Friday, February 25, 2011

Meyer Lemon Granita

For the first time ever, I found Meyer lemons! I kept debating how I should use my precious four lemons, and finally decided to try a sorbet, and then still couldn't find my freezer insert, so I went with a granita instead. I found Steingarten's Meyer Lemon Granita.

It was nice - not too sweet, a little floral, very light. I hope to find them again and try everything I didn't get to - lemon curd, lemonade, candied, ice cream and maybe something savory.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

TWD Toasted Almond Scones

These were not the overly sweet muffin-y type of scone. They felt a little oily with all of the ground almonds and butter, so I might cut some of either next time. These were great with jam, and the kids even liked them with peanut butter (I didn't try that myself).

Thanks to Mike of Living Out West for this week's pick!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Every Valentine's my mom would make my grandma's Waldorf Red Cake in the shape of a heart. We looked forward to this cake every year. The past few months, my husband's not been eating any meat, dairy or eggs, and I don't need a whole cake to myself, so I started looking at cupcakes to scale down and share. For cakes, I like butter better, but for cupcakes, it seems like oil helps it stay together a little better. They're so small, they dry out pretty quickly on their own, and less mess is always nice.

Then out of curiosity, I thought I'd compare a vegan recipe with a traditional one. I used the Crimson Velveteen Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and an adaptation of Bakerella's red velvet cake that looked so moist, it'd have to be good for cupcakes. The Crimson Velveteen are a vegan recipe, but I just used my standard pantry, so mine aren't actually vegan. I didn't have liquid food coloring, so for both I subbed about 1/4 tsp Wilton no-taste red gel paste. Clearly 1/4 tsp isn't enough color for either recipe!

The vegan Crimson Velveteen had a
lot of cocoa for a red velvet recipe - 2Tb for 12 cupcakes - and a lot of vanilla - 2tsp. Most recipes I've seen for this scale would use 1/2-1TB cocoa. So even with more food coloring, I don't think these would ever be red. They had a great shape, not too domed. I'm always amazed with the vegan recipes that they can rise without any eggs. They were very vanilla and very moist. Almost too moist for me, but I usually like a little drier cake, I guess. Next time, I'll cut back the cocoa to probably 1/2TB and then also try cutting back the oil to maybe 1/4 c.

I made a half batch of the traditional recipe and cut the oil back to 1/2 c (from 3/4c). The traditional had a finer crumb and had more body. They were also sweeter, which seemed strange since they had the same proportion of flour-sugar.

So I don't think either recipe was perfect, but with some variations, I'm sure I'll use both again!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Clementine Marshmallows with Honey and Cardamom

I love homemade marshmallows. Especially Emeril's Lemon ones. So while I was in the marshmallow-making mood, I remembered I'd also been wanting to try cardamom in marshmallows, and honey, and then we had some extra clementines sitting they all got thrown together :-)

I used Emeril's Lemon recipe as a base, and played around with subbing clementine for lemon and honey for some of the corn syrup. I only made a half batch which uses just one gelatin packet and fits perfectly in a 5x9 loaf pan (that's one and a half batches in the photo above). The marshmallows were nice and smooth and balanced, the honey was not overpowering and the clementine was mellow (compared to how I imagine an orange marshmallow might be). They're a little more grown-up than the lemon marshmallows, even though the kids ate most of them - I'm guessing marshmallows of almost any flavor would be a hit with the kids. They reminded me of the holidays and cider, these would be really nice next December!

Clementine Marshmallows with Honey and Cardamom
Oil a 5x9 loaf pan and dust with 50/50 mix of powdered sugar and potato starch.

In mixer bowl combine:
1 envelope gelatine
1/4 c clementine juice (for me this was 3 clementines)

In saucepan combine:
1 c minus 2 TB sugar
4TB honey
2 TB corn syrup
1/4 c water
2 cardamom pods, crushed
2 strips clementine zest (about 3/4"x1 1/2")
Bring to a boil and cover for about 4-5 minutes. Take off cover and watch for temp to come to 250F. When it reaches 250, take off heat, add to gelatin mixture and mix for 6-8 minutes until marshmallows start to get a bit stringy from the edge of the bowl and the beater and starts to keep its shape. Pour marshmallows into loaf pan and let sit overnight.
Next day turn out onto cutting board dusted with powdered sugar and potato starch and cut with dusted chef's knife.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pepin's Pickled Vegetables

I loved The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen, and made my first decent roast chicken and then stock from La Technique, so I like looking for Jacques Pepin's other cookbooks in the library (I always preview cookbooks before purchasing). This time I found his Simple and Healthy Cooking.

We've been trying to eat a little healthier around here, and browsing through, pickles seems like they could be a nice quick savory snack (and healthier than say Harvest Cheddar SunChips). The vegetable pickles were so pretty, and looked so easy, that we made a family trip to the grocery store picking out all our favorite veg.

We made a half recipe and made a few changes. I left out what we couldn't find (juniper berries and fresh tarragon) and didn't prefer (fennel and zucchini). We really liked them, and we're on the second batch already. These will be a nice, easy standard recipe for quick pickles.

Adapted from Jacques Pepin's Pickled Vegetables in Simple and Healthy Cooking
6 oz carrots
6 oz cauliflower
6 oz red bell pepper
4 oz turnip
2 oz green beans
6 cloves garlic
2 1/2 c water
1 c distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 TB salt
1 1/2 TB sugar
6 whole cloves
1/2 tsp allspice berries

Makes 1 qt and 1 pint jar. Cut all in sticks or florets. Thinly slice garlic. Pack veg in jars (alternating to make it pretty if you want...and which we skipped).
Bring water, vinegar, salt, sugar, cloves, and allspice to a boil, and boil gently 5 min. Pour liquid to cover the veg in the jars.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

TWD Bourbon Bread Pudding

No bourbon here, but a very vanilla-y bread pudding! I only did half the recipe with the bread on hand, though I think I might have underestimated how much bread I really had since this bread pudding was drier than others of Dorie's I've done. It was a very cozy, homey dessert! Thanks to Sharon of Simply Southern for this week's pick!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mom's Lemon Bars

When I was a kid, my mom made these bars quite a bit for pot lucks and picnics and such. Being a kid, I'd always go for the chocolate (not that different than today!), and I'd pass on the lemon bars. But the last few years in winter, I've gotten on a lemon kick. This year, I remembered her bars.

I think it's the first time I've tried making them. They're quite sweet, but I love the shortbread crust and the tart curd. I'm kind of amazed at how smooth they are and how nicely they set. It helps to wait til they're entirely cool before cutting, otherwise I learned they're a bit sticky. These were perfect for my lemon craving!

Mom's Lemon Bars
Mix and press into a 9x13 pan:
3/4 c butter
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 1/2 c flour
Bake 15 min at 350.

3 eggs
1 1/2 c sugar
3 TB flour
1/2 c lemon juice
Pour over hot crust. Bake 15-20 minutes at 350.
Cool and cut bars. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cool and refrigerate til serving.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

TWD Great Grains Muffins

These muffins were rich, very buttery, but not too sweet. Instead of dried fruit, I used the cranberries that I'd used for my try at Martha Stewart's cranberry vodka minus the orange. I was a little worried that my cooled butter solidified in little bits after adding the buttermilk, refrigerated maple syrup and eggs, but it all evened out when added to the dry ingredients.

I liked the grains, and they had a nice and crispy crust. Next time I think I'd leave out the cornmeal (like the Lenox biscotti) since it seemed to make them a little gritty. The kids liked them quite a bit, and they'd be nice as part of a brunch.

Thanks to Christine of Happy Tummy for this week's pick!