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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Mardi Gras Beads and Lots of Bourbon!

Hello Thursday! It's almost Friday and the weekend promises plummeting temperatures and bitter cold winds. Fun. So instead of shivering under the blankets, crank up that oven, turn up the jazz, and bake for your own Mardi Gras, which is right around the corner!

Chocolate Yummy
Real Cajun Donald Link with Paula Disbrowe 

Ingredients
Pecan shortbread
  • 3 ounces pecans, toasted
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Chocolate pudding
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 ounce milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 pound cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Chocolate shavings, for garnish
Directions
  1. Place the pecans and sugar in a food processor and pulse together for 30 seconds.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, vanilla, and the pecan-sugar mixture, then stir in the flour and salt until just mixed. Chill the dough for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  4. Use your fingers to press the chilled dough into a 9-inch square baking dish. Prick the dough with a fork and bake 10 to 15 minutes, until lightly golden. Cool the cooked dough while preparing the remaining layers.
  5. Heat the cream for the pudding in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stir together the sugar and egg yolks in a mixing bowl. When the cream is hot (but not boiling), temper the cream into the yolks by slowly adding half the cream while stirring vigorously, then stir the egg mixture back into the cream in the saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  6. Place the dark and milk chocolate in a mixing bowl with the butter, vanilla, and salt. Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate and butter are melted. Spread the pudding in a shallow dish to cool and cover it with a piece of plastic wrap placed directly on the surface so a skin does not form.
  7. In a small mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar together until smooth.
  8. In the bowl of an electric mixer, or by hand, whip the cream to soft peaks, then add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and whip a few minutes more, until stiff peaks form.
  9. Spread the cream cheese over the cooled shortbread crust, top with the pudding, and then add the whipped cream. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight. Garnish with additional chocolate shavings, if desired.

King Cake
Saveur

Ingredients
Dough
  • 1 (¼-oz.) package active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tbsp. light brown sugar
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2¾ cups flour
  • ¾ tsp. kosher salt
  • 8 tbsp. softened butter
Filling
  • 1 lb. cream cheese
  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • Zest of ½ lemon
Icing
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • Green, purple, and yellow sanding sugars
Directions
  1. Make the dough: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a hook, combine yeast, ½ tsp. of the sugar, and ¼ cup water heated to 115°. Stir to combine and let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add remaining sugar, milk, light brown sugar, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk. Beat on low speed until thoroughly combined, 1 minute. Turn mixer off and add flour and salt. Mix on medium speed until the dough just comes together. Turn mixer speed to high and knead dough for 4 minutes. Add the butter and continue kneading until dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 6 minutes. Remove bowl from mixer, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit until doubled in size, 1½–2 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, make the filling: Combine cream cheese, brown sugar, pecans, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, and zest in a large bowl and beat on medium speed of a hand mixer until combined; set aside.
  3. Punch down dough and turn it out onto a heavily floured surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a large circle, about ¼"-thick. Cut a hole in the center of the circle and pull with your fingers to widen. Place dollops of filling evenly around circle halfway between outer edge and inner hole. Drape outside edges over filling and continue rolling outside inward until filling is covered, widening inner hole as needed, until dough covers the seam. Transfer rolled dough circle to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet; cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour. Heat oven to 350°. Uncover cake and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely.
  4. Make the icing: Whisk together the sugar and buttermilk in a small bowl until smooth. Transfer king cake to a cutting board or serving platter; spread icing evenly over top of cake and sprinkle evenly with sanding sugars.

Beignets
Tyler Florence

Ingredients
  • 3/4 cups warm water
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus a pinch
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • Butter
  • Vegetable oil, for deep frying
  • 1 cup powdered sugar for dusting
Directions
  1. Begin by activating the yeast. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook (or large mixing bowl) attachment add the warm water, yeast and pinch of sugar. Stir and set aside until the yeast has dissolved, about 10 minutes.
  2. To the bowl add the 1/4 cup of sugar, salt, egg, and the evaporated milk. With the mixer on low, add half the flour and mix until just combined. Add the shortening, and then gradually add the remaining flour until the dough forms into a mass. Turn off the mixer and transfer to floured surface. Add more flour, if needed, until you have an even, medium-textured (it should be pretty firm) dough. Add the dough to a large buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for at least 3 to 4 hours, or overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. Once rested, gently turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle a little more flour on top so you can work with the dough. Gently shape the dough into a 1-inch thick rectangle so it can be cut into squares. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter cut into squares, (you should yield 12 large squares, depending on how thick you rolled the dough).
  4. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
  5. Heat about 3 inches of oil in a large, heavy-based pot over medium heat, (you want to make sure there is plenty of room as the beignets will puff up when cooked) to 350 degrees F. Fry the beignets in batches, about 3 minutes per batch. Turn them in the oil while they fry to brown evenly on both sides. Remove from the oil a paper towel lined sheet pan and keep warm in a low oven while you cook the remaining dough. To serve, transfer beignets to a serving platter and dust generously with powdered sugar.

Happy Mardi Gras!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Coconut Might Look Like Snow, But it's SO Much Better

Monday is upon us again, and it's been a cold day in the Northeast. *Dramatic sigh.* Bill de Blasio dropped the groundhog earlier this month; there's speculation he's to blame and I'm starting to think it's true. At any rate, since it's going to snow this week and my mom's birthday is also coming up, I thought I'd dedicate this post to her favorite cake, which also happens to look like snow (without being cold, slushy, and gloomy): COCONUT! Here are a few delicious recipes to get you looking forward to spring.

From one of the greats...
Thomas Keller's Coconut Cake
Thomas Keller

Ingredients
For the cake
  • Unsalted butter, for greasing
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • eggs, separated
  • 1¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¾ cup coconut milk
  • ½ cup, plus 1 tbsp. buttermilk
  • 2 tsp. coconut extract
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
For the meringue
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1⅔ cups sugar
  • 3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
Directions

  1. Make the cake: Heat oven to 325°. Grease three 9" cake pans with butter and line with parchment paper; set aside. Whisk flour, desiccated coconut, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; set aside. Place sugar and egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment; mix until fluffy. Add mayonnaise, coconut milk, buttermilk, coconut and vanilla extracts; mix until combined. With the motor running, slowly add dry ingredients until batter forms; transfer batter to a bowl and set aside. Clean stand mixer bowl and add egg whites; replace paddle with whisk attachment. Whip whites until soft peaks form; fold into cake batter. Divide batter between prepared pans, smoothing tops with a rubber spatula; drop pans lightly on a counter to expel large air bubbles. Bake until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cakes cool for 20 minutes in pans; invert onto wire racks and let cool.
  2. Make the meringue: Using an electric hand mixer, beat egg whites in a bowl until medium-stiff peaks form, 5–7 minutes; set aside. Bring sugar and ¼ cup water to a boil in a 2-qt. sauce pan fitted with a candy thermometer; cook, without stirring, until temperature reaches 250°, 4–5 minutes. With the mixer on low, slowly drizzle hot syrup into egg whites until combined. Increase speed to high; beat until meringue forms stiff peaks, about 3 minutes more.
  3. Assemble the cake: Place one cake layer on a cake stand and spread 3 cups meringue over cake; sprinkle with ¼ cup coconut. Repeat with second layer. Place remaining layer on top; cover top and sides with remaining meringue and cover outside of cake with remaining coconut, pressing lightly to adhere. Chill cake 30 minutes to firm meringue; serve chilled or at room temperature.

Using the real McCoy...
Coconut Cake
Jane Newson

Ingredients
For the cake
  • 16 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans
  • 2½ cups cake flour, plus more for pans, sifted
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs
For the frosting
  • 4 egg whites
  • ½ tsp. cream of tartar
  • 2¼ cups sugar
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup fresh coconut water
  • 3 cups freshly grated coconut
Directions
  1. Make the cake: Heat oven to 350°. Butter and flour two 9″ cake pans, and set aside. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; set aside. Whisk together buttermilk and vanilla in a bowl; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. On low speed, alternately add dry ingredients in 3 batches and wet ingredients in 2 batches. Increase speed to high, and beat until batter is smooth, about 5 seconds. Divide batter between prepared pans, and smooth top with a rubber spatula; drop pans lightly on a counter to expel large air bubbles. Bake cakes until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cakes cool for 20 minutes in pans; invert onto wire racks, and let cool. Using a serrated knife, halve each cake horizontally, producing four layers; set aside.
  2. Make the frosting: Place egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, and beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form; turn mixer off. Bring sugar, syrup, salt, and ½ cup tap water to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar; attach a candy thermometer to side of pan, and cook, without stirring, until thermometer reads 250°, 4–5 minutes. Turn mixer to medium speed, and very slowly drizzle hot syrup into beating egg whites. Add vanilla, and increase speed to high; beat until meringue forms stiff peaks and is slightly warm to the touch, about 3 minutes.
  3. To assemble, place one layer on a cake stand, drizzle with 3 tbsp. coconut water, spread with 1½ cups frosting, and sprinkle with ½ cup grated coconut; top with another cake, drizzle with 3 tbsp. coconut water, spread with 1½ cups frosting, and sprinkle with ½ cup coconut. Place another cake over frosting, drizzle with 3 tbsp. coconut water, spread with 1½ cups frosting, and sprinkle with 12 cup coconut; top with remaining cake and drizzle with remaining coconut water. Cover top and sides with remaining frosting, and cover outside of cake with remaining coconut, pressing it lightly to adhere; chill cake to firm frosting. Serve chilled or at room temperature.


Southern-style...
Classic Coconut Cake
Hominy Grill
Cake

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups (loosely packed) sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature
Frosting
  • 3 1/3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 8-ounce package philadelphia-brand cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (about) sweetened flaked coconut
Directions
For cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray; line bottom of pans with parchment paper rounds.
  2. Mix flour and coconut in medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk and baking soda in small bowl. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolks and beat to blend. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk mixture in 2 additions, beating just to blend after each addition. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites and 1/4 teaspoon salt in another large bowl until peaks form. Add 1/3 of egg white mixture to batter; fold into batter just to blend. Fold in remaining egg white mixture in 2 additions. Divide batter between pans.
  3. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks 10 minutes. Run small sharp knife around sides of cake pans. Invert cakes onto racks. Carefully peel off parchment. Cool cakes completely.

For frosting
  1. Using electric mixer, beat sugar, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in large bowl until blended. Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on plate. Spread with 1 cup frosting. Place second layer, flat side up, atop frosting. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle some of coconut over top of cake; pat more coconut on sides of cake. 
DO AHEAD: can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

Happy baking!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Custard That'll Make You Lick the Bowl

Happy Friday! It's here, oh joy! The weather is pretending to lean towards spring (but we know the Polar Vortex is coming back! UGH) so let's use this time to look ahead to the delicious desserts of the warmer months! Custards are often the ugly step sister of desserts, often misunderstood and forgotten, so today's post brings them to the forefront and puts a spotlight on all of their gloriousness.

Bringing together two of my favorite things...
Ricotta Caramel Custards
Erica De Mane

Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 pounds fresh whole milk ricotta
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon light rum
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange-flower water
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375° and position a rack in the middle of the oven.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup of the sugar with the water and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Stir with a wooden spoon to dissolve the sugar. Using a wet pastry brush, wash down any sugar crystals from the side of the pan. Continue to boil the sugar syrup, without stirring, until a golden amber caramel forms, 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and dip the bottom of the pan in a bowl of cool water to stop the cooking. Immediately pour the hot caramel into eight 4-ounce ramekins; swirl to evenly coat the bottoms with caramel. Set the ramekins in a roasting pan.
  4. In a food processor, combine the ricotta with the whole egg, egg yolks, cream, rum, vanilla, orange-flower water, orange zest and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Process until smooth. Pour the mixture into the ramekins. Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough hot water into the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
  5. Bake the ricotta custards for about 45 minutes or until golden brown on top and set around the edges but still slightly soft in the center. Transfer the ramekins to a rack and let cool. Cover and refrigerate the custards overnight.
  6. To unmold, run a small knife around each custard, place a dessert plate on top and invert, giving the ramekin a little shake. If the custard sticks, briefly dip the bottom of the ramekin in hot water and invert again.

Utilizing one of Giada's favorite ingredients...
Mascarpone Custards with Summer Berries
Lori De Mori

Ingredients
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sweet Marsala
  • 1 1/2 cups brewed espresso, cooled
  • 4 dozen 1 1/2-inch Italian amaretti cookies (see Note)
  • 2 cups mascarpone, at room temperature (1 pound)
  • 2 cups mixed fresh berries, such as blueberries, blackberries and raspberries
Directions
  1. In a large stainless steel bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Set the bowl over a medium saucepan of simmering water. Gradually whisk in the Marsala and whisk constantly until the mixture triples in volume, about 8 minutes. Remove the bowl from the pan and continue whisking for another minute.
  2. Pour the espresso into a shallow bowl. Dip the amaretto cookies in the espresso one by one and use them to line the bottoms of eight 3 1/2-inch ramekins; use any broken cookies to fill the spaces.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat the mascarpone with a rubber spatula until creamy. Add the Marsala custard and fold together until smooth. Spoon the mixture into the ramekins and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. Garnish with the berries and serve.
MAKE AHEAD The mascarpone custards can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 2 days. Serve chilled.


From one of my favorite DC chefs...
Maple Custards with Sugared Pecans
Jose Andres

Ingredients
  • 3 1/4 cups pure maple syrup
  • 16 large egg yolks
  • 4 large whole eggs
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups pecan halves (1/2 pound)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Salt
  • Boiling water
  • Whipped cream, for serving
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Spoon 1 teaspoon of maple syrup into each of twelve 1/2-cup ramekins, swirling to coat the bottoms. Arrange the ramekins in a large roasting pan.
  2. In a large stainless steel bowl, whisk the yolks with the whole eggs until blended. Whisk in the remaining 3 cups of maple syrup. Pour the mixture into the ramekins. Carefully pour enough very hot water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the pan with foil and bake for about 55 minutes, or until the custards are just set.
  3. Using tongs, immediately remove the ramekins from the hot water and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate the custards for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the pecans and stir to coat with the butter. Cook over moderate heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Put the sugar in a large bowl. With a slotted spoon, transfer the pecans to the bowl with the sugar and toss to coat. Transfer the nuts to a baking sheet, shaking off any excess sugar. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Let cool.
  5. Carefully run a thin knife around each custard. Dip each ramekin in a bowl of boiling water, then quickly invert the custard onto a plate. Spoon whipped cream over the custards, garnish with the sugared pecans and serve.
MAKE AHEAD The custards can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. The sugared pecans can be stored overnight in an airtight container.


Happy baking!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Post-Valentine's Day Detox

Happy snowy Tuesday! I'm getting tired of saying that - is spring almost here?! My husband and I had a HUGE feast for Valentine's Day! If you haven't seen my pics on Facebook, I made:
Spanakopita!

Husband-shucked Wellfleet oysters, Greek salad with calamari,
Ladopsomo bread, and dill/mint/lemon meatballs with a tzatziki-like sauce.

Can't forget the wine!

Finished with a hazelnut and chocolate baklava with Tahitian vanilla ice cream.


You can see why we'd need a little detox! Last night we ate a really delicious, mayonnaise-free potato salad with cod baked in parchment. I love baking fish in parchment - you just add whatever you've got in your fridge! A few lemon or lime slices, kalamata olives, red onion, oregano, salt and pepper, EVOO (I had leftover garlic and thyme oil I'd made the other day, so I used that!). Bake at 450 for 12-15 minutes, until the fish easily flakes with a fork. Easy peasy! So for today, I bring you a fabulously different potato salad! Enjoy.

Lemon-Mustard Potato Salad
Giada De Laurentiis

Ingredients
Dressing
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Zest of 1 large lemon
Salad
  • 1 1/2 pounds baby red skinned potatoes, halved
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 yellow or red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 4 cups arugula (about 4 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) crumbled gorgonzola cheese, optional
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted, optional
Directions
  1. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a heavy baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. For the dressing: In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, thyme, salt, pepper and lemon zest until smooth. Remove 3 tablespoons of the dressing and reserve.
  3. For the salad: Add the potatoes to the bowl and toss until coated with dressing. Arrange the potatoes in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until golden and tender, about 40 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, toss together the reserved 3 tablespoons dressing, bell peppers and arugula. Arrange on a platter. Place the roasted potatoes on top and sprinkle with the gorgonzola cheese and chopped walnuts if using.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tofu For the Meat-Eater

Happy snowy Thursday! We're getting pummeled with snow and I have nowhere to go! In honor of the freedom, I've got a double-dinner-recipe event for you: 2 ways to use tofu that convinced a meat-lover to love tofu too. Let's get adventurous!

Japanese Pizza
Grant Achatz

Ingredients


  • 2 1/2 ounces shiitake mushrooms—stemmed, caps thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 3 cups cooked sushi rice
  • 5 ounces firm tofu, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons unagi sauce (optional)
  • 1/3 cup shelled edamame
  • 5 ounces Manchego cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup soy bean sprouts
  • Kosher salt
  • Togarashi and toasted white and black sesame seeds, for sprinkling
  • 1 cup large bonito flakes
  • 6 shiso leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375ยบ. In a bowl, toss the mushrooms and soy sauce. Let stand for 5 minutes; drain.
  2. In a 9-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet, heat the oils. Press the rice into the skillet, about 1/4 inch thick. Cook over moderately high heat until the bottom is golden, 10 minutes. Top with the tofu in a single layer and drizzle with unagi sauce. Top with the shiitake, edamame, cheese and bean sprouts and season with salt. Sprinkle with togarashi and sesame seeds.
  3. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake on the top shelf for 15 minutes, until the top is golden. Slide the pizza onto a platter; top with the bonito, shiso and cilantro and serve.
NOTES Sweet-salty unagi sauce is available at Japanese markets.


Sweet-and-Spicy Roasted Tofu and Squash
Melissa Clark

Ingredients
  • 1 (14-ounce) package extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 2 pounds dumpling, delicata or acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce, more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sriracha or other hot sauce
  • Kosher salt, and black pepper
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons chopped celery leaves or cilantro
Directions
  1. Drain tofu and slice into 1/2-inch-thick slabs. Cut each slab in half. Arrange tofu on a large baking sheet or several plates lined with several layers of paper towels. Place another layer of paper towels on top and weigh down tofu with another baking sheet or more plates topped with a heavy cookbook or cans. Let stand for 20 minutes. Pat tofu dry.
  2. While tofu drains, heat oven to 425 degrees. Cut squash into 1/2-inch-thick half-moons. Cut each slice in half again.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sriracha and a pinch of salt. Whisk in peanut oil. Spoon 3 tablespoons of the mixture into a separate bowl and reserve. Whisk honey into the original mixture. Spread squash out on a large baking sheet and pour honey-soy mixture over it. Sprinkle squash lightly with salt and pepper and toss well. Roast until bottoms are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Flip and roast until uniformly golden and soft, about 10 minutes more. Transfer squash to a large bowl.
  4. Adjust the heat to broil and position a rack just below the heating element. Toss tofu with reserved soy mixture and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet (you can use the same one you used for the squash). Cook until crispy and golden, about 2 minutes per side. Toss hot tofu with squash, sesame seeds and celery leaves, adding more soy sauce if you like.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Healthy Detox From "Stuffed Cupcake Face"

Hello everyone! Are we or aren't we, that seems to be the thought going around about the winter storm. *Dramatic sigh.* Is it spring yet? In the meantime, as a hands-on chef, I like to taste all desserts to be SURE that they're perfect - so I've eaten quite a few Valentine's cupcakes. (All in the name of my craft - I make such big sacrifices!) In order to off-set the cupcake belly, I made a really fabulous carrot and avocado salad, turned it into a main meal salad using spinach, arugula, and lightly seasoned shrimp. This recipe even satiated the palette of the most critical carrot critic (i.e. my husband HATES carrots but he loved this recipe.)

Carrot-Avocado Salad

Kay Chun

Ingredients
  1. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  2. 3 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice
  3. 2 teaspoons finely grated grapefruit zest
  4. 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  5. Kosher salt
  6. Freshly ground pepper
  7. 1 1/2 pounds medium carrots, cut into 1/4 -inch-thick rounds
  8. 1/4 cup roasted almonds, chopped (I also used pistachios!)
  9. 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  10. 2 medium Hass avocados, peeled and cut into wedges
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, grapefruit juice and coriander.
  2. On a baking sheet, toss the carrots with 3 tablespoons of the dressing. Spread the carrots in a single layer and roast for about 20 minutes, turning once, until golden and tender. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the almonds, grapefruit zest and parsley. Transfer the carrots to a platter along with the avocados. Drizzle with the remaining dressing, top with the grapefruit gremolata and serve.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Valentine's Day = An Extra Day to Eat Sweets

Happy Monday! Onto a new week, and one day closer to Valentine's Day. Love it or hate it (or the quiet, indifferent few), you can't help but be smothered by red, pink, and colorful candy hearts. Using some of my new cupcake liners, as well as some of my old (I like to keep seasonal liners just in case!), I made a special Valentine's treat for an office in need of a pick-me-up. These are yellow cake (think lots of egg yolks!) with caramel frosting and a milk chocolate conversation heart on top AND fudgey chocolate cake with caramel chocolate ganache (sense a theme?) sprinkled with coconuts. Can't help but lick the spoon!



Thursday, February 6, 2014

Girl Scout Cookie Addictions (And How to Elevate Amazing to Amaze-balls)

Happy Thursday everyone! We are one day away from weekend relaxation and boy do we need it! Snow days shmow days, this week has draaaaaaaaaaaaagged on. Fret not dear readers, because I have found the loveliness at the end of the tunnel: this weekend is the National Girl Scout Cookie Weekend!!!!! I'm not even joking. It's the kick off to Girl Scout cookie goodness, happiness, and Samoas joy! I'm salivating. *DROOL.* Oops. So in honor of this monumental occasion, I bring you a few ways to honor the deliciousness. Whether you're evoking the classic flavors or using actual cookies to create an explosion of mouth-watering flavors, you've come to the right place.

Lizzy Bee's Bakery How To's to Evoke the Classically Perfect Flavors of the Girl Scout Cookies

Works for cookies, cupcakes, cakes, and cheesecakes:

  • Samoas: chocolate cake/cookie, caramel frosting and filling, chocolate ganache drizzle, and coconut topping
  • Thin Mints: chocolate cake/cookie, chocolate mint ganache frosting, decorated with a piece of cookie
  • Peanut Butter Patties: chocolate cake/cookie, peanut butter filling, chocolate frosting OR peanut butter frosting and chocolate ganache drizzle

When you want samoas in a cake...
Coconut Marble Cake
Woman's Day

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 stick(s) (3⁄4 cup) unsalted butter,  softened
  • 1 1/2 cup(s) sugar
  • 2 teaspoon(s) baking powder
  • 2 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 cup(s) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup(s) milk
  • 1 teaspoon(s) almond extract
  • 1/2 cup(s) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cup(s) sweetened flaked coconut,  finely chopped
  •  Chocolate Drizzle: 1⁄2 cup semisweet chocolate chips melted with 1 1⁄2 tsp oil
  •  Garnish: toasted coconut

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 10-in. (12-cup) bundt pan.
  2. Beat butter, sugar, baking powder, vanilla and almond extract in a large bowl with mixer on high 3 minutes or until fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each. On low speed, beat in flour in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions, just until blended, scraping sides of bowl as needed.
  3. Melt chocolate chips in a medium bowl in microwave as pkg directs. Cool slightly, then stir in 1 1⁄2 cups batter until blended.
  4. Stir coconut into remaining batter. Spoon 2 cups into prepared pan. Drop spoonfuls of chocolate batter into pan, leaving spces between each dollop. Drop spoonfuls coconut batter between chocolate batter. Repeat, alternating batters, with the rest. Run a knife through batters to marbleize.
  5. Bake 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes before inverting cake on rack to cool completely.
  6. Scrape melted chocolate into a small ziptop bag. Cut a tip off 1 corner and pipe chocolate over cake; sprinkle with toasted coconut.

Use the cookie; eat an often recreated snack...
Thin Mint Puppy Chow
YourCupofCake

Ingredients
Chocolate Thin Mint:
  • 5 cups Rice Chex cereal
  • 1 1/2 C. semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
  • 12 Thin Mint cookies, finely crushed
  • 1/4 C. powdered sugar
White Chocolate:
  • 5 C. Rice Chex cereal
  • 1 1/2 C. white chocolate chips or melts (or you can use the green melts)
  • green food dye, optional (GEL only, not the liquid)
  • 3/4 C. powdered sugar
  • Extra Thin Mints roughly chopped
Directions
  1. Chocolate Thin Mint pieces: Place cereal in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. In a small microwave proof bowl, melt chocolate and stir until smooth.
  3. Pour the melted chocolate over cereal and gently stir until coated.
  4. Add finely crushed cookies and stir again.
  5. Add powdered sugar and stir (you can also put the cereal in a plastic bag, put the sugar in and shake, shake, shake!.)
  6. Dump out onto a cookie sheet to let cool.
  7. White Chocolate Mint: Place cereal in a large bowl and set aside.
  8. Melt white chocolate, stir until smooth and stir in as much green dye as desired.
  9. Pour over cereal and stir until coated.
  10. Add powdered sugar and stir.
  11. Dump onto a cookie sheet and let cool.
  12. Mix the two colors together and add extra Thin Mints for decoration!

Tagalongs Girl Scout Cookie Mousse Cake
Lauren Salkeld

Ingredients
  • 2 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 (6.5-ounce) box Tagalongs/Peanut Butter Patties Girl Scout cookies
  • 1 1/2 cups peanut butter chips (about 9 ounces)
  • 2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (not natural, old-fashioned, or freshly ground)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Equipment: 1 (9- by 5-inch) loaf pan; plastic wrap; stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment
Directions
  1. Line a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic is tucked into the corners and leaving at least a 2-inch overhang on all sides.
  2. In a dry metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring until smooth. Let cool slightly.
  3. Spread a small amount of melted chocolate on the rounded side of 9 cookies and place 3 of them, chocolate side down, on the bottom of the pan, in a row. Place another 3 cookies against each long side of the pan with the chocolate-coated sides facing the pan. Place the pan in the freezer.
  4. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the peanut butter chips with 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the heavy cream. Warm, stirring frequently, until the peanut butter chips are just melted. Remove from the heat and continue to stir until the mixture is smooth. Add the peanut butter and the vanilla and stir until incorporated.
  5. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the remaining 1 1/2 cups heavy cream with the sugar and beat until the cream is very thick but not yet holding peaks. Add the whipped cream to the peanut butter mixture in 3 additions and fold in just until the mousse is streak-free.
  6. Carefully spoon about 3/4 of the mousse into the prepared pan, being careful not to move the cookies. Insert the remaining cookies into the mousse, arranging them in a row down the center of the loaf pan. Spread the remaining mousse over the wafers and carefully smooth the top. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the mousse then wrap the entire pan in a double layer of plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight. 
DO AHEAD: The mousse cake can be made ahead, wrapped in a double layer of plastic wrap, and chilled for up to 3 days.


To serve, take the mousse cake out of the refrigerator and remove the double layer of plastic wrap, along with the plastic wrap pressed on the surface of the mousse. Using the overhanging plastic wrap that lines the pan, carefully lift and loosen the cake from the pan without removing it. Place a large plate or platter on top of the pan then invert the cake and the plate. Remove the pan and the plastic wrap and serve immediately.


Happy baking!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Bagels and Nosh!

Happy Wednesday everyone! Halfway through the week and I'm on my second snow day. Being somewhat trapped at home, I decided to use the ingredients I had to make (wait for it) BAGELS! I'm drooling. I loooooove bagels. Good, New York-style water bagels: first boiled, then baked. DELISH! Even though I couldn't get real NYC water (the Hudson River does not offer a hygienic option), I used good ol' NJ H20. Thanks Marcy Goldman, for keeping me occupied.

New York-Style Water Bagels


Marcy Goldman
Makes 10

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 C warm water
  • 1T dry yeast
  • 1T sugar
  • 1T veggie oil
  • 2 tsp malt powder or syrup (optional)
  • 4 1/2-5 1/2C bread flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Cornmeal, for sprinkling the pan (optional)
  • Toppings of choice: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, minced garlic, caraway seeds, salt, etc...
Kettle Water

  • 6 quarts water
  • 2 T malt syrup
  • 1 tsp salt
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the water, yeast, and sugar. Let the mixture stand for a couple of minutes to allow the yeast to swell and dissolve. Stir in the oil, malt, and 1 cup of flour. Add the salt, then most of the remaining flour. Knead 10-12 minutes to make a very stiff dough. Cover the dough with a tea towel and let it rest on a board for about 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, line 2 large baking sheets with baking parchment and sprinkle each generously with cornmeal. Fill a large soup pot or Dutch oven with the water. Add the malt syrup and salt. Bring water to a boil. Preheat the oven to 450.
  3. Divide the dough into 10 sections and form each one into a  10-in-long strip. Roll the ends together to seal and make a ring. (Lizzy Bee's Note: I did small rolls, punctured a hole in the center, and created a bagel shape.) Place the bagels on a very lightly floured surface near your stove and let them rest for 15-20 minutes. Bagels should have a half proof - that is, they should rise halfway or appear puffy.
  4. Prepare 2 more baking sheets, lining one with a kitchen towel, the other with parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal. Reduce the water to a simmer and add the bagels a few at a time. Allow them to come to the surface and simmer for 30 seconds. Turn them over and cook the other side for about 45 seconds more (a total of 1 1/2 minutes). Place the boiled bagels on the towel-lined baking sheet. Leave plain or sprinkle as desired. (Lizzy Bee's Note: I spread an egg wash on the bagels before sprinkling.)
  5. Place in the oven, reduce the heat to 425, and bake until done (17-22 minutes), turning the bagels once and switching the baking sheets once to ensure even browning. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Make the Recipe Work For YOU

Happy Tuesday all! I, along with many other teachers, are waiting with baited breath for the call as to whether or not school is cancelled tomorrow. I do love a snow day (and a chance to recover from a yucky cold **cough cough not pointing fingers but I'm pointing at one of my preschoolers cough cough**), because it's a great day to play with recipes. I recently came across a fabulous miso-inspired salmon recipe, but it required wood chips and a well-ventilated kitchen, neither of which are things that I have nearby. However I wasn't going to let that get me down! When you want to make a recipe, you find a way to make it! This recipe is fabulous, and I've included my substitutions. There's always a way to make it happen where food's involved.

Smoky Salmon with Miso-Dressed Vegetables
Michael Cimarusti from Connie & Ted's

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup white miso
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon finely grated peeled ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • Four 6-ounce, skinless center-cut salmon fillets, about 1 inch thick
  • Piment d'Espelette (see Note)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup small hardwood chips, such as hickory or applewood
  • 1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small fennel bulb—halved, cored and thinly sliced
  • 4 medium carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 4 baby turnips or large radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups lightly packed baby spinach
Directions
  1. In a saucepan, cook the miso, chicken stock, mirin, vinegar, ginger and garlic over moderate heat, whisking, until hot, 3 minutes. Whisk in the soy sauce and move off the heat.
  2. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Season the salmon with salt and piment d'Espelette; add to the skillet and cook over high heat, turning once, until lightly browned, 2 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Working in a well-ventilated kitchen, wipe out the skillet and add the hardwood chips. Cook the chips over high heat until they start to smoke, 5 minutes. Place a wire rack over the skillet and set the salmon on it. Tent the salmon with a large sheet of heavy-duty foil and smoke for 5 minutes, until the salmon is medium within. Transfer the salmon to a plate.
  4. Meanwhile, in another large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the shiitake and onion and cook over moderately high heat, tossing, until browned in spots and just starting to soften, 4 minutes. Add the fennel and carrots and cook, tossing, until crisp-tender, 2 minutes. Add the turnips and spinach and cook, tossing, until the spinach is just wilted, 1 minute. Season with salt and sprinkle lightly with piment d'Espelette; add 1 tablespoon of the miso dressing and toss well. Transfer to plates. Flake the salmon, scatter it over the salad and serve, passing the remaining dressing at the table.
NOTES Piment d'Espelette, a mildly spicy red pepper, is available at specialty food shops and lepicerie.com.

Lizzy Bee's Notes:
  • I didn't have time to get Piment d'Espelette, so I skipped it - it wasn't spicy, but it was still delicious!
  • I cooked the salmon in a cast iron skillet, 5 min on one side, 3 on the other. Cook it until it's served at your choice - I like it more rare.
  • I didn't flake the salmon - I left it as whole pieces - my husband likes to feel like he's getting a good portion!
  • I served it with bread - there were many other options, but I had time to test 2 different types of recipes in one day!

Monday, February 3, 2014

One Day Devoted to CARROT Cake!

Happy Monday! It's snow-covered and slushy here at Lizzy Bee's, making driving to the market for ingredients unlikely...and on National Carrot Cake Day, no less. *Insert dramatic sigh here.* A day to be cherished (can you tell it's my favorite cake?). So in honor of this beautifully delicious day, I bring you carrot cake recipes in all their glory - from breakfast to dessert, this versatile cake will satisfy at every meal.


Breakfast anyone?

Carrot Cake Pancakes
Southern Living

Ingredients
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups finely grated carrots (about 1 lb.)
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
  • 1/3 cup chopped golden raisins
Mascarpone Cream
  • (8-oz.) container mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whipping cream
Directions
  1. Stir together first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together buttermilk and next 4 ingredients in another bowl. 
  2. Gradually stir buttermilk mixture into flour mixture just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in carrots and next 2 ingredients. 
  3. Pour about 1/4 cup batter for each pancake onto a hot buttered griddle or large nonstick skillet. Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until tops are covered with bubbles and edges look dry and cooked. 
  4. Turn and cook 3 to 4 minutes or until done. 
  5. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet, and keep warm in a 200° oven up to 30 minutes. Serve with Mascarpone Cream.
Mascarpone Cream
  1. Whisk together mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl just until blended. Beat whipping cream at medium speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture.
Note: When using a griddle, heat it to 350°.
Tip: For tender pancakes, don't overmix the batter; it should be lumpy.

Snack for your lunch box!
Inside-Out Carrot Cake Cookies
Gourmet April 2004

Ingredients
  • 1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup coarsely grated carrots (2 medium)
  • 1 scant cup walnuts (3 ounces), chopped
  • 1/2 cup raisins (2 1/2 ounces)
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup honey
Directions
  1. Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 2 baking sheets.
  2. Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
  3. Beat together butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in carrots, nuts, and raisins at low speed, then add flour mixture and beat until just combined.
  4. Drop 1 1/2 tablespoons batter per cookie 2 inches apart on baking sheets and bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are lightly browned and springy to the touch, 12 to 16 minutes total. Cool cookies on sheets on racks 1 minute, then transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.
  5. While cookies are baking, blend cream cheese and honey in a food processor until smooth.
  6. Sandwich flat sides of cookies together with a generous tablespoon of cream cheese filling in between.


After dinner!
Walnut Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
Judy Haubert

Ingredients
For Cake
  • 1 tbsp. butter, for greasing pans
  • 4 eggs, divided and at room temperature
  • 2 egg whites, at room temperature
  • ½ tsp. cream of tartar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cups shredded carrot (4 medium)
  • 1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained and squeezed dry
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped walnut pieces
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¾ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
For Filling
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, soft
  • ½ cup butter, soft
  • 1 (1 lb.) box confectioner's sugar (approximately 3 ½ cups)
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
Directions
  1.  Heat oven to 375°F with rack in the center position. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans with butter and line with parchment; set aside. Combine egg yolks with ⅓ cup brown sugar in a medium bowl and beat on high speed 2-3 minutes until very thick and pale in color. Fold in shredded carrot, pineapple and vanilla extract; set aside.
  2. Pulse walnut pieces in a food processor until finely ground. Add cornstarch, baking soda, salt and spices; pulse to combine and set aside.
  3. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl until foamy. Slowly whisk in ½ cup sugar and beat whites until stiff and glossy. Fold walnut mixture gently into whites, then fold blended whites gently into carrot mixture. Spread mixture evenly in prepared pans and bake 20–25 minutes until cakes are lightly browned and have pulled away slightly from the sides of the pans. Allow cakes to cool 30–45 minutes in the pans. Run a knife around the edges of cakes to loosen from pan, remove parchment and invert onto a wire rack.
  4. Beat cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl until well-blended. Slowly beat in confectioner's sugar and vanilla. Place one cake round on stand or serving dish and spread ¾ cup of frosting evenly over surface, leaving a ½-inch border around edges. Sprinkle with ¾ cup of coconut and press lightly into the filling to set. Top with second layer, using remaining frosting to cover surface and sides of cake. Press remaining coconut evenly around sides and over top of cake. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Happy baking!