Christmas Eve Party: Sesame Brittle

I was doing some recipe searching for a project I’ll post about later and sesame seeds were heavily featured. That put me in mind of Sesame Brittle. I thought it might be nice to have it to crumble over ice cream on the Sundae Bar on Christmas Eve.

Such a simple recipe. No candy thermometer needed. I always use oiled wax paper, but I’m wondering if oiled parchment would work better. The heat of candy on the wax paper melts it in places. Difficult to peel off.

Sesame Brittle

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • salt

saucepan, wax paper (or parchment) and baking sheet Continue reading

Beyond Easy Recipe For Fresh, Hot Bread

bread-and-jam

I love this recipe, it is so easy. I was looking for a slow rise bread – they are thought to be easier to digest for people who have trouble with yeast or gluten sensitivities. And it has the added advantage of being super easy and almost fool-proof to make. Instant yeast is a must here, because the idea behind the slow rise is that the yeast has time fully flavor the bread and become more easily digestible.

Crusty Slow-Rise Bread

  • 5 ½ cups unbleached flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 ¼ tsp instant yeast (instant is important)
  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons lukewarm water (about 95 degrees F)

Add yeast to water and allow to proof for about 1 minute. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl until well blended and smooth, about 1 minute. Let rest uncovered for 5 minutes.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead for two minutes. The dough should be smooth, tacky, not dry or sticky. Adjust by adding flour and water as needed.

Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours or up to four days.

It makes two loaves. If you’d like to make loaves separately, you can divide into to equal pieces, cover and refrigerate separately.

To bake:

Two hours before baking, remove from the refrigerator. Shape into desired loaf, spray lightly with oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise about 90 minutes until it’s increased 1 ½ times its original size.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and remove plastic from bread. Just before baking, score with three slices across the bread with a sharp knife. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and place in hot oven. I add sesame seeds on the baking sheet and place the loaf on that so it doesn’t stick and has a nice sesame seed crust.

Add a tray of ice to a baking sheet and place on the rack underneath the bread to create a steam bath for the bread.  This will give you a crispy, chewy crust.

Bake for 15 minutes, rotate pan and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until the bread reaches and internal temperature of 200 degrees F.  For crisper crust, turn off the oven and leave the bread in an additional 5 minutes.

Remove to a bread board and let cool for 45 minutes (ok, seriously, if you can wait that long, you’re a better person than I – I’ve scorched my fingers more than once sneaking a fresh hot slice).



 

French Toast Alert System Raised To HIGH!

Rolled Stuffed French Toast Final

The French Toast Alert System has been raised from Elevated to High, as we are expected to get anywhere from 6 to 15 inches of snow tomorrow. If you were lucky enough to get to the store and buy your milk, eggs and bread before the shelves were cleared out, here’s your french toast recipe. Bonus cute sous chef.

Originally posted January 2014

This is a very simple recipe, but I needed a helper, for sure. All you need for this recipe is a good quality bread – I used 12 slices – 2 eggs, 1/4 cup milk, dash of cinnamon, dash of salt, 8 oz of cream cheese, strawberry jam and powdered sugar. You can spread anything you want on the bread, go for your favorites. I think peanut butter and jam would be really good.

Step One: In a bowl, add eggs, milk, cinnamon and salt and beat well.

Step Two: Roll the bread flat, just not too flat, so it’s easier to roll up.

Easy Peasy

Step Three: Spread cream cheese and jam in the center of the bread. Don’t get too close to the edges, because you don’t want it to squish out when you roll up.

Jam and Bread

Step Four: Roll bread up. You’ll want to do all of them before you start dipping and cooking.

Suisse Chef

Step Five: Melt butter in a skillet (adding more as needed as you cook)

Ready to dip

Step Six: Dip bread rolls one at a time quickly into the egg mixture, don’t let them soak. Then add them to the pan.

Rolled French Toast

Step Seven: Cook over medium heat, turning as each side browns, until the whole rolls is golden brown. Remove and immediately dust with powdered sugar. Repeat until all rolls are cooked.  We served 4 with twelve rolls and it was more than enough.

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Thanksgiving Files: Hearty Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I was looking through the archives trying to decide which recipes to repeat and this one caught my eye, mostly because I had totally forgotten this cooking method. So reposting as an idea for your holiday dinner. For all the Thanksgiving recipes, click on this link: Thanksgiving Files.

I’m never going to turn away mashed potatoes.  Ever.  But I do have a favorite style – unpeeled and hand mashed potatoes.  I love creamy ones too, but with a good gravy, the hearty ones really hold up.

A while I ago I wrote about a mistake I made cooking potatoes and how I used a recipe I remembered from a few weeks before to save them.  Well, I decided to try it for real this time.  I could not track down the recipe, but did the best I could with what I remembered.  I must have remembered pretty well.  They turned out great.

This recipe uses unpeeled potatoes, but you can peel them and whip them for creamy mashed potatoes suitable for the fanciest Thanksgiving table.  And don’t be startled, but you don’t boil the potatoes either, you cook them in cream and butter. Yummy.

Hearty Garlic Mashed Potatoes

  • 1/4 cup half & half
  • 1/4 cup water or broth
  • 3 tbsp to 1/4 cup of butter
  • 4-6 small garlic gloves, peeled and minced
  • 6 to 8 medium potatoes (russet or yukon gold work best)

4-qt saucepan

Add half & half, water, butter and garlic cloves to the pan and turn heat to low and let butter melt and liquid heat.  Meanwhile, scrub potatoes well and cut small (not diced, but smaller than 1-inch cubes).  Add to liquid and turn heat to high.  Stir constantly until liquid begins to boil, turn heat down to medium-low, cover and let cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 20-30 minutes.  Keep an eye on them and turn the heat lower if it looks like they might stick – if you feel like you need more liquid, add half & half.  There is so much water in the potatoes, this technique works really well.  And the potatoes are extremely creamy because you haven’t soaked them in water.  When they are tender, turn off heat and mash to desired constancy.

Originally posted November 2011

Stuffed French Toast Rollups

Rolled Stuffed French Toast Final

This is a very simple recipe, but I needed a helper, for sure. All you need for this recipe is a good quality bread – I used 12 slices – 2 eggs, 1/4 cup milk, dash of cinnamon, dash of salt, 8 oz of cream cheese, strawberry jam and powdered sugar. You can spread anything you want on the bread, go for your favorites. I think peanut butter and jam would be really good.

Step One: In a bowl, add eggs, milk, cinnamon and salt and beat well.

Step Two: Roll the bread flat, just not too flat, so it’s easier to roll up.

Easy Peasy

Step Three: Spread cream cheese and jam in the center of the bread. Don’t get too close to the edges, because you don’t want it to squish out when you roll up.

Jam and Bread

Step Four: Roll bread up. You’ll want to do all of them before you start dipping and cooking.

Suisse Chef

Step Five: Melt butter in a skillet (adding more as needed as you cook)

Ready to dip

Step Six: Dip bread rolls one at a time quickly into the egg mixture, don’t let them soak. Then add them to the pan.

Rolled French Toast

Step Seven: Cook over medium heat, turning as each side browns, until the whole rolls is golden brown. Remove and immediately dust with powdered sugar. Repeat until all rolls are cooked.  We served 4 with twelve rolls and it was more than enough.

==========================

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cake

Pumpkin Cake1

I ordered a DSLR camera today, on a whim. Probably mostly because I was stressed, coffee and sleep deprived. I’ve been looking for one, this was a great price and had good ratings, so I suppose it wasn’t a totally bad decision.

Harley is home and getting better…he’s just not himself yet, so I’m still guarded on his prognosis.

There was no time to put together a recipe exchange today, between work issues and worrying about the cat, but I did have the cake recipe in the back of my head and figured I should post it.

I was staring at a can of pumpkin, thinking I should make another batch of pumpkin bars, when instead it seemed time to try a recipe that had been bouncing around in my head for a while. Taking the basics for the gluten free torte that I’ve made with different flavors (chocolatefruit, clementinechocolate-raspberry) I wondered if pumpkin would work or if the moisture content would be too high to create a good cake.

In the end, it is more like the Clementine cake than the chocolate cakes, moister and denser. But the flavor was excellent and while it won’t replace pumpkin bars for me, if you need gluten free, it’s a nice alternative.

Pumpkin Torte

  • 15 oz can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp of pumpkin spice
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven at 375 degrees. Butter a 10-inch springform baking.

In a blender or with a mixer, beat eggs well. Add sugar, blending until the mixture turns thick and pale yellow. Add pumpkin and melted, cooled butter, blending slowly until combined. Add spices, mixing well and then add the baking powder, mix until just combined. Pour into springform pan, tap pan on the counter to release air bubbles. 

Bake for 40 minutes, turn oven down to 350 degrees, then cover with foil and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  I always bake on a baking sheet to avoid any spillage. Cool on rack until completely cooled. Serves 12 small portions

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Cranberry Roasted Chicken

I was reorganizing the freezer today and found two bags of cranberries. Not possible! By this time I’m usually out and anxiously waiting for the season to begin again. But last year they were really inexpensive and I stocked up..then the bags got buried under vegetables. I took one out and thawed it, along with some chicken thighs. I used the recipe below, which is an adaptation of my original Cranberry Grilled Chicken from July 2010, but did a bit of experimentation. I lifted the skin on the thigh, seasoned and added the sauce between the meat and the skin. I replaced the skin, brushed it with olive oil and roasted at 400 degrees. The skin was crisp and flavorful and the meat was moist, tender and had cranberry infused through it.

No secret for anyone who reads the blog with any frequency that I love cranberries.  This cranberry chicken is tangy with a sweet and tangy crust.  Great with rice and a salad. I left out the marinade of cranberry juice and wine with this adaptation.

Cranberry Roasted Chicken

  • 4 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
  • 8 oz whole berry cranberry sauce (I made my own from fresh cranberries)
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp ground dried mustard
  • ¼ tsp crushed garlic

bowl, saucepan, baking dish

In saucepan, mix together all ingredients except chicken, bring to a boil, stirring constantly, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Loosen skin from chicken thighs, season meat, add 2-3 tbsp of cranberry mixture between skin and meat (I pulled the skin most of the way off, covered the meat with cranberries and folded the skin back over it). Brush the skin with olive oil and roast at 400 degrees until cooked through.

Crispy Baked Chicken and Gadget Update

Chicken à la noir.

Kinda wish I had that lighting all the time.

This was going to just be a gadget update, but I thought the chicken turned out so good,  I figured I’d include it.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my newest gadget and I’ve been using it pretty consistently since it arrived. I thought I’d give an update, because I’m really pleased with it. It’s almost all pros. It’s a breeze to use, it doesn’t take a lot of force to penetrate the meat. I love the way it infuses the meat with whatever seasoning or marinade I cover it with – quite literally it helps the meat absorb all the marinade in a couple of seconds. Another plus is how neat it is while tenderizing – the meat, especially chicken, doesn’t need to be wrapped before pounding – there is no meat flying around the kitchen. The real plus is how easily it cleans. Because of the guard between the base and the meat, stuff doesn’t get all caught up in the tines. A bit of soap and hot water and the thing is spotless. Really important with chicken. The one con I have, and it may be a strength issue for me, is that sometimes the tines get caught in the meat and I have to pry it out, kind of like pulling a stick out of mud, and start again. This happens with the thicker parts.

Today I used it to tenderize chicken breasts before breading and oven roasting them. When making this basic oven fried chicken, breasts can be difficult because they can dry out easily. Pounding them flat first makes for quicker cooking, less chance of drying out.  And here’s the recipe I used today:

Oven Fried Chicken:

First I seasoned the boneless breasts with salt and lots of pepper. I pounded them on both sides. Then I dipped them in an egg wash (1 egg and 2 tbsp of water per 4 breasts) and then dredged them in a mixture of bread crumbs, panko bread crumbs and seasonings – I used garlic powder, basil, sun dried tomato flakes, rosemary and a touch of oregano.  I lined them up on a foil covered baking sheet, covered them with foil and baked at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Then I raised the oven temp to 425 degrees, removed the foil and baked for an additional 5-7 minutes until crisp.

They were very moist on the inside, with a nice crisp crust. Leftovers will be great in lunch salads…