Chickpea of the Sea Sandwich

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Chickpea of the Sea Sandwich

This is like a vegetarian tuna salad sandwich, and it’s just about as quick to make as tuna salad is. It doesn’t exactly taste like tuna, but it definitely holds together like tuna salad, and it’s nice and tangy because of the vinegar in it. With all of the news about mercury in tuna and tuna being overfished, why not eat a tasty vegetarian salad instead? I understand that using the umeboshi (or ume plum) vinegar called for in the recipe gives the salad a seafood-like flavor. I couldn’t find the specialty vinegar at any of my local stores and didn’t want to order a bottle at great expense in case I didn’t like it, so I substituted red wine vinegar and I thought the salad was delicious. If I ever see a bottle of umeboshi vinegar in a local store, I might try it, but until then, I’m happy with my red wine vinegar.

It’s very easy to make this recipe if you have a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, you can absolutely make the salad by hand by crushing the chickpeas with a fork, but a food processor makes it so much easier.

If you do decide to eat tuna instead of this delicious vegetarian salad, here’s a guide to which types are best to eat. And if you do decide to switch to chickpeas, here’s a link to some of their benefits.

Chickpea of the Sea Sandwich
Recipe from The Kitchn

1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons umeboshi vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons celery seeds
1/4 cup chopped celery, from about one rib
2 tablespoons sliced scallions, from about about two scallions
Pinch cayenne pepper, optional
Freshly ground black pepper
Sliced whole grain bread
2 to 4 lettuce leaves, washed and dried well

Place chickpeas in the bowl of a food processor and pulse two or three times to roughly chop. Add remaining ingredients and pulse two or three times more to fully incorporate.

If making two sandwiches, place the lettuce leaves on two slices of bread. Spoon on the Chickpea of the Sea and top with the other slice of bread. Cut in half and enjoy!

Yield: 2 – 3 sandwiches

One year ago:Smooth and Creamy Polenta
Two years ago:Spring Root Vegetable Casserole
Three years ago: Gail’s Rolled Sugar Cookies with Piped Icing
Four years ago:Avocado-Mango Salad
Five years ago:Chocolate Chip Biscotti
Six years ago:Curried Carrot Soup
Seven years ago:Butterscotch Blondies
Eight years ago:Crispy Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies

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Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats

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Crispy treats

Many Rice Krispie treats can be very, very sweet. My husband was recently commenting that he likes them when they’re salty and not cloying. This recipe is the answer! These are slightly salty and definitely not as sweet as traditional Rice Krispie treats. I think the nutty flavor of the brown butter tones down the sweetness of the marshmallows. These don’t take long to make, and they’re a kid-favorite. Of course all four of my boys ate these, although a couple of them weren’t big fans of the addition of salt, but it didn’t stop them from devouring them.

If you try these and you have never browned butter before, please know that you have to watch it very carefully. Your butter will go from golden to brown to black very quickly. While stirring the butter, you want to make sure you take it off the heat when it’s a light brown color. Using a pan that doesn’t have a dark interior will help you watch the color.

Cereal can be expensive these days. A 12-oz. box of Rice Krispies at a local market in NYC costs $5.79. I just found a 10-oz. box of “Crisp Rice” cereal (identical to Rice Krispies) at Trader Joe’s for $1.99. I love that Trader Joe’s prices are consistent across the country. It makes their products very affordable in NYC.

If you like Rice Krispie treats but want them to have a slightly more grown-up taste, this version is for you.

Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats
Recipe adapted ever so slightly from Smitten Kitchen

4 ounces (1/4 pound or 1 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for the pan
1 10-ounce bag marshmallows
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal (about half a 12-ounce box)

Butter (or coat with non-stick spray) an 8-inch square cake pan with 2-inch sides.

In a large pot that doesn’t have a dark interior, melt butter over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Once it starts to get brown, watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn, which it can do very quickly. As soon as the butter takes on a nutty color, turn the heat to very low and stir in the marshmallows. Keep stirring until the mixture is smooth. It can take a good 5 or 6 minutes for the marshmallows to melt completely. You might think that the mixture is never going to get smooth, but be patient, it will.

When the marshmallow mixture is smooth, remove the pot from the stove and pour in the cereal, then sprinkle the salt evenly over the cereal and stir together. When completely mixed, quickly spread into prepared pan. I liked to use a piece of waxed or parchment paper that I’ve sprayed with oil to press it firmly and evenly into the edges and corners.

Let cool and cut into squares.

Yield: 16 bars (2″ square)

One year ago:Texas Sheet Cake
Two years ago:Chock-Full-of-Chips Drops
Three years ago: Coconut-Crusted Shrimp
Four years ago:Indian-Style Mustard Greens
Five years ago:Marinated Swordfish
Six years ago:Orange Scones with Chocolate Chips
Seven years ago:Sugar Cookie Bars
Eight years ago:Whole Grain Buttermilk Pancakes

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Fudge-Striped Shortbread Cookies

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Food

I am one of the co-presidents of my sons’ school PTA and I bring cookies to each of our Executive Board meetings. This time, I brought unfinished cookies. I started to make these cookies too late in the afternoon (the story of my life!), so I only had time to dip the bottoms in chocolate. I didn’t have time to put the chocolate stripes on the top. I barely let the bottom layer of chocolate firm up before I tossed them in a basket to bring to my meeting. Despite the fact that I served naked cookies with soft chocolate on the bottom, I received great feedback about them and they disappeared before the night was over.

Now let me warn you, these take a bit of time to make. They’re not nearly as quick as drop cookies. You have to make the dough, let it chill, roll it out, cut it out, bake it, let it cool, melt or temper the chocolate, dip the bottoms of the cookies, let them chill to harden the chocolate, then finally put the stripes on top. Lots of steps! In order to make these, you also need a candy thermometer (if you want to temper your chocolate), a food processor, a round cookie cutter with a 3″ diameter, and a small cookie cutter with a 1″ diameter (not having a cookie cutter this small, I actually used the wide end of a pastry bag tip to make the center holes in the cookies.)

I have read a lot about tempering chocolate, but had never tried it until this recipe. Tempering chocolate will leave it with a smooth, glossy finish and it will make it harden at room temperature so there’s a nice snap when it’s broken. Prior to making these cookies, I was always afraid of trying to temper chocolate, but I found a set of instruction that make it very easy, and the result was perfect. Once these cookies were fully cooled, they had a nice finish and the chocolate was indeed nice and hard at room temperature, without melting all over your fingers. Here are the instructions that I followed for tempering my chocolate. I highly recommend trying it. I used a big block of dark chocolate from Trader Joe’s (the pound plus bar) for these cookies. On my first try, I attempted to temper a mixture of bittersweet chocolate and milk chocolate. Bad idea. I ended up with a big mess of chocolate that didn’t melt properly. I’d stick to one type of chocolate when tempering.

I was hesitant about adding the orange zest to the cookies, but I’m glad I did. The orange flavor did not overwhelm the shortbread, it simply provided a bit of depth to the flavor of the cookies. These cookies were a big hit in my house. I’ll definitely make them again.

Fudge-Striped Shortbread Cookies
Recipe adapted slightly from Sugar Hero

Zest of 1 orange
3.5 oz (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
11.25 oz (2.5 cups) all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
10 oz cold, salted butter (~2.5 sticks), cubed
1 pound dark chocolate

Put the orange zest and the sugar into a small bowl and rub the orange zest into the sugar with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant.

Put the sugar, flour and salt into the bowl of a large (10-14 cup) food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the cubed butter and pulse until the dough begins to clump together. Once it comes together, turn it out of the bowl and knead it into a ball. Divide the dough in half and roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper until it’s 1/4″ thick. Chill in the refrigerator until the dough is firm. This should take about 20 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Remove one sheet of dough from the refrigerator, put it on a cookie sheet and cut out 3-inch circles. Use your 1-inch cookie cutter (or the large end of a pastry bag tip) to cut circles in the center of the cookies. You might have to wait until the dough is slightly soft to cut the center circles, or the outer circles may crack. You can re-roll the scraps to create more cookies. Continue rolling and cutting until all of the dough is used. You should end up with approximately 30-32 circular cookies. Your dough should still be nice and cold when you bake the cookies. If not, chill them again for a few minutes by putting the cookie sheet directly into the refrigerator. Once chilled, bake them for 10-12 minutes until the edges start to turn light brown. Cool the cookies completely on the baking sheets before carefully removing them.

Melt the chocolate. I recommend tempering the chocolate. You can find directions for tempering chocolate here. Once the chocolate is melted, dip the bottom of each cookie into the chocolate, then place it chocolate-side down on the same parchment-lined baking sheet. Once all of the cookies are dipped, refrigerate the tray to set the chocolate. You can also put the cookie sheets into the freezer to speed up the process. Transfer the rest of the melted chocolate to a plastic bag with a very small hole snipped in the corner, and drizzle lines of chocolate over the tops of the cookies. Refrigerate once more to set the chocolate. If you don’t temper your chocolate, I recommend storing these cookies in the refrigerator.

Yield: ~30 cookies

One year ago:Texas Sheet Cake
Two years ago:Chock-Full-of-Chips Drops
Three years ago: Chocolate Sheet Cake with Delicious Vanilla Frosting
Four years ago:Pasta and White Beans with Broccoli Pesto
Five years ago:Carrot-Coconut Milk Soup
Six years ago:Mexican-Style Slaw with Jícama, Cilantro and Lime
Seven years ago:Vanilla Brown Sugar Breakfast Polenta
Eight years ago:Chick Pea Soup

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Pistachio-Crusted Cod Fillets

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fish

If you like fish, this is a very simple dish to make and it’s elegant enough for company. The recipe calls for cod, but any thicker, mild white fish like halibut, for example, should do. I love this recipe because you can make the topping in advance. You can even spread the mustard and the topping on the fish right before the guests arrive, then throw it in the oven when you’re ready to eat. The fish cooks in under 15 minutes. I have made this several times for guests and it’s definitely a crowd-pleasing dinner.

If you’re buying pistachios that have already been shelled, buy them unsalted so the dish doesn’t end up too salty.

In doing some reading, I learned that it’s much friendlier for the oceans to eat Pacific cod than it is to eat Atlantic cod, unless the Atlantic cod is from a recirculating aquaculture system. On the list of sustainable fish to eat, Atlantic cod is at the bottom of the list.  Here’s a website that will tell you the best fish to eat to keep our oceans healthy.

My husband and I loved this dish. How many of the boys ate it?  You’re right.  None.

Pistachio-Crusted Cod Fillets
Recipe from FineCooking.com

1/2 cup unsalted shelled pistachios
1/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 Tbs. grated Parmesan
1/2 tsp. coarse salt; more to taste
1/8 tsp. finely ground black pepper; more to taste
2 Tbs. olive oil
4 cod fillets, preferably loin pieces (4 to 6 oz. each)
2 Tbs. Dijon mustard

Heat the oven to 425°F. Line a small baking sheet with foil and lightly grease the foil (spray is fine).

Chop the pistachios into medium-fine pieces. Combine the nuts, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss with a fork until the crumbs are evenly moistened.

If using fillets with tapered ends, loosely fold the ends under to create a fillet of even thickness. Spread the top of each fillet evenly with the mustard. Press the mustard-coated side of each fillet into the crumb mixture to generously coat the fish. Set the fillets, coating side up, on the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the fillets to form a thick coating.

Bake the fillets until the topping is crisp and browned and the fish is cooked through, 10 to 12 min., depending on thickness. The fish is done when it’s no longer opaque in the center and when it flakes easily. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

One year ago: Sautéed Edamame Salad
Two years ago: Chock-Full-of-Chips Drops
Three years ago: Provençal Cherry Tomato Gratin
Four years ago: Black Bean and Pepper Jack Burgers
Five years ago: Strawberry-Orange-Vanilla Smoothie
Six years ago: Shortbread Cookies
Seven years ago: Sweet Potato Bread
Eight years ago: Asian Salmon Burgers

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Grapefruit Yogurt Cake

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grapefruitcake

This recipe comes from a bookmark that I’ve had kicking around for a while. When I received a box of grapefruit as a gift, and we weren’t eating them fast enough (although they keep well for a while in the refrigerator), I knew it was time to try this recipe.

One of my sons loved this cake. That said, I wouldn’t exactly call it a cake. It seemed more like a quick bread to me. It didn’t have a very fine crumb. That said, it’s perfect with a cup of tea or coffee in the afternoon. It would also be a really nice addition to a brunch table. This is a great cake to make if you have extra grapefruit kicking around in your refrigerator.

I made this in two mini-loaf pans and although it looked like I had too much batter, it ended up being the perfect amount. The cake rose beautifully and didn’t spill over the edges of the pans.

 

Grapefruit Yogurt Cake
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Ina Garten

1 1/2 cups (190 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (230 grams) plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup (200 grams) plus 1 tablespoon (13 grams) sugar
3 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon grated grapefruit zest (approximately one large grapefruit)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable oil
1/3 cup (80 ml) freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

For the glaze:
1 cup (120 grams) confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan or two smaller pans. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, grapefruit zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup grapefruit juice and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the grapefruit-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and grapefruit juice and pour over the cake.

Yield: 2 small loaves

One year ago: Secretly Healthy Fudge Balls
Two years ago: Brigadeiros (Brazilian Fudge Balls)
Three years ago: Braised Coconut Spinach and Chickpeas with Lemon
Four years ago: Peanut Butter Cup Blondies
Five years ago: Caramels
Six years ago: Yucatán Pork Tenderloin
Seven years ago: Carole’s Country Style Spare Ribs
Eight years ago: Buttermilk Bran Muffins

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Oatmeal Scotchies

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Oatmeal Scotchies

This recipe is an old favorite of mine. I remember it fondly from my childhood. The recipe was on the back of the butterscotch chips bag. They’re a delicious, chewy oatmeal cookie with butterscotch chips.

Three out of four of my boys love these. One claims he doesn’t like butterscotch, so he won’t go near them. I don’t think he’s ever tried them. He just thinks he’s not going to like them.  Crazy. Even though only 3 out of 4 boys like them, they disappear from our cookie jar in no time.

This recipe is definitely an oldie, but goodie.  The cookies are quite sweet, and we find that it’s hard to eat just one.

Oatmeal Scotchies
Recipe from Nestle

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats and morsels. If your dough seems too soft to work with, chill it in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes.

Drop by rounded tablespoon or small cookie scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake for 7 to 8 minutes for chewy cookies or 9 to 10 minutes for crisp cookies. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Yield: ~ 4 dozen cookies

One year ago: Surprise Cookies
Two years ago: Orange-Glazed Shrimp
Three years ago: Macaroni and Cheese with Black Beans and Chipotle
Four years ago: Oreo Rice Krispie Treats
Five years ago: Homemade Cheez-It Crackers
Six years ago: ncetta and Green Onions
Seven years ago: Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Eight years ago: Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies

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Cabbage and Potato Gratin

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cabbage

This recipe is very similar to a Polish cabbage and bacon casserole recipe that I published a couple of years ago. This recipe is vegetarian. I have to admit that this is so good that I don’t miss the bacon. Don’t get me wrong – I love bacon, but my vegetarian son is subtly pushing all of us to cut back on our meat consumption, and I’m finding that I don’t really miss the meat in many of the vegetarian dishes that I prepare.

The original recipe provides long, multi-step directions about how to cook, shred and drain the cabbage. I use pre-shredded cabbage from Trader Joe’s. Three 10-ounce bags are perfect for this recipe. If you can’t find pre-shredded cabbage, core your cabbage, manually shred it and dump it right into the boiling pot of water with the potatoes.

This recipe reheats very nicely, and you can also microwave it to eat as a leftover.

If you like cabbage and don’t want to fuss with the potatoes and cheese, here’s a great video about how to cook cabbage, and the benefits of shredding it. If you try one of these methods, I hope your cabbage doesn’t turn out like Jane’s.

 

Cabbage and Potato Gratin
Recipe modified slightly from Martha Rose Shulman of NY Times Cooking

Salt
About 2 pounds green or savoy cabbage
1 pound baking potatoes, such as russets, peeled and sliced thinly (slightly less than 1/4 inch thick)
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 cups milk
1/2 cup crème fraîche
Ground black pepper
4 ounces Gruyère, grated (1 cup, tightly packed)
1 ounce Parmesan, grated (1/4 cup)
2 teaspoons finely chopped or slivered fresh sage

Shred the cabbage. You can do this using a knife or your food processor. If you’re uncertain about shredding, here’s a link to show you how to do it.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt generously and add shredded cabbage and potato slices. Reduce heat to medium-high and boil gently for 5 minutes.

Drain cabbage and potatoes into a colander and let drain over a bowl or in the sink. Let drain for 5 minutes. You want to make sure most of the excess water has drained.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart baking dish or gratin. Cut one of the garlic cloves in half and rub the dish with the cut surface. Then dice all the garlic and toss with cabbage and potatoes.

In a bowl, whisk together milk, crème fraîche, about 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Pour into bowl with cabbage and potatoes, add cheeses and sage, and gently toss together. Scrape into baking dish. The mixture will be soupy. Optional: sprinkle a handful of gruyere and some Parmesan on top of the mixture in the baking dish. This will make the casserole brown nicely.

Bake 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, until top is golden brown. During the first 45 minutes, press the vegetables down into the liquid in the baking dish every 10 to 15 minutes, using the back of a large spoon. The gratin will still be bubbling when you remove it from the oven, and you might see liquid in the baking dish. Wait 10 to 15 minutes before serving, until liquid is reabsorbed.

Yield: 6 servings

One year ago: Lemon Fusilli with Arugula
Two years ago: Chocolate Nudges
Three years ago: Couscous with Peas and Mint
Four years ago: Soft Chocolate Cookies with Peanut Butter Frosting
Five years ago: Alfajores
Six years ago: Baked Tortilla Chips
Seven years ago: Brazilian-Style Collard Greens
Eight years ago: Braised Pork Chops

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Chocolate Babka

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Chocolate Babka

This recipe is not for the faint of heart. It’s a two-day process that involves yeast, a fair amount of hands-on time, a stand mixer, and lots of rising. Mine took much longer to rise than the directions indicated, but in the end, I had two beautiful loaves chocolate babka. My boys can’t get enough of them.

I was thrilled to have this recipe succeed. I have tried to make chocolate babka in the past during a dark period when yeast was definitely not my friend, and I failed miserably. These days yeast and I get along much better.

Growing up, I never ate babka. I don’t think I knew babka existed until I heard about it on a Seinfeld episode years ago. Remember that one? These days I think of it as a treat to be purchased from Jewish bakeries, and I also think of it as being a bit dry. Not this babka. When the loaves come hot out of the oven, you pour a sugar syrup over them that keeps them moist for a couple of days. The syrup might keep them moist for longer than that, but the loaves were devoured before extended testing could ensue.

I like this recipe because it doesn’t contain nuts. The boys are not huge fans of nuts in their baked goods. Next time I make this, I’ll attempt to braid the dough a little more before putting it into the pans to rise, hoping to achieve more striation. Next time, I’ll also weigh all of the ingredients as I did this time. It worked well.

Until I started reading about babka, I didn’t realize that in many European countries, babka is an Easter treat, so this recipe is timely.

The boys are asking for another batch of these already.

Chocolate Babka
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from the Chocolate Krantz Cakes in Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

Dough
4 1/4 cups (530 grams) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast or rapid rise yeast
Grated zest of half an orange
3 large eggs
1/2 cup water (cold is fine) and up to 1 to 2 tablespoons extra, if needed
3/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
2/3 cup unsalted butter (150 grams or 5.3 ounces) at room temperature
Sunflower or other neutral oil, for greasing

Filling
4 1/2 ounces (130 grams) dark chocolate (or approximately 3/4 cup chocolate chips)
1/2 cup (120 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine
Scant 1/2 cup (50 grams) powdered sugar
1/3 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder

Syrup
1/3 cup water
6 tablespoons (75 grams) granulated sugar

DAY 1: Make the dough: Combine the flour, sugar, yeast and zest in the bottom of the bowl of a stand mixer. Add eggs and 1/2 cup water, mixing with the dough hook until it comes together; this may take a couple minutes. It’s okay if it’s on the dry side, but if it doesn’t come together at all, add extra water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough forms a mass. With the mixer on low, add the salt, then the butter, a spoonful at a time, mixing until it’s incorporated into the dough. Then, mix on medium speed for 10 minutes until dough is completely smooth; you’ll need to scrape the bowl down a few times. I usually found that after 10 minutes, the dough began to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it doesn’t, you can add 1 tablespoon extra flour to help this along.

Coat a large bowl with oil (or scrape the dough out onto a counter and oil this one) and place dough inside, cover with plastic and refrigerate. Leave in the refrigerator overnight. [Dough will not fully double, so don’t fret if it doesn’t look like it grew by more than half.]

DAY 2 Make filling: Melt butter and chocolate together until smooth. Stir in powdered sugar and cocoa; mixture should form a spreadable paste.

Assemble loaves: Coat two 9-by-4-inch (2 1/4 or 1kg) loaf pans with oil or butter, and line the bottom of each with a rectangle of parchment paper. Take half of dough from fridge (leave the other half chilled). Roll out on a well-floured counter to about a 10-inch width (the side closest to you) and as long in length (away from you) as you can when rolling it thin, likely 10 to 12 inches.

Spread half of chocolate mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Brush the end farthest away from you with water. Roll the dough up with the filling into a long, tight cigar. Seal the dampened end onto the log. I found that transferring the log to a lightly floured baking tray in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes made it much, much easier to cut cleanly in half. Repeat with second dough.

Trim last 1/2-inch off each end of log. Gently cut the log in half lenghtwise and lay them next to each other on the counter, cut sides up. Pinch two of the top ends gently together. Then, lift one side over the next, forming a twist (or a braid) and try to keep the cut sides facing out (because they’re pretty). Don’t worry if this step makes a mess, just transfer the twist as best as you can into the prepared loaf pan. In one batch, mine was long enough to “S” inside the pan and I nested the trimmed ends of the log in the openings. Don’t worry if it looks like the dough isn’t completely filling the pan. When it rises and bakes, it will fill in any gaps.

Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise another 1 to 1 1/2 hours at room temperature. Repeat process with second loaf. Mine actually too much longer than this to rise, so allow for extra time. I put my loaves in a slightly warm oven (100 degrees F), and they rose a little faster this way. Make sure they have risen completely before baking them. The risen dough should almost fill the pans.

Bake and finish loaves: Heat oven to 375°F (190°C). Remove towels, place each loaf on the middle rack of your oven. Bake for 30 minutes, but there’s no harm in checking for doneness at 25 minutes. A skewer inserted into an underbaked babka will feel stretchy/rubbery inside and may come back with dough on it. When fully baked, you’ll feel almost no resistance. If you babka needs more time, put it back, 5 minutes at a time then re-test. If it browns too quickly, you can cover it with foil.

While babkas are baking, make syrup: Bring sugar and water to a simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside to cool somewhat. As soon as the babkas leave the oven, brush the syrup all over each. It will seem like too much, but will taste just right — glossy and moist. Let cool about halfway in pan, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way.

Do ahead: Babkas keep for a few days at room temperature. I also understand that they freeze and defrost very well.

Yield: 2 loaves

One year ago: Lemon Fusilli with Arugula
Two years ago: Easy Cold Sesame Noodles with Shredded Chicken
Three years ago: Homemade Marshmallow Peeps
Four years ago: Soft Chocolate Cookies with Peanut Butter Frosting
Five years ago: Orange Pound Cake
Six years ago: Sugar-Crusted Popovers
Seven years ago: Whoopie Pies!
Eight years ago: Wheatberry Salad

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Butterscotch-Bourbon Blondies

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Butterscotch Bourbon Blondies

I made these the other day to bring to a PTA meeting and got great feedback about them. I must warn you that they taste a little boozy. You can definitely taste the bourbon. Not all of it burns off in the baking. I really liked the flavor. This is definitely an adult dessert due to the traces of bourbon left in the bars.

These are really easy to make, and they’re quick too. The resulting blondie is nice a chewy. Do you best to not overcook them. If you don’t have a bottle of bourbon on hand, you can buy one of the airline-sized bottles and that should suffice. Those little bottles typically contain 50 ml of liquid, and that’s just shy of 1/4 cup.

I found these to be rich, so if you’re making them for a party, you can cut them into small pieces, perhaps 1.5″ x 1.5″.

Butterscotch-Bourbon Blondies
Recipe from FoodNetwork.com courtesy of Duff Goldman

Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
3/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1 extra-large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup bourbon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray or butter it generously. For ease, I recommend lining the pan with parchment paper and spraying that too.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and 1/4 cup of the butterscotch chips until the mixture is smooth. Transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer.

Beat the brown sugar into the butter mixture, then the egg. Add the vanilla and bourbon and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup butterscotch chips.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with not too much stuck to it. Let cool before cutting.

One year ago: Mini Churros
Two years ago: Broccoli, Cheddar and Wild Rice Casserole
Three years ago: Meyer Lemon Gelato
Four years ago: Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad
Five years ago: Alfajores
Six years ago: Pineapple and Meyer Lemon Sorbet
Seven years ago: Peanut Butter Cookies
Eight years ago: Smashed Sweet Potatoes

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Roasted Red Pepper and Ricotta Soup

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Roasted Red Pepper Soup

One of my favorite recipes to make with roasted red peppers is this Orzo dish. I always end up with extra roasted peppers. This soup recipe is a great way to use them up. This soup is now one of my favorites. If you don’t have jarred, roasted red peppers, you can buy red bell peppers and roast them yourself.

This recipe calls for chicken stock, but if you would like to make it vegetarian, feel free to substitue vegetable stock.

This recipe couldn’t be easier. You basically dump almost all of the ingredients into a blender and puree. You then put it in a saucepan, season it and heat. That’s it. When I made it, following the directions exactly, it was a little too thin for my liking, so I took two cooked potatoes and pureed them into the soup. It then had the perfect consistency for me. My husband loved it too. The boys? Nope.

 

Roasted Red Pepper and Ricotta Soup
Recipe from Cooking Light Magazine, April 2016

2 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (16-ounce) jar roasted red bell peppers, rinsed and drained
1 garlic clove
2 small cooked potatoes (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives (optional)

Combine first 6 ingredients and potatoes, if using, in a blender; process 1 minute or until smooth.

Pour mixture into a large saucepan over medium heat; bring to a simmer. Stir in lemon juice and salt. Divide soup among 4 bowls; garnish with chives, if using.

Yield: 4 servings

 

One year ago: Nonna Luna’s Rice
Two years ago: Chocolate Nudges
Three years ago: Sugar Saucers
Four years ago: Banana Bars with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Five years ago: Jerk Shrimp Mini Pies
Six years ago: Chocolate Stout Cupcakes
Seven years ago: Black and White Cookies
Eight years ago: Lasagna with Pink Sauce, Leeks and Sausage

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