Sunday, April 29, 2012

Homemade Cheez-Its

After seeing these on Dara’s blog, Gen Y Foodie, I was smitten.  We needed to make them.  But instead of being all responsible and healthy with the olive oil and flax seeds, I went with good old butter.  We love butter.  We love Julia Child’s "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" for that reason.  So back to the cheez-its – It is exciting for some reason to make a homemade version of packaged food item.  Especially in this case, the buttery, cheesy crackers emerging fresh from the oven makes for such a lovely snack.  Now Seth likes to destroy this delicate harmony of the home-baked cheddar cracker by actually dipping them in this ridiculous store bought cheese dip.  If you notice, it isn’t even packaged in a jar.  It is a tin can that you open like a can of cat food.  Super classy.  He swears by it.  He claims that because the cheez-its taste so strongly like cheese, it helps to dip them into something that doesn’t taste anything like cheese… like pre-packaged cheese dip… While this is the dip he grew up with, and sometimes you just can’t fight nostalgia, I think we’d both agree that these crackers taste great with almost any dip.

1 cup whole wheat flour
8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling on top
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon powdered mustard
¼ teaspoon onion powder
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into tiny pieces
6 – 8 tablespoons ice water

In a small bowl, mix together ½ teaspoon kosher salt, pepper, paprika, powdered mustard, and onion powder.  In a medium bowl, mix together flour, cheddar, and the seasoning mix.  Add the pieces of butter and using your fingers work the butter with the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumble.  Add 6 tablespoons ice water, adding more if needed for the dough to come together.  You might want to use your hands to work the dough into a large ball.  Refrigerate for 1 hour.  Heat oven to 350.  I like to roll the dough out on a Silpat or parchment paper cut to fit a baking sheet to get the right size thickness (about 1/8 inch), and then transfer the Silpat or parchment to a baking sheet. If you aren’t using these, the dough should be rolled out to roughly fit a baking sheet.  Use a pizza cutter or fluted pastry wheel (gives that nice deckled edge) to cut the dough into squares.  It helps to use a ruler to evenly space out the cuts.  Use a chopstick to make the classic hole in the center that store-bought cheez-its have.  Sprinkle more kosher salt on top then bake for about 20 minutes.  You want the crackers to be crisp, but not burnt; you may wish to remove the outer couple rows, then put the pan back in and finish the inner rows.  Once they are done, use the same pizza cutter or fluted pastry wheel (lined up with your previous cuts) to separate the crackers fully.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Glazed Chocolate Chip Scones with Rosemary and Cara Cara Orange

Scones make me happy.  I’m not sure why.  Or maybe I do know why, but it actually doesn’t make sense.  Maybe it is because they are associated with tea; which, again, is kind of strange because I drink more coffee.  I drink tea when I’m sick or on random chilly nights.  But tea also makes me think of growing up.  In both my mom’s house and my gram’s house, tea facilitated talking.  There was nothing that couldn’t be made all better with a talk, a kitchen table, and a pot of tea (usually accompanied by some sweet treat).  So, despite the associations of tea with being sick, tea makes me happy.  And therefore, scones make me happy.  Scones are also just these super fun biscuits that you can stuff with all sorts of flavors.  Here, we went with rosemary, fresh Cara Cara orange, and semisweet chocolate chips.  So go ahead and bake up a few of these, pour yourself a warm cup of tea, pull up a seat at the kitchen table, and be happy.

For the scones:
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
pinch of kosher salt
½ teaspoon orange zest from a Cara Cara orange
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
5 tablespoons butter, cut into tiny pieces
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons fresh juice from a Cara Cara orange
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon milk

Heat oven to 375.  In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, orange zest, and rosemary together.  Using your fingers or a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture.  Work the butter into it until the mixture looks like coarse crumble.  Stir in cream and orange juice until dough forms.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Divide dough into equal size pieces (I got 8 large scones), and drop onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat.  Or you can be fancier and roll the dough into a 1-inch thick circle and cut the dough like a pizza.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.  In a small bowl, mix together powdered sugar, orange juice, and milk.  Let the scones cool for just a bit, then brush on orange glaze.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bacon Wrapped Egg Cups with Horseradish and Cheddar

I’m a big fan of the muffin pan.  It makes individual-sized cakes.  And individual-sized quick breads.  Individual-sized fun for everyone! And don’t even get me started on the virtues of the mini muffin pan.  There is something less intimidating about the muffin pan when compared to a regular cake pan or a loaf pan, etc., like you aren’t putting all your eggs in one basket, so to speak.  You have multiple opportunities, twelve to be exact, for obtaining success, which is actually not true at all.  I mean, the same batter goes in each little cup. But I like to pretend it’s true, and that’s what matters.  Because we are such fans, we wanted to use the muffin pan for something a little out of the ordinary, something savory, and something breakfasty (I’m standing by this as a word). So, here are our spicy bacon wrapped egg cups with horseradish and cheddar.

9 eggs
¼ cup milk
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon paprika
¾ teaspoon prepared horseradish
3 scallions, chopped
1/3 cup grated extra sharp Cheddar cheese + 1 tablespoon, divided
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, divided
1 jalapeno, chopped (optional)
12 pieces bacon

Heat oven to 375.  Grease a muffin tin.  In a bowl, whisk eggs and milk. Then stir in pepper, paprika, horseradish, scallions, 1/3 cup Cheddar cheese, and 1 tablespoon Parmesan.  Add in jalapeno if using as well.  Line the outer wall of the muffin cups in the tin with bacon.  You may have to trim the bacon slices to fit.  Then pour in about ¼ cup of the egg mixture in each cup.  Sprinkle each with the remaining cheddar and parmesan.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are browned, the bacon is crispy, and eggs are cooked through. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower Dippers with Smoked Paprika Aioli

I find cauliflower to be a rather deceptive and mendacious vegetable.  Why? A head of cauliflower is a pleasing sight to behold.  All those pretty white florets all bunched together in a nest of green leaves – it looks like a pretty flower! Even the word floret is pleasing, evoking images of tiny flowers. And once this vegetable catches your eye, it is hard to resist.  And then you bring it home and put it in the fridge until you need a veggie side dish.  And then that day comes when you actually need that veggie side dish…and you feel disappointed.  You now have to actually eat the cauliflower, not just look at it.  Cauliflower isn’t horrible, just blandly cabbage-y.  And I seem to fall for this ALL the time.  Finally, I said, how can I make this taste as pleasing to my taste buds as it looks?  So I gave them a vibrant coating of seasonings like smoked paprika, cumin, and coriander, roasted them up, and turned them into dippers. What better dip than a nice from-scratch smoked paprika aioli?  Dipping really does make everything better.

Spice Mix:
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice, divided
1 ½ teaspoon seasoning mix
¼ teaspoon garlic powder

2 egg yolks
1 cup vegetable oil
2 ½ teaspoons seasoning mix
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 ½ teaspoons lime juice
¼ teaspoon salt

In a small bowl, mix cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, sea salt, and black pepper.  Set aside.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 ½ teaspoons seasoning mix, and garlic powder.  Place florets in large bowl.  Drizzle oil mixture over the cauliflower and toss with tongs.  Place on baking sheet.  Roast for 25-30 minutes. Drizzle remaining lemon juice over the cooked florets.

I like to make mayonnaise by hand, though I know others find the food processor easier to use for this.  I place the egg yolks in a small bowl.  I place a cup of oil next to me and get out a tablespoon.  Whisk the egg yolks to break them up.  Add a tablespoon of oil.  Whisk that into the egg yolks so the yolks absorb it.  Then repeat.  And repeat.  Just be patient.  It will probably take about 10 minutes to get through all the oil.  Then stir in the seasoning mix, white wine vinegar, garlic, mustard, lime juice, and salt, and you are good to go.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sliders with Jicama Slaw

As I sat in the dentist’s chair during a cleaning, I started to daydream.  I mean, what else can you really do while you sit in the chair?  Of course, I started thinking about food.  Then, I started thinking more specifically about jicama… which is strange.  Why is that strange?  Because I had never had it.  I wouldn’t even have been able to tell you what it looked like.  Now that I think about, how can you even daydream about something you’ve never had?  Maybe it wasn’t daydreaming?  Maybe I was just thinking about it, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  I had it in my head it was crunchy.  I don’t know why I thought that, but alas, that is what I thought I knew about jicama.  And indeed, I was actually right about that!  So I thought, hmm, maybe it would be cool in a coleslaw kind of thing.  But then, I don’t really want to eat just coleslaw.  So what could go with it?  After I got home, the question was still burning, so I asked Seth.  He suggested pulled pork.  Bingo!  Plus, it was an opportunity to give some love to a much neglected piece of equipment in our kitchen, the slow cooker.  So, thanks to a trip to the dentist, here are some juicy and tender pulled pork sliders with red cabbage, carrot, and jicama slaw dressed in a cider and walnut oil vinaigrette.  I wonder what the dentist would think about all this…

For the pulled pork:
3-4 pound pork shoulder, bone in
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, chopped
1 jalapeno, minced
20 ounce container ketchup
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
1 bottle beer (we used Fat Tire amber ale)
King's Hawaiian sweet rolls
Frank's Red Hot Sauce (optional)

For the slaw:
2 cups julienned red cabbage
1 cup julienned carrot
2 cups julienned jicama
2 teaspoons walnut oil
½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon lime juice
2 tablespoons sour cream

Sprinkle salt and pepper on the pork shoulder then place in crock pot.  In a medium pot over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add the garlic, shallots, and jalapeno and sauté until soft (about 3 minutes).  Stir in ketchup, vinegar, maple syrup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and liquid smoke.  Simmer for 3 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved.  Stir in the beer, and then pour the entire mixture over the pork shoulder in the crockpot.  Turn on high and cook for 6.5 hours, or until the meat is falling off the bone.

Place the cabbage, carrot, and jicama in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, stir walnut oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, lime juice, and sour cream.  Pour the walnut oil mixture over the vegetables and toss to coat.  Refrigerate until serving time.

To assemble, cut King's Hawaiian sweet rolls in half, and stack with pulled pork, hot sauce, and jicama slaw.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Nutella Fudge Candy

If I were handing out awards to the contents of our pantry, sweetened condensed milk would definitely get an MVP.  Hmm...I’m loving this idea, actually. Seth, Max and I could get all dolled up, head to the kitchen with stacks of envelopes, and announce winners for awards, like the people's choice award for favorite vegetable, or most improved in pasta... Anyway, sweetened condensed milk always comes through.  You can turn it into dulce de leche (and put it on anything and everything – ice cream, cookies, these rice krispies treats). It can make an awesome pumpkin pie filling, and it makes super easy candies.  Combining it with cocoa powder and Nutella (Nutella would totally be in the running for an award as well – best in spreads/condiments perhaps) makes for some fun and chocolaty goodness.  Yay for sweetened condensed milk!

3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons Nutella
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
bowl of chocolate sprinkles

Combine cocoa powder, Nutella, butter, salt and condensed milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring continuously, until mixture becomes super thick and pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Spray some cooking spray on hands and form into small balls. Roll the balls in the bowl of chocolate sprinkles.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Vegetable Fried Wontons

Since making our pork flower dumplings a couple weeks ago, those leftover wonton wrappers have just been calling out to us. “Please use me, for the love of god please use me!” could be heard every time we opened the refrigerator door.  These exclamations probably rang so clear because there they were, right there on the top shelf on the side of the fridge door.  Not hidden way in the back or in one of the drawers or lost under a pile of stuff.  Right there on the side of the door.  So, being that the refrigerator door is opened multiple times a day, we caved.  This time, we went veggie.  We minced up some sturdy vegetables like jicama, carrot, and celery, gave them a soak in a savory sauce, and then deep fried them to get a crunchy golden exterior.  The really neat thing is that they are more flavorful than almost any meat dumpling I’ve had!  Some cinnamon sprinkled on top adds a nice final touch and helps round out the sweet, savory inside with a bit of fragrant spice on the outside. 

1 scallion, minced
¼ cup minced jicama
¼ cup minced carrot
¼ cup minced celery
2 teaspoons minced ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
½ teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon rice wine
2 tablespoons chicken broth
16-20 wonton wrappers
canola oil, for frying
pinch of cinnamon
sweet and sour sauce, for serving

Place the scallions, jicama, carrot, celery, ginger, and garlic in a medium-sized bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk soy sauce, oyster sauce, honey, rice wine, and chicken broth.  Pour the liquids over the vegetables.  Let the mixture sit for at least 30 minutes.  Take a wonton wrapper and place in the palm of your hand.  Place ½ tablespoon of the mixture in the middle.  Dab water around two adjacent sides of the wrapper, then bring up the other two sides of the wrapper to form a triangle.  Place canola oil in small pot and heat to 325-350 degrees.  Fry 4-5 wontons at a time until golden brown, about 5-8 minutes.  Place on paper towels and then fry another batch.  Sprinkle cinnamon on the wontons, and then serve with sweet and sour sauce.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Carbonara Dip, with Brie and Pancetta

Once upon a time in a far away land called Dana Point, CA, there lived a Seth and a Jenn and a toddler named Max.  All three of them loved to dip things. One day Seth came home raving about a pizza he had for lunch.  That pizza was called Carbonara Pizza.  He wanted to recreate that amazing dish.  However, they were very far away from making acceptable pizza at home.  So instead, they did what came naturally.  They made a dip.  And that is the story of how Carbonara Dip came to be, and all three dip aficionados munched happily ever after.

Carbonara Dip:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons cubed pancetta
1 shallot, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons white wine
8 ounce wedge of brie
6 ounces cream cheese
1 ½  teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
generous amount of freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped basil, plus more for garnish
¼ cup Parmesan cheese

Baguette Dippers:
1 baguette, sliced
¼ cup olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
kosher salt
1 tablespoon chopped basil

To prepare the dip: Heat oven to 375.  Heat olive oil and butter over medium-high heat and crisp the pancetta cubes, about 3 minutes.  Turn heat down to medium-low and add shallot and garlic.  Saute until shallots are soft.  Deglaze with the white wine, being sure to get any of those crispy brown bits off the pan.  Add the cheeses and melt everything together.  Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and black pepper.  Add the chopped basil and transfer the mixture to an oven-proof pan to bake.  Sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until the top is golden-brown.  Stir and sprinkle more basil, if desired.

To prepare the baguette dippers:
Heat oven to 350.  Place slices of baguette on baking sheet.  Brush each slice with olive oil, then sprinkle with black pepper and salt.  Repeat for each slice.  Bake for about 7-10 minutes, until the baguette slices have toasted.  Sprinkle chopped basil over slices.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Rustic Pasta with Chunky Vegetables

We like to call this dish “rustic pasta”.  Why do we call it that?  I have no clue.  We even served it here in a white square bowl, which is probably the opposite of rustic.  Nonetheless, something about this meal brimming with big chunky vegetables and whole wheat pasta says rustic to us.  We coated the vegetable chunks and penne pasta in a tomato sauce brightened up with hints of saffron, ginger, and garlic and then gave it a creamy twist with mascarpone cheese. 

1 medium zucchini, cut into chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 small red onion, cut into 1/8th
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved
12 ounces asparagus spears, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh minced thyme
1 tablespoon fresh minced rosemary
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, minced
3 tablespoons minced ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
¼ teaspoon saffron threads
3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
12 ounce box whole wheat penne

Heat oven to 400.  Place vegetables pieces in large bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, herbs, salt, pepper, vinegar, and lemon juice.  Pour the liquid mixture over the vegetables and coat using tongs.  Place on baking sheet and set in the oven for about 30-40 minutes, until the vegetables have cooked through.  Set aside

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add shallots and ginger and sauté until the shallots are soft (about 3 minutes).  Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions.  Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Stir in the tomatoes and saffron threads.  Simmer for 20 minutes, until the flavors come together.  Stir in mascarpone cheese.  Add all the vegetables, herbs, and liquid left on the baking sheet to the sauce and heat.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Toss the cooked pasta with the sauce.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...