Archive for the ‘Experiments’ Category

Romanesca Cauliflower

Happy Monday!

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I am so addicted to the farmer’s market. The last trip, I couldn’t take my eyes off this strange vegetable, it was the most splendid thing I’d ever seen and I couldn’t wait to purchase it and show Nerd. 

 

Which I have to resort back to calling Nerd because of his comments of this plant. Observe. “Wow. This is the most mathematically perfect plant I’ve ever seen. It’s a perfect example of Fibonacci as well as Mandelbrot’s fractal… blah blah blah.” 

🙂

Whatever. It’s a mighty cool looking plant to me.

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I baked this guy with a bit of olive oil and garlic cloves (both to taste), but I think simply steaming it would be delicious! The vendor said that it steams quicker than cauliflower. 

Thought I’d share this interesting find!

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German Chocolate Cupcakes

Before I begin, let it be known that this was on of the most intricate recipes I’ve ever followed. If that doesn’t scare you away, maybe the fact that a dog ate more of the cupcakes than humans did will, but that is a story for another time.

However, if I made this as a cake, as it was intended to be, it would have cut approximately 1 hour of prep time down. The fact that I got the recipe from David Lebovitz, one of the most well known pastry chefs of our time, doesn’t help either. If I can’t be honest here, where can I?
All in all, they were deliciously light and fluffy and… delicious.

I decided to make the recipe into cupcakes because it was for a late night birthday celebration, which means booze. Basically, I didn’t want anyone to handle a knife or forks. I plan on making the cake for my father’s birthday in May, and perhaps I will make an addendum to this post (if you remind me).

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I am posting the original cake recipe. For cupcakes I filled the cupcakes wrappers, in a cupcake pan 2/3 full then dress each individual cupcake with syrup and icing. This recipe yielded approximately 36 cupcakes.

Cake:
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons water
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ¼ cup + ¼ cup sugar
4 large eggs, separated
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling:
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
3 ounces butter, cut into small pieces
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1 1/3 cups unsweetened coconut, toasted

Syrup:
1 cup water
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons dark rum

Chocolate Icing:
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 ½ ounces unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream

1. Butter two 9-inch cake pans, then line the bottoms with rounds of parchment or wax paper. Preheat the oven to 350°.

2. Melt both chocolates together with the 6 tablespoons of water. Use either a double-boiler or a microwave. Stir until smooth, then set aside until room temperature.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, or by hand, beat the butter and 1 ¼ cup of the sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate, then the egg yolks, one at a time.

4. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

5. Mix in half of the dry ingredients into the creamed butter mixture, then the buttermilk and the vanilla extract, then the rest of the dry ingredients.

6. In a separate metal or glass bowl, beat the egg whites until they hold soft, droopy peaks. Beat in the ¼ cup of sugar until stiff.

7. Fold about one-third of the egg whites into the cake batter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites just until there’s no trace of egg white visible.

8. Divide the batter into the 2 prepared cake pans, smooth the tops, and bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool cake layers completely.

While the cakes are baking and cooling, make the filling, syrup, and icing.

 

To make the filling:

1. Mix the cream, sugar, and egg yolks in a medium saucepan. Put the 3 ounces butter, salt, toasted coconut, and pecan pieces in a large bowl.

2. Heat the cream mixture and cook, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the spoon (an instant-read thermometer will read 170°.)

3. Pour the hot custard immediately into the pecan-coconut mixture and stir until the butter is melted. Cool completely to room temperature. (It will thicken.)

 

To make the syrup:

1. In a small saucepan, heat the sugar and water until the sugar has melted. Remove from heat and stir in the dark rum.

 

To make the icing:

1. Place the 8 ounces of chopped chocolate in a bowl with the corn syrup and 1 ½ ounces of butter.

2. Heat the cream until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stand one minute, then stir until smooth. Let sit until room temperature.

 

To assemble the cake:

Remove the cake layers from the pans and cut both cake layers in half horizontally, using a serrated bread knife.
Set the first cake layer on a cake plate. Brush well with syrup. Spread ¾ cup of the coconut filling over the cake layer, making sure to reach to the edges. Set another cake layer on top.

Repeat, using the syrup to brush each cake layer, then spreading ¾ cup of the coconut filling over each layer, including the top.

Ice the sides with the chocolate icing, then pipe a decorative border of chocolate icing around the top, encircling the coconut topping.

 

 

David says to use all the chocolate icing at all costs and you won’t be sorry, and I definitely look forward to using it all for the cake I make for my father, because I used about a third for the cupcakes and left so much good quality icing! I definitely think that each bite would benefit from an ample amount of icing.

Enjoy!

Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

The craving for tortilla soup started after meandering aimlessly around Whole Foods. Simply seeing a place marker for Tortilla Soup sent my salivary glands into overdrive. I grabbed a 12 oz insulated cup, ran to the designated tortilla soup cauldron and threw open the lid, and gazed at my soupy reflection in the bottom of the… tortilla soup?

GONE.

So, fulfilling my Cook it Myself mantra of 2009, I found a yummy sounding recipe here
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1 1/2 pound boneless chicken — cooked and shredded
1 can whole tomatoes (15-oz.) (I used crushed)
1 can enchilada sauce (10-oz.)
1 medium onion — chopped
1 can chopped green chilies (4-oz.)
1 clove garlic — minced (I used 2, because that’s just how I roll).
2 cups water
1 can chicken broth (14 1/2-oz.)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In your beloved slow cooker combine shredded chicken, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, green chilies and garlic.

Add water, chicken broth, cumin, chili powder, salt, black pepper. Stir in corn.

Cover and cook on LOW 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH 3 to 4 hours.

Come home after a long day of watching a kiddo with pnuemonia and NOT going to the gym, and have a delicious, and luckily healthy meal waiting for you!

I like to serve mine up with hastily chopped cilantro, avocado, and cheese of choice!

This was so easy and I woke up early to throw it together and still had enough time to catch up on Google Reader before reporting to duty.
I baked the chicken breast the night before, and it took me ~15 minutes to throw it all in the crock pot.

All in all, way more satisfying then an overpriced indulgence at Whole Foods.

Enjoy!

Easy Granola!!

I’ve been known to be a follower, a copy-cat, a _____. But when there something this delicious, yes I am a follower. However!! I did tweak the recipe a bit, well found a new one. Just because I’m not a huge fan of maple.

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4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a bowl mix oats, almonds, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. In a saucepan warm the oil and honey. Whisk in the vanilla.

Carefully pour the liquid over the oat mixture. Stir gently with a wooden spoon; finish mixing by hand. Spread granola in a 15×10 inch baking pan I actually had to spread in 2 different pans.

Bake 20 minutes, check (some granola makers advise flipping sections over like cookies, but I didn’t. Cook 20 more minutes. 
Transfer granola-filled pan to a rack to cool completely. Then sprinkle cranberries, raisins, or anything else that tickles your taste buds over the top. Break your granola into pieces and you’re done! Yum!

Seal granola in an airtight container or self-sealing plastic bag. Store at room temperature for 1 week or in the freezer for 3 months. (I doubt mine will last this long)!

Overall, I was really surprised at how incredibly easy this was; I’ve been putting it off for so long. Addendum to New Years Resolutions: Never buy granola again!

Enjoy!

Quick(ish) Chili!

My BFF Saucymama gave me the best Kristamas present ever! Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. I keep sitting down to read a recipe and realize I’ve been sitting idle for an hour! So great!
When an awkward cold front blew in the other night, I decided to whip up a quickish batch of chili. Emphasis on quickish, because when I think of chili, I envision a slow cooked masterpiece, and this still took about 2 hours?! So I dove into my first recipe from HTCE; Mark’s idea of chili was a bit different from mine, so I had a few additions. It was still pretty yummy! Maybe could use a bit more work, I, of course was the only one that thought that, but it did it’s job by warming us up!!

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1 pound dried red beans, (you don’t have to soak them if you didn’t think ahead, just means a longer cooking time)
water or broth to boil beans in (I did half and half)
1 pound of beef, turkey, chicken, etc
1 whole onion, unpeeled (I chopped of the top and bottom)
1 small onion, minced
salt and pepper
1 cup of the bean-cooking liquid (leftover)
8 oz. tomato sauce
1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 fresh/dried hot chile. (I ended up using 2 small thai chiles) *note to self, do not bite the chile to see how hot it actually is….
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp marjoram
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp herbs de provence
cayenne pepper to taste (be careful! You already may already have 2 chiles)

Put the beans in a large pot of water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat, add the whole onion. Adjust the heat, so the beans are at a steady boil rather than a rolling boil and cover loosely.

While beans are cooking, brown your meat. Before draining the meat, add salt and pepper, and the 2 tsp of chili powder.

When beans begin to soften (start checking at 30 minutes, cooking time depends on whether you soaked or not) season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, and adding water if necessary. Cook until beans are very tender but still intact.

Drain the beans and reserve the cooking liquid. Take out the whole onion, eat it layer by layer (or whatever). Add the rest of the ingredients, including the leftover cooking liquid, and bring to a boil, then cover and turn down to low.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are very tender and all the flavors have mellowed. Taste, and adjust the seasoning, and serve!

I like mine best with shredded cheese and avocado!

Enjoy!