Madeleine Cookies

I must thank my friend Ryan, who is the reason behind these madeleines.  Let me explain.

I do not like unitasking tools – a kitchen gadget that is only good for one purpose.  Some examples are an avocado knife, waffle iron and the madeleine pan.

So, why do I have a madeleine pan, you are asking?

It was a gift from a generous friend.  Ryan asked if I’ve ever made these cookies before and I hadn’t.  I told him of my dislike of unitaskers, so he agreed to buy me a pan if I would make madeleines for him.  I thought that was a great deal………and so did he!

My new motto is: “Will Cook for Kitchen Gadgets”

A quick note about the plate: I found it at an estate sale in my neighborhood marked for 25 cents.  The two ladies selling it were arguing about how the price was marked incorrectly and should have been more.  But, they gave it to me for the sticker price anyway.  I got home and Googled it and found out that this Spode China, named “Chinese Rose” was worth about $20!!  Gotta love a bargain!

So, here we have four large eggs.

Beat them until they have doubled in volume.

Next, add sugar and continue beating until you get this ribbon consistency.  The whole idea behind this is that you want to incorporate lots of air into the batter to make these cookies light and fluffy.

Zest one large lemon.  This is a meyer lemon from my backyard, but you can use a regular lemon.

Sift the flour into the batter and fold it in with your spatula, making sure not to stir.  Folding minimizes the air loss in the batter.

After I took this picture, I strained the butter through a paper towel, so that the butter solids stay out of the batter.

Here are these delectable cookies.

But, this is not the pretty side……..

THIS is!!!

I just love the golden brown color.  The shape is so unique too.  My first bite was heaven!  I could hear my teeth bite through the crunchy edges and next I tasted the butter.  As I started to chew, the subtle lemon flavor hit my tongue. The texture is also light and fluffy, the air trapped in the batter sure did its job.

These would be lovely to share with a friend over a cup o’ tea!!

Or, you can just shove them in your mouth while standing over the sink…………..what?!

Madeleines

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (6 ounces)
cooking spray
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
a pinch of salt
2/3 cups sugar
zest of one large lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

a bit of extra flour for dusting baking pan

Special equipment: A madeleine baking pan, regular or small

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt the 1 1/2 sticks of butter in a small pot over medium heat until it’s brown and gives off a deliciously nutty aroma, roughly 20 minutes. Strain (using a paper towel over a mesh strainer) – you want to leave the solids behind. Cool the butter to room temperature. By doing the butter first you can complete the rest of the steps while it is cooling.

While the melted butter is cooling, to grease the madeleine molds – get in there and make sure you get in all the ridges. Dust with flour and invert the pan tapping out any excess flour, or you can skip this process if you have a nonstick pan.

Put the eggs with the salt in the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. Whip on high speed until thick – you are looking for the eggs to roughly double or triple in volume – approximately 3 minutes. Continuing to mix on high speed, slowly add the sugar in a steady stream. Whip for 2 minutes or until mixture is thick and ribbony. Now with a spatula, fold in the lemon zest and vanilla (just until mixed).

Sift the flour on top of the egg batter, and gently fold in. Now fold in the butter mixture, only stirring enough to bring everything together.

Spoon the batter into the molds, filling each mold 2/3 full.

Bake the madeleines for 12 – 14 minutes (7-10 minutes for smaller cookies), or until the edges of the madeleines are golden brown. Remove from oven and unmold immediately. Cool on racks and dust with powdered sugar.

Makes 2 -3 dozen regular madeleines.

Advertisements

Red Velvet Cake to-go

This is the story about a birthday cake…..

at an outdoor campsite…..

late at night…..

under a glaring flashlight…..

perched precariously on top of a cooler.

This is how a lovely red velvet cake lived the last few minutes of its life!

As you can tell from the photo, I wasn’t too worried about the resolution and composition of this shot.  It was pretty much…..”Take the picture so we can eat it already!”

The only disappointing thing about this cake is that I did not do it justice in the photo.  I can’t complain about any other part of it.  I made it for some friends’ birthdays which we celebrated on a camping trip last year and it was divine!  It was a fun juxtaposition to enjoy a regal-looking cake on a tent-camping trip.

 

 

Here’s my lovely red batter.  I love watching this color transformation.

 

 

One layer baked and leveled.

 

 

Can’t have red velvet without the cream cheese frosting, right?

 

 

The first layer meets its other half.

 

 

In the isolation booth and ready for the reveal at the campsite.

If you think that the cake is too difficult to make, you might find my red velvet cupcake version a bit easier.

 

Red Velvet Cake

From Bakerella.com

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 oz. red food coloring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8 inch cake pans.

Lightly stir eggs in a medium bowl with a wire whisk. Add remaining liquid ingredients and stir together with whisk until blended. Set aside.

Place all the dry ingredients in your mixing bowl and stir together really good with another wire whisk.

Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix on medium-high for about a minute or until completely combined.

Pour into cake pans and then drop the pans on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  After about ten minutes, remove from pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups confectioners’ sugar

Sift sugar and set aside.

Beat cream cheese and butter on high until creamy. Add vanilla.

Then, add the sugar in batches. Scrape down the sides in between each addition.

And frost away.

 

My Unsung Hero

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to introduce to you the unsung hero of my kitchen!  This is my Kitchen Aid Professional 600 stand mixer.

Stand mixer………….my blog readers.

My blog readers……………stand mixer.

Okay, now that you’ve been formally introduced, let me just start by saying that I LOVE this mixer!!!  I’m not advertising for Kitchen Aid, I promise.  I just really want to share my love of this amazing kitchen appliance.

Most all the sweet recipes in my blog have started their lives inside this mixer bowl.  The mixer not only looks sleek and modern, it is a work horse for me.  The 575-watt motor can take on quite a lot.  There are 10 mixing speeds and that’s really all you’ll need.  The 6-quart bowl size is also perfect for the amount that I usually bake.

If you are in the market for a stand mixer, I would highly recommend this one.  Kitchen Aid has so many different models, so just make sure you research which fits your needs the best.  The added deal for me was that I bought it at Bed Bath & Beyond with the 20% coupon and then waited until they had a rebate promotion.  I ended up getting a $40 rebate and a free 2-year subscription to Food & Wine Magazine.

Okay, now that I’ve shared my favorite small kitchen appliance, I want to hear about yours!  Please share!

 

Tomato Bruschetta

Once in a while, my husband and I have dinner dates at home.  We feed the children dinner and send them off to bed a little early so we can have some fun in the ………………….kitchen, of course!  What were you thinkin’?

This tomato bruschetta is my husband’s specialty.  Yup, he’s cute and he can cook.  What can I say?  I’m a lucky girl!

On these dinner dates at home, we do appetizers for dinner.  In addition to bruschetta, we have smoked salmon, a cheese platter and some Italian deli meats.  I think that finger foods are romantic too.  Yes, there is fresh garlic in the bruschetta, but we’re both eating it so the smell cancels out!

 

 

Good tomato bruschetta must start with good tomatoes.  So don’t skimp on that.  Make sure they are plump and ripe.  Fresh basil is of course a must as well.   Since we’re going down this route, make sure you have good olive oil and balsamic vinegar too.

We have found a wonderful way to use the bruschetta leftovers too.  The next morning, my hubby makes a cheese omelette and throws some of this on top.  Pure genius and it gives a good kick to your breakfast.

 

Tomato Bruschetta


Topping

6 roma tomatoes, chopped

3 cloves minced garlic

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup fresh basil, stems removed

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

 

For toast

1 French baguette

olive oil

2 garlic cloves, cut in half

 

Preheat the oven on broiler setting.

In a medium bowl, combine the roma tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, basil, salt, and pepper. Allow the mixture to sit for at least 10 minutes.

Cut the baguette into 3/4-inch slices. On a baking sheet, arrange the baguette slices in a single layer and drizzle some olive oil over them. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes, until slightly brown.  Rub the cut side of the garlic on each slice of baguette.

Top the baguette with tomato mixture and enjoy!

Chicken and Shrimp Chow Fun

Like most people in January, I’m on a mission to lose the weight I gained over the holidays.  So when I think about healthy yet flavorful food, I think of Chinese.

I love Chinese noodle dishes because they are a one pot (or wok) meal.  You get your protein, starch and vegetable all in one dish and most of the time, it’s all pretty healthful.

Try it out and see if you agree that it’s a pretty tasty noodle dish.

 

This the brand of Chinese rice noodles I use.  You most likely won’t find this in your regular grocery store.  You’ll have to make a trip to the Asian market for this dish.

 

 

Here’s the Chinese trinity.

Start with minced garlic.

*Tip: if you want to get the odor of garlic off your hands, rub them on something that is stainless steel like a knife (not the sharp part), a bowl or a your stainless steel sink.

I have absolutely no idea why this works, but it does.  I’m sure some science geek can explain it to you.  When you find out, please let me know too!

 

Minced fresh ginger.

 

 

Green onions or some like to call it scallions.

 

 

This is Chinese spinach, you can just use normal spinach or baby spinach.

 

 

One of my favorite mushrooms are shiitake.  It always reminds me of my childhood because it’s the one my mom used the most.

 

 

Marinate the shrimp and sliced chicken for at least 10 minutes.

 

Chicken and Shrimp Chow Fun


Marinade

1 chicken breast, sliced into pieces

½ pound shrimp, shelled, deveined

1 tablespoon Shaoshing rice wine

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

¼ teaspoon white pepper

vegetable oil

32 oz package chow fun noodles

3 green onion, sliced into ½ inch pieces

2 teaspoon minced garlic

2 teaspoon minced ginger

1 pound spinach, chopped

15 fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced

 

Sauce

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons Shaosing rice wine

1 teaspoon hoisin sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

¼ cup water or chicken broth

 

In a medium bowl, toss together the first 6 ingredients and marinate for at least 10 minutes.

Separate the chow fun noodles. Heat wok and add 2 teaspoons vegetable oil.   Stir fry garlic and ginger for 10 seconds. Add chicken and shrimp and cook until nearly done.  Remove onto a plate, keep warm.

Next, add more oil to your wok and stir fry the mushrooms, spinach and green onions.  Add the sauce mixture to the wok.  When the vegetables are nearly cooked, add the noodles into the wok while you are mixing, a handful at a time.

Continue cooking until the noodles have absorbed all the flavors and are hot.  Add the chicken and shrimp back into the wok with the noodles.   Stir everything together until incorporated.  Serve hot.

Bacon Blue Cheese Spirals

Bacon.  Blue Cheese.  Enough said!

Okay, not really.  I’ve got a lot to say about these tasty little bites.

I brought these to a New Year’s Eve party at my friend, Katie’s house and everyone loved them. They’re fun and festive and pop into your mouth in just one bite.

I love a warm appetizer.  The crunch and saltiness from the bacon was a great contrast to the pillowy soft dough.  The cream cheese with the chive and onion also gave the whole thing a great flavor.  The bacon played well with the tang of the blue cheese too.

This is also super easy to make because I used a  refrigerated crescent dough.

 

 

The lovely bits of crunchy bacon.  The smell perfumed my kitchen, hair and clothes.

I had dogs sniffing me up after cooking this.  I think my husband tried to get a wiff of me too!

 

 

Blue cheese all crumbled up.  Not the best smelling cheese, but mighty tasty.

Especially when it’s wrapped up with the bacon.

 

I used the onion and chive flavored cream cheese to save me some time.  Spread it evenly over the crescent dough.

 

 

Then spread the bacon and the blue cheese over the whole thing.

I’m not sure why my blue cheese looks like it’s glowing, but it really wasn’t.   The think the photo got a bit too much light.

 

 

Now roll that sucker up and cut off the ends.

 

 

Cut them into half inch slices.  I used two rolls of crescent dough, which made about 75 pieces.

Don’t bake your spirals this close together, as I show in the picture.  I just transported them to Katie’s  house this way.  When I got there, I took half of them off and repositioned the spirals with more space in between.  They don’t puff up much, but I didn’t want them to stick together.

Enjoy them warm!

 

 

Bacon Blue Cheese Spirals

2 cans crescent dough

8 oz container onion chive cream cheese

8 slices bacon, diced, cooked until crispy

½ cup crumbled blue cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Lay out one sheet of crescent dough and with a rolling pin, form into a rectangle.  Pinch together the seams if the dough starts to split.  Spread ¼ of the cream cheese on the dough, avoiding the edges.  Sprinkle ¼ of the bacon and ¼ of the blue cheese evenly over the dough.  Roll the dough into a log and set aside.  Repeat the steps with the other three pieces of crescent dough.

Cut each dough log into about 10-12 pieces.  Lay the spirals flat onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.  Serve warm.

Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp

If I had an old-fashioned American grandmother, I imagine this apple crisp is something she would make for a comforting dessert.

But, since I don’t I had to make this myself!

This crisp is so easy to throw together.  It hits the right spot if you are craving something warm, gooey and crunchy all at the same time.  It would be even better with some vanilla ice cream on top!

The granny smith’s tartness and firm texture lends itself well to this dessert.  It really holds up to the one hour baking time.  The apples maintain a firm bite, which I was happy about.  The sweet and  crisp topping is also a great complement to the apples.

 

 

Start with peeling 8 granny smith apples.

 

 

I love my apple slicer.  It really makes this process a whole lot faster.

Look!  I’ve made my apple into a flower………so pretty, and edible!

 

 

Add in the citrus zest and spices.

 

 

Mix it all up and let the flavors get comfortable with each other.

I’m not sure why I did not take a picture of the topping on the apples, but I imagine it could be because I was too eager to get this in the oven.  After all, it has to bake for an hour.

Desserts like this make me want to plant an apple tree in my backyard.  That’s how good it is!!

 

 

Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp

Adapted from Ina Garten

 

5 pounds granny smith apples (about 8 apples)

Grated zest of 1 orange

Grated zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

 

For the topping:

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup oatmeal

1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, diced

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9×13 by 2-inch baking dish.

Peel, core, and cut the apples into large wedges then cut each wedge in half. Combine the apples with the zests, juices, sugar, and spices. Pour into the dish.

To make the topping, combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal, and cold butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is the size of peas. Scatter evenly over the apples.

Place the crisp on a sheet pan and bake for 1 hour until the top is brown and the apples are bubbly. Serve warm.

Carrot Torte

I made this carrot torte for my mother’s birthday.  And if you remember my story about my mother and the first carrot cake I made for her, you’ll know this is the only cake she asks me to make for her………EVER.

It’s really the same recipe, just a different presentation.

 

Since I couldn’t wrap this up for her, the next best thing was to put it under glass.

Everything just seems fancier under a glass dome, don’t you agree?

Cookies are just cookies, but under glass they look like special cookies.  I imagine that’s why they put pheasant under glass?!  I’m not sure about that, but it sounds fancier than just plain ol’ pheasant.

 

 

Here’s the chunk we ate out of it.  I know it may look a little dense, but really it’s quite light and fluffy, really!

How to line a round cake pan

I love efficiency!  I mean LOVE, okay I’m obsessed!

I don’t understand why there are a line of cars waiting at a red light when the lane right next to it sits empty.  I’ll be the first to swerve crazily into the lane with no cars in it.  Is it just me?!

Like I said, I love efficiency.  So, when I learn a new trick that will save me time in the kitchen, I’m all for it.  I love this one.

Start with a square sheet of parchment paper that is slightly larger than your pan.  Fold it in half, bringing the left edge to the right edge. Fold in half again, bringing the top to the bottom, into a quarter of a sheet.  The upper left corner will now be the mid point of your round cake pan.  Fold the top edge to the left edge and make a triangle.  Bring the right edge to the left edge again and you will make a smaller triangle.

I know that was a lot of instructions, but bear with me.  You’ll be rewarded in the end with a wonderful cake that won’t stick to the pan.

 

Place the tip of the triangle in the middle of your pan.

 

Cut off the excess, right to the edge of the pan.

 

Like magic, you will open the paper and you’ll have a circle!  Clever huh?

Gone are the days of tracing around the bottom of your pan with a pencil and then cutting all around the paper.  That always made me feel like I was cutting out a snowflake in Kindergarten class.

 

Here’s the test………it fits!  I don’t know why, but I’m always a little surprised when it fits.

Now, remove the paper and grease your pan.  Put the paper back and grease the top of that too.

Hope you enjoyed this little time-saver!

 

Steak au Poivre

Talk about a Hungry-Man dinner!  You know what I’m talking about, right?  Do you remember those frozen dinners  in the blue box, that are marketed towards men………….who are hungry?  Of course this meal is much better than any frozen dinner.

This is steak au poivre.  Au poivre means with pepper.  The French always know how to make something simple sound really fancy, don’t they?

This sauce really carries the whole meal.  It is peppery and creamy without being too heavy or spicy (I love adding a ‘y’ to the end of words, have you noticed?).  And………….if you happen to drizzle some over your potatoes and mushrooms, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing!

This sauce only uses 4 ingredients and is so easy to make.  It’s the kind of sauce you’ll want to lick off your plate when you’re done eating!  Just don’t do it in front of company, please.

 

Steak au Poivre

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

 

2 whole steaks, I used NY strip

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons dijon mustard

¼ cup brandy

2 tablespoons (additional) brandy

½ cups half and half

1 tablespoon peppercorns, crushed

 

Sprinkle both sides of steak with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Add butter  and olive oil to a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  When skillet is hot, cook steaks on both sides to desired doneness.  Remove steaks to a separate plate, but keep warm.

Return pan to stovetop over low heat. Add dijon mustard and brandy, then whisk together. Add half and half  and crushed peppercorns, whisking to combine.  Taste for salt and add some if needed.  Allow to bubble for about 45 seconds, then remove from heat.

Spoon sauce over steak and serve with mashed potatoes and sautéed mushrooms with onions.