February 20, 2018

Stone Ground Buckwheat Bittersweet Chocolate Chip Cookies




Ingredients:

1 cup flour
1/3 cup stone-ground buckwheat flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3  teaspoon baking powder
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips


Directions:


Preheat the oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and combine thoroughly. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until a very thick dough forms. Fold in the chips. Form cookies by dropping 1 heaping teaspoon of dough two inches apart. Flatten slightly then bake until light brown, about 12 minutes. Slide them out on the parchment paper on to a wire rack and allow them to cool 1-2 minutes on the parchment on the wire rack before removing the parchment and allowing them to cool directly on the wire rack.



My thoughts:
It has been bitterly, bitterly cold here. No major snow thankfully but day after day of tempertures in the low teens and single digits. I've been trying to make things that use the oven or require one to boil water to help warm up the house without turning up the thermostat. 

If you are a long time reader, you probably have noticed I don't do a lot with whole wheat flour. The simple reason is that I don't care for it and if I eat too much of, I feel a bit queasy. Not true of buckwheat which isn't actually wheat at all. It has a nutty flavor and is high in fiber and protien. I mostly use it to make crepes or pancakes so I thought I'd branch out and make cookies with it. 

We are lucky to live within driving distance to a working, historic grist mill. They have a few events throughout the year (including my favorite, the corn roast) and we like to pick up some flours while we are there. Their buckwheat is really tasty and a bit coarse. It gives the cookies a nice nutty flavor (without nuts, which I don't love in cookies) and a firmer, chewier texture. 

Note: Buckwheat should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer to keep it from spoiling. I prefer the freezer personally. 


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February 14, 2018

Black Bottom Brownies



Ingredients:

For the brownies:
4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup cocoa
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, at room temperature

cream cheese layer:
1 egg, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips



Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray with baking spray or grease and flour one 8x8 inch baking pan. Set aside

In a saucepan, melt the butter, cocoa, and chocolate together over low heat. Stir occasionally, and when the chocolate is nearly melted, remove from heat. Whisk until smooth. Set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a separate bowl with an electric mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the brown sugar, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Slowly stream the chocolate mixture into the eggs and mix to combine. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients and mix until the batter is thick and glossy. Pour into prepared pan. Smooth the top. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese, egg, sugar, vanilla and flour until fluffy. Fold in chocolate chips. Carefully pour over brownie layer. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with one or two moist crumbs.

Cool completely in pan, on a wire rack. Do not slice before cooling!! RESIST TEMPTATION!


My thoughts:
It wasn't until a few months ago that I realized that black bottoms, the treat my family has been making for decades, wasn't a ubiquitous dessert all across the country. Thanks, Twitter! This explains why some people would give me puzzled looks when I'd say that my mom was making a dozen dozen black bottoms to give away for Christmas treats instead of cookies. After all, pretty much every bakery and most sandwich shops (even ones like Heavenly Ham!) in the Baltimore area sell black bottom cupcakes. I can't find much about their origins online but most recipes have some reference to Baltimore or Maryland or trackback to a recipe that does. Very interesting.

They really should be popular everywhere as they are basically a chocolate cupcake with a cheesecake filling, a universal combo if I've ever found one. I've made traditional ones, a Nutella-spiked version, and even pumpkin ones over the years. I was tempted to make some today for Valentine's Day but there are only two of us so I thought I'd stick with something with a slightly more manageable treat and convert them into another chocolatey treat: brownies!

The brownie base is very rich and dark (nearly black with chocolate, hence the name!) but offset by the light, fluffy chocolate-studded cheesecake layer. So, so good. It is tempting to want to swirl the cheesecake but I find it is best to just let it have a layer all to itself for maximum deliciousness.






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February 12, 2018

Red Rice with Andouille Sausage



Ingredients:
1 lb andouille sausage
2 cups long grain rice (Carolina Gold, if possible)
1 onion chopped
2 cubanelle peppers, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cup water or stock
1 bay leaf


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large oven-proof pan*, heat  a small amount of oil. Saute the sausage, peppers, onions, and celery until the onion is translucent and the sausage browned. Add the rice and continue to saute until the rice is well-coated and translucent. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover and bake 25-30 minutes or until the rice is tender. Stir and bake 5 additional minutes, uncovered. Remove bay leaf. Serve hot.



*if you do not have an oven safe pan, bring the mixture to a boil then transfer to a 2-quart baking dish  (with a lid or cover in foil) and follow the remaining instructions.


My thoughts:
There are a lot of theories to the origins of this dish from Southeastern coastal regions of Georgia and South Carolina and I can't quite get to the bottom of which is correct but I do know it is one of my favorite ways to eat rice. Traditionally it is made with bacon which not only coats the rice but gives it a smoky flavor but I had some extremely tasty andouille I couldn't resist using that. It makes for a spicer final dish but provides the same function that the bacon did.

Unlike a lot of Southern rice dishes, red rice is started on the stove top and finished in the oven. This gives you the best of both worlds: slighly crisp edges and soft, richly flavored rice inside. You can serve this as a side dish, but I like it as a meal all to itself.

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February 08, 2018

Meyer Lemon Bundt Cake



Ingredients:
2 cups milk
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
juice and zest of 1 Meyer lemon
1/2 cup diced candied lemon peel*


for the glaze
1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice
1/2 cup confectioners sugar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Spray with baking spray or grease and flour one Bundt pan. Set aside.


In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the milk, juice, sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder. and zest. With the mixer running, stream in the dry ingredients and beat until well-incorporated. Fold in the diced candied lemon peel. Scrape into prepared Bundt pan.

Bake for 50 minutes or until a thin knife inserted in the cake comes out with just a few damp crumbs.

Cool 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack, then remove and cool completely on the wire rack.

Whisk together the glaze ingredients in a small bowl. Drizzle cake with glaze then sprinkle with additional candied lemon peel if desired prior to serving. The glaze can be doubled if you want a really well-coated cake. Store leftovers at room temperature.

*You can use homemade but I used Paradise candied lemon peel which is already cubed.




My thoughts:
I was really excited to see Meyer lemons at Aldi** recently. Not only were they pretty cheap, they can be tricky to find here in the mid-Atlantic. It is thought they may be the result of a spontaneous cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange which makes sense to me, they have the brightness of a lemon but are sweeter and more mellow like an orange.

I like using them in baked goods because they have that sweet-tart quality I like in a fruity dessert. Here they flavor the cake and the glaze and get a little bit of help from the candied lemon peel, since citrus flavors tend to fade during the baking process. It is a pretty plain cake so you don't want to skip on the lemon flavor!

This cake is super quick to put together because it uses oil instead of butter so you can (as I did) decide to make a cake and have it in the oven in less than 10 minutes. It takes a while to bake and cool but the mixing part couldn't be faster or simpler.

The cake is so good! Light yet moist at the same time.


**Shameless plug for my Aldi fan blog here.
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February 05, 2018

Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies


Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and combine thoroughly. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until a very thick dough forms. Fold in the chips and coconut.

Form cookies by placing roughly one heaping tablespoon of dough one inch apart. We used this medium cookie scoop, leveled off. Bake 13 minutes or until the cookies look basically set but perhaps still puffy in the center, these cookies do not spread much. Slide them out on the parchment paper on to a wire rack and allow them to cool 1-2 minutes on the parchment on the wire rack before removing the parchment and allowing them to cool directly on the wire rack.

Yield: about 2 dozen cookies

My thoughts:
Last night we were bemoaning the lack of dessert and baked goods in the house and my husband offered to make cookies. I gave him this recipe to try. He is a much more meticlous baker than I and the cookies came out so perfectly uniform and round, I could hardly believe it. When I use the same cookie scoop, my cookies come out much more "rustic"--he carefully leveled off each scoop so no errant chip hung off disrupting the perfect scoop. The results were a perfectly domed, slightly soft cookie full of chocolate and coconut. Exactly what you need on a cold, winter night.


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January 31, 2018

Loaded Chili Baked Potatoes



Ingredients:

for the chili:
1 lb cubed sirloin or stew meat
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
2-3 jalapenos, diced
20 oz (2 cans) diced tomatoes with chopped chiles, drained
30 oz (2 cans) dark red kidney beans, drained
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle
1 1/2 tablespoons New Mexican chili powder
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

for the potatoes:
6 large Russet potatoes
2 avocados, cubed
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 cup crumbled Mexican queso fresco

Directions:

For the chili:

Spray a skillet with nonstick spray. Quickly saute the meat until the meat is just barely cooked on all sides. Add to a 4-quart slow cooker. Stir. In a small bowl, stir together the tomatoes, peppers, beans, and spices. Pour over the meat mixture. Stir to evenly combine. Cook on low 7-8 hrs and then high until ready to serve (up to 2 hours). If the chili looks watery then turn up to high and leave the lid ajar for 30 minutes or until thickened.

1 1/2 hrs prior to serving:

Preheat oven to 400. Bake potatoes until fully cooked, about 1 hour. Slice in half lengthwise and allow to cool slightly. Scoop out the potatoes into a large bowl, reserving the skins. Mash with a potato masher. Stir in the chili to evenly distribute it in the potatoes while still leaving the meat and beans whole. Scoop back into the skins, top with avocado, sour cream, red onion and queso fresco.

Serves 12


Note:

Potatoes can be made ahead.  Reheat and garnish with sour cream, onion, avocado and cheese prior to serving.


My thoughts:
Although I like to think that spring is right around the corner, in reality, it is still somehow January. Sigh. We had a few relatively balmy days there and now we are back baking to warm the house. 

Anyway, I hear there is some sort of sporting event this weekend so I thought it would be a good time to post this wintery, filling twist on baked potatoes. They aren't twice-baked so they come together a little more quickly and since the chili is made in the slow cooker (which is perfectly safe, This Is Us viewers) there is very little hands-on time.

These potatoes are so filling, just half with some sides (chips and guac anyone?) is a full meal. I know a lot of Super Bowl parties are all snacks all the time but adding these filling, protein-rich potatoes will surely be welcome and only slightly more difficult than just making chili.  


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January 29, 2018

Swiss-Italian Frittata



Ingredients:
4 oz cubed prosciutto
2 leeks, sliced (white parts only)
8 oz baby Swiss chard (if using regular, chop)
8 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup shredded Gruyère
10 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup milk
salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Saute the leek and mushrooms until the leeks have softened. Add the chard and prosciutto and saute until the chard is wilted and the prosciutto is lightly browned.

In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, cheese, salt, and pepper until fluffy*. Fold in the prosciutto/veggie mixture.


Oil or butter an 8x8-inch baking dish. Pour the mixture into the dish and bake for 40 minutes or until fully set in the middle. Allow to cool 5 minutes. Slice into 9 squares and serve.


My thoughts:
Why not Swiss-Italian? Italian from the frittata and proscuitto, Swiss from the (dubious origins so I'm stretching here) the Swiss chard and the Gruyère (although the French fight over that too). It's easier to say that "Prosciutto, Swiss Chard Frittata with Mushrooms, Leeks, and Gruyère", right? I made this one using produce from my locally grown produce box delivery. I don't get it every single week, especially during the colder months but these were all things that were grown in greenhouses from what I could tell and super flavorful. The baby chard was super cute and easy to use (I didn't bother to do anything more than wash it) but regular chard can be used, just chop it up (stems and all) and saute. The prosciutto adds a savory, meaty flavor but could easily be left out for a vegetarian meal. We like to have this for dinner but it would make a great breakfast or brunch dish too.

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