Thursday, March 31, 2011

Carrot Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot Cupcakes:
4 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
8 large eggs
2 cups granulated white sugar
2 cups canola or vegetable oil
4 cups finely grated raw carrots
1 cup grated apple(approximately 2 large)
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup raisins or currants(optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine wet ingredients in one bowl and dry ingredients in another, fold gently together until just combined.  Fill muffin cups 3/4 full, bake for 20 minutes.

Adapted from Joy of Baking.  Theirs was sadly lacking pineapple.

For frosting:

Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp maple flavoring

In a mixer beat all the ingredients on medium until fluffy.

Note: If you don't have maple syrup you could use milk instead and just add extra maple flavoring.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Clam Chowder

1/2 lb bacon, minced
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 onion, diced
2 lg. potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tsp. thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Chicken broth and clam juice, combined to make 2 cups
1 cup milk
1 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
2(6 1/2 oz) cans chopped clams, juice reserved

Fry Bacon until crisp, remove and set aside.  Cook the celery, onions and potato in bacon fat until the onions soften.  Add seasonings, milk, half-and-half, and broth.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring frequently.  Make a roux by melting 1/2 cup butter in a skillet over medium-low heat, stir in flour.  Cook, stirring continuously for 2 to 3 minutes.  Slowly add 1 to 2 cups hot liquid to the roux, stirring to incorporate and remove lumps.  Immediately add roux mixture to chowder, stir to blend. Add clams and bacon.

Makes 4 servings.
Double for Christmas.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cream Biscuits

Obviously yours won't be green, these were for St. Patrick's Day

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. table salt
1 Tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. sugar
1 to 1 ½ cups heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar in a mixing bowl, and stir with a fork to blend. Slowly add 1 cup of the cream, stirring. Gather the dough together gently: when it holds together and feels tender, it’s ready to knead. If it feels shaggy and pieces are dry, slowly add enough cream to make the dough hold together.

Place the dough on a lightly floured counter and knead for 1 minute. Pat the dough into a rectangle about ½ inch thick. Cut into 12 squares. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve hot.

Yield: 12 biscuits

Note:  These were also still good reheated two days later.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Beef Stroganoff

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/2 pounds sirloin steak, trimmed of all fat and sliced into very thin strips
1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)
1 large onion, chopped
2 10-ounce packages white mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tsp kosher salt
1 14 1/2-ounce can beef broth
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 cup low-fat or regular sour cream
1 12-ounce package extra-wide egg noodles, cooked

  • Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the sirloin and brown it (in batches if necessary). Remove and set aside.
  • Cook the caraway seeds (if desired) and onion in the Dutch oven, stirring occasionally, until the onion is transparent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the mushrooms and cook until soft, 8 minutes more.
  • Stir in the tomato paste, paprika, and 1 teaspoon salt until well blended. Add the sirloin and broth, stirring to combine.
  • Simmer until the meat is very tender and about half the liquid remains, about 10 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the parsley and sour cream. Serve over the egg noodles.
NOTE: The paprika and tomato paste were a nice departure from my usual stroganoff recipe. I didn't use the caraway.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Buttercream cautionary tale

I tried to make Alton Brown's buttercream today and it was pretty much a fail. It seems to have a lot of potential, but mine fell apart after I got about 1/3 of the butter blended in. The egg foam just collapsed and it got very runny. After refrigerating and adding a bunch of powdered sugar it seems to be stable. (Of course that defeats the less-sweet purpose of the whole thing.) After reading the comments, I discovered a lot of people had the same issue. There were others who thought it was the best thing ever. Who knows?

If I tried it again, I would definitely pay close attention to the room temperature butter and egg thing (my butter may not have been quite that warm), and I would use white corn syrup instead of brown. It affects the color and flavor too much, imo.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bean and Cheese Enchiladas

1 - 8oz brick cream cheese, softened
1 can refried beans(or 1 can of black or pinto beans blended)
1 can enchilada sauce
1 lb. shredded cheddar cheese(approx. 4 cups)
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne
12 fajita sized tortillas

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9x13 and a 9x9 pan.  Place cream cheese and beans in a bowl and blend together; add 1/2 of the enchilada sauce, spices and almost all of the cheddar cheese(reserve some for the top).  Scoop ~1/3 cup of filling into each tortilla and roll tightly placing side-by-side in a glass cake pan, spread enchilada sauce over the top and sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Serve with a side of rice.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Carbomb Cupcakes

1 cup Guinness
1 cup unsalted butter
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1½ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

8oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream
2-3 oz whiskey

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
4-8 tbsp. Bailey’s Irish cream

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.  Combine the stout and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the eggs and sour cream to blend.  Add the stout-butter mixture and beat just to combine.  Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed just until incorporated.  Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 to ¾ full.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes.  Allow to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the ganache filling, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Heat the cream in a small saucepan until simmering, then pour it over the chocolate.  Let sit for one minute and then whisk until smooth.  If the chocolate is not completely melted, place the bowl over a double boiler or give it a very short burst in the microwave.  Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined.  Set aside to let the ganache cool until it is thick enough to be piped.  (You can use the refrigerator to speed the cooling process, but be sure to stir every 10 minutes or so to ensure even cooling.)  

Meanwhile, cut out a portion from the center of the cupcake using the cone method (or, if they sink a bit like mine sometimes do, don't bother cutting out).  Once the ganache has reached the correct consistency, transfer it to a piping bag fitted with a wide tip and pipe it into the cupcakes.

To make the frosting, place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Gradually add the powdered sugar until it is all incorporated.  Mix in the Bailey’s until smooth.  Add more if necessary until the frosting has reached a good consistency for piping or spreading.  Frost the cupcakes as desired.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Quiche Lorraine

One nine-inch pie crust

8 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled (1/2 c or more)
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese (4 oz)
1/3 c finely chopped onions
4 large eggs
2 cups cream or half-and-half
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

  • Heat oven to 425. Make pastry and place in pan.
  • *Carefully line pastry with a double thickness of foil, gently pressing foil to bottom and side of pastry. Let foil extend over edge to prevent excessive browning. Bake 10 minutes; carefully remove foil and bake 2-4 minutes longer or until pastry just begins to brown and has become set. If crust bubbles, gently push bubbles down with back of spoon.
  • Sprinkle bacon, cheese and onion in pie crust. In large bowl, beat eggs and add remaining ingredients. Pour into pie crust.
  • Reduce oven temp to 325. Bake 45-50 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
* I skipped all this foil part and my crust bubbled. When I tried to push it down with a spoon, it cracked. At that point I was stuck and went ahead with the rest of the directions fully expecting it to be a stuck-to-the-bottom mess. Surprise! Not only did it not stick, but in spite of the fact that it must have leaked through, I couldn't tell where. All the pieces came out nicely.

In spite of the fact that this could be classified as girl food, the boys liked it. I'm crediting the bacon.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Chances are good that something will slosh out at some point while moving it into your oven or as it starts to expand while baking. (It did for me.) Put a pan under it and your oven won't get all messed up.