Monday, November 30, 2009

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

This is a really simple, really delicious wheat bread. It makes three loaves, but since the average person does not have three bread pans, feel free to make two loaves and experiment with the third (Rolls? Bread sticks? Baguettes? Other free-form breadery? Go nuts!).

I've made this three times, and each time I've increased the ratio of whole wheat flour to bread flour - one day I might just buck the odds and go 100% whole wheat. Thus far, 2:1 whole wheat to bread flour has worked really well, but I'll leave the recipe as is:

You'll need:

3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 packages active dry yeast
1/3 cup honey
5 cups bread flour
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon salt
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Then do this:

In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. Add 5 cups white bread flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.

Mix in 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup honey, and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky - just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch. This may take an additional 2 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.

Punch down, and divide into 3 loaves. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes; do not overbake. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine when done to prevent crust from getting hard. Cool completely.


Dutch Babies

This is a SUPER easy and yummy breakfast dish. It can be served sweet with maple syrup, or you could make it savory and add some eggs, mushrooms, etc.

Preheat oven to 425

5 eggs
1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cup milk
1 1/4 cup flour

put butter in two pie dishes and melt (place in oven while preheating)

put in a blender:
flour - 1/4 cup at a time

blend for less than 2 min

pour into pie dishes

bake for 20-25 min

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onions, Gorganzola and Sage

This is a delicious side dish I found on a charming blog called, Closet Kitchen. The dish is quite simple although cooking the squash and caramelizing the onions takes about an hour so plan ahead. I have doubled the recipe which I think is better because I think his serving sizes are rather small. My favorite part of making this dish is when you add all the ingredients together at the end. The bright orange of the squash with the golden onions and the green sage is just fantastic! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
2 butternut squash chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves
Approximately 2 bunches of fresh sage
Approximately 4 oz. Gorgonzola cheese
3 to 4 tablespoons butter
Olive oil
salt and pepper

1.) Spread squash in a baking pan and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake in the oven at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes until cooked.
2.) Meanwhile, melt two tablespoons butter with two tablespoons olive oil in a large pan. Add the sliced onions. Cook until soft for about 5 to 10 minutes and then reduce heat and let caramelize, stirring occasionally. This will probably take about 35 to 40 minutes. Do not let the pan get too hot because you don't want the onions to get to brown and crunch. They will reduce significantly and will very soft and a lovely golden brown color.
3.) When onions are caramelized, add the chopped garlic and let cook for a few minutes. Removed from heat.
4.) I remove the onions and garlic and put into a bowl while I deal with the sage in the same pan. Why dirty another pan??
5.) Brown a tablespoon of butter in the pan. Add the sage and cook until the sage is crispy, but not burnt. Watch them closely.
6.) Then, add the squash and onions back into the pan with the sage and add the Gorgonzola. Give it a few good stirs and serve!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pistachio (and cashew) encrusted chicken

This is my new favorite way to cook chicken - encrusted in delicious, salty-sweet, nutty deliciousness. The recipe calls for only pistachios, but the last time I made this I replaced half of them with cashews, and it was even better. This is very easy and will impress and delight your friends and family, which is very important.

You'll need:

1 cup chopped pistachios (or 1/2 C pistachios, 1/2 C cashews)
1/2 cup bread crumbs (those not into gluten/wheat can just omit these)
2 tablespoons mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
salt and pepper to taste
2 large skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch strips

Then do this:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray, oil or butter. Mix together pistachios and bread crumbs in a shallow bowl. In a separate bowl, stir together mustard, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper until smooth. Dip chicken into mustard mixture to coat, then coat with bread crumb mixture. Place onto prepared baking sheet.

Place into preheated oven and turn the oven down to 375 degrees. Bake until the chicken is no longer pink and the pistachio coating is golden brown, about 20 minutes.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pan-Roasted Pork Chops with Cranberries and Chard

Yeah, I know - it sounds really fancy. It looks really fancy. Certain parts of the recipe have "fancy" written all over them, in deep red cranberry ink. But in the end, it's a pretty easy recipe, as long as you have the following things: a cast-iron pan, some good red wine, and an abiding love for all that is delicious. You should also not be a vegetarian to enjoy this meal.

Seriously, though, it's incredibly delicious and pretty impressive to prepare, and is not very difficult at all. I served these with some crusty puffed potatoes, and, well, let's just say rounds of applause were involved.

Here is what you'll need - and this is a recipe where I highly recommend the method of making little prep bowls of all ingredients, cut and measured out beforehand:

For the chard (any kind, really) -

1/3 cup minced shallots (2 medium)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 lb red Swiss chard, stems and center ribs cut out and chopped together, leaves coarsely chopped separately

For pork chops

4 (1 1/4-inch-thick) rib pork chops
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For sauce

1/3 cup minced shallots (2 medium)
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 cup fresh or thawed frozen cranberries (4 1/2 oz)
3/4 cup chicken stock or broth
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried, crumbled
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Now for the actual making of the dish:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

For the chard:

Cook shallots and garlic in butter in an ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add chard stems and center ribs and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add leaves and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 6 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then transfer chard to a heavy saucepan and wipe out skillet.

Cook pork chops:

Pat chops dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown chops, about 3 minutes per side.

Transfer skillet to oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally 2 inches into meat registers 155°F, 7 to 9 minutes. Transfer chops with tongs to a platter, leaving fat in skillet, and cover chops loosely with foil to keep warm.

Make sauce:

Sauté shallots in fat remaining in skillet over moderately high heat, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add wine and deglaze by boiling over high heat, scraping up brown bits, until reduced by half. Add cranberries and stock and simmer, stirring occasionally, until cranberries begin to burst, about 2 minutes. Stir in brown sugar and thyme and simmer, stirring, until berries are collapsed, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter until incorporated, then season with salt and pepper.

Assemble dish:

While sauce is cooking, reheat chard over moderate heat, stirring. Divide among 4 plates and top with chops, then spoon sauce over.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Gingersnap Pear Cheesecake!

I don't know why I've never really made cheesecake before. Although, I'm good at sitting down on Sunday and planning out my dinners for the week, I desserts are spur of the moment decisions, based on a craving. Cheesecakes never really made the cut since I have to delay gratification for a whole day while it sits and settles. But, I figured that eating the batter and leftover cookie crumbs would be enough to satiate me for the evening, and I set out on making this variation of cheesecake - with a gingersnap crust and pear bottom.

The full recipe is on, but here is generally what you need to do!

For the crust...mix 1 1/2 cups of crushed gingernaps (I think I used more) and 6 tbsp of butter (melted) in a medium bowl. Use this mixure to line a springform pan for the crust. Bake for 20min at 350 degrees.

Peel, core and slice thinly 2 ripe pears and toss with 1/4 tsp of ground ginger - set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat 16 ounces (2 packages) of cream cheese on medium for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of sugar and beat for another 2 minutes. Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, until combined. Stir in 2 tsp of vanilla.

Line the pears on the bottom of the cooled crust, then pour in the cream cheese mixture. Bake for about 50 minutes at 350 degrees. When finished, set on a wire rack, but leave the oven on.

For the 'icing' mix 1 cup of sour cream, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 tsp of vanilla. Use a spatula to spread this over the cheesecake and bake for another 8 minutes.

Once it's done, let it come to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

One thing to note - the cream cheese, eggs, and sour cream should all be used at room temperature.


Crusty Puffed Potatoes

This is the simplest recipe I've ever seen, so simple and so unbelievably delicious that I'm pretty stunned I'd never tried it before. I'm strongly considering never cooking potatoes any other way.

Here's what you need:

- Some potatoes (recipe calls for small red ones, but I imagine most any kind will do)
- Some coarse salt (very important!)
- Some olive oil

Preheat your oven to 475 degrees. Cut the potatoes into small pieces (it's nice to make them vary in shape - they should all be in the general vicinity of one square inch or so, a little bigger is fine), and rub them down really well with olive oil.

Lay them out, skin side down, on a baking sheet - though if you have a rack, even better - and (now this is the most important part) sprinkle the cut sides generously with the salt. Let stand for 10 minutes or so, and then pop them in the oven for 20 minutes; increase the temperature to 500 degrees and cook for about 5 minutes more, or until puffy and golden.

These are pretty much the best potatoes you'll eat, puffy and golden and delicious. I kind of want them right now.


And we're back

Ladies and Gentlemen, foodies and foodettes:

The time has come. We've all gone our separate ways, rekindled love affairs with other food blogs, and realized that the emptiness we've felt - we've ALL felt - can be traced back to a simple reason. It doesn't take a rocket scientist, nor does is take a rocket cook, to recognize that simple reason.

In short, we all miss Recipe-Go-Round. And rocket cooks don't exist. Yet.

So it is with great huzzahs and a tear in my eye that I redeclare this fine blog Open For Business, just in time for the holiday season. I have a full lineup of delicious meals to post myself - including puffed potatoes (ooh!), pistachio-encrusted chicken (aagh!), and gold-laced lobster kidneys (jk lol!).

Make something delicious recently? Post it. Make something awful? Post it, with revisions. And if the blog should die down again, or go dormant for a while, let us not fear - let us simply regroup again, and become stonger.

Go forth! Cook!

- Bret