Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sweet Potato Blintzes with Farmer's Cheese

My son is officially in toddlerdom, especially when it comes to meal time. Things that were once beloved now are given to the dog or belong to the floor (which then goes to the dog). Sometimes within one meal a food goes from being bad to good to bad again (mac and cheese is not a floor food!). It’s hard, especially when you worked hard on something, but it’s all worth the effort in turning my child into a foodie.

These were a hit on dinner 1 and breakfast 1 and less so for dinner 2. The sauce, which is I changed to blueberry because it is a food he still very much enjoys, was always popular. So despite the potential of the dog getting a fabulous meal, I’d say these are worth the time and, as a bonus, freeze really nicely. Adults can have some too and they taste extra great when you save them from the floor.

I’m including the original cranberry syrup recipe as I made it for the first set and it really is quite good. If you decide to go the blueberry route, cut the sugar in half.

Sweet Potato Blintzes with Farmer’s Cheese via The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook:

Yield 16 blintzes

1½ c. milk (whole is great, other fat levels are also fine)
6 large eggs
1½ c. all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. table salt
1 Tb. melted butter or neutral oil, for brushing the pan, plus additional for cooking blintzes  

About 4 medium sweet potatoes
2 c. farmer’s cheese
2 large egg yolks
¼ c. sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
Few fresh gratings of nutmeg
Pinch of salt

Cranberry syrup-
2 c. fresh or frozen cranberries
¼ c. orange juice
½ c. sugar

Make the wrapper batter by combining all wrapper ingredients except for butter or oil in a blender. Pour the batter into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour or up to 2 days.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Bake the sweet potatoes on a tray for about 40 minutes, until soft. Let them cool in their skins. Once they’re cool, peel the sweet potatoes and mash them or run them through a potato ricer.
Preheat a medium skillet or crepe pan over medium-high heat. I don’t have a crepe pan. You probably don’t either. Don’t sweat it, your skillet is fine. Once it’s heated, brush the pan lightly with melted butter or oil. Pour ¼ cup batter into the skillet, swirling it until it evenly coats the bottom, and cook, undisturbed, until the bottom is golden and the top is set, about 2 minutes. No need to flip them. The key here is even heat and just a little bit of grease in your pan. Sounds complicated and come out perfect. Transfer the wrapper to a paper-towel-covered plate, cooked side down. Continue with the remaining batter.

Once the sweet potato puree is cool, stir in the farmer’s cheese, egg yolks, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

If you plan to freeze these, do so before the browning step. They’ll taste great if you wait.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Put an ever-so-slightly heaped ¼ cup of filling in the center of each wrapper, and fold the opposite sides of wrapper over filling until they barely touch. If you had to read that 14 times like I did, it means take the two vertical sides of the wrapper. It’ll make sense in a second. Pull the end of the crepe nearest to you over the filling (away from you), and roll the rest of the way, to completely enclose filling, forming elongated, egg-roll-shaped packets. Reheat with the remaining blintzes and filling. Reheat your crepe skillet - or a larger one, if you want to cook more blintzes are a time - over medium heat and add more butter or oil to coat the pan. Place a few blintzes, seam side down, in a skillet, and cook them until they are golden brown and crisp, for about 5 minutes on each side. Transfer them to a baking sheet, and keep them warm in the over until they are ready to serve.
Now make the syrup. In a saucepan, over medium heat, simmer the cranberries, orange juice, and sugar together until the berries burst, about 7 to 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 5 minutes more. Strain the syrup into a bowl.
Serve the blintzes warm with a drizzle of cranberry syrup and/or a dollop of sour cream.

If you’re lucky, your toddler will eat them and make you feel so proud. If not, they are also great in your own mouth.   

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Mini Pear Pies

The reason I hardly ever blog is I have this baby guy and he takes up a lot of my time and when he's sleeping or otherwise occupied with block stacking or chasing the dog around, I tend to zone out on silly phone games or cute pictures of animals on the Internet. So not blogging. I do think about it, though, and I continue to take pictures of the food I make (a thing I still do when not helping a baby stack blocks or be nice to the dog who puts up with a lot from a small thing that tries to climb on him all the time). Another thing I do is hang out with a great group of moms. So baking + hanging out with moms = trying to show off and bring tasty things to meet ups. I haven't done this in awhile, but this was an early hit.

I should probably try to show off again. And blog. But you know, block stacking.

Mini Pear Pies slightly modified from Mogwai Soup:

Makes 12 mini pies

5 pears, pealed and chopped
½ c. sugar
Peel of one lemon
1 Tb. lemon juice
Pinch of ground ginger
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of allspice
2 cardamom pods, crushed
Pinch of salt
1 Tb. of corn starch
A few Tb. of water
Butter or oil
1 egg beaten with a tablespoon of water

Make your amazing pie dough. Roll it out. Let it rest in the fridge. While you prep the filling, let the dough get to room temp and then roll it out. I used a not often used martini glass (a confluence of watching a lot of Sex and the City and turning 21) to cut out the bases and a drinking glass to do the tops.
Add all the filling ingredients except corn starch to a saute pan and cook on medium heat. After 10 minutes add the cornstarch and cook for 5 more minutes, if it is thickening too much you can add a few tablespoons of water. Cool off a bit before filling your pies.
Butter or oil the cups of a 12 cup muffin tin. Push in the bottoms of the pies, curling them up over the edge about ½ inch. Put about 1½-2 tablespoons of filling into each pie. Go for too little at first rather than too much. You still need to seal them. Cover with the tops and seal the edges with a fork. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with some sugar.

Bake it at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, checking after 20 or until nicely golden brown.
Cool in pan until you can push them out and cool on a rack. Transfer to some happy mommies or, you know, your mouth. Good times for everybody! Plus they look really fancy.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Roasted Beets with Balsamic Glaze

Fall and winter mean root vegetables. Sometimes you just can't think of another way to make beets. That's where this recipe comes in handy. It's a great side or an addition to a fall salad.

Roasted Beets with Balsamic Glaze via Serious Eats:

Serves 4

6 medium beets (2 bunches, or about 3½ lb.)
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tb. extra virgin olive oil
1/3 c. inexpensive balsamic vinegar
1 Tb. maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Remove the leafy stems and roots of the beets and peel each one with a vegetable peeler. Cut the beets in 1 1/2-inch chunks. Place the cut beets on the prepared baking sheet and toss with the olive oil and salt. Roast for until the beets are tender when pierced with a thin-bladed knife, 35 to 40 minutes, tossing once with a spatula midway through.
Meanwhile, combine the vinegar and maple syrup in a small skillet. Cook over medium heat until the liquid is reduced by about half (it should lightly coat the back of a metal spoon). Pay close attention and be sure not to over-reduce it; it goes from sweet and syrupy to burnt and hard very quickly. Toss the glaze with the roasted beets and chill until ready to serve.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Harrison's First Birthday Cake

The biggest reason my blogging has become so infrequent is I've got this little man around that takes up so much of my time. It's fantastic. This past Friday was his birthday, so we went with the family to Lincoln City to celebrate one year of Harrison.

Of course I made him his own cake. It was a process that took a couple of weeks and lots of test cakes. Some were too snack cake, some were disgusting (that's what I get for trying sugar free), and some were just meh. But I found one that was just right and then, as I do, started to modify. I used the frosting from my favorite baby food blog/book (thanks Renai!) and along with some exploding writing icing and a bit of cinnamon, we had a cake.
Harrison tried to eat a slice whole. I'd say that's a success.

Harrison's First Birthday Cake adapted from Martha Stewart and Wholesome Baby Food:

Makes 1 9" 2 layer cake

For the cake -
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
¼–½ tsp. cinnamon
½ c. sugar
½ c. butter, melted
½-¾ c. yogurt
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 c.)

For the frosting -
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
¾ c. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1½ c. heavy cream

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 300 degrees. Butter and flour two 9x2 round cake pans. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and sugar. Blend in the melted butter, mixing together until moist. Add half of your yogurt and combine.

In a separate bowl, combine the other half over the yogurt and blend into the flour mixture. Add the vanilla and mashed bananas. Beat for 1 minute. Divide the batter between the two cake pans and place in center of oven. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. When cake is done, top should be a golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.

Cool cakes on a cooling rack in pans and then invert onto rack to cool completely.

While cakes are cooling, make the frosting. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, salt, and vanilla until smooth. In a small bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold into the cream cheese mixture.
When the cake have cooled, place one top side up on a cake stand or inverted plate. Place a big dollop of frosting in the center and spread evenly across the top. This is going to be that tasty middle layer of frosting, but don't go too bananas (haha), you need enough to frost the rest of the cake. Place the other cake top side down over this frosting layer. Put a huge amount of frosting in the center of the top and spread it across and down the sides. Keep turning the cake until you've frosted the whole thing. Stick a large knife or spatula or anything long you can find to remove the cake from the plate and onto another one. This is a great two person process, so wrangle someone in to help you.

Once on the other plate, stick in the fridge for at least 10 minutes to let the frosting firm up a bit before doing any further decorating.
Slice it up and watch an adorable one year old get his first piece of cake. Also, some other people ate it, but you know, priorities. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Thai Mango with Coconut Sticky Rice

One of my favorite desserts is mango sticky rice. I lean toward the fruit side of the dessert world and this one is perfect for those cravings. It's so much easier than you think and the results are so perfect.

Thai Mango with Coconut Sticky Rice via The Kitchn:

Makes 2-4 servings

1 c. Thai sweet or sticky rice
1 can coconut milk, unshaken
3 Tb. raw or white sugar, divided
1 tsp. salt, divided
½ tsp. cornstarch (or tapioca flour, available in Asian groceries or in gluten-free section)
2 ripe mangos
Toasted sesame seeds and mint, to garnish

Soak 1 cup of dry sticky rice in water for about 1 hour. Drain the rice and rinse it thoroughly. Then pour about 1 cup of water into a saucepan, and place the rice in a steamer insert inside the saucepan. Cover tightly and steam over low to medium heat for 20 minutes.

While the rice is steaming, make the first sauce. You will make two coconut sauces to go on the rice: One thin one to mix into the rice itself, and then a thicker sauce to spoon over top. Start by opening the can of coconut milk and spooning out the thick cream on top.

Place the thicker coconut cream in a small bowl. You should have approximately 1/2 cup, give or take a bit. Pour the thinner, lighter coconut milk left in the can into a small saucepan. It will be a little over 1 cup. Stir in 2 tablespoons sugar and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Warm over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Do not let the sauce boil.
By now the rice is probably done. The grains should be tender and shiny. Spoon the rice out into a bowl. It will be clumpy. Slowly pour the warm coconut milk over the rice in the bowl, stirring frequently. You want the milk to coat the rice but not leave puddles. Keep stirring, and stop pouring in coconut milk when it looks like the rice is saturated. You may not use all of the milk. Set the rice aside to finish absorbing the coconut milk; after 15 minutes or so it should have soaked up any milk that is still liquid.

While the rice is standing, make the coconut topping sauce. Rinse out the coconut milk saucepan, and pour in the coconut cream that you took off the top of the can. Stir in 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together a few teaspoons of water and the cornstarch. Whisk this cornstarch slurry into the coconut cream and cook over low heat for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture thickens considerably. Set aside.

To cut up the mango, first cut off the bottom so it can stand upright. Slice away the skin in thin strips, until the mango is completely peeled. Cut off the flesh in slices, starting with the broad cheeks on each side, then the thinner strips that will come off either side. Try not to eat all of the mango when you're doing this. It's hard, I know, but the end result is worth it.
To serve, place about 1/3 cup cooked sticky rice on each plate, and arrange mango slices around it. Drizzle with the coconut topping sauce, and sprinkle with a few toasted sesame seeds. Garnish with a mint sprig, and eat while still warm.

So good. So so good.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Heirloom Tomato Tart

Summer might be over, but Portland keeps hanging on to the sun. The leaves are falling off of the trees though and it is definitely fall. Maybe you stashed some tomatoes away in your freezer. Make this and pretend it's still August.

Heirloom Tomato Tart via Joy the Baker:

Makes 1 9 by 9 tart

For the sun dried tomato pesto sauce -
1 8 oz. jar sun dried tomatoes, some of the oil reserved
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 small red chili, seeds remove and coarsely chopped
Big pinch of granulated sugar
1 scant tsp. salt
3-4 Tb. olive oil from the sun dried tomato jar
For the Tart-
1 9×9-inch sheet all-butter puff pastry, thawed but still cold
Small handful fresh basil leaves
4 oz. goat cheese
3 small heirloom tomatoes, sliced about ¼-inch thick and drained on paper towels
Handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half and seeds removed
1 Tb. fresh thyme leaves
Olive oil
To make the sun dried tomato pesto sauce, combine sun dried tomatoes, garlic cloves, chopped
chili, sugar, salt, and oil in the bowl of a food processor. Blend until combined, but still slightly
coarse. The mixture does not need to be completely smooth. Taste and season as needed. You'll get some extra. It's fantastic on other things, like toasted bread.

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking
sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Unfold a chilled sheet of puff pastry. Roll lightly with a rolling pin just to flatten completely. Place on the prepared baking sheet and spread about half of the pesto sauce over the puff
pastry, leaving about a ½-inch border around the edges. Coarsely tear basil leaves over the
sauce. Crumble goat cheese over the sauce. Arrange heirloom tomatoes in a single layer over
the goat cheese and press down slightly. Try to cover as much of the sauce as possible as it can
burn in the oven if exposed. Add a few cherry tomato halves. Sprinkle generously with fresh
thyme and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until puffed and golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to rest
for at lease 10 minutes before serving.

It's kind of like pizza, but so much fancier. Close your eyes and dream of summer.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Cardamom Moscow Mule

Sometimes you just need a cocktail – one that is crisp, refreshing, and a little different. Try this one on for size. It's really easy and you may already have everything you need at home except for the copper mug. A regular glass will do.

Cardamom Moscow Mule via Honestly Yum:

Makes 2-ish

For the mule-
2 oz vodka
½ oz lime juice
4 oz. cardamom ginger ale
Lime wheel and pinch of ground cardamom for garnish

For the ginger ale-
2 tsp. finely grated ginger
5 cardamom pods
½ c. evaporated cane sugar
½ c. water
1 c. sparkling water
To make the ginger ale, peel and finely grate the ginger. Set aside. Crack open the cardamom pods and grind the seeds using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Set aside. Add sugar and water to a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Add ginger and ground cardamom and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Once the syrup has cooled, strain through a fine mesh strainer. Transfer to a large jar or bottle and add sparkling water. Keep the ginger ale chilled in fridge while you make the rest of your drink.

Crush ice, either using a Lewis bag or food processor. Fill your cup halfway with crushed ice. Add the vodka, lime juice, and cardamom ginger ale, then top off the remainder of your cup with crushed ice. Cut a lime wheel and lay it on the top of the cocktail for garnish. Sprinkle a little ground cardamom on top of the cocktail for some added spice.

If you love ginger, you'll love this one. It's got bite, it's crisp, it's totally perfect for ladies night. I also really like the ginger ale just on its own.  
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