Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Amish Friendship Bread JB Style (White Chocolate, Cranberry, Grand Marnier Amish Friendship Bread)

I had a friend at work give me an Amish Friendship Bread starter a little while ago. I was so excited, I'd never received a starter before. I fed it and mushed it and made it my own. Here is what I did.

But, first, before I get to the recipe, I have a question. Why do some men put all of their baseball caps in the back window of their cars? I can't tell you how many times I have driven down the street behind a car with a back window completely bedazzled with baseball caps, at least ten or so...all lined up...getting completely subleached in the back of the car. What is the thought process behind this? When I buy a hat, I buy it so I can wear it, not throw it in the back of my car? Does anyone have a father, brother, uncle who does this? Please explain.

Day 1: Receive starter
Day 2-5: Mush the bag
Day 6: Add 1 cup each, four, sugar, milk. (I added 1/3 cup of each because I didn't want four starters from this bag - I only wanted one to keep going)
Day 7-9: Mush the bag
Day 10: MAKE BREAD! Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk. Stir. Take out 3 cups and place 1 cup each into three separate plastic containers. Give one cup and a copy of this recipe to three friends. (I didn't want to make 3 starters, I only wanted 1, so I added 1/3 cup of everything which yielded 1 cup starter and 1 cup of batter for bread making.) To the balance (a little over one cup) of the batter, add the following ingredients and mix well.

1 cup oil
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

In a separate bowl combine the following dry ingredients and mix well:

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 - (5.1 oz) box instant vanilla pudding
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup nuts

(I wanted to give you the original recipe in case you wanted it, but this is how I made it.)

3/4 cup oil
1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup Grand Marnier
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

In a separate bowl combine the following dry ingredients and mix well:

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt
1 cup frozen whole cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
grated zest of one orange.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix and pour into two well greased and sugared bread pans. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour.

Rating = So Damn Good

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wild Mushroom Risotto | Martha Stewart

Ok. You know what I didn't need to hear first thing when I came into the office this morning. I didn't need to hear that your 4 month old has learned to make "big boy" poops in his diaper. Nor did I need to know that you won't let your mother-in-law take your 4 month old to the mall because once she lost her keys at the mall, and you think she'll lose your living breathing offspring if she takes him to the mall.

Listen, we all know I don't want to have kids, but that doesn't stop me from being able to appreciate the little things that happen with my friends and their children, but this girl is crazy. Do I really need to know about the change in texture, color and smell of your kids shits...really?

Onto more pleasant and better smelling things, I had recently bought some dried porcini mushrooms. I have never worked with dried mushrooms before, so I was very curious and excited to try them. I made a Martha Stewart risotto recipe calling for fresh and dried mushrooms. The recipe was good, but honestly I thought it lacked a little somethin', which my friend and I decided could have been rosemary or another strong herb...possibly thyme. So, I post this recipe with hesitation, only because alone it wasn't Damn Good, it was only Good...with the addition of herbs it may have been better.

Wild Mushroom Risotto | Martha

6 cups vegetable stock (she used chicken, i substituted vegetable)
1/4 oz dried porcini mushrooms
9 oz assorted fresh mushrooms
7 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
4-6 tbs butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat stock in pan over medium heat. Add dried mushrooms; cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon; chop finely. Keep stock at a simmer over medium heat.

2.Remove stems from fresh mushrooms; chop finely. Slice caps 1/4 inch thick. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add mushroom caps; cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and soft, about 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl. To pan, add remaining 6 tablespoons oil, mushroom stems, and shallots. Cook, stirring, until translucent. Add rice; cook, stirring, until rice begins to sound like glass beads, 3 to 4 minutes.

3. Add wine. Cook, stirring, until wine is absorbed by rice. Using a ladle, add 3/4 cup hot stock to rice. Using a wooden spoon, stir rice constantly, at a moderate speed. When rice has absorbed most but not all of liquid and mixture is just thick enough to leave a clear wake behind the spoon when stirring, add another 3/4 cup stock. 

4. Continue adding stock in this manner, stirring constantly, until rice is mostly translucent but still opaque in center. Continue cooking until rice is al dente, but not crunchy. As rice nears doneness, watch carefully; add smaller amounts of liquid. The mixture should be thick enough that grains are suspended in liquid the consistency of heavy cream. The risotto will thicken slightly when removed from heat. 

5. Add dried mushrooms and mushroom caps; warm over low heat. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and Parmesan; season with salt and pepper. Divide among four bowls; grate Parmesan over risotto. Serve immediately.

Rating = Good  

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Guinness Chocolate Cake with Irish Cream Cheese Frosting

Here is this years alcohol dessert. Guinness Chocolate Cake with Irish Cream Cheese Frosting. It didn't stand a chance at the Irish Cousins party on Friday. It was the first thing to go, before the dip, before the quiche, before the salad, before the cookies, before everything. It was the main attraction. I've been asked to make it again for parties this weekend for Christmas. One thing I will change, although the idea of the two cake pans and the frosting is to make it look like a Guinness Stout in a glass, dark on the bottom with a creamy frothy just works better if you use one pan that is big enough to cook the whole batter in. I will either use a Bundt pan, or a larger round cake pan that can hold all the batter. But either way, I will be making this cake again, and again. I don't think I'm not allowed to make it now. It was originally a Nigella Lawson recipe, but her's just called for Cream Cheese frosting, I found a recipe on line that adapted hers and added the Bailey's Irish Cream to the frosting. This is the recipe that I used from a blog called Closet Cooking, which is a really fun blog.

Chocolate Stout Cake

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

1. Melt the butter in a sauce pan, remove from heat and let cool a bit.
2. Mix in the stout and cocoa powder.
3. Mix the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
4. Mix the eggs and sour cream in another large bowl.
5. Mix the stout mixture into the egg mixture.
6. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet.
7. Pour the batter into one or two greased and parchment lined circular cake pan(s).
8. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until a toothpick pushed into the center comes out clean. If you bake it in a single pan then it should take about 40-50 minutes. If you bake it in two cake pans then it should take about 20-30 minutes.

Bailey's Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
1 cup confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons of Bailey’s Irish cream

1. Mix everything.

On another note, I saw a person driving a Vespa to work this morning. It's twenty fucking one degrees outside you crazy bastard.

Rating = So God Damn Good

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Mediterranean Apricot and Date Chutney

I love dates and I love dried apricots, but dried apricots give me gas so I try to limit my intake to one a day, chopped up to top my yogurt and granola. But, when I saw this recipe I knew I had to throw caution to the wind...ha, get it wind...

The recipe says to serve this chutney with tangines (Moroccan stews), but I've just been putting it on crusty bread with a little bit of melted brie. Yum.

Mediterranean Apricot and Date Chutney
makes about twelve 8-oz jars.

2 lbs dried apricots
3 cups lightly packed brown sugar
2 1/2 cups chopped pitted dates
2 1/2 cups raisins
2 cups white wine vinegar
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground coriander

1. In a large bowl, combine apricots with water to cover. Let stand for 30 minutes. Drain, chop and place in a large stainless steel saucepan. Add 2 cups water, brown sugar, dates, raisins, vinegar, mustard seeds, salt, ginger and coriander. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until thick enough to mound on a spoon, about 20 minutes.

2. Prepare canner jars and lids while ingredients are boiling.

3.  Ladle chutney into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot chutney. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to finger tip tight.

4. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove the jars, cool and store.

Rating = So Damn Good

Monday, December 07, 2009

Rosemary No Knead Crust Bread

Remember this post Here? Well. When you add about 1/8 cup of chopped fresh rosemary to the flour before you add the yeast, salt and water it makes the bread even better. So awesome, and while it is baking it will fill your house with the delicious aroma of fresh bread and rosemary together. Take this bread, cut it into little slices, then top it with a creamy brie and a sundried tomato packed in oil and you've got yourself a crowd pleasing freaking good.

On a side note Hallie and I went to see the 3D Imax showing of A Christmas Carol. So good, the effects were amazing, the story true to the original (enough) and just a fantastic way to spend an hour and a half. And, if you go to the IMAX in Reading, all the seats in the theatre are Temperpedic seats, and oh so very comfortable. The only thing I didn't like about this version of the story was the Ghost of Christmas Past, honestly the voice freaked me out a little, like a person who might hang around a school or a bus stop a little too much, get my drift.

So, what's your favorite Christmas movie or show?
And, he slackers, where are my alcohol laced dessert recipes?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Cranberry Rosemary Goat Cheese Log

Look, I'm just going to say it. I cannot poop if someone is in the stall next to me. I can't do it. I'm not embarrassed that I poop, I even tell people how much I poop (two times today if you must know) but when it comes to pooping at work I just can't do it if someone is in the bathroom with me. I can't tell you how many times I've gone into the women's bathroom, looked under all the stall doors, given myself the "all clear" gotten settled in the stall and then had someone come into the bathroom. And, it's never someone who is quick in the bathroom, its someone who sits on the toilet, literally drips dry before they wipe, has an ensemble that needs five minutes to get tucked back in, sings the happy birthday song while washing their hands (have to kill all those germs especially during flu season) then proceeds to pick their teeth or do all manners of personal sprucing, meanwhile I'm pushing back a freaking turtle head. Why is it that it always happens like this. When I go to the bathroom and the person in the stall next to me is obviously having a moment and waiting for my exit, I speedy the hell up and get out of dodge so they can finish their business. Why is this not a known courtesy?

Speaking of logs, Trader Joe's is selling these great goat cheese logs rolled in dried cranberries. The log is fine the way it is, but we've had such a mild fall that my rosemary plant is still going gangbusters so when I was asked to bring an appetizer to my friends house I bought the log and then took the fresh rosemary and chopped it up then rolled the log in the fresh cut rosemary. This was a huge hit. It looks so great at this time of year with the green and white. Just a quick appetizer if you need one for an upcoming event. I served it with Melba toasts, and there was not one morsel left at the end of the night.

Rating = Damn Good