next time); cook uncovered until heated through and liquid is fully absorbed, about 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl; sprinkle with 1/4 cup cilantro and cheese, if desired. 4 to 6 servings.

Nutritional analysis per serving: Analysis is based on using 1 ounce crumbled Cotija cheese per serving. Calories 391; Fat (g) 13.16; Cholesterol (mg) 25.23; Carbohydrates (g) 53.04; Fiber (g) 10.24; Total Sugars (g) 5.56; Protein (g) 16.20.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

I made these peanut butter cup brownies to take to the football game last Friday night. There is a tradition of tailgating for high school football games in our small town. The weather - and the team's performance - left a lot to be desired, but at least we had some good food!

This is a "no recipe" post. Simply prepare your favorite brownies (either from a recipe or a mix), bake them in muffin pans, and insert a peanut butter cup during the last 5 minutes of baking. Yum!

Post script: Be creative with this! Use other bite-sized candies . . . or bake the brownies in a regular pan and "tile" the top with squares of Ghirardelli chocolate (the peanut butter-filled squares are good for this!) . . . oh, and if you must use a brownie mix, use either the Barefoot Contessa brownie mix or a Ghirardelli brownie mix (widely available in grocery stores, even here in rural Missouri).

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Burnt Sugar Ice Cream

If you're thinking about putting away your ice cream maker because summer is over - don't do it! Burnt Sugar Ice Cream is the perfect way to transition your ice cream maker into fall. I made this for my friends Adam and Becky, as a post-birthday celebration for Becky and a pre-wedding celebration for both of them. It was really inspired by Adam, however, because I remembered him mentioning (more than once) that a burnt caramel cake made by his grandmother was one of his all-time favorite treats.

This ice cream is wonderful - rich and creamy, perfectly sweet, and surprisingly complex, given the simple ingredients.Burnt Sugar Ice Cream

1 cup sugar
3 tbsp. water
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
optional: 1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1. Stir together sugar and water in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Place the pan over medium-low heat and cook until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium and boil, without stirring, until the syrup turns a deep amber color. From time to time, brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush and swirl the pan (but do not stir!). Depending on your saucepan, this should take about 8 minutes.
2. Lower heat and carefully add cream and milk. Don't be concerned when everything bubbles and seethes and the caramel hardens - it will calm down and smooth out as you heat and stir. Continue to heat and stir until mixture is smooth; remove from heat.
3. In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk egg yolks and salt until blended and slightly thickened. Still whisking, slowly drizzle in 1/3 of the hot liquid (this will temper, or warm, the yolks - it is important to do this slowly so you don't cook the eggs). Continue to whisk and gradually add the remaining liquid. Pour mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium (medium-low) heat until the custard thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon. Immediately remove the pan from heat and pour into a clean heatproof bowl. Stir in vanilla, if using.
4. Refrigerate custard until well-chilled; freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Pack ice cream into a freezer proof container and freeze at least 2 hours, until it is firm enough to scoop (I recommend 4-6 hours, minimum). Enjoy!

Storage: Frozen and packed tightly in a covered container (I also put a layer of Press-n-Seal directly on the surface of the ice cream), it will keep for up to two weeks.
- Recipe from Dorie Greenspan's Baking, From My Home to Yours

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers: Grown Up Mac and Cheese

This installment of Barefoot Bloggers was chosen by Heather of Randomosity and the Girl.

I was excited to try this recipe. It reminded me a lot of my favorite macaroni and cheese recipe (from the Stonewall Kitchen Favorites) cookbook. However, this recipe disappointed me just a little bit. It was good, but just not as great as the Stonewall Kitchen recipe, which is a little cheesier and more flavorful. For some reason, my final product seemed to need a little bit more cheese and seasoning. I also like the thyme in the Stonewall Kitchen recipe better than the basil in this one (which I'm actually surprised about, because I love basil). Overall, I liked this recipe - but I think when I feel like splurging on mac & cheese, I'll stick with the Stonewall Kitchen version.

Ina Garten's Grown Up Mac & Cheese

4 ounces thick-sliced bacon, cooked 2 oz. pancetta
Vegetable oil omitted
Kosher salt
2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
2 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled 2 ounces Fontina
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed toasted
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cook macaroni in salted water, according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, Fontina, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes.

Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.
- Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten, via the Food Network

Note: The original recipe says this serves two . . . those "two" would have to be incredibly hungry! I filled up the small corningware dish above, the next larger size corningware dish, and two individual-sized aluminum pie pans (the latter three I froze for later). I initially thought about halving the recipe, but decided not to . . . and I'm glad I didn't, because I did get many, many dishes dirty in the process of making this - so I'm glad we'll get more than one meal out of it!

P.S. Today is Patriot Day, so please take time to think about the families who lost loved ones on 9/11, as well as the troops fighting for our freedom. Little things we take for granted, like home cooked meals, are just one tiny part of the huge sacrifice soldiers make while protecting our nation.

New (Quick) Poll - Time Up!

Help! What should I make to take to the football tailgate tomorrow night?

Note: Thanks for voting!
Brownies with peanut butter cups received the most votes, followed by pecan pie bars, then homemade Tagalong (peanut butter filling, chocolate-covered) cookies, and finally, sugar gem cookies. Looks like I'll be taking brownies to the football game.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Muffin Makeover

Since I've been blogging - and reading other cooking blogs - I've come across hundreds (thousands?) of great recipes. I've flagged a lot, tried many, and found a few that have become favorites. The Banana Crumb muffins from Annie's Eats quickly made it on to our "favorites" list. However, blogging about food can be hard on your diet plan . . . so I've been working on making some of our favorites a little more healthful. I made a few easy ingredient swaps and eliminated the original crumb topping; I haven't calculated the nutritional difference, but surely the changes helped a little bit! Here's my version:

Banana Muffins

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tbsp. butter, melted
4 tbsp. plain yogurt (I used low-fat)

Preheat oven to 375°. Line 12 muffin cups with muffin papers.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg, cinnamon, yogurt and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

P.S. I loved this "madeover" version of banana muffins . . . but I forgot to ask Ken what he thought of them. When I got home from work yesterday evening, I realized I didn't need to ask . . . the evidence was in the empty muffin papers . . .

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Did I mention . . .

. . that I also made the Pioneer Woman's/Pastor Ryan's Roasted Ricotta Roma Tomatoes last week? No? Hmm, I guess I forgot to add those to the anniversary dinner post. Or perhaps I didn't include them in that post because we didn't actually eat them with our anniversary dinner. Here's the truth: I made a small batch and ate them (ALL) before dinner, while I was cooking. I don't think Ken would have liked stuffed and cooked tomatoes. I'll just keep telling myself that . . These tomatoes were very tasty. Looking back (and comparing my pictures to those on the Pioneer Woman's blog [which is never a good idea, really, for your self esteem]), I should have added more fresh herbs, and maybe salt and pepper. Otherwise, a very delicious way to use some Roma tomatoes!

2009 Taste Trends

This week, Specialty Food Magazine released "The Most Important Flavor Trends of 2009." One interesting portion of the article was a little sidebar of "30 to Watch" - spices and fruits "that will be gaining influence in 2009."

How many of these are you familiar with?

Garam masala
Saigon cinnamon
Star anise

Blood oranges
Camu camu

Prickly pear

I included wikipedia links for all the things I wasn't familiar with (how did we survive before Wikipedia?); as you can tell, my knowledge of exotic fruits is pretty limited! It would probably be a challenge (to say the least) to find these items in rural Missouri . . .

Monday, September 01, 2008

Happy Anniversary

It's good to have your anniversary fall in the middle of the week - we got to celebrate twice! Last Saturday night, Ken took me to eat at the Garth Mansion's Woodside Restaurant. The food was awesome and we got a tour of the mansion, where Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) was a guest. You can even sit in a chair he once sat in - how cool!

On our actual anniversary, I made dinner for Ken - "mock" beef wellington and crisp roasted asparagus with gremolata. It was a really good meal (and I got to cross two items off my list of 101, so that made me happy). I couldn't find liver pate around here, and I wasn't about to go to the trouble of making it myself, so I just did without. They turned out to be tasty without pate, and we enjoyed our dinner out on the deck . . .
For the "beef wellington," I baked puff pastry cups (as directed on the package) and filled them with beef (kabob meat) and mushrooms cooked in butter, fresh thyme, salt, pepper, and a splash of wine.

The crisp roasted asparagus with gremolata was a recipe from The Silver Palate. I didn't get a good picture of the gremolata, so you'll have to use your imagination . . .
Crisply Roasted Asparagus with Gremolata
2 tbsp. chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
2 tsp. garlic, finely minced

1 pound asparagus (woody ends removed)
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
optional: 2 lemons, halved crosswise, for garnish

1. Prepare gremolata by mixing all ingredients together in a small bowl. Cover and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
3. Place asparagus (on foil) in a roasting pan in a single layer, facing the same direction. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake 10 minutes; remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes. Place asparagus in a serving dish and top with gremolata. Serve with lemon halves, if desired. - The Silver Palate