October 6, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

We arrived home from a two week trip to Spain to find that fall has hit in Portland! Which is just dandy by me, I sure do love this season. All the traveling and hotel hopping left me yearning to spend the day in my kitchen so I decided to spend my Sunday making this very involved, from scratch, chicken pot pie that I got from the new Bon Appetit magazine. It was the perfect cure for fall weather and the need to cook. I went above and beyond on this one and even pulled the meat from the chicken carcass with my bare hands, a first and most likely a last for me. I'm not as carnivorous as I may have thought after shirking my vegetarian upbringing some 12 years ago. Overall, this recipe turned out really well but I think I prefer Ina Garten's Chicken Stew with Biscuits more. It's an all time favorite. This recipe can be a close second though and one to keep around should I ever need to impress anyone with my chicken ripping skills.

Chicken Pot Pie

slightly altered from Bon Appetit

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/4 cup vegetable shortening

2 cups peeled, coarsely chopped carrots
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 leek, coarsely chopped
1 3-pound whole chicken
4 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
6 sprigs thyme
1 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 tablespoons dried chanterelle or shittake mushrooms
1 cupo 1/2" slices of carrots
1 cup fresh (or frozen, thawed) peas
1 cup fresh (or I used frozen already peeled) pearl onions
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup all purpose flour
6 fresh sage leaves
4 thyme sprigs
2 sprigs rosemary
1 cup button mushrooms
1 cup 1/4" rounds sliced fingerling potatoes
1 egg, beaten to blend
coarse sea salt and ground pepper



Mix flour, salt, and baking powder in a food processor. Add cubed butter and shortening and process until mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-size lumps. With machine running, add 1/2 cup ice water and process, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dry, until dough forms. Form dough into a ball; flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place chilled dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to a 12x9 1/2" rectangle, about 1/4" thick. Place on prepared sheet and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Chill. DO AHEAD: Can be made 6 hours ahead. Keep chilled.


Preheat oven to 400°. Place carrots, onion, and leek on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a large pot fitted with a lid. Add chicken, breast side down, celery, thyme sprigs, wine, salt, and peppercorns to pot. Add 8 cups water to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat, cover, and poach chicken until cooked through, about 35 minutes.
Remove chicken from pot and set aside until cool. Reserve broth. Shred meat; discard skin and bones. Set a large strainer over another pot. Strain broth into clean pot. Stir in tomato paste. Return to medium heat and simmer, uncovered, until reduced to 5 cups, about 40 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill uncovered until cool. Cover chicken and broth separately; keep chilled. Rewarm broth before continuing.


Place dried chanterelles in a small bowl and cover with 1 cup hot water. Let steep for 10 minutes; set aside. Reserve soaking liquid. Cook carrots in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a medium bowl. Add peas to saucepan; cook for 1 minute; transfer to bowl with carrots. Add onions to saucepan and cook until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Remove from pot and set aside; let cool. Peel onions. In a large heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Whisk in herbs and warm broth from chicken. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chanterelles to saucepan. Pour in soaking liquid, leaving sediment behind. Simmer for 20 minutes. Set a strainer over another large pot. Strain broth into pot; discard solids. Add chicken, carrots, peas, onions, mushrooms, and potatoes. Bring to a simmer. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill uncovered until cool; cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before continuing. Preheat oven to 400°. Spoon filling into an 11x8x2" or 2 1/2-qt. round baking dish. (Add pie bird, if using.) Top with pastry, pinching edges to seal. If not using pie bird, cut a 1" slit in center of crust for steam to vent. Brush pastry with beaten egg, and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, if desired. Place pot pie on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly, about 45 minutes.

Poaching the chicken and making the stock base

Stirring the roux

The filling. so good

et voila

September 25, 2011

Chicken and Orzo Stew

If you find yourself home alone on a Sunday with a bit of rain outside and a hankering for an easy, delicious and hearty soup, this is the recipe for you.

I got this recipe out of The Big Book of Soups and Stews and went to the store during a brief sun break to get a few ingredients.

Here is the recipe as I made it.

-2 tablespoons of butter or olive oil
-2 cans (14.5 oz each) diced tomatoes with juice
-1 can (14.5 oz) chicken broth
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 teaspoon dried basil
-1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
-1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
-1 teaspoon salt
-pepper to taste
-2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound), cut into bite-sized chunks
-1/4 cup dry white wine
-1 1/4 cups uncooked orzo
-1/2 of an onion, diced
-8 oz mushrooms, quartered
-2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch slices
-2 large handfuls of baby spinach
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1. Warm butter in large soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, saute until soft. Add mushrooms, saute for about 5 minutes until mushrooms are soft.
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2. Add broth, tomatoes, garlic, basil, thyme, marjoram, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.
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3. Add chicken, wine, orzo, and zucchini. reduce heat to one step above low and simmer, covered, until chicken is cooked through and orzo is tender.
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4. Stir in spinach.
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5. Once spinach is wilted, serve and enjoy!
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This was seriously so quick and delicious. I would recommend cutting the zucchini slices into half moons so they would get a tad squishier, they were a bit too crunchy for me.


July 14, 2011

Chicken with Tomatoes and Mushrooms

I had a very hard time choosing what to make for dinner last night. I knew I would have the house to myself, and could take my time and make whatever sounded most delicious. I decided I should make something that would provide lots of leftovers for lunches the rest of the week. I wanted something with tomatoes and I wanted to soak up the yummy juices with delicious bread. I figured chicken would be cheapest. After scouring the internet for what felt like forever (how hard does it sound to find a recipe that suited my needs??), I finally decided to make this recipe from Martha Stewart. Below is the recipe as I made it, with only a few adjustments:

Chicken with Tomatoes and Mushrooms


-about 2 pounds boneless/skinless chicken. I used 2 breast halves and 4 small thighs.
-Coarse salt and ground pepper
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-a little over 1 pound mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
-4 garlic cloves, minced
-1 large can (28 ounces) whole stewed tomatoes
-half of an onion, quartered
-1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
-1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
-a few dashes of paprika
-a few dashes of cayenne pepper
-delicious hot bread to soak up all that juice (or rice if you prefer)


1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a large (5-quart) saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, heat oil over medium-high heat; swirl to coat bottom of pan. Cook chicken, turning when it easily releases from the pan, until golden, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
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2. Add mushrooms; cover, and cook until softened, about 5 to 10 minutes.
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3. Add garlic, tomatoes, onion, oregano, thyme, paprika, cayenne pepper, and a little bit of salt and pepper.
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4. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, until tomatoes have broken down, about 20 minutes.
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5. Return chicken and any accumulated juices to pan; cover, and cook until chicken is opaque throughout, 4 to 6 minutes. Turn chicken to coat with sauce, and serve.
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I felt like something was missing from this, and it might be because usually when I make something like this it is spicy. This was not spicy at all but it was super tasty. I ate it with a ton of bread for dinner and then boxed up the rest with rice into FOUR perfect lunch containers.

I liked the chicken breasts more than the thighs, and I think this would be delicious without meat, just maybe with some portabella mushrooms in place of the meat. Or steak! I think I will be making many variations of this dish in the fall.


April 5, 2011

Lemon Rolls with Cream Cheese Lemon Thyme Glaze

There were a million things pointing me towards making these sweet wonderful rolls. First off, I planted my first herb garden this last weekend! I'm pretty excited about it and I keep smiling every time I walk into my kitchen and see a window sill of fresh herbs smiling back at me. I've managed to use them in just about everything I've made since then but the one that has by far stolen me away is the lemon thyme. Just rubbing your fingers on it leaves the beautiful refreshing smell of lemon on them. It doesn't get much better than that. Secondly, I ran across a recipe for these lemon rolls on The Kitchn that I remembered I had bookmarked some time ago so I stocked up on lemons at the grocery store the very same day.

Those lemons came in handy later that day when I started feeling sick. I must've had about 15 lemon, hot water and honey drinks over the next 24 hours trying to chase the bug away. But alas, I'm home sick today with nothing to do but bake to make me feel better. I realized while making these that yellow is one of my favorite colors and I sure do have a lot of it in my kitchen decor. It's a brighten your day kind of color. The next thing you know I'm stumbling across this post on Poppytalk alerting me that today was in fact declared a day of yellow for Spring Colors Week. Sometimes when you get a good idea it doesn't take a lot of convincing to carry it through but it sure does help when the universe is there to back you up. So, here's my own little tribute to yellow.

I made the recipe as it was posted but I added some fresh lemon thyme to the cream cheese glaze. I also modified the lemon amounts a bit as I think my glaze and filling were a bit too wet and it needed to be adjusted into measurements instead of just whole lemons.

Sticky Lemon Rolls with Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze
Makes 12 large breakfast rolls

Lemon Roll Dough
1 envelope (0.25 ounces, or 2 1/2 teaspoons) active yeast

3/4 cup milk, warmed to about 100°F (warm but not hot on your wrist)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very soft
1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of grated lemon zest
(about 1 lemon)

Sticky Lemon Filling
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (about 1 lemon)

Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon thyme
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest for garnish
(about 1 lemon)

Make the dough:
Zest and juice the lemons. Divide the zest into three parts. Divide the juice into two parts, and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer sprinkle the yeast over the warmed milk and let it sit for a few minutes. With the mixer paddle, stir in the softened butter, sugar, vanilla, and one cup of the flour. Stir in the salt, nutmeg, and one part (1/3) of the lemon zest. Stir in the eggs and enough of the remaining flour to make a soft yet sticky dough.

Switch to the dough hook and knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is elastic and pliable. (If you do not have a stand mixer, stir together the ingredients by hand, then turn the soft dough out onto a lightly floured countertop. Knead the dough by hand for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth, pliable, and stretchy.)

Spray the top of the dough with vegetable oil, and turn the dough over so it is coated in oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a towel and let the dough rise until nearly doubled — about an hour.

Make the filling:
In a small bowl, mix the sugar with the nutmeg and ginger, then work in the second part of the lemon zest (1/3) with the tips of your fingers until the sugar resembles soft sand. Slowly pour in one part of the lemon juice, stirring. Stop when the sugar and lemon juice form a wet, clumpy mixture. (You may use all of the reserved half of the lemon juice; you may stop before completely adding that half of the lemon juice.)

Assemble the rolls:
Lightly grease a 13x9 inch baking dish with baking spray or butter. On a floured surface pat the dough out into a large yet still thick rectangle — about 10x15 inches.

Spread the dough evenly with the 3 tablespoons of softened butter, then pour and spread the lemon-sugar mixture over top. Roll the dough up tightly, starting from the top long end. Stretch and pull the dough taut as you roll, to keep the lemon sugar firm inside. Cut the long dough roll into 12 even rolls. Pinch the bottom of each roll closed and place each one, open and cut side up, in the prepared baking dish.

Cover the rolls with a towel and let them rise for an hour or until puffy and nearly doubled. (You can also refrigerate the rolls at this point. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. When you are ready to bake the rolls, remove the pan from the fridge, and let them rise for an hour.)

Heat the oven to 350°F. Place the risen rolls in the oven and bake for 35 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into a center roll reads 190°F.

Make the glaze:
While the rolls are baking, prepare the glaze. In a small food processor (or with a mixer, or a sturdy whisk), whip the cream cheese and the lemon thyme until light and fluffy. Add the remaining lemon juice and blend until well combined. Add the powdered sugar and blend until smooth and creamy.

Finish the rolls:
When the rolls are done, smear them with the cream cheese glaze, and sprinkle the final remaining lemon zest over top to garnish. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving, but do serve while still warm.

My Inspiration

A little before and after

My pretty tea towel with the dough rising

Makes my mouth water just looking at 'em

Another before and after

March 9, 2011

Labor of Love-Macaron Making

This past Valentine's day I took as an excuse to tackle a long time goal of mine-french macaron making. Michelle got me a detailed book on the subject for my birthday last year that I've been studying intently for the last 6 months. I invested in all the necessary equipment and we also got to use my new Kitchenaid mixer for the first time. A day of firsts indeed. Michelle came over to lend a hand in the kitchen and also for all the adorable crafting we did for our Valentine's gifts that we passed out to our loved ones. This was an all day project, with a couple of fails and do-overs, luckily we were smart enough to fit in pedicures and champagne drinking.

These little cookie monsters are hard to make but I think we had success in the end. They turned out really well, as did the darling packaging we made. We ended up making two different kinds of macarons. The first was a fig cookie with orange liqueur buttercream filling. The second was a pink colored cookie with fresh strawberry buttercream and a sprinkle of Dagoba's spicy chocolate powder on top. We did half of the strawberry batch with coconut on top but unfortunately those didn't turn out because we didn't cook them long enough. In the end we impressed ourselves with pulling off this baking feat. It left me wanting to experiment even more with the french macaron! Here is the detailed process of this labor of love.

Fig Macarons with Orange Liqueur Buttercream or
Pink Macarons with Fresh Strawberry Buttercream and Spicy Cocoa Topping

Macaron batter:
2/3 cup (3 ounces/85 grams) ground almonds
1 1/2 cups (5.25 ounces/150 grams) powdered sugar
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
5 tablespoons/65 grams granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
2 tablespoons ground dried figs or
red food coloring

Orange Liqueur Buttercream or Fresh Strawberry Buttercream:
7 tablespoons (3.5 ounces/100 grams) unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons (1.4 ounces/40 milliliters) water
3 tablespoons (1.4 ounces/40 grams) granulated sugar
1 egg
vanilla extract
2 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Cointreau or
4 tablespoons fresh strawberry puree

shredded unsweetened coconut or
Dagoba's spicy cocoa powder

To make macaron batter:
Cut a sheet of parchment paper (or silpat) to fit your baking sheet. Draw 1 inch circles on paper, spacing them at least 1/2 inch apart. This patter will be your guide for squeezing out the macaron batter. In a food processor, grind almonds and powdered sugar together to a fine powder. Sift the mixture through a medium-mesh sieve twice. Set aside.

In a stainless steel mixing bowl, beat egg whites (in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer) on high speed until they are foamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar to the egg whites. Add vanilla and continue to beat the meringue until it is stiff, firm, and has a glossy texture. Make sure this is VERY stiff. Just when you think it's stiff enough, beat a little more. This part is crucial to not ending up with runny macaron circles (we found out later).

Add half of the sifted flour mixture and stir with a spatula while scooping it up from the bottom of the bowl. Add the rest of the flour and mix it lightly in a circular motion. At this point add any flavors, such as the fig bits, or coloring you desire. Feel free to experiment with a variety of dried fruits or coloring, we did! After you run out of flour or have added your flavoring, press and spread out the batter against the bowl's sides. Scoop the batter from the bottom and turn it upside down. This is called making the macaronnage. Repeat this process about 15 times but not more than 20. When the batter becomes nicely firm and drips slowly as you scoop it with a spatula, the mixture is done. This is called the macaronner.. Attach a 0.4 inch tip to a pastry bag. Twist the bag to hold the tip tightly. This prevents the batter from leaking out. Place the pastry bag, tip down, inside a deep measuring cup and pour the macaronner batter into it. After pouring the batter into the bag. clip the bag top to prevent the batter from coming out. You can also use a rubber band. Using the parchment outlined in circles, squeeze small circles of batter onto a cookie sheet, making sure that the batter is firm and does not run. At this point sprinkle any coconut or cocoa or other powdered toppings you may want onto the circles.

Rap the baking sheet firmly against the counter or other flat surface. This helps the macarons hold their rounded shape and helps the pied, or "little foot", to form. Dry the batter at room temperature, uncovered, for 15 minutes. A slight crust should form on top of the macarons. On rainy days, it helps to dehumidify the room. If the batter circles do not stick to your finger when you touch them, the drying process is complete. On a dry and sunny day, the drying process takes approximately 30 minutes.

After the macarons have sufficiently dried you are ready to bake them. Place the oven racks in the center of the oven. Preheat to 375 degrees. Stack the baking sheet with the batter circles into an empty baking sheet and slide both into the oven. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until slightly crisp and crackled on top. If the insides of the macarons are still soft after 15 minutes lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees, cover the tray with foil, and bake for another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and cool on a wire rack. When the macarons are completely cooled, remove them from the baking sheet.

To make buttercream:
Cut butter into small pieces and put in a medium bowl. Stir the butter with a spatula until it becomes smooth and creamy like mayonnaise, set aside. Put water and granulated sugar in a small saucepan and stir well. Heat the mixture over medium low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture begins to become syrupy. Scoop some syrup with a spoon and drop it into a small amount of water. Then try to scoop the syrup out of the water and make a ball with it using your fingers. If you can do this, the syrup is the right density. While heating the syrup, break an egg into a bowl and beat it lightly with a hand mixer. Pour the syrup like a thread into the bowl and beat it at high speed. Reduce the speed to medium and then to slow, and continue beating until the bottom of the bowl is no longer hot and the mixture becomes white and heavy.

Add the creamed butter in 3 batches into the syrup beating with the hand mixture each time you add it. When the mixture is well mixed the process is done. Stir a drop or two of vanilla extract and whatever flavoring you are adding. When the mixture is well stirred it is done. Spread the cream between the macaron puffs and sandwich together. Now they are ready to eat!

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Not runny, very important
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A sprinkle of cocoa
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Little feet
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Getting creamed
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Valentines presents ready to go
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Just a peek at the goods

March 4, 2011

Crack Cake aka Pineapple Upside Down Cake Reinvented

Lately I've got a case of the winter blues. I thought Portland was going to skip over its rainy storm weather since we've had a very mild winter thus far. But after 5 years I should have known better 'cause we've been getting slaughtered lately. It's enough to make a girl start looking at last minute plane tickets outta here and spend long periods of time dreaming of warm sun and fruity drinks. So when I saw a large pineapple display at the store this week I thought, well, it's a start. I got that pineapple home and starting chopping it up only to realize it's not quite pineapple season and that sucker was tart. Like lip puckering, tawlk lawk dis tawt. So I immediately thought what if I made a pineapple upside down cake, not like the ones of olden days with canned pineapple and maraschino cherries, but a really amazing fresh and well done version.

I went in search of a recipe and whaddya know that wonderful blog
Smitten Kitchen had a perfect recipe, yup, of course it did. And it just so happened I had all the ingredients I needed at home. Any recipe that starts with a homemade caramel is aces in my book and this one did NOT disappoint. I took it out of the oven and the smell was intoxicating. I waited until it was just cool enough, slapped some vanilla ice cream on a slice, and immediately proclaimed (to no one at all) "that's some crack cake right there!". This is going to make many a reappearance come pineapple season. Mark my words.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Smitten Kitchen


1/2 medium pineapple, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cored
3/4 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon dark rum
1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
2 tablespoons dark rum for sprinkling over cake

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Make topping: Cut pineapple crosswise into 3/8-inch-thick pieces. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add brown sugar and simmer over moderate heat, stirring, four minutes. Remove from heat and pour into a 9" cake pan. Arrange pineapple on top of sugar mixture in concentric circles, overlapping pieces slightly.

Make batter: Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in granulated sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and rum. Add half of flour mixture and beat on low speed just until blended. Beat in pineapple juice, then add remaining flour mixture, beating just until blended. (Batter may appear slightly curdled.)

Spoon batter over pineapple topping and spread evenly. Bake cake in middle of oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cake stand for five minutes. Run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake. Invert a plate over cake pan and invert cake onto plate (keeping plate and pan firmly pressed together). Replace any pineapple stuck to bottom of pan. Sprinkle rum over cake and cool on plate on a rack.

Serve cake just warm or at room temperature. And add some vanilla ice cream, you won't regret it.

Do ahead: Cake may be made one day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before serving.


Caramel making and nesting


Batter making


Some rum for sprinkling on the final cake


Pretty as a picture

February 27, 2011

Slow Cooker Beef and Mushroom Stew

I have said it before, and I will say it again: I love mushrooms. LOVE.

This stew is very beefy but also has a ton of mushrooms and is quite a crowd pleaser. I made this for Matthew and my 3rd annual Christmas Party as a step up from the Hungarian mushroom soup I made the prior two years. I wanted to make something I didn't have to hover over while getting ready for the party! I forgot to take pictures the first time but luckily I had a special request to make it again recently and made sure to document thoroughly. The recipe makes a ton of food, so serve it for a dinner party!

The recipe I used is from Sunset magazine and I found it on MyRecipes.com. I didn't follow the instructions to a T, mainly because I am a pretty lazy cook and look for shortcuts wherever I can.

This is a little more work than a normal slow cooker recipe, simply because you make a sauce to pour over the meat and cook the mushrooms separately. But don't be discouraged! The stew is definitely worth it. To make it easy on myself this last time, I made the sauce and poured it over the meat the night before and let it marinate all night in the refrigerator. In the morning before work, I turned the slow cooker on and when I got home from work I cooked the mushrooms. It worked out perfectly and made it seem like less work.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

-3 pounds boned, fat-trimmed beef chuck
-1 orange (2 1/2 in. wide), rinsed
-1 onion (about 8 oz.), peeled and finely chopped
-3 cloves garlic, chopped
-About 1 cup beef or chicken broth
-1 cup red wine
-1/2 cup port
-1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
-2 tablespoons soy sauce
-1 teaspoon dried thyme
-5 very thin slices of peeled fresh ginger (quarter size)
-2 pounds mushrooms
-3 tablespoons butter
-1/4 cup flour
-Salt and (lots of) pepper

1. Rinse meat; cut into 3 to 4 inch lengths (for chuck, about 1 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches wide) and place in a 5 to 6 quart slow cooker.
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2. With a vegetable peeler, pare orange part of peel from orange and sliver it; save orange for other uses.
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3. In a 2-quart sauce pan, combine orange peel slivers, chopped onion, 1 cup broth, wine, port, vinegar, soy sauce, thyme, ginger, garlic, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat.
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4. Pour liquid over meat. Turn slow cooker to low.
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5. Put cover on slow cooker and cook on low until meat is very tender when pierced, 6 to 7 hours.

6. Rinse and drain mushrooms; trim off and discard stem ends. Cut mushrooms into quarters and place in a 12 inch frying pan with butter.
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7. Skim off and discard fat from liquid in slow cooker. Ladle 1 cup of liquid from slow cooker into pan with mushrooms. Stir mushrooms often over high heat until liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are lightly browned, 13 to 17 minutes.
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8. When your mushrooms are almost finished (liquid almost evaporated), eyeball the remaining liquid in the slow cooker. There should be plenty of liquid covering the meat, about 2 cups. If you think you don't have enough liquid, add some broth. You want the meat to still be covered with liquid. (Sorry I forgot to take a picture of this!)

9. Add the cooked mushrooms to the slow-cooker.

10. In a small bowl, mix flour with about a cup of the hot liquid from the slow cooker. Whisk vigorously until flour is dissolved. Pour evenly over meat and mix gently to blend with liquid still in slow cooker, trying not to break up the meat too much. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let the mushrooms and meat mingle together for about 20 minutes in slow cooker.

11. Serve with garlic mashed potatoes, egg noodles, or rice! (I prefer potatoes to rice, and haven't tried egg noodles but think it would be delicious!)
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February 21, 2011

Winter Comfort in a Bowl-Vegetable and Sausage Cobbler

This is one of those recipes that surprises you with its astounding goodness. In search of something wintery and cozy to serve my craft night buddies I had been sitting on this recipe from Moosewood Cookbook called Vegetable Cobbler. It sounded a tad strange since I've only had cobblers of the sweet kind. But I figured it had biscuits on top and well, as you may know from my last post, biscuits are one of my favorite foods.

The result was something so cozy and delicious that it sent some folks back for seconds. We decided it was a cross between Shepard's pie and chicken pot pie. I'm really glad I took a chance on this one as it's definitely something I'll be making again and again (I ended up making it again 5 nights later). I added some basil garlic chicken sausage to the recipe and altered the vegetables I used a bit as I wasn't in the mood for corn or white potatoes. And if you don't fancy yourself a baker don't let the biscuit part scare you; drop biscuits don't require any rolling out or cutting. Here is the recipe as I made it.

Vegetable and Chicken Sausage Cobbler
adapted from the Moosewood Classics Cookbook
Serves 6
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil (or butter)
  • 1.5 lbs bulk basil garlic chicken sausage (or any type of ground meat you prefer)
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped onions (about 1 large onion)
  • 1 fennel bulb, core removed, thinly sliced
  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 to 5 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups peeled and chopped sweet potatoes (or butternut squash)
  • 2 cups peeled and chopped carrots (or parsnips)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 cups mushroom stock
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of hot sauce (optional)

Biscuit Topping:

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt (I used nonfat yogurt)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill (or any herb you have on hand)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9 X 13-inch baking dish.

2. Warm 1 tablespoon of the oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Add the sausage and saute just until all of the pink is gone. Remove the sausage and all of its juices and set aside in a bowl to add back later. Warm the other tablespoon of oil in the same pan. Add the onions, fennel and garlic, cover, and cook on medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the salt, thyme, crushed red pepper flakes, mushrooms and mustard. Cook until the mushrooms start to release their juices, about 5 minutes.

4. Add the sweet potato, carrot, black pepper and water or stock, and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the vegetables are just tender.

5. Stir the dissolved cornstarch mixture into the simmering vegetables, stirring constantly. When the liquid starts to thicken, mix in the peas, soy sauce and salt. Add the cooked sausage back to the pot. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. (You can also add a dash of hot sauce.)

6. Pour the vegetable/sausage mixture into the prepared baking dish, and set aside.

7. In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, mix together the melted butter and buttermilk or yogurt. Combine the wet and dry ingredients with as few strokes as possible to make a soft dough.

8. Drop the biscuit batter over the vegetables in the dish in six equal mounds. Sprinkle the dill over the dough.

9. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of a biscuit comes out clean. Serve immediately.


Into the oven it goes



January 4, 2011

Angel Biscuits

Growing up I remember my grandmother making homemade biscuits as any fine grandmother does, more specifically my grandmother made Angel Biscuits. I'm not sure what exactly is angelic about them, I'm guessing it's a reference to being light as air, but what I do remember is helping her cut the biscuits and always hoping there would be raw dough scraps leftover. My grandmother would hand them to me and I would chomp on the yeasty sweet dough. It's one of my favorite childhood memories. When I was in my early 20s I began collecting all of these family recipes in a small notebook so I could use them for years to come. Somewhere along the way, between many moves, I lost the recipe book and hadn't seen it in years.

I'd pretty much written the book off until I was home for Christmas this year and my aunt walks up to me and asks, "Recognize this?" and holds up my long lost collection of recipes. I squealed with excitement and realized that they were actually using the book for a couple of recipes for Christmas dinner that evening. So after thinking it was long gone I had such a good time browsing through the book and got really excited for being able to recreate these recipes again. The first thing I made when I got home was Angel Biscuits. And fortunately for me, I was the only one around to eat all of the leftover dough scraps. These biscuits are slightly sweet and can be served with jam but they also work well as a dinner roll. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have (and will)!

Angel Biscuits
original source unknown

1 package active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm water
5 cups self rising flour (or make your own by adding 1 tsp baking powder for every 1 cup of all purpose)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup shortening
2 cups buttermilk
melted butter for pans and tops of biscuits

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease two 13x9 inch pans with melted butter. Dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside to activate. Meanwhile, stir flour, sugar, and baking soda (and baking powder if using) together. Cut in shortening until mixture is pea sized consistency. Mix buttermilk with yeast and add to flour mixture. Stir until just combined. Roll the dough out onto well floured surface until 1/2 inch thick. Cut with 2 inch biscuit cutter or a pint glass works just as well. Place close together in buttered pans. Allow to rise one hour. Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly brown. Brush tops with melted butter.

Cutting the shapes and my dough scraps

Rising and fully baked

with some apricot jam