February 27, 2011

Double Chocolate Waffles

UPDATE 1/29/16: See this post for a better chocolate waffle recipe.

I wanted chocolate for breakfast the other day, and chocolate waffles fit the bill. Before you chastise me, these waffles really weren't super indulgent. You could go over the top with these and top with berry sauce and whipped cream, but I kept it simple. I tried several different toppings: blackberry jam, peanut butter, and dried cherries that were baked into the waffles. Each way was delicious, and even totally plain, the waffles didn't need anything else to keep me eating them.

Double Chocolate Waffles
from Our Best Bites

2/3 C flour
1/3 C corn starch
1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/8 t cinnamon
6 T granulated sugar
1 C milk
1/3 C vegetable oil
1 egg
1 1/2 t vanilla
1/2 C mini chocolate chips

Preheat a waffle iron.

Combine flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Use a whisk to combine.

In a separate bowl whisk together sugar, milk, oil, egg, and vanilla. Whisk for a minute so it gets a little frothy.

Slowly add the wet ingredients into the dry a little at a time, whisking to combine. Just stir until they're combined and don't overmix. Stir in the chocolate chips. This is a pretty thin batter, so don't be expecting something that looks like a pancake batter. It's supposed to be thin.

Lightly butter waffle iron. Place batter in and cook according to your iron.

A tip:
Instead of pouring batter, use a ladle and spoon it in, making sure to stir the batter each time. Otherwise the chocolate chips won't be distributed.

It's a little harder to tell when chocolate waffles are done because you can't go so much on color. Go by smell and touch and realize that they will crisp up after they come off the iron.

February 25, 2011

Coconut Red Lentil Soup

I've said it before, but I have to say it again: I love 101 Cookbooks. The only reason I made this soup was because I bought some red lentils in bulk (just a small amount) to use in some unknown recipe. So when I found this recipe, I thought I'd try it. Otherwise, this recipe would have gone unnoticed by me.

You already know the outcome: I was so pleasantly surprised at how yummy this soup is! I used regular raisins instead of golden, and brown rice instead of farro. Raisins in soup sounds weird, right? But not in this soup. Even though there is no sweetener in the soup, the soup is slightly sweet (maybe from the coconut milk?), enhanced by the raisins.

Coconut Red Lentil Soup
from 101 Cookbooks

1 cup / 7 oz yellow split peas
1 cup / 7 oz red split lentils (masoor dal)
7 cups water
1 medium carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 tablespoons fresh peeled and minced ginger
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons butter or ghee
8 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced
1/3 cup / 1.5 oz golden raisins
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
one small handful cilantro, chopped

cooked brown rice or farro, for serving (optional)

Give the split peas and lentils a good rinse - until they no longer put off murky water. Place them in an extra-large soup pot, cover with the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the carrot and 1/4 of the ginger. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the split peas are soft.

In the meantime, in a small dry skillet or saucepan over low heat, toast the curry powder until it is quite fragrant. Be careful though, you don't want to burn the curry powder, just toast it. Set aside. Place the butter in a pan over medium heat, add half of the green onions, the remaining ginger, and raisins. Saute for two minutes stirring constantly, then add the tomato paste and saute for another minute or two more.

Add the toasted curry powder to the tomato paste mixture, mix well, and then add this to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so. The texture will thicken. Serve over farro or brown rice and garnish with the remaining green onions and cilantro.

February 20, 2011

Leek and Potato Soup

Only because I had leftover leeks did I make this recipe. I ended up loving it! This is fresh, simple cooking at its best. Just a few ingredients still ended up in a soup with just enough flavor. My husband even enjoyed this soup!

I added some cream to heated soup, which spread and floated to the top:

Leek and Potato Soup
adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

3 to 4 cups or 1 lb. peeled, sliced or diced potatoes
3 cups or 1 lb. thinly sliced leeks, including the tender greens
1 quart water
1 quart vegetable broth
2 teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons heavy cream
freshly ground black pepper

Simmer the potato and leek in the water and broth, partially covered, for 40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Mash the vegetables in the soup with a fork, pass through a food mill, or use a blender or food processor to puree. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside uncovered until just before serving, then reheat to a simmer.

Off heat, before serving, stir in the cream. Garnish with parsley or chives, if desired.

February 19, 2011

Meyer Lemon and Strawberry Muffins

I couldn't pass up a bag of Meyer lemons for $2. Meyer lemons are sweeter and less tart than regular lemons. But what to do with them? I made a lemon pudding, which was just okay. I'm in clean up my freezer mode, and I had some frozen strawberries. So for a Sunday breakfast treat, I tried out these muffins. The strawberry and lemon combination was delightful!

Frozen strawberries are a little tricky because they can become juicier and more mushy than fresh strawberries. I defrosted mine just slightly so I could cut them in chunks, but firm enough to be mixed into the batter. I also waited to add the strawberries until I had already mixed in almost all the flour. This reduced the risk of pink muffins.

UPDATE 3/3/12: Just made these with frozen raspberries and highly recommend it!

Meyer Lemon Strawberry Muffins
from My Baking Addiction

2 1/2 cups (325 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of one Meyer lemon
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup (180 ml) buttermilk
2/3 cup (160 ml) melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups chopped, fresh or frozen** strawberries

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Position rack in center of oven. Butter or spray with a non stick cooking spray 12 – 2 3/4 x 1 1/2 inch muffin cups. Set aside.

2. In a large measuring cup or bowl whisk together the egg, buttermilk, oil, Meyer lemon juice and vanilla extract.

3. In another large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, lemon zest. Gently fold in the berries. With a rubber spatula fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir only until the ingredients are combined. Do not over mix the batter or tough muffins will result.

4. Fill each muffin cup almost full of batter, using two spoons or an ice cream scoop. Place in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for about 5 minutes before removing from pan. Best when eaten day of baking as the strawberries add extra moisture to the muffins.

**If using frozen berries, you may have to bake the muffins a little longer than the stated time.

February 18, 2011

Pasta con Cacio e Pepe

Here's a simple Italian pasta dish with just a few ingredients: cacio = cheese, pepe = pepper. I highly recommend using real Parmesan and romano cheese and freshly ground pepper. If you don't, it's probably not worth making. Also, I used spaghetti instead of linguine, just because that's what was in my cupboard.

Linguine con Cacio e Pepe
adapted from Molto Gusto by Mario Batali

kosher salt
2 Tbsp. coarsely ground black pepper
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 pound dried linguine
3 Tbsp. Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for serving
3 Tbsp. grated pecorino romano

Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot and add 2 tablespoons kosher salt.

Meanwhile, set another large pot over medium heat, add the pepper, and toast, stirring, until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add the oil and butter and stir occasionally until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat.

Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook until just al dente. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

Add a scant 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water to the oil and butter mixture, then add the pasta and stir and toss over medium heat until the pasta is well coated. Stir in the cheese (add a splash or two more of the reserved pasta water if necessary to loosen the sauce) and serve immediately, with additional grated Parmigiano on the side.

February 16, 2011

Honey Oat Muffins

After tasting these Honey Oat Muffins, I would never have guessed they are sugar-free and primarily whole-grain. Yum and yay!

Honey Oat Muffins
Adapted from Food & Wine magazine via Fogg Road Kitchen

3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 melted butter
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
optional toppings: pumpkin seeds, chopped walnuts or pecans, oats, raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Butter the cups of a muffin pan, spray them with cooking spray, or line with paper muffins cups.

In a large bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients: oats through the salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk the wet ingredients: honey through eggs. Make a well in the center of the oat mixture. Pour the honey mixture into the well and mix gently with your whisk until just combined (mixing too long will toughen the muffins).

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Top with any of the optional toppings you desire. Bake in the center of the oven for about 13-18 minutes, until they’re golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out mostly clean, with some moist crumbs. They overcook easily, so check often.

Let the muffins cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then remove from pan. Serve warm, with butter and honey, raspberry jam, or cream cheese.

February 15, 2011

Roasted Cream of Tomato Soup

Canned tomato soup is about my only experience with tomato soup before I discovered this lovely recipe. I say "blech" to the former and "I can't get enough" to the latter.

If your faith in tomato soup is lost, this recipe might restore it. Serve with a golden, gooey grilled cheese sandwich for maximum faith building.

Roasted Cream of Tomato Soup

2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes packed in juice, drained, 3 cups juice reserved
1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large shallots, minced (about 1/2 cup) or ½ cup of minced onion
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Pinch ground allspice
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups homemade chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and cayenne pepper

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. With fingers, carefully open whole tomatoes over strainer set in bowl and push out seeds, allowing juices to fall through strainer into bowl. Spread seeded tomatoes in single layer on foil. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar. Bake until all liquid has evaporated and tomatoes begin to color, about 30 minutes. Let tomatoes cool slightly, then peel them off foil; transfer to small bowl and set aside.

Heat butter over medium heat in large saucepan until foaming. Add shallots, tomato paste, and allspice. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are softened, 7 to 10 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Gradually add chicken stock, whisking constantly to combine; stir in reserved tomato juice and roasted tomatoes. Cover, increase heat to medium, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors, about 10 minutes.

Pour mixture through strainer and into medium bowl; rinse out saucepan. Transfer tomatoes and solids in strainer to blender; add 1 cup strained liquid and puree until smooth. (or use a handheld immersion blender to puree in saucepan) Place pureed mixture and remaining strained liquid in saucepan. Add cream and warm over low heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Off heat, season with salt and cayenne. Serve immediately. (Soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Warm over low heat until hot; do not boil.)

February 14, 2011

Devil's Food Cake with Peanut Butter Ganache and Chocolate Shards

I found this beautiful, chocolately cake online recently. As I was looking at it my eyes got big and a smile crept onto my face. I just had to try it!

Sometimes ambitious recipes get the better of me and turn out not so great. Somehow I found success with this one. The chocolate shards that decorate the cake gave me no trouble at all. My cake looks just like the original! And it really wasn't that hard!! The cake part is a simple cake recipe, and the ganache frosting is pretty basic too. So if you have any baking skills at all, I say try this one out and you'll most likely be successful as well. Then everyone will ooh and aah.

Since I don't know where to buy Biscoff, I used peanut butter as a substitute, as suggested in the recipe. So this ended up being a chocolate and peanut butter treat, one of my favorite combinations.

To me, nothing says love better than chocolate.

February 13, 2011

Lavender Sugar Cookies

I was perusing through an amazing indoor market in a nearby city a few months ago and found a cool spice booth. I ended up buying dried lavender flowers and black lava salt. This is the first recipe in which I used the lavender flowers - as far as I know I've never eaten lavender before! It took me a while to find a recipe that grabbed my attention. These are basic sugar cookies, but the lavender adds a subtle flavor and aroma that is delicious.

Lavender Sugar Cookies
from Cinnamon Spice

1 tablespoon fresh or dried culinary lavender flowers
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
Sanding sugar or sprinkles for decorating

1. Use a food processor to grind lavender flowers together with sugar.

2. In a medium sized bowl beat butter and lavender sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Add flour and salt and blend until combined taking care not to over mix (dough should be soft but not sticky). Separate dough into two balls and wrap in plastic, flattening each into a flat disc and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.

3. Preheat oven to 325°F. and line baking sheets with parchment paper or leave them ungreased. Roll out one disc of dough at a time on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin to about 1/4-inch thick. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters and place on prepared baking sheets. Decorate with sanding sugar and/or lightly press a lavender sprig or leaf into the cookie and top. (To keep shapes intact, refrigerate baking sheet with shaped cookies for 10 minutes before baking).

4. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to lightly brown around the edges. Carefully remove and cool on wire racks. Repeat with remaining dough.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies depending on size.

February 10, 2011

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

I wanted to make my friend a loaf of oat bread, since I know it's one of her favorites. I tried this recipe and was impressed - moist and soft - except for one thing: the loaf was humongous! The second time I made it, I halved the recipe. The third and fourth time I made it, I three-fourthed the recipe. This makes the perfect size loaf. The three-fourthed recipe is what I've listed below.

The sweetener in the original recipe is all molasses. My husband didn't like the molasses flavor, so I tried honey. Though with a lot less spunk, the honey-flavored bread tastes great too. Next time, I think I'll try half molasses and half honey.

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread
adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce by Cafe Fernando and me

1 3/4 cups warm water (105-115 degrees)
1 3/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 tbsp plus 1 tsp unsulphured (not blackstrap) molasses
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cups bread flour (or all-purpose flour)
3/4 cup rolled oats
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Lightly butter a large bowl and a 9x5-inch loaf pan and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir water, yeast and molasses to combine. Allow the yeast to bloom for about 5 minutes, or until it begins to bubble. Add the flours, rolled oats and melted butter. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine, cover with a towel and let stand for 30 minutes.
Add salt to the dough, attach the bread hook to the mixer and mix on medium speed for 6 minutes, until the dough no longer sticks to the sides (add a tablespoon or two of flour if necessary).

For the first rise, scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it a few times. Put the dough into the buttered bowl, cover with a towel, and leave it to rise for about 1 hour, or until it is doubled in size.

Scrape the dough onto a floured work surface. Shape it into a square, then fold it down from the top to the middle and then up from the bottom to the middle (just like you fold a letter). Bring the top and bottom edges together, pinch and seal.

Place the dough in the pan with the seam side down, and press it gently into the corners of the pan. Cover the dough with a towel, and let it rest in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until the dough rises to half again its size.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Bake for 40 minutes, rotating halfway through. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

February 7, 2011

Cheesecake with Cherry Topping

What could be more classic than plain cheesecake topped with syrupy cherries? Cheesecake really isn't that tough to make, but it does require a springform pan. If you love cheesecake, but usually buy it pre-made, I dare you to try making it yourself.

This recipe calls for a shortbread type crust. This time I tried a graham-cracker crust and have decided I prefer the shortbread. Also, other fruit toppings work instead of cherry, like Blueberry Sauce or another fruit sauce.

Cheesecake Supreme
from my mother

¾ c. flour
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel, divided
6 Tbsp. butter
1 slightly beaten egg yolk
½ tsp. vanilla, divided
3 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
¼ tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
¼ c. milk

To prepare crust, combine ¾ c. flour, 3 Tbsp. sugar, ½ tsp. lemon peel. Cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in slightly beaten egg yolk and ¼ tsp. vanilla. Pat one-third dough onto bottom of 8- or 9-inch springform pan (without sides). Bake in 400˚ oven for 7 minutes or until golden; cool. Butter the sides of pan, attach to bottom. Pat remaining dough onto sides of pan to a height of 1 ¾ inches, set aside.

For filling, in a large mixer bowl beat together softened cream cheese, remaining lemon peel, and remaining vanilla until fluffy. Stir together 1 c. sugar, 2 Tbsp. flour, salt; gradually stir in cream cheese mixture. Add 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk all at once, beating at low speed until just combined. Stir in milk.

Turn into crust-lined pan. Bake at 450˚ for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300˚ and bake 50-55 minutes more or till center appears set and knife comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes. Loosen sides of cheesecake from pan with a spatula. Cool 30 minutes; remove sides of pan. Cool about 2 hours longer. Chill thoroughly.

Cherry Topping

10 ounces (2 c.) sweet or sour cherries, pitted (frozen or fresh)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar (for sour cherries, consider increasing sugar)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water

Place all ingredients together in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, cook for an additional one to two minutes then remove from heat. Cool completely.

February 4, 2011

Mini Cranberry Apple Tarts

I only made this dessert because I had the ingredients and was trying to use them up: pie crust in the freezer, apples from the fall market, leftover fresh cranberries. I'm so glad because the result was very cute and yummy!

Because I only had half the cranberries and apples needed, I decided I would use mini tart pans. Because more crust is needed to make more mini pies, I used a whole pie dough recipe (for one regular-sized crust) with a half recipe of pie filling. This yielded 6 mini tarts and 3 slightly-larger ramekins. Obviously, for individual pies, less baking time is needed. I didn't time it exactly, but I'm pretty sure I baked them for at least 45 minutes.

Deep Dish Cranberry Apple Pie
from An Apple Pie

pie dough for one crust

7 cups green apples (about 5 medium apples) peeled, cored, and cut into twelfths
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups fresh cranberries (1 12-oz. bag)
1 cup sugar

Crumb topping:
5 Tablespoons of butter, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cups flour

Roll out the dough to a 16" round between lightly-floured wax papers and gently place the pancake (without the wax paper, of course) in a pie pan (11-inch deep dish), making sure it doesn't stretch. Trim the overhang and decorate the edge however you want.

In a large bowl, mix the filling ingredients. Spoon the mixture into the pie crust, mounding the fruit in the center.

In a small bowl, mix the crumb topping ingredients until the mixture is homogeneous and sandy. Cover the fruit in the crumb topping and bake at 350 Fahrenheit for 1 hour and 20-30 minutes. Suggestion: Place foil on the rack below where you place the pie in order to catch any spillage. When finished, cool it on a rack.

February 2, 2011

Chicken Tikka Masala

Mmmm...a classic Indian dish with creamy, spicy sauce. This is very good. My husband was wary of the dish and thought the sauce was made of peanut butter based on the color. It's not. He said he didn't like it, but that didn't surprise me. I loved it (but as several people have told me lately, what food don't I love?) and was glad to have leftovers for several lunches.

Chicken Tikka Masala
from What's for Dinner

1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into strips or large cubes

1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno chile, minced
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups half-and-half (or equal parts milk and cream)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Combine everything on the marinade list, including the chicken. Marinate in a plastic Ziploc gallon bag in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Saute the chicken (don't add the extra marinade) in a skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through.

Set the chicken aside on a plate. Melt the butter and flour in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and jalapeƱo, and stir for a minute. Stir in the seasonings, and salt. Add the tomato sauce, and stir for one minute. Add the half-and-half, and simmer until the sauce thickens.

Add the chicken to the sauce and let simmer for a couple of minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve over basmati rice.