Monday, October 31, 2011

#83 - Sugar Cookies

We can't remember when, but a while back we got Halloween shaped cookie cutters. Since today is All Hallow's Eve, it's time for some Halloween shaped sugar cookies.

Sugar Cookies

Adapted from Good Eats A sugar cookie is a simple thing, so we figured what separates the good ones from the bad ones are the little things. So we looked to the expert in the little things, Mr. Precision, Alton Brown. So we got the right proportions of baking powder and sugar, we mixed everything together, we refrigerated in wax paper, and then it was time to roll it all out. And then it was time for our cookie cutters. We whipped together a simple icing, added some food coloring, and covered the cookies with a little extra sweetness.

These cookies came out pretty well. They can be a little too sugary with the icing (not in Alton's recipe) but they're really tasty and as long as you don't eat too many of them, it's worth having the colored icing to make them extra spooky. Hurry up and make these. Otherwise you'll have to wait a whole year, or get some more appropriate cookie cutters.
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 Tbs milk
  • Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 2 tsp light corn syrup
  • Assorted food coloring
  1. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar in a stand mixer until light in color.
  3. Add egg and milk and beat to combine.
  4. Put mixer on low, gradually add flour, and beat until the mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl.
  5. Divide the dough in half, wrap in wax paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375.
  7. Sprinkle the surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar.
  8. Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from the refrigerator at a time.
  9. Sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick, moving dough around to make sure it is not sticking.
  10. Cut dough into desired shape.
  11. Place cut dough at least 1 inch apart on greased baking sheets.
  12. Bake for 7-9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to brown around the edges, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time.
  13. Let cookies sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes and then move to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.
  14. In a small bowl, stir together confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth.
  15. Beat in corn syrup until icing is smooth and glossy.
  16. Use food coloring to color icing.
  17. Ice cookies using a knife or a paint brush.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

#82 - Perfect Blueberry Muffins

We've kind making a lot of Food & Wine / Bon Appetit recipes lately, but as you know, we're big Smitten Kitchen fans, so we decided that this time we'd go back to her site and pick out another one of her recipes to make.

Perfect Blueberry Muffins

From Smitten Kitchen We're making blueberry muffins this morning, so the recipe calls for both muffin-related ingredients and blueberries. This was a pretty simple recipe, so instead of boring you with the steps, we'll just show you the pictures. These were some pretty tasty blueberry muffins. Were they as perfect as the name suggests?

Um.... maybe?

They were easy to make, and they came out nice and fluffy and blueberry-y and sweet but not too sweet. Pretty much all you can ask for in a blueberry muffin. If you're looking for a simple breakfast, these are worth the half an hour to prepare.
  • 5 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Line a muffin tin with 10 paper liners.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the egg and beat well, then add the yogurt and zest.
  5. Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a sifter and sift half of the dry ingredients over the batter.
  6. Mix until combined.
  7. Sift remaining dry ingredients into batter and mix just until the flour disappears.
  8. Gently fold in the blueberries into the batter.
  9. Fill each muffin tin about 3/4 full with an ice cream scoop.
  10. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the tops are golden and a tester inserted into the center of muffins comes out clean.
  11. Let cool slightly on a rack before serving.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

#81 - Chicken Pot Pie with Savory Topping

Mama Beck sent us this recipe to try out because she said it was a pretty good chicken pot pie. Let's see.

Chicken Pot Pie with Savory Topping

From Cooks Illustrated We're not big celery fans, but whenever we have a recipe that calls for a little bit, we struggle to find the right amount. Normally celery comes in quantities designed for a family of ravenous rabbits. So what we find ourselves doing is buying little snack packs that come with celery, baby carrots, broccoli, and a little ranch dressing. That way we have the right amount of celery, and we can snack on some other vegetables while we cook. This is a little unusual chicken pot pie because it's not really a pie. You put the filling ingredients in a casserole dish and crumble a pie crust-like topping on top. This is kind of a one pot meal. You'll actually need a pot and a bowl because you cook some ingredients in the pot, pull them out and put them in a bowl, and put more ingredients back in the pot. Well, you'll need a pot, a bowl, and that casserole dish we talked about. And an oven. And some sort of timing device. So yeah, you'll need a little more than just a pot. Ooooooh. This was amazing. The filling was super creamy and earthy, the crust topping had a really nice flavor of Parmigiano cheese to it, and the whole thing was just delicious. Good call Mama Beck. Get one pot, a bunch of other things, and make this one. You'll thank us.

Savory Topping
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 6 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
  • 1 oz Parmigiano cheese
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs heavy cream
  1. Preheat oven to 450 and adjust tack to upper-middle position.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper in a large bowl.
  3. Sprinkle butter pieces over the top of flour mixture.
  4. Using fingers, rub butter into flour until it resembles coarse cornmeal.
  5. Stir in Parmigiano and mix to combine.
  6. Add cream and stir until just combined.
  7. Crumble mixture into 1/2 to 3/4-inch irregularly-shaped pieces and place onto a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.
  8. Bake until fragrant and starting to brown, about 10 to 13 minutes.
  9. Set aside.

  • 1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 2 small celery ribs, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 10 oz cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed, caps wiped clean and sliced thinly
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 4 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 Tbs fresh parsley leaves, minced
  • 3/4 cup frozen baby peas
  1. Bring chicken and broth to simmer in a covered Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Cook until the chicken is just done, about 8 to 12 minutes.
  3. Transfer cooked chicken to a large bowl.
  4. Pour broth through a fine-mesh strainer into a measuring cup and reserve.
  5. Heat 1 Tbs vegetable oil in the Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering.
  6. Add onion, carrots, celery, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper.
  7. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  8. While vegetables are cooking, shred the chicken into small pieces.
  9. Transfer cooked vegetables into the bowl with the chicken and set aside.
  10. Heat the remaining Tbs oil in the empty Dutch oven medium heat until shimmering.
  11. Add the mushrooms, and cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms have released their juices, about 5 minutes.
  12. Remove cover and stir in soy sauce and tomato paste.
  13. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid has evaporated, mushrooms are well browned, and dark fond begins to form on surface of the pan, about 5 minutes.
  14. Transfer mushrooms to bowl with chicken and vegetables and set aside.
  15. Heat butter in empty Dutch oven oven medium-high heat.
  16. When foaming subsides, stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.
  17. Slowly whisk in reserved chicken broth and milk.
  18. Bring to simmer, scraping pan bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen browned bits, then continue to simmer until sauce fully thickens, about 1 minute.
  19. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  20. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and 2 Tbs parsley.
  21. Stir chicken-vegetable mixture and peas into the sauce.
  22. Pour mixture into a 13x9x2-inch baking dish.
  23. Scatter crumble topping evenly over the filling.
  24. Bake on a rimmed baking sheet until filling is bubbling and topping is well browned about 12 to 15 minutes.
  25. Sprinkle with remaining Tbs parsley and serve.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

#80 - Warm Apple Cobbler

It's time for another dessert, and who doesn't love apple cobbler?

Warm Apple Cobbler

From Bon Appetit So this recipe called for a lot of stuff you'd expect - apples, brown sugar , vanilla, cinnamon. But there was one thing listed that we had no clue about - miso. We found dry miso soup mix at the store, bought it, and put it in the photo with all the other ingredients. But that clearly wasn't the right thing, so we didn't use it and we're not including it in the recipe when we write it below. There's not much to say about the making of this one; just look at some pictures of what we did along the way. We asked before, "Who doesn't love apple cobbler?" To avoid double negatives, we'll say this: apple cobbler is delicious, and we love this one. Even without the miso. Find some vanilla ice cream, and make a good old-fashioned American dessert.
  • 4 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 3 large Fuji apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon peel, finely grated
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Butter a 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish.
  3. Toss the two kinds of apples, lemon juice, lemon peel, and vanilla in a large bowl.
  4. Add sugar, flour, and cinnamon and toss to combine.
  5. Transfer to the baking dish.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

#79 - Super-Stuffed French Toast

We watch a lot of Food Network. One show we kind of watch (Johnny didn't watch this season) is The Next Food Network Star. The first season that we watched ended up with Aaron McCargo, Jr. winning his own show, Big Daddy's House. We watched the premier, and thought that one of his breakfast recipes sounded pretty good. It only took us three years to try it out ourselves.

Super-Stuffed French Toast

From Big Daddy's House So this is a French toast recipe, but before pan frying them, you take two slices, put some fruit filling in between them, and make a little sandwich. We have canned cherries and apples, the stuff usually used for filling pies. So, you start off with the usual French toast ingredients - eggs, cream, vanilla, and cinnamon. But before dipping that bread, make a little pocket, and fill with the fruit. Then you dip the whole thing in the egg wash, cook on a griddle. and top with some powdered sugars.These were a nice new breakfast option for us, as we've never made French toast before. But except for the filling, which kinda got lost in the middle, the French toast weren't as sweet as we would have liked. So maybe having a different recipe for the toast but keeping the fruit filling would work a little better. Do you have what it takes to cook like Big Daddy?
  • 6 jumbo eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbs vanilla
  • 2 Tbs ground cinnamon, plus more for topping
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 12 slices brioche bread, about 1/2-inch thick
  • 6 oz apple pie filling
  • 6 oz cherry pie filling
  • Cooking spray
  • Powdered sugar, for topping
  1. Preheat griddle pan over medium heat.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, vanilla, cinnamon, pinch of salt, and sugar until well combined.
  3. Lay 6 slices of the bread out and lightly brush egg mixture around the edges.
  4. Press a "pocket" in the middle of each slice of bread for the filling.
  5. Heap 2 Tbs of apple or cherry pie filling in the middle of each bread pocket.
  6. Take the remaining 6 slices of bread and brush the edges with egg mixture.
  7. Place pieces of top of the bread with filling and seal the edges with the fingers.
  8. Dip stuffed bread in the egg mixture and place on sprayed griddle.
  9. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, turning once, until lightly browned.
  10. Sprinkle with cinnamon and powdered sugar.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

#78 - Butcher's Ragu with Fusilli

Looking through Food & Wine magazine, we saw this recipe for a ragu by Mario Batali. Since we have his Dutch oven, and we like ragu, we thought we'd give it a shot.

Butcher's Ragu with Fusilli

From Mario Batali Now this isn't any ordinary ragu - it's Butcher's Ragu. That means it has like 10 types of meat. Well just three really, ham, pancetta, and ground beef. So you have your carrots, celery, garlic, and onions, and then you add the three meats to it in Mario Batali's Dutch oven, or whatever big pot you have at home. Once that's browned, you have the next slightly unusual part of the recipe. There's no tomato sauce, it's just made with tomato paste. So when you're done, the sauce is a lighter version that gets its liquid from the browned meat, some milk, white wine, and water. The verdict for this one? Not bad.

The things that made it unique were probably the parts we liked the least. There probably was a little too much meat, and the sauce wasn't as saucy as we'd like.

So was it tasty? Yes. Would we make it again? Probably not. Here's the recipe for you, if you feel like a meaty pasta.
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 medium celery rib, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 lb baked ham, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 1/2 lb fusilli
  • Parmigiano or Pecorino cheese, grated for serving
  1. In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the carrot, celery, onion, and garlic and cook until softened but not browned, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the pancetta and ground beef and cook until no longer pink, about 8 minutes.
  4. Add the tomato paste and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until shiny and rust-colored, about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the ham, milk, white wine, and water to the pot and simmer the ragu over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until it is thick and saucy, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  6. Season the ragu with salt and pepper.
  7. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the fusilli until al dente.
  8. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce.
  9. Stir well to coat the pasta.
  10. Serve the pasta right away with grated Parmigiano or Pecorino cheese.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

#77 - Chicken Breast with Fontina and Prosciutto

Wow, three recipes in two and a half days. Not bad. This one's a chicken dish.

Chicken Breast with Fontina and Prosciutto

From Bon Appetit This is a chicken breast, stuffed with prosciutto, fontina, and boursin cheese. Yes, Johnny had a say in this one. Basically, you mix the two cheeses, the chopped prosciutto, and some basil together in a bowl, and then you stuff it under the skin of the chicken breast. You saute that in some butter, and then you make a little Marsala sauce to top it all off with. This dish was alright. We had some trouble stuffing the skin, cooking the chicken, and flipping it to the other side without everything spilling out / overcooking, but that's probably 50% the breasts' fault and 50% us not having too much experience with anything like it. We do have some experience with Marsala (fail), and we did much better with that this time, but it still was not 100% right. So the flavors are good, the idea is great, but our execution wasn't that great. Maybe you can make this better than we could.
  • 1/4 cup Fontina cheese, coarsely grated
  • 1/6 cup (packed) Boursin cheese
  • 1/6 cup (packed) prosciutto, chopped
  • 1 Tbs fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 large boneless chicken breasts with skin
  • 1 Tbs chilled butter, divided
  • 3/8 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup dry Marsala
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 300.
  2. Combine cheeses, prosciutto, and basil in a small bowl and season with pepper.
  3. Run fingers under the skin of the chicken to loosen.
  4. Spread the stuffing under the skin.
  5. Season both sides of the stuffed chicken breast with salt and pepper.
  6. Melt 1/2 Tbs of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  7. Add the chicken, skin-side down, and cook until brown, about 3 minutes per side.
  8. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook until chicken is cooked through, turning once, for about 10 minutes.
  9. Transfer chicken to a rimmed baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm.
  10. Add broth and Marsala to the skillet.
  11. Bring to a boil and cook until the sauce is reduced to 1/4 of a cup, scraping up browned bits, 3 to 4 minutes.
  12. Remove from heat and whisk in 1/2 Tbs butter.
  13. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
  14. Place chicken on plate.
  15. Add any juices from the baking sheet to the sauce.
  16. Spoon sauce over the chicken and serve.