Thursday, May 29, 2008

Favorite Breakfast variation - Pancake with Apples

I make a puffy pancake for breakfast that is so good and really easy. You heat up 1/4 cup butter in a 9 inch skillet. Then you mix two eggs, 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup flour, leaving the lumps in, and pour that into the skillet when the butter is really hot but not brown yet. That goes into the oven for 15 minutes. It comes out completely puffed up. I sprinkle sugar over the top and put it back in for a couple of minutes. Then I squeeze a lemon over the top right before slicing and serving. So good and best eaten immediately.

Tonight I made a variation for dessert. I sautéed 2 apples in brown sugar and then added them to the batter that I usually make. I also threw in some vanilla and salt for good measure. It came out quite good. Let the pancake sit in the pan a minute to absorb some of the caramel sauce in the bottom before serving. And definitely saute the apple slices on med high for 10 minutes so they take on the caramel taste of the sugar. We had ours with vanilla ice cream, excellent vehicle for it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Mark Bittman's Banana almond chocolate chip cake

Whenever I make a savory dish of Mark Bittman's I'm usually happy. He gets flavor, texture and contrast. Sometimes dessert is a disappointment. Recently on his blog, Bitten, he posted a recipe for a banana cake that he said was his Mother's favorite cake. Well, when you invoke the M word I have to try it. It's a great recipe and I think you could split it between two loaf tins if you wanted. The texture is perfect, just like a fine cake with a hint of nuttiness from the roasted almonds. The half and half also adds richness along with the chocolate. Don't throw in more chips than specified, it is the perfect amount as is. I am definitely making this again. You can serve it with whipped cream but I promise you, it is perfectly good without.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Oatmeal White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

C to the 3! Chocolate Chunk Cookies that aren't ruined by white chocolate. I know, everyone is only eating dark chocolate. White and milk are being shunned by everyone but me...Ok, and a few others.
First, I bought another Milk chocolate bar by Green and Black with almonds. Wow, so good. Rich smooth chocolate taste with a smoky almond crunch. So worth crossing that dark chocolate line in the sand.
Second, I was reading smitten kitten earlier. If you haven't checked them out yet please do, they post some solid recipes. He had just posted this cookie recipe that M. and I made tonight. I didn't alter a thing. The salt is a great addition, it really works with the butter. I purchased the oats at our local market which were great, super fresh. Stale oats are the worst.
Great recipe, I highly recommend it. The cookies are crisp and crunchy with a soft chewy center. 5 to the C!
Anyway, hit the link above to see the recipe on their site or check it out below.

Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
14 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

6 ounces good-quality white chocolate bar, chopped (not "white chocolate" chips; they're almost always artificial. I am adamant about this.)

1/2 teapoon good quality flaky sea salt (for sprinkling on top)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and table salt in a medium bowl.

2. Beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula, then add egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down bowl again. Add flour mixture gradually and mix until just incorporated and smooth. Gradually add oats and white chocolate and mix until well incorporated.

3. Divide dough into 24 equal portions, each about 2 tablespoons. Roll between palms into balls, then place on lined baking sheets about 2 1/2 inches apart. Using fingertips, gently press down each ball to about ¾-inch thickness.

4. Sprinkle a flake or two of sea salt on each cookie

5. Bake until cookies are deep golden brown, about 13 to 16 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack to cool.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Goat Cheese Custard with Strawberries

Another rainy Spring Saturday. I've cleaned every cabinet since discovering some unwanted guests...I leave you guessing on that one. I also went and saw the new movie Iron Man. I actually enjoyed it. I read a lot of comics growing up and I feel pretty protective of them. Nothing irritates me more than a lot of money being thrown at a movie that ends up sucking.
First, Jeff Bridges, who doesn't love him? He is insane! He brings all the weight to this movie and even though Gweneth Paltrow is weak at times he more than makes up for it. The there's Robert Downey Jr. with a super tight performance. He plays it straight with just enough depth to suggest character. For a comic book hero that's the perfect approach. Some scenes had me on the edge of my seat and even though he should have died, won't tell you when, I still throughly enjoyed the movie, start to finish, even the stale popcorn which I ate all myself.

On a better food note, David Lebovitz posted this last week and I finally made it. Really good, tangy and sweet. I poached the strawberries in the wine and added smoked cinnamon and black pepper. When you want something late at night but you're taking a break from ice know who you are...this is a good alternative.

Goat Cheese Custard with Strawberries
By David Lebovitz

5 ounces fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cream
2 large egg yolks
1/8 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350F

2. Place four custard cups or ramekins in a deep baking dish or pan.

3. Blend together the goat cheese, sugar, cream, egg yolks, and vanilla for 30 seconds until very smooth.
4. Divide the mixture into the custard cups; each should be a bit more than half full.

5. Add warm tap water to the baking pan, to make a water bath for baking the custards. The water should reach to about halfway up the side of each custard cup.

6. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20-minutes.

7. When done, remove the custards from the water bath and cool completely.

Strawberry sauce
1/2 cup red wine
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 to 1 small basket of strawberries
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

1. In a non-reactive skillet, cook the red wine and sugar until the bubbles get thick.
Once the syrup is reduced to half its original quantity, 1/4 cup, remove from heat and scrape into a bowl to cool completely.

2. Rinse, hull, and slice strawberries. Toss in syrup, add cinnamon and black pepper and let stand for a minute to two, then spoon onto custards.