26 July 2012

Easy Parmesan "Risotto"

Easy Parmesan "Risotto"
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
5 cups simmering chicken stock, preferably homemade, divided
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup frozen peas

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the rice and 4 cups of the chicken stock in a Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset. Cover and bake for 45 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente. Remove from the oven, add the remaining cup of chicken stock, the Parmesan, wine, butter, salt, and pepper, and stir vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes, until the rice is thick and creamy. Add the peas and stir until heated through. Serve hot.

Thank you Ina Garten. This was not a recipe that lent itself to photography. Used only 4
cups stock and used Valencia rice - a short grain rice that I also use when making sushi. It worked as well Arborio rice and was much much less expensive.
Use real Parmesan - it makes a difference. 
Was very creamy and super easy to make - will work on some variations of this. I'm thinking asparagus should be involved. 
Reheats well too. That's a plus. 

25 July 2012

Sriracha Hard Candy

The following is a recipe that I first found on sprinklebakes.com (link below) for sriracha lollipops. Wanting to try this, but not sure I wanted an entire lollipop of the flavor, I opted for something smaller - hard candies. I haven't made hard candy in about forever, so I had to get back into again and realized how much I really enjoy it. Might have some ideas for other flavors working in my head now - this could be good - or this could be bad - we shall see.

Sriracha Lollipops
Yield: 12-17 Lollipops

Special equipment:
Candy thermometer
Lollipop Sticks
Lollipop molds

2 cups sugar
2/3 cup corn syrup
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce, divided
1/4- 1/2 tsp. orange gel food coloring

Lightly grease candy mold with cooking spray.
Stir together the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a small saucepan and insert a candy thermometer into the mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat. Continue to heat without stirring until the bubbling mixture reaches 244°F. Drop one
level tbsp. Sriracha sauce into the bubbling mixture– do not stir!
first addition of sriracha sauce
When the mixture reaches the hard crack stage (302-310°F). Remove pan from heat.
Stir in the remaining 1 tbsp. Sriracha sauce and food coloring. Be extra careful because the mixture will bubble and sputter with these additions.
When the mixture has stopped bubbling, pour it into molds and let harden. Wrap the cooled lollipops in cellophane or wax paper and store in an airtight container.

Bench Notes: 
Use a small saucepan or the mixture won't reach the bulb of the candy thermometer and you will end up with burnt sugar on the bottom of a saucepan - not fun and definitely not good eats.
getting a dusting of superfine sugar
Sort of one note - like something is missing, but I'm not sure what yet.
Did not use orange food color - or any food color for that matter - think they look fine. 
Rolled in superfine sugar before wrapping

24 July 2012

Weekend Cooking

I do most of my cooking and all of my experimenting on the weekend. So that means that today - Tuesday - I start planning for what I want to make this coming weekend. When will it appear on this site - who knows? I think it depends on how excited I get by the process or by the results.
Any early contender for this weekend is Buttermilk-Lemon Chess Pie. I've not made chess pie before, but this combines two of my favorite things - buttermilk and lemon. And get this - there's buttermilk in both the crust and filling. Yes, this has potential.
There may also be biscuits in our future.

Pull-Apart Spicy Cheese Bread

Pull-Apart Spicy Cheese Bread

1 rustic loaf of sourdough bread
¾ cup shredded Monterrey jack cheese
¾ cup shredded provolone cheese (or sliced provolone, cut into strips)
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped*
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (more if you want spicier bread)
¼ cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Using a serrated knife, carefully cut bread horizontally into inch-wide strips without cutting all the way through the bottom crust. Use the same method to cut bread vertically so that the result is a grid of 1-inch square cuts, leaving the bottom of the loaf intact. Set aside.
Combine cheese, chives, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl and mix until evenly distributed. Using your hands, gently stuff the cheese mixture in between the cuts in the bread. This is easier if you stuff cheese in the horizontal cuts and fill in as needed. Sprinkle any remaining cheese on top of the loaf. 
Place loaf on a sheet of foil, pour melted butter on top, and wrap the loaf with foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, unwrap from foil, and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and slightly browned on top. Serve while hot.

Bench Notes:
* Garlic Chives from the garden - lovely plant really. 
Not sure about the logistics of the cutting the bread - awkward to pull apart. An onion, it is not. I used a round country bread instead of sourdough. I placed the bread on the foil after slicing so it wasn't stuffed when moved - less likely to lose filling that way. 

Very tasty, used 1/2 provolone and 1/2 sharp cheddar, added 1 teaspoon of lemon salt since the butter I used was unsalted.
All said, Very Good!

23 July 2012

Cracker Challenge - The Results - Part II

Overall winners:

D: Parmesan, Rosemary & Walnut Shortbread
Flavor: D - Parmesan, Rosemary & Walnut Shortbread

Crispy: A- Cheddar Cayenne Coins, D

Cost: least = A, E-Parmesan Rosemary Icebox Crackers / most = B - Blue Cheese Shortbread, C- Rosemary Cheese Bites

A: Cheddar Cayenne Coins
All-Around: D, closely by A

Now on to create the ultimate cracker of my own based on these results.

Lemon Chewy Crisps

Lemon Chewy Crisps
By: Jennifer Lipka
Perfect Cookie
"Great fresh lemon taste in a chewy little cookie with a nice crisp brown edge. If you don't have the almonds, you can substitute 1/4 cup additional sugar instead."

Yield 2 dozen

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with electric mixer on high speed until fluffy. Beat in remaining ingredients except flour until
well blended. 
On low speed, beat in flour just until blended. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 1 1/2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Sprinkle with sugar or almonds.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes until edges are lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheet 1 minute before removing to wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week. 
HINT: These cookies will have a nicely browned edge if baked on a regular thin cookie sheet rather than a thick or insulated one.

Bench Notes: 
Add salt. I used unsalted butter, as I always do in baking, but I think this recipe is in need of salt. 
Used 3 tsp of lemon juice, but it still seemed not enough. Lemon extract might be needed. 
Mixed baking powder and baking soda with the flour - seems like the right thing to do. 
Baked 16 minutes, turning in the middle. 
Demera Sugar
Topped them with demera sugar - very good. 

22 July 2012

Cracker Challenge - The Results - Part I

In order of baking:
A: Cheddar Cayenne Coins
B: Blue Cheese Shortbread
C: Rosemary Cheese Bites *
D: Parmesan Rosemary and Walnut Shortbread
E: Parmesan Rosemary Icebox Crackers *
*First time making.

In order of preference:
B** not a fair comparison, so is pretty much off the list. Will test
against other blues.

In order of pantry, ie - things on hand (5 best - 1 worst) (It should be noted, I have a large rosemary bush in the garden, and always have walnuts in the freezer and cheddar and parmesan in the refrigerator - it's just how I roll.)

Time to Mix / Log or Rolled-out
A: 4 / L
B: 3.5 / R
C: 4 / L
D: 4 / L
E: 4 / L

Dough Handling / Time to Chill
A: 4.5 / 4 hours to 2 days
B: 4.5 / 2 hours to 2 days
C: 3.5 / 30 minutes - 24 hours
D: 4 / 30 minutes - 3 days
E: 3.5 / @ least 24 hours (plan ahead)

Spicy / Nuts
A: Y / Y
B: N / Y
C: N / N
D: Y / Y
E: N / N