butter top bar

butter top bar

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Brown Butter Citrus Pancakes

This is going to sound really pathetic, but I'm not sure I have too much to say today.
 It's not because I don't like you, it's because I'm kind of in a lazy-mode. Please don't be offended.
Citrus makes me feel warm and cozy. There is just something about the smell and flavors that make me want to sit by a warm fireplace.
 A week ago we and I went "skiing" in West Virginia on the first day that the resort opened for the year. We've never done such a silly thing before. Let me start off by saying that there was no snow. Zero snow provided by mother nature.
 There were only five slopes open, one of which was considered a "diamond", and it was way too easy. The man-made snow was crappy, it was 50 degrees. Oh, please. Waste-of-time. Getting away for a couple of days was really nice though.
 The best part was eating at Cracker Barrel on our way there. They have the best pancakes, ever. I can't even explain how good they are. The edges are crispy, they are so buttery.
  I am happy to say that I made these citrus brown butter pancakes today and they taste just about as yummy. They are comforting and delicious and they make you feel good.
 I've been off work for five days now. It feels good to sleep 9 hours, which is what my body naturally wants to do. I feel like I could sleep all day if I didn't tell myself "it's time to get up now".
 I think people need a weeks vacation once a year to just bake and sleep and watch trashy movies like The Beautician and the Beast. Who doesn't love a good Fran Drescher movie?
Brown Butter Citrus Pancakes
makes enough pancakes for two people, double the recipe for a larger group
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon citrus zest
2 tangerines peeled by hand and separated
1 grapefruit, peeled and segmented
1 blood orange, peeled and segmented

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  The butter will foam and froth then begin to brown.  When the butter solids begin to brown, keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.  The butter will smell rich and nutty.  Cook until butter  bits are brown then remove from the hot pan and place in a small bowl.
Whisk together egg, buttermilk, vanilla extract and citrus zest.  Whisk in the browned butter.  Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add the buttermilk mixture all at once to the dry ingredients.  Stir together with a fork until well incorporated.  If the batter is a little lumpy… well that’s just fine.
Let batter rest while you heat up the skillet or griddle pan over medium heat.  Great skillet with a teaspoon or two of oil or butter.  Spoon pancake batter by the 2 tablespoonfuls into the hot pan.  Let cook until browned on one side, flip and brown on the other side.  Place cooked pancakes on an oven-proof plate in an oven heated to 150 degrees F.  This will keep the pancakes warm while you cook the rest.
Arrange the pancakes on a plate, top with segmented citrus and pure maple syrup.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Fresh Cranberry Lemon Scones

Here is what is on my plate (not literally). Jon is coming home in three days! He's been gone for three months training for an air traffic controller position and the end is finally in sight. I can't wait for him to get home. Our puppies miss him and I miss him like crazy as well. Very exciting!
 Two days ago I purchased our little dog Mac a jacket that also went over his legs. He became very dramatic and refused to walk in it, but it happened to be the cutest thing ever. Too bad I have to take it back now. Tomorrow I'm taking our dog Nala to get her teeth cleaned. She has stinky breath. It's probably due to eating things like scones and baked goods that mommy sneaks her. 
 Yesterday I staged a tea party for a photographer to come get some photos for a magazine. Isn't that exciting? I know!
The evening before my staged tea party I met a childhood friend of mine (Matthew) and his friend for wings at Buffalo Wild Wings, where we watched a UFC fight (I must admit, I didn't really know what was going on). Fun, nonetheless.
 I was telling this guy Charles how I made doughnuts earlier that day and ended up inviting them over my house to eat a doughnut after dinner.
 It turned into a very fun night of me making Fresh Cranberry Lemon Scones and them drinking my Grandad's old whiskey (they must have sampled about 6 kinds) from the bar he used to have. Charles (who is really into eating good food, and talks about food in a way that makes you want to eat the most delicious things) pretended to be Alton Brown and became the commentator as if I was on Iron Chef.
 It was all way too amusing. I didn't finish baking the scones until around 1:30am, and sad but true, they were a bit burned on the bottom.
 I couldn't believe they stayed until the scones were done in order to try one. Even a tiny bit burned, they still looked pretty and tasted pretty damn good! I remade them today because I'm not the kind of girl who is okay with scones that are a little burned on the bottom.
 Huge success the second time around. If you make these, do not make my mistake and cut them into triangles. Use a 2" glass dipped into flour, and cut out as many circles as possible.
 You won't be disappointed! 
Fresh Cranberry Lemon Scones

Adapted from Gourmet

1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest (from about 2 lemons; preferably Meyer)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar plus 3 tablespoons additional if using fresh cranberries

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

1 1/4 cups fresh cranberries, chopped coarse
1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400°F. and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
With a vegetable peeler remove the zest from lemons and chop fine, reserving lemons for another use.
In a food processor pulse flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, butter and zest until mixture resembles coarse meal and transfer to a large bowl.
In a small bowl toss together fresh cranberries and 3 tablespoons sugar and stir into flour mixture. If using dried fruit, add to flour mixture.
In another small bowl lightly beat egg and yolk and stir in cream. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined.
On a well-floured surface with floured hands pat dough into a 1-inch-thick round (about 8 inches in diameter) and with a 2-inch round cutter or rim of a glass dipped in flour cut out as many rounds as possible, re-patting scraps as necessary. Arrange rounds about 1 inch apart on baking sheet and bake in middle of oven 15 to 20 minutes, or until pale golden.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Buttermilk Ice Cream

I went through most of the year looking forward to my yearly stop at a book store near where I live to buy girl scout cookies. There were phone calls made to find out the date that they would be there selling the cookies. I put that date in my calendar, and totally like me, I completely forgot about it.
 When I realized it, I was distraught. I mean, come on. No Samoas? No Thin Mint cookies? 
Totally ridiculous, right?
 Today, I was on my way home from Big Lots, which I must say, is mostly junk. I was really disappointed, when out of the blue, I saw Girl Scouts, and that totally made my day!
 This got me thinking about ice cream, because I love frozen Thin Mint cookies with ice cream and hot chocolate more than anything in the world. 
I decided to make this buttermilk ice cream. It's really not that sweet. I'm one of those people who likes the taste of buttermilk on its own. But even if you don't, this ice cream won't disappoint. It has a custard base and is really creamy and delicious. We ate it right away very soft, but will have more tomorrow once fully hard.
Buttermilk Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream

1 1/4 cup sugar

12 large egg yolks
2 cups buttermilk

2 teaspoons vanilla or half a vanilla bean, scraped and simmered with the cream

Pinch of salt

In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the heavy cream and one cup of sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar.
Remove the cream mixture from the heat and drizzle a small amount into the yolks, slowly, and whisking constantly to keep the eggs from curdling. Do this a few more times to warm up the yolks before pouring the yolk mixture back into the cream, whisking constantly.
Cook over low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the mixture and whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, and salt. Cool completely and freeze according manufacturer’s directions.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chocolate Pecan Tart

Really quick I’ll just tell you that I’m sorry I kind of dropped off the face of the earth the last month. I’ve been really sick. Really, really sick. 
On to better things…Join me.
So I’ve become sort of obsessed with this European magazine called Easy Bakes. I’m also now in love with the European section at Wegman’s (which I used to pass by without hesitation. Mostly because I was really confused by what a lot of it was for).Do you know what castor sugar is? What about Muscovado or Demerara? What about shortcrust pastry? Do you know how many different types of sugar this magazine has in it? Do you know how cool I think it is to have 6 types of sugar? I have to get to Europe, pronto. These people know what life is.
 There is only one problem. Everything is in measurements that Katie (I) cannot comprehend. I’m looking online, and things just don’t translate well. Things are in grams and degrees celsius, and I am confused, big time,

It took me a really long time to figure out how much chocolate to use.

Did I mention my food scale just flipped out on me a few days ago? Uh oh.
Don’t worry. I’m kind of a genius. 
I kind of figured out how much of everything to use. 
And I loved this tart/pie so much that I think I’ll make it again for Thanksgiving.
 What can be bad about pecans, chocolate, and shortbread crust?
Chocolate and Pecan Tart
Adapted from Good Housekeeping Easy Bakes and Puds

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup butter, cubed
3 oz milk chocolate, finely chopped
5 tbsp unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1/3 cup caster (or superfine) sugar*
8oz Lyle's golden syrup*
1tsp vanilla extract
4oz pecans, finely chopped
4 oz pecan halves, to decorate
1 cup heavy whipping cream
4tbsp powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit, put a baking sheet in the oven to heat it up.
Pulse flour, powdered sugar, and 3/4 cup butter in a food processor 8-10 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal. Pat mixture evenly on bottom and up sides of a lightly greased 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom.
Bake for 10 minutes in preheated oven, then allow to cool.
Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl doesn't touch the water. Cool slightly.
In a large bowl beat together the eggs, sugar, golden syrup, vanilla, and cooled chocolate mixture. Fold in the chopped pecans, then pour into the pastry crust. Decorate the top with pecan halves. Put the tart on the hot baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes until just set. 
Whip whipping cream in large bowl until medium peaks form, mix in 4tbsp powdered sugar. 

Serve tart warm or at room temperature with a large dollop of whipped cream.

*You can make superfine sugar by placing granulated sugar in a food processor. But I think using regular granulated sugar would work alright as well.
* You can substitute corn syrup for actual golden syrup. You can get golden syrup at Wegmans or any british food store.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lemon Roll-Out Shortbread Cookies

Let me just start this post off by saying, I will probably be blabbing a bit. My apologies. 
Good evening! How are you? I would love to say that I'm swell, but I have terrible back pain that I can't seem to get rid of. I mean really, really bad pain. Lucky me!
I'm so excited because Jon came into town this past weekend. It was wonderful. I have to admit how much nicer it is to have him around. He's my guy. He's my guy who makes me feel whole.
 I think that's how you know you're in love. If you feel incomplete while your partner in crime is far away from you, you're probably in love. Jon and I have chemistry. We explode every now and then but we belong together for sure. I hope the next 8 weeks go by quickly.
 On another note: All I want to do is bake. 
Literally all I think about doing is baking yummy new things. 
 I've never been very successful at baking cookies that need to be rolled out. This time, I did it with style. No problems. The trick is making sure the cookies are cool enough, so the cookies don't flatten out anymore than they need to. How do I know this? Because I'm sort of a pro.
These cookies are delicious. Feel free to substitute lemon zest for orange or even grapefruit zest. I won't tell. Promise.

Lemon Roll-Out Shortbread Cookies
makes about 30 cookies

zest from two lemons
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon raw turbinado sugar (you can also use granulated sugar)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 eggs, beaten (for egg wash)
extra sugar for sprinkling on top

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt.  Set aside.
Using your fingers, rub together 1 tablespoon sugar with lemon zest until fragrant.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment add butter, lemon-sugar mixture, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar.  Cream on medium speed until slightly more pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  There will still be raw sugar bits floating around.  That’s fine.  Stop the mixer, add the flour.  Mix on low speed until dough comes together.  The dough will be crumbly, then begin to form when it continues to mix.  Dump dough mixture out onto a clean surface and form into a ball with your hands.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.
Divide refrigerated dough into quarters.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough out to a 1/4-inch thickness.  Use a 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter to cut cookies, or use a pizza cutter to slice cookies into squares.  Use a fork to prick cookies.  Brush very lightly with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.  Refrigerate cookies while oven preheats.
Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  When oven is preheated, bake cookies for 8 to 11 minutes, until just browned around the edges.  Remove from oven.  Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
Cookies last, in an airtight container at room temprature, for up to 4 days.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Rugelach – Raspberry, Nuts and Chocolate wrapped in Cream Cheese Dough

I injured my back. I have no idea how. It hurts, badly. 
I'm so irritated by the doctor I went to. She gave me literally thirty seconds of her time.
They took x-rays, didn't see anything, and she gave me this skimpy little brace and an old lady cushion.
She said she thinks I'm having muscle spasms. 
This she came up with in thirty seconds without an MRI. Wow, she must be the best doctor ever. 
Maybe I need to re-evaluate this doctor.
Maybe instead of making guesses while I'm in agony, we can actually figure out why I'm having these spasms to begin with.
She passed me off to a physical therapist which costs a fortune. I'm still trying to figure out if there is something I can do at home to make my back feel better.

Should I use a chiropractor? Should I look up physical therapy exercises and do them at home? All I know is it hurts.
The cushion hurts it even worse, and this little "brace" if you want to call it that, does nada.
If I'm going to wear the brace, give me a real brace, you know, one that actually has support. I don't care how it looks if it makes me feel better. I think it's time to get a second opinion.

Anyways, enough about me. How are you doing today? Did you stub your toe? 
I'm sorry.
This rugelach recipe uses butter and cream cheese. If you are sold on it just by those two ingredients alone, you're a person close to my heart. If not, and you need more convincing, think about it. Chocolate, jam, nuts, buttery, cream-cheesy dough. So delicious.

Rugelach – Raspberry, Nuts and Chocolate wrapped in Cream Cheese Dough Dough
8 ounces cream cheese
2 sticks unsalted butter
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (10 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour (measured with scoop and sweep)

1 cup preserves (raspberry, apricot, cherry….)
1 cup chopped nuts, lightly toasted (pecans, walnuts, almonds…)
1 cup chocolate shavings (bittersweet, semisweet or milk)
1/4 cup cinnamon sugar (mix 1/4 cup sugar with 1 tablespoon cinnamon)
“Bubbe’s Traditional” fillings:
2 cups prunes and/or raisins, finely chopped and cooked to a paste in water or orange juice
1 cup chopped nuts, lightly toasted (pecans, walnuts, almonds…)
1/4 cup cinnamon sugar (mix 1/4 cup sugar with 1 tablespoon cinnamon)
For the top:
1/4 cup heavy cream
sugar for sprinkling on top

In a Food Processor cream together the cream cheese, butter and confectioners’ sugar. Add the lemon, zest and vanilla and pulse again to combine.
Add the flour and pulse the dough until it comes together in a soft ball. Divide the ball in two discs and refrigerate for about one hour or overnight. Dough can be frozen for about 3 weeks or until you remember that it is in there.

Preheat oven to 350°F
On a well floured surface,roll the dough to about an 1/8-inch thick round.
Cover with about 1/2 cup of the preserves. Use a Pastry Wheel to cut the dough into 16 equal pieces. I cut the dough into quarters, then cut those in half, and then half those pieces.
Sprinkle on the nuts and/or chocolate if you are using. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.
Roll the dough up, starting at the wide end. Continue to roll the dough until the pointy end is tucked under the cookie. Repeat with the rest of the pieces, working rather quickly so the dough doesn’t get too sticky. Place them on a cookie sheet, lined with parchment and lightly greased.
Brush the tops with a small amount of heavy cream.
Sprinkle with sugar.
Refrigerate rolled up rugelach for 10 minutes.
Bake for about 20 to 35 minutes, or until they are light golden-brown.
Remove the cookies from the sheet while they are still warm, so they will not stick to the parchment. Allow them to cool on a wire rack.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pumpkin Bread

 Are you old-school? 
Do you have any old-school tendencies? 
Do you rock a fanny pack? Or do you use a scrunchie in your hair? 
 Do you still use a cassette player? 

Do you still have a boom box? 

Do you still say things like "duh" or "sike" (I know it's spelled psyche, but in the 90's it was definitely "sike").
Do you still eat things with high-fructose corn syrup in them? Because that's totally not a cool thing to do anymore. 
It's all about fresh. 
I have to admit, I do like fresh. I also like a high fructose corn syrup cookie now and then.
 How do you feel about tabs? Are you down with them? 

I'm not. I hate them. I think I'm a little slow using tabs. 
What happens is I end up having 10 open internet windows at a time. It gets very confusing. I don't know why I do this to myself. Using tabs is smart, it's practical, and I just won't do it. I know it's silly. I know it's confusing. I just can't seem to "get with the program".
 This weekend I baked with Lani. An adorable girl who will eat a processed, high-fructose corn syrup cookie with me any day!
Pumpkin Bread

1 cup white whole wheat cups flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups shredded fresh pumpkin
1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

Toast pumpkin seeds in oven at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes.
Lower oven to 325 degrees F.
Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.
In a separate bowl, mix the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla. Fold in half of the pumpkin seeds and shredded pumpkin. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Once the ingredients are all incorporated pour into a non- stick 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan. If your pan is not non- stick coat it with butter and flour.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 35 minutes. At this point a knife inserted into the middle of the loaf should come out clean. Cool for 15 minutes and turn out onto a cooling rack. Cool completely. For muffins temperature should also be 325 degrees F., but bake for 30 minutes.