Say “Bye-Bye” to Citrus Juice & “Hello” to Citrus Zest (Part II)

May 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

I know you can’t see it, but there is actually an orange and lemon yogurt cake under all of the fresh berries and homemade whip cream.  Citrus zest intensifies this cake’s wonderful flavor and makes your house smell like a citrus grove on a warm day.  The aroma of lemon and orange completely fill your home as the cake is baking…it’s a great way to relieve stress.

The bottom line is that this is a very easy recipe that gives you a deliciously light and moist cake for breakfast, with tea or coffee, or for dessert with berries and cream.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1  cup sugar
  • 3 extra-large eggs
  • 1 tbsp. citrus zest (both lemon and orange)
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed citrus  juice (use the juice from the orange and lemon that you zested)

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 º.  Butter and flour a standard loaf pan.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, eggs, lemon and orange zest and juice, and the vanilla.

3.  Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients (a little at a time).  Fold the vegetable oil into the batter making sure it has been incorporated throughout.

4.  pour the batter into the buttered and floured loaf pan and put it into the oven for 50-60 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

5.  While the cake is baking, you can make the topping for the yogurt cake.  Put 1/4 cup low-fat cottage cheese in a bowl.  Sweeten the cottage cheese by adding sugar to taste.  Then add 1/4 – 1/3 cup homemade whip cream.  Fold the whip cream into the cottage cheese to keep the topping light and fluffy.

6.  When the cake is done, cool it on a wire rack for 10-20 minutes.  After 10-10 minutes, carefully take the cake out of the pan and allow it to cool completely through.  Serve with mixed berries and whipped topping.  I think a mixture strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries go really well with the cake.

Say “Bye-Bye” to Citrus Juice & “Hello” to Citrus Zest (Part I)

May 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

Citrus is at its prime in the late winter and spring.  Now that it feels like summer is finally starting to come to Southern California,  citrus will slowly start to disappear from your local farmers’ market.  I have been thinking of how I can use citrus zest, so I can still have the sweet, tart, and fresh flavors of citrus in the things I eat.  I decided to try to make scones using orange zest.  I wanted to pair the orange flavor with cherries and almonds.  I result was a delicious flakey breakfast scone.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for your work surface)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbs. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter (cut into small pieces and chilled in the fridge)
  • 1/2 cup cold buttermilk (plus 2-3 tbs. for brushing the tops of the scones)
  • 1 tbs. finely grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup dried Bing cherries
  • 2-3 tbs. sanding sugar (for sprinkling on the tops of the scones)

Directions:

1.  Preheat your oven to 400º.  You will need to put the ones in the lower third of your oven, so you might need to move your oven racks around.  In a food processor, place the flour, granulated sugar, baking power, salt, and butter.

2.  Pulse until the butter is incorporated into the flour and is about the size of a pea.  Empty the flour and butter mixture into a large bowl.

3.  With a fork or wooden spoon, make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.  To the well, add the buttermilk, orange zest, orange juice, egg yolk, cherries, and toasted almonds (make sure you toast them on the stove and let them cool before you add them into the batter).  Stir just to incorporate all the ingredients.  Do not over stir the batter.

4.  Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead the dough several times.  make sure the dough is not sticky.

5.  Use a rolling-pin to shape the dough into a 7″ x 7″ square.  Cut the dough into 9 squares.  Cut each square in half diagonally.  Brush the tops of the scones with buttermilk and sprinkle them with sanding sugar.

6.  Put the scones in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden.  Make sure you rotate the pan half way through baking.  Cool on a wire rack.  Serve with honey almond butter and/or cherry jam.

A Trip to The Farmers’ Market: Caramelized Butternut Squash and Cranberry Salad

April 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

I went to the Framers’ Market this week to look at the seasonal vegetables and to let them decide what I was going to eat.  Everything looked so great, but I finally decided on butternut squash, beets, and some chard.  When I started putting everything away, my cat, Hank, was very curious of the new smells that I brought home.  It took him a good 20 minutes of exploring, batting, and sniffing to finally lose interest and go back to his cat nap on the sofa.

I decided to use the butternut squash in a salad and it turned out really well.  It was a great fusion of winter vegetables meeting spring greens.  The mustard dressing I made was a great contrast to the sweet butternut squash and cranberries.  I hope you this salad helps you look back on this winter and say hello to spring all in one bite.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium butternut squash (4 to 6 pounds total)
  • 6 tbs. unsalted butter (melted)
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • arugula

Directions:

1.  Preheat your oven to 400º F.  Cut off and discard both ends of the butternut squash.  Peel the squash and cut them in half, lengthwise. Remove the seeds form the center of the squash (you can either roast these like pumpkin seeds or throw them away).  Dice up both butternut squash into 1 1/2 inch cubes.  Try to make the pieces as uniform as possible, so they all cook at the same rate.

2.  Place the diced butternut squash onto a large a roasting/baking sheet.  Make sure the baking sheet has sides.  Add the melted butter, brown sugar, salt, and pepper to the baking sheet.  Use you hands to toss all of the ingredients on the sheet together.  Make sure you spread the squash into a single layer on the sheet.  Roast the squash for 30 minutes in the oven.

3.  After 30 minutes, toss the squash and add the cranberries to the squash.  Return the pan to the oven for another 20-25 minutes, until the squash has caramelize.  While the butternut squash is finishing off in the oven, toast your walnuts in a pan on low heat.  Keep a careful eye on the nuts, so they don’t burn.

4.  When the squash has cooked, take the baking sheet out of the oven and allow the squash to cool off (but still be warm).  While the squash is cooking, you can make the Dijon vinaigrette dressing or you can use a good quality store bought vinaigrette or honey mustard dressing on your salad.  Plate the arugula first, then the butternut squash and cranberries, and then the roasted walnuts on top.  Drizzle with Dijon vinaigrette.

Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup champagne vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 4 tsp. whole seed Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup and 3 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tbs. finely chopped shallot
  • fresh ground pepper and salt to taste

Spiced Cranberry Bundt Cake

April 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

On cold nights, I love eating a dessert that has a little bit of spice in it.  The spice can be cinnamon, nutmeg, or a blend of pumpkin pie spice.  All of these spices go well with a warm cup of coffee or a nice black tea with milk and honey.  I found this recipe in the November 2008 edition of Bon Appetit, when I was going through my old cooking magazines, and adapted it.  It calls for Chinese Five spice and, having never used this spice before, before was intrigued.  I am glad that I took the chance of using this unfamiliar ingredient because this cake is delicious.  It is great late at night or to slice and go for breakfast in the morning.  This recipe makes a large Bundt cake, so it might be a good idea to share some of this moist cakey goodness with co-workers or friends.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cups almond flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp. Chinese Five spice
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed golden brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup reduced fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup toasted almonds (chopped)
  • 1 cup halved fresh or frozen cranberries (if frozen, do not thaw)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Icing:

  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 tsp (more or less to get the right consistency) orange juice

Directions

1.  Preheat the oven to 350º F.  Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.  Whisk the first 9 dry ingredients in a medium bowl to blend.

2.  Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and both sugars until pale, light, and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until fully incorporated.  Beat in the vanilla extract and then the Greek yogurt.  After all of the wet ingredients are blended together, add the dry ingredients until just blended.  Gently fold in the almonds and the cranberries.

3.  Transfer the batter into the prepared cake pan.  Bake the cake until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean (about an hour and 10 minutes).  Cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes and then turn the cake out onto a rack to cool completely.

4.  To make the icing stir the powdered sugar in a bowl with 1 tsp of orange juice at a time.  You want the icing to reach the consistency of heavy cream.  When the icing is finished, and the cake is cooled, spoon the icing over the cake.  To create a beautiful Bundt cake, make sure you allow the icing to drip down the sides.  Let the icing set, about 30 minutes.

Winter Potato Soup

April 17, 2011 § 1 Comment

Nothing says comfort after a hard day at work than a warm bowl of creamy hot potato soup.  It warms the body from the cold winter days and brightens the mood when the days seem so dark and long because the sun rises later and goes down earlier.  It makes all your worries go away, if only for the short time you are finishing every last drop from the bowl.

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs. of Yukon Gold potatoes (peel on and diced)
  • 2 bulbs of fennel (thinly sliced)
  • 3 leeks (thinly sliced and cleaned well)
  • olive oil
  • 2 boxes of vegetable broth
  • 1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan/Romano grated cheese
  • salt and pepper
1.  Saute fennel and leeks in a dutch oven pot with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
2.  When the leeks and fennel have caramelized, add the diced potatoes and vegetable broth to the pot.  Cover and simmer until potatoes are cooked through.
3.  When the potatoes are cooked through, use a hand-held masher to mash-up the potatoes and thicken the soup.  When all of the potatoes are broken up, add the heavy cream and the Parmesan/Romano cheese.  Finish the soup up with salt and pepper to taste.

Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes

February 15, 2011 § 2 Comments

This Valentine’s Day, I decided to attempt lava cakes for the first time.  Knowing the gooey goodness that resides inside the decadent chocolate cake, I have always been intimidated by this heavenly concoction.  I decided to take on the challenge and make these little darlings for my little darling.  To my astonishment and delight, this recipe was one of the easiest I have made and given that I think I put in too much chocolate than the recipe called for, it seems fool proof to boot.  Highly recommended!!!!

This recipe was adapted from The Pioneer Woman’s blog.

Ingredients:

  • 4 pieces (squares) Semi-sweet Baking Chocolate
  • ½ cups Butter
  • 1 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 2 whole Egg Yolks
  • 6 Tablespoons Flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Butter and cover 4 custard cups with cocoa powder and place on cookie sheet.
  3. Microwave chocolate and butter in two separate bowls until each is melted and then whisk together. (Make sure mixture is not too hot, otherwise you will cook the eggs when you mix them in).
  4. Whisk in sugar until well blended. Whisk in eggs and egg yolks. Stir in flour.
  5. Divide between 4 oven safe ramekins.
  6. Bake 13-14 minutes until sides are firm and center is soft. Let stand 1 minute.
  7. Dust with powdered sugar. (Note: to make heart shaped sugar design, simply cut out the shape you want on an index card, place on top, and dust on the powdered sugar.)

 

Scandinavian Cardamom Apple Pie

February 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

This recipe is inspired by Scandinavian baking.  Cardamom is a popular ingredient in the Scandinavian baking style and it also happens to be one of my most favorite spices.  Apples highlight cardamom perfectly and I just love the rustic look and elegant flavor balance of this pie.  Best of all, this pie has three ingredients in addition to the dough (which I usually have prepared ahead of time anyway) — it is so easy to make that you are sure to have a stress-free baking session.  I love this pie for entertaining!

Ingredients:

  • 2 – 10″ pre-prepared pie crusts (you can use your favorite recipe or buy frozen crust)
  • 6 cups apples (peeled, cored, and sliced) — I used 2 lbs of organic Granny Smith apples and it was the perfect amount
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tspn cardamom
  • 1 tspn cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp flour (for dusting pie pan)
  • Butter (for buttering pie pan)
  • Small amount of sugar, cardamom, and cinnamon for sprinkling on top

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine apples, cardamom, cinnamon and sugar in a bowl and mix to make sure all ingredients are evenly distributed.
  3. Place bottom crust into a buttered and floured pie pan and pour spiced apple mixture into the pie crust.
  4. Place top crust on top and seal edges (make sure you seal them well otherwise, apple juices will bubble out).
  5. Cut 4-5 slits away from the center of the pie (this allows the apple juices to evaporate out) and sprinkle cinnamon, cardamom, and sugar on top of the crust.
  6. Cover pie with foil loosely and bake on middle rack for 20 minutes.  Then remove the foil and bake for another 20-30 minutes until the pie is brown and crusty.  Sprinkle some more sugar on top.
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