Thursday, March 25, 2010

Brunch Menu

Had 4 people over for brunch today. There were so many dishes I wanted to try, I ended up making a little too much. G brought some almonds, fig confiture and strawberry jam to complement the meal.

Deviled Eggs

I'm not sure I've ever eaten deviled eggs, so I wasn't sure what this was supposed to taste like. When I was making the yolk mixture I couldn't taste the 1 t of mustard so I added the rest of the jar (maybe another 1 t). To some the mustard had a good kick, and to others it was overpowering.
  • 6 eggs
  • 1-2 t dijon mustard
  • 1-3 T mayo
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • paprika
  1. Place eggs in deep pot. Add cold water so eggs are covered by at least 1" of water. Heat to boiling. Immediately cover and turn off the heat. Let sit for 10-15 minutes. Put eggs in small container and run cold water over eggs until cooled. Dry the eggs and place them in a covered container in the fridge to cool for at least 2 hours.
  2. Peel the eggs. Cut in half. Set whites on plate. Put yolks in a bowl.
  3. Mash up the yolks. Add 1 t mustard. Add mayo, 1 T at a time until desired consistency. Add additional mustard if desired. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  4. Place in piping bag and pipe back into egg whites.
  5. Sprinkle with paprika.
  6. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Variations
  • Instead of garlic powder, use a minced clove of garlic or horseradish.
  • Add something green: minced green onions, chives, cilantro or parsley.
  • Use a curry base instead of mustard.
1 clove garlic
2 serrano chiles, seeded and minced
1/2 c mayo
1 t fresh lemon juice
2 t dried mustard powder
1/4 t cayenne powder
1/4 t pure chile powder
1/4 t paprika
1/2 t salt
1 t chopped cilantro
1 t chopped chives

    Baked Mashed Potatoes

    I love hash browns but instead of frying potatoes I wanted to serve something that was baked. Use this as a  potato side option.
    • 4 c mashed potatoes (w/ butter, salt, pepper and milk)
    • 1/2 c diced onions
    • 1/2 red bell pepper
    • oil
    • 3/4 - 1.5 c cheddar cheese, grated
    • salt and pepper
    1.  Heat oil in pan. Saute onions and bell pepper until tender.
    2. Stir into mashed potatoes.
    3. Add cheese to taste (about half a cup).
    4. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed (If the cheese is salty, you won't need to).
    5. Spread evenly in 8x8 dish.
    6. Cover with remaining grated cheese.
    7. Bake at 180C uncovered 25 minutes or until cheese is melted.
    Variations
    • Add sliced green onions and/or bacon.
    • Add eggs - yolks with the potatoes and stiffened egg whites at the last step to make the potatoes lighter.

      Strawberry Syrup

      I like to eat waffles, pancakes and french toast plain. But most people I know like to sweeten it with something. So I made this strawberry syrup to go with today's brunch.
      • 2 T cornstarch
      • 1/2-3/4 c sugar
      • 1 c water
      • 1.5 c frozen strawberries
      1. In a small pan, mix cornstarch and sugar.
      2. Add water.
      3. Heat over medium heat until boiling. Stir constantly for 3 minutes.
      4. Add strawberries and simmer for 10 minutes.
      5. Serve immediately or let cool.
      Variation
      • After the berries have simmered, stir in 1 T butter.
      • Use 1 c fresh or thawed blueberries instead of strawberries.

      French Toast

      I've been making French Toast since I was a kid. It's one of the few recipes I have memorized. I made a fresh loaf of bread to go with it. You can also use french bread, italian bread, white bread (I or II-below),  part wheat bread, cardamom bread, golden egg bread, challah, or anything else that suits your fancy.

      White Bread II
      • 1 1/4 c lukewarm milk
      • 3 c all-purpose flour
      • 1.5 T sugar
      • 1.5 t salt
      • 2 T butter
      • 2 t yeast
      French Toast
      • 1 egg
      • 1 t to 1 T sugar, depending on taste
      • pinch of salt
      • 1/3 c milk
      • vanilla or almond extract
      • cinnamon
      1. Make the bread a day ahead. Combine ingredients in bread machine. Set to dough cycle. When done, punch down on floured surface. Knead a few times. Roll out to rectangle. Roll up. Fit inside greased 9x5 bread pan. Let rise, covered, for 30 min-1 hr, until doubled. Bake for 35 min at 180C. Remove from pan to cool (otherwise the trapped steam will make it soggy).
      2. In a shallow bowl big enough to lay a slice of bread in, mix egg, sugar and salt. Stir in milk and extract. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
      3. Slice 2-4 pieces of bread. Dip bread in batter and flip to coat both sides.
      4. Lay in preheated, greased pan. Flip when cooked on each side.
      5. Repeat, sprinkling batter with additional cinnamon with each batch.
      6. Serve immediately or freeze.
      Notes
      • French toast recipe may be doubled or tripled. When tripling, add slightly less milk. For eggier taste, reduce milk.
      • Cut toast to desired thickness. 1/2" for regular toast, 1" for Texas toast or stuffed French Toast
      • Stuff with cream cheese mixture before dipping.
      • Serve with maple syrup, strawberry syrup, honey, dusting of confectioner's sugar, fresh fruit or plain.
      • This bread is just perfect for french toast. It came out very tender and soaked up the batter just right.

      Friday, March 19, 2010

      Cocoa Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies

      Mmmm, delicious. C gave me her bottle of peppermint extract to experiment for a while. First on the list, mint cookies! I just made the first batch and they are deliciously soft, chocolaty and minty. After cooling they are still soft and taste like mint-chocolate chip ice cream (my favorite) in cookie form. Divine.
      • scant 3/4 c butter (<1.5 stick), room temp
      • 1/2 c sugar, scant
      • 1/2 c brown sugar, scant
      • 1 egg
      • 1 t vanilla
      • 1 t peppermint extract
      • 1 3/4 c flour
      • 1/4 c cocoa (I used Hintz)
      • 1 t baking soda
      • 1/4 t salt
      • 1 c Hershey's really mildly sweet dark chocolate chips
      1. Mash butter. Add sugars. Combine until creamy.
      2. Add egg. Mix thoroughly.
      3. In small bowl, combine flour, cocoa (sift if chunky), soda and salt.
      4. Add extracts to wet mixture and mix.
      5. Add flour mixture to wet mixture and stir until just combined.
      6. Dump in chips and mix until spread evenly.
      7. Drop spoonfuls of dough on non-greased cookie sheet.
      8. Bake 180C for 8-15 minutes, depending on your oven and level of crispiness desired.
      Notes
      • The original called for greasing the sheet. I only greased half the sheet the first batch, and there wasn't a difference, so might as well skip this extra step.
      • These cookies supposedly get very crispy if baked for too long. I like mine soft, so planned on baking 9 min. However, the mini-oven I use often doesn't seem to finish as quickly as a full sized oven, so the first batch I left in for 15 minutes. Second batch I started at above middle. They are incredibly soft out of the oven, and then later the outside crisps up a little bit.
      • I made this again 2 days later, and the cookies came out flat. I eyeballed the butter both times - the first time was less than 3/4 c and the second time was probably a bit over 3/4 c. Definitely go with less butter for a thicker cookie.
      • 6/10/10 Doubled the recipe.

        Wednesday, March 17, 2010

        Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

        #1 Easy Version

        I found 4 frozen yogurt recipes I want to try, and this is the first. I made this tonight because it was already quite late and I wanted something where I could just dump the ingredients in and have a pot. I think the quality of yogurt makes a big difference here. I went to Wellcome and bought the one that says "soft yogurt", that comes in a 3 cup package. It's quite sweet already so I shouldn't have added as much sugar as I did.
        • 1.5 c strawberries, frozen or thawed
        • 1 c yogurt
        • 1/6 c sugar (or less if yogurt is already very sweet)
        • 1/2 t vanilla
        1. Blend all four ingredients.
        2. Pour into ice cream maker and crank continuously until desired consistency.
        3. Serve immediately! Freeze remainder.
        Variations
        Add 1/4 c mini choc chips 5 minutes before done.

        Notes
        Pictured are the Strawberry Sorbet and froyo, in a side by side taste test. Both of these were winners! Two different textures, two great tastes. Both were equally too sweet - so next time taste the yogurt first...or even the puree w/o any added sugar and then add sugar as necessary.

        #2 Chunky Version
        I made the batter and chilled it for an hour. It wasn't long enough - it stayed as soup in the ice cream maker. So I let it sit overnight and finished it off the next day. Since it's starting from fridge temp and not near-freezing, it takes a lot longer than the Easy version. But it's worth the wait if you can plan that far ahead. The chunky strawberries in this were delicious.
        • 1.5 c strawberries
        • 1.5 T lemon juice
        • 1/3 c sugar (or to taste)
        • 1/8 t salt
        • 1/4 c milk
        • 3/4 c yogurt
        1. In a small saucepan, use a potato masher to mix the strawberries, lemon juice, sugar and salt over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. 
        2. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.
        3. Stir in milk and yogurt. Chill for at least one hour (but better overnight).
        4. Finish off in ice cream maker, churning for 20 minutes.
        Notes
        3/21/10 I used 1/2 cup of the Soft Yogurt (already sweetened) and 1/4 cup of Tanini brand plain yogurt.

        Tuesday, March 16, 2010

        Strawberry Sorbet

        C left one of her mini hand crank ice cream makers with me (after making me delicious mint chocolate chip ice cream). This was my first time using an ice cream maker and I must say that I am hooked. It was so easy and so fast. It's unclear which brand it is, but it looks very similar to the Donvier, except it only has a 2 cup capacity instead of 1 quart. I like that the container is small enough to keep in the freezer so that frozen treats can be made on demand. It only took 12 minutes of churning before the sorbet was ready. Delicious!
        • 2 cups strawberries, fresh or frozen and thawed
        • 1/2 c water
        • 1/4 c sugar (or less)
        • 1/2 T lemon juice
        1. In a small pan, dump the sugar and water. Heat to boiling and then reduce to low. Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Do not mix while heating.
        2. Transfer syrup to bowl and let cool.
        3. Puree the strawberries until smooth.
        4. Add lemon juice and syrup and puree another 30 seconds.
        5. Remove ice cream maker container from freezer. Place in plastic holder. Pour strawberry mixture inside. Put in mixer, place cover, and attach handle. Immediately crank 4 times.
        6. Crank 2-4 times every minute until difficult to turn (or desired consistency). 
        7. Enjoy immediately or transfer to an air tight container and keep in freezer up to 3 days.

        Notes
        A tablespoon of vodka (or any other type of alcohol) will keep the sorbet soft. Alcohol won't freeze, so adding a little keeps the sorbet from hardening too much. Vodka won't affect the taste. Add 2 minutes from finish time.

          Wednesday, March 10, 2010

          Vegetarian Chili

          I was too lazy to go to the store to get beef, so I made a vegetarian version of Easy Chili - just adding garlic, cumin and carrot to give it a little extra oomph.
          • 1/2 large onion, chopped
          • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
          • 1 yellow pepper, seeded and chopped
          • olive oil
          • 1 large carrot, diced
          • 1/2 T Chinese chili powder
          • 1/2 T cayenne pepper
          • 1/2 T cumin
          • 1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
          • 1 28 oz can whole tomatoes, diced (with liquid)
          • 6 oz tomato paste
          1. Heat oil in a pan and cook the onion, bell pepper and garlic.
          2. Add the carrot.
          3. Add spices.
          4. Add the beans, tomatoes, and paste. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and cook for one hour.
          Variations
          Add other vegetables like mushrooms, cabbage, or zucchini.
          Substitute pinto beans for kidney beans.

          Notes
          3/10/10 Served with freshly baked bread rolls.