Friday, July 31, 2015

Summer Eats Post #2: Chocolate Poundcake and Homemade Ice Cream

When I was looking for a delicious but simple chocolate cake to accompany my friend, Lane's  homemade mint ice cream she was making,  I chose this Chocolate Poundcake from Joy the Baker.  It's from her recently published beautiful, and delicious cookbook, Homemade Decadence that I got for Christmas.  I have been reading it and marking pages and little by little trying things from the book. It is chock-full of beautiful sweet treats.  

I made a practice cake since this was going to be for her birthday and I didn't want to take a risk.  I wanted to ensure that it was moist enough and rich and chocolate-y enough.  Not surprising, it met the standard! Joy the Baker is a safe bet.

I was able to share my practice cake- 1/2 with some pals of Asher- when they hung out together that afternoon and the other 1/2 I sliced, packaged, and sent with Dave on his hospital visit to a family friend who had just had a baby. (It sliced and packed up nicely - I like this quality in a baked good.) And I got to have a piece and then get it out of my house so I didn't eat my entire "research".

Later that week,  I made it again for Lane's birthday and she made this INCREDIBLE mint chocolate chunk ice cream to go with it.  HERE is the recipe she followed.  She said it was her starting point though she tweaked it a little.  It was perfect! I haven't had a chance to attempt it myself, but homemade garden mint chocolate chunk ice cream is as good as it gets.

The cake was a good accompaniment to the ice cream.  It's a good stand alone or with ice cream.

Makes one 9 X 5 inch loaf

the Cake:
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup hot coffee
1 ¾ cups cake flour (or all-purpose)
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
¼ cup buttermilk
¾  cup dark chocolate chips

the Glaze:
(These are Joy the Baker's quantities, but I feel it's too much glaze.   I thought it overpowered the flavor of the cake. When I made it the second time, I halved the glaze recipe. It's your call).

1 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
pinch of salt
3 to 4 Tbsp. milk or water
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1.     Put a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350˚. Grease and flour a 9 X 5 inch loaf pan and set aside.

2.     For the cake, in a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and hot coffee.

3.     In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla.
Add the flour, baking powder, and salt.

4.     With the mixer on low speed, beat until just combined.  Add the cocoa-coffee mixture and beat well.  Beat in the buttermilk.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. 

5.     Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, with just a few crumbs, 50 to 60 minutes.  Let cool for 20 minutes before inverting the cake onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

6.     Meanwhile, for the glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt, milk, and vanilla.
7.     Once the cake has completely cooled, drizzle the chocolate glaze on top.  Let set for 30 minutes before serving. 

The cake will keep, well wrapped and at room temperature, for up to 4 days.



I didn't get to capture many photos of the finished product since I promptly gave it away! 
 But I snapped a couple.
I've also been making this good simple Ice Cream recipe this summer.  And while my daughter, who is obsessed with chocolate ice cream, has wished that I would only make chocolate this summer, I have managed to make banana and vanilla too, using the same base recipe.  (Which upon first bite she remembers the glory of non-chocolate homemade ice cream as well.) 

I wrote a few years ago about another recipe for homemade Ice Cream and some stories and tips of ice cream freezing.  If you want to read more on this subject click HERE. 

Vanilla Ice Cream (makes 5 quarts)
6 cups milk (1%, 2%, whole milk or a combination)
2 ½ cups half and half
1 ½ cups whipping cream
2  1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Pour milk into a large pot.  Scald milk on stove top until bubbles form around edge. Remove from heat.  Add sugar and salt.  Stir until dissolved.  Stir in half and half, vanilla and whipping cream. Cover and place in the freezer for 30 minutes or so to cool (or in the refrigerator for an hour or more). Once cooled off, freeze as directed on your ice cream freezer.  

*In the recipe the milks are interchangeable.  The recipe calls for 10 cups of milk total, so do the math and as long as it adds up to 10 cups of milk, the salt, vanilla and sugar proportions should be able to stay the same.  You can use more milk (1 %, 2%, whole milk) and less cream or 1/2 and 1/2 if you want it lighter and icier.  Conversely, you can do more whipping cream and 1/2 and 1/2 and less milk if you want it richer and creamier.  
I made it this week to go with Dave's Red Velvet birthday cake and I had 1% milk, 2 cups of whipping cream and 1 cup of 1/2 and 1/2.  So I used 5 cups of 1% milk.  My family loved it and Lainey said it tasted like snow cream.  It was creamy and icy.  

*Also, if you want to make Strawberry Ice Cream, simply add 5 cups pureed or finely diced strawberries to chilled mixture before freezing. 
or Banana: 3 cups of mashed or finely diced bananas to chilled mixture before freezing.  
or Peach: Add 5 cups of finely diced peaches to chilled mixture before freezing. 
or...whatever you'd like! 

for the chocolate version

Chocolate Ice Cream(makes 5 quarts)
2 ½ cups half and half
6 cups whole milk
1 ½ cups whipping cream
12 oz. chocolate chips (semi sweet)
2  2/3 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract

In a large pot, mix milks.  Add chocolate chips.  Cook over medium heat until chocolate is melted, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Add sugar and salt.  Stir until dissolved.  Stir in vanilla.  Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or until cooled off.  Stir well. 
Freeze as directed on your ice cream maker.  

(If you want to make it banana- just add 4 cups of sliced or mashed bananas, if you want to make it with strawberries- 4 cups of berries, sliced, ...)

Enjoy these last days of summer!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Summer Eats Post #1: Greek Potato Salad & Tangy Grilled Chicken

I have been scattered this summer- feeling pretty foggy in the brain when it comes to trying to write a creative, inspiring, cohesive blog post.   The lack of posting certainly isn't because of a lack of cooking. There has been much action in our kitchen… perpetual, and I have taken photos along the way, in case I had some inspiration and time for sharing them with you.

Perhaps this foggy-headedness is because my three very zesty, energetic, creative children have been swirling about nonstop.  Or perhaps it is because I have taken on an added role in my home as nurse, to my healing son, after a broken leg and a nose surgery in the past few weeks.  Or it might be that I am just plum tuckered out.  I’m feeling old and tired, if truth be told.

But we have had some yummy eats so far this summer. 

So, rather than waiting until my foggy brain clears, I have decided to just write some brief, simple posts for the next few weeks to fling some of these recipes your way!

Greek Potato Salad

For the 4th of July I wanted to make potato salad that was vinegar and oil based rather than mayonnaise-based.  I looked and looked for a recipe that was what I had in mind.  I just couldn't put my finger on it.  In looking in my huge How to Cook Everything cookbook by Mark Bittman I found one recipe for a Potato Salad with a Mustard Sauce.  As I made it, I thought,  "this looks tasty, but it's not what I had in mind".  I kept looking through cookbooks.  I went to Ina Garten- surely she has what I'm looking for! She usually does.  I found her Provencal Potato Salad which was on the right track, but before I started making batch #2, I texted my friend Gretchen to ask if she had a recipe.  She replied with the magic words that sparked it for me, "Hmm I haven't. Makes me think about the Zoe's Kitchen one- like that?" YES!! That was exactly what I was trying to remember …from some back file in my brain that I had not been able to reach. 

I then had the clarity I needed: Red New Potatoes, Green Onion, Feta and a Greek Vinaigrette with chopped fresh herbs.  I used Ina's advice about cooking the potatoes and then letting them steam to finish cooking, and I used herbs out of my garden.  It was just what I was hoping for: zippy, fresh, and flavorful.

Greek Potato Salad
2 1/2 pounds Red New Potatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
Juice of one lemon
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1 tsp. oregano
handful of fresh parsley, chopped

handful of fresh basil, chopped
3 green onions, chopped (green and white parts)
1/4 tsp. kosher salt

fresh ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (or more)

Wash potatoes and chop them into large bite sized pieces.
Boil a pot of water.  Sprinkle in some salt.
Drop potatoes into the boiling water.
Let cook for 15 minutes or until tender but not mushy.
Remove from heat, drain water and place in bowl with a tea towel over it for 10 more minutes to steam and finish cooking.

In a bowl or glass measuring cup, combine vinegar, oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, chopped green onion, basil, parsley and oregano together. Add salt and pepper.  Pour over cooked potatoes and toss well until fully coated.  Add feta cheese.  Stir.  Add salt as needed.  (This is a very loose recipe.  You can add/delete/substitute/change amounts as you desire.)

Serve warm, at room temperature or cold.

It was even better the day after (FYI).  And it is reminiscent of Zoe's Kitchen tasty potato salad that they sneak in the bottom of their Greek Salad (my favorite thing on their menu)…the Greek Salad with a buried treasure.

Tangy Grilled Chicken (Brower's BBQ)
Dave's dad was in town a couple of weeks ago and we were grilling chicken but didn't have much time to marinade it like we typically do.  I said, "maybe we could baste it with something while we are grilling".  As we were brainstorming, somehow the word "baste" sparked the thought of this great vinegar based BBQ sauce that we had all of the time growing up but I haven't made in a decade.  
(I'm telling you, my brain is foggy.)

I found the recipe card in my box, had all the ingredients on hand, and stirred it up.  Dave brushed it on the chicken as he grilled.  It was a hit.  It is salty and tangy and is made with ingredients you most likely already have in your kitchen.   

We call it Brower's BBQ Chicken, named after Mr. Brower, the man at our church, who gave my mom the recipe.  He had a long portable grill he would use to serve large groups.  He grilled for a church-wide dinner one time and my mom requested the marinade recipe.  My parents made it regularly after that.

For several years of my childhood my family owned a lake house, and my food memories of dinner there involve this chicken.  From the dock we could smell it as dad was grilling. We ate it with Rice-A-Roni: summer childhood comfort food.

It is such a great marinade.  I'm glad it has resurfaced from my recipe archives.

Brower's BBQ Chicken
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 stick butter (the original recipe calls for "Oleo" but I used butter)
3 Tbsp. salt
2 tsp. cayenne red pepper (or more or less depending on your desired spiciness)

Pour all ingredients into a small pan on the stove.  Stir and heat, but not to a boil.
Pour over raw chicken.  Place chicken on hot grill. Baste frequently on chicken with brush as it grills.

I hope your summer is full of beautiful produce and the flavors of summer. 

Other  installments of our summer eats are soon to come: Homemade Ice Cream, Pizza, Chocolate Pound Cake and more! 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Dutch Baby: A Special and Simple Breakfast Treat

It only takes seeing a photo of beautiful food to drive me into a craving that propels me into action!  That's what happened a couple of weeks ago when I saw a photo of a Dutch Baby.

I read an article about race relations on one morning in May while I was drinking my early morning cup of coffee.  I really resonated with it and wanted to know more about the author.  I googled her, and found out her name is Kim Ransleben.  The google search listed her twitter feed.   Her most recent tweet was a photo of a Dutch Baby she had at a restaurant.  It was beautiful and delicious! I had seen a Dutch baby in a cookbook before and I thought it looked yummy and interesting, but had never tried to make it.

After seeing that picture, I walked straight into the kitchen, pulled down my Joy of Cooking cookbook, found the recipe and made one.  Right then and there! (You know how one thing leads to another.)  It was shockingly simple…with only a few ingredients, all of which I had on hand.  It puffs up into this beautiful pastry! It was so easy, such fun, and really delicious!

I wish I could offer samples through a screen, because it's difficult to describe the taste of the Dutch Baby.  I think it tastes a lot like french toast.  It's eggy, sweet, puffy and buttery.  Or like a donut, or a funnel cake.  (Just far less work!)

After making one, I started to dig around the web to learn more about it.  Evidently there is some controversy over the name/origin of this recipe.  Some call it a German Pancake, which is not nearly at clever sounding, though potentially more authentic to it's origin.  There are a variety of ways people garnish it.  Evidently people traditionally squeeze a lemon on top.  Others serve it sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, or topped with powdered sugar and dipped in maple syrup.  Some put berries on top of it.  We like it with powdered sugar!

Give it a try! It only takes about 15 minutes from start to finish. Be forewarned, though: you must move fast and serve it quickly because it falls soon after coming out of the oven.

Dutch Baby
adapted from Joy of Cooking

Makes One 10-inch cake; 4 servings

4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) butter

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
a couple of pinches of salt

Powdered sugar for dusting
Cinnamon sugar for topping or maple syrup, lemons for squeezing, or jam

Preheat oven to 425 ˚

Melt butter in a 10 inch skillet (ovenproof; cast iron is ideal) on medium high heat on the stove top. Tilt the pan so that the butter coats the sides. 
Whisk together all other ingredients (milk, flour, sugar, eggs and salt) in a bowl.  Once butter is melted in the skillet, pour the egg mixture in and cook, without stirring, for 1 minute.  Then place the skillet in the hot oven and bake until the pancake is puffed and golden, 10-15 minutes depending on your oven.  (The edges will be darker brown). Serve immediately, for the pancake loses its puff, and therefore its drama, almost immediately.

This is it! These few simple ingredients! 

The eggs are to be room temperature.  Since I don't have
farm fresh room temp eggs on hand in my house, I found this
trick from the Barefoot Contessa.  Place the eggs into a container of warm water
for a few minutes before cracking.  Works like a charm!
1/2 stick butter melted in the skillet.  A great beginning.

Pour the batter into the buttery pan and let cook for 1 minute.
Then stick it in the hot oven.

While it is cooking, you can set the table and get ready to move fast. 

Quickly sprinkle powdered sugar on top.
(Or cinnamon sugar if you prefer).

Ready to serve. 

Dig in! 

I am excited to add a new quick and special recipe to my breakfast treats and to share this discovery with you.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Irresistible Lemon Cookies

This is another recipe passed down to me from Sandi this year.  (I wrote about her and her delicious Nana’s Cake and Apple Coleslaw recipes in an earlier post).  Sandi had told me about these cookies, that she found on the blog, Chef in Training.  She explained how delicious and irresistible they were.  She brought them to small group one week and we all went crazy…to the point that we were driven to do math to figure out how to slice up the remaining few cookies on the plate to divide evenly amongst the group members! 

These cookies have a lot going for them.  They have a great texture: a little crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.  They are buttery.  They are lemony (with zest and fresh lemon juice). And they have a lemon glaze on top!  They are zippy but not too tart! (My tart-sensitive child loves them, which is a good gauge.  She is pretty much the barometer of most things in our home.*)

When I made them a couple of weeks ago, I ate one and then another.
And then I packed some up in a to-go container** to share with friends, the Joneses, as they were headed on a journey.  And then I ate another one.  So then I put 4 on a plate to take two-doors down to Lindsey for her family of 4, so there would be less temptation in my house. 
The hilarious part was that I later got a text from Matt, her husband, that said,
“I ate 3--yes, 3—lemon cookies last night. So, so good.  Thank you!”
To which I replied, “I love it! I’m honored. Who was the recipient of the one other cookie I gave you all?”
To which he replied, “Lindsey! We opted against sharing with the boys.”

Sounds like a strategic parenting decision.

Here's the recipe:

Cookie dough
1 cup butter, softened
1½ cups sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. Lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking powder
2¼ cups flour

Lemon glaze
1½ cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
1 Tbsp. milk
¼ tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together.
Add egg and beat in well.
Add lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla and mix until well blended.
Add salt, baking powder and flour and mix until well incorporated.
Chill dough or use immediately.  ( I find they have a nice shape if you refrigerate the dough until firm).
Roll/Scoop cookies into 1 inch balls and place on greased cookie sheet.
Space cookie dough balls about 2 inches apart from each other.

Bake at 350 ˚ for 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden on the edges of cookies.

Combine glaze ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth glaze is formed. Drizzle as much as desired over slightly warmed cookies and let finish cooling completely before eating.
*If you are curious about this comment, about my daughter being the barometer of our family, here’s a little more on that topic.

I was introduced to this concept from Mary Sheedy Kurchinka in Raising Your Spirited Child.  It has helped me to understand her more (and pay more attention). 
According to the dictionary:

barometer |bəˈrämitər|
·      an instrument measuring atmospheric pressure, used esp. in forecasting the weather and    determining altitude.
·      something that reflects changes in circumstances or opinions: furniture is a barometer of changing tastes.

So, when tensions are high, she is the instrument that “measures that” and then “indicates that”.  When it’s hot, or cold, or tense, or sad, or intense, or scary, or hostile, or sweet…she’s my sensitive one that feels all the feels and lets us know! So, when I see/hear/learn from her how it’s feeling to her, I can predict that she is giving the read on the situation. 

**To-Go containers.  My mom taught me this tip.  If you are someone who enjoys sharing food with people, this is a tip that I recommend.   Save your plastic containers from to-go food, or yogurt, or lunch-meat, or hummus, or whatever you buy in plastic containers.  And save them for when you are giving away food.  I personally don’t like to use them in my fridge for my leftovers because the labels confuse me! To see a  Greek Yogurt container in my fridge leads me to believe that I have Greek yogurt, when in fact, it is filled with homemade hummus.  However, they are great for giving food away! And… you don’t have to spend money on “disposable plastic wear”.  Our favorite is when we get Pei Wei to-go containers.  They are perfect for packing baked goods or anything really. 

Speaking of lemons…I am loving putting lemons, limes and mint (from my
yard) in my ice water these days! Refreshment!