Saturday, February 28, 2009

February Daring Bakers!

This month's daring bakers challenge was to make a chocolate Valentino cake and Ice cream. What a perfect month for a sweet and simple chocolate dessert.

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef. We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

The cake was beyond delicious, and even more simple. I served it with chocolate covered strawberries and whipped cream.

So here's the recipe!

Chocolate Valentino
Preparation Time: 20 minutes

16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter
5 large eggs separated

1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.
2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.
3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.
4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).
5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.
6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.
7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter. {link of folding demonstration}
8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C
9. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C.
Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.
10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cranberry Pomegranate Sauce

I love cranberries. I also love pomegranates. Put them together and it is heavenly.
I was making a roasted turkey and the best way to serve roasted turkey is with a cranberry sauce. I didn't want to make the typical, cranberry orange sauce with warm winter spices. This time I left out the orange, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger. The result was a tart yet sweet meld of flavors that complimented each other beautifully.

Cranberry Pomegranate Sauce:
1 bag cranberries (Mine were frozen from the fall)
1/4 cup pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon strawberry jam
2 tablespoons sugar

Put cranberries into a shallow nonstick sauce pan. Cook on medium high until most of the cranberries have popped and there is a reasonable amount of sauce forming in the bottom of the pan. Add in the jam and stir until well incorporated. Stir in pomegranate juice and boil until slightly thickened. Add in sugar and move to bowl to chill. Chill one hour.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mardis Gras!

There are few things in life better than cake. Tonight, after wanting to do it for a long time, I finally made cake balls. I originally got the idea from the wonderful Bakerella. I've wanted to make them since right before I went onto The Martha Stewart Show to talk about her cake balls.

The idea is simple, you take the cake and basically mush it into crumbs. Once its a big pile of crumbs, you mix in frosting. I used my favorite cake recipe, and I used store bought cream cheese frosting. Although this is my favorite cake in the world, the cake came out dry and crumbly, I couldn't even get it out of the pan without it breaking. This lent itself wonderfully to cake balls. Once I realized there would be no cake in it's future, I decided to go ahead and give it a try! I took the mushy frosting cake mixture and formed it into balls and dipped them in chocolate. I decorated them with green, purple and gold sprinkles in honor of Mardis Gras.

They were really one of the best cake experiences I've ever had. I suggest you make them the next time you have spare cake parts.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Nothing beats fresh baked goods...

I'm endlessly inspired by other bloggers. I love browsing and getting recipes from fellow cooks in the blog world. I find Chuck from The Knead For Bread, to be an absolute genius. I think he has some of the most appealing pictures and recipes out of any of the blogs that I follow.

Inspired by his post on English muffins, I decided to give his recipe a try, and actually go all out and top it with tomatoes, spinach, and poached eggs as he did. I started getting them ready at around 10pm last night, which was a little late for such an endeavor, but I was excited to try them.

English Muffins
Adapted from The Knead For Bread

1 1/4 cups lukewarm water (approximately 110 degrees F)
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 packet instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg white

Mix together Water, 1 cup flour, yeast, and baking soda in a large bowl. In a separate clean bowl, whisk egg white to stiff peaks, don't over beat or egg white will become dry and separate. Mix 1/3 of the egg white into the batter, and mix until combined, continue with the rest of egg whites. Once fully incorporated, start adding the remaining 2 1/2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup at a time. With about 1 cup remaining, move dough to counter and knead in remaining flour. Knead for 7 minutes, until dough is very smooth. Transfer to a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for approximately 1 hour, until doubled in size.
Once dough has doubled in bulk, turn it out onto a floured surface, press with knuckles to release some air, then roll out to 1/2 inch. Cut out 3 inch circles, you can mash up the remaining dough and roll the scraps and cut again, repeat until you don't have any more dough. Place circles on a cookie sheet coated with cornmeal, and top with more cornmeal. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour.
10 Minutes before you're ready to cook them, turn on your griddle to medium high heat. Spray griddle with nonstick spray. Place each muffin on the griddle, I was able to cook 8/batch. Flip every 4 minutes, cooking for a total of 16 minutes. Repeat with second batch.

I topped mine with vine ripened tomato, fresh spinach, and a poached egg. I also added thick sliced local bacon, for those who eat pork products.

They were also delicious with a bit of butter and strawberry jam.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Chinese Night!

The same night I made spring rolls, I made sesame chicken and soba noodles with bok choy.

Sesame Chicken
2 large chicken breasts (approximately 8 ounces)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 can of pineapple chunks, with juice
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (as desired).

Chunk chicken into small bite size pieces. Add the chicken to a hot pan with vegetable oil, sautee until no longer pink. Add in the juice from the can of pineapple, hoisin sauce, and soy sauce, ginger and garlic. Stir until combined and cook until sauce has slightly thickened. Add in pineapple chunks and sesame oil. Sautee for 2 minutes, or until pineapple is heated through. Top with sesame seeds and red pepper flakes as desired.

Soba Noodles with Bok Choy
1 package fresh soba noodles
1 cup chicken broth
1 ounce hoisin sauce
1 ounce soy sauce
1 head bok choy, chopped
1 teaspoon ginger

Prepare soba noodles as directed on package.
Meanwhile, wilt bok choy in 1/2 cup chicken broth, approximately 2 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
Add the remaining 1/2 cup chicken broth, hoisin sauce, and soy sauce to the pan and stir and heat through. Add in prepared soba noodles, bok choy, and ginger. Stir over low heat 4-5 minutes until noodles have absorbed the sauce.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Spring rolls

We're very lucky to have a fantastic produce grocery store in my relatively rural area. While shopping the other day, in an effort to have a more diverse menu this week, we picked up a head of napa cabbage, bok choy, soba noodles, and spring roll wrappers. I came home and found some ideas of what to do with each of these ingredients and ended up making spring rolls, bok choy lo mein, and sesame chicken.

Spring Rolls
1 head napa cabbage, shredded
2 large carrots, grated
4 scallions, sliced on the bias
Spring roll wrappers

Sautee together all ingredients, with no liquid or fat in the pan.
Soak spring roll wrapper in hot water for 10 seconds, until soft. Put 3 tablespoons of filling in the center of the wrapper and form into rectangle. Wrap from the left over to the right, fold up from the bottom and down from the top. Roll the entire roll to the right to finish wrapping the roll. Set aside.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


A light, sweet, delicious dessert that's low calorie too!

Crepes filled with cool whip and strawberries topped with chocolate sauce:
Recipe adapted from Alton Brown:

2 Large eggs
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons melted butter

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until well combined.
Let rest for one hour in the refrigerator, this allows the bubbles to dissolve, which will make the crepes less likely to tear while cooking.

Heat crepe pan and pour 2 tablespoons of batter into the pan. Rotate pan until thin, even circle is made. Cook crepes until lightly brown, flip and cook for additional minute.
Repeat until all batter is used.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Honey Roasted Chicken

Who doesn't love a roasted chicken, twice baked potatoes and lemon garlic broccoli? That's what the thought was when planning last night's dinner.

Honey Roasted Chicken

1 Whole chicken cut up
2 Tablespoons Thyme
2 Tablespoons Lemon juice
3 Tablespoons butter
3 Garlic cloves
2 Tablespoons Honey
1 Teaspoon Salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Pat chicken dry and place spaced out on a roasting pan. I used a cookie sheet with a silicone mat. Mix thyme and lemon juice in a microwave safe bowl. Add butter and melt it all together in the microwave, for 30 seconds. Mince and add garlic and microwave again until butter is thoroughly melted. Add honey and salt, and stir well until combined. Rub butter mixture over all the chicken parts. I rub it both over and under the skin, since there is honey in the rub it will caramelize in the oven, so I like to have it under the skin to add flavor.
Roast the chicken for 35 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.