Tuesday, April 23, 2013
I'm often torn between having something sweet or savory for breakfast. The simple solution to that, of course, is to have both! This morning I made a double batch of dutch baby pancakes. I split the batter in half and added 1/2 cup of grated cheddar cheese to one half. What resulted was a slightly cheesy flavor infused with the usual sweet pancake batter. I like the browned cheesy bits on the surface of the pancake, but the batter base was sweeter than I would have preferred. If I do a double batch of sweet and savory pancakes again, I'd add the sugar to the sweet pancake after splitting the batter in half. Or another solution would be to make the cheesy batter on its own, decreasing the sugar and adding a bit more salt or other savory herbs. All in all, still tasty and I'll let you know how it goes with a few modifications next time.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
It's hard finding a lemon bar recipe that has just the right balance of sugary sweetness and lemony flavor without being too sour or sickening sweet. I got this lemon bar recipe from a good friend and have been using it ever since. I think the best part is actually the shortbread crust, which holds up its buttery cookie texture while cradling the lemon custard filling. Out of curiosity I sprinkled a layer of shredded coconut on top before baking. What resulted was a nice toasty, chewy coconut layer added to a well-balanced lemony treat!
Makes 16 pieces
8 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup strained fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup shredded coconut, optional
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Line an 8"x8" square pan along the bottom and up all 4 sides with foil or parchment paper.
- Crust: Cut butter into chunks and melt in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add the flour and mix until just incorporated. Press the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan. Bake for 25-30 min, or until the crust is well browned at the edges and lightly browned in the center.
- Filling: While the crust is baking, stir together the sugar and flour in a medium bowl until well mixed. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the lemon zest and juice. When the crust is ready, turn the oven down to 300 F and slide the rack out without removing the pan. Pour the filling over the hot crust. If using, sprinkle shredded coconut evenly over the top.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the topping is puffed at the edges and no longer jiggles in the center when the pan is tapped. Set on a rack to cool completely in the pan.
- Lift the ends of the foil or parchment liner and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into sixteen 2-inch bars. May be stored, airtight, in the fridge. Lemon bars keep well for about 3 days; after 3 days the crust softens but the bars still taste quite good for the remainder of a week.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
These shortbread cookies were quite amazing. Full of coffee and chocolate flavor, soft and crumbly with a sandy texture. They were definitely buttery and one cookie was perfect for satisfying my sweet tooth. In my first attempt at this recipe, I somehow mixed up my measuring cups and accidentally used only half of the flour required. Imagine my horror as I watched through the oven door to see my shortbread melt into a flat pool of dough! The messed up batch was overly buttery but still tasted so good that my husband refused to let me throw them away. Instead, he stashed them out of my reach and polished them off within the following week. I would make this recipe again, but before I do I'd like to explore some other shortbread varieties out there.
Espresso Chocolate Shortbread Cookies from Smitten Kitchen
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Coconut Toffee Cookies
Makes 2 dozen (3" diameter cookies)
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup old fashioned oatmeal (or quick oats)
1/2 cup toffee bits
1 cup chocolate chips (dark works best in my opinion)
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread shredded coconut in a thin layer. Toast coconut in the oven for 5-7 minutes, stirring halfway through. When coconut is lightly browned, remove from oven and set aside to cool. Keep lined cookie sheet to use for baking the cookies.
- Raise oven temperature and preheat oven to 375F. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
- In a large bowl, use a stand or hand mixer to cream together the butter and brown sugar until mixture is light and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Add egg and vanilla and continue mixing until smooth. Add flour mixture and stir until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Add oatmeal, toasted coconut, and toffee bits and stir. The batter will be very thick at this point. By hand, fold in the chocolate chips.
- Drop 1 1/2 tablespoons (medium OXO cookie scoop) of dough onto a lined cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart from each other.
- Bake for 9-11 minutes until edges are firm and cookies are lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cookies rest on baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
I had some leftover cinnamon-sugar from making snickerdoodles the other day. I considered different ways to use it up - breakfast bars, dutch baby, more snickerdoodles - and somehow ended up making pancakes! With an apple cinnamon topping. This pancake recipe was great, not only because it contained oatmeal to make it healthier, but also because I only had 1/4 cup of flour left and that's all I needed! The original recipe calls for quick-cooking oats which I did not have. Instead, I used old fashioned oats and roughly ground them with a mortar and pestle. A quick pulse in a food processor would work too, just enough to break down the oats but not so much that all you're left with is fine powder. The various oat bits, big and small, add a nice textural component to the final pancakes. The pancakes are 3" in diameter and slightly crispy when fresh from the pan. Leftovers can be frozen or kept in the fridge for a couple days and reheated in the toaster oven.
Makes about 12 pancakes, 3" in diameter
Slightly adapted from CookingLight
1/4 cup (1.2 oz) all-purpose flour
1 cup oats (quick oaks, or roughly ground old fashioned oats)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk (or slightly less than 1 cup milk plus 1 tablespoon white vinegar)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
- Combine all dry ingredients together in a large bowl and stir with a whisk.
- Combine buttermilk and egg in a smaller bowl and mix until well combined. Add to flour mixture and add the melted butter. Stir all ingredients together until everything is barely moist and incorporated. Batter will be lumpy from the oatmeal. Be careful not to over mix the batter.
- Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Lightly coat pan with a small drizzle of cooking oil or spray. Spoon about 2 1/2 tablespoons of batter for each pancake onto the pan, creating pancakes with about a 3" diameter. Flip pancakes when bubbles appear on the tops and the edges look cooked and dry. Cook until the bottom of pancakes are lightly browned. Serve immediately with your choice of toppings.
I don't have an exact recipe for the apple cinnamon topping. I started with 1/2 cup cinnamon-sugar mixture, 1 chopped apple, and 1/4 cup water. Cook everything together in a saucepan over medium heat until sauce thickens slightly and apples are soft.
Monday, March 18, 2013
Thursday, March 14, 2013
I've been on a vegetable roasting kick for the past year. Aside from these delicious roasted brussels sprouts, my other staple is roasted kale. These crisp up very nicely and amazingly do take on the satisfying crunch of real chips. Don't be overly ambitious like me in piling kale leaves onto your cookie sheet - it's important to bake these in 1-2 layers so that they cook evenly and all take on the same texture.
If you don't plan to serve this immediately, I'd suggest letting them cool in a single layer on the cookie sheet before you place them in a container. Otherwise, any residual heat will cause them to soften inside the container and lose their crunchy texture. Good luck with that though, we snacked through half our batch before it even made it onto the dinner table. :)
Oven Roasted Kale Chips
1 bunch of curly green kale (another variety of kale should work too)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, optional
- Preheat oven to 300F.
- Remove the stems and cut off the tough center ribs of each kale stalk. Cut leaves into bite-size pieces, roughly 2" in diameter.
- Wash kale thoroughly and spin dry in a salad spinner. Give it a few extra spins since it's crucial to get them as dry as possible or else the water droplets will steam your kale in the oven.
- In a bowl, toss leaves with olive oil, salt, and paprika. Spread leaves in a single layer onto a cookie sheet. Use an additional cookie sheet if necessary.
- Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until crispy. Ten minutes into baking, check on the kale and use tongs to stir or gently turn the leaves over for even baking. When kale is crispy, remove from the oven and serve immediately or leave the chips on the cookie sheet to cool.
Friday, March 8, 2013
Pasta carbonara is a simple, classic spaghetti dish with a creamy sauce. Typical additions include bacon (or ham in my case) and green peas. Hot pasta tossed in a mixture of cream, raw eggs, and shredded parmesan cheese make for a creamy, delightful sauce. I don't usually have cream on hand, so I made this recipe using plain non-fat yogurt instead. It came out surprisingly well, with a welcomed lightness and slight tang. One day I will try the full cream version, but for now this healthier version of carbonara pasta will do just fine. :)
Yogurt Carbonara Pasta
1 lb spaghetti pasta
1 cup plain non-fat yogurt
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup diced cooked ham or other protein (optional)
1 cup thawed frozen peas (optional)
- Cook pasta as instructed.
- Prepare the sauce while pasta is cooking. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together yogurt, raw eggs, parmesan cheese, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper.
- Drain cooked pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Immediately place the hot pasta directly into the large mixing bowl containing the sauce. Mix well since the heat from the pasta will cook the eggs. If the mixture is too dry, add some of the reserved pasta water.
- Add diced cooked ham and peas and continue to toss to combine. Serve immediately, topped with freshly ground black pepper to taste and additional parmesan cheese.
Note: This dish is best served fresh the day it's made. Reheating will change the texture of the sauce.
Thursday, March 7, 2013
After trying a few different recipes, my favorite one still comes from Elise at Simply Recipes. Get your Dutch baby pancake recipe here!
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
At $36/person, each order contained three pieces of fried chicken, a NY cheddar biscuit and gravy, mac and cheese, and fresh corn salad. We picked up our bucket and ate at the tables in the adjacent park.
The chicken was truly one of the best fried chickens I've ever had. The buttermilk coating was crisp and flaky. Both white and dark meat pieces were incredibly moist and full of flavor from brining. The biscuits were buttery and soft, complete with a slightly crisp exterior shell. There were salty cheddar bits sprinkled throughout the biscuit.
I really enjoyed the fried strips of thyme mixed into our bucket contents. The mashed potato and corn salad sides were also delicious and we gobbled it up before I was able to get a picture. I would definitely come back again to have this as a treat. The restaurant was nice but I think I preferred our method of getting a to-go bucket and enjoying it outdoors in the park. Don't forget to visit the Bouchon bakery for some macarons for dessert!
The special Ad Hoc Fried Chicken dinner is only available on select Monday nights. Check Bouchon's events webpage for upcoming dates.
235 N Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210