Monday, May 30, 2011

#42 - Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookie Bars

We've got some people coming over tomorrow, so we wanted to get a head start on the cooking by getting some desserts ready tonight.

We found this recipe inside Food and Wine magazine. If you doubt the effectiveness of advertising, look no further than the Hungry Hundred. We love Top Chef, and now we have a subscription to Food and Wine thanks to Gail Simmons.

Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookie Bars

From Food and Wine
To make these chocolate chip pecan cookie bars, you're gonna need some chocolate chips and pecans. And some other stuff.

One thing that's different is that you have to use whole wheat flour, which we've never used before.
So after toasting the pecans (or while you're toasting them I guess), you mix all the other ingredients together in the most important kitchen appliance you have, your KitchenAid.
When the dough is ready, you press it into a baking sheet to get ready for the oven. The dough is weird - it's really thick and hard to pour, so you have to really press it in there.
These cookies were pretty good (I mean how can they not be with chocolate chips and pecans?). But they were kinda dense, and maybe a little dry, so they'd probably be better with some milk or ice cream or something.
You wanna make them for yourselves? Oh good, because we have the recipe for you.
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 4 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 Tbs canola oil
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Toast the pecans for about 8 minutes, until golden, and then chop and cool.
  3. Using a stand mixer, beat the butter, oil, sugar, and brown sugar until creamy.
  4. Beat in the egg and vanilla until smooth.
  5. In in a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  6. Beat the dry ingredients into the mixer at low speed.
  7. Add the chocolate chips and pecans, and beat until just incorporated.
  8. Press the dough into the baking pan in an even layer.
  9. Bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned.
  10. Let cool completely before removing and cutting into bars.

#41 - Chorizo con Huevo with Tortillas de Harina

We know how to make corn tortillas, (and they taste pretty good with Mamu's rice and beans), but we have yet to make flour tortillas. And flour tortillas go great with chorizo con huevo for breakfast, so it seemed like a good time to try them both out.

Chorizo con Huevo with Tortillas de Harina

From Mamu
There are a lot of the same ingredients here as when we made the chorizo quiche, and that's because eggs and chorizo taste wonderful together.
To make the tortillas, the first thing you need to do is to add together the flour, salt and Crisco, and then make sure that there are no clumps.
After adding water, you form a big ball of dough, and then form a dozen little balls.
You can't use a tortilla press with these, so it's time to whip out the rolling pin, and get flattening.
Then, while the tortillas are cooking, it's a good time to get your chorizo started. The chorizo con huevo part is super easy, and once you've thrown away any excess fat, it's no harder than making scrambled eggs.
Can you say sabroso? Because this was a perfect breakfast. Like we already said, chorizo and eggs go quite well together, and the flour tortillas are a perfect vessel for them. Or you can go with butter and jelly on the tortilas. Whatever you want.

And according to Mamu, it's really easy to reheat the tortillas if you keep them in the freezer, so we're set for a few more meals with them. Though, they shouldn't last too long now.
Buy yourself some chorizo, get your rolling pin ready, and make this for breakfast. Or lunch or dinner, whatever's closest.

Tortillas de Harina
  • 2 1/2 cups unsifted flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbs Crisco
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup warm water
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt with hands.
  2. Add Crisco and mix, with fingers, separating all clumps.
  3. Add water in small batches and mix well.
  4. Roll dough into a large ball, adding more water or flour until consistency is not too sticky or dry.
  5. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let sit for 10 minutes.
  6. Separate dough into 12 equal pieces and form these into smaller balls.
  7. Using a rolling pin, roll into flat tortillas on a floured wooden board.
  8. Stack tortillas, using small pieces of wax paper to separate each one.
  9. Heat a griddle over medium to medium-high heat.
  10. Cook tortillas, using a spatula to flatten edges and flip twice until slighly browned.
*Extra uncooked tortillas can be frozen for later use.

Chorizo con Huevo
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 link of Mexican chorizo
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Cooked tortillas
  1. Heat a small amount of vegetable oil over medium heat.
  2. Remove the casings from the chorizo, and pick out all noticeable white pieces of fat.
  3. Cook chorizo until crisp.
  4. Add the eggs and cook, scrambling together with the chorizo.
  5. Serve with warm tortillas de harina.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

#40 - Peanut Butter Chocolate Cow Cake Pops

The time has come. You saw us make apple cake. You saw us make banana cupcakes. But now it's time for us to whip up a batch of what made Bakerella famous - cake pops.

We've tried cake pops before, following Bakerella's advice closely, and this is the first time we've decided to stray on our own. We're going with both a new recipe (peanut butter and chocolate) and a new design (cows). Here we go!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cow Cake Pops

A Hungry Hundred Original Recipe, Inspired by Bakerella
Since this is a Hungry Hundred Original Recipe, we didn't exactly know what to put in the mise en place picture. We used most of the stuff, but that chocolate pudding is completely unnecessary. Unless you want a snack while you're baking.
Cake pops are basically cake and icing covered with a candy coating and on a popsicle stick. We had chocolate cake, so in making peanut butter chocolate cake pops, we had two options - we could have vanilla icing and peanut butter candy coating or we could have peanut butter icing and a plainer candy coating.

Well, we decided to do a smaller batch of both, so to make the peanut butter icing, we just added peanut butter to vanilla icing and stirred it up.
Once you've got your frosting all ready, it's time to get your hands dirty. You smash up the cake, mix in the icing, and roll the mixture into little balls like you're making meatballs.
Then you plop those things in the freezer for a minute or two while they firm up, and it's a good time to get some of your decorations ready. Noses, ears, and eyes are all lined up.
So once you're cake balls are ready to go, you need to put a stick in them, and dip them in the candy coating.
Once the dipped cake pops dry, it's time to decorate them. We were making cows, so we added m&m eyes and ears, a pink chocolate-coated sesame seed for a nose, and the use of black edible marker for spots and pupils and what have you.
All in all, these cake pops were a success. Of course, they tasted yummy. It's cake and icing and candy. But they also looked really cute and weren't as difficult / messy to make as we feel they were last time.

The biggest problem is that some of them look more like cats or pigs than cows, but we still think they're pretty cute.
If you have the time, patience, and energy, here's what you need to do:
  • 1 un-iced chocolate cake
  • 1 container whipped vanilla icing
  • Creamy peanut butter (optional)
  • White candy coating or peanut butter-flavored light brown candy coating
  • White m&m's
  • Pink chocolate-coated sunflower seeds
  • Black edible pen or icing gel
Additional Items
  • Lollipop sticks
  • Styrofoam block
  1. Crumble cake into large mixing bowl.
  2. If you want to make peanut butter icing, scoop the vanilla icing into a small bowl, and mix in the peanut butter, a tablespoon at a time, until you get the desired amount of peanut butter flavor.
  3. Mix in the can of icing and combine completely with hands.
  4. Form small balls of mixture, about 1 inch in diameter, and lay on a cookie sheet.
  5. Chill formed balls in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  6. Melt the candy coating according to the directions on the package.
  7. Dip one end of a lollipop stick into the candy coating, stick into a cake ball, and return ball to freezer, stick-side up.
  8. After adding sticks to all the cake balls, cut an m&m in half, dip a small portion of each half in candy coating, and insert into the top of the cake ball as ears.
  9. Once hardened, dip the entire cake pop into the candy coating and shake off excess.
  10. Before the coating hardens, add two m&m's as eyes and a pink sunflower seed as a nose.
  11. Let cake pops set upright in a styrofoam block.
  12. Add nostrils, eyeballs, and cow spots as you like with black pen and/or icing gel.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

#39 - Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Chimichurri

Well, we were down to our last two Omaha Steaks after our beef fajitas and our steak and spinach meals. We thought it was a good time to try out another new recipe - a chimichurri sauce.

Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Chimichurri

From EpicuriousChimichurri is an Argentine sauce that is great for marinading or topping meat, and it takes a lot of fresh herbs. The main ones we used were cilantro and parsley. Apparently a true chimichurri is supposed to use something called culantro - and herb you can't find easily in the U.S. - but the recipe we found said to use cilantro which you can find at the Wheaton Giant.
To make a chimichurri sauce, it's actually pretty easy. You measure your oil, vinegar, and fresh herbs, and plop it in a food processor.
So while getting those things all measured out, we started cooking our steaks.
Then we turned on the food processor and had a tasty meal all ready for us.
This was a fun meal. The chimichurri added some flavors that we're not used to having on our meat, and it gave the whole dish a nice kick. And besides that, the bright green color makes everything look fresh and exciting. It's the closest that we've ever felt to being actual gauchos.
Get your ponchos, bombachas, and bolas out, and whip yourself up a delicious dinner:
  • 1 cup Italian parsley
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 flat iron steaks
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1/4 white onion, sliced
  1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a food processor and blend until pureed.
  2. Let sauce stand at room temperature.
  3. Salt and pepper both sides of each steak.
  4. Heat grill pan with a bit of olive oil over medium-high heat.
  5. Add the steaks, and cook for 6-7 minutes.
  6. Flip the steaks, add the onions to the pan, and cook for an additional 6-7 minutes for medium doneness.
  7. Pour chimichurri sauce over the meat, and serve.

Monday, May 23, 2011

#38 - Chorizo Quiche

Tonight felt like a quiche and Ligabue kinda night, but instead of going with a regular quiche Lorraine, we felt like changing it up, and since Marcela Valladolid didn't lead us astray with her cupcakes, we went with her Mexican quiche.

Chorizo Quiche

From Mexican Made Easy
This quiche is a chorizo and potato quiche, so the most important ingredient is the Mexican chorizo. It's kind of an international quiche, though, because we went with a Swiss cheese as opposed to finding a more authentic Mexican one.
The first steps are to cook the chorizo and the potatoes.
After that, it's mix everything together, put it all in the crust, and heat her up.
This was a great quiche. Chorizo is always delicious, and it goes really well with eggs. The Mexican crema added a nice silkiness to the final dish, and overall this recipe is a keeper.

And the best part for us is that now we have extra chorizo in the fridge that we're gonna have to use soon.
Get your quiche on by following these steps.
  • 1 pre-made pie crust
  • 1/2 cup russet potatoes, diced
  • 2 links of Mexican chorizo
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Mexican crema
  • 1 cup Swiss cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Shape the pie crust dough into a 9-inch pie pan, and cook according to the directions on the box for a pre-baked, one-crust filled pie.
  3. Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water, remove, and cool.
  4. Remove the casings from the chorizo, and cook over medium heat until crisp.
  5. After having removed the pie crust, raise the oven to 425 degrees.
  6. In a large bowl, mix together the potatoes, chorizo, eggs, crema, cheese, and milk. Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Pour the mixture into the crust, and bake until the quiche puffs and is cooked through, about 45 minutes.

Monday, May 16, 2011

#37 - Eggplant Parmigiana

There are a million ways to make eggplant Parmigiana. We felt like having some, so we had to narrow down that list to one. We found a recipe in our Throwdown! book, and it since it beat out Bobby Flay's version, we thought it was worth a try.

Eggplant Parmigiana

From David Greco of Mike's Deli
This recipe calls for breading the eggplant, so besides the eggplant, cheese, and sauce, you're gonna need flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs.
Something interesting about how they batter the eggplant is that they put pecorino and parsley in the egg-wash. We're not sure about how much a little cheese and herbs affected the breading, but those are tasty ingredients, so they couldn't hurt.After dredging and frying the eggplant, you layer it with cheese and sauce (we used the extra tomato sauce that we didn't use in yesterday's Brasato al Barolo), and pop it in the oven. Then it's eating time.
This was a pretty tasty version of eggplant Parmigiana - how could it not be with fried eggplant, tomato sauce, and gooey mozzarella cheese. The problem was it was a little heavy, so we wouldn't want to have this version too often. The good news is that means we we might have another Parmigiana recipe by the end of the year.
Are you ready for a Throwdown?
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 heaping cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 2 Tbs parsley, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups Italian bread crumbs
  • 2 eggplants, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 4 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 lb mozzarella, thinly sliced
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of the Pecorino and the parsley, and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Coat each of the eggplant slices in flour, the egg wash, and the breadcrumbs, and set aside.
  4. Heat the vegetable oil and the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat until the oil begins to shimmer.
  5. Fry the eggplant in batches for about three minutes a side until golden brown, and remove to paper towels.
  6. Spread a little of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a large baking dish.
  7. Layer the eggplant, about one third of the remaining sauce, and about one third of the mozzarella and Pecorino cheeses.
  8. Repeat until you have reached the top of the dish, and top off with a little more sauce, mozzarella, and Pecorino than the previous layers.
  9. Bake until the top is lightly crisp, about 25 - 30 minutes.
  10. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

#36 - Brasato al Barolo

For our wedding, the Wilkinses gave us this really nice Dutch oven from Mario Batali. We used it once already - to help us make the cajeta from those yummy cupcakes, but today, we made something from the mini cookbook that came with the big pot. The little book had a few recipes, and one of them was these braised short ribs.

Brasato al Barolo

From Mario Batali
The recipe is called Brasato al Barolo - braised in Barolo. We had never heard of Barolo, and after some research, we discovered that it is known as "the wine of kings, the king of wines."

Well, we didn't think splurging on a regal wine to be used for cooking sounded like a good idea, especially for our first attempt. And besides, the Wheaton beer and wine store didn't have any. Surprise. So we swapped that out with an Italian Pinot noir.
We talked about the Barolo, now it's time to talk about the Brasato. What we're braising is beef short ribs.
While the ribs were browning in olive oil, (watch out for extremely painful splattering) we chopped the vegetables and pancetta. It wouldn't be a Hungry Hundred recipe without pancetta.
After the ribs brown, it's time to brown the vegetables. Once those are browned, you add in the wine and tomato sauce. We had made a batch of our own tomato sauce for this, but like we said with the Gnocchi alla Sorrentina recipe, use what you have / want.
Then, once everything is all together, just let it cook for a couple hours, and you're done. Slow and steady wins the braise.
This recipe came out great. Cooking the meat low and slow really made it flavorful and tender. We realized, though, that we should have made something to go with the ribs, like rice or polenta - all we had around the house was frozen French Fries.
Go out and buy yourself the wine of kings and you can eat like one too:
  • 6 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 lbs boneless beef short ribs, cut into 3-inch cubes
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large Spanish onions, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, sliced
  • 2 ribs celery, cut into thick slices
  • 4 oz pancetta, diced
  • 2 cups Barolo or other hearty red wine
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over high heat until smoking.
  2. Season the meat liberally with salt and pepper.
  3. Making sure not to overcrowd the pot, brown the meat in the olive oil, turning frequently until dark golden brown, about 10-12 minutes per batch.
  4. Transfer the meat to a plate, and set aside.
  5. Pour the excess oil out of the pot, and add the onions, carrots, celery, and pancetta.
  6. Cook for about 8 minutes until the vegetables turn light brown and begin to soften.
  7. Add the wine and tomato sauce, and bring to a boil.
  8. Add the meat and bring back to a boil, and then lower the heat to a simmer.
  9. Cook until the meat is very tender, 1 1/2-2 hours.
  10. Transfer the meat to a plate, and bring the cooking liquid to a boil.
  11. Reduce the liquid to about 2 1/2 cups, season with salt and pepper, and pour over the meat.