Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Danish Pastries-Part 2

As you can see, these are very labor intensive, in my opinion. However, we just ate our first homemade Danish pastry, and it was divine! So...it was worth it all. I have a feeling each time I make these, I will improve my technique. I did notice that the quicker you work your dough, roll it out, add the toppings, and get it into the oven, the better they are. Once your butter starts to melt, the dough becomes very sticky and hard to retain its shape, and work with.

The finished result................


Spandau

This is Part #2 of the recipe-which should be done on the second day-

1 batch Danish dough (See recipe for Spandau)

1/2 cup organic Cherry jam or preserves

1-8 ounce container Mascarpone cheese (I only ended up using about 3-4 ounces)

1 egg white, beaten (for brushing pastries)

2 tablespoons white sugar to combine with Mascarpone

2 tablespoons white sugar to sprinkle on top of pastries before baking



1 Lightly dust a flat work surface with flour. Roll dough out to a rectangular shape approx. 8 x 11 inches long. Fold the rectangle into thirds, as you would fold a business letter.
 

2 Turn so that the shortest end of the folded dough is facing you. Roll out into a rectangular shape again. Fold into thirds, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to rest. At the end of the 30 minute rest period the dough is then ready to form into required pastries.

3 Preheat oven to 400F. Line 2-3 baking trays with baking paper. Divide pastry dough in half, and roll out pastry, one piece at a time, until 1/8 inch in thickness. Wrap your other piece of pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate until required. 




4 Cut your pastry into 4 inch squares. Cut a 1/2 an inch slit in each side of your 4 inch pieces. Fold over one tip or corner of pastry to center of pastry, and fold opposite corner over forming a square. Place a teaspoon of jam or sweetened Mascarpone cheese into the center of each square. Secure in place by brushing with egg white.



5 Place prepared pastry onto baking trays and brush with egg white. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 12-15 minutes, at 400F, or until golden brown and crisp.  

This will be your outcome.....I believe that if I worked the dough a little quicker, then hardly any of the butter would have melted. It's important to work the dough quickly, so that you pastry stays cool, and rises better. 


**Adapted from an original Dixie Elliott recipe

A Danish Treat....

First, I am going to start out by saying, I wouldn't consider myself to be a baker. I mostly work on non-baked and dessert items. Lately however, I have been deviating from the norm, and with our house guests coming tomorrow, I wanted to try my hand at something new. I have been working on adapting a recipe by Dixie Elliott, which is in metric rather than U.S. measurements. You have to complete the recipe over two days, so there is a part #1 and part #2. I'm excited to see if the changes I made are going to pan out...wish me luck...

**I did the first part yesterday, and will be doing part #2 of the recipe later today!


Two things I LOVE!! Traditionally, these pastries have Raspberry jam, but I wanted to change it up bit....

Whoahhhh, thatsa lota butta..........



Danish pastry Dough


**This is part #1 of your recipe to be done on the first day:

2 & 3/4 cups plain flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground Cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 & ¼ cup butter, well chilled and cut into tablespoon size pieces

3/4 cup milk

1 package (7g) dry yeast

1/3 cup white sugar

1 egg, at room temperature, lightly beaten


1 Put flour, salt, cardamom and nutmeg into the large bowl of a food processor. Pulse for 2-3 seconds to combine. Add butter and pulse until butter in chopped into teaspoon size pieces. The butter should not be fine, but chunky. This is what gives the pastry the flaky layers. Pour into a large bowl.



2 Heat milk until very warm, but not boiling. Pour milk into a zip lock storage container, or a container that will seal tightly that you can shake. Add yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar. Shake well until combined. Leave in a warm place for 5-10 minutes or until frothy and bubbly. Add remaining sugar to flour/butter mixture. Stir gently until combined.



3 Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add frothy yeast mixture and egg. Stir gently to combine. Take care not to break up butter. When just combined, cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator. The dough must rest in the refrigerator overnight. The next day-move to your recipe part #2.

Part #2 to follow later today....

**Adapted from an original Dixie Elliott recipe








Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chicken Udon Stir-Fry



Chicken Udon Stir-Fry


Ingredients:

2 lbs Udon Noodles (these can be found in Asian or Japanese specialty markets)

3 cups Broccoli-blanched

1 lb. raw chicken-chopped into cubes

2 cups Snow Peas

1 cup Shitake Mushrooms

3 teaspoons corn starch

3 cups water

4 eggs (beaten)

5 large cloves raw garlic-finely chopped

1 large piece of fresh ginger-chopped

Soy Sauce

Oyster flavored sauce

Siracha Sauce

Nap-Pla (fish sauce-also from specialty markets)

Directions:

**I usually split everything in half, and make two batches in the wok.


Blanch broccoli and snow peas for 1 minute in boiling water. Remove & rinse in cold water. Chop garlic and ginger, fry until golden brown in a combination of vegetable oil & sesame oil. Add chicken, cover & cook for about 5 minutes, adding all sauces for seasoning on top. Slide chicken to the side of the wok, add eggs, and let them make an omelet. Add water/corn starch mixture, and mix everything well. Add mushrooms, snow peas, broccoli, and mix well. Add noodles, and remove from heat. Serve immediately.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Eggplant Lasagna-Blanca (White)

If I must say so myself, this was simply amazing. A deviation from the traditional eggplant lasagna with red sauce (although I still serve it on top-on the side), but not the less as good as the original...maybe better? Enjoy!



White Eggplant Lasagna-Blanca


3 medium sized Eggplant

5 eggs

2 cups all-Purpose white flour

1 cup Italian seasoned Breadcrumbs

Natures Seasoning

2 cups grated Mozzarella

½ cup grated Parmesan

1 -15 ounce container Ricotta

Olive Oil for frying Eggplant

3 teaspoons Olive Oil for Ricotta

2-3 small cloves fresh Garlic-chopped

½ cup fresh sweet Basil-chopped

3-4 cups fresh Marina Sauce (See Blog)

Instructions:

Begin by washing and drying eggplant, then dry with a paper towel. Cut lengthwise, and then into thin slices about ¼ inch in thickness. Beat 4 eggs, and a dash of Natures Seasoning. Set aside.

Combine flour, breadcrumbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Add grated parmesan and mix. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine ricotta, garlic, basil, 1 egg, Natures Seasoning, and 3 teaspoons olive oil. Mix well and set aside.

Heat oil in frying pan, on medium heat, and then dip each slice of eggplant into egg mixture, then into breadcrumb mix. Saturate both sides, then fill the pan of heated oil with slices (around 6-7). Cook until golden brown, on each side. Let eggplant drain on a paper towel. Continue until all slices are cooked.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Begin layering slices of eggplant into a deep baking dish. Once the first layer is down, spread a layer (1/3 of ricotta mixture) on top of eggplant, and then sprinkle with mozzarella. Begin a second layer, and then follow with more ricotta mixture, until all is used. On the top layer, sprinkle with the remaining grated mozzarella cheese. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with Marina sauce.

...and this is what comes out of your oven...........Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lemongrass-Ginger Sorbet

Okay-this may sound strange, but THIS is seriously the most savory and deliciously delicate sorbet I have EVER, and I mean ever tried! It has the lemony taste, combined with the spiciness of ginger, and is so refreshing. Since I have an array of Thair herbs growing in my garden this year, and lemongrass is such a rare treat, I decided to make something different with it-something sweet.....Enjoy...we sure did!



Lemon Grass-Ginger Sorbet


Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 cups filtered or bottled still water
  • 2 cups fine granulated sugar
  • 2-3 small lemongrass stalks (leaves removed) & chopped into 2 inch strips (lengthwise)
  • ¾ cup fresh Ginger-peeled and cut into thin slices

**Makes 2 ½ quarts

Begin by heating sugar and water, lemongrass, and ginger over high heat-bring to a boil, remove from heat once all sugar has dissolved. Add lemon juice into the simple syrup. Set in fridge to cool, and thicken for around 3 hours. Once chilled completely, process in your ice-cream maker for around 30 minutes. Remove & freeze for about 3 hours. Serve within 5 days. **Optional-I leave the lemongrass and ginger inside the sorbet, because I love the spicy ginger flavor, but you can also remove it before you process in your ice-cream maker.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Puurrffect Appetizer- -Mushroom and Goat Cheese Puffed Pastries



Puff Pastries-with Goat Cheese & Mushrooms

1 small flat of baby Portabella mushrooms (about 8-10 mushrooms)

1 cup chopped flat leaf Italian parsley

½ cup chopped spring onions

Nature’s Seasoning to taste

1-12. ounce container goat cheese

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

2 tablespoons butter melted into pan- combined with 2 teaspoon olive oil

1 egg (for an egg wash) beaten and combined with 1 tablespoon cool water

**Heat pan and sauté the herbs and mushrooms together in butter and olive oil until tender, and there is a light sauce on the bottom of the pan. Set aside to cool, and then drain.

Filling:

Roll out puff pastry dough, using one sheet for approximately 12 puff pastries, cut into equal squares on a floured surface.

Place 1 teaspoon of cooled herb mixture, in the center of each square. Top with a pinch of goat cheese, and shredded mozzarella. Pinch edges of puff pastry together and bring all four sides into the center so each side is touching. Brush lightly with egg wash. Bake at 400F for approximately 8 minutes, or until golden brown.






Friday, July 22, 2011

Make Your Own Pizza Night..Family Style!

Now this is something EVERYBODY in the house can agree on-making your own pizza. I make the sauce and dough ahead of time, and lay out an assembly line...so they can work their magic:

You can add your own toppings, don't have to share, and make it look anyway you want. We try and do this every couple of weeks, and the kids love it because it's hands on....


But, inevitably THIS happens....


But the result is....


And this:


This is a win-win for everyone!

Pizza Dough

1 package active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 cup warm water
1 tsp.
2 tsp. Extra-virgin olive oil
just under 3 cups all-purpose white flour, plus more for dusting

Directions:In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water; stir gently to dissolve. Let the mixture stand until the yeast comes alive and starts to foam, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Turn the mixer on low and add the salt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the flour, a
little at a time, mixing at the lowest speed until all the flour has been incorporated.
When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium; stop the machine
periodically to scrape the dough off the hook. Get a feel for the dough by squeezing a
small amount together: if it's crumbly, add more water; if it's sticky, add more flour - 1
tablespoon at a time. Mix until the dough gathers into a ball, this should take about 5
minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and fold it over itself a few times;
kneading until it is smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a round and place in a lightly
oiled bowl, turn it over to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rise
in a warm spot (i.e. over a gas pilot light/warm oven) until doubled in size, about 45 min. to 1 hour. This is a good time to stick a pizza stone in the oven and preheat them to 450 degrees F.

Once the dough is domed and spongy, turn it out onto a lightly floured counter. Roll and
stretch the dough into a cylinder and divide into 3 equal pieces. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes so it will be easier to roll out.

Roll or pat out a piece of dough into a 12 inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Dust a pizza
paddle with flour and slide it under the pizza dough. Brush the crust with a thin layer of
olive oil, and top with your favorite flavors. Slide the pizza onto the hot stone in the
oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the crust is golden and crisp. Repeat with the
remaining dough.


Marinara-Tomato Pasta sauce


Ingredients:

2 cans 28 oz. each whole peeled tomatoes (blend till smooth in blender)

1 can 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

3-4   medium cloves garlic chopped finely

¼ cup Olive oil

¼ cup fresh basil chopped

1 whole yellow onion chopped

1/8 cup fresh oregano chopped

Red chili pepper flakes (optional)

1 teaspoon white sugar

1 teaspoon Nature’s Seasoning



Brown onions & garlic in olive oil, add herbs. Add tomatoes. Stir and reduce heat. Cover, stirring frequently. Add remaining ingredients. Cook down, add ½ cup water after reducing heat. Simmer on low heat for 2 hours.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mint Dark Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream



Mint-Dark Chocolate Chunk Ice-cream


2 cups whole Cream

1 cup milk

1 cup Sugar

3 tablespoons pure mint extract (not flavoring)

½ cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves

½ bag (of a 12 ounce bag) dark chocolate chunks

Green food coloring

Mix cream, sugar and extract together, whisk until sugar is dissolved. Add in mint leaves and set in fridge to chill at least 4 hrs. (I typically make the custard the day before, chill the ice cream machine ring overnight, and they are both ready to go the next day).

Prepare according to ice cream maker instructions and during the last 10 minutes, add chocolate chunks, and periodically drip one to two drops green food coloring into the ice cream maker. You only want a slight green hue, and just vague streaks, so be frugal. Freeze for an additional two hours, then serve.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lemon Granita...A Sicilian Treat


Lemon Granita


-A Sicilian Treat

Ingredients:

  • 10 large lemons (or about 2 ½ cups of juice)
  • 2 cups filtered or bottled still water
  • 2 cups fine granulated sugar
  • ½ cup lemon zest
  • Top with any kind of lemon flavored liquor such as Lemoncello (Optional)

**Makes 2 ½ quarts

Begin by heating sugar and water over high heat-bring to a boil, remove from heat once all sugar has dissolved. Grate lemon zest from 2-3 lemons (approx.. ½ cup of zest) into the simple syrup. Add lemon juice. Set in fridge to cool, and thicken for around 3 hours. Once chilled completely, process in your ice-cream maker for around 30 minutes. Remove & freeze for about 3 hours. Serve within 5 days. **Optional-top with ¼ cup Lemoncello.

Black Bean-Cilantro Burgers




This is a healthier alternative to the traditional burger. Once you add in all the ingredients, it only ends up being about 1/3 meat.

Black Bean-Cilantro Turkey Burgers

2 eggs
3 cloves chopped garlic
2 teaspoons Penzey’s “Arizona Dreaming” seasoning
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons low sodium Soy sauce 
1 cup chopped Cilantro-fresh
1 cup chopped white or yellow onion
1 tablespoon Nature’s Seasoning
1 can (8 oz.) black beans-drained well
Juice 2 limes

A few dashes soy sauce & Worchestershire sauce
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
2 pounds ground turkey

Mix the egg, onion and garlic in a large mixing bowl until the egg is well blended. Add the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and other seasonings. Add turkey, cilantro and lime juice. Mix well together, and gradually add breadcrumbs, adjusting for texture and making sure they are adhering well. This should make 8 medium sized patties. Pre-heat grill. Spray with Pam to avoid sticking. Cook the burgers on the preheated grill on a low setting, until juices run clear, about 6 minutes per side.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cherry-Berry Sorbet



Cherry-Berry Sorbet


Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar (simple syrup)
  • 1 vanilla bean-infused into the simple syrup
  • 1 cup water

  • 1 cup fresh blackberries, frozen, and partially thawed
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries, frozen, and partially thawed
  • 2 cups cherry-strawberry compote-previously cooked, cooled, pitted, and frozen
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preparation

  • Stir sugar and 1 cup water in small saucepan. Add vanilla bean, split lengthwise, and remove seeds. Add seeds, and bean to sugar. Bring to boil over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil 1 minute. Transfer syrup to large bowl. Chill until syrup is cold, about 3 hours.
  • In batches, puree berries, including juices, along with cherry mixture and cold sugar syrup in food processor until smooth. Strain into another large bowl; discard seeds. Stir in lemon juice.
  • Process berry mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer sorbet to container; cover and freeze until firm, about 6 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 week ahead. Keep frozen.

A heathier and faster Paella




Turkey Sausage and Shrimp Paella

Ingredients
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
  • 12 ounces chopped low-fat smoked turkey sausage into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 2 cups chopped yellow or white onions
  • 3-4 cloves chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 3 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 3-4 leaves fresh basil chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron threads
  • ¼ teaspoon Hungarian or smoked paprika
  • 4 cups (approximately) chicken broth
  • 1 & ½ cups medium to long grain white rice
  • 1 pound raw peeled & deveined medium shrimp
  • ½ cup diced celery
Preparation-This only takes about an hour to prepare, utilizing long grain Jasmine rice, versus the traditional Arborio rice, which takes much longer to cook, and requires more liquid. I find the Jasmine rice gives the Paella a fluffier texture anyway. The substitution of low fat turkey smoked sausage, over chorizo or another beef sausage makes for a lower fat version.
  • Heat a third of oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add smoked turkey sausage, and sauté until sausage has a nice golden brown crust/color. Remove and set aside. Add another third of the oil, heat and add garlic, and onions, and sauté until golden brown, about 8 minutes.
  • In a large pot, add broth, and stir in saffron and paprika, tomato paste, rosemary, and basil. Bring to boil, and remove from heat. In the last third of the olive oil, heat and add rice, sauté until golden brown. Add back in veggies, peas, and add three cups of broth. Cover and reduce heat to low. Retail remaining broth if rice needs additional liquid added as it cooks without stirring (about 15 minutes till light and fluffy). Add shrimp, and sausage to rice, and cook for about 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat.  

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Re-stocking time

On my way to the Farmer's market with the kids to see what good eats, and supplies we can find this weekend. Then off to try a new diner for brunch! Posting to follow.....

Friday, July 15, 2011

Shrimp-Tofu Fried Rice



Shrimp-Tofu Fried Rice


4-5 cloves fresh garlic-chopped

½ cup fresh basil-chopped

¼ cup fresh ginger-chopped

¼ cup spring onions-chopped

½ lb. shrimp-raw-deveined, peeled and tail removed

1 container hard Tofu (Firm)

1 medium head broccoli-chopped

½ lb. fresh mushrooms-diced

1 small can diced bamboo shoots

4 eggs-beaten

Nap-Pla (Asian fish sauce)

Soy sauce

Siracha sauce

Corn Oil

Sesame oil

Sesame seeds (to finish-optional)

Jasmine rice (previously cooked & cooled in fridge overnight is the best)

Directions:

Heat oil together, add in half of the following:  garlic, onions, and ginger. Cook till golden brown. Add tofu, and season with nap-pla, soy sauce, and Siracha sauce. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, remove and set aside.

Heat oil together, add in remaining half of the following:  garlic, onions, and ginger. Cook till golden brown.  Move to the side of wok, Add eggs to remaining oil, and wait till an omelet forms, flip & then add broccoli, bamboo shoots, and mushrooms. Stir.  Add shrimp, cook for a minute, then add rice, tofu, and remaining sauces and seasonings. Cook for about  5-6 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove and serve immediately.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Asiago-Corn Polenta...comfort food


Creamy Corn & Asiago, Serrano Pepper Polenta

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups polenta (yellow loose cornmeal)
4 (white/yellow sweet corn) roasted corn-cut from husks
1-2 medium sized Serrano peppers-chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 cup half and half
2 fresh thyme sprigs
4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and smashed
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup Asiago cheese-grated
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Directions:
Melt butter and olive oil together on med-high heat. Add chopped garlic and Serrano peppers. Once golden brown, add corn. Sautee for 2 minutes, add stock. Add milk and cream and half and half, along with thyme. Gradually pour in the cornmeal in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly. Once the milk is completely absorbed, lower the heat and set a timer for 20 minutes. Continue cooking, whisking often, until the timer goes off, add chicken stock if the mixture is too thick (it should be like creamy mashed potatoes). Once the timer goes off the polenta should be thick and smooth. Finish with butter, grated Parmigiano and salt and pepper.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Everything TEA


I happen to LOVE, with all caps, tea! Cold or hot (preferrably HOT), I grew up drinking and just love tea. I still have my morning cup of coffee, but I do drink Chai, English Breakfast, Herbal, Chinese or Jasmine, and with or without milk, cream and/or sugar....

By the way, tea is great for your health, and is full of antioxidants. It's a good appetite surpressant, and helps clean out your system, and keep everything in order. -Especially if  you eat sugar, processed foods, or a lot of white flour.

So...here's to tea. Have some today!

My current collection consists of:

Zucchini Blossoms...just beautiful!


Fried Zucchini Blossoms

Ingredients
  • Olive oil and Vegetable oil (for frying I use a 50/50 blend since Olive oil burns easier)
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon nature’s Seasoning
  • A few dashes of paprika
  • 12 ounces chilled club soda or good quality lager-style beer
  • 3 stiffly beaten egg whites
  • Zucchini blossoms
Preparation
  • In a large pan, heat about 2 cups of oil over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350°. Combine flour and seasoning in a medium bowl, then whisk in soda or beer until almost smooth. A few lumps are okay-but don’t over-mix batter. Fold in egg whites. Dredge blossoms individually, removing extra batter. Lay each individual blossom in oil, taking care not to over fill the pan. Stir gently, turning over in pan. They cook quickly-around 2-3 minutes in total. Once golden brown, remove & lay on a dry paper towel to drain, and serve immediately.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Known Issue with Blogger Followers not showing up...sorry--just waiting it out..

A healthier version of fries





Sweet Potato Fries


**I use two kinds of sweet potatoes; the gold ones, and the ones that are orange on the inside, to give it a nice color variety. The recipe is a little spicy, but gives you an all-round perfect balance of sweet, salty, spicy, and savory!

3 lbs. of peeled sweet potatoes (they shrink when they are cooked-so 3 pounds isn’t too much)-plus they reheat in a toaster oven perfectly.

¼ cup Olive oil

Natures Seasoning

Penzey’s Spices “Arizona” blend (Salt free) **This is a little spicy-and contains some smoke flavor. If you don’t have this, you can substitute for the ingredients below:

                1/8 cup Hungarian Paprika

                1 tsp. cayenne Pepper

                ¼ teaspoon chili powder

Pre-heat oven to 375. Cut potatoes into finger size & thickness slices. Toss in a large sealable zip lock bag in Olive oil, adding your other seasonings. Mix well. Place on a well-greased (with olive oil) cookie sheet (preffereably with side-makes it easier to mix), and bake for 1 hour. Turn sweet potatoes over gently with a spatula every 15 or so minutes. They will get soft before they get crispy. Once they are cooked & appear soft-increase temperature to 400-410. Cook for another 30 or so minutes, or until crispy. It’s important to closely monitor & continue to turn the fries during this time, as they can easily burn. I usually serve with a side of Ranch dressing, and carrot and celery sticks.