Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jam Bars

This is a great recipe handed down to me from Mrs. Buerger's cabin. Minimal ingredients for a great vacation home staple or for tea time with friends. I made it for a friend's BBQ party. Found out after creaming my butter and sugar that I didn't have any eggs in my frig. Had to run next door for 2 eggs from my neighbor. Whipped up the dessert, threw it in the oven, put it on the "cooking timer" so it would shut off after 50 min. Walked over to the BBQ. Ran back to grab the dessert out of the oven. Brought it back to my friends party. Talk about a last minute homemade dessert ;) It is a bit sweet. So if you made your own jam it would be my perfect recipe but that makes this wonderfully simple recipe too high maintenance for its purposes. Enjoy!

18 T. unsalted butter, room temp.
1 1/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
3 c. flour
1 jar fruit jam or pie filling (I used peach jam)

Preheat 325, using 9x13 pan
1. Cream butter and sugar
2. Mix in eggs and flour
3. Spread dough mix onto pan. Save 1/3 for top of fruit.
4. Spread over dough. Top with remaining dough
5. Bake for 45-50 min. Cool. Powder top with powdered sugar.

Made some cookies for a baby shower with a "Year of the Ox" theme. Thought I'd share them with you.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Kicking off the Summer

My peonies have bloomed and wanted to share them with you. They fill my rooms with such sweet perfume. I'm a bit obsessed at the moment. 

We had some friends over for dinner for some grilling. One of our friends brought over their infamous rack of lamb that had been marinated in a miso marinade that were grilled. Our other friends brought over Tiger shrimp brined and marinated with a pepper rub ready to be grilled. And I made the sweet chili wings that Julie made for us in Laguna Beach. I moved my oven rack to the top 1/3 of the oven. Made sure not to overcrowd the roasting pan. Put in the fridge until we were ready to grill. I reheated the wings on the grill. And they were delish! Used chives in my garden instead of green onions. If I had only taken some pictures because we ate very well that evening. To end the meal we made some cream puffs together. I premade the pastry cream which came out a little runnier than I wanted but still super tasty. I should cook it further than I did, I think.
Here's the recipe for them. I usually make them the size of baseballs but this time we  made them bite size (like pingpong balls) which actually worked out very well. 

Pastry Cream
From Chez Panisse Desserts
Makes 2 1/2 cups
2 c. milk
1/3 c. flour
6 T. sugar
6 egg yolks
1-2 T. unsalted butter
Vanilla bean or 1-2 t. vanilla extract
Scald the milk (heat it just under boiling. when you start seeing steam come up from the surface)Add vanilla bean here. Mix the flour and sugar in a separate saucepan. Beat egg yolks until thick and light colored in a mixer. Whisk hot milk into the mixed flour and sugar saucepan. and cooke over medium heat until it has boiled for a minute.
Whisk a little of the mixture into the egg yolks to warm them. Stir them back into the flour mixture. Mix well and cook over medium heat until it begins to hold its shape (first time you make pastry cream use a thermometer and make sure it gets to 170 degrees. then you will know what it should look like finished). Remove from heat and stir in butter. Add vanilla extract here. Put in storage container. Cover with plastic wrap. Cool in refrigerator until you are ready to fill tart, cake or eclair. If its too stiff out of the frig, just whip it up a little in a mixer. I've also folded in whipped cream to make it even lighter and thinner. I always make the pastry cream the day before to manage my prepping time.

Cream Puffs
From Chez Panisse Desserts
Makes about 26 small puffs
1 c. water
6 T. unsalted butter
1/8 t. salt
1/2 t. sugar
1 c. flour
5 large eggs
Heat water, butter, salt, and sugar in saucepan. When boils, remove from heat, add the flour all at once and quickly stir until smooth. Return to medium heat and cook, stirring, until dough makes a ball in pan. Heat a minute or 2 to cook the flour thoroughly. Remove from heat and pour into mixing bowl or kitchen aid. Add one egg at a time while beating until mixed in. Add rest of eggs one by one.
Use parchment paper and put dough in pastry bag and pipe mounds 2 inches apart. You can also just spoon heaps onto baking sheet. Preheat to 400. Put in the oven and immediately turn heat down to 375. Bake for 15 min or until they are golden brown and puffed up. Prick each one with tip of a sharp knife on the side. Put them back in oven for 5 min to dry out the inside. Cool.If you are not using within the hour, crisp them in  375 for a few min before filling.

Chocolate Fondant
From All American Cookies
1/2 water
2 T. light corn syrup
2 c. powdered sugar
1/3 t. vanilla extract
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped (melts faster)
Bring water and corn syrup to boil. Remove from heat. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Pour over unsweetened chocolate and mix until all chocolate has melted. Drizzle over filled cream puffs or pipe on top for the perfect eclair. If it cools it gets stiff so add a couple drops of hot water, stir and use warm. This can also be warmed on the stove. I'm sure 8-10 seconds in the microwave also works with thorough stirring after being nuked ;)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Inaugural Post: Weekend Munchies

Ladies, thanks for welcoming me after all this time! Here are the recipes for the food from Jer's fabulous weekend. These are some of my favorite "feed a large group" recipes: fun, interactive, appeal to most folks, yummy, and can largely be made ahead.

**Sweet Chili-Glazed Chicken Wings**
take on recipe from Bon Appétit | July 1997

Yield: Makes ~6 App servings (I used 4 lbs for the weekend version)
Note: I make the glaze and marinade the chicken the night before, so all I have to do is pop them in the over before guests arrive.

Chicken & Marinade:
2 pounds chicken wings
1/4 cup peanut oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced ginger
3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

1 cup rice vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon chili-garlic sauce

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

Cut each chicken wing in half at joint. Mix oil, cilantro, soy sauce, 2 tablespoons garlic, ginger and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper in large bowl. Add chicken wings and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Using tongs, transfer chicken wings to large baking sheet. (if available I like to bake them on cooling racks set in baking sheets so they crisp better) Bake until cooked through and golden brown, about 20 minutes each side, 40 minutes total. (bon appétit suggests 20 mins but I think 40 is necessary for nice golden result)

Meanwhile, combine vinegar, sugar, water, chili-garlic sauce, remaining 1/2 tablespoon garlic and remaining 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper in medium saucepan. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer until glaze mixture thickens to syrup consistency, about 20 minutes. (they say 20 but I find it takes up to 40 minutes+ sometimes, especially if doubling the recipe...)

Transfer baked chicken wings to large bowl. Pour glaze over; toss to coat. Sprinkle with green onions. Great served warm or room temperature-- making this perfect for app buffets.

Note: Alton Brown has a neat trick which was to steam the wings first for 10 minutes to render their fat, and make them extra crispy. I haven't tried this but seems like it could be a nice bonus technique to try

alton brown's recipe

2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons melted butter
Butter, for coating the pan

In a blender, combine all of the ingredients and pulse for 10 seconds. Place the crepe batter in the refrigerator for 1 hour. This allows the bubbles to subside so the crepes will be less likely to tear during cooking. The batter will keep for up to 48 hours. (making it a perfect make ahead and cook on the spot dish! They are best fresh, but still really tasty up to 2-3 days later so great to make a pile for when you have weekend guests coming!)

Heat a non-stick pan (size will dictate size of crepe-- I use a medium pan typically. Add butter to coat. Pour ~1/4 cup of batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. (technique tip: pull the pan off the heat and tip it upwards, then pour from one side and swirl. The few seconds off the heat gives you a bit more time to get it spread out correctly.) Cook for 30-60 seconds and flip (I use my fingers, and wait until the edges start to brown/curl just a bit). Cook for another 15-30 seconds and remove to the cutting board. Lay them out flat so they can cool. Continue until all batter is gone. After they have cooled you can stack them and store in sealable plastic bags in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for up to two months. When using frozen crepes, thaw on a rack before gently peeling apart.

*Savory Variation Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, spinach or sun-dried tomatoes to the egg mixture.

*Sweet Variation Add 21/2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of your favorite liqueur to the egg mixture.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Recipes: Weekend in the O.C.

Hi Ladies! Here are some recipes I promised all of you. It was such a pleasure to see all of Jer's ladies with an appetite as big as my own ;)

Vietnamese Sandwiches (Banh Mi)
For the pork:
3 lb. boneless pork butt
1 t. black peppercorns
2 serrano chiles, crushed
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. salt
For the pickled carrots:
1/2 c rice wine vinegar
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. salt
1 1/2 c. peeled and shredded carrots
To assemble:
2 french baguettes
6 T Mayo
10 oz. pork pate
1 English cucumber, sliced into thin wide strips
1/2 c. cilantro
4 jalapenos
4 t. soy sauce
Brine the pork in a ziploc bag filled with water and pork ingredients above. Refrigerate overnight. Rinse pork butt and pat dry. Place fat side up in roasting pan. Heat oven to 400F roast in middle rack for 1 hr and 45 min or until internal temp reads 165. Let cool for at least 45 min. Slice thinly.
For picked carrots:
Combine vinegar, sugar and salt. Coat julienned carrots and set aside overnight.
To assemble:
Slice baguettes lengthwise. Crisp in oven. Remove enough of bottom interiors of baguette so filling can fit easily. Spread mayo on top and pate on bottom. Top with sliced pork, cucumber, cilantro, pickled carrots and jalapenos for heat. Sprinkle with soy sauce.

Bill Granger's Vietnamese Chicken Salad
3 pieces 200g boneless skinless chicken breasts (1.3 lbs)
2T. veggie oil
white pepper
1 c. bean sprouts
1 c. mint leaves
1. c basil
4 cups chinese cabbage, finely shredded
1 c. carrot peeled and finely julienned
Vietnamese Dressing:
60 ml lime juice
60 ml fish sauce
2T rice vinegar
1T sugar
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 red onion or shallots, finely sliced
2 small red chilies, seeds removed, finely chopped
Heat frying pan with oil. Sear for 2 min and turn to sear other side for 1 min.
Bake chicken for 8-10 min. Leave to rest for 20 min. Shred chicken into thin strips with your hands and place in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and toss. Place all dressing ingredients in a separate bowl and stir until sugar is dissolved. Toss on salad when ready to serve.
Sweet Corn cakes with Avocado Salsa
18 oz canned corn, drained (or fresh from 3 corn cobs)
1 small red onion, chopped
2 eggs
3 T cilantro, chopped
4 oz flour
1 t. baking powder
salt and pepper
veggie oil for frying
For Avocado Salsa:
2 avocados, diced
15 g. cilantro
2 T lemon or lime juice
2T scallions, finely chopped
1 tomato, seeded and finely diced
1 dash Tabasco sauce, optional
salt and pepper

Preheat to 250
Place 2 c.corn, onion, eggs, cilantro, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper in food processor  until combined. Add remaining corn and stir to combine. Heat one T oil in non-stick frying pan over med to high heat. Drove 2 T of mixture per corn cake and cook in batches of three, for one minute on each side. Keep warm in oven while making the rest of your corn cakes. Serve with avocado salsa. For salsa, add all ingredients into bowl and stir very gently to combine.

Barefoot Contessa's Sour Cream Coffee Cake
12 T (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/2c. sugar
3 xl eggs, room temp
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1 1/4 c. sour cream
2 1/2 c. cake flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt

For Streusel:
1/4 c brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
3 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 c. chopped walnuts

For glaze: 
1/2 c. confectioners' sugar
2 T maple syrup

Preheat 350. Grease 10 in. tube pan or what ever other pan you have. Cream butter and sugar for 4 min. Add eggs 1 at a time. Add vanilla and sour cream. In another bowl, mix flour, b.p, b.s, and salt. Fold in flour mixture until just combined. For streusel, place brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble. Mix in walnuts.
Spoon half the batter in the pan. Sprinkle 3/4 c streusel. Spoon rest of batter into the pan, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake 50-60 min. Cook for 30 min. Whisk confectioners sugar and maple syrup together. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon. I didn't make the icing that weekend.

Polenta Pound Cake - refer to Jan 28 2009 posting
Makes 1 loaf cake, serving 8-10
1/2 lb unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lemon (optional)
3 eggs, at room temp.
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pine nuts (optional)
* I omitted optional ingredients

Preheat  to 350 degrees. 
Brush loaf pan with butter and dust with flour or just line with parchment (which is what I do).
Cream butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy for 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time. Then add extracts and sour cream. Stir in cornmeal followed by flour, baking powder and salt.
Spoon batter into pan. Scatter pine nuts on top (if using pine nuts). Bake about an hour or until the top is firm to the touch. cook completely. Cut 3/4 to 1 in. slices. Toast in your toaster oven until brown at edges. Dust with powdered sugar (optional). I just served it plain. 
Chocolate Toffee Cookies - from February  6 2008 posting
Makes about 18
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups (packed) brown sugar

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

5 1.4-ounce chocolate-covered English toffee bars (such as Heath or Skor), coarsely chopped

1 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped 

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl; whisk to blend. Stir chocolate and butter in top of double boiler set over simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from over water. Cool mixture to lukewarm.
Using electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs in bowl until thick, about 5 minutes. Beat in chocolate mixture and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture, then toffee and nuts. Chill batter until firm, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment or waxed paper. Drop batter by 1/4 cupfuls with an ice cream scoop onto sheets, spacing 2 1/2 inches apart. Bake just until tops are dry and cracked but cookies are still soft to touch, about 15 minutes. Cool on sheets. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.) 

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Vietnamese Summer Rolls (aka Goi Cuon)

Inspired by the yummy Vietnamese lunch from this past weekend (see photo in posting below), I prepared goi cuon for dinner.

Rice paper & bun:

All the ingredients (thai basil, cucumbers, lettuce, pickled carrots, shrimp, beef, bun, rice paper):

Each person assembles the goi cuon him/herself at the table:

Despite typically eaten with hoisin/siracha sauce, I opted to dip my goi cuon in to nuoc cham instead, which I find more refreshing.

Nuoc cham recipe:

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 minced serano chili pepper

Weekend in the O.C.

Thanks, Elaine and Julie, for cooking up a storm for us this past weekend!!! It was all so incredibly delicious!

Lunch on Saturday:

Dinner on Saturday:

Breakfast on Sunday: