Thursday, June 28, 2007

Almost Vegan Chocolate Rum Pudding Cake

I had a hankering for chocolate yesterday and a quick search among my favorite food blogs turned up this recipe. I had all the ingredients on had except for the soy milk, and because I wasn't looking for a vegan recipe I decided to just use the skim milk I had. I made a few minor adjustments which are noted below in the recipe.

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon
1 cup
sugar, divided
1/2 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder, divided (I used regular cocoa powder)
1/2 cup plain soy milk (I used skim milk)
1/4 cup canola oil (I used vegetable oil)
1 teaspoon
vanilla extract
1 teaspoon
rum extract (I used almond extract)
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup light rum (I used Parrot Bay Coconut Rum)

1. Boil some water in a teakettle, preheat oven to 350°F, and grease a 9-inch springform round cake pan. (I used 6 individual custard cups)

2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, 3/4 cup of the sugar, and 1/4 cup of the cocoa. Add the soy milk, oil, and extracts, and mix into a thick batter.

3. Spread batter into cake pan. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cocoa and sugar.

4. Pour the boiling water into a glass measuring cup, add the maple syrup and rum to the water, and pour this mixture on top of the cake batter.

5. Place cake on a cookie sheet in case of pudding overflow and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool just a bit; while the cake is still warm, place it on a large plate (your plate should have a slight edge to prevent spillage). (I put the custard cups in a baking dish to catch any spillage)

6. Throw on a scoop of vanilla soy ice cream if you like, and you’ve got yourself one impressive dessert.

Rating = So Good

I give this only a so good rating because, it was chocolate and it was gooey and it was good, but I was just a little disappointed in the outcome. I found it very messy and hard to eat, although we had friends over last night and I think Garth ate his in three bites all the while saying.."this is really good." So I guess it was just me who had a problem with it; CB didn't seem to have any problem with it and when I said I didn't know if I'd make it again he asked why, because it was so good. C'est la vie.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Basil Beer Bread | Real Simple

So, good bread doesn't always have to be a pain in the arse. I found this recipe online when I googled "basil" and "bread" together. I had bought a ton of organic basil at Trader Joe's before we headed up to Vermont the other day, and I had a bunch of it left over even after making pasta salad with it. I didn't want it to go to waste, so the Google search began. This recipe appealed to me because although it contained yeast, I didn't need to go through the whole proofing stage, nor the let it rise stage, nor really even the kneading stage, I made the whole thing in my Kitchen Aid mixer with the bread hook on it.

Recipe: From Real Simple Magazine
Olive oil for the baking sheet
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4-ounce package active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated Parmesan
1 12-ounce bottle beer, preferably ale
Flour for the work surface
1 cup chopped or torn fresh basil

Heat oven to 400° F. Oil a baking sheet. In the bowl of a standing mixer on low, or in a large bowl using a spoon, combine the flour, yeast, salt, pepper, and Parmesan. Add the beer and mix just until the dough comes together.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle with the basil and knead gently just until incorporated. Shape the dough into a round loaf and transfer to the prepared sheet. (I did this all in the stand mixer with the dough hook attached. I only put the dough on the floured surface to actually form the dough into a ball. I also sprinkled a little Parmesan cheese on the top before putting into the oven.)

Bake until the loaf is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. (I baked it for 40 minutes)

Turn the loaf onto a wire rack. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing.
Rating = So Damn Good
Calories: 336(8% from fat); Fat: 3g (sat 2g); Sugar: 0g; Protein: 12g; Cholesterol: 3mg; Sodium 977mg; Fiber 3g; Carbs: 63g

The day after making this bread I came upon a new food blogging event, actually, the inaugural event for
Bread Baking Day, the theme of which just happened to be "Bread with Herbs". How perfect. If you have a great bread recipe, Jeff I'm talking to you. Why don't you join in on this brand new food blogging event.

breadbakingday #01 - bread with herbs

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Light Crumb Coffeecake | Cook's Illustrated

Like Mia Wallace said in Pulp Fiction, "I say God Damn." This cake is good. It's not just good, it's Low Fat People. The normal serving of coffee cake has on average 14 grams of fat and 320 calories per serving, this one, a mere 5 grams of fat and 210 calories per serving. Sweet!

Nonstick baking spray with flour
1 1/2 C unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 C cake flour
3/4 C packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp unsalted butter softened, plus 1 tbsp melted and cooled
1/2 C granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 C plain low-fat yogurt

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with the nonstick baking spray. Whisk the all purpose flour, cake flour, 1/2 cup of the brown sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda together in a medium bowl. Remove 1/4 cup of the flour mixture and mix it with the remaining 1/4 cup of brown sugar and the cinnamon in a small bowl; set aside.

2. Beat the 3 tablespoons of softened butter and the granulated sugar together with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber satula as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

3. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Beat in one-third of the flour mixture until just incorporated, followed by the vanilla and one-third of the yogurt , scraping down the bowl as needed. Repeat this process twice more, alternating between the remaining flour mixture and yogurt until the ingredients are just incorporated. Do not overmix.

4. Scrape the cake batter into the prepared baking pan. Stir the 1 tablespoon melted butter into the reserved cinnamon mixture and toss gently with a fork until the butter is evenly distributed creating some pea-sized crumbs. Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the batter.

5. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan half way through baking. Transfer the baking pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool completely before cutting into squares.

Per Serving: Calories: 210; Fat: 5g; Sat Fat: 3g; Chol: 45 mg; Carb:38g; Protein: 4g; Fiber:1g; Sodium: 150mg

Rating = So God Damn Good

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Buttermilk Coleslaw | Cook's Country

With Red Sox tickets being impossible to score for Father's Day CB and I along with LP and JP (meat and potatoes) decided to take our father's to a Paw Sox game in Rhode Island. This was easier said than done, it seemed everyone had the same idea as us, and even when we bought the tickets online over a month ago it was difficult to get 10 tickets close to each other, so we were broken up among three rows with some of us staggering in front and back of each other.

This was not the problem. The problem was, when we were placing our order online for the tickets the website failed to mention that our seats were located in the "Kids Party Zone." I nearly shot myself when I got there. For those of you who don't know me, I'm not good with kids, I'm even worse with parents. I used to say, "I hate kids" all the time, but I've come to realize that I don't hate kids, I hate parents. I feel children are a product of their environment and are little monkeys, mimicking the action of their parents, how is a child supposed to know right from wrong if the parents don't teach them, or even know themselves.

So there I sat, in the "Kids Party Zone" at little Tylers 10 year birthday party praying to God that I would just be struck dead because surely that would be the quickest way to stop the pain. It was at this point that I heard a nose behind me, what sounded like a heavy breathing of sorts, maybe a panting, but definitely not a normal sound. My younger sister was sitting to my left, I turned my head around looking at her, and then looked at the curly haired cherub behind me, left index finger planted firmly up her left nostril, blowing with all her might out of the right nostril, meanwhile, her mother sitting next to her, not a clue in the world that her daughter was trying to blow her friggin brains out of her right nostril, which just happened to be aimed at the back of my head. I looked at my sister, she looked at me, and it was at this moment that a honking green booger, fueled buy the propulsion of every ounce of air this girl could hurl through her right nostril flew between our faces, over the head of the boy in front of us and landed, three fucking rows in front of us. After our initial shock, my sister and I whipped our heads around looked at the mother and told her in no uncertain terms that if we got one more snot rocket aimed in our general direction there would be hell to pay. Seriously, this mother sat there, not a care in the world while her daughter huffed and puffed and blew her nose apart. Where was the conversation about blowing your nose into a tissue, or basically not sticking your whole God Damn hand in your nose. I failed to mention that the whole time she was blowing she was also kicking my seat, and tap dancing along the rim of my seat back, her mother saw this, she saw me sitting in the chair and never once told her daughter to stop until I said something. I don't dislike children, I dislike parents who don't parent. How was this child to know any better when her mother clearly didn't.

On a lighter note. I made this lovely cole slaw for our pre "kids party zone" cookout. It was a big hit. of course it was, it's from America's Test Kitchen where every recipe works.

1 medium head green cabbage cored and chopped fine
2 large carrots peeled and shredded on a box grated
2/3 c buttermilk (I used light)
1/2 c mayonnaise (I used light)
1/4 c sour cream (I used light)
8 scallions chopped fine
2 tbls sugar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp pepper

1. Toss shredded cabbage and carrots with one teaspoon salt in a colander and set over a medium bowl. Let stand until wilted, about 1 hour. Rinse cabbage with carrots under cold water, drain, dry well with paper towels, and transfer to large bowl.

2. Stir in remaining ingredients plus salt to taste. Refrigerate until chilled, about 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning and serve.

Rating = So God Damn Good

Monday, June 18, 2007

Sundried Tomato and Goat Cheese Crostini

I still had some sundried tomatoes and goat cheese left over from the pasta dinner I made the other night, so when our friends from Providence decided to come up and see us Friday night I knew exactly what to make as an appetizer before we went out to dinner. Seriously, two ingredients here, it doesn't get much easier than that people. Sundried tomatoes and goat cheese, it's not rocket science.

Our friend Eric is completely batshit over P.F. Chang's. I don't know why. CB and I try our damnedest to not eat at chain restaurants, knowing that it's more important to support smaller family owned establishments than big honking suburban sprawl inducing chains. On Friday night we even suggested going to one of the small restaurants by our house to which Eric's reply was, "it's P.F. Chang's or nothing." So that pretty much put the kabash on going anywhere else, and considering they had waited in two hours of Fenway traffic to get to our house that night, we weren't going to argue.

Everything at the restaurant was fine, the service was good, the food is what I would call high class take-out Chinese. As Eric was nearing the end of his Tam Tam Noodles he looked at his plate and said "what the fuck is this" as he picked up a brown sticker that clearly said THURSDAY/JUEVES on it. We called the waiter over and inquired about the THURSDAY/JUEVES sticker to which his reply was that our meal was most likely prepared the night before, which explains the date on the sticker, but not why the sticker was in the food. Needless to say, we didn't pay for that particular order of Tam Tam Noodles. To their credit, the manager came over and looked completely mortified, we had actually had enough drinks that we found it very comical, especially because it was "P.F. Chang's or nothing" that night for Eric, and it was his meal that was fouled. I think he may have also been perplexed that he was essentially eating left overs, considering it had been made a whole 24 hours prior to his ordering it. Good Times.

Sundried Tomato and Goat Cheese Crostini
1/2 jar sundried tomatoes in olive oil
1/2 log or about 3 ounces goat cheese
1/2 loaf French bread

Cut the french bread on a bias into small slices. You can either brush them with a little butter before you toast them, or simple toast them plain. I wanted to keep the fat/calories low so I simply toasted them plain in the toaster oven.

In a food processor, pulse the sundried tomatoes and goat cheese until completely incorporated. When bread is lightly toasted top each one with a generous amount of the tomato and goat cheese spread. Enjoy.

Rating = So Damn Good

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Elvis Muffins aka Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

I eat about a jar of peanut butter a week. Yes, me alone, one jar, per week. I love peanut butter. I always have, I don't really put it on toast, or make sandwiches with it, I stick a spoon in the jar and eat it out of the jar. Yes, I have my own jar. CB does not eat out of my peanut butter jar, he has his own jar that he eats out of like a civilized person, with a knife, spreading it on bread, and not double dipping. His jar lasts him about a month, I go through four jars per month.

I eat a teaspoon or so before I leave for work, another few teaspoons before I head out for my nightly run, and then a few more when I get home from said run. Call it an addiction, maybe. I'm sure I'm not alone, but somehow I always seem to feel guilty when CB walks into the kitchen and catches me with the jar in one hand, and the spoon in my mouth, me acting as if the spoon in my mouth represents the first spoonful I've had in this particular instance, not the third, or fourth.

I do eat natural peanut butter, the kind where there are only two ingredients listed; chopped roasted nuts and salt. No Jiffy or Skippy or any other brand that has an ingredient list of at least 7 or 8 things, including some form of partially hydrogenated something. Its all natural creamed nuts for moi.

I found this recipe scribbled on a post-it note in my kitchen, I think I got it from the Cooking Light website, but I can't be certain.

Recipe: preheat oven to 375, grease 12 muffin tins

1 c flour
3/4 c oatmeal
1/3 c brown sugar
1 tbs baking powder
1 c milk
1/2 c peanut butter (I used chunky)
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana
1 egg beaten
2 tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla

1/4 c oatmeal
1/4 c flour
2 tbsp melted butter
2 tbs brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease 12 medium muffin cups. Combine flour, oats, brown sugar and baking powder. Whisk together milk, peanut butter, banana, egg, oil and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients. Mix just until moistened. Fill muffin cups ¾ full. Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle on muffins. Bake 16-18 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm. (Can be frozen.)

Rating = So Damn Good

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Angel Hair Pasta w/ Sundried Tomatoes, Basil and Goat Cheese

Nothing fancy here folks, just plain good food. Want to know something about me that I think is odd? I hate, loathe, despise the taste of raw tomatoes, like vine ripe tomatoes. But I love the flavor of tomatoes any other way; sundried, cooked whole plum tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, anything made with tomatoes just so long as they are not raw. The actual smell of a raw tomato gives me that horrible shoulder hunch, head back, tongue sticking out gag reflex. It actually makes me shake my head and go blaaughhh, yuck. Yeah, so there's a bit of information that you really didn't need to know, and most likely don't care about. Moving right along.

This recipe takes oh, about 10 minutes to pull together which is great for nights when you don't really feel like cooking.

1 box angel hair pasta (cooked to al dente)
1 shallot diced
1 jar sundried tomatoes in olive oil (roughly chopped)
1/2 log goat cheese
1 large handful fresh basil torn into pieces
Olive oil to coat pan
salt and pepper

1. In saute pan over medium heat cook shallot until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add sundried tomatoes to pan and cook until heated through, about another 5 minutes. The pasta should be cooking at this time. Add 1/2 of the chopped basil to the saute pan just to incorporate into the tomato mixture.

2. When pasta is done, use pasta spoon to transfer pasta to the saute pan. Add about 1 cup of the pasta water to the pan. Mix together evenly distributing the tomatoes throughout the pasta.

3. Transfer to individual serving bowls and top with extra basil and crumbled goat cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Rating = So Damn Good

The pasta may be a little sticky, if this happens just pour a little olive oil over the pasta. Also, Olive oil can be added to the pasta water before boiling the pasta, this will help it not stick together while cooking.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Virtually Fat Free Blueberry Banana Oatmeal Bread

I'm sorry if the multiple posts varying the ingredients of this low fat bread are getting boring, but I just love the idea of being able to shove hunks of soft, delicious bread in my mouth and not feeling guilty about it. I still don't think I've perfected a variation yet, but I'm working on it. This bread I think seems to be pretty close to what I was hoping to achieve, it was sweet, not too moist and offered the weight of a fuller fat breakfast bread, without of course all the guilt to weigh you down.

Speaking of things that need to be weighed down, the other day when I was on my run I passed a woman who was running in the opposite direction of me, so towards me. The woman looked as if she had absolutely no bra on. What is the thinking behind this? She was not small chested, she actually had a rather well endowed chest area, I know this because it seemed to wag from side to side like the ass end of a dog when its really really happy. We were on a pretty straight long stretch, so I had a virtual front row seat to her tit show until the blessed moment when we passed each other.

I will never in all my days understand not only how women can run like this and not grab their chest in fits of pain, but also why any woman on God's green earth would want to give gravity a boost. You're tits some day will sag, why God why are you helping them by letting them sway to and fro, burdened by their own weight, why would you not get a bra with some semblance of support to it?

Again, I realize that the above has nothing to do with blueberries, bananas, bread and cooking whatsoever, but I just had to get that off my chest. Ha, chest! Seriously people, I'm very easily amused.

Recipe: Low Fat Blueberry Banana Oatmeal Bread Original Recipe
Preheat oven to 325 degrees

1 1/2 C flour
1/2 C quick cooking oats
3/4 C brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 C chunky applesauce
1 ripe banana mashed
3/4 c blueberries (I used frozen so that they were easier to fold into the batter)

1. Mix all dry ingredients together
2. Add applesauce and mashed banana (it will take a while for all the dry ingredients to become moist, just keep mixing it)
3. Fold in blueberries
4. Place in greased bread loaf pan. Bake at 325 for 50 minutes.

Rating = So Damn Good

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Food for Thought | Chiffonade

I don't have a food post today, however, I do have a thought post, so maybe it's a food for thought post. The word chiffonade, sounds all special doesn't it? Like if you saw it on the menu of some fancy restaurant in such a way; scallops in a white wine butter sauce topped with a chiffonade of fresh basil" you might say to yourself, wow that really is worth $22 bucks a plate for 4 scallops, what, with having gone through all the trouble to chiffonade the basil, that must be tough work.

If there is one thing that I am grateful for about learning how to cook and becoming more versed in the culinary language it's that I feel I can look at a menu and say...phooey, that's just a really fancy way of saying you took a handful of basil, rolled the shit up and then sliced it with your big fat chef knife. I'm wicked smart.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Have you tried Quinoa (keen-wa)

Quinoa contains more protein than any other grain, any of them. And not only is it high in protein, but the protein that it contains is what is referred to as a complete protein; complete meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. It was one of the three staple foods of the Incan civilization, the other two being corn and potatoes, and was known to them as the mother grain. Mother grain is a bit of a misnomer considering it's not really a grain, it's the botanical fruit of an herb plant, and a relative to leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. There are multiple websites heralding the healing properties of this great "grain", but you know what is even more important, the shit tastes good. Real good in fact, when cooked it has a very soft texture and then a little snap when you bite into it. It has a really pleasant "mouth feel" a term which always makes me snicker like the mature grown woman I am. "Ha Ha mouth feel." Moving right along. There are so many ways that you can prepare this great grain, like there are so many ways to make pasta. So go on, experiment with it.

Quinoa with Mint, Golden Raisins and Feta

Prepare Quinoa to package instructions.
handful of chopped fresh mint
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 c feta cheese
salt and pepper

When quinoa is done and at the right consistency mix in all ingredients, top with salt and pepper. Enjoy.

Rating = So Damn Good

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Best Key Lime Bars | Cooks Illustrated

Before I became a Cooks Illustrated lover, Jeff from C for Cooking let me borrow a few of his issues so that I could get a feel for the magazine and how the recipes were written and illustrated. When handing me the July/August 2006 issue he looked me dead in the eye and said "you must make the key lime bars in this issue." The problem was he gave me the issue during the cold wet winter, and the last thing I wanted to make was key lime anything, I wanted warm ooey gooey desserts to take the chill out of the air, so I ended looking at the recipe for about four months. Well, Friday the big ol' hot and humid summer reared its head in the northeast, delivering warm sun, humid air and a big thunderstorm to boot. The time had come for key lime squares.

When shopping at Haymarket on Friday in the blazing ninety degree heat, I noticed that all the vendors were selling limes 10 for $1. Sometimes serendipity stares you in the face doesn't it. I loaded up my bag with limes and headed home to try the recipe.

Seriously, make this recipe. We had friends over for dinner and I served this for dessert. My friend RD had multiple servings and kept raving about it as he was eating it. The recipe makes quite a bit, but it can be doubled, just up the cooking time about two minutes.

5 ounces animal crackers (about 1 1/4 C crumbs)
3 tbs light or dark brown sugar packed
pinch salt
4 tbsp butter melted and cooled slightly

2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 tbsp grated lime zest
1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 large egg yolk
1/2 C key lime juice or regular juice (do not use bottled juice)

Garnish (optional)
3/4 C shredded coconut toasted until crisp

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut about 12-inch length extra-wide heavy duty foil; fold cut edges back to form 7 1/2-inch width. With folded sides facing down, fit foil securely into bottom and up sides of 8-inch square baking pan, allowing excess to overhang pan sides. Spray foil with non-stick cooking spray.

2. To Make Crust. In workbowl of food processor, pulse animal crackers until broken down, about ten 1-second pulses; process crumbs until evenly fine, about 10 seconds. Add brown sugar and salt; process to combine, ten to twelve 1-second pulses. Drizzle butter over crumbs and pulse until crumbs are evenly moistened with butter, about ten 1-second pulses. Press crumbs evenly and firmly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake until deep golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack while making filling. Do not turn off oven.

3. To Make Filling: While crust cools, in medium bowl, stir cream cheese, zest and salt with rubber spatula until softened, creamy and thoroughly combined. Add sweetened condensed milk and whisk vigorously until incorporated and no lumps of cream cheese remain; whisk in egg yolk. Add lime juice and whisk gently until incorporated (mixture will thicken slightly).

4. To Assemble and Bake: Pour filling into crust; spread to corners and smooth surface with rubber spatula. Bake until set and edges begin to pull away slightly from sides, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Cover with foil and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled at least 2 hours.

5. Loosen edges with pairing knife and lift bars from baking pan using foil extensions; cut bars into 16 squares. Sprinkle with toasted coconut if using, and serve. (Leftovers can be refrigerated up to two days; crust will soften slightly. Let stand at room temperature, about 15 minutes before serving.)

Rating = So God Damn Good