June 27, 2006

Strawberry-Coconut Scones




Ingredients:
2 large eggs, at room temperature
12 oz strawberries, diced
1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/4 cup sugar PLUS 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Heat oven to 375. Coat a large cookie sheet* with nonstick spray (with or without flour). In large bowl, mix together flour, coconut, 1/4 cup sugar, lemon zest, baking powder and salt. In small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together cream and eggs. Pour over flour mixture, add strawberries. Carefully fold the strawberries and cream together with the flour mixture until it is mixed and the dough clumps together. Scrape onto center of prepared sheet. Gently pat into 9" round shape. The dough will be very sticky. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Coat long knife with nonstick spray; score round into 8 wedges. Do not cut all the way through and or separate wedges. Bake 30-35 minutes until puffed and well browned, and wooden toothpick inserted into center of the dough comes out clean. The strawberries will caramelize on sheet but the toothpick should still come out clean. Re-cut wedges along the indentations. Serve warm or at room temperature.



*Even though you end up with a 9 inch round, I do not recommend using a pie plate for this recipe. You will get the best results using a cookie sheet. Trust me.


My thoughts:
This would be fun dish for brunch. It is fairly easy to make and the results are excellent. Be forewarned though, these scones are best the day there are made. Due to the fragile nature of strawberries, they can get moldy even after they have been baked. I would only make this the day you are planning to eat it and as close to the serving time as possible. You'll want to eat the scones warm anyway and I've never had leftovers so it's not as big of a deal as it seems.

June 25, 2006

Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies



Ingredients:
1 ¼ cup flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter. at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 oz semisweet chips
3 ½ oz toffee chips


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray one cookie sheet with spray oil. In a medium sized bowl whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and combine thoroughly. Gradually add the flour mixture to the sweetened butter. Once thoroughly combined, pour in the chocolate chips and toffee bits and distribute evenly using the mixer on the lowest setting. Form cookies by dropping 1 teaspoon of dough on the prepared cookie sheet two inches apart. Flatten the cookies slightly with the back of a spoon. Bake until light brown, about 12-15 minutes, depending on cookie size. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

My thoughts:
These cookies are as close to immediate satisfaction as one can get in a cookie. They are a snap to mix together and bake up quickly. Even after they cool, they retain a slight chewy texture and there is a lot of chocolate and toffee goodness spread evenly apart. The dough stores well in the fridge for about a week so you can make fresh cookies when ever you get the urge. What more could one ask?

June 24, 2006

Stuffed Pattypan Squash



Ingredients:

6 small pattypan squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs or matzo meal
1/4 cup grated Romano* cheese
2 tablespoons oregano
salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease or spray one 8 inch square baking dish. Using a knife cut off the stem end of the squash. Insert a small spoon or melon baler and scoop out pulp, leaving a 3/8-inch deep shell. Reserve pulp. Bring 4 cups of salted water to a full boil. Add the squash shells and parboil 2 minutes. Remove and drain. Set aside. Mince pulp. In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and chopped squash until tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and in a small bowl, combine with the cheese, bread crumbs, oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Use a small spoon to fill the shells completely. Place in prepared baking dish. Bake about 15 - 20 minutes, or until heated through.
*Parmesan would make an excellent substitute for Romano.

My thoughts:
I originally came up with this recipe some years back when I wanted to stuff some 8 ball zucchini** I picked up at a farmer's market. I liked the results then and when I saw some tiny pattypan squash at my favorite produce stand I thought an adaptation was in order. Since the flesh of pattypan squash is rather dense you have to be a little aggressive scooping the pulp out but it isn't difficult, especially if you have a sharp melon baller or a pointy spoon. A major plus is that pattypan is a much easier variety of squash to find than 8 ball zucchini. Plus "pattypan" is a fun word to say.


**8 ball zucchini is a small round variety of zucchini. You can follow this same recipe with great success, but since 8 ball zucchini is round, you will want to knick a little bit off the bottoms of each zucchini so they don't roll around in the pan.

June 20, 2006

Yogurt Herb Bread



Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 eggs, at room temperature
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon tarragon
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour or spray with cooking spray (with flour) one loaf pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside. In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the melted butter, yogurt, eggs, dill, tarragon, thyme, rosemary and oregano. Pour into flour mixture and mix until well combined and it forms a fairly thick dough, about 2 minutes. Pour into prepare pan and bake about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and dry. Allow to cool in pan about 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack and allow it to continue to cool. Slice and serve.

My thoughts:
I had never made such a savory quick bread until today but I am pleased with how well it came out. The dill and yogurt combination is a good one. The yogurt gives it a nice tang and almost yeasty flavor that most quick breads don't have on account of not having, you know, yeast. I also added that 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour to give it a more wholesome edge but really, I am not a whole wheat flour kind of girl. About 1/2 cup is about all I can take at a time. With this bread I am most proud that I was able to come up with a recipe that rose and tasted good and only yielded one loaf using yogurt, some thing I normally don't use much of in my baking. The good thing about only posting recipes that I have developed myself is that it constantly forces me to come up with new ideas all the time. Luckily, I haven't had a recipe fail yet or I'd be wasting all kinds of time and ingredients.

June 19, 2006

Tomato Sauce with Anchovies


Ingredients:

28 oz canned whole tomatoes, crushed*
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
10 anchovy filets, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 lb fun pasta of your choice, cooked and drained

Directions:

In a medium pot, saute garlic in olive oil until just golden. Remove from heat. Add anchovies and mash the two together with the back of a wooden spoon. Then add the pepper flakes and cook on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and salt. Continue to cook 20-30 minutes or until the tomatoes and olive oil has combined. There may be a slight film of oil on top. This is normal. Add the parsley and cook an additional 5 minutes. Toss with pasta and serve with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan.

*Pour tomatoes into a bowl and crush by hand.

My thoughts:
My husband is from Staten Island (NYC) where there is a large Italian population. Right near his parent's house there is this amazing Italian grocery that makes their own mozzarella, salads, sauces, pastas and bread. Whenever we are in town we always stock up on goodies like anchovies packed in olive oil, unusual pastas, vats of olive oil and other hard to find imported goodies. Since it's summer, we had to stick to nonperishables this visit but we did bring home some delicious packed-in-Italy canned tomatoes and some wonderful freshly made Italian bread. Only a couple hours after making the 3 1/2 hour drive back to Baltimore, my husband made this yummy sauce using the tomatoes. It's really quick and easy to make and goes wonderfully with some good Italian bread. It's also not fishy for those of you who are afraid of anchovies. They melt right into the sauce and add a wonderful depth of flavor with no fish taste. I like using lots of fresh parsley in tomato sauces, especially when using canned tomatoes. It really makes the sauce taste fresh in a way that is often hard to accomplish with canned tomatoes. It is also a good idea to use the highest quality of canned tomatoes possible.

June 15, 2006

Key Lime & Apple Bread



Ingredients:

1 2/3 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
¾ cup shredded Granny Smith apple (skin on)
2 eggs, at room temperature
5 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons key lime juice*
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon key lime zest
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour or spray (with baking spray with flour) 1 9x5x3 loaf pan. In a medium mixing bowl, combine sugar, zest, lime juice, egg and butter until fluffy. Add the milk and apple, mix until thoroughly incorporated. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix thoroughly. The batter will be lumpy from the apple. Pour into prepared loaf pan. Bake 30-45** minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan about 5 minutes then invert to a wire rack. Slice and serve when cooled to your liking.

*"regular" lime juce and zest would work just as well.

**It really depends on how moist your apple is, the juicer the apple, the longer it will take the bake. If it takes a really long time (over 45 minutes) or starts to get really brown on the edges while still raw in the middle, drop the temperature down to 300 and continue to bake.

My thoughts:
Why key lime and apple you might ask. Why not key lime and something more tropical? The truth is I needed to make something to use up the key limes I had left over from making the coconut key lime pie. We are leaving tonight to go to NYC for weekend to attend the Renegade Craft Fair and I just knew the limes would go bad while we were away. I had one apple left in the fruit bowl so I used that up too. That being said, it really is a good combination, I was pleased with how well the flavors of the tart key limes and the tart apple complemented each other. As a bonus this recipe also came together very quickly. I was shredding the apple while I was creaming the butter and sugar (yay stand mixers!) and was able to get the whole thing in the oven in about 12 minutes. I plan on wrapping the rest up and taking it with us for tomorrow's breakfast.

June 14, 2006

Coconut Key Lime Pie



Ingredients:
14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk (fat free is fine)
3 egg yolks
2/3 cup toasted coconut
1/3 cup key lime juice*
2 1/2 teaspoons key lime zest
9 inch round coconut crust or graham cracker crust

Directions:
Preheat oven to 300. In a large mixing bowl, using your electric mixer, beat the egg yolks, lime juice and zest until the eggs are creamy. Slowly add condensed milk and toasted coconut and mix until well combined. Pour into crust and bake 15 minutes or until the pie is "set" and no longer feels liquid to the touch. Cool on wire rack, refrigerate.



*Note: For an authentic pie, you need the juice of fresh key limes. Using a juicer is the most efficient way to extract the most amount of juice from tiny key limes limes. If you have to use bottled juice, make sure it is from actual key limes (the juice will be a pale yellow) and not just (Persian) lime juice with citric acid added to make it tart. Of course, you could just use regular lime juice but then it won't be a "key lime pie".

My thoughts:
I am lucky to live near several great grocery stores. This results in my having access to fresh key limes several times a year. My husband loves key lime pie so I came up with this recipe for him. I basically used the same recipe I usually use to make key lime pie and added coconut to it. I also baked it in a homemade coconut pie crust instead of a graham cracker crust. I bet some people reading this will think that it would be coconut overload to have coconut in the pie and into the crust, but I assure you, it isn't. The amount of coconut in the pie is just enough that it ties the flavors of the pie together.

Coconut Pie Crust




Ingredients:
7 oz toasted coconut *
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
2 tablespoons flour
Directions:
Preheat oven to 250. Grease or spray (with nonstick spray with flour) one 9 inch pie plate. In a small mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Beat in sugar until dissolved. Fold in coconut and flour. Press coconut mixture evenly along the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Bake for 10-14 minutes or until set. Keep a close watch to make sure it doesn't burn. Remove from oven and allow to cool before filling.
*You can use sweetened or unsweetened flaked coconut. If you use sweetened, you might want to reduce or eliminate the extra sugar.
My thoughts:
This is a good crust to make for either a "icebox pie" that you don't bake or for a more traditional baked pie. I used this as a base for a coconut key lime pie but its usefulness certainly isn't limited to that. I'd love to use this as a base for a chocolate pie.

How to toast coconut

Preheat oven to 350. Arrange shredded/flaked coconut on a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until light golden brown. Stir and check frequently to prevent burning. Remove from oven and allow to cool before using.
My thoughts:
This works for either sweetened or unsweetened coconut. I like to make sure only the edges of each flake gets brown, allowing a slight chewiness to remain in the middles but you can certainly toast to your liking.

June 13, 2006

Savory Yogurt Sauce



Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup nonfat, plain yogurt
3 oz brick style cream cheese, at room temperature
1 onion, quartered
1 stalk celery, cut into pieces
3 anchovy fillets
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon mustard powder
1 tablespoon hot paprika
1 teaspoon celery seed
black pepper to taste


Directions:
Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Pulse until smooth. This is an easy recipe to multiply or adapt add more or less of each ingredent as the taste suits you.


Serve over: grilled vegetables (eggplant is especially good), baked potatoes or sliced fresh, raw veggies. You could even toss it with some shaved onion, sliced cucumber and tomatoes for a quick cold salad.


My thoughts:
This recipe came about as a happy accident. I came up with this sauce while trying to come up with a lowfat yogurt dip. I should have let the yogurt drain to form yogurt cheese, but I was hungry and didn't want to wait. I ended up being more pleased with its outcome as a sauce than I think I would have been with it as a dip. As a sauce it can be used on any vegetable or even on sandwiches, as a dip it would have been more limited in its possibilities. Anyway, it is really tasty and savory without (surprisingly given all the capers and whatnot) being salty. I really loved it on grilled eggplant and look forward to making a cucumber-tomato salad with it tonight.

June 11, 2006

Truly Transplendent Potatoes



Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs baby potatoes
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon rosemary
salt
pepper

Directions:

In a single layer, arrange all of the potatoes into the bottom of a large, nonstick pan. Add rosemary, salt (if needed), pepper broth, butter and oil. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and partially cover with a lid. Continue to boil about 20 minutes. At this point the broth should have evaporated some but the potatoes should still be surrounded by broth up to the half way mark. Carefully use the back of a spoon to gently crack each of the potatoes, do not mash. Raise the heat slightly and continue to cook until all of the broth has evaporated and the potatoes have browned on the underside, about 10 minutes. Flip the potatoes and cook the other side for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Allow to sit about 2-3 minutes before removing the potatoes from the pan and serving.


My thoughts:
This is a modern version of the classic French dish pommes fondantes using baby potatoes instead of diced and broth instead of water. The potatoes get the most beautiful and creamy texture by cooking them this way. My husband insists that this would be an excellent "company dish" but I can't imagine wanting to share. We ate the entire pan between us and were fighting for the scraps. They are just that good.

June 09, 2006

Chocolate Coconut Marshmallow Bars




Ingredients:
1 cup mini marshmallows
1 cup flour
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour one 8 inch square pan. In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, oats, baking powder, milk and melted butter thoroughly. Pour onto bottom of prepared pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips, then coconut. Top with marshmallows. Bake 15 minutes or until marshmallows are golden brown*. Let cool slightly, slice and serve.


*The bottom layer will be rather moist and crumbs will stick to a toothpick if one is inserted into the center of the pan. Do not worry, cookies are completely cooked. The absence of an egg means you can have a very moist, almost "raw" texture without risk of food poisoning.

My thoughts:
I had some leftover coconut from recent baking adventures, a tiny bag of chocolate chips and 1/2 a bag of marshmallows on hand so I decided to combine them all into a sort of über bar cookie. The base is brownie-like but not too sweet. The marshmallow adds a touch of gooeyness without being overpowering. All in all, it's a surprisingly more subtle and adult dessert than its list of ingredients would suggest.

June 07, 2006

Baked Eggplant Parmesan


Ingredients:

28 oz canned, crushed tomatoes
28 oz canned, whole tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 small to medium eggplants*, cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 eggs, beaten
1 large onion, chopped
1 handful fresh basil, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan PLUS more for sprinkling
1/4 cup dried oregano
2 tablespoons olive oil PLUS more for brushing
10 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil. When heated, add onion, garlic and shallot, saute until softened and just beginning to brown, 5-10 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes and whole tomatoes, breaking the whole tomatoes up with the back of a spoon. Add oregano and cover. Simmer on low until warmed through and ready to use. Meanwhile, combine together oregano, Parmesan and bread crumbs. Brush 2 cookie sheets with olive oil. Set aside. Dip each eggplant slice into the egg, then dredge (both sides) in crumb mixture. Place on greased cookie sheet. Slide the sheets into the oven and bake about 15 minutes or until the bottom is golden brown. Flip then return to the oven for an additional 15 minutes or until the second side is golden. Then, remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. While they are cooling, ladle about 1/2 of the sauce into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange eggplant slices on top, slightly overlapping if need be. Ladle the remaining sauce over the eggplant. Top with Parmesan as desired and the mozzarella cheese. Bake 20-25 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is slightly browned. Serve as is or with pasta.

*use regular eggplants (not Japanese) but chose ones that are on the small size, they are less bitter than the colossal ones you some times find at the grocery store.

My thoughts:
My husband is a big fan of eggplant Parmesan. I like it too, but have always found it to be rather labor intensive for what is basically a simple, homey dish. Until I came up with this recipe. Not only does the elimination of frying the eggplant cut down on the fat content, it also cuts down on the "hands on" time of the recipe. Once you get the sauce going, it can cook on low unmonitored until it is time to ladle over the eggplant and once the eggplant is in the oven and the timer set, there's not much to do there either. Not to mention there is no risk of splatter burns from cooking over hot oil. I served this with pasta on the side and honestly neither my husband or I could taste any difference between this and the fried versions we've had in the past. The leftovers were good on sandwiches or over fresh pasta.

June 05, 2006

Shrimp Salad





Ingredients:
3 lb freshly steamed, peeled shrimp*
1 stalk celery, diced
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon celery seed

Directions:
Place shrimp, celery and mayo in a large bowl, stir to coat. Sprinkle with seasonings and fold to distribute evenly. Serve on crackers, bread or as is.



*I like to steam shrimp for shrimp salad in plain water. Adding seasonings at that point doesn't add much to the flavor and makes the shrimp more difficult to peel.
My thoughts:
Many shrimp salad recipes call for onions, peppers, dill, lemon juice, and/or hard boiled eggs but I think all of those "extras" distract from the true star of the dish: the juicy shrimp. I think the celery and celery seed area all the crisp flavor accents this dish needs. Being from Baltimore, I am also extremely fond of Old Bay seasoning and think it too brings out the best in shrimp.

June 03, 2006

Pineapple Cupcakes



Ingredients:

20 oz (canned) crushed pineapple in juice (not heavy syrup!)
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Line or grease and flour 24 wells in a cupcake pan. In a large bowl, combine baking soda, flour, sugar and salt. In a measuring cup or small bowl, beat together the eggs and oil. Add to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Fold in the crushed pineapple and its juice. Pour about 3/4 cup of batter in each well. Bake 15 minutes or until the cupcake looks "set" and bounces back to touch. Cool on a wire rack then ice. These are excellent with pineapple cream cheese icing .
My thoughts:
I have been doing a ton of baking lately! We had my mother and aunt over for lunch today and I made these for dessert. I had planned on serving some of the yummy coconut and lime cupcakes I had made last week and froze but they defrosted unevenly in our humid weather. I wanted to keep with the tropical theme so I quickly developed this recipe. It is really tasty, moist and have tiny bits of pineapple throughout. It was also a big hit at lunch!

Pineapple Cream Cheese Icing




Ingredients:
6 oz block cream cheese, at room temperature
1 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup pineapple juice
1/3 cup sweetened, flaked coconut

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine confectioners' sugar, cream cheese and pineapple juice throughly . Frost on cooled cake or cupcakes. Sprinkle with coconut.

My thoughts:
I developed this recipe to compliment my pineapple cupcakes but I bet it would be good on coconut cupcakes or even basic vanilla. This is a fairly thin icing that works well with a topping of coconut. If you left out the coconut, you might want to increase the confectioners' sugar by about 1/4 cup to make it stiffer.