Sunday, March 30, 2014

Chocolate pudding cake

This was a super-easy, yet delicious chocolate cake that reminded me of the flavors of molten chocolate lava cakes. It looks messy, but the outcome is a moist cake on top of a rich, chocolaty cream.

1 tbsp butter
2 oz 70% cocoa chocolate
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1.25 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp baking soda
0.25 tsp salt
0.5 cup semisweet chocolate chips
6 tbsp cocoa powder
1.25 cup boiling water

Butter a 7x9 inch baking dish. Preheat oven to 350F.

Melt butter in the microwave and pour onto chopped chocolate. Allow to melt and mix. Preheat buttermilk until warm.

Mix flour with half a cup brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, one tablespoon cocoa, and salt. Pour in melted chocolate and butter, heated buttermilk and vanilla. Mix until combined. Add in chocolate chips. Pour batter into shape.

Mix the remaining brown sugar with the sifted cocoa. Sprinkle onto shape. Boil some water and measure 1.25 cup of it on top of the cake. Immediately place into oven.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until center is firm to the touch. Cool a bit and serve. I was surprised that this tasted better on the second day. My initial worry was that it would get soggy, but the lasted for three days in the fridge (at which point all of it was consumed).

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Lingonberry crepes

These buttery crepes with the tart-sweet flavor of lingonberry jam are a perfect dessert delight.

2 tbsp butter
0.5 cup milk
2 eggs
0.5 cup flour
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp honey
4 tbsp lingonberry jam
whipped cream
1 tbsp butter for frying

To a blender add 2 tbsp melted butter, the milk, eggs, flour, salt and honey. Blend until smooth. The sides may need to be scraped down in the process.

Allow to rest in the fridge for an hour. Preheat a 10-inch non-stick skillet on medium-high. Add a sliver of butter and coat the surface. Add enough batter to thinly coat the pan. Cook and flip once edges are getting golden.

Collect crepes onto a plate. Butter pan between each crape. Spread jam on half of each crepe, fold the other half onto this portion. Coat half with jam again and fold. Stack folded crepes and top with whipped cream. Serve warm. It is important not to use the jam excessively, as it will overpower the crepes' flavor. It's definitely a case of "less is more".

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mango panna cotta

This was a delicious creamy dessert. It is crucial to have tasty, sweet mangoes for this. The panna cotta style of cold pudding preparation allows for the fruit flavors to be preserved fresh, rather than dulled by cooking.

1.5 cup heavy cream
1 cup ripe mango flesh
1/3 cup milk
7 g gelatin (0.25 oz)
1 tsp vanilla extract
0.25 tsp freshly grated ginger
0.25 cup white sugar

Take 0.5 cup of heavy cream and blend with the mango flesh and ginger until smooth.

Bloom the gelatin in the milk.

Add the heavy cream and sugar to a small pot. Dissolve the gelatin in it as you heat. Bring nearly to a boil.

Add in vanilla and mango puree. Distribute into 4 ramekins. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Garnish with mint leaves.

Zaatar roasted squash

I'm a big fan of these flavors from the Middle East. This is a filling and delicious recipe for squash.

1 butternut squash
1 yellow onion
2 tbsp tahini
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp Sriracha
black pepper
olive oil

Peel the butternut squash with a veggie peeler. Remove seeds and dice into 1-inch pieces. Peel onion and cut into eights. Separate leaves.

Toss veggies with 2 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Bake in a 400F preheated oven for an hour, turning every 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix tahini with lemon juice, Sriracha, pinch of salt and enough water to create a creamy dressing. Sprinkle onto squash and onion.

Sprinkle za'atar liberally onto prepared product. The sumac will provide a fruity, lemony flavor.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Veggie stir fry

America's test kitchen created this recipe, and for a veggie stir fry it's really not bad. The mushrooms in particular taste delicious, while the other veggies provide a nice backdrop.

2 cloves garlic
4 tsp minced ginger
4 tbsp vegetable oil
6 large portobello mushrooms
2 cups carrots
0.5 cup chicken broth
1 cup snow peas
1 pound bok choy

2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sugar
0.25 cup chicken broth

1 tbsp soy sauce
1 cup chicken broth
3 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp cornstarch

Slice the carrots into thin slices at an angle. Remove the stringy part of the peas. Remove the stem of the mushrooms and scrape out the gills. Cut heads into 2-inch wedges. Remove the stems from the bok choy leaves. Cut the stems into quarter inch strips. Cut the leaves into 2-inch pieces.

Mix the ingredients of the glaze. Mix the ingredients of the sauce.

Heat 2 tbsp oil until simmering in a skillet. Add the mushrooms and cook without stirring for 3 minutes. Turn mushrooms and reduce heat to medium. Cook another 5 minutes until both sides are browned. Add glaze and cook until it coats the mushrooms well (about 2 minutes). Remove mushrooms onto a plate.

Add 1 tbsp of oil to the skillet. Add carrots and cook for 2 minutes, until beginning to brown. Add 0.5 cup of broth and simmer covered for 2-3 minutes, until tender. Remove from skillet.

Add the remaining oil to the skillet. Heat again. Add snow peas and bok choy stems. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the leaves of the bok choy. Add the minced ginger and garlic in the middle of the pan. Cook for 15 seconds, then stir into greens.

Add back all vegetables and pour in the sauce. Cook until thickened. Serve over rice.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Broccoli rabe saute

Broccoli rabe is a slightly bitter green with small, broccoli-like florets. Since I don't mind the bitter flavor, I'm not very motivated to bother to try to remove it, but this recipe reduces it somewhat.

1 bunch broccoli rabe
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice

Cut off the stems of the broccoli rabe. Bring a pot of water to boil and simmer the broccoli rabe stems in it for 5 minutes. Remove from water and cool stems immediately.

In a large skillet heat the oil. Add the garlic for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the broccol rabe and cook for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle in the lemon juice and season with salt. Serve.

Za'atar flatbread

A quick and easy dinner (assuming you plan a day ahead). But I have to admit I haven't yet figured out whether za'atar is supposed to be baked or added to cooked dishes. It seems to taste better when not baked, which would be in line with what one would expect from the volatile herby flavors.

2 cups flour
1 cup water
0.25 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp za'atar spice

Mix the flour with the salt and yeast. Add the water and allow to rise overnight.

Shape the dough into a ball and preheat the oven to 450F with a baking stone. 

Stretch the sough onto the parchment paper and spread olive oil on top. Sprinkle with half of the za'atar.

Bake until golden brown and sprinkle the remaining za'atar on top. Excellent served with garlic-yogurt sauce.

Turkish lamb pizza

Turkish pizza, aka lahmacun, brings the delicious flavors of the middle east into your kitchen. Lamb is an absolute requirement here, it cannot be substituted for other ground meats. The herbs give the topping a delicious flavor, and the pizza gets better if the topping sits in the fridge prepared for a day or two. I tested a variety of doughs to put this on, and my pita bread recipe worked best. I didn't like it dry and paper-thin, nor was a thicker, bread-like texture fitting for my tastes. With a pita bread the crust was tender but chewy.

1 clove garlic
1 yellow onion
3 tbsp fresh basil
0.5 cup parsley leaves
2 tbsp mint leaves
0.5 tsp paprika
0.5 tsp cumin
0.5 tsp coriander seed
1 yellow bell pepper (1 cup diced)
juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
10 cherry tomatoes
8 oz tomato paste
1 lb ground lamb

Add all components but the lamb and tomato past to a food processor. Process until it's a paste.

To a large skillet add the meat, herb paste and tomato paste. Cook, stirring frequently until cooked through. Season with salt and cayenne.

Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 days.

Prepare pita bread using 2 tsp yeast, 1.25 cup water, 1 tsp salt and 3 cups of flour. Allow to rise and cut into four balls. Slowly roll out into four discs on parchment paper.

Preheat oven to 425F with a baking stone. Add 1/8 of the topping per bread. Bake for 2-4 minutes, until bread is light brown.

Serve with garlic, yogurt sauce (1 cup of yogurt, 2 cloves crushed garlic, 0.25 cup minced parsley) and shredded cabbage or lemony coleslaw.

Traditionally it is served with good yellow onions, chopped parsley and sumac. I'm a sucker for spicy foods, so I added Sriracha onto the prepared flatbreads. I think it was delicious!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Best grilled cheese

Grilled cheese sandwich is one of those comfort food classics that are super-simple to make. This is a twist on the sandwich that lends it a crispy exterior.

6 oz shredded cheddar
4 slices of white bread
2 tbsp butter

Add 2 oz of cheddar between the slices of bread and prepare two sandwiches.

To a pan add half a tbsp butter and heat on medium-high. When the sandwich is slightly browned, flip and immediately sprinkle with 0.5 oz of cheddar. Press onto the hot sandwich.

When the second side is lightly browned, flip again and sprinkle this side with cheese as well. Press in. Meanwhile, the cheesy first side will begin to crisp up. When the cheese is golden brown, flip and brown the cheese on the second side as well.

Cool for 2 minutes on a cookie rack, then serve.

No-bake cake

I like no-bake cakes with cooked creams. They can be very flavorful, super-easy to make, not overly sweet and very comforting. (Barely any chewing required! :-)

2 bags punch pudding (rum, raisin flavor)
3 tbsp sugar
500 mL milk
4 oz chocolate
2 tbsp butter
220g Albert keksz
1 tbsp rum extract

Crush the cookies. Mix the pudding powder with the sugar. Add the milk and bring to a boil. Melt in the chocolate and the butter.

Add the rum extract and mix well. Pour the cream onto the crushed cookies. Pour into a foil-lined shape and press down. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. 

Slice and serve cold.

Escarole gratin

This is a Chef John recipe from foodwishes, and as usual, it turned out delicious. I was not familiar with escarole before trying this. It turns out to be a slightly bitter, lettuce-like green that stands up to heating reasonably well. This was quick and easy, and thanks to the inclusion of pancetta: a very flavorful dish.

1 large head of escarole
1 tbsp olive oil
15 oz can of canellini beans
3 oz pancetta
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp Hungarian pepper paste (Piros Arany)
1 cup chicken broth
1 jalapeno
black pepper
red pepper flakes
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan

Clean the escarole and cut into 1.5-inch pieces. Blanch the leaves in boiling salty water for 5 minutes. Remove into cold water and drain well.

Cook the pancetta in an oven-safe pan until light brown. Add the chopped pepper for 2-3 minutes, then add the garlic for a minute, then the chicken stock and Hungarian pepper paste and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the beans and the escarole. Season with salt, pepper flakes and black pepper. Stir well and sprinkle the breadcrumbs and the parmesan on top.

Then broil until the top gets slightly brown. Serve warm.