Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chocolate Ganache

An absolute staple in my kitchen, chocolate ganache can be used for a myriad of delicious recipes from Lavender Truffles to Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse, as filling between layers of Yogurt Cake, and a litany of other ways.

In fact, I found this lovely list of 10 things you can do with chocolate ganache, complied by Hannah of A Very Foodly Diary. (This is a wonderful site, by the way!)

Here's my recipe for ganache.  You can vary the amounts, depending on how much ganache you actually need.

Dark Chocolate Ganache
Yields about 3/4 cup

1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate

Heat cream in a saucepan over medium heat.  When cream is steaming (don't let it boil), remove from heat and stir in chocolate.  Whisk mixture until all chocolate is melted and smooth (it will thicken as it is whisked).  

Use as per recipe instructions.  Or eat it straight out of the pot.  You just can't go wrong.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Roasted Cauliflower with Crisped Prosciutto

A new and exciting alternative for the oft-disdained cauliflower!  The roasted cruciferous shares the spotlight with crispy prosciutto (lean Italian bacon), Gruyere cheese, and parsley.  

The endive leaves act as little boats in which to serve the cauliflower mixture as an appetizer.  However, if you go shopping with young children and are easily distracted by said children bailing from the grocery cart as you are in mid-reach for the endive and you accidentally grab romaine lettuce instead, like I did, it's OK.  The romaine leaves will hold the cauliflower, but just not as quaintly.  You can also toss the cauliflower-prosciutto mixture with pasta for a lovely entree. 

Here's the printable!

Roasted Cauliflower with Crisped Prosciutto
Makes 3-1/2 cups

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets (about 3 cups)
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Black pepper and kosher salt, to taste
4 ounces prosciutto (or bacon), chopped (this is about 8-10 strips)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 3 large cloves)
1 cup shredded Swiss or Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley (about a handful)
24 leaves of endive (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Arrange cauliflower florets on parchment paper, and drizzle with one tablespoon of the olive oil and the balsamic vinegar.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Toss well to combine.  Roast cauliflower for 15 minutes, stirring once.  Cauliflower should be slightly brown.  Remove and cool.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the prosciutto to the pan and saute 10 minutes until crisp.  (Skip using the additional oil if you are using American bacon.)  Add garlic to pan; saute for an additional minute.  Drain prosciutto-garlic mixture on a paper towel.

Chop cauliflower florets into small pieces.  Place in medium bowl, and add cheese and parsley.  Stir well.  Add prosciutto mixture.  Mix again.  Add 2 tablespoons to each endive leaf, if using.  Serve.  (Or eat it as is.)

(Alternatively, you can toss the cauliflower mixture with 1/2 pound of cooked pasta (Farfalle would be a lovely choice here), drizzle with a little extra olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and serve.)

Either way, enjoy it!

From "Delicious Dishes Made Easy...Boar's Head'

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Apple-Cinnamon Pull Apart Loaf

I came across this recipe on one of the many food blogs I follow.  

It was one of those times that I was inspired to step away from the computer and waltz directly into the kitchen to get to work on what I'd just seen.

This recipe uses Rhodes frozen dough balls (thawed), filled with an apple/brown sugar/cinnamon mixture, sealed like a happy little package, and tossed into a baking dish together.


I didn't have any Rhodes bread on hand, so I made my own dough balls using this dough recipe.  (I halved the recipe, and I had enough dough to make two of these pull-apart loaves.)

Here's what to do:

Combine Granny Smith apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, pecans, and the juice and zest from half a lemon.

 Cut the dough balls in half.

 Flatten dough and add about a teaspoon of the apple mixture in the center.

 Fold up the edges and pinch together.

 Toss it in a greased 9 x 5 loaf pan.



 Sprinkle with remaining apple/pecan mixture, loosely cover with greased plastic wrap, and let it rise until double (about an hour).

 Preheat oven.

 And bake for about 40-45 minutes.

 Can you even imagine how wonderful this smells?

 Pour the icing mixture over while bread is still warm.

Comfort food to the max.


The printable recipe lives here.

Apple-Cinnamon Pull-Apart Loaf
Makes 1 loaf

16 Rhodes™ Dinner Rolls, thawed (or use your own dough recipe)
3 medium size Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Zest and juice from half a lemon (about 2 teaspoons of juice)

1 cup powdered sugar
3-4 teaspoons water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring

Cut thawed rolls in half. Combine apples, sugar, nuts, cinnamon, and lemon juice and zest. Flatten each roll half into a 2-3-inch circle. Place 1 teaspoon apple mixture in center of each dough circle. Pinch edges together to seal, forming a ball. Place filled balls in a sprayed 9x5-inch loaf pan. Spoon remaining apple mixture evenly over the top. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until double. Remove wrap and bake at 350°F 40-45 minutes. Cover with foil last 10 minutes of baking to prevent over browning. Cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and place on wire rack to cool. Combine icing ingredients and drizzle over loaf.

Recipe slightly modified from here. -

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Acorn Squash Quesadillas with Yogurt-Herb Dipping Sauce

Before we forget all the things for which we're thankful in the insane busyness of the season...make this and have a simple supper with your family.  Those little faces around the table:  they are the biggest blessings of all.  And that man/woman sitting at your side?  My sweetie has stuck with me through thick and thin.  I am only now realizing what all he's sacrificed for me.  He is my Thanksgiving gift.  Look deeply, friend, over a span of years:  you might just discover the same thing.

(Featured in the lovely Gathering Magazines, Fall 2011 edition:)

Printable recipe can be found here.

Acorn Squash Quesadillas
Makes 3 quesadillas

1 medium acorn squash
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 large onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2 ounces chevre (goat cheese)
6 whole-wheat flour tortillas
3 tablespoons butter

Yogurt-Herb Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt (substitute sour cream)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil (about 3 or 4 leaves)
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed

To prepare dipping sauce: 
Combine all ingredients and refrigerate while quesadillas are prepared.

To prepare quesadillas:
Pierce squash with sharp knife.  Microwave on high for 6-8 minutes.  Carefully remove from microwave and slice squash in half.  Remove seeds and spoon out the "meat" of the squash.  Discard green rind and place squash "meat" in a medium mixing bowl.  Use a fork to mash thoroughly.  Set aside.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Saute onion in oil for 7-8 minutes until translucent and tender, stirring frequently.  Add garlic and salt and saute for 1 additional minute.  Stir in the mashed squash and stir to heat through.  Add cheese and mix well.  Remove skillet from heat.

Spread a tortilla with about 1/2 cup of the squash mixture and place another tortilla on top of it, creating a "sandwich".  Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.  

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a skillet large enough to accommodate a tortilla.  Gently slide a quesadilla into the skillet and cook over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes per side, just long enough to allow the cheese to melt well and the tortillas to become golden brown.  Repeat with remaining quesadillas.

To serve, cut the quesadillas into wedges (like a pizza). Offer with a generous dollop of the dipping sauce. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Apple-Almond Cake (SRC)

It's Secret Recipe Club reveal day!

This month I was assigned to Ruchi's Simply Food...a blog written by...Ruchi!  Ruchi, her husband and their toddler live in Gurgaon in the Indian state of Haryana.   Gurgaon (population: 1.5 million) is 18 miles south of New Delhi, the national capital of India.  (Can you tell I love geography?) According to Wikipedia, Gurgaon is the only city in India to have successfully distributed electricity to all of its households.  Ruchi notes that baking is an expensive hobby to have in India.  She takes orders for customized cakes, cookies, cupcakes and other baked goodies.  Way to go, Ruchi!  

I tried several of Ruchi's recipes this month (including this), and decided to "reveal" the Apple-Almond Cake she just recently posted.  I doubled the recipe because I wanted to make it in a tube pan; I also used a lot more apples in my version, and I tossed the apples with cinnamon, sugar, and lemon juice before adding them to the batter.  Ruchi said she adapted the recipe from Dorie Greenspan.  I ADORE the ground almonds in the cake; they will become an ingredient in many of my baked goods henceforth.

I, like Ruchi, didn't use the mixer for this recipe.  Mixing batter by hand is a small pleasure in life.

Begin by whisking together the dry ingredients:  flour, ground almonds, baking powder.

Separately, whisk together the eggs and brown sugar.

Then combine flour and egg mixtures.

Melt the butter.
(Restrain yourself from borrowing your kids' Crazy Straw and emptying the bowl.)

 Add butter to flour/egg mixture.

Mix apples with cinnamon, sugar, and lemon juice.

 And add most of the apples to the batter, reserving about a cup.

 The cake tastes better when a sweet baby helps with the mixing.
(No...he is not doing the feminist fist thing...the mixing spoon is hidden by his sweet chubby hand.)

 Pour mixture into a greased tube pan.

Sprinkle remaining apples on top, if desired.
(The apples will sink as the cake bakes.)
Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees.

 A slice of autumn.
It was especially delightful toasted for breakfast and spread with pumpkin butter.


Here's the printable recipe.

Apple-Almond Cake
8-10 servings

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ground almonds
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup salted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1.5 cups cup brown sugar
4 large eggs
5 apples peeled, cored and cut into chunks
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place an oven rack in the center of the oven.

Generously butter a tube pan (or two loaf pans).

Toss apples with cinnamon, granulated sugar, and lemon juice.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla.  Add the egg mixture and the melted butter to the dry ingredients.  Mix just until incorporated.  Stir in all but a cup of the apples (don't overmix!).

Add batter to the prepared tube pan.  Sprinkle the top with the reserved apples.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Cajun Chicken Rigatoni

Having recently been uninspired in the kitchen and elsewhere in life (sigh), I was cruising the Pioneer Woman's website for some culinary encouragement.   And of course I found it.  I didn't have time to make a trip to the store for red onions and bell peppers; that's what Ree used in hers.  Much prettier.  She also used fettuccine.  But my kids loved the rigatoni that I had on-hand.  

Also, Ree encouraged having a heavy hand with the cayenne pepper in this recipe.  Since I'm a sensitive girl and don't really enjoy having flames melt my esophagus and burn out my eyeballs, I skipped the super hot spices.  But if you love to sweat while you eat, add the hot stuff!

Here's the printable recipe.

Cajun Chicken Rigatoni
Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cubed
3 teaspoons Cajun spice mix (I used Old Bay), divided
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 large onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (about 3 teaspoons)
3 large Roma tomatoes, sliced
2 cups chicken stock (or low-sodium broth)
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
Chopped fresh parsley, to taste (substitute dried parsley)

Place the chicken in a medium bowl.  Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of the Cajun spices and the paprika (I used extra, even though there was paprika in the Cajun spices.  It lent such pretty color to the dish.).  Toss to coat.

In a heavy skillet (I used cast-iron), heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat.  Add about half the chicken in one layer; do not stir.  Allow chicken to brown on one side for about 1-2 minutes.  Flip to other side and cook an additional minute or two.  Remove with slotted spoon and place on a clean plate. Repeat with remaining chicken.  Remove chicken to plate.  Increase pan to high heat.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Add remaining olive oil and butter, then  add onion and garlic.  Sprinkle on remaining teaspoon of Cajun spice.  Cook over very high heat for 1 minute, allowing onion to get as dark as possible in that short amount of time.  Add tomatoes; cook for another 30 seconds or so.  Remove all veggies to the plate with the chicken.

To make the sauce, keep the pan over high heat.  Pour in the wine and stock/broth.  Cook for 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of pan to deglaze.  Reduce heat to medium-low and add cream; whisk constantly.  Cook for a few minutes until cream begins to thicken the sauce.  Taste and season with additional pepper, salt and spices, if necessary.

Return the chicken and vegetables to the sauce, being sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate.  Stir for 1-2 minutes, until mixture is hot and bubbly.  Add in the drained pasta and toss to combine.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Coconut-Pecan Icing

My husband, Chris, has an October 31 birthday.  He said he remembers having late afternoon birthday parties as a kid and then he and all of his guests would put on their Halloween costumes and go out trick-or-treating.  Wow.  Can you even imagine the intensity of those sugar crashes?  

Nearly every year of our married life, I've made Chris a German-Chocolate cake with Coconut-Pecan frosting.  And every year, I've made the cake from scratch and then purchased the Duncan Hines frosting.

This year, I've been paying more attention to labels and ingredients.  So I knew I needed to make my own frosting, too.  And what do you know?  It was really easy, it tasted great, and no one ingested any propyl gallate or sodium metabisulfite. 

I had to make a "regular" chocolate cake this year because I didn't have any German chocolate on hand.  Here's my recipe for my "regular" chocolate cake...(hint:  it'll knock your socks off, it's so good. :)

I made the cakes in 8-inch pans and then doubled a frosting recipe I found online. (I like to generously frost my cakes...).  If you don't want to make this much, halve the recipe below. 

(Be sure to make the frosting a bit ahead of when you're ready to assemble the cakes.  It needs time to cool in order to reach spreading consistency.)

Dash, the Lone Ranger, and the Birthday Boy

Here's the printable recipe. 

Coconut Pecan Frosting and Filling
1 and 1/2 cups evaporated milk
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 cups shredded coconut (use sweetened coconut if desired)
1 and 1/2 cup chopped pecans

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine milk, sugars, butter, and vanilla. Bring to a full boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat (mixture might appear a bit curdled). Quickly stir a small amount of the hot liquid into the beaten egg yolks; return egg yolk mixture to the hot mixture in saucepan and blend well. Return to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in coconut and pecans. Transfer to a large bowl and refrigerate.  Cool to spreading consistency, stirring occasionally.

Frosting recipe from here.