Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New Blog

Wow, it's been 2 years since my last post! I just wanted to let all of you know (if there are any of you who still check up on the site) that I've started a new blog!

You can find me at:

I am still going to post about all of the food I'm making, as well as the work I'm doing at the gym. Hope to see you there!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Resolutions - Update

I am re-posting this list of things I want to bake/cook, as a reminder to myself.  You might notice that not much progress has been made.  I'm hoping I can start working on the list in the next few months.  I'm hoping I can make macarons sometime soon - one of my good friends actually has a gorgeous macaron cookbook, and I think I got her excited about making them!

* Souffle (savory and sweet)
* Pate a choux pastry
* Profiteroles with above pastry
* Croissants
* Pound cake
* Cake with fondant
* Stuffed mushrooms/peppers/tomatoes
* Cheese fondue
* Shortbread
* Latkes
* Burger buns
* Soft pretzels
* Salsa
* Macarons
* Macaroons (no I did not list the same thing twice)
* An interesting unconventional ice cream flavor
* Yogurt cake
* Profiteroles
* Candy (some kind of old fashioned caramel)
* Pot de creme 
* Artichokes
* Tiramisu (or other type of trifle)
* Baked pancake
* Babka
* Baklava
* Brioche
* Creme Brulee (I have the torch, just need some propane for it!)
* Jelly Roll
* Panettone 
* Old fashioned popcorn (the kind that doesn't come from a bag in the microwave)
* Whoopie pies
* Cauliflower (I know - it's crazy I've never cooked with it!)
* Panna Cotta (I had some for dessert on New Years and it was AMAZING)
* More artisan bread
* Parmesan cheese crisps
* Polenta croutons
* Ice cream sandwiches
* Sesame noodles
* Tortellini
* Calzones
* French onion soup
* Split pea soup
* Lattice top pie
* Eggnog
* Custard Pie
* Dinner rolls
* Flavored pasta (I have tried once and it was extremely unsuccessful)
* Poached pears
* Baked and stuffed apples
* Caramel sauce
* Pecan pie (without the use of corn syrup)
* Shortbread cookies
* Veggie burgers
* Poptarts
* Bundt cake
* Naan
* Pad Thai
* Gougeres
* Crabcakes
* Coconut cake
* Angel food cake
* Savory cheesecake

More Soup

I clearly was on a soup kick, and I had a craving for broccoli and cheddar soup (like the one at Panera).  This soup was delicious, and really easy to make.  I would definitely make it again.

Recipe: Broccoli, Cheddar and Potato Soup (from Eat, Live, Run)
2 tbsp butter
medium bunch of broccoli, chopped
1 russet potato
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
6 oz grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 T all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole milk
3 cups vegetable broth

Blanch broccoli by adding to boiling water for 30 seconds, and then removing and putting in an ice bath.

In a large dutch oven, melt the butter.  Peel and chop the potato into small 1-inch dice.  Saute both the onion and potato in the butter until the onion is translucent.  Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds more.  Then add the cayenne, mustard, nutmeg and salt, toss to coat.

Add the flour and stir well, cook for 1-2 minutes.  Pour in the broth and add back in the broccoli florets.  Stir and bring to a simmer.  Cook for about 15 minutes, until the potato is tender.  Slowly pour in the milk, and add the cheese, stirring to melt.

Puree with an immersion blender to desired texture.

Asparagus and Rice Soup

This hearty soup is almost like a thick, creamy risotto.  It had such great flavors, and was perfect on a chilly night.

Recipe: Asparagus and Rice Soup (from Pots and Pins):
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups 1/2-inch cubed russet potatoes
3 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts
2 bay leaves
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1 1/2 lbs fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch chunks
7 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 cup arborio rice
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Saute garlic with oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat 1-2 minutes.  Add potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until crusty but not browned.  Add leeks and cook until softened.  Add vegetable broth, water, bay leaves and salt.  Stir well, scraping the bottom of the pot.  Cover, bring to a boil, and add the cut asparagus.  Lower heat to vigorous simmer and cook, uncovered, about 1-1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until reduced by a third.  Add rice, bring to a boil, and cook 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and season with s&p to taste.  Stir in 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese.  Ladle into soup bowls and top with additional cheese.

Creamy Artichoke Soup

Craving yet more soup, I made this recipe.  It was really easy to make, and tasted pretty good.  I drizzled in some of the homemade creme fraiche from the golden vegetable soup, and I think that really brightened up the flavor.  And as you can see, I added a ton of "everyday seasoning" from Trader Joe's.

Recipe: Creamy Artichoke Soup (from Everyday Italian)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 leeks, white parts only, washed well and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small potato, peeled and chopped
1 package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
creme fraiche, for serving

Heat olive oil in a heavy, large stockpot over medium heat.  Add the leeks and garlic and stir.  Add the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.  (Be careful that your oil isn't too hot, or the potatoes will just stick to the bottom and scorch!)  Add the artichokes, stock, salt and pepper, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Using a handheld immersion blender, puree the soup.  Ladle the soup into serving bowls, swirl in some creme fraiche, and sprinkle with your favorite seasoning.

Stove-top popcorn

I decided I wanted to try to make popcorn the old-fashioned way.  I told my mom I was making homemade popcorn, and she looked at me like I was crazy.  I was basically making it the way she grew up making it.  But anyway, this is so easy to make.  It involves a little more time and cleanup than the microwave bag, but it's a lot cheaper and it tastes better.  And you can control how much salt/butter you are adding, and you can add some other flavors as well.

Recipe: Stove-top popcorn
3 tbsp neutral-flavored oil (like canola)
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
salt to taste
melted butter, if desired

Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.  Add 1 kernel to hot oil.  When the kernel pops, add the rest of the kernels and shake so they are all covered in oil, and in a single layer.  Put the lid on the pot, and shake the pot, keeping it in contact with the stove burner.  When the popping slows down to about 10 seconds between pops, take off the heat.  Add salt, melted butter, and whatever flavorings you desire, put the lid back on, and shake it up.  Then it's ready to eat!

Everything is better with cider :)

The Long Journey to Homemade Panettone

My dad is obsessed with panettone.  It is usually sold in stores around the holidays, and he will buy and use up an entire cake.  I decided that this year, I was going to make my own!  This started with first buying the panettone molds, easy to find on amazon.  Next, I had to find the right recipe.  I found a few that sounded promising, and saw that they all included candied orange peel or candied citron.  Well this is where I started having problems.  I searched everywhere, in grocery stores, specialty stores, online - could not find it anywhere.  So I decided, okay, I'm just going to make my own!  I made candied orange peel that was delicious in the panettone, and was also delicious dipped in dark chocolate and served at a party!

The panettone itself turned out really well.  The "cool rise" method wasn't so successful for me, but it started to rise once I brought it to a warmer place in the house.  I wouldn't recommend adding the butter into the top of the dough before baking - it just made the center gooey and didn't allow it to bake.  I used a large panettone mold, 6.75 inches across, and it fit the entire recipe perfectly.

And the leftovers made amazing french toast :)

Recipe: Panettone (from Andrea's Recipes)
1 cup raisins
2 tbsp light rum
2 tbsp hot water
3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 tsp lemon zest
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup lukewarm water
1 tbsp honey
12 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter (10 1/2 tbsp softened and cut into cubes, 1 tbsp melted, 1 tbsp chilled)
2/3 cup candied orange peel (recipe below)

In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum and 2 tbsp water, covered with plastic wrap, for at least 8 hours.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, lemon zest, and vanilla bean at low speed.

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, 2/3 cup water and honey.

With the mixer on low, pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture.  Increase speed to medium-low and continue mixing.

Add the softened butter, 1 tbsp at a time, mixing completely before adding more.  Increase the speed to medium-high and mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.

Drain the raisins and discard the liquid.  Stir the raisins together with the candied orange peel and the melted butter.  Stir into the dough with a wooden spoon.

Place the dough into a large oiled bowl, turning to coat, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a cold oven 12-15 hours, or until the dough is nearly tripled in volume.  (Alternately, let rise in a warm spot.)

Discard the vanilla bean (you may have to do some digging to find it).  Rub your hands with flour, sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with flour, and turn out onto a well floured board.  Sprinkle a little more flour onto the dough.

Fold the edges into the dough and place the dough seam side down in the panettone mold.  Cover with a damp tea towel and let rise in a draft-free place at room temperature until the dough is just above the top of the mold, ~3-5 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 deg F and place a rack in the lower third of the oven.  Place the dough in the mold on a baking sheet.  Slash a cross on the top of the dough, and put the chilled butter in the X (I wouldn't recommend doing this).

Bake about 1-1 1/4 hours, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out with some moist crumbs.  The top will be dark, but not burned.

Recipe: Candied Orange Peels (from Mama's Minutia)
Peels from 5-6 thick-skinned oranges
4 cups sugar
3 cups water

Wash the oranges and cut the ends off.  Score the orange into 4 sections, and carefully peel each section of rind off.  Slice the rind into sticks about 1/4 inches wide.

Put the sliced orange rinds in a pot and cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil, then dump the contents in a strainer, discarding the water.  Rinse off rinds with cold water.  Repeat this process 2-3 more times.

Pour the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a full boil.  Add the blanched orange rinds and return to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and allow to cook for 45-60 minutes, or until the pith becomes translucent.

Remove the rinds from the syrup, and lay the rinds out on a wire rack on top of a cookie sheet.  Let the orange slices dry by either sitting out at room temperature (I would only recommend this in cooler months, otherwise fruit flies will go crazy), or by putting them in an oven set on "warm" for a couple of hours.
The orange slices can then be used as is, for snacking or in recipes, or can be dipped in chocolate.  The orange syrup can be used in drinks.