Thursday, July 25, 2013

Crescent rolls with vanilla pudding

I love Boston cream donuts. Yeasty, sweet dough filled with a custard is one of my weaknesses. Unfortunately, this recipe was not nearly as nice as some other alternatives, since the pudding dried out too much inside the rolls during baking. Filling the custard in after baking is likely to yield better results. To alter this recipe for now, I have added an extra volume of milk to the custard among the measurements below. I will test it in the future.

200 mL milk
25 mL water
1.5 tsp yeast
350 g flour
1.5 tbsp cocoa powder
2.5 tbsp sugar
0.25 tsp salt
75 mL oil

3.5 tbsp sugar
1 package of vanilla pudding mix
350 mL milk

Mix the sugar and vanilla pudding mix. Add milk and bring to a boil. Set aside covered in foil until it cools.

Bloom the yeast in the warm water with a small amount of sugar. Add the warm milk and mix in the rest of the sugar, the flour, salt and the oil. Knead until smooth.

Cut in half and knead the cocoa powder into one half of the dough. Rest for 15 minutes.

Roll out both pieces of dough into a long rectangle about 0.25-inch thick.

Overlay the two, with the plain one on the bottom. Cut into triangles.

Add one tbsp of pudding to each triangle on the wide end.

Roll up and place onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Cover and allow to rise in a warm oven.

Brush with egg wash and bake in a preheated 150 F oven until golden brown. Serve.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Roasted pepper and spinach pasta

A variation on the Alfredo sauce, with roasted peppers and spinach added. I had a box of frozen creamed spinach I had to use up. It turned out very well.

0.25 cup butter
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup heavy cream
1 clove garlic
1 roasted pepper
1 box creamed spinach

Melt the butter and heat the grated garlic in it for 30 seconds. Add the cream and bring to a simmer.

Add the grated cheese and melt in. Slice the roasted pepper into strips. Add to sauce. Thaw creamed spinach and mix into sauce.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve tossed with pasta.

Alfredo sauce

Pasta is definitely not my favorite carbohydrate source. I have to admit that I never tried authentic Italian pasta, so I can only judge based on the version available in US cuisine. Among pasta dishes, creamy, rich, white-saucy ones invariable wind up as my favorites. Alfredo sauce is simple, rich and delicious, but only when made with the right ingredients.

0.25 cup butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 clove grated garlic
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Melt the butter with the garlic in it. Add cream and bring close to a simmer.

Add grated cheese and heat stirring until cheese melts.

Season with salt and pepper and serve tossed with freshly-cooked pasta.

Leek and Feta pastry

Puff pastry is challenging to make but available frozen in most supermarkets. It's provides a delicious, delicate, buttery carrier for many different toppings. This one is inspired by the Macedonian zelnik. 

0.5 lb puff pastry
2 cups sliced leeks
4 oz Feta
2 eggs

Saute the leeks in a little bit of oil until softened. Cool.

Mix with eggs, crumbled Feta and salt to taste (depends on the saltiness of your Feta).

Roll out the puff pastry into an 15-by-9 inch rectangle. Cut into three 5-by-9 inch pieces. Bake in a preheated 400F oven until puffed up and lightly browned. Remove and press in the center of each piece.

Distribute the leek mixture on top and bake for another 10 minutes, or until topping is cooked through. Serve.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Wedge salad

I'm not a fan of iceberg lettuce. It has no nutritional value (or close to that in any case), it's mostly tasteless, yet people use it as an excuse for a vegetable. It is however an excellent carrier for flavors, it that is the desired outcome. This salad was surprisingly tasty, because you can't go wrong with this salad dressing and bacon.

1 head of iceberg lettuce
1 portion of ranch dressing
5 slices of bacon
5 radishes

Crisp the bacon, drain from grease and chop into 0.25-inch pieces.

Remove any wilted outer leaves from the lettuce. Cut out the stem and cut the lettuce into five wedges. Lay down the wedges on their back, with the cut surface pointing up. Drizzle the dressing evenly between the leaves and sprinkle with bacon. Serve. Garnish with sliced red radishes.

Ranch dressing

This is a nice alternative to the usual balsamic vinaigrette.

1 tbsp minced scallions
0.5 tsp coarse salt
1 pinch black pepper
0.25 cup sour cream
0.5 cup mayo
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
0.5 tbsp lemon juice
1 small garlic clove

Mince garlic. Add all other ingredients and whisk together. Add buttermilk to adjust consistency.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Roasted pepper and mozzarella salad

An absolute delight on a hot summer day. Serve with delicious, crusty bread and a nice glass of wine.

3 red and orange bell peppers
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 clove minced garlic
black pepper
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp minced capers
8 oz fresh mozzarella

Roast the bell peppers under the broiler, steam and the peel. Slice into 0.25-inch thick slices.

Mix the vinegar, oil, minced garlic, and minced capers. Toss with peppers and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the sliced mozzarella around the plate. Garnish with basil leaves.

Tomato and scallion focaccia

This was amazing. I prepared it a few times and it never failed to disappoint. The Parmesan and fresh tomato topping with the scallions that caramelize so beautifully is simple irresistible.

1 portion focaccia dough
1 sweet tomato
3 scallions
0.5 cup grated parmesan

Prepare focaccia dough as usual. Slice tomatoes very thinly, distribute on top of dough. In between tomato slices add thin-sliced scallions.

Sprinkle it with finely-grated Parmesan cheese. Bake per usual recipe instructions, cool for half an hour before serving. Amazing!

On a different note, my basil is growing beautifully, the only part of my garden that really thrived so far.

Everything else is being eaten by worms or alternatively dying of excess water in the soil thanks to the everyday downpours. But, I do love basil :-)

Rhubarb custard pie

This was an interesting pie creation by Chef John over at foodwishes. I found the final product a little too sweet to my taste, but my husband really liked it. I haven't cooked with rhubarb much before, so this is a new experiment. The stems of the plant look like celery, some are red. They are all incredibly tart and the leaves are poisonous due to their oxalic acid content (which binds calcium, forms a precipitate and clogs capillaries destroying kidneys, etc.), so don't eat those.

1 9-inch pie crust
3 cups sliced rhubarb
1 cup quartered strawberries
pinch of nutmeg
3 eggs
3 tbsp milk
3 tbsp flour
1 tsp vanilla
1.25 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 tbsp butter

Prepare the fruit and stem first, washing and dicing appropriately.

Whisk the sugar, salt and the flour. Add in the eggs, vanilla and milk, whisk those as well. Distribute fruit into pie crust. 

Pour in the custard mixture slowly.

Dot top with butter. Tap the pan. Place into preheated 350F oven for an hour. Rotate after 30 minutes.

Cool completely once removed from the oven. Refrigerate and serve cold with vanilla whipped cream.

Salmon cakes

Another perfect little recipe from America's test kitchen. I already have a canned salmon salmon burger recipe. This one makes a lot more fishy cakes, yet not quite as tasty as the salmon slices would be simple seasoned and broiled, for instance teriyaki style. So, I don't know how frequently I will be making this in the future. It certainly retains more of the fresh fish taste than the salmon burger recipe on this site.

3tbsp and 0.75 cup breadcrumbs
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
2 tbsp mayo
4 tsp lemon juice
1 scallion, thin sliced
2 tbsp minced onion
1 tsp Dijon mustard
0.75 tsp salt
0.25 tsp black pepper
pinch cayenne
1.25 lb salmon filet
0.5 cup veggie oil

Cut salmon in chunks then pulse in a food processor in two portions until pieces are about 0.25-inch. This should take 2-3 pulses.

 Mix 3tbsp breadcrumbs and all spices in a bowl. Add fish pieces. Mix.

Measure out 1/3 cup balls and in the remaining breadcrumbs form into 1-inch-thick cakes. Set aside on a baking sheet.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add cakes and cook for about 3 minutes, until golden brown. Flip them and cook other side as well.

Remove onto paper towels. Serve on a bed of arugula tossed with sweet balsamic vinegar, garnished with radish slices and cucumbers. Top off with a simple tartar sauce prepared using mayo, Dijon mustard, diced pickles, salt and a clove of grated garlic.