I’ve been laying low as we’ve had to reduce our budget a bit thanks to the general winter slowness combined with a few unexpected budgetary hurdles. We have been cooking so I’m going to share the new things we’ve eating over the past couple months.
I asked my husband to make some vegetarian “sushi” rolls, which were great, but my favorite part of the meal was the hijike and edamame salad.
For a more seasonally fitting dish, I made some barley risotto with purple kale and parsnips. I was disappointed when the luscious purple cooked right out of the kale, but the final result was stick to your ribs goodness. My recipe comes from Deb at Smitten Kitchen, and I made it again last week this time using roasted butternut squash and sweet potatoes with lentils. In an effort to reduce pots, I added the lentils to the barley about half way through the stock, and I ended up using about another half a cup of stock, although I think it would’ve been better with another entire cup of stock. I also used red wine in lieu of the white wine, and of course I used veggie stock instead of chicken stock (my stock is not reduced sodium, and I didn’t find it too salty). Finally I didn’t add any butter, although I did add some pre-shredded parmesan that we had in the refrigerator right before serving.
At some point we became the proud owner of a massive restaurant sized jar of Lusty Monk Mustard, so for the Super Bowl party I made pretzels from Smitten Kitchen. Unfortunately, they stuck to the waxed paper which I thought was non-stick so they weren’t terribly pretty after I baked them, but they were rather tasty especially since they were not overly salty.
Next my husband made me fall in love with brussel sprouts (although my first encounter at La Gavroche a few years ago planted a seed) by cooking them with a bit of butter, white wine, salt, pepper, and garlic in a lidded casserole dish at 350F for thirty to forty minutes.
Nostalgia brings me to pancakes and biscuits; I’ve started eating pancakes for Sunday breakfast, which is something my father used to cook for the family, and it is one of the few fond memories I have of him. My pancakes don’t have any butter in the batter, and I use some whole wheat flour along with the all purpose flour; the biggest differences, however, are the syrup, milk, and raisins. My favorite drink as a child was whole milk (unless we were eating out where I would have some soda as Mom didn’t allow soda at home), and I hated real maple syrup and fruit in my pancakes or waffles or desserts. I don’t drink milk any longer (although I cook with dairy), and my taste buds crave maple syrup from the moment the batter hits the pan until my first bite.
Pancakes (yield six large pancakes)
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- .5 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
- .5 teaspoon salt
- 1.5 cups almond milk
- 2 large eggs
- .25 cup raisins
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat
- Whisk the dry ingredients together and set aside.
- Beat the eggs and the milk
- Pour the wet over the dry and whisk just until combined
- Add enough oil to grease the pan then add the batter and cook until small bubbles form then flip and cook for another few minutes
Pancakes are easy and quick, so I ignored my biscuit cravings. Buying a jar of honey for hot toddies was the straw that broke my will. That taste brought to mind my mom rolling out the dough, pulling hot, misshapen biscuits from the oven, and beating honey and butter together to be spread over the fresh biscuits. I pulled out her recipe and made a quarter batch of the mix then added water (or maybe almond milk), shortening, and butter and rolled them out and cut them with a drinking glass just like Mom used to do. I followed Alton Brown’s advice to indent the center which helped my biscuits rise evenly. My honey has requested another batch twice so he can eat some with grits and gravy, but so far I’ve had other uses for saturated fat. I would post the recipe, but I cannot recall how much or which liquid I used.
Last year I tried to make car bomb cupcakes (from my favorite baking site, Smitten Kitchen, but my efforts were foiled by impatience. This year I knew to allow the cakes to cool completely in the pan before attempting to remove them (I waited a good thirty to forty five minutes). I made some amendments to the ingredients so I’ve listed my recipe below, but I followed Deb’s method. Next time I make these, I’m going to find another frosting as this was too sweet for me, and I even stayed on the conservative side of the sugar measurement.
Car Bomb Cupcakes
- 1 cup of stout
- 1 cup of butter
- .75 cup cocoa unsweetened powder
- 1 tablespoon instant coffee
- 1.5 cups all purpose flour
- .5 cup whole wheat flour
- 1.5 cups sugar
- 1.5 teaspoons baking soda
- .75 teaspoons salt
- 2 large eggs
- .67 cup of plain yogurt
- 8 oz bittersweet chocolate
- .67 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons butter (at room temperature)
- 2 tablespoons Irish whiskey
- 3 cups confectioners sugar
- .5 cup butter
- .25 cup Irish cream (Baileys is my choice)
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line 24 cupcake cups with liners.
- Bring beer and butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa and instant coffee and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly
- Whisk remaining dry ingredients in large bowl to blend.
- Beat eggs and yogurt in another large bowl to blend. Stir stout-chocolate mixture into egg mixture until just combined.
- Fold dry into wet until completely combined.
- Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 (Note: I have twelve silicone liner so I made some cupcakes and a small cake in a pound cake pan.)
- Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17 minutes.
- Cool cupcakes on a rack completely (Note: I allowed over thirty minutes because these will break if you try to remove them early).
- With a 1″ cookie cutter core the cupcakes, being careful to puncture the bottom (Note: I made the opposite mistake and didn’t take out enough cake which meant the ganache wasn’t distributed as evenly as it should have been; also I used a butter knife and a quarter teaspoon to take out the centers).
- Pipe the ganache into the wells of the cupcakes (Note: I dropped the ganache in with a spoon.)
- Pipe the frosting on top
- These store fine in an airtight container for a week in the refrigerator, but they serve best at room temperature.
- For the cake I used the ganache as a topping along with the frosting.
- Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl.
- Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate.
- Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. (If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can return it to a double-boiler to gently melt what remains.)
- Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined. Set aside to allow to firm up.
- Whip the butter for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time.
- When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys (or milk) and whip it until combined. If this has made the frosting too thin (it shouldn’t, but just in case) beat in another spoonful or two of powdered sugar.
Now that spring is here I cannot wait to break ground on the garden; we’re also getting ready for our festival of the season, the French Broad River Festival. I cannot wait to get down to James McMurtry, Larry Keel, and the the Trainwreks among others!