Archive for Baking

Cherry Shortcake (plus Cheddar and Green Onion Biscuits)

Sometimes in life, you should splurge a little bit. I decided one of those times is while I’m here in London, I should definitely buy the full fat creme fraiche. Why? Because it’s delicious, creamy, and I can’t get it easily back home. Here I can even get a store brand, and it’s fantastic.

But then I had to come up with something to eat it with.

Sure, there’s the usual “with fruit” option, and that’s wonderful and I have used part of my tub for that. But I wanted something that would be a little different. And I also felt like baking. However, I’m cooking for just one person here, so it doesn’t make much sense for me to make a whole pie.

I decided to make some biscuits. Originally, I was heading this direction because a) of this recipe and b) I knew I could freeze some of them and bake them next week when I’m ready for more biscuits. So I decided to divide the biscuit recipe in two and make half savory and half slightly sweet. Savory for eggs in the morning (ok, I’ll admit, I topped the eggs with creme fraiche too!), and the sweeter ones for shortcakes. I should say I’m usually more of a flaky biscuit gal, but these were pretty tasty. I decided since I was already baking in a kitchen other than my own, I didn’t need bust out a rolling pin.

And the cherries my produce man had looked delicious, so I bought “two handfuls” instead of one. Also, someone important to me doesn’t care for berries, so I considered this a test run of a recipe for us to eat this summer.

So first the the cherries, and then the recipe(s) for the biscuits. Please note the cherry recipe makes a terribly small amount since it’s just for me, but it’s easily doubled or tripled.

Mmm, cherry shortcake.

Cherries for Shortcakes

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • about 1 c. whole, fresh cherries (or maybe 1 1/2 so you can eat some of them as you go)
  • 1/2-1 tsp sugar (depending on how sweet your cherries are)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp water–the cherries don’t release that much juice, so I added a touch of water to get everything evenly coated and to have some juice to pour on the biscuits.
  1. Wash and de-stem the cherries. Cut them in half and remove the pits. Put them in a small bowl and combine with the other ingredients, adjusting the amount of sugar based on the sweetness of the cherries. (I used just a touch over 1/2 tsp.)
  2. Refrigerate for 30 min to a day before using.
  3. To make the shortcakes, split open a biscuit such as the sweet ones below or your own favorite recipe, top with half the cherry mixture and a generous dollop of creme fraiche or lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Cheddar & Green Onion and Sweet Drop Biscuits

Servings: 6 savory and 6 sweet

Prep/Baking Time: 15-20 min prep, 15-18 min baking

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • scant 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp (1 tbsp) sugar, divided
  • 3 oz/6 tbsp cold, unsalted butter
  • 3 oz sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 tbsp lime juice (or vinegar)*
  • enough milk to make 1 c when added to the lime juice (or use buttermilk and omit the lime juice)
  1. Stir together the lime juice and milk. You can grate the cheese if you want, but I diced mine into small pieces. I think it was easier to mix that way. Whichever, prep your cheese and thinly slice the green onion, separating the rings of the white part. Cut the butter into 6-8 pieces.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1 1/2 tsp sugar. Add the butter pieces, and cut in with your fingers until you have small pieces throughout (slightly smaller than peas).
  3. Separate half of the flour mixture into another bowl. This will be just over 1 1/2 c of flour mixture. We’ll call this new bowl “bowl B.”
  4. To bowl A (the original one), add 1 tsp of sugar and mix thoroughly. Add half the soured milk. Blend quickly (dough should still be rough, not smooth). Dollop onto a greased baking sheet, about 1/3 c per biscuit. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 tsp of sugar.**
  5. To bowl B, add the cheese and onions and mix thoroughly. Add the other half of the soured milk and blend quickly, noting the same as above for mixing. Divide dough onto a greased sheet in the same manner.
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown and smelling delicious.

*I happened to have purchased a lime earlier in the day, which was fortunate ’cause I couldn’t find an vinegar in the flat where I’m staying. The lime juice worked just as well as vinegar, and I didn’t notice any lime flavor (though I think that might have been tasty).

**You can also dollop the dough onto a cookie sheet and then freeze the sheet until the biscuits are set. Then move them to an airtight container and bake them when you want to, adding a couple minutes to the time. I baked three sweet and three savory and froze the other three of each. I even baked on the same pan and didn’t notice any flavor transfer.

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Chocolate Angel Food Cake with Strawberry (Ginger) Coulis

Fail. Wow. I haven’t posted since August. I had a pretty good excuse last semester with my exams, but not this one. Oh well.

I wish I could tell you how tasty this cake was, but I can only provide a second hand account. I made it for a friend’s birthday, but she doesn’t live in town any more, so some other friends brought it to her (ok, they were already planning on making the trip–my cake was a tag-a-long). But they said they loved it, so I’ll just take their word for it until I have the chance to make this again.

My friend is doing really well on Weight Watchers, and I didn’t want to throw her off, so in addition to the low fat nature of regular angel food cake, this one is also low sugar. My sister, a WW leader, estimated the cake at about 2 points for a tenth of it! But you’d need a little of this super easy sauce with it, which is probably another point. But still, that’s pretty good for a great dessert. Since this uses Splenda, you should know that it might dry out more quickly than a regular cake.

One thing that made this cake even easier than normal was that I bought a carton of egg whites from the grocery rather than cracking and separating 10-12 eggs. You’ll find this item near the Egg Beaters. What a great time saver! This recipe was adapted from one at Baking Bites plus some thoughts from my Better Homes and Gardens version, plus a coulis recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan.

Servings: 10-12

Prep time: 1 hour; Baking time: 50-55 minutes

For the cake:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c. egg whites (10-12 eggs, or buy a carton), at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup Splenda
  • 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 325. Make sure your tube pan and your mixing bowls are spotlessly clean–any fat residue from previous baking projects could deflate your cake. Also, make sure the racks in your oven are separated enough to accommodate the tube pan–it’s taller than most bakeware.
  2. Sift together the Splenda, cake flour and cocoa powder, making sure the cocoa gets evenly distributed. (I sifted mine three times.) Set aside.
  3. If using a stand mixer, use the wire whisk or the regular beaters of a hand mixer will be fine. Pour the egg whites into the mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until they get frothy. Add the cream of tartar and salt. While mixing on medium to medium-high, slowly add the sugar to the egg whites, a few tablespoons at a time. Continue beating to the soft peak stage. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and beat for a few more seconds. You don’t want to go all the way to firm peaks, but a little past soft is ok. (When you pull out the beater, the tips of the egg whites should droop over a little, but not recede completely back into the rest of the whites.)
  4. Sift about 1/6 of the flour mixture over the top of the egg whites and gently fold the flour mix into them. (By folding, I mean putting a spatula down the side of the bowl to the bottom and then folding that over the top of the whites. Turn the bowl a quarter turn and repeat until mostly combined.) Repeat until all of the flour mixture has been added to the egg whites. Take your time here. If you hurry, you’ll deflate the egg whites and your cake won’t have a good texture.
  5. Dollop the batter into the tube pan, trying to distribute it evenly (it will probably be a little too thick to pour). Give the pan a good whack against the top of the counter to loosen any large air bubbles. Gently smooth out the top of the batter with your spatula. Bake for 50-55 minutes, rotating after 30 min if your oven heats unevenly. The cake is done when the top is dry and springs back when lightly touched (mine took 55).
  6. When the cake comes out of the oven, invert it onto a well-ventilated cooling rack. Or, you can invert it so the tube rests on top of a bottle, but I have yet to find a bottle that fits my pan. I’ve tried wine, beer, soda, vinegar and oil, all with no luck. But if it works for you, go ahead. My cake was fine resting upside down on the rack.
  7. When the cake is completely cool (4+ hours), run a knife along the outside edge, pressing against the pan so as not to tear the cake. Then repeat along the inner tube. The cake should release from the tube part of the pan still sealed to the removable bottom. Repeat the cutting technique on the cake bottom, and your beautiful angelfood cake will be free!

Strawberry (Ginger) Coulis

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups frozen strawberries, mostly thawed (or fresh, but they’re not in season here yet)
  • 2 tbsp Splenda (more or less to taste)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp water (see note below)
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger (optional)
  1. Blend the strawberries, Splenda, sugar and water in a food processor until completely smooth. Yea, seriously, that’s it.
  2. If you’d like, take out half of the coulis and mix it with the ginger. It gives it a nice, bright, unexpected taste. Double the ginger if you want it in the whole batch, but some people don’t like ginger, so I thought it would be nice to have some with ginger and some without.
  3. Drizzle on cake slices.

*Note: The reason for the water in the coulis is that Splenda does not work the same way real sugar does to draw out fruits’ natural juices. If you are making this with all real sugar, omit the water.

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    Banana Nut Bread

    I bought a few bananas a while back, and before I knew it, they were much too “ripe” for me too eat. I prefer my bananas with a hint of green or possibly a lone brown freckle. But once there are a handful, I can’t quite bring myself to eat them as is. I often take these over-ripe bananas, slice them and freeze them for use in milkshakes. However, my freezer already has enough banana slices in it, and with the cool evenings we’ve had recently, I thought it was time for some banana bread.

    Super ripe bananas are key for this recipe to provide the necessary sweetness. I made mine in three small loaf pans (about six inches by three inches). This made nice rounded loaves with golden tops, but the recipe could easily be spread into four loaf pans with less in them or one larger loaf. Keep the oven temperature the same, but adjust the baking time (more for a larger loaf, less for smaller ones). This recipe is a modification of the Better Homes and Gardens one.

    pretty loaves

    pretty loaves

    Cooking time: 15 minutes prep, 35-45 minutes baking

    Ingredients:

    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
    • 1/8 tsp salt
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 1/2 cups very ripe bananas (about 3 large)
    • 3/4 c sugar
    • 1/2 c vegetable oil
    • 1/2 c chopped walnuts
    1. Grease and flour/spray with Baker’s Joy the inside of your loaf pan(s). Preheat oven to 350.
    2. Combine the first six ingredients (flour through salt) in a large bowl.
    3. In a separate medium bowl, mash the bananas. Add the eggs, sugar and oil and mix thoroughly.
    4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry all at once. Mix well, but there will be some lumps. Add the nuts and mix a few more strokes.
    5. Pour batter into the prepared pan(s). If using several small loaf pans, there should be at least an inch of space at the top of the pan.
    6. Bake in the oven about 20 minutes, then rotate the pan(s). Continue baking until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean, 15 to 25 minutes more, depending on the size of the loaves.
    7. Cool on a wire rack at least ten minutes. Quick breads freeze well–just be sure the loaves are completely cool before doing so. I froze one of my loaves, wrapping it first in plastic wrap, then foil.

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    Review: Lemon and Candied Ginger Muffins

    I recently made these muffins and brought them with me to a class. They were a big hit. Great lemony flavor, and the ginger is not at all overpowering because it’s candied.

    One suggestion: spray your cupcake liners with non-stick spray or baking spray. The papers had a tendency to stick to the muffins.

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    Mushroom-Walnut Noodle Kugel

    I was looking for something to do with the leftover mushrooms in my fridge when I came across a recipe for this dish in my copy of Joy of Cooking that I got for Christmas. I’m more familiar with the sweet kugels, but this sounded tasty. However, the recipe below is very loosely based on the one in Joy. It would be improved by some sauteed onions, about 1/3 to 1/2 cup, but I didn’t have any so I used a little onion powder. Please omit the powder and use the onions if you have them–just toss them in the skillet for a few minutes before adding the mushrooms. It will be much tastier. Also, this dish can easily become vegan by using egg substitute, soymilk, and vegan pasta.

    Servings: about 2 main course if you have a salad or something with it

    Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes (most of that is baking time)

    Ingredients:

    • 5-6 oz egg noodles
    • 4 oz white mushrooms
    • 1 small garlic clove
    • 1/3 cup chopped celery
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tbsp milk
    • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
    • 1/8 tsp rubbed sage
    • 1/4 tsp onion powder
    • freshly ground pepper
    • dash of salt
    1. Put water on to boil for the pasta. Chop the celery into 1/3 inch pieces, mince the garlic and slice the mushrooms in 1/4 inch thick slices. Preheat the over to 350.
    2. Add the pasta to the boiling water. It should take about 10 minutes to cook. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a small non-stick skillet. Add the mushrooms and celery. After about five minutes, add the garlic. Continue to saute until the mushrooms are light brown and aromatic.
    3. While the mushroom mixture is sizzling, combine the eggs, milk and spices in a medium mixing bowl. Chop the walnuts if necessary. Drain the noodles when they’re al dente. Add them to the egg mixture. Add the mushroom mixture to the eggs and noodles, followed by the walnuts. Toss lightly with a fork until everything is evenly combined.
    4. Coat a 1 quart baking dish with non-stick spray. Transfer the noodle mixture to the dish, lightly packing it with a fork. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown on top. (After 35 minutes, I moved mine to the top rack to finish up the browning for about five minutes. I didn’t want to overcook the inside.) Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

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    Chicken Tetrasquini

    Spaghetti squash. Love it. Easy to make: split open lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, place face down in a baking dish, prick with fork, bake until tender. Then top it like you would spaghetti. I made spaghetti squash earlier this week.

    Since then, I’ve been eating a lot of tomato based things, and the thought of having marinara sauce for dinner just about made me vomit. My fridge was full of odds and ends of things, some with said tomato products, no ready-made meals (other than said tomato products) but too full to eat out. What to do? Make a new recipe!

    I decided that if you can really use the stringy strands of spaghetti squash just like the pasta, why not make a baked dish out of it? (Thus also warming up my house slightly.) Why not something like chicken tetrazzini? Except, apparently, tetrazzini is supposed to have mushrooms in it, and I didn’t have any mushrooms in the house. So I used the random vegetables I did have: carrots that weren’t very sweet (bad for snacking, fine for cooking), leftover celery from another dish, my last leek and bell pepper from the farmer’s market.

    I think it came out great! The celery has a surprisingly nutty aroma when sauted. Maybe that’s common knowledge, but I’m not the biggest celery fan, so I usually leave it out of recipes: mistake! I couldn’t believe the flavor! Since I was mostly using leftover items (had a chicken breast in the freezer, squash already made), this didn’t take too long to throw together. And, it makes a few servings, so I’ll have some food to eat during the coming week of torture: a presentation, an exam to give and grade, a paper to write, plus readings as usual.

    tetrasquini

    Servings: 4-5

    Cooking time: One hour, including baking time

    Ingredients:

    • 1 medium leek (about 1/2 cup when chopped) or equivalent amount of green onion
    • 1 medium garlic clove
    • 1 celery stalk (1/3 cup or so)
    • enough carrots for 1/3 to 1/2 cup chopped
    • 1 small red bell pepper
    • 1 cooked chicken breast or 1 cup fake chicken strips (not the breaded kind)
    • 1 tbsp butter
    • 1 to 1 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour
    • dash red pepper flakes
    • black pepper
    • dash nutmeg
    • 1/4 tsp dried tarragon
    • 1/4 tsp dried parsley
    • just over 1/2 cup lowfat milk
    • enough vegetable broth to equal 1 1/4 cup liquid with the milk (just over 1/2 cup?)
    • about 3 cups cooked spaghetti squash
    • 1/4 cup cheese–I used a little Ramano and a little Cheddar
    1. Slice the root end off the leek, and then split it open lengthwise. Make sure to rinse all the dirt out. Thinly slice the white and light green parts (or all of a green onion). Mince the garlic clove. Chop the celery, carrots and bell pepper into equal size pieces, roughly 1/2 inch square. Cut up the chicken into 3/4 inch chunks.
    2. Heat the butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat until foaming subsides. Add the leek and garlic. Saute for a minute or so. Add the celery and carrots. Saute 2-3 minutes or until almost tender. Add the bell pepper and the red pepper flakes. Saute about 2 more minutes. Add the other herbs and chicken. Saute about a minute or two (the celery should smell nutty by now). Add the flour and coat everything well. Add the milk-broth mixture all at once. Stir occasionally until the sauce is thickened.
    3. Preheat the oven to 350. Add the spaghetti squash to the pan, and stir together until everything is well-distributed. Add a tablespoon or so of the cheese.
    4. Spray a 2 quart baking dish with non-stick spray. Pack the skillet mixture into the baking dish. Top with remaining shredded cheese (it may not look like much cheese, but it oozes in the oven).
    5. Bake uncovered for 16-18 minutes, or until the mixture is bubbling all around the edges of the dish. Let stand a few minutes before slicing and serving. Mmmm…

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    I-miss-Texas-already cookies

    Just a few days ago, I got back from a week long trip to Texas. While there I was in a friend’s wedding in Ft. Worth, which had a wonderful reception where everyone danced. Then I went down to Austin to visit my brother and some friends from college. We had so much fun!!

    Now I have to get down to preparations for the beginning of the school year, which is definitely not as exciting as Snow Beach or even Whataburger, and definitely not good brisket. But this recipe is in fact preparation for the school year. Sometimes nothing beats a freshly baked cookie in a stressful time period, but I don’t have time to whip up cookies when I’m in the middle of writing papers. So I’m making several batches of cookie dough, wrapping them in wax paper and foil, and freezing them. Then, when I have a need for a cookie, I’ll just pop the dough out of the freezer and bake a couple.

    This recipe is based on one from bakingsheet. I thought a brown sugar-based cookie would be good because something about brown sugar says “South” to me. I added a few touches of my own to remind me of my home state.

    “I climbed up the pecan tree…”

    texas cookies

    Servings: 3 dozen+ cookies (not sure yet since a bunch of dough is in the freezer)

    Prep time: 1 hour Baking time: 10 minutes

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 cup pecans, broken into pieces (for heaven’s sake, don’t turn them to powder in the food processor)
    • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 3/4 tsp salt (I’ll admit, I often do an 1/8 tsp less or so of the salt called for in baking, but the salt is extra important in these cookies because of the pecans)
    • 5-6 dashes cayenne pepper (1/8 tsp?)
    • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
    • 1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
    1. After breaking up pecan pieces, toss them on a small baking sheet (I used my toaster oven pan), and toast them until fragrant (3-4 minutes).
    2. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, salt and pepper.
    3. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, then egg. With the mixer on low, gradually add in the flour and blend until you can’t see anymore flour.
    4. Preheat oven to 350. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans.
    5. Place evenly-sized spoonfuls of dough on a cookie sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart (these cookies puff up more than they spread). If the oven is not done preheating, chill the dough balls in the fridge until ready. (*Caution: This dough tastes super yummy, but so do the baked cookies, so try to get some of them in the oven!)
    6. Bake cookies for 9-11 minutes. Because of the brown sugar, you may not be able to see the cookies turn golden as you would expect. Be sure to watch the edges of the cookies for signs of being done.
    7. Allow cookies to cool on the pan for one or two minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Serve with a glass of cold milk, or a cup of Texas Coffee Traders coffee.

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