Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Roasted Strawberry Brown Butter Pancakes


Remember last week when I bragged about how awesome Ladybug was doing sleeping in her big girl bed?

Well, apparently I should have just kept it to myself because the second I hit "publish" sleeping went from awesome to downright horrific. There was NO sleep in this house. Finally, after a whole week of not sleeping and being grumpy (I'm pretty sure I was the grumpier of the two) we decided that maybe she wasn't quite ready for it. My thoughts were confirmed when she started squealing and out of happiness when she saw the crib. I am glad to report we have all been sleeping much better (and napping, too!!!!) now that the crib is back in our lives. And I don't think I'm going to push the toddler bed until maybe she is six. Or seven. 

These pancakes were soooo delicious and fun, definitely a special treat! Ladybug and I both really enjoyed them (Joel was at work, so he didn't get any). Us girls scarfed down almost the entire batch by ourselves, with just a few left over for breakfast the next day. The combination of browned butter, the juicy roasted strawberries and the maple syrup was pretty much awesome! They were just the comfort food we needed after not sleeping for so long. You need to try these! 

Roasted Strawberry Brown Butter Pancakes (How Sweet It Is)

1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 TBSP sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cup milk (I actually used almost 2 cups, but I like my pancakes thin)

Preheat oven to 375.
Toss the sliced strawberries in the olive oil and a tiny pinch of salt, then lay flat on a baking sheet.
Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until juicy and caramely.
When done, remove them from the oven, let them cool for a few minutes and then chop them up.
In a small saucepan on medium-low heat, slowly melt the butter, whisking constantly, until little brown bits start to form on the bottom, about 5-6 minutes. Watch it closely, it goes from nothing to burnt in 3 seconds flat. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the milk, the egg, and vanilla.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Stir in the brown butter and the roasted strawberries.
If you want your batter thinner, this is when you can add more milk until you get the consistency you want.
Heat a griddle or skillet over medium heat.
Add a bit of butter or cooking spray to the pan, and scoop 1/4 cup of batter onto the pan.
Cook until bubbles form on top, then flip, and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, or until golden brown on both sides.
Top with syrup and Enjoy! 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Cranberry Mango Nut Bars (Gluten Free and Raw)


This month's round of Secret Recipe Club is brought to you by the lovely blog Without Adornment. Bean has a great blog with tons of awesome gluten free, sugar free, raw, and allergen free food. She named her blog after a rather beautiful Bible Scripture - "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment... Rather, it should be that if your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gently and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." (1Peter 3:3-4). She tries to focus her blog on her own quest just be herself, without adornment, and I really love her approach, and her blog reflects it. Her photography is simple, but captures the beauty of the actual food itself, and her recipes are the same - natural food, wholesomely prepared, but obviously delicious.

I had a rather hard time picking what I wanted to make this month. I've been doing a little bit of dabbling in using more whole and unprocessed foods, but I wasn't quite ready to make a foray into gluten free baking (which often contains a substantial list of ingredients not currently found in my kitchen). I finally found the perfect recipe - Cranberry Mango Nut Bars! This fit the bill perfectly, representing Bean's blog about Gluten-free eating, my quest to use less pre-processed foods. Plus it gave me the excuse to buy two things I have been eyeing at the grocery store but haven't been able to stop talking myself out of buying it - almond butter and coconut oil!

I am very happy with the way these bars turned out, too! After the initial chopping phase, these bars were a breeeeeze to put together. I think it took me 5 minutes, tops. After a brief stint in the freezer to harden the bars, it was time to taste them! And taste them I did. Like, three in a row. I had to make sure they were good, you know! :) These are best eaten straight out of the refigerator. Because the honey isn't boiled, these granola bars stay soft, and the longer they are out of the fridge the softer they get!

Cranberry Mango Nut Bars, Gluten Free and Raw (recipe adapted from Without Adornment)

3/4 cup raw almonds, chopped
3/4 cup raw cashews, chopped
1/4 cup raw walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup dried cranberries soaked in apple juice
1/3 cup dried unsweetened mango, chopped
1/3 cup almond butter
1/4 cup raw honey
2 TBSP coconut oil

Chop your nuts, mango, and soak your cranberries.
Grease an 8x8" pan with vegetable oil and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine the almond butter, honey and coconut oil.
Heat on low heat and stir constantly until the coconut oil is melted and the mixture is combined and creamy.
Dump in the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and press until it is evenly spread out.
Place the pan in the freezer for 1 hour.
Cut into bars and then place back into the freezer for another hour.
Once the bars have solidified you can store them in the fridge.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Daring Bakers Make Challah!


Let's Holla for some Challah, Whoop Whoop!

Sorry, I had to. I tried not to, but it came out anyway.

May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.

I was very excited when I saw that this month's challenge was to be challah! I've made challah once before (here) and it turned out great! I loved it, it was not as hard as I thought it was going to be. The last time I did sourdough and a four- stranded braid. This time I decided to do do regular dough, the rounded version, and fill it!

This bread vexed me from the start. Whereas the sourdough version was so easy to work with, this dough never became smooth and elastic, it took forever in rising, the apple bits refused to stay in, and then it took forever in baking. I was pretty sure it wasn't even done on the inside when I took it out, but it was getting a little too dark on the outside. It wasn't until just now, when I am typing up the recipe that I realized I only used 1/3 cup of water and not 2/3 cup. Whoops...

I should not have worried, though, because even with my little mistake, the bread still turned out beautifully! The crust is perfect, the inside is perfectly done, neither underdone nor overly dry. It was awesome with a little bit of butter and drizzled with some honey! If I can stop myself from snacking on it almost constantly, I want to make some french toast with it! 

Apple and Honey Challah (Smitten Kitchen)

2 1/4 tsp (a standard 1/4 ounce package) active dry yeast
1/3 cup + 1 tsp honey
1/3 cup neutral oil, plus more for the bowl
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 1/4 cup flour

2 medium baking apples, peeled, cored, and cut into small chunks
a squeeze of lemon juice
a dash of cinnamon

Egg Wash:
1 egg

In a small bowl, whisk together the yeast, 1 tsp honey and 2/3 cup warm water.
Let stand for a few minutes until foamy.
In the bowl of the stand mixer, whisk together the yeast mixture, oil, remaining 1/3 cup honey, eggs, and yolk.
Switch to the dough hook and add in the flour and salt (just go ahead and dump it in) and mix on a moderate speed until the dough starts to pull together and form a craggy mass.
Lower the speed and knead the dough for 5 minutes, until smooth, elastic and a little sticky.
Transfer the dough to a large oil-coated bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 1 hour, or until almost doubled in size.

Turn the dough out onto a floured counter and gently press it into an oblong shape (the shape here doesn't matter as long as you get it mostly flat and even).
Spread 2/3 of the apple mixture over 1/2 of the dough.
Fold the other half of the dough over the apples and seal the edges.
Press the dough down, and re-flatten the dough.
Spread the remaining 1/3 of the apples over half of the dough, and fold the other half over the apples.
At this point your dough should vaguely resemble a square-ish shape - tuck the corners under with your hands so it forms a rounded shape.
Turn the bowl you used before upside down and put it on top of your dough - let it sit for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into 4 pieces.
Roll and stretch each piece into a rope about 12 inches long (tuck any apple pieces that fall out back in with your finger).
Arrange two ropes in each direction, so they form a + sign.
Weave them so that one side is over and the other is under where they cross the other strand.
Take the four strands that come under and cross them over the strand to their right.
Take the four strands that come over and cross them under the strand to their left.
Or whatever, just cross them over and under until you get a round-shape. Haha.
Tuck any corners or odd bumps under the dough to form a circle.

Transfer the dough to a parchment covered baking sheet or stone.
Beat an egg until smooth and brush over the challah (don't get rid of the excess egg, you will be using it again!)
Let your bread rise for 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 375 F.
Brush your challah with the egg wash one more time.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 40-45 minutes - if the loaf starts to get too brown you can cover it with tin foil.
Cool on a wire rack before slicing. If you can. I couldn't. :)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Guest Post! A Cheesecake So Amazing The Title Doesn't Fit.


I have a super duper special treat for you guys!! I know you had a whole week of guests posts just not too long ago, but I have another one for you today! Back in March when I knew I was moving, I asked my dear friend Lisa if she would mind doing a guest post for you guys! She was so sweet to say yes, but life got a little crazy and stressful for her right around the same time, so we delayed the guest post for now. Which actually works out well for me because I still have a bit of unpacking to do. The majority of my house looks fairly well put together (and a good friend even came over and helped me decorate! Thanks Ammie!) but we've been kind of shoving boxes and random items into the guest room/office, and I really need to get to work on that. Especially since my parents are coming to visit soon. And there is still the little things, like where the heck do I store my giant collection of cast iron skillets? 

OH! Today is my anniversary!! Four wonderful years married to one of my best friends! The last four years have been wonderful - crazy, slightly chaotic at times, a little exhausting at others, but I wouldn't have it any other way, because I get to be with you! I love you so much! Here is to another 71 years! :) 

So, let me introduce you to my friend Lisa! Lisa is the awesome author/baker/photographic genius behind the blog Parlsey, Sage, Desserts and Linedrives! I met her when I first signed up for the Daring Kitchen back in 2009, and I've kind of had a huge crush on her ever since. She's super sweet, super funny, and everything she makes is just about spectacular. We became friends after the awesome opportunity of hosting a Daring Cooks Challenge together in which we made Cassoulet!  Ok, enough of my gushing, I have boxes to attend to! 

Hi everyone!  First let me start by saying that I'm absolutely thrilled and flattered to be guest posting for Jenni.  We go way back in blogging years, 2009 to be exact, via The Daring Kitchen.  I liked her the moment I first spoke with her, and love her blog..leading to us hosting a Daring Cooks challenge together - Cassoulet in December 2010, if any of you are members of the Daring Kitchen and remember that one - the one where I made two pots of Cassoulet because my computer crashed and I lost ALL of my photos from the first one.  Let's just say, I ate so much Cassoulet in one month,  I could swear I was waddling when I walked.  Regardless, it was such a pleasure hosting the challenge with her!

Speaking of waddling, I have a very rich and decadent dessert for you.  It's a Caramelized Banana Pudding Cheesecake with a Salted Cashew Praline - Vanilla Wafer crust - an eclectic take on your basic banana pudding with vanilla wafers. Technically, this crust does not contain any crushed cashew pralines, although those would work well too, but combining the candied, salted cashews, brown sugar and browned butter with the vanilla wafer crumbs, gives it a crunchy praline flavor and texture.

I adapted the cheesecake base from a recipe from a Daring Bakers challenge back in April of '09.  It's a uber creamy cheesecake, probably the creamiest I've ever had, so when you fold the caramelized bananas into the cheesecake batter, then bake in a water bath, it comes pretty close to a smooth, creamy banana pudding texture.

By the way, did you know you can split a banana into three equal strips by sticking a finger in one end of the banana and pushing into it?  You can see this in my collage in this post.  A really neat trick to have on hand when you want uniform chunks of banana.

Finally, when Jenni asked me to guest post for her back in March, (due to some worrisome and sad situations in my life, and Jenni's move, it was postponed way too many times!) I really wanted to create something beautiful, unique and delectable.  Well, I conquered the latter two.  Some rainy, humid weather hit as I was preparing it, so when it came to the beautiful part, it was a complete failure.  I bruleed some banana slices to stick into luscious, fluffy mounds of whipped cream around the cheeesecake.  The whipped cream started to melt and slide off, even though the bananas had cooled down completely.

I switched gears and decided to make a swiss meringue to pile on top and blast with my kitchen torch.  I know meringue doesn't work well on rainy, muggy days, but I hoped the food gods would cut me a break.  I guess I used up all of my 'break tickets' because no dice.  I finally gave up and just stuck bruleed banana slices (which were starting to melt too) around the cheesecake and dubbed it 'rustic'.  However, you can make it gorgeous, just avoid decorating on rainy, muggy days!

By the way, the first photo was straight from the freezer so I could get a clean slice for photos.  The second slice photo is as it should be, creamy and slightly gooey!

Thanks so much for thinking of me for this guest post, Jenni!

Caramelized Banana Pudding Cheesecake with Salted Cashew Praline - Vanilla Wafer Crust

Toasted, Salted Cashew Praline-Vanilla Wafer Crust
1 1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
1 stick (4 oz) butter, melted and browned
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 cup cashew praline, chopped finely (recipe follows)

Caramelized Banana Cheesecake Filling
Adapted from THIS cheesecake recipe
3 packages of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (or the innards of 1 plump vanilla bean)
1 tablespoon banana liqueur, optional - I didn't use any, just giving you an option to enhance the banana flavor
Caramelized bananas (recipe follows)

1. Make Crust.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine vanilla wafer crumbs, cashew praline, and light brown sugar in a food processor with a few light pulses.  Drizzle in melted brown butter and vanilla extract as you're pulsing, until crust holds together slightly when squeezed.  Press the crust on the bottom and up the side of a lightly buttered 9-inch springform pan, using the bottom and side of a small glass to really pack it in.  Place in preheated oven and bake for 5 - 7 minutes.  Remove and let cool.  Do not turn oven off, keep it at 350F for baking the cheesecake.

2. Make Cheesecake filling. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add sour cream, heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and liqeuer (if using) and blend until smooth and creamy.  Gently fold in caramelized bananas.

4. Wrap outside of springform pan, from the bottom up, in tin foil (this prevents water from seeping into the pan).  Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan.

5. Bake 70 minutes, until it is almost done - but jiggly in the center. Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake finish baking in the cooling oven for one hour. This prevents cracks in the cheesecake.  After one hour is up, remove the cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill for several hours to overnight. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

Serve with your favorite caramel sauce, toffee bits, whipped cream, bruleed banana slices*..or just enjoy as is :).

* To make bruleed banana slices..cut a banana into slices, any way you want.  Sprinkle the cut sides, generously, with granulated sugar, and caramelize with a kitchen torch, or place on a lined sheet pan under the broiler, keeping a close eye on them so they don't burn.

Salted Cashew Praline
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 cup salted cashews, toasted

Heat a large heavy saute pan over medium heat, until hot, but not smoking.  Sprinkle sugar around the pan and drizzle with corn syrup. Cook, without stirring, just gently shaking the pan if some areas are turning color quicker than other areas, until whole mixture turns a golden amber color, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and add cashews; stir until they're completely coated. Cool on parchment lined pan. Store in an airtight container. Yield: about 1 1/3 cups cashew praline.

Caramelized Bananas
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup
2 to 3 bananas, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1. Heat a large heavy saute pan over medium heat, until hot, but not smoking.  Sprinkle sugar around the pan and drizzle with corn syrup. Cook, without stirring, just gently shaking the pan if some areas are turning color quicker than other areas, until whole mixture turns a golden amber color, about 6-8 minutes.

2. Stir in butter until smooth (caramel will sizzle), then add chopped bananas and cook until they're caramelized but still slightly firm, about 4 -5 minutes.  Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap so the caramel doesn't dry out, until cool and ready to fold into cheesecake batter.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Breakfast Quinoa


We made a big decision shortly before we moved. We decided that Ladybug was ready to say goodbye to her crib and start sleeping in her own big girl bed! She hadn't been escaping the crib (Thankfully! The thought of that gave me nightmares!) but we felt that she was ready, and thought that since we were moving to a new house that this would be a perfect opportunity to change beds, too. In the weeks before the move we talked almost constantly about her new bed, and how when we moved she would sleep there instead of her crib. 

So when the time came, the change was almost seamless. We tried to make the change as easy for her as possible. Her room was the first room that we put together, we made is as toddler proof as we can possibly get it, and we tried to remove as many temptations to get out of bed as possible. Her toys are downstairs in the playroom (slash dining room - hey, you gotta make due with what you have!) and besides her bed and dresser, and a chair, she has a low bookshelf full of books in her room, but that is pretty much it. She has been told that she can read books to help her fall asleep if she isn't quite ready, but she needs to stay in bed. And for the most part, she does!! The only issue so far has been that her room is the first to get sunlight in the morning, and it gets about as bright as the sun in there! Which means she has been waking up betwen 6:30 and 7 for the last week! That is kind of early for Mama, though, and kind of throws our whole day off. I bought some black-out curtains yesterday, and just as soon as I can figure out where the drill went to, I will install them! Here is hoping they work!! 

This was a fun alternative to oatmeal, and while I probably won't cook it as often (as it takes longer and needs a tiny bit more forethought) I did enjoy it! The versatility of this dish is great - you can top it with pretty much anything. I topped mine with fresh strawberry, slivered almonds and toasted coconut and it was pretty much amazing. Ladybug, however, was not impressed. I think I've overdone the whole "oatmeal makes an awesome breakfast" thing, because she will not eat it anymore. Not one spoonful. I tried this as a "look, its not oatmeal" gimmick, but she saw right through it. Fine, that just means more for me! 

Have you moved a toddler from a crib to a bed yet? What tricks did you use to help them adjust?

Oh, also, did you see what Sourdough Surprises is doing for June?! Bagels! You should join us!

Breakfast Quinoa ( Ambrosia Baking)

Yield: 4 servings

2 cups milk
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 1/2 TBSP brown sugar
dash of cinnamon
whatever toppings you want (I did almonds, strawberries, toasted coconut and a little bit of extra milk)

In a large saucepan, bring the milk to simmer over medium heat.
Add the quinoa and return to a simmer.
Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes, or until 3/4 of the milk has been absorbed.
Stir in the brown sugar, dash of cinnamon, and cook for several more minutes until just enough of the milk has been absorbed for your liking.
Remove the quinoa from heat, spoon into bowls and top as you prefer.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sourdough Cream Cheese Danish


Well, I think I can say that I have officially broken in my new kitchen! Nothing like christening it with sourdough and copious amounts of flour and butter to make a kitchen your own, and no better way to break it in than with another month of Sourdough Surprises!

With all the craziness this month, I totally waited until the last minute to make these - like, the very last possible second. We did a ton of shopping this morning, hitting up Walmart and the grocery store for some necessities, so we picked up some take-out chinese for lunch on our way home. My fortune cookie told me that my plans were going to be fulfilled perfectly today, and it was not kidding! While these danish's have what seems like to be a ton of steps, they are actually very easy to make. And while it seems like they also take forever to make, the majority of the time is actually down time, so they aren't too bad at all!

They turned out perfectly! The dough handled absolutely beautifully, and I am totally in love with laminated sourdough now! I will be making these again, and I am already thinking up all kinds of variations!

I am submitting these awesome danish to Yeastspotting, a weekly showcase of all these yeasted!

Check out the others who joined us this month! And don't forget to check out Sourdough Surprises tomorrow to see what we will be making in June (and join us!)

Sourdough Cream Cheese Danish ( adapted from txfarmer on The Fresh Loaf)

44 grams 100% mature starter
75 grams water
134 grams bread flour

Final Dough:
361 grams all purpose flour
135 grams milk
77 grams egg
60 grams sugar
10 grams salt
7 grams instant yeast
41 grams butter, softened
all the levain
310 grams butter to roll in (do not mix this in the dough!)

Cream Cheese Filling:
226 grams cream cheese, room temperature
113 grams sugar
19 grams butter, room temperature
28 grams flour
21 grams egg, lightly beaten (this is a little less than half of a large egg, save the rest for the egg wash)
4.5 grams vanilla extract

Mix the levain and allow to sit at room temperature, covered, for 12 hours.

In the morning mix all the ingredients (except for the roll in butter) in the bowl of a stand mixer until combined.
Switch to the dough hook and knead for 3 minutes at the low speed and then 3 minutes at medium speed, until the dough is not sticky but not completely smooth, either.
Pat the dough flat, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 2 hours to overnight.

Prepare the butter to roll in by placing the butter in the microwave for 5 second intervals until you can just squeeze the butter without it being too "room temperature".
Cut the butter into pieces and place on a sheet of waxed paper.
Cover the butter with a second sheet of waxed paper and smoosh the butter together a little bit.
Use your rolling pin to roll the butter out into a 7.5"x7.5" square.
Place the butter in the fridge until needed.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out until it is an 11"x11" square.
Remove the butter from the fridge, and take off the top waxed paper layer.
Turn the butter out onto the dough square, so that the butter forms a diamond shape on the dough.
Lightly run your hands over the bottom layer of waxed paper to attach the butter to the dough, and remove the waxed paper.

Fold the dough into thirds and seal the edges.

Roll the dough out into an 8"x24" rectangle and fold into thirds again.
Wrap in saran wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour.
Take out the dough, roll it into an 8"x24" rectangle and then fold into thirds.
Wrap it back in saran wrap, and place in the fridge for 1 hour.
Take the dough out, roll it into an 8"x24" rectangle, and then fold into thirds.
Place the dough in the fridge for 90 minutes.

Use this time to make the cream cheese filling:
Using a hand mixer, beat together the soft cream cheese and butter until incorporated.
Add the sugar and flour in three portions, mixing well after each addition.
Beat in the egg, then the vanilla.
Place in the fridge until needed, but bring to warm temperature before using.

Take the dough out of the fridge roll the dough out into 9x36 inches.

** If at any time during the next steps if it seems that the butter is getting too warm or the dough is getting elasticy, stop what you are doing and let it sit in the fridge for an hour!

Using a pizza cutter type tool, cut the dough into 4.5"x4.5" squares.
Place a small dot of the cream cheese filling in the center of the square and fold all four corners into the center.

Allow the squares to rise at room temperature for 3-4 hours. If any seals open during this time, just press them back into the center.
Preheat your oven to 425.
Mix the remaining egg from the cream cheese mixture with 1 tsp of water and give all the pastries an egg wash.
Squeeze the cream cheese filling into the center of each square and decorate with fresh fruit of your choice.
Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, and then lower the temperature to 375 and bake for an additional 15 minutes more.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Daring Cooks Make Boeuf Bourguignon!


I'm baaaack! It seems like forever since I last posted last! Moving is officially completed, the old keys to the apartment have been turned in, and unpacking is almost done. A huge awesome thanks to all our friends who helped us! And a huge awesome thanks to Sally, Dana, Shelley, and Laura for their awesomely spectacular guest posts! Every single thing looked awesome, and I really wish that I could have tried them all!

Our May 2012 Daring Cooks’ hostess was Fabi of fabsfood. Fabi challenged us to make Boeuf Bourguignon, a classic French stew originating from the Burgundy region of France.

I was sooo excited when I saw this month's challenge was Beef Bourguignon! It is something that I have been desperately wanting to make for a long time now. I have been dragging my heals because I have heard it is expensive, hard and super time consuming. But even though there was all sorts of craziness going on this month (moving being the chief complaint here), I knew I just had to squeeze it in somehow! I made this as a bribery dinner for our friends, as a pre-emptive "thank you for helping us move all of our stuff", and I am pretty sure that this was the single reason that we had so much help (that and maybe because they actually like us). 

I found that the ingredients were not actually all that expensive, considering that we got 9 meals out of it! And while it is time consuming, none of the steps are actually hard at all. In fact, I made this a mere THREE days before we moved, with the majority of my kitchen packed away, and didn't break a single sweat drop while making it. Ok, there WAS a small freak out moment when I realized that I had packed our corkscrew already and had no way of opening the wine, you know, the second I needed it. Thankfully living in an apartment does have its perks and neighbors came to the rescue!  We all seriously loved how this turned out, too! The beef was super tender, the sauce was awesome, it was well received all around! 

Boeuf Bourguignon
(from Julia Child's recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, as given in the challenge)

6 oz. streaky bacon
Olive oil
3 pounds stewing beef, cut into 2 inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons flour
3 cups red wine
1 carrot, sliced (I used three carrots, cut into chunks) (and will probably use more carrots next time)
1 onion, sliced in julienne
1 1/2 - 2 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste or tomato puree 
2 cloves garlic, mashed
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
18-24 small onions, brown-braised in stock (instructions are below, you will need more stock)
1 pound mushrooms sauteed in butter
Fresh parsley sprigs (for garnish, to serve, optional)

Blanch the bacon: Remove the rind. Cut the bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick, 1/2 inch long) and simmer everything in 4 cups of water for 10 minutes. Drain and dry carefully with paper towels.
Dry the meat cubes carefully with paper towels.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a fireproof casserole or frying pan, saute the bacon in a tablespoon of olive oil for 2-3 minutes until they are lightly brown (mine took a little longer). Remove them to a side dish with a slotted spoon.
In the same casserole or pan, sautee the beef until it is golden brown. Remove it to the side dish where the bacon has been set aside.
Still in the same pan, sautee the carrot and onion.
Return the bacon and beef to the pan with the vegetables. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper, then add the flour. Toss to coat evenly.
Place the pan/casserole into the oven in the middle position, for four minutes to give the meat a good crust.
Remove the pan/casserole from the oven and return it to the stove top.
Stir in the wine, stock, tomato paste, crushed garlic, thyme, bay leaf and blanched bacon rind.
Bring the mixture to its simmering point on the stove.
If you have been using a frying pan, now is the time to transfer the stew to an oven-safe dish/baking dish.
Cover the casserole or baking dish (if you are not using a dish with a cover, use foil or parchment paper). Place the dish in the oven and adjust the temperature so that the liquid is slowly simmering, as this will stay in the oven for three to four hours.
While the meat is stewing, prepare the onions and mushrooms.
For the onions - melt one tablespoon of butter in a frying pan and sautee the peeled small onions until they are golden brown. Add beef stock until they are almost (but not) covered and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until almost all of the liquid disappears. The onions will be tender, but will retain their shape. Set the braised onions aside.
For the mushrooms - wash and quarter the mushrooms, and sautee them in two tablespoons of butter. Stir them continuously until they are nicely browned. Set the mushrooms aside.
When the meat is tender, pour the meat through a sieve over a saucepan. Clean out the casserole or baking dish and return the meat (and onions and carrots and everything other than the sauce) to the dish. Put the onions and mushrooms over the meat.

Skim off any fat from the sauce and simmer it on the stove, skimming any additional fat that rises. Simmer the sauce until it thickens enough to coat the back of your spoon. If it thickens too much, add some stock.
Pour the sauce over the stew. Return the stew to the stove or oven to reheat through.
Garnish with sprigs of fresh parsley.
Serve over potatoes, noodles or rice, or whatever else sounds good to you.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Guest Post! Blood Orange Sprintzer


Hello lovely friends!! Moving is almost completed! Well, the moving part is done. A moving truck came yesterday and moved all of our furniture for us (we really didn't feel like moving a washer a dryer and huge bookshelves up and down all those stairs...) and now all that is left to do is finish unpacking and putting things away. Today is going to be the last guest post for you guys, and I will be back on duty in a few days! If I can figure out where the kitchen is.... Today's post is brought to you by Laura from A Healthy Jalapeno! I started following Laura's blog a while ago, and I instantly felt like we needed to be friends. I love how easy going she is, and she loves camping and playing with her puppies as much as I do! Also, random fact, we both like guns! (LOL There, lets see how many comments we get about that one, Laura!) Laura always posts great healthy recipes - everything from dinner to desserts! So, take it away Laura!

Hello beautiful readers of The Gingered Whisk! I am Laura from A Healthy Jalapeño and I am so excited to be here today with Jenni.

I was first hooked on Jenni's blog simple from her adorable blog title, but then I read that she wears cowboy boots and peals and I just fell in love with her. She also has such fabulous recipes, all family friendly and delicious, so I was so excited when I was invited to guest post for The Gingered Whisk.
I love to cook, so obviously I decided to start my little blog to prove that anyone can cook something delicious while keeping a healthy lifestyle. I am not a true “health nut” per say, but I do like to keep meals light, healthy and nutritious which only benefits a healthier you. I love this recipe because even a health-conscious blogger needs to have her fun too and just because something is delicious, doesn’t mean it’s can’t be good for you.
I am new to learning about blood oranges and how to cook with them but whatever I’ve lacked with past experience I have been making up for pretty quickly over the last couple of months. Blood oranges are somewhat of a winter fruit but they can come out later in the season trickling into spring. I have been cooking a lot with them however when I made this spritzer it’s screamed spring to me because of its bright and vibrant color. Oh, and I had plenty left over for some fabulous evening cocktails. The orange soda will keep in the fridge for future cocktails or even just an afternoon mocktail if you are really craving this delicious fruit.

Here you go.
Fresh Blood Orange Spritzer 
Servings: 1 cocktail


4 oz blood orange sparkling soda
2 oz Sauvignon Blanc (or sparkling white wine)
1/2 oz orange liquor
Blood oranges, sliced for garnish

Combine and stir. 
Garnish with a slice of blood orange.
Recipe and photos by A Healthy Jalapeño 
Thanks so much for having me Jenni to share on your wonderful blog. For more healthy and delicious recipes or just to make a new friend, come stop by my blog and say hi!


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Guest Post! Roasted Banana Overnight Cinnamon Buns


Hello friends! Yup, I'm still moving. And guess what? It has rained, no poured every single day! That makes moving lots of fun. But it also shows you where the best (and driest) places to put things in your basement are! LOL Old houses are fun! We are almost done bringing boxes over, and I think a few more trips should do it! Joel has had to work some long hours this week (of course), and we have been so blessed to have some awesome friends helping us out!
Today's awesome guest post is brought you by my dear friend Shelley of C Mom Cook! Shelley is my first ever "blogging buddy". We met through the Daring Bakers, starting stalking each others's blogs, then started emailing each other, then we started calling each other... We talk like every day, seriously! Although I have never met her face to face, she is truly a great friend of mine, and I am SO excited that she agreed to do a guest post for me! She always has fabulous recipes, and has as much fun cooking with her two beautiful kids. Please stop by her blog and check it out! 

Hi there! I'm Shelley from C Mom Cook, and I am so excited to be a guest here. I love this blog (and the blogger behind it!), and I can't even tell you how many recipes I have made after seeing them posted here.  So when Jenni asked if I'd be willing to share something, I automatically said yes.

Then I had a little dilemma.

You see, I wanted to make something special. Because everything on this blog looks delicious and wonderful and... well... special! So I had to pick something that was worthy.

And then it came to me.

You see, I'd been trying to think of different breakfast treats that could be (at least mostly) prepared in advance. I've seen overnight cinnamon rolls (here, even!), overnight monkey bread, various sorts of overnight sweet rolls... and I wanted to try something inspired by those.

I even found a delicious looking basic sweet bread dough recipe...

And then inpiration hit.


Not just bananas - roasted bananas.

I mean, you need fruit with your breakfast, right? Bananas are healthy, right? So adding them to a cinnamon bun must mean it will be a healthy breakfast!

Nod, please.

I actually found a recipe for roasted banana cinnamon buns online, and then adapted it slightly, and adapted the process a little, using the sweet bread dough recipe I'd already been eyeing up.

The smell in the house, after roasting the bananas and preparing the buns, was amazing.

And the smell in the morning when the buns baked was even better.

And what is a cinnamon roll without some glaze? To complete the breakfast theme, I chose to top them with maple glaze.

What a treat. These were delicious, ooey-gooey awesomeness. From the dough to the filling to the glaze, these were a delightful treat and made for a super decadent breakfast.

Roasted Banana Cinnamon Buns with Maple Glaze

For the Dough: ( adapted from allrecipes)
1 cup milk
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, sugar and butter. Heat until slightly warm to the touch then remove from heat and stir in the yeast. I found that I had to let the milk mixture cool a bit before adding the yeast, as the milk got pretty hot in order to dissolve the sugar. Once the yeast has been added, let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Mix in the eggs, oil and the yeast mixture. Mix until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and continue to knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Grease a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of oil. Place the dough into the bowl and turn once to coat. Cover and let stand in a warm place until double in size, about 1 hour.

Roasted Bananas:
3 bananas, cut into 1/2-1" chunks
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Spread the banana chunks into a 1 1/2-2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and dot the top with the butter pieces.
Roast the bananas at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, stirring after about 20 minutes.
When the bananas have cooled a bit, mash them with a fork.

For the Filling: (based on Picky Palate)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon sugar
All of the mashed roasted bananas

Mix together all filling ingredients until well combined.

To prepare the buns:
Risen dough
Prepared filling
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature (almost melty is great)

Once the dough has risen, gently deflate it.
Roll the dough into a big rectangle.
Spread the butter over the dough.
Spread the banana/brown sugar mixture over the butter. It will most likely mix right in with the butter, and that is totally okay.
Starting with one long end, roll the dough into a log.
Cut the log into 12 pieces, and place each piece, cut side up, into a 9" x 13" pan.
Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place it into the refrigerator overnight. (Or, let it rest for about 30 minutes and proceed to the baking directions.)
In the morning, take the tray out of the refrigerator and allow it to come up to temperature for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Bake the cinnamon buns for 25-30 minutes.

For the glaze: (based on Joy the Baker)
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2-6 tablespoons milk (I needed more than I expected!)

Measure the confectioners' sugar into a medium bowl. Whisk in the maple syrup and enough milk (adding it a little at a time) to make a good, easily pourable consistency.

Drizzle glaze over finished cinnamon buns.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Guest Post! Torta de Santiago

Phew, moving is ridiculous. I am just thankful that this time we are only moving 20 minutes away and not the 800 miles we did last spring. Still, with Joel working a bajillion and a half hours a week, I am trying to accomplish as much as I can by myself, and my wonderful assistant Ladybug. Thank goodness for the blessed help of some amazing friends who have been helping me move boxes and clean! 

Today I am SO SO SO excited to introduce you to one of my very best friends. Her name is Dana, and she was honestly my first best friend. She is one of the sweetest, and truest friends that I have ever had. We both love to read a good book, drink a good mug of tea, and to spend time in the kitchen. We even began learning to cook together, although at that time we were young enough that our mom's barely let us make boxed brownies by ourselves, but we still loved it! It has been fun to watch each other grow up, our kitchen skills improve, and see how close our friendship still is, even with going to different colleges and then getting married and moving to different states. So, without further ado, here is Dana!

Hello Gingered Whisk readers! My name is Dana and you can usually find me blogging at ModulatingUp. I am so excited to be doing this guest post for Jenni! I am a musician, teacher, and lover of all things kitchen related (except washing dishes. I cannot say I love that.) I have known Jenni since before I could even boil water; it has been such a fun journey from growing up near each other to now when we live in different time zones and try to keep up on each others lives through our respective blogs. Jenni has long inspired me to try new things in my life, including starting a cooking blog, so it is such an honor to be asked to do a guest post for her. Thanks, Jenni!

In May of 2006 I went on a trip that was truly life changing. It was my final semester of my final year of college and a group of my close friends and I went to Spain to follow the Camino de Santiago. The Camino is an ancient pilgrimage route to the city of Santiago de Compostela where the remains of St. James (Santiago) are said to be buried. But it is oh so much more than that. Even though we didn’t walk the whole thing (we were automobile pilgrims) it was still such a moving experience.

Recently the film “The Way” came out and renewed my interest in all things Camino related. The film is truly beautiful and worth watching, even if you haven’t ever heard of the Camino. I have been yearning for Sangria, Paella and the scent of incense in the air ever since I saw it. In my search for all foods Spanish, I found a recipe for Torta de Santiago (which I sadly did not eat in Spain) and knew I had to make it.

The Torta is a delicious, lemon infused sponge cake. Even with a pound of ground up almonds inside, lemon is the overriding flavor, giving this cake a refreshing taste. Straight out of the oven, the outside crust is nice and crunchy and the inside crumb is, well, spongey. After a few days marinating, the crust has a more chewy texture, but on the whole the cake does well super fresh or after a couple days. 

Torta de Santiago
Almond Sponge Cake
1lb (500g) blanched almonds (about 3 cups)
2 ¼ cups granulated sugar
¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
7 eggs
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon
confectioners’ sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350℉. Butter a 9 inch springform pan. 
  2. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast briefly just until their aroma is released, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a plate, let cool, and then place in a blender or food processor with a few tablespoons of the granulated sugar. Process until finely ground. 
  3. In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and granulated sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the flour, ground almonds and lemon zest. Pour into the prepared pan. 
  4. Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and prick the top of the cake with a fork. Sprinkle with the lemon juice. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before releasing the sides of the pan. 
  5. After the cake is fully cooled, transfer to a serving plate and dust top with confectioners’ sugar just before serving. This is traditionally decorated in the shape of St. James’ Cross, but is equally yummy if dusted evenly over the whole cake. 

(In the haste to eat this cake, I didn't manage to get a photo of the cut piece of cake. Oops!)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...