Sunday, March 18, 2012

Boozy Irish Cupcakes

From: Brown Eyed Baker, who adapted it from Smitten Kitchen

These are Guinness chocolate cupcakes with an Irish whiskey ganache filling, and Bailey's Irish Cream buttercream frosting.  BEB called these Irish Car Bomb cupcakes (after the same-named cocktail) and got totally flamed in her comments for the offensive name.  It looks like Smitten may have also called them car bomb cupcakes, but changed the name at some point, probably after protests.  So, call them what you want.  I took these to a St. Paddy's Day party last night and they were a big hit with the adults.

For the Cupcakes:
1 cup Guinness stout
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoons salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

For the Whiskey Ganache Filling:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (I used Jameson)

For the Baileys Frosting:
2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups powdered sugar
6 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream

1. To Make the Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring the Guinness and butter to a simmer in a heavy, medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

2. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl to combine. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream on medium speed until combined. Add the Guinness-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat just to combine. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture and beat briefly. Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter until completely combined. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners. Bake until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on a rack.

3. To Make the Whiskey Ganache Filling: Finely chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then, using a rubber spatula, stir it from the center outward until smooth. Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined. Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped.

4. To Fill the Cupcakes: Using a 1-inch round cookie cutter (or the bottom of a large decorating tip, or a small melon baller), cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes, going about two-thirds of the way down. Transfer the ganache to a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

5. To Make the Baileys Frosting: Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the powdered sugar until all of it is incorporated. Add the Baileys, increase the speed to medium-high and whip for another 2 to 3 minutes, until it is light and fluffy.
6. Using your favorite decorating tip, or an offset spatula, frost the cupcakes and decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Store the cupcakes in an airtight container.

lemony mushrooms and salmon

This recipe indicates that my transformation to someone who genuinely likes mushrooms is complete. Shocking, I know.

Also, this is the kind of recipe I generally stay away from -- lots of steps, lots of components, two separate sauces -- but it's actually not a) super-messy and requiring many dishes to wash; b) very time-consuming; or c) fussy. This is all very simple and whole-food-ish. I'd recommend reading the original recipe the whole way through first, just to get an idea of what you're going to do, and then come back here and just follow the steps.

And skip the gastrique, if you must, but definitely do NOT skip the garlic aioli; it's the best part.

First make the aioli. With an immersion blender, puree:
1 clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 whole egg–the fresher and organic-er the better
½ tsp salt
2 spins of the pepper mill
juice of ½ lemon

With the blender still going, start drizzling in olive oil, very slowly, until things start to emulsify -- it took me about a minute. Keep going until you have creamy deliciousness the texture of mayo.

Start the mushrooms:

1 pint baby bella or cremini mushrooms
1 pint shitake or oyster mushrooms
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter [I used my BFF Earth Balance, of course]
Juice of ½ lemon
¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
S & P

Wipe down the mushrooms with a damp cloth and discard any hard stems. Heat the olive oil and saute for about five minutes, then add the garlic for the last minute. Dump out into a bowl and stir in the rest of the ingredients (while still hot so the butter melts).

Preheat your broiler.

Slice a few pieces of fresh bread for broiling later and spray lightly with olive oil.

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place X number of 6 oz. salmon filets on it. Spray with olive oil and S&P (and Old Bay, if you're Jared) and place under the broiler. Cook until sides are golden and center is done. Ours took about 8 minutes.

To make the gastrique, simmer...
1/3 c. balsamic vinegar
The zest and juice of 1 orange [I used a lemon]
1 tsp sugar

... for about 5 minutes until it reduces.

Heat a bit of olive oil in the same pan you made the mushrooms and saute 1 clove of minced garlic. When it starts to smell good, add a bag of baby spinach (rinsed and dried) and salt and pepper and cook until wilted.

Toast the bread in the broiler for a few minutes.

Drizzle the gastrique on the salmon, spread the aioli on the bread, and pile everything all together and eat it. YUM.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Irish Potatoes (candy)

I requested my mom's recipe for the potato candy she made for my sibs and I to take to school on St. Patrick's Days of yore. When I say "potato candy," I mean candy shaped like a potato (really cute teeny potatoes). Turns out mom's recipe actually does use some potato which I like because I think it probably cuts some of the sweetness that the sugar-only recipes that I saw online. The cinnamon makes the little lumps look like little dirty potatoes and it keeps them from sticking together. My kid's going to take a box to her classmates tomorrow. I'm more excited than she is.

I copied my mom's email below. She's a librarian so she characteristically references a thematically appropriate book. She's a school librarian so she suggests making it a hands on experience for the kids in the class.


(recipe from an Adele Davis cookbook)

Peel, quarter, steam, and mash 1 potato.  You will use 1/4 cup of this.
- 1/4 C. mashed potato

While still warm, add and stir well:

- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 Tbspn. butter

Sift together and add:

- 1 C powdered sugar
- 1/2 C. powdered milk

Stir well and chill.
After chilling, knead in enough powdered milk and/or powdered sugar to handle well.  [I probably gradually added another 1/2-3/4 C of powdered sugar and 1/2-3/4 C of powdered milk to get the consistency past melty blobs to sturdy lumps that hold their shape.]
Shape as "puny praties" (OK, Adele didn't say that.  Tomie O'Paola did.) 
Roll lightly in cinnamon.
Hope these do the trick. 
You could just take the fondant and let the kids make their own.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hollandaise sauce

Alright, I'm gonna let you in on a secret. It's not so much a secret as something that I did that will royally irritate several family members.
Last week when we went to get a few things my Nana wanted us to have from her house, I took her two recipe boxes. I figure no one else would really cook from them, and that if she were still lucid and making rational decisions, she'd have told me to take them.
So, I have them, and when my Dad and I went through them, we found recipes from my great grandmothers, among the bunch.
I'm super excited to work my way through these recipes.

I started this weekend by making Hollandaise sauce. You can read the story of Eggs Benedict and Hollandaise on my blog, but here's the recipe, for archiving purposes.

4 egg yolks (save those whites, because you can use them to make angel food cake)
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 sticks butter
1/4 tsp. salt

Cut each stick of butter into pieces. Beat egg yolks in top of double boiler until smooth with wooden spoon. Blend in lemon juice and salt, then place over simmering water. Add 1 piece of butter, stirring constantly. Keep adding until all butter is gone and sauce is thickened. Remove from heat.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Chicken Gyros

This was tasty. I will make again very soon. Before the kids and I left for playgroup, I made the marinade, put the butterflied chicken breasts in it, made the tzatziki and put both containers in the fridge. K took care of broiling the chicken bc it was yoga night so I came home to leftovers and they tasted great reheated. Lots of flavor.

From Annie's Eats, and before that, from Elly Says Opa!


  • To make the tzatziki sauce, strain the yogurt using cheesecloth over a bowl. Let strain for several hours or overnight, if possible, to remove as much moisture as possible. (I used Greek yogurt, so I didn't do this step)
  • Shred the cucumber. Wrap in a towel a squeeze to remove as much water as possible. Mix together the strained yogurt, shredded cucumber, garlic, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and lemon juice. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.
  • To prepare the chicken, combine the garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, yogurt, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl. Whisk together until mixed well. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and mix well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
  • Cook the chicken as desired, either in the skillet or with the broiler. (I butterflied the chicken breasts and then cooked them under the broiler.) (I had never cooked chicken this way before and it was a great way to do it. Moist, fully cooked, flavorful.) Once the chicken is completely cooked through, transfer to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut into strips.
  • Heat pitas (I sprayed with some spray oil and then popped them in the toaster oven for a few minutes). Top with chicken, tzatziki sauce, diced tomatoes and sliced onions. Serve immediately.


Sunday, March 04, 2012

banana (chocolate chip) pancakes

I do declare, these are the fluffiest and most successful pancakes I have ever made!

The chocolate chips are optional and the pancakes are delicious both ways; we did half and half last night. From Skinnytaste, with some variations.
  • 1 cup unbleached white or white whole wheat flour [I did half whole wheat and half white whole wheat]
  • 1 tsp baking powder [I took this down from 2 t]
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large banana, ripe, mashed well
  • 1 cup 1% milk [skim worked fine]
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla [I upped this from 1 t]
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips [I used big chunks; the technique of placing them individually on the top of each pancake worked well]
Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Combine milk, egg white, oil, vanilla and mashed bananas in another medium sized bowl and mix until smooth. 

Combine wet ingredients with the dry and mix well with a wooden spoon until there are no more dry spots. Don't over-mix.

Heat a large skillet on medium-low heat, spray with cooking spray and pour 1/4 cup of pancake batter. Add 1 teaspoon of chocolate chips in each pancake.

When the pancake starts to bubble and the edges begin to set, flip the pancakes. Repeat with the remainder of the batter.