Archive for the ‘recipes’ Category
Squash blossoms, pancetta, cheese…
There are two big themes that seem to run through my cooking ever since I “grew up”. The first is the realization that I actually like foods that I always swore I hated when I was younger, and the second is the discovery of many foods I never knew about as a child.
Well, that isn’t exactly true. Several of these foods – like Brussels sprouts, for example – I had heard of quite often. Every children’s book talks about kids who refuse to eat their Brussels sprouts. But they seemed a kind of fairy-tale invention… in the same way that curds and whey or Turkish delight did. These were foods that, to my younger self, didn’t really exist in the real world (or, at the very least, my idea of what they actually were when I read about them in stories greatly differed from what they are in real life. I always thought curds and whey was something like oatmeal…)
But it’s these “fairy tale” foods, or the foods that I’d never even heard about until several years into food blogging, that hold the biggest fascination for me. Like Brussels sprouts. (I never had them as a child, and have loved them ever since I first tried them as an adult.) Or zucchini blossoms… why didn’t anyone ever tell me that you could eat flowers?!
I love the vibrant colors of the squash blossoms
Just as with my first encounter with Brussels sprouts, it took a year or two for me to build up the courage to actually buy them. I’ve never cooked these flowers… what if I do something wrong, or buy them and make a disaster of them, or…
But last week at the farmer’s market, I saw them for the first time at one of my usual stands… and on a spontaneous whim, they somehow ended up coming home with me. But now what?
Thank goodness for Twitter. It’s a lifesaver, in times like these. The very awesome Gaby Dalkin rescued me with the idea to put them on pizza (and she even had a recipe on her blog that I could check out!)
Oh my… yum. I had some flatbreads in the freezer from the hummus stand at the farmer’s market that my mom had told me were great for pizza, so I pulled those out, spread them with a little olive oil, mozzarella cheese, pancetta, and these squash blossoms. So good. The squash blossoms have a very delicate flavor, so you don’t want to overwhelm them with strong cheeses or other toppings… but this was perfect.
Quick and delicious!
Very closely based on the Squash Blossom and Pancetta Pizza recipe from What’s Gaby Cooking. If you want real pizza, follow her recipe… mine uses a pre-made flatbread, so the cooking times and temperatures are different.
- 1 8″ flatbread
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 squash blossoms
- 1/2 oz pancetta
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- Saute the pancetta in a skillet until it gets browned and crispy.
- Brush the flatbread with olive oil. Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese.
- Cut off the bottom of the blossoms and clean out the insides, then tear them into large pieces.
- Top the pizza with the pancetta and blossoms.
- Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
I was an early adopter, when it came to Harry Potter. My grandparents got me the first book when I was in middle school. I loved it, of course.
I then proceeded to dress up as Draco Malfoy that Halloween. Complete with cape and Nimbus 2000. (My little sister dressed up as Harry Potter. No, you don’t get to see pictures.)
Not a single person at my school had any clue who I was. (Once a dork, always a dork…)
Luscious brown sugar cupcakes…
Flash forward a decade, and Harry Potter is all the rage. And… I’m just not feeling it. Yeah, I know, I know. But somewhere between the 4th and 5th books, I just fell out of love with it.
(I haven’t seen the movies, either… just bits of the first one. But I’ve never been much of a movie person.)
Decadent butterscotch sauce…
My sister, on the other hand, is still a huge Harry Potter fan. So when she and her girlfriend (also a huge Harry Potter fan) came home for a few days before the school year started, I pulled this recipe out of my long list of bookmarked recipes (I’d been saving it up for them).
I’m not sure exactly what I had been expecting, but holy cow these are good. Sweet, but not too sweet, as some butterscotch-flavored desserts can be. Moist, especially after I accidentally poured in an entire cup of buttermilk instead of just half a cup. And ohmygod that buttercream frosting… in the past I hadn’t been much of a fan of the buttercream frostings I’ve made, but I’m a believer now.
And the best butterscotch buttercream frosting ever.
Slightly altered from The Pastry Affair’s Butterbeer Cupcakes, which were adapted from the Butterbeer Cupcakes on Amy Bites.
Brown Sugar Cupcake
- 2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp butter flavoring
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup cream soda
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- Cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Add the vanilla extract and butter flavoring.
- Fold in one third of the flour mixture, then the buttermilk, then another third of the flour mixture, then the cream soda, and then the remaining flour.
- Fill cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the cupcakes are golden-brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
- 11 oz (1 package) butterscotch chips
- 1 cup heavy cream
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butterscotch chips into the heavy cream, stirring until smooth. (Or heat in the microwave in 30-second increments, stirring in between.) Remove from heat and cool to room temperature before using.
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup butterscotch ganache (recipe above)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp butter flavoring
- Pinch of salt
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Mix in the butterscotch ganache, vanilla, butter flavoring, and salt. Beat in the powdered sugar for 2-3 minutes.
- Pour the butterscotch ganache into a plastic squeeze bottle. Push the tip of the bottle into the cupcake and fill each cupcake with butterscotch ganache until it starts to overflow. (I made 3-4 holes in each cupcake.)
- Fill a pastry bag with the buttercream and pipe onto the top of each cupcake. Drizzle with more butterscotch ganache, if desired. (You will most likely have left-over butterscotch ganache – this can be used as a topping for ice cream, or it’s an excellent excuse to make another batch of these cupcakes.)
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Mini bundt cakes in the pan
I have a weird sort of relationship with coffee. I like coffee. I really do. Except I can never make it to my liking at home.
Office coffee? Yes, please. Hotel coffee? Sure, why not? Starbucks? Mmmm, yes.
The coffee I make at home? Bleh. Gross. Fail. I’ve tried using a regular coffee maker, I’ve tried instant (ew), I’ve tried using a French press… *sigh*. I have no talent for coffee making.
Pouring the frosting over the bundt cakes
Luckily my inability to make good coffee at home has no bearing whatsoever on whether I’m able to make good coffee-flavored baked goods. Thank goodness.
I first tried these mini espresso bundt cakes when I bought one that The Food Librarian made for the Food Blogger Bake Sale earlier this year. I couldn’t stop raving about them, so when Mary replied to me with a link to the recipe she used, there was no doubt I’d be making them soon.
My little sister, who’s almost as much of a coffee-lover as I am (who am I kidding, she’s way much more coffee-crazy than me) graduated from college this year. So, like the loving sister I am, I baked her a box full of delicious things as her graduation present. This box included some delicious Churro Cookies, some ridiculously simple but so freaking good Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies, and, of course, these mini espresso bundt cakes.
They were a total hit, of course.
To be honest, I’m craving them right now… espresso bundt cake is an acceptable replacement for morning coffee, right?
Don’t judge. Just make them. You’ll see…
Mini espresso bundt cakes
Visit The Food Librarian for the recipe!
Pouring the sauce over the chicken
Do you remember when you were little, and your parents would eat peas and tofu and cabbage and tomatoes and all sorts of other disgusting things? You would look at them with your nose scrunched up and wonder, “How can you possibly like that stuff? It’s so gross, it doesn’t taste good at all!” And they would smile and tell you that liking icky vegetables is the sort of things that happens when you grow up and your tastes change. So you always wished your tastes would just change already, so dinnertime wouldn’t always be such a battle between you and those horrible vegetables your parents would make you finish before you got to have anything else.
(…or maybe that was just me. I always was an exceedingly picky child.)
Well… it seems my tastes are finally changing.
Fresh out of the oven
Case in point: a few years ago, I wouldn’t have hesitated to inform you that I absolutely, positively hated dill. Yuck. Gross. How could anyone possibly like it?
Now, well, I’m kind of addicted. The scent makes me want to bury my face in a dill plant and inhale. It’s amazing.
(Sound familiar? Yeah… it’s been happening more often in the last couple of years.)
I think this chicken is one of the best possible applications for dill. It’s spicy, creamy, hearty, and of course dilly (yes, I looked it up, and realize that doesn’t mean what I intended it to mean, however both meanings apply beautifully here. Go look it up… you’ll see what I mean.), and altogether awesome. I discovered this recipe when my dear mother gifted me with a bunch of dill (this was back when I still thought I hated dill – she had used a third of the bunch in a recipe, and didn’t have any way to use it up, so of course she gives it to me) and I did a half-frantic AllRecipes search trying to figure out how on earth I was supposed to use all that dill.
That was the turning point. Now I love dill, and make this chicken again and again and again… Love, love, love.
Chicken with Curry Dill Sauce, adapted from AllRecipes
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/8 tsp salt
- a dash of pepper
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 tsp fresh dill weed, chopped
- 1/4 tsp curry powder
- 6 chicken breast halves
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour, salt and pepper; stir until smooth. Gradually add milk and bring to a boil. Boil and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the mayonnaise, dill and curry; stir until smooth. Set aside.
- In a skillet over medium heat, brown chicken in oil. Place in a greased 9×13″ baking dish. Pour sauce over chicken. Bake, uncovered, at 350°F for 50-60 minutes or until meat juices run clear.
My current sandwich obsession: honey-roasted turkey and pickles on toasted Hawaiian bread (with a little bit of mayonnaise and dijon mustard, of course).
However, I do have a confession to make… up until about a month ago, I was convinced I hated pickles. I’d pick them off of sandwiches and burgers (and transfer them to my mom’s plate if she was around – she loves pickles).
But then I split the most amazing burger with my dad at Betty Burgers in Santa Cruz, CA… and had such a long day (the family drove up from LA that morning, for my sister’s graduation, then went out for dinner with my sister and her girlfriend afterwards) that I was too darn tired to bother picking them off my half.
And wow. Pickles are actually good! (No, I’m not pregnant. Promise.) It seems I’m getting older, more mature… or at least, my tastes have gotten more mature, even if I’m not. ~_^