Saturday, January 30, 2010

orange poppyseed cookies

It's the citrus time of year, people!  And I think that oranges are underused.  They can be used for sauces, glazes, winter salads, and cookies!  These cookies are perfect with a cup of warm tea on a cold January day.  They are great to serve for an afternoon snack with your lady friends.  They are great to stick in lunchboxes and briefcases for a surprise.  And what's better?  They freeze amazingly so you can bake 3 at a time, when you get the urge for a crumbly, slight crunchy and oh-so-satisfying cookie!

Orange Poppyseed Cookies
Makes about 24 cookies.
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
The zest of 2 oranges

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a medium bowl.  Add poppy seeds and toss to combine.  Set aside.

Put the sugar in a medium bowl, add the orange zest and use your fingers to rub them together until the sugar is fragrant.

In a large bowl, cream butter until smooth.  Beat in the fragrant sugar for about 2 minutes until mixture is light and pale.

Add the egg and the yolk and beat for another minute or two.  Beat in vanilla.
Add flour and mix until only just incorporated.  The dough will be very soft and creamy.

Turn dough out onto plastic wrap and divide into half.  Shape into a long log, about 3" in diameter. 
Chill for at least 2 hours. 

Preheat oven to 350*.  Line baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat.  Using a sharp knife, slice into 1/2" rounds and place on baking sheet.

Bake for 9-11 minutes, rotating sheet at the midpoint.  The cookies should feel firm but not brown at all.  Remove from oven and let the cookies rest for a minute before carefully lifting onto a cooling rack.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

tomato tarte tatin

Tarte tatin is usually made with apples.  It's almost like an upside down caramelized apple pie.  I don't have to tell you how good that sounds to me.
But we are making tomato tarte tatin.  I've heard of this idea and for some reason it really appealed to me.  I love roasted tomatoes, I love goat cheese, and I love love pastry.  And a tarte tatin is all three combined and baked until all melty and gooey and just plain delicious.

Tomato Tarte Tatin
Makes 3 individual tartes.
3 tomatoes
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
2 teaspoons sugar
4 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted on the counter for 40 minutes
Basil, to garnish

Preheat oven to 300*.  Wash the tomatoes and cut in halves.  Place on foil lined rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle sugar on top.  Bake for one hour till nice and roasty.  Remove to cool.  Raise oven temperature to 400*.

Butter 3 ramekins.  Place two cooled tomatoes in each ramekin and pack down with a spoon.  Crumble with goat cheese, about 1 1/2 ounces each, on top.  Set aside.  Roll out pastry and cut out three circles to fit each ramekin.  Put each pastry circle on top of goat cheese.

Bake for 12-18 minutes until puffed and golden.
Remove to cool slightly and then turn out onto an individual plate.  Garnish with fresh basil.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

olive oil muffins

I know olive oil muffins sound strange, right?  But these muffins are really great.  Not too sweet, almost like a muffin you could serve at a Southern dinner. (minus the powdered sugar on top)  They are very rich from the olive oil and have great crunch from the almonds.  The orange and lemon zests really brighten the whole muffin up and, if you do dust them with powdered sugar, it finishes it off nicely with a little touch of sweetness.  I just can't resist unusual sounding recipes so here we are.  Don't be scared, you'll be rewarded with heavenly smells and tender crumbs. 

Olive Oil Muffins
Makes 12 muffins.  Can be frozen and put in your husband's lunchbox.
1 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons whole milk
3/4 cup olive oil
2/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350*.  Place paper liners in a 12-cup muffin tin.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Set aside.
Cream sugar, eggs, and zests in a large bowl until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the vinegar and milk.  Gradually beat in the oil.  Add the flour mixture and stir just until blended. 

Crush the almonds with your hands as you add them to the batter and stir until mixed.  Fill the muffin tin almost to the top of the paper liners. 

Bake until the golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 20-25 minutes.  Cool completely and dust with powdered sugar.

Friday, January 22, 2010

mushroom leek pizza

"A Lesson in Leeks"
The leek belongs to the garlic and onion families.  It has a mild onion-like taste and is less bitter than a scallion.  The edible portions are the white onion base and the light green stalk.  The onion-like layers form around a core.  These layers can be very gritty and once chopped, each layer needs to be rinsed thoroughly.  Seems like alot of work but believe me, it's not that bad.


Once you wash and dry these babies, you are done with the hard part!  The rest is easy - it take under 5 to prep and under 30 to bake!  You are ready to start your pizza!!

Mushroom Leek Pizza
Serves 4.
2 leeks, chopped, rinsed and dried
1 pound assorted mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 cup shredded Fontina or Swiss cheese
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese, at room temperature
1 sheet puff pastry, cut into a circle

Preheat the oven to 400*.  Put your circle of puff pastry on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until puffed and golden brown.  Sprinkle half the cheeses on the pastry, followed by the leeks, mushrooms and the rest of the cheese.  Bake for about 10 more minutes until cheese is bubbly.  Serve!!


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

cream of tomato soup

I am not* a tomato soup person. I don’t like thinned- out tomato water with no flavor. The only tomato soup I’ve ever enjoyed with the tomato basil soup from La Madeleine’s in Dallas.

But, being a good girl, and a good cook, I decided to try making it. So, it was with very heavy reservations that I looked up a couple recipes and changed them all to fit what I would think would be a good soup.

The entire time I was cooking this soup, I was thinking, “yuck. I love tomatoes, why am I destroying them by souping them. Yuck.” And even as I was bringing the spoon to my mouth to taste for seasoning, I was thinking, “blah blah blah. Tomato soup, blah. This has destroyed my whole dinner.”

And, boy, I couldn’t have been more wrong. From first taste, I was in love. Creamy and rich and tomato-y, I quickly asked for forgiveness from ever doubting homemade tomato soup and quickly slurped up about 3 bowls during re-runs of Top Chef. I froze some tiny portions for Mike’s lunches and saved 2 bowls for me in the fridge. I ate one for breakfast the next morning.

Have I convinced you to try this? I know I convinced myself.

was not*

Cream of Tomato Soup

Serves 4.

Adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook, mostly

2 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes packed in juice, drained, 3 cups juice reserved
1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter
1 onion, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoon flour
1 ¾ cups chicken stock
½ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons bourbon
Salt and cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 450°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. With your fingers, carefully deseed whole tomatoes over strainer set in bowl, allowing juices to go through strainer into bowl. Spread seeded tomatoes in single layer on foil. Sprinkle with brown sugar.

Bake until all liquid has evaporated and tomatoes begin to color, about 30-40 minutes. Let tomatoes cool slightly, then peel them off foil; transfer to small bowl and set aside. Heat butter over medium heat in Dutch oven until melted. Add onion and tomato paste. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 7 to 10 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. Gradually add chicken stock, reserved tomato juice and roasted tomatoes.

Cover, increase heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Pour mixture through strainer and into medium bowl; rinse out pot. Transfer tomatoes and any solids in strainer to blender; add 1 cup strained liquid and puree until smooth. Place pureed mixture and remaining strained liquid in saucepan. Add cream and warm over low heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in bourbon and season with salt and cayenne. Serve immediately.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

english muffins

Homemade English muffins?
Yes, please.
And they are easy!
Did you say easy?  Yea, right.
But they really are!  If you are scared of bread making, never tried, or tried and failed, don't give up!  These are really easy!  I promise!
The trick is not over-mixing, letting them rise properly, and a really hot skillet.
Homemade English muffins are going to be on your Saturday morning menu from now on!

English Muffins
Makes 6 big ones.
10 ounces flour (you might need a bit more...)
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 tablespoon Crisco
3/4 cup buttermilk
cornmeal, for dusting

Mix all the ingredients in medium bowl.  Turn out onto floured surface and knead until soft and smooth, tacky but not sticky.  Add flour until desired consistency.  Put back into a greased bowl and cover with a kitchen towel.  Let rise until doubled in size, about one hour.


Next, divide the dough into 6 pieces and shape gently into dinner rolls.  Place on cornmeal-dusted surface and dust with more cornmeal.  Cover with plastic wrap gently and let rise until doubled in size again, about another hour.

(Mine were too close together, make sure and space them accordingly :))

Preheat a cast iron skillet (or large griddle) to 350* or about medium-medium-high.  Preheat your oven to 350* as well.
Gently place however many you can fit at once on your skillet.  They should spread slightly and then start to rise.  After about 5-7 minutes, flip over and cook for another 5-7 minutes.

Remove to baking sheet and cook remaining muffins.  Put muffins in the oven for about 5 more minutes.  Remove, cool and serve!!

*important*  Do NOT slice muffins.  You have to use a fork to open muffins or you won't get those lovely crumbs.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

orange marmalade + orange-scented cream cheese

Winter is citrus season! You get the best oranges in the winter. I got some for Mike’s lunch but I couldn’t resist them. So, I made a few goodies :)

Orange Marmalade
Makes about 8-8 ounce jars.
Store in the pantry for up to a year.
4 large seedless oranges
2 lemons
8 cups sugar

Cut the oranges and lemons in half crosswise, then into very thin half-moon slices. (If you have a mandoline, this will be very fast.) Discard any seeds. Place the sliced fruit and their juices into a stainless-steel pot. Add 8 cups water and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar until it dissolves. Cover and allow to stand overnight at room temperature.

The next day, bring the mixture back to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 2 hours. Turn the heat up to medium and boil gently, stirring often, for another 30 minutes. Skim off any foam that forms on the top. Cook the marmalade until it reaches 220˚ on a candy thermometer. Pour the marmalade into clean, hot Mason jars; wipe the rims thoroughly with a clean damp paper towel, and seal with the lids. Turn upside down to check (for leaks) any unsealed jars. Store in the pantry until ready to use.

Orange-Scented Cream Cheese
Keeps in the fridge for about a week.
This is fantastic on banana bread!
6 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest

Combine everything in a large mixing bowl and cream. Pack into jars and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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