Friday, November 27, 2009

Lemon Tart

I've been dying for an excuse to make lemon curd for quite sometime and my Dad's Birthday seemed like the perfect reason. He and I both love all things lemon and not-to-sweet and this tart fit all the criteria. It was tart (ha! excuse my pun), lemon-y, with a perfect texture in a thin, flaky crust. It looked nice and it was so easy too. David Lebovitz has been my go-to for pastry recipes lately and this one was no exception. Click here for the recipe. The tart crust was the easiest crust I've ever made and it came out so good. Actually, my Dad ordered a strawberry fruit tart at Pepelino yesterday and after one or two bites declared my crust was better :). I'll probably make more of the lemon curd this week just to eat on toast and muffins...or with a spoon ;)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gobble Gobble

Happy Thanksgiving!

I went to the city today and had too much PASTA. I know who eats Italian food on Thanksgiving? I'll still leave you with a Thanksgiving menu though. This is what we had at my super early house dinner on November 16th.

Max's Fennel and Sausage Stuffing (Max will post this sometime?)

Hazelnut-Caramel-Chocolate Torte (from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home To Yours)

No pictures this time. They've been coming out really terrible. I can't seem to get the lighting right unless it's like 12 noon and sunny. So, no pictures until I figure it out cause they're just painful to look at.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gorgonzola and Endive Salad

Apples and gorgonzola cheese are two of my favorite things to add to salad. They instantly add a bit of elegance and I love the contrast of the juicy sweet apple with the pungent tangy-ness of the cheese. Add some walnuts, spicy arugula, crisp endive and a simple dressing and you have an easy, impressive autumn salad to serve your guests on Thanksgiving.

Gorgonzola, Endive Salad
Serves 10-12

  • 2 Heads of Belgian endive, sliced
  • 2 Bunches baby arugula
  • 4oz gorgonzola, crumbled
  • 2 gala or fuji apples sliced (I originally planned on using pears but Max had about 15 apples hanging around I figured I try to use some of them up.)
  • 1/3 chopped walnuts
  • 1 1/2 tbls olive oil (walnut oil would be good too)
  • ~1 tbls All natural dijon mustard
  • 2 tbls Apple cider vinegar
Toss endive, arugula, gorgonzola, apple, and walnuts in a large bowl and set aside. In a small bowl whisk together oil, mustard and vinegar. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Traditional Mashed Potatoes

There is absolutely nothing healthy about mashed potatoes. They are basically just a vehicle for cream, butter and gravy, but they taste so good and no Thanksgiving table is complete without a large bowl of them. I didn't really measure anything here but I'll give an approximation.

Traditional Mashed Potatoes
Serves about 12 people.

  • 5lbs Russet potatoes, peeled and chopped in quarters
  • ~1c. Heavy cream (light cream, half and half, or even whole milk work as well. I just had leftover heavy cream from my Chocolate-Caramel Pecan Torte)
  • ~8tbls Salted butter
  • Handful of salt

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add chopped potatoes. Cook until soft, drain in a colander and add back to pot. Beat with hand mixer adding the cream and butter as you mix. Continue beating until creamy, add salt and serve immediately.

Fresh Clementine-Cranberry Sauce

I can't stand cranberry sauce from a can. It's like cranberry jello. Yuck. I just don't see the point when its such an easy thing to make from scratch. It was Max's idea to add the clementines because his family makes their cranberries with oranges and red wine. We didn't have any oranges at home but he had a box of clementines on the time table that substituted quite well.

Clementine-Cranberry Sauce
Serves about 6.

12oz Fresh cranberries
1c. Red wine
2/3 cup sugar
1 clementine, peeled, sections chopped in half

Put cranberries, sugar and wine in a pot, cover and bring to a boil. Turn heat down, remove cover and simmer to reduce. When berries fall apart and sauce thickens add clementine sections and cook just a few minutes more. Total cooking time about 15 minutes.

Bone-In Roast Turkey Breast and Gravy

The easiest way to avoid screwing up your Thanksgiving turkey is to not make one. Instead of roasting a whole bird, just make the breast. Its also a great alternative if you have a small group of people and don't want 12lbs of turkey leftover. We were under a bit of a time constraint this year since I'm leaving for my parents' house tomorrow, So Max and I decided on this route to cut down on time spent in the kitchen.

Bone-In Roast Turkey
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma
Serves 4-6
  • 1 4lb Honey Brined bone-In turkey breast
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2tbls chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1tbls chopped fresh thyme
  • 1-2tbls olive oil
  • 1tbls salted butter
Let the turkey breast stand at room temperature for 1 1/2
Preheat oven to 350

Season the turkey breast with salt, pepper, parsley and thyme on both sides

In an oval roasting pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil and melt the butter. When hot, sear the turkey roast until browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast, turning the turkey occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the roast registers 165°F, about 1.5 hours. Transfer the turkey roast to a carving board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for about 20 minutes before carving. Reserve the turkey drippings in the pan for the gravy.

Makes about a cup and a half

I really didn't measure anything here, just kept throwing stuff in till it looked and tasted right but I'll do my best to give some approximates.

  • Chicken or turkey broth (about 20 ounces?)
  • Flour (the finer grain the better I used some all purpose and some pan searing flour that max had in the cabinet but Wondra would also work well)
  • Splash of sherry (I was going to use some white wine or vermouth instead since that's what I had at home but totally forgot. It came out fine without it but I'm sure it can't hurt)
Place roasting pan on the stove and skim the fat off the top. Add chicken stock and sherry and bring to a simmer while scraping the turkey drippings off the pot. Whisk vigorously to incorporate and stir in two spoonfuls of flour one at a time. Make sure to whisk this aggressively until all flour is incorporated to avoid lumps. Let simmer until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Adding a bit of flour here and there if needed. It took a little longer than I thought and was making me nervous that it wouldn't thicken up right but just sit tight and wait a few minutes it'll come through. I tasted it just to make sure before I took it off the heat.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Viktorija Bakes Volume One - Apple Pie

Way back in September my housemates and I went apple picking and we got a little carried away. It's so easy to just keep picking them and before you know it you have an excess of 15lbs of apples. On the car ride home Viktorija said she wanted apple pie and I agreed to help her make one. Usually I just buy Whole Foods' frozen whole wheat crust but this time I thought it would be nice to try making our own. I found a traditional recipe from Williams-Sonoma and we set out peeling apples.

It calls for Granny Smiths, we used a mix of Gala, Macoun, and Jonamac since thats what we had from our local orchards. To adjust for the the sweetness of the apples I cut down the sugar just bit. The crust is just a simple Pate Brisee but I switched half of the white flour for whole wheat pastry flour with no trouble. I'm not sure if I would do full whole wheat but maybe switch the other half for white whole wheat flour. Anyway, it was a really easy recipe and the crust came out great. It was buttery, flaky, light and you couldn't even tell that it was half whole wheat. Click here for the recipe. Of course you can trade the apples for whatever fruit filling you like, just adjust the sugar depending on the sweetness of the fruit.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bake Sale

My crew team had our 3rd bake sale today so I spent a good amount of time in the kitchen yesterday. Chocolate chip cookies always seem to sell the best so I made a batch of my favorite recipe from David Lebovitz. Since I can't control myself and make just one thing, I also made blondies and white chocolate chip (macadamia nut) cookies. I have yet to try any of these recipes with more wholesome ingredients like whole wheat pastry flour, sucanat, or muscovado sugar (instead of brown sugar). One of these days I will get around to it but in the mean time I keep a shopping bag of the usual refined ingredients at home, specifically for our bake sales, because it's cheaper and the goal is to make the highest profit possible. I also leave out nuts for allergies as well as cost efficiency.
Both cookies are classic recipes that are always good to have in your repertoire and the blondies are nice for a something that's easy to whip up but not boring. I don't usually like blondies but these are my friend's recipe; She brought them to one of our races earlier in the year and they were delicious. She and I both made them with butterscotch and white chocolate chips but anything goes, nuts would be good. I recently discovered I like to bake in metric (or some haphazard mix of standard and metric). It's much more precise and I only dirty 2 measuring devices (my vintage spring scale from way before I was born and a liquid measuring cup) instead of a whole bunch of cup measures. If the recipe started off in standard and I converted it myself then I will post both measurements but some of my recipes were born in metric so I probably will not convert them to standard. A food scale is pretty inexpensive though and well worth it. You don't even need a digital one although it can't hurt. Click here for David Lebovitz's Chocolate Chip cookies and scroll for the other recipes...the white chocolate macadamia nut cookies are my favorite :).

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
You can omit the nuts as I did for today but they help retain some moisture which adds just enough chewiness. If you leave them out you will get a crisper cookie. I suspect white whole wheat flour would work here.
Makes about 3 dozen
  • 170g (12 tbsp or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted & cooled until warm

  • 200g (1c.) brown sugar
  • 100g (1/2c.) granulated sugar

  • 1 whole egg and 1 yolk (room temp)
2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 285g (2c.) plus 2 tbsp flour

  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 150g (1c.)white chocolate chips
  • 100g (3/4 c.) macadamia nuts, toasted and halved (If you leave these out then add another 100g of white chocolate)
  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
Whisk dry ingredients together; set aside
  3. Beat butter & sugars until fluffy
  4. Beat in egg, yolk and vanilla until combined
  5. Add dry ingredients slowly and beat at low speed just until combined
  6. Stir in chips and nuts
  7. Drop cookies by 1 tablespoons onto baking sheets
  8. Bake, reversing position of the cookie sheet halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft & puffy, 12-15 minutes depending on size. Cool cookies on sheets until able to lift without breaking and place on wire rack to cool

Gracie's Blondies
You should have no problem using WW pastry flour here instead of white flour and sucanat or muscovado sugar instead of brown sugar. I also think it would be easy to replace the butter with oil here since are working with melted butter.

  • 170g (12 tbsp or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temp)
  • 320g (1 1/2c.) light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs (room temp)
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 330g (2 1/4c.) flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 100 g white chocolate chips*
  • 50g butterscotch chips*
  1. Preheat the oven to 350
  2. Grease a 9 x13 pan. I use a glass pyrex, buttered and dusted with flour
  3. Mix the melted butter with the brown sugar and let sit until cooled, about 10 minutes
  4. Sift dry ingredients together and set aside
  5. Beat in eggs and vanilla into butter and sugar
  6. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet. Be carefull not to over mix.
  7. Add the white chocolate and butterscotch and fill pan evenly
  8. Bake about 25-35 minutes depending on your pan/oven (darker pan = shorter bake time)
  9. Check the center with a cake tester before you remove it. If they are not cooked all the way through it will be hard to transfer from the pan.
  10. Once they have cooled ENTIRELY (like an hour) flip the pan over onto a cooling rack. Make sure it is cooled top and bottom.
  11. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into squares.

*For the sake of the bake sale I used Nestle but normally I like Ghirardelli or Sunspire. Unfortunately I haven't found a butterscotch chip without hydrogenated oil so until I do, I probably won't use butterscotch again

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nothing Says I'm Sorry Like Chocolate Dipped Almond Macaroons

I wake up early for practice, 4:45 am to be exact, so by the time I get home from breakfast and/or the gym afterwards it's around 10 o'clock. This seems like the middle of the day to me, but for my housemate Viktorija it's pretty early and her room is right next to the kitchen. Those of you who know me can attest to the fact that I am loud. Even when i whisper. You see where this is going? Well, I woke her up for the 57th time this morning talking on the phone in the kitchen. As usual I forgot what time it was and was speaking fairly loudly on the phone for around 10 minutes before Viktorija emerged from her room, eyes shooting daggers at me. That's when I realized my mistake, ended my phone call and got in the shower.
I don't know about you, but I do my best thinking in the shower and decided I would bake something to make it up to her. I knew I wanted it to be done by the time we left for class so it needed to be quick and made from ingredients I had at home. I remembered her eating almond joys on halloween and I always have coconut, almonds, and chocolate at home so chocolate dipped almond macaroons seemed like the best choice. They take about 39 seconds to mix up, 15 minutes to bake, and are made from just 7 simple ingredients. It's simple to change it up depending on what you have at home. Hazelnuts would also be a great replacement for almonds or instead of dipping them in chocolate you could drizzle it on top. I only had some junky semisweet chocolate chips at home and they didn't melt very well but normally I would use a better quality dark, milk or even white chocolate. Lindt melts particularly nicely but for white I like the texture of Green and Blacks' Organic, It's made with real sugar and doesn't leave that syrupy sweetness in your mouth like many white chocolates do. Scroll down for the recipe, try them out and let me know what you think!

Chocolate Dipped Almond Macaroons
Makes 8

  • 1/3 cup pure cane sugar
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 almonds
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • about 4oz good quality chocolate
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk all ingredient until combined. Shape into 8 balls and place on a lightly greased non-stick cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. They will be just slightly crisp on the outside but still soft to the touch and a bit gooey inside.

Let cool a few minutes then remove from pan to cool completely (I put them in the fridge to speed along the process).

When the macaroons are room temperature, melt the chocolate gradually in the microwave (be careful not to overcook it or it will get lumpy and then there is no going back; Of course it still tastes good with a spoon ;) ).

Dip the bottom of each macaroon in the chocolate and a cutting board covered in wax paper. Refrigerate until firm.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hazelnut Almond Granola

There are a few (alright, many) foods that just don't last long in my pantry. I'll tell myself i'm just going to have a little bit and then gradually end up going back for more until the whole thing is gone. Granola is one of them. It's something about the crunchy texture with a bit of chewy sweetness that makes it hard to stop eating it right out of the container. The easiest way to not eat 24 servings of granola is to just not make it but I was wandering Health Beat* on friday afternoon and came across raw hazelnuts freshly bagged and refridgerated and just couldn't resist them. I decided that since I had most of the ingredients at home anyway it couldn't hurt to make just one batch to have with yogurt in the morning so I happily grabbed a bag of hazelnuts, some bulk sesame seeds, a bottle of mild agave nectar and beat it out of there before i found anything else that I just HAD to try (grain sweetened carob peanut butter cups anyone?).

In the past I've always made granola with honey, maple syrup, and just a little brown sugar but I've never been able to achieve those coveted clusters. I decided that I probably just wasn't using the right kind of sweetener which lead me to try the agave nectar.** Since I've never really been %100 happy with any of the granola recipes I've tried in the past, I decided to just make this up as I went. I started with a base of 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats and went from there. The end result was crunchy and clumpy and would have been perfect had I used a large enough sheet pan. I have really small oven however, and therefore make most things in a half jelly roll pan. I would suggest using a full pan or making it in two batches. Next time I will probably just use Max's normal size oven because if I have to make this in two batches I will probably finish eating the first before the second is even finished baking ;).

*I should have known better than to turn myself loose in a natural foods store. I only went in there for some diijon mustard but I came out with hazelnuts, fresh chicken sausage, agave nectar, and various bags filled with bulk items. Oh Well. It could have been worse, I could have ordered the local, organic turkey ($4/lb eek!) that I considered for a brief moment for our upcoming thanksgiving dinner. Of course then I came to my senses and determined that was far too expensive. I don't even like turkey.

**I like agave doesn't spike the blood sugar the way regular sugar does and it also doesn't leave that nasty sticky syrupy feeling in your mouth the way corn syrup does.

Hazelnut Almond Granola
Makes about 6 cups. All measurements are approximate, partly because I didn't really measure and partly because I only half remember what I did. I think the applesauce is a key ingredient here for clumping and a good way to add natural sweetness. Replacing 1/4 cup of apple sauce with apple cider would also probably help form clusters but I'm really picky about my cider and the farmer's markets are done for the year so I've said goodbye to cider season. At least in the non-alcoholic form ;).

  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup white sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds (I used dry roasted cause I have ridiculous size jug from Costco)
  • 1/3 cup mild tasting agave nectar
  • 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 3 tbls brown sugar (I used light but dark is fine too. Once my surplus of brown sugar is gone I will probably start using Muscovado instead. It's a good raw sugar replacement for that refined molasses coated junk)
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg (a little goes a long way)
  • Ground ginger
  • A healthy pour of vanilla extract (maybe 1-2 teaspoons?)
  • Almond or coconut extracts also work well here
  • Dried fruit like cranberries, currants or unsweetened cherries (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Add wet ingredients and stir well to coat.
  4. Lightly grease a large jelly roll pan (or any pan with sides) and spread granola in a single layer.
  5. Be sure to leave enough space to let the air circulate and completely dry out the granola
  6. It will probably be slightly soft when you first take it out but it'll crisp up at it cools
  7. DO NOT stir it because that will break up the clusters
  8. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 7, 2009


These are versatile little semolina dumplings that I usually put in my mom's chicken soup to make grießnockerlsuppe but I also like them in place of rice or pasta to soak up sauce.

30g soft salted butter
1 egg at room temperature
dash of salt
1 package nockerlgrieß* (this is just 250g of course semolina and either one can be used depending what's available in your area.)

  1. stir the egg into the butter.
  2. mix in salt and the entire package of nockerlgrieß
  3. refriderate mixture for an hour or so to let it expand a bit
  4. bring a large pot of water to a light boil (too aggressive and they will just fall apart)
  5. Simmer gently for 20 mintues
  6. turn the heat off and let sit for 10 minutes (this is crucial to expansion and fluffiness)
  7. Make sure they have expanded exponentially and even taste one. The first time I made these I was afraid to let the water boil too much and ended up not letting it get hot enough. They didn't fluff up very much and were heavy like little lead balls. If they don't have a light consistency like a matzo ball then cook them a little longer.
  8. Eat immediately or freeze to use later.

My Mom's Chicken Soup

Today was our last Saturday water practice for the season and it was cold. 3 hours outside in 25 degree weather is just not pleasant and it took me a good majority of the drive home (30 minutes) to regain feeling in my hands. Good thing Max and I had planned to make a big pot of chicken soup today. It's really more of a broth I guess since I strain all of the chicken and vegetables out of it but that just makes it all the more versatile since it can be used as a base for other soups or risottos. It's really quite simple to make and as long as you have about 4 and half hours (half hour of prep work and cleaning up and 4 hours to waste while it cooks) to spend at home then you're set. Usually I like to keep mine simple with just some thin noodles or grießnockerl, but lately I've also been adding steamed greens such as turnip or mustard greens, small white beans and even some crumbled chicken sausage (no skin).

Mom's Chicken Soup
Makes about 2 litres

1 5lb or 2 2 1/2 young chicken (skin on, giblets removed)
3 Medium onions (skin on)
3 Large carrots
3 Stalks of celery
1 Large or 2 small parsnips
1 Bunch of parsley
1-2 Tbls olive oil
3-4 Litres water
Heat olive oil in a large stock pot.
Add chicken(s) skin down and brown on both sides
chop onions, carrots, celery, and parsnips into large chunks, add to pot.
Add water a litre at a time until chicken and vegetables are just covered (I start with 3 litres and add up to 1 more as it cooks.)
Add Parsley and cover.

Bring to a boil and then down to a steady simmer.
Let simmer for about 4 hours. After about 1 hour I add some or all of the remaining litre of water if it has reduced a lot. Do not add water after two hours as it will water down the flavor.

When the soup is done strain it through colander or large mesh strainer. Set chicken and vegetables aside. Pour soup into mason jars and let stand on the counter to cool to room temperature. The fat will rise to the top as it cools so when you put it in the refrigerator it will harden. I like to leave it in the fridge overnight and then skim the fat off with a spoon in the morning.

Meanwhile, separate the chicken from the bones and vegetables. It can be saved and frozen to add back to the soup. I like to make chicken salad instead to eat for lunch all week.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Philadelphia Style Salted Caramel Ice Cream and My Encounter with the Ice Cream Conoisseur

I will be the first to admit that I eat far too much ice cream. It doesn't really matter how balanced my diet is otherwise, it's all counteracted by excessive quantities of frozen deliciousness. I think its mostly about the cold, creamy texture because even though I have my preferences and not-so-subtle opinions, I will happily eat pretty much any flavor. On the other hand, I will only buy Turkey Hill All Natural Recipe. It's the only company I have found with a lower calorie and fat content that contains only cream, skim milk, sugar and real extracts such as vanilla or peppermint (no nasty mint green dye!). That being said, I was more than elated when my mother gave me her old Cuisinart ice cream maker circa 1998. It would allow me to create my own all natural ice creams and not worry about what inedible ingredients are lurking within.

This was over a year ago and my excitement soon died when I realized there would be no space for it in my small apartment. Not willing to part with it for good, I tucked it away in my father's basement with all the other kitchen gadgets I have acquired that are unnecessary for a college student, (think supersize roasting pan that doesn't fit in my tiny oven).

Well this year is a different story. I now have a fairly large house with ample storage space and once again dug out that wonderful machine, (the roaster remains in the basement collecting dust for now).

My original idea was to create fat-free frozen yogurts (think Pinkberry) since there is no such thing in Binghamton. But then one day I came across this Salted Caramel Ice Cream recipe in Gourmet Magazine (R.I.P.). I tucked it away to be churned in the near future and promptly forgot about it. That is until I happend upon this adaption for a Philadelphia style version of this recipe. I prefer Philly style ice creams for a couple reasons. For one thing they are are easier to make since you don't have to fuss with eggs to make a custard, but my main reason is the cholesterol, calorie and fat contents are significantly lower.

Of course, I can never just take a recipe for what it is so I swapped out the heavy cream for half-and-half in both the caramel and the ice cream itself. This worked perfectly for the caramel but once all combined the ice cream was very difficult to freeze. It took a series of churning and freezing and churning again over the course of 2 days to get to a proper (but still slightly soft*) consistancy. After I churned it the final time the texture was good and I returned it to the freezer to harden for a couple hours before serving at my party.

Later that night when I told my friends of the dessert they would be enjoying, my friend Bryan (who got me so addicted to ice cream in the first place) informed me he was going to be very critical of my ice cream since it is his favorite food. Well, ever the confident chef, I smiled smugly and went off to the kitchen to retrieve the ice cream. To my dismay, when I took it out of the freezer I noticed the caramel had slightly separated and sunk to the bottom. Not having time to churn it once more, I smiled brightly, returned to the living room and scooped the ice cream neatly next to thick slices of Apple Bundt Cake. Bryan's first comment was praise for the texture as i scooped, and then for the rich caramel flavor but we all agreed that the separation** caused some ice crystals in the top layer. All in all, It was successful none-the-less and definitly worth working on so try it out and let me know what you think!

*I read in both Gourmet and the Philly style recipe that this ice cream does stay pretty soft and melts especially quickly so I wasn't all that concerned. My best guess is that the caramel changes the freezing point and therefore it never really freezes hard.

**I think a quick fix for this would be to churn it once more just before serving. That should take care of the ice crystals as well

Philly Style Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Makes about 8 servings and goes great with Apple Bundt Cake.

1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
2 1/2 cups half-and-half, divided***
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt such as Maldon
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole milk***

***Next time I think I will take a tip from Turkey Hill and switch the half-and-half for cream and the whole milk for skim milk.

-In a heavy skillet with a light interior, heat 1 cup sugar over medium heat. Stir gently until the sugar starts to melt. When it does, stop stirring but continue to cook the sugar, swirling the skillet occasionally to ensure the sugar melts evenly.
-The caramel is done when it turns dark amber (I tasted just a tiny bit just to check but that's really a bad idea since its EXTREMELY hot).
-Stir in 1 1/4 cups half-and-half. Be careful, the mixture will spatter!
-Continue cooking until all the caramel has dissolved.
-Pour the caramel into a bowl. Add sea salt and vanilla. Allow the caramel to cool to room temperature.

-Meanwhile, bring the milk, the remaining 1 1/4 cups half-and-half, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar just to a boil. Allow to simmer 15 minutes then set aside to cool.
-When both the milk mixture and caramel have cooled to room temperature, remove skin from the milk mixture and stir it into the caramel.

-Refrigerate the mix for or overnight and then pop in the freezer for an hour or two just before churning. You want to churn this when really cold.
-Churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. The ice cream will still be soft but should be firm enough to keep its shape when you remove the paddle.
-Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until firm.

Mine was still pretty very thin so i repeated the last two steps until it firmed up some more.

Picture By Katherine Hamilton

Apple Bundt Cake

I love bundt cakes. I really do. It's such a simple way to make an elegant cake with minimal effort. All it needs is some powdered sugar or a simple glaze and its gorgeous. I have really been in the mood for chocolate pound cake lately and since that's my recipe for a never-fail dessert, I planned on making it for last fridays pizza party. Just as I was checking my cabinets for ingredients, Max came upstairs and declared that he has far too many apples and just doesn't want them anymore. Of course, I glanced over at my fruit bowl also exploding with golden delicious and northern spies from our last trip apple picking,* and quickly realized if I didn't bake something our of them we were going to end up with a lot of wasted apples. With that the chocolate pound was put on hold and I pulled out The Food Librarian's recipe for her Mom's Apple Cake. With a couple quick ingredient changes I came up with a recipe that would be perfect for my Salted Caramel Ice Cream.

The cake was super simple to make (the batter tasted good too), and it came out great! So most and delicious, what little we had leftover was gone by the end of breakfast saturday morning. (mostly cause every time I walked past it I couldn't help but a slice a piece off).

*I always end up with about 20lbs of apples which is like 10lbs more than I could possibly eat before they go bad, but I can't help myself I love going apple picking and they are only 70 cents a pound! Oh well, more apple baked goods it is!

Apple Bundt Cake
I have a pretty large bundt pan so I doubled this recipe to fill it but you could easily just fill it halfway and make a smaller cake. Always a good idea if you don't want a giant cake daring you to eat it every morning.

4 large granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced (I used a mix of 5 or 6 small-medium sized golden delicious and northern spies since that was what I had on hand)

3/4 cup olive oil (preferably lighter colored)
1 cup unrefined pure cane sugar
2 eggs
1 t real vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 t salt
2 t cinnamon
1 t baking soda
1 c walnuts (I didn't add these this time cause I wasn't in the mood for a run to the store but I'm sure they would be great as would some dark chocolate)

Preheat oven to 350

I used my electric hand mixer for this because I'm lazy but it's probably not necessary. A good whisking would probably do the job just fine.
Beat eggs with oil until foamy. Add sugar, vanilla, and sifted dry ingredients. Fold in apples and walnuts (if using).

Grease your pan (even if its non-stick, there is nothing worse than trying to un-stick a stuck bundt). I'm not a fan of non-stick sprays so i rub a bit of butter throughout the pan and dust it real like with flour but you could also put a little olive oil on a paper towel and wipe it thoughout the pan.

Pour batter into the pan evenly and bake for 45 min. (mine took about an hour since I doubled it but it also depends on your oven so check it around 40 minutes.)

Picture By Katherine Hamilton

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Veggie-White Wine Pasta

This week was the third in the evolutionary process of our Veggie-White Wine Pasta. The idea began as a result of our determination to make a meal that was both healthy and nutritious, but at the same time satisfying and nourishing. The kind of meal that wouldn't have you in the kitchen an hour later, lazily standing there, staring blankly at an open refrigerator. We avoided the high end of the glycemic index by using only a small serving of whole wheat pasta. Veggies are king here. At the same time, we kept the flavor intense by reducing some wine, adding browned chopped chicken sausage, and letting the veggies cook down in the sauce in order to let 'em soak up all that winey goodness.

I chose a combination of onions, garlic, yellow peppers, grape tomatoes, and escarole but most vegetables would probably work. Except carrots. Carrots don't seem very appealing in pasta. Anyway, here's the recipe... Feel free to variate on it, and let us know if you like it!

Veggie-White Wine Pasta
(makes two servings)

1 small onion, chopped
2 two cloves garlic, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch escarole, rough chop
1 package grape tomatoes, halved
2 cups pasta, cooked and drained
1 cup white wine
8 oz chicken sausage, browned and roughly chopped
1 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 T. Salt
1 T. Flour

Heat pan over medium high heat and begin to brown onions and sausage in the oil. After about 5 minutes, add the yellow bell peppers to the pan. When the sausage is almost completely cooked, remove it form the pan and cut it up into 1/2 inch chunks. When the onions are browned, add the wine and re-add the sausage, add the raw escarole to the pan, and cover letting the escarole cook down in the wine. Make sure the heat is not to high or the escarole will burn. When the escarole has turned bright green, add the tomatoes and stir in the pasta. If the sauce is too thin add a little bit of flour to thicken. Finish the dish with some grated Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Only Chicken Salad I Like

As a child I determined that mayo was pretty gross. This makes it pretty difficult to enjoy a chicken or egg salad sandwich since most deli salads are gelatinous globs of mayo with flecks of chicken and egg mashed up in there somewhere. Max shares my distaste for mayo so when he declared it "the best chicken salad ever" I knew I would have to post it for all you fellow mayo haters. Hint: The secret is a drier salad with only a little mayo, and good amount of dijon mustard.

I tend to make this only when i make chicken soup since the soup leaves me with a 5lb chicken that cooked for 4 hours, soaked up all that good flavor and then fell off the bone leaving lots of tender meat that would be such a shame to waste. I've really been craving this lately so I made quick phone call to Twin Oaks Farm in nearby Port Crane and arranged to pick up 2 small roaster chickens totaling about 5lbs, a dozen eggs and some flat iron steaks to use at a later date. The owner Marianna drives into town almost every day so it makes it easy for me to get local farm fresh naturally grown chicken, beef*, turkey and eggs. All of which really do taste much better than what you find vacuum sealed in Wegmans.

So after I made the soup (I'll post this recipe at a later date) yesterday I turned all that juicy chicken into chicken egg salad for lunches for the next couple days. I doubt it will last long though since I left a note for all (4!) of our housemates to have some.

Chicken/Egg Salad
-5lbs chicken left over from soup (or roasted) bones removed
-4 hard boiled eggs (next time I think I would use 5 or even 6 if you are not worried about cholesterol
-4-5 celery stalks chopped small
- about 3 Tablespoons all natural mayo**
-A generous amount of all natural dijon mustard (I like whole foods' brand 365 organic because its cheap and tastes better than grey poupon with no preseratives
-A couple spoonfuls of plain fat-free icelandic skyr or greek yogurt (I like Siggi's skyr because its made locally in Chenango County and has no preservatives)
-freshly ground salt and pepper to taste

Shred the chicken and roughly chop the hard-boiled eggs. Add mayo, mustard, and celery and mash with a fork (or a mezzaluna) to combine. taste and begin adding yogurt a spoon full at a time until you achieve the desired texture. You could also add white vinegar a tablespoon at a time to moisten it a bit more. Add salt and pepper to taste.

*100% grass-fed and pastured
**I've been meaning to make my own for quite some time. I have heard from other mayo haters that it makes all the difference but since I use about 4 Tablespoons a month and 1 egg yolk makes over a cup there would be just too much wasted. Instead I just borrow a bit from my housemate.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Day One - Pizza Party

There is no better way to spend a friday evening than with friends, wine and pizza, and with our friend Cathy back in town for the weekend this seemed like the perfect reason to whip up some fresh dough and top it with a simple homemade sauce and whatever we had on hand at the moment. What's nice about pizza is once you have the basics (dough, some sort of sauce) you can use pretty much whatever you have at home. Making it yourself, instead of ordering, lets you choose exactly what to include instead of being forced to choose from the few greasy choices offered at your neighborhood places. Binghamton isn't exactly Little Italy and let's just say the local pizza leaves you with a light nausea and a longing for something better.

With a few too many text messages I spread the invites and Max and I took a look in the fridge to choose toppings. We decided to make four different pies and since I already had some homemade sauce jarred and frozen from my last little pizza gathering, three would have tomato sauce and one would have a fresh pesto for a change of pace. The pizza came out awesome!

Combo 1
-Pesto (see below for recipe)
-Caramelized onions
-Goat Cheese

Combo 2
-Tomato Sauce
-Part Skim Ricotta Cheese
-Poultry Sausage (casings removed and lightly browned)

Combo 3
-Tomato Sauce
-Yellow and Orange Peppers
-Fresh mozzarella shredded

Combo 4
The original plan for this was a simple Margherita but we had some toppings left from the other so we just threw everything on there ending up with
-Tomato Sauce
-Fresh Mozzarella

I went with a simple 25/75 whole wheat/white whole wheat dough. An adaption I created based on a recipe from Nicole over at Pinch My Salt.

Fresh Pesto
Makes enough to top 1 pizza

2 Bunches fresh Basil
1 Tbls extra virgin olive
couple cloves of garlic peeled
grind everything in a mini-chop food processor until combined into a paste

Simple Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (adapted from Pinch My Salt's Whole Wheat Rosemary Dough. Click here for the original recipe)
makes 2 pizzas, each pizza serves 2 people

1 1/2 C. warm water
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 t. honey
1 C. whole wheat flour
1 package active dry yeast
3 C. white whole wheat flour plus extra for kneading
1 1/2 t. salt

In a medium bowl, stir together whole wheat flour, yeast, water, oil, and honey. Add white whole wheat flour, and salt, until dough starts to come together. Turn the mixture out onto a floured counter

lightly flour your hands, and knead the dough until it is smooth and slightly tacky rather than sticky, about 5 minutes. Form dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Turn ball in the bowl to coat both sides with oil then cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Set bowl in a warm place and let dough rise until doubled (about 45 minutes to an hour).

After dough has been rising for 15 minutes, prepare your oven. Place a pizza stone on the bottom rack and preheat oven and stone to 500 degrees It is best to let oven preheat for a full hour.

When dough has doubled, lightly oil a countertop and turn dough out onto it. With oiled hands, gently deflate the dough. Using a knife or dough scraper, divide dough into two equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball then cover pieces with a towel or lightly greased plastic wrap. Let rest for 20 minutes. At this point, you can put each ball of dough in a container and store in the refrigerator for up to three days. When ready to use, bring to room temperature and proceed with the next step.

Take one ball of dough out and working on the oiled surface, flatten it slightly with the heel of your palm. Then start pushing the dough out from the center using the side of your hand and working in a circle. When the circle is about 5 inches wide, pick it up and transfer it to a large flat baking sheet (make sure to generously sprinkle pan and pizza stone with cornmeal so to prevent sticking). Continue working the dough into a circle, pushing outward with the palm of your hand until the crust is about 10 inches wide. You should end up with a small lip all the way around. Cover crust and let rest for 10 minutes. While the first crust is resting, start forming a second one. After the first crust has rested for 10 minutes, add your toppings.

Gently slide pizza directly onto your preheated pizza stone (it helps to have someone hold the pan up at angle so you can use both hands. Check pizza after 8 minutes. When crust is golden, remove pizza using a peel or slide pizza back onto baking sheet using a large metal spatula.

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