Monday, September 21, 2015

Peanut butter and jelly shortbread bars

A recent potluck had the theme of "school lunches," and I decided to riff on peanut butter and jelly. I knew I wanted to do shortbread because shortbread is delicious. After poking around a bit, I found two recipes that I wanted to hybridize: blackberry jam shortbread bars from Stuck on Sweet and peanut butter chocolate chip shortbread from the View from the Great Island, which I made a few years ago. I substituted peanut butter for some of the butter in the shortbread bars and cut the sugar to make the ratio a little more like the peanut butter chocolate chip shortbread.

I think this recipe turned out pretty well. I personally wouldn't have minded a little less jelly for the filling and a little more peanut butter in the shortbread.

Peanut butter and jelly shortbread bars

2 sticks of butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used one with peanuts as the only ingredient; you may want to adjust sugar and salt if you use one with sugar and/or salt)
generous pinch of salt (or more if you like)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup almond meal
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups seedless raspberry jam or other jam/jelly of your choice

Make the shortbread: Cream butter and sugar in a mixer or by hand. Add the peanut butter, salt, and vanilla extract and mix until combined and a bit fluffy. While mixing slowly, add the almond meal and flour in small batches. Separate into two roughly equal halves. Press one half into a greased 9x13-inch baking pan. Save the other half in the fridge. (Note: my dough didn't come together the way shortbread dough usually does, but because I was just pressing it into the pan, it was fine. I think if I had used less flour, it would have, so if you want to make these into regular cookies, you may want to reduce the flour.)
Bake shortbread at 325 for about 20 minutes or until edges are a bit brown. Remove from oven and spread jam over shortbread as evenly as possible. Sprinkle remaining dough over the top. Put back in the oven and bake until topping is browned, about 30 minutes. Cut into bars once it's cooled.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Strawberries with orange blossom ricotta

See Baking and Math for a ricotta pun that would be perfect here.
Yesterday I made some crepes with a spinach-ricotta filling, and I had some leftover ricotta. In my experience, it turns pretty quickly once you open it, so I wanted to do something with it. I also had some perfect strawberries in the fridge, so I hatched a plan. Ricotta, whipped cream, honey, and orange flower water so I could feel all sophisticated. Be gentle with the orange flower water. It can cross the line into perfumey pretty easily. I think strawberries are the perfect fruit to eat with this, but I could imagine it going well on peaches or nectarines too.

Orange blossom ricotta (amounts are approximate because I didn't measure as I went along)
2/3 cup ricotta cheese
2 tbsp whipping cream
1-2 tbsp honey
orange flower water to taste (this is the only thing I measured-I used 1 tsp, but you might want to start smaller)

Mix it up and whisk with a fork to make it a bit fluffy. Dip strawberries in it.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Scallop pasta in a wine cream sauce

It has been a bit of a hiatus from the foodblog, but I am interested in starting it up again. Recently I have made scallops in a white wine cream sauce over pasta a couple of times and here is a basic recipe. I've used linguini and farfalle and my preference so far is the linguini. It might be even better over fettucini (though Evelyn leans more to spaghetti or angel hair). The wine we used has been Rieslings (of varying sweetness/dryness, I have liked dryer better). The lemon zest really brings out whatever fruitiness is in the wine. The peas add some nice sweetness. I recommend chopping the onions very fine. I hope that you'll enjoy it.

1 small onion
2 cloves garlic

black pepper
a little basil
zest 1 lemon
1 cup white wine

1/2 lb bay scallops
1/2 cup peas
1/2 cup cream

Pasta (about 10 oz)

Finely dice the onion and garlic. Melt the butter in a pan over medium to medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Add the wine and seasonings and simmer until the alcohol has cooked off. Add the scallops and cook until almost done. Add the peas and cook another couple of minutes. 

Serve hot over pasta.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Double Coconut Shortbread

I made Smitten Kitchen's toasted coconut shortbread cookies last year, and I wondered whether coconut oil, another solid-at-room-temperature fat, could replace butter. I finally got around to trying it, and the result was delicious but delicate. The coconut oil gives them a really tender, melty mouthfeel and an incredibly deep coconut flavor.

Both the dough and the finished cookies were quite a bit more fragile than shortbread made with butter. I rolled the dough into a log before refrigerating rather than rolling out and cutting with cookie cutters as in SK's recipe. The dough was much more prone to shattering when I cut it off the log than regular shortbread is. I couldn't cut the cookies as thinly as I normally do for shortbread, which combined with the richness of coconut oil means you really just want one or two at a time, not seven. Whether that's a problem or a benefit is unclear.

After baking, the cookies were very liable to crumble completely, and I'm just eating them off of the cooling rack because they're too delicate to transfer. I'm guessing that there is some mixture of butter and coconut oil that will have the perfect combination of durability and tastiness. If you're in need of a vegan shortbread recipe, this is it. If not, you should try mixing butter and coconut oil for optimal durability.

Double coconut shortbread (adapted from here)

3/4 cup coconut oil, room temperature (or mixture of butter and coconut oil)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
generous pinch of salt
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted (the really small kind, about the size of breadcrumbs, not the big flakes)

In an electric mixer, mix together the coconut oil and sugar. Add the vanilla and salt and mix. Mix in the flour and then the coconut until it kind of forms a dough. I had to turn it out onto a cutting board and use my hands to get it to come together all the way. Roll into a log and refrigerate until hard.

Cut cookies onto a pizza stone or cookie sheet. Try to get them as thin as possible without the dough shattering, which for me was between 3/8 and 1/2 inch.

Bake at 325 F for 15-20 minutes or until they look like cookies instead of dough. They won't brown as much as cookies made with butter, in my limited experience, so the usual "golden" cookie instructions don't apply.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pork and mashed potatoes

We ate an early dinner (~5:00 pm) and we ate food I would associate with grandparents. We had pork and green peppers stuffed with mashed potatoes. I was a little out of practice because we rarely make meat at home. I was happy with how it turned out.

3 Pork sirloin cutlets about 4 oz each

The topping
As usual measurements are approximate
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp molasses (honey would be great too)
1 tsp diced dried rosemary 
1/2 tsp red wine vinegar (other vinegars would be good too)

Spread a little of the topping on each side. Cook 1 minute on each side on a high to seal in the juices. Lower temperature and cook about 3 more minutes per side adding a little more spread each time you flip.

Healthy Mashed potatoes

2 lbs potatoes

1/2 tsp butter
1 medium onion

1/4 tsp butter
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp diced dried rosemary
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp better than bullion
1 cup water 

1/4 cup heavy cream 

Dice the onion. Heat a pan with 1/2 tsp butter and add onion. Caramelize the onion. While the onion is caramelizing boil potatoes until ready for mashing.
While this is going melt 1/4 tsp butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a about 2 minutes. Add the rosemary and cumin, mix and cook for 1 minute. Add the water and better than bullion. Simmer until everything else is ready, perhaps adding a bit more water if much of it boils off. 

Mash potatoes with broth and heavy cream. Add in the caramelized onion and enjoy.

I put the mashed potatoes in halved green peppers which I had pre-cooked a bit, topped with cheddar and cooked on 400 for about 20 minutes. I think it would be even better with tomatoes, but the tomatoes at the grocery store were very under-ripe.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Creamy tropical green smoothie

This is my first green smoothie with coconut milk in it. I used all the tropical fruits I had, plus some kale, and it was pretty darn good. Not too much to say about it, really. This would probably be good with mint or cilantro, or maybe even Thai basil, but I didn't think of it until after I drank it. Maybe next time.

Creamy tropical green smoothie

1 banana
1/2 cup orange juice
3/4 cup frozen mango
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 kale leaves


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Farro cakes on a bed of kale

I've been wanting to make a farro-based main dish for a while, but usually I just use it in salad, and it's been too chilly for me to get excited about a cold dinner. I played around with the idea of this farro cake for a while before going for it. I've made grain cakes before, and I just kind of made this one up. It's awesome, if I do say so myself. The farro is nice and chewy, and the liberal use of parmesan gives them a really nice deep cheesy flavor. It took me a little fiddling to get them to hold together. First, I just added one egg, but it was kind of just a dry-ish mash. I added a second egg, and it was too wet, but then I threw in some Panko crumbs, which absorbed just enough egg to get the cakes to hold together well. The kale complements the cakes nicely, but I have a pro-kale bias.

Farro cakes on a bed of kale
Makes about 10 cakes. I had 2 at dinner, and Jon had 5. So it serves 2-5 people, I guess.

1 cup farro (or a little less; you want 2 cups cooked in the end)
2 cups vegetable stock

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
8 grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2 tsp ground marjoram
1/2 tsp dried thyme

.65 oz grated parmesan or asiago cheese (I just got an electronic kitchen scale! If you don't have one, it's probably 1/3 cup grated by a microplane.)
2 eggs, well beaten
1/4 cup Panko or bread crumbs

4 kale leaves

Cook farro by combining farro with broth in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, and cook for about 25 minutes, or until water is absorbed and farro is tender. Set aside.

Heat oil in a medium frying pan. Add onion, then a few minutes later, garlic, tomatoes, marjoram, and thyme. Saute until everything is soft. Set aside.

Place 2 cups farro in a medium mixing bowl. Add vegetable mixture and cheese. Stir in eggs and Panko or bread crumbs.

To cook the cakes, heat a crepe or nonstick pan over medium heat until it is very hot. (Add a little oil if your pan needs it; ours doesn't.) Take a big spoonful of farro mixture, plop it on the pan, and mash it down with the back of the spoon so it's even and fairly flat. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the bottom is golden brown. Carefully flip it and cook on the other side until that side is done as well. The cakes didn't seem very liable to burn, so you don't need to be too worried about them getting overcooked.

In the leftover oil from the vegetable pan, saute the kale. Serve farro cakes on top of a bed of kale.