Archive for March, 2012

From Dish Erin:

I have a thing against raisins. I once started a war on my Facebook page when I stated as much and I was backed, passionately, by follow raisin haters and conversely, mocked and called all sorts of bad things, including a socialist. Or maybe that was my post about Obama not being a Muslim? I digress. I realized then that the raisin is a very polarizing dried fruit.

The raisin does have a less anger-inducing cousin, the craisin, or dried cranberries. I find the craisin to be mildly tolerable in oatmeal, otherwise unappealing and roughly in the same category as those evil wrinkly little buggers, raisins. So you can imagine my chagrin when my husband accidentally came home with an industrial size bag of craisins instead of the fresh cranberries I’d requested. I’ve been staring at this bag in my pantry for months when it dawned on me that if it didn’t hate them in oatmeal, maybe I could make an oatmeal cookie, fill it with lots of chocolate, and they might actually be enjoyable.

And wow. They were way more than enjoyable. I didn’t even pick out the craisins. In fact, they were so awesome that my coworkers ate the entire tupperware container of them for breakfast and requested that I make more the next day.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of 1/2 orange
3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 350° F.

Combine, flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract in a stand mixer (or in a large bowl with a electric hand mixer). Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats, cranberries, coconut, and white chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for 1 – 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Serve with milk, duh.

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From Dish Nicole:

I have never claimed to be much of a baker, but I certainly do try. I also realize that some of the best recipes in the world have taken several attempts to perfect. My recent baking endeavor has proven to be a true labor of love as it took me several attempts to get everything to work together in perfect harmony. I was determined to prove to myself that not only could I make a cake that tastes amazing, but I wanted it to be equally as beautiful because it was for my dear friend, Dish Danielle’s, 30th birthday. I was given some valuable advice along the way from some very experienced cake makers which I will now share with you.

Ingredients for Aunt Em’s Vanilla cake:

1-3/4 cups plain cake flour, sifted
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 16 pieces

To start, adjust your oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9” round cake pans and cover the bottoms with parchment paper or waxed paper. Grease the parchment rounds and dust the pans with flour, tapping out the excess. Once you have prepared all of that you should beat the eggs, milk, and vanilla with a fork in a small bowl; measure out 1 cup of this mixture and set aside. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Beat the mixture at the lowest speed to blend, about 30 seconds.

With the mixer still running at the lowest speed, add the butter, one piece at a time; mix until the butter and flour begin to clump together and look like small pebbles the size of peas, 30 to 40 seconds after all the butter is added. Add the reserved 1 cup egg mixture and mix at the lowest speed until incorporated, 5 to 10 seconds. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the remaining egg mixture (about 1/2 cup) in a slow, steady stream, taking about 30 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat at medium-high speed until thoroughly combined.

Next up you will need to divide the batter equally between the prepared cake pans, spreading all the way to the sides of the pans and smooth with a rubber spatula. Bake until the cake tops are light gold and a toothpick or thin skewer inserted in the centers comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes (added an additional 5 minutes).

Set the cake pans aside to cool and on to the lemon filling.

The lemon filling is probably the easiest part of the cake but once you set it on the stove you have to watch it like a hawk. It heats up quickly and burns easily. I learned this the hard way. The lemon filling recipe can also be found in The Fannie Farmer Cookbook in the filling and frosting section.

Lemon filling ingredients:
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup lemon juice
Grated rind of two lemons
1 egg
1 tablespoons butter

Mix all the ingredients together in a heavy-bottomed pan.

Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until thick and smooth. Cool before spreading between layers.

Now we are ready to make what I found the most challenging part of the cake, the frosting. I took a stab at making a 7 minute frosting that was recommended but I found that it came out to granular so I ended up making an adapted version that was given to me by my boyfriend’s mother. Here is what you will need:

Vanilla Frosting:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla
5 teaspoons cold water
1 teaspoon corn syrup

Having patience is key, so start by mixing sugar, cream of tartar, salt, egg whites, water and corn syrup in a double boiler over simmering water (I used a sauce pan over another sauce pan). Beat steadily over low heat with electric beater until the frosting stands in peaks, about 5-7 minutes, no more. Remove from heat and continue to beat until cool and thick enough to spread. Add the vanilla before spreading.

I have to say, the cake was amazing and Danielle loved it. I already have a request for another friend’s birthday. Mission accomplished.

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From Dish Rachelle:

I have a problem: I’m kind of obsessed with ramen but I hate waiting in line for my food, which seems to be par for the course at NYC’s most popular ramen spots: Momofuku Noodle Bar, and Ippudo. I’m pretty sure Ipuddo’s bowl is my number-one-favorite, but I’m not entirely convinced, since the only time I braved the requisite hour-and-a-half wait I ended up drinking two lychee martinis before my meal on an empty stomach, which inevitably dulled my palette (and generally made me eat like a monster-face). Momofuku is amazing too, and it’s almost worth battling the crowds for the one-two punch of the steamed pork buns and a hot bowl of noodles (oh, the steamed pork buns!). But here’s the real rub: there are countless second-tier ramen bars around the city but they pale in comparison to these two heavy-hitters. Does anyone have a favorite diamond-in-the-rough spot? Help an addict out – or, just swing by my kitchen.

OK, we all know that the best part of ramen is the noodles, but unfortunately I haven’t learned the fine art of making them from scratch. No matter: the very close runner-up – the second-best part – is the STUFF, like roast pork, eggs, Asian veggies, and sriracha. This is a meal the Boy and I concocted and it’s basically an Asian-inspired soup with ramen-style stuff. What a mouthful.

Feel free to substitute your own favorite stuff, like beef, chicken or fish instead of pork, or baby corn instead of bamboo shoots, or broccoli instead of asparagus…

Here’s what we did (serves two):

Cook one cup of brown rice according to package directions. This is more than enough for two bowls of soup so plan to make some fried rice in the near future. When the rice is cooked, season with salt, sesame seeds and about a tsp. of rice wine vinegar.

Bring 3 cups of chicken stock to a boil and add ½ cup of dry bonito flakes and a stick of kambu.

Take the stock off heat and let the ingredients soak for 15 minutes or more. After they’ve soaked, the broth should look cloudy. Drain out the bonito and kombu and discard. Season the broth with soy sauce.

Preheat oven to 400. Mix up a teriyaki sauce and marinate your meat – we used a ¾ lb pork loin that yielded some fat slices for both of us plus some leftover (which I used in the fried rice, mmm). After marinating, cook pork loin for about 45 minutes, until firm, glazing periodically with the teriyaki sauce. When it’s cooked, let it rest about 10 minutes before slicing.

Steam any green vegetables (we used asparagus, cause we had it in the house) and be ready with other garnishes: bean sprouts, canned bamboo shoots and sliced scallion, in this case.

Just before serving, soft-to-medium boil two eggs and slice them in half.

Pour broth over a small pile of rice and arrange all of your ingredients in the bowl.
Decorate with sriracha, scallions and a strip of dried seaweed.

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