Tuesday, March 29, 2011

kale and ricotta quiche, #17 of 52

while wandering through my little backyard garden last week, i could see it was time to pick the kale.  we have two varieties growing and they had begun to send out flower stalks-in other words, they were going to seed.  we had overwintered them and it was time to harvest the plants.  unfortunately, our red cabbage had chosen the same route.  we never got any heads on the plants, just leaves and now flower stalks.  we love to eat cooked greens but there is only so much you can eat in one weekend.

while perusing through food52.com, i saw that the weekly challenge was winter tarts-sweet and savory.  they post links and invite members to test the recipes and then report back to them.  by the time i had looked at the list, almost all were claimed and i decided not to participate.  on closer inspection, i spied a link to a spinach and ricotta pie.  suddenly, the light bulb blinked on and i realized i had a use for some of that kale and cabbage!

using my new red pie dish, i mixed up a blue cornmeal pie crust.  i recently found a bag of blue cornmeal lurking in the freezer.  using a non hydrogenated shortening, i made a flaky pie crust that appears slightly grey and flecked with little bits of blue cornmeal.

there are two types of kale and some red cabbage in the mix.  looking at the center of the photo you will see a flower stalk from the red cabbage.  to the left of it is the kale we received from jeff poppen, the barefoot farmer and to the right is red russian kale.  all of the flower stalks i cut off were added and they taste a lot like broccoli raab
off to the garden i went-i picked a large bowl full and after washing it thoroughly, i cut it into thin strips.  the total amount ended up being about 5 cups of raw greens.   once sauteed with onions and garlic, it is hard to tell which is which.  the greens and the cabbage looked about the same.

kale and ricotta quiche
1 (9") quiche serving 8
recipe adapted from lizthechef on food52.com

1 (9") pie shell, homemade or purchased and partially baked
fresh kale or other greens-see above for amount
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pound ricotta-i used a 15 ounce tub from the grocery store
3 eggs
1/2 cup half and half (could use sour cream, yogurt or buttermilk to help cut the richness of the cheese)
1/2-3/4 cup grated cheese-the sharper the better
salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste
preheat the oven to 350.  heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  saute the onions until translucent, add the garlic and saute for a minute or two.  add the kale and saute until tender.  season the mixture with the salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg-season a little more than you think is necessary since the rich cheese custard will be on the bland side.  spread the mixture in the pie shell.  in a mixing bowl, whisk the ricotta with the eggs until smooth.  add the half and half and whisk to combine.  top the kale with the grated cheese and pour the custard into the dish.  stir up the kale a little so that some is on top of the pie-this is a thick custard and the kale will not float to the top.  bake until the custard  is set, about 45 minutes.  allow it to rest for about 10-15 minutes before serving and serve it with an acidic side dish such as a salad dressed in a vinaigrette or citrus dressing.

and as always, bake one, send me a photo and see it here.  bakinbabe116@aol.com

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

no knead bread, bbd #38

 each month, i look forward to the bread baking day challenge.  this month, we are baking no-knead breads thanks to cindystar, our lovely hostess.  if you have paid any attention to baking bloggers in recent months, then you most likely have heard about the no-knead bread from jim lahey of sullivan street bakery in new york city.  it was made famous by none other than mark bittman when he wrote about it in his new york times column.  as skeptical as i am, and trust me i am, i was sure this wasn't going to work out well. bread loaves that aren't kneaded, how could that possibly work out?  then i stumbled upon the recipe posted by jaden hair of the steamy kitchen.  the photos of her too cute 4 year old son andrew making bread had me thinking-if he can do it, certainly i can too.
 i didn't take photos of the bread as i mixed it but this is the dough after sitting for the required 12- 20 hours.  i turned it out, shaped it and wrapped it in a cloth to rest again.
 my thrift store find-an enameled roaster with a cover.  it was a lucky day for me, the roaster was on sale for 50% off which made it less than $7.

 after following the recipe, i had a lovely loaf of bread!

my success with the first loaf and the fact that it disappeared quickly had me baking another loaf in no  time.  for this loaf, i substituted 1/3 of the bread flour with whole wheat flour and it baked up beautifully.  this bread is so easy and inexpensive to make that i intend to try it with different flours and i encourage anyone who makes it to do so as well!

no-knead bread
whole wheat flour adds a little color and texture to the loaf
adapted from the steamy kitchen
1 (8-9") loaf

1 1/2 cups warm water
1/4 teaspoon dry yeast
3 cups bread flour-can substitute up to 1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
mix the ingredients in a bowl until combined.  cover tightly and let it rest at room temperature for 12-20 hours.  when the time is up, use a wet spatula to turn the bread out onto a floured surface.  using that spatula or your hands, turn the outside edges into the center a few times and then gently shape the dough into a ball.  place the ball of dough into a floured towel (not terry cloth) and rise it for 2 hours.

30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450 and place a dutch oven, large covered casserole dish or other oven proof pot into the oven.  when the 30 minutes are up, carefully remove the pot from the oven and using your hands, turn the dough out of the towel and into the pot.  never mind how it lands-just put the cover on it and put it in the oven.  bake it covered for 30 minutes, remove the cover and bake until the internal temperature is 210F, about 20-30 minutes.  remove the bread from the pot and cool completely on a rack before cutting.

just in case you are skeptical like me, go to the steamy kitchen and look at the photos of cutie pie andrew making that loaf of bread.  they photographed each of the steps and they make a good reference for the first attempt.

thanks to cindystar for the wonderful challenge!

Monday, March 21, 2011

join me for a tea party

this is a first for me.  generally, i do not use this blog to generate support for causes or charity but today, i am changing that.  as a woman, i know how important it is to go for the dreaded yearly pap smear.  i also know just how scary it can be to hear that the results were not normal.  thankfully for me, the news was just a higher level of abnormal cells than is acceptable and the only treatment needed was to freeze my cervix.  years later i can say all is well and part of that is due to my diligence and my husbands wonderful(thanks to his employer!) health plan.  even though i go for that test each year, the risk for ovarian cancer still exists for me and every other woman on the planet.   even more frightening than that revelation is the fact no matter how many general exams women have, ovarian cancer most likely is not diagnosed until it has spread beyond the ovaries since there is no test available to detect it.  the worst part is that many women never have anything more than mild symptoms and when it is discovered, it is in an advanced stage and often comes with a 50% or less survival rate.  but before you think that i am all doom and gloom, know this, there are tests available to screen women for their risk factor and best of all, we have organizations like the ovarian cancer research fund helping us find early detection tests, better methods of treatment and ultimately,  a cure.

so by now you must be asking yourself, why is she prattling on about this and what does it have to do with a tea party?  it's simple, as a featured publisher on foodbuzz, i am participating in a challenge and helping to raise funds for the ocrf and at the same time helping myself and all women out there. the fact that they also turned this into a contest of sorts does not hurt.  foodbuzz will donate $50 to the fund just because i entered a recipe into the tea party contest and i have a chance to see my blog chosen as part of their top 9 takeover. the top 9 takeover is a partnership between foodbuzz and electrolux to help raise funds as well as awareness for ovarian cancer and research.  so join me, and my good friend kelly ripa(no i don't really know her but it sounds good) as well as the folks at foodbuzz and electrolux for a tea party with a cause and let's get the word out there.  so, let's get this tea party started!

when i am not working, i spend a lot of time in the garden.  each week, i volunteer my time for the master gardeners of davidson county and i work in a research and demonstration garden-demo garden for short.  since i am always baking something, i bring a cake with me each week.  but since this week i was baking for the tea party, i decided on little pineapple jam tarts.  made in a mini pan, these dainty little treats were perfect for the garden as well as any tea party since they could be eaten out of hand.  they also look rather elegant when arranged on a fancy cake pedestal.  keep your eye on them as they tend to disappear quickly-i saw that with my own eyes.  when my fellow gardeners heard what was in my cake box, they abandoned the garden to sample the tarts.  so began our typical work day tea party in the garden; a little weeding, a little chatting and a little snacking among friends.
pineapple jam tarts

24 miniature tarts
adapted from david lebovitz
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1  egg yolk
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup stone ground cornmeal-i used blue cornmeal since i had some
2 teaspoons baking powder
jam or preserves in any flavor, about 1 3/4 cups-jelly is too thin for this so only jam or preserves should be used.           

preheat the oven to 375.  lightly grease a mini muffin pan or enough pans to get 24 tarts.  cream the butter with the sugar, salt and vanilla until light.  add the egg and yolk and mix well.  add the flour, cornmeal and baking powder and mix until it comes together.  using a small scoop-size #70, portion the dough by making 24 scoops.  reserve the rest of the dough-roll it into a 6" log and chill until needed.  shape the tart shells with your fingers by pressing the dough evenly around the inside of the cups of the tin.

using the same scoop, place one scoop of jam into each tart shell.  i made some pineapple jam using about 4 cups of pineapple chunks, 2 cups pineapple juice, 2 cups sugar, 1/4 vanilla bean and 4 thick slices of fresh ginger.  pulse the fruit in the food processor and then combine all ingredients and cook until golden and thickened.

using a ruler, score the dough log into 1/4" segments.  use a knife to carefully cut the slices of dough.

place one slice of dough on top of each tart and sprinkle with sugar if desired.

bake until golden, about 20-25 minutes.  allow the tarts to rest in the pans for 10-15 minutes.

carefully lift each tart out and place on a rack to cool completely.

thanks to foodbuzz, kelly ripa and electrolux for taking women's health so seriously by supporting the ovarian cancer research fund.  and ladies, remember to schedule that yearly exam.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

something new for #16-homemade marshmallows and a parve s'more tart

like many of you foodies out there, i also look at many other websites and blogs dedicated to food.  in a recent post on food52, i saw an invitation to members of the website to test tart recipes that they are featuring in an editors pick challenge.  since i knew i would be making a pie this week, i quickly committed myself to testing the s'more tart on the list.  little did i know that it was a parve tart.  for those of you who do not know what this means, it is a jewish dietary law that does not allow the mixing of meat and dairy.  anyone who has come from a home with a kosher kitchen understands this-i did not but have had enough exposure to it to know that this was going to be interesting.  how can you make marshmallows without egg whites?  since i have promised an original recipe each week, i am including the link to the recipe from the food52 as well as my nonparve interpretation.

no homemade s'more tart is complete without homemade marshmallows.  i made a small batch using a recipe i found on an interesting website called cooking for engineers.  the recipe is a good reference for someone who has never tackled the task of making fresh marshmallows-like me.  the only suggestion i have to the recipe is to cut the vanilla extract in half.  for my pie, i piped them out into little kisses so that i could arrange them on the top of the pie.  they came out nice with a good texture.  they were a little sticky but i will attribute that to the fact that i did not make them into a slab dusted with cornstarch as suggested in the recipe.
now, for the parve version.  if you follow the link above, you will find yourself looking at a recipe that just might be missing something-especially if you are not familiar with the term parve or the practice of eating a kosher diet.  the recipe is mainly water, sugar and gelatin.   while it looks improbable that the two steps could combine to form a marshmallow like topping, they do and for what it's worth, it's pretty close in flavor and texture to the commercially produced stuff available.  keep in mind that most of them are not made with egg whites either-just lots of sugar and gelatin.
i made two small tarts, the parve version is in the rear while the nonparve version is in the forefront.

both were placed under the broiler for a little color-its not a s'more without a toasted marshmallows...

the parve version was made with cookie crumbs (should be non dairy/egg cookies like graham crackers to be truly parve-i did not have any so i pretended) as well as sugar and margarine.  the chocolate ganache filling was a combination of bittersweet chocolate and coconut milk.  it worked out well but it was a little firmer than i prefer for a ganache.  the topping formed a crispy crust under the broiler and was very sticky to cut through-must use a wet knife to do so.  all in all, the flavor was good and the topping was surprisingly like a marshmallow.  would i make this again-not sure.  honestly, we do not have the need to follow a parve diet and since none of us suffer from food allergies to dairy or egg whites(albumen), it is not likely that i would do this.  however, it is nice to know that this can be done just as easily as the non parve version and i am glad to have had the chance to try it out.  at the end of the day, i learned a new technique and that in itself made it worth the effort.

s'more tart
adapted from shoshana of couldn't be parve and michael chu of cooking for engineers
1 (9") tart serving 8

1 1/2 cups cookie crumbs-i used a combination of non-dipped biscotti pieces
1/3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter, unsalted and melted

9 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin, about 1 package
2 1/2 tablespoons water

2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

in a mixing bowl, combine the cookie crumbs with the 1/3 cup sugar.  add the melted butter and mix well.  press it into a tart pan with a removable bottom.  it is possible to bake this crust to make it crispy but i skipped that step.   heat the coconut milk and heavy cream until it is almost simmering.  place the chocolate in a heat proof bowl, pour the milk/cream over it and let it sit for 5 minutes.  stir until smooth and then scrape it into the tart shell.  place in the fridge to set while you prepare the marshmallows.  

pour the water into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it.  set aside and proceed with the recipe.  place the sugar, corn syrup, salt and water into a small sauce pan.  bring to a boil, washing down the sides of the pot if necessary and cook to 248 on a thermometer.  remove from the heat, add the gelatin and stir until smooth.  pour into the bowl of a stand mixer and with the whip, whip until fluffy and no longer hot.  add the vanilla and mix well.  using a piping bag, pipe little mounds onto a pan that has been dusted with cornstarch.  let the marshmallows set and when they are no longer soft and sticky, arrange them on top of the tart.  using the broiler or a torch, carefully toast the marshmallows.  use a wet knife to cut the tart.

Friday, March 18, 2011

english muffins in the house

english muffins are one of my favorite things to toast; the crispy texture of one that is almost burned...since i am enjoying some time off from the cafe this week, i decided to try my hand at baking a batch.  i saw a post on the blog stetted and knew i had to do it-immediately!  the only thing, the recipe posted included egg, milk and butter.  while i may enjoy all of those ingredients without issue, i just did not want to use all of them in this recipe.  down into the dungeon i went (what i currently call the remains of my family room downstairs due to the flood damage) and withdrew my well used copy of how to bake by nick malgieri from the pile.

with minor substitutions, i made a batch of dough using some atta flour.  we have an indo-pak-bangla market close by called apna bazaar and they have all kinds of interesting flours.  i picked up a bag of this flour when i was looking for durum flour.  if you have indian markets near you, i suggest going there for flour.  they are often much cheaper than the fancy shops and markets.  this 5.5 pound bag cost me less than $4.00.

 the flour is a creamy color and has tiny flecks of bran in it

 the cast iron skillet climbed out of the bin for today's adventure.

 a little dark on the first attempt-gotta love cooking on an electric stove...

the second batch into the skillet came out looking perfect on the outside but not so nook and crannyish on the inside.  they tasted very much like the english muffins from the store with the second batch to be baked having a slightly stronger flavor.  my guess it is the additional rising time which helped develop the flavor.  the substitution of atta flour for about 1/3 of the bread flour gave it additional flavor and color too.   the recipe is a work in progress so i am not going to post it yet but if you are interested in trying a batch, follow the recipe posted on stetted, the link is above.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

these irish eyes are smiling...

every year on st. patrick's day, i try to make a loaf of soda bread.  usually, i pull out my aunt's recipe and make a loaf studded with currants and caraway seed.  it's a little bittersweet-she passed away years ago and it is hard to make it without thinking of all that she and the entire family had to endure those last few years.  i've posted about the bread before and you can read about it here and if you are adventurous, make a loaf of the bread using the recipe-it is the best american-irish soda bread recipe around.

as a fan of irish soda bread, or what we yanks call irish soda bread, i was not completely surprised to hear that the familiar raisin filled loaf is not entirely authentic.  it seems that the addition of raisins (or currants-my preference) and caraway seed is an american tradition.  when raisins are added to the loaf in ireland, they call it cake or spotted dog.  there actually is a society dedicated to the preservation of the traditional loaf and they have a website full of information and recipes.  some time ago, my mother had sent me an article from a magazine with traditional soda bread recipes in it and if my house was not currently in flood induced shambles, i would have used the recipes.  instead, i did a google search and compiled a recipe from two that i thought seemed reasonable.

less than 18 hours later, the bread has been devoured, my husband ate at least half of the loaf himself.  i watched as he slathered each slice with butter.  i ate the bread plain, dipping it into the vinaigrette that had pooled at the bottom of my salad plate-yes, i may be irish, but i am italian too and no italian can resist fresh baked bread with salad.  since it was so quick and easy to make, i can do this any time i need bread-less than 10 minutes to measure, mix and shape.  it took longer for the stone to heat in the oven!

traditional irish soda bread
yields 1 (8") round loaf

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon butter, melted or olive oil (i chose oil)
1 1/4-1 3/4 cups buttermilk-the amount will vary according to how thick it is.  some buttermilks are artificially thickenedand others are very thin.  i used a naturally cultured one that was thick and needed the full amount.

preheat your oven and stone to 450, if using a stone, remember that it will take at least 30 minutes to get really hot.  mix the flours, soda and salt in a bowl.  make a well in the center, pour in the oil and most of the buttermilk.  turn the outsides into the middle to mix.  using your hands, continue to mix until a soft, almost biscuit-like dough is formed.  shape it into a smooth ball and place it on a cornmeal dusted peel or   cookie sheet (without the sides or an upside down one-so you can slide it onto the stone in the oven).  cut an "x" across the top and slide it off onto the stone.  bake for 20 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 for 25-30 minutes.  the bread will be a beautiful golden color and the internal temperature will be at least 190 F.
allow it to cool before slicing.

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh!  

happy st. patrick's day!

Monday, March 14, 2011

it's 3/14!!! happy pi(e) day!!! #15 of 52, peanut butter & chocolate pie

forget the math, eat pie!!!  it's like i have a holiday of my own just to celebrate this blog challenge!!!  so in honor of the day, i pulled out all the stops anad relived a vintage tv commercial.  and for those of you who do not remember: 

now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's make a pie...around my house, pie is not something that gets eaten quickly unless it is ice cream or something chocolate.  add peanut butter to that and it will be gone in a flash.

chocolate cookie crumb crust

peanut butter and chocolate fillings are poured into the dish and then swirled together with a skewer

the finished pie before baking

the pie after baking

peanut butter and chocolate pie

1 (10") deep dish pie that serves 8-10

preheat the oven to 325.  make the crust and then the two fillings.  pour each of the fillings into a measuring cup or pitcher with a 2 cup capacity.  alternately pour 1 cup of each filling into the center of the crust.  you will have a series of rings, see photo above.  swirl the two together gently.  bake for about an hour or until the pie is slightly puffed around the edges and a little firm in the center.  cool completely and chill before cutting and serving.  serve with whipped cream if desired.

1 1/3 cup cookie crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons melted butter
combine the cookie crumbs and sugar.  pour in the butter and mix.  press evenly up the sides and across the bottom of the pie plate.  for the best consistency, use cookies that are not high in fat.  graham crackers, wafers or undipped biscotti will be lower in fat.  high fat cookies will make a crust that is greasy and hard to press into the pan smoothly.

peanut butter filling
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup-light
1/3 cup half and half
1/3 cup peanut butter-homogenized!
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
place all ingredients in a bowl and use that elbo grease to whisk it together until it is smooth!

chocolate filling
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/3 cup half and half
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
melt the chocolate and half and half in a microwave using the lowest heat setting.  the goal is to melt but not overheat so use short intervals of 30-45 seconds.  whisk the chocolate with the brown sugar.  whisk in the eggs, one at a time.  whisk in the corn syrup and the vanilla.  to get a smooth and emulsified filling, follow the order as listed and do not try to take shortcuts-the chocolate can separate and it will not taste good or have a creamy texture.

this week's round up!!!
many thanks to gwen daniels for sending photos of the maple pecan tart with butternut squash.  she also posted it up on her blog and you can read the full post here.  

well done gwen!  thanks for sharing photos and your blog page!   now for the rest of you out there-bake one, send me photos and see it here.  bakinbabe116@aol.com is the address and have a happy pi(e) day, y'all...

Monday, March 7, 2011

14 and counting; banana creme brulee tart

what a week it has been...construction, or rather reconstruction, of my house is well underway.  despite the torrential rain of last week, they are almost finished.  the repair of the small section of the foundation required jacking up that part of the house.  luckily, it is an addition and the rest of the house was not affected.  they warned me that walls could crack and that windows could pop out and shater the glass.  no windows shattered but the cracking was unbelievable-every wall is cracked and will need patching.  in the wall just above the repair, it will need new sheetrock since it looks like a road map now.  the good thing, mr. kenmore has recovered and i am baking again-happily!

faced with an ugly bunch of bananas, i decided to try something new.  first i pureed them and then i mixed them into a rich and creamy custard filling. 

the filling was poured into a partially baked tart shell and then it was baked until set.  the results-banana creme brulee tart.

since creme brulee means burned custard, i needed to burn the top of mine.  a thin layer of sugar was sprinkled over the top of the tart.

mr. kenmore assisted by burning the sugar to make a thin and crispy caramelized crust on the top

banana creme brulee tart
1 (9") tart to serve 8

1 partially baked (9") tart shell, use any type of crust except one made from crumbs.  my suggestion is to use a dough specifically formulated for tarts.  they usually contain some egg and sugar to make them easier to work with.  for hints on partially baking tart and pie shells, read this previous post.

4 egg yolks
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon chinese five spice powder (or cinnamon)
3/4 cup banana puree, about 2-3 bananas-make sure they are ripe for the best flavor
3/4 cup half and half
1/4 cup sugar

preheat the oven to 325.  place the tart shell, still in the tart pan, on a sturdy baking tray that will not warp in the oven.  whisk the yolks with the dark brown sugar and the spices.  whisk in the puree and the half and half.  only mix to incorporate, the more you whisk, the more air you incorporate and the less creamy the final texture of the custard will be.  pour into the tart shell and  bake until set, about 20 minutes.  leave the tart in the pan and cool completely.

to make the caramel crust, spread the sugar evenly over the top of the tart so that it is almost a single layer of crystals.  using the broiler or a propane torch (if you have one, which i do not) and carefully melt the sugar.  it will bubble as it gets hot and then will quickly begin to burn.  be careful not to let it burn black or it will be very bitter tasting.  serve immediately, once it sits, for a while, especially in the fridge, the sugar crust melts. 

by the way garrett, i seem to have lost my marbles again...really, i did.  they hit the counter and bounced around the kitchen.  a couple landed in the living room and the cat got at least one.  i also found one in the basement, never a dull moment!

and as always, bake one, take a photo and send it to me-bakinbabe116@aol.com, and you will see it here.  happy baking!