Saturday, May 31, 2008

Homemade Oreos

I found these on Smitten Kitchen, but it looks like they maybe came from this book: Retro Desserts, Wayne Brachman

I made these as a tester batch to see if they were good enough to serve on our wedding cookie bar. I took them to a Memorial Day BBQ, and someone I never met before said he would leave his wife and baby for these cookies. Well, I don't know about that, but these were darn good. Even my Foodie-with-a-capital-F supervisor said they were "perfect," which she does not dole out readily. At any rate, they ended up being the talk of the party, and I'm guessing I will be asked to make these again.

Makes 25 to 30 sandwich cookies

For the chocolate wafers:
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 to 1 ½ cups sugar*
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 ¼ sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

For the filling:
¼ cup (½ stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
¼ cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375 degrees.
2. In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.
3. Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately 2 inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.
4. To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2-3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.
5. To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream. Dunk generously in a large glass of milk.

* Smitten Kitchen's notes: This is a sweet cookie. A good, sweet cookie. Yet, if you think of an actual Oreos, the wafers are fairly un-sweet and actually on the slightly salty side, which contrasts with the super-sweetness of the filling bringing harmony, happiness, yada yada. If you want your cookie closer to that original, you can take out a full half-cup of the sugar. I usually do. If you want to make the cookie by itself (as I did a while back for ice cream sandwiches), go ahead and use the full amount.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Peruvian roasted chicken

I don't have any yucca (must rectify that problem for next time), but this chicken, cooked on the rotisserie on our gas grill, is pretty fantastic. I'm sure you could roast it and it'd be good, too. Ernie doubled the marinade today to make two chickens, so I'll have lots of leftovers for lunch this week!


2 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin, plus
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 tablespoons white vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
3 tablespoons white wine
3 tablespoons canola oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 (3-4 lb) roasting chicken
1 lemon, juice of, and mixed with the water
1 quart water, cold

In medium-size bowl, mix first eight ingredients.
Wash chickens thoroughly with lemon water and remove excess fat from inside chickens.
With a large carving fork, poke deep holes all over chicken, including under wings. Rub the marinade thoroughly inside and outside the chicken. Seal chicken in a large plastic bag and marinate for at least 2 hours (but preferably up to 24 hours) in refrigerator.
Remove chicken from bag and dilute marinade left behind in bag with a Tablespoon of water. (Place marinade in a small saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer 2-3 minutes. Set aside.).
Place chicken on a rotisserie spit, and roast at medium heat for 45 to 55 minutes. If broiling, cut chicken in half lengthwise and broil for 30 to 40 minutes, basting with marinade every 10 minutes.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Vinegar-based cole slaw

I cobbled this recipe together from a couple of different recipes (my friend Amy's and Emeril's recipe, found here) into exactly what I was looking for.

1 small head cabbage, cored and sliced thinly
1 half vidalia onion, sliced thinly
1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
1-2 c. shredded carrots (depends on how much you like carrots)
1/4 c. hot water
3/4 c. cider vinegar
1/3 c. oil
not quite 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. ground mustard
1 tsp. celery seeds
1 tsp. kosher salt

Put all the vegetables in a really large bowl. (I actually mixed it in my soup pot, then transferred into a bowl) In a separate bowl, mix the hot water and sugar until sugar is dissolved, then add the cider vinegar, oil, mustard, celery seeds and salt. Stir to combine.
Pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables, stir well to coat. Cover with plastic wrap (or the lid of the bowl) and refrigerate. Is best made 12-24 hours ahead of time, because flavors will meld. Will last up to a week in the fridge.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

red lentil salad

My friend Mollie makes this fairly often, so I've eaten it a bunch of times but never made it myself. I think she can actually make it from memory, just by remembering that all the spices in the dressing start with C (like cookie), so if you just use every C spice on your spice rack, you're good to go...

1/2 C corn/veggie oil (I have found this to be a LITTLE much--especially if you cook the lentils a little too long, then they don't absorb as much, so I would use just UNDER 1/2 C)
1/4 C white wine vinegar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp curry
1/2 tsp cardamom

1 lb dried red lentils (~ 2 C dry)
1 C currants
1 C finely chopped red onion

(1) Whisk all dressing ingredients together

(2) Wash lentils and cook for ~3-5 min until JUST tender. Rinse and drain.

(3) Pour dressing over lentils and put in the fridge overnight, or at least 4-6 hrs.

(4) Add onions and currants and serve.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Curry Dip

I just finished off the last of this dip, which I made for my out-of-town guests this weekend. I think it went over well, despite my initial mishaps with the amount of curry, and the subsequent run to the store for more ingredients to right the wrongs of over-spicing. We ate this on pita chips and also on bagels. Yum. Maybe could also be a creative sandwich spread? I'm not sure what else would go with it..... It would probably also be a good veggie dip.

1 package (8 oz) of cream cheese (I used reduced fat)
1-2 tsp. curry powder ***
1-2 tsp. ground ginger
1 small can of crushed pineapple, mostly drained

Mix all ingredients together. Let stand in the fridge for awhile to meld the flavors before serving.

My notes: I started with 2 full teaspoons of sweet curry powder, and 2 tsp of ginger, and it was WAY too much curry. It was bad. I then had to go back and double all the other ingredients to "fix" it. So, I would suggest starting with 1 tsp of curry powder, and then adjust up if you want to add more after tasting. The pineapple is the small tuna-can size (not sure how many ounces that is).

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Garlic Roast Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon

Original recipe found here. I altered it based on what I had in the house.

6 chicken thighs, with skin (original recipe called for boneless, skinless breasts)
6 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves stripped from stems
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 tablespoon coarse salt and black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken broth

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Arrange chicken in a baking dish, 9 by 13-inch. Add garlic, rosemary, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon zest and grill seasoning or salt and pepper to the dish. Toss and coat the chicken with all ingredients, then place in oven. Roast 30-35 minutes. Add wine and lemon juice to the dish and combine with pan juices. Return to oven and turn oven off. Let stand 5 minutes longer then remove chicken from the oven. Place baking dish on trivet and serve, spooning pan juices over the chicken pieces. (I left the whole wine step out, because I didn't have an open bottle, and added the lemon juice at the same time as all the spices)

Oatmeal bars

You can find the original recipe here, at The Pioneer Woman Cooks. I altered it based on what I had in the house, and also to add a little more fiber (which I need these days) in them. I think they're pretty adaptable, so use whatever you've got.

1 1/2 cups flour (I used 1 c. white flour, 1/2 c. whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 3/4 sticks (regular, salted) butter, cut into pieces
1 10-12 ounce jar Apricot Preserves (I used apple butter)

Mix all ingredients except preserves. Press one half of the mixture into a buttered 8″ square (or small rectangular) pan. Spread with a 10-12 ounce jar of preserves. Sprinkle second half of mixture over the top and pat lightly. Bake at 350 for 30 - 40 minutes or until light brown. Let cool completely, then cut into squares.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Three-Cheese Baked Penne

from Cooking Light, May 2008, page 144

The crushed red pepper gave this dish a nice little kick, and the goat cheese lent a nice creaminess.

Serves 6

2-1/2 cups uncooked whole wheat penne
cooking spray
2 (4-ounce) links sweet turkey Italian sausage
1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper (we used red)
1-1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
10 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 garlic clove, minced
dash of salt
1 (8-ounce) can garlic-and-herb tomato sauce (we used garlic and onion)
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese.

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and keep warm.

3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Remove casings from sausage. Add sausage to pan; cook 2 minutes, stirring to crumble (we cooked it until it was brown all the way through). Add bell pepper and next 6 ingredients (through salt) to pan; saute 6 minutes or until bell pepper is tender. Stir in tomato sauce. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Add pasta and sausage to pan, tossing gently to coat. Spoon pasta mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Stir in mozzarella and goat cheese; sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake at 350 for 7 minutes or until bubbly and top is browned.

Calories: 326 (30% from fat)
fat: 10.9g (sat 5.8g, mono 2.9g, poly 1g)
Protein: 20.8g
Carb 38.9g
Fiber 4.9g
Cholesterol: 47mg
Iron: 3mg
Sodium: 641mg
Calcium: 211mg

Monday, May 05, 2008

Gnocchi with Asparagus and Pancetta

from Cooking Light, April 2008

Great combo of flavors, and really easy.

1 (16-oz) package vacuum-packed gnocchi
2 ounces pancetta, cut into thin strips (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shaved Parmesan cheese

1. Cook gnocchi according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Keep warm.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta; saute 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

3. Add shallots and asparagus to pan; saute 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in garlic; saute 1 minute. Add gnocchi, pancetta, reserved cooking liquid, juice, salt, and pepper to pan; cook 1 minute. Serve with cheese.

Yield: 4 servings

Chocolate Idiot Cake

From: David Lebovitz

A few months back when we were taste-testing wedding cakes, I found myself somewhat disappointed with the cakes we tried at the special bakery that I was convinced had the best cakes in the area. I had had them before. They were fantastic. The samples were good, but not fantastic. And then, on the way out, I bought myself a flourless chocolate cupcake. THAT was the cake that I must have had in the past, because it was every bit as good as I remembered. A few weeks ago I came across this recipe for a flourless chocolate cake, and I made it for an end-of-the-(academic) year going-away party for our interns last week. It is very rich and dense - just the way I like my cake! This may not be the cake for everyone, but I've never been a huge fan of traditional cake. For me, the darker the chocolate the better, and I prefer my cake to be more like a torte. This recipe fit the bill. Apparently the name comes from the idea that you'd have to be an idiot to screw it up. It has only 4 ingredients. I used a good chocolate from Trader Joes. I found it was best served with whipped cream, or something similar to balance the richness just a bit. This will totally be my go-to chocolate cake from now on.

10 ounces (290 gr) ScharffenBerger bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
7 ounces (200 gr) butter, salted or unsalted, cut into pieces
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (200 gr) sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F (175 C).

1. Butter a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan and dust it with cocoa powder, tapping out any excess. If you suspect your springform pan isn't 100% water-tight, wrap the outside with aluminum foil, making sure it goes all the way up to the outer rim.

2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler (or microwave), stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from heat.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar, then whisk in the melted chocolate mixture until smooth.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and cover the top of the pan snugly with a sheet of foil. Put the springform pan into a larger baking pan, such as a roasting pan, and add enough hot water to the baking pan to come about halfway up to the outside of the cake pan.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

You'll know the cake is done when it feels just set, like quivering chocolate pudding. If you gently touch the center, your finger should come away clean.

5. Lift the cake pan from the water bath and remove the foil. Let cake cool completely on a cooling rack.

Serve thin wedges of this very rich cake at room temperature, with creme anglaise, ice cream, or whipped cream.

Storage: This Chocolate Idiot Cake can be wrapped and chilled in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Flour tortillas

I got a sudden craving for Becky's Cuban Chicken Pizzas tonight and then realised that we didn't have any tortillas in the house, so I decided to make some. I found this recipe at Homesick Texan and it's adapted from The Border Cookbook by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison. For some reason, I thought they were going to be difficult and time consuming to do, but they were so easy, and having fresh tortillas made the pizzas even more delicious.

Two cups of all-purpose flour (can make them whole wheat by substituting one cup of whole-wheat flour for white flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
3/4 cups of warm milk

Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and oil. Slowly add the warm milk. Stir until a loose, sticky ball is formed.

Knead for two minutes on a floured surface. Dough should be firm and soft.

Place dough in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap for 20 minutes.

After the dough has rested, break off eight sections, roll them into balls in your hands, place on a plate (make sure they aren’t touching) and then cover balls with damp cloth or plastic wrap for 10 minutes. (It’s very important to let the dough rest, otherwise it will be like elastic and won’t roll out to a proper thickness and shape.)

After dough has rested, one at a time place a dough ball on a floured surface, pat it out into a four-inch circle, and then roll with a rolling pin from the center until it’s thin and about eight inches in diameter. Don’t over work the dough, or it’ll be stiff. Keep rolled-out tortillas covered until ready to cook.

In a dry iron skillet or comal heated on high, cook the tortilla about thirty seconds on each side. It should start to puff a bit when it’s done.

Keep cooked tortillas covered wrapped in a napkin until ready to eat.