Monday, June 29, 2009

Ricotta Pasta with Snap Peas and Caramelized Onions

This pasta recipe from Bon Appetit was easy to make but a bit bland. I guess I might have guessed that since it was in the "cook for your kids" section, but I didn't really think about it beforehand. The sweet sugar snap peas were certainly delicious, though, but the dish just needed a bit more "ooomph." If I make this again, I think I would add some diced and sauteed pancetta to add some needed salty and savory flavors.

Ricotta Pasta with Snap Peas and Caramelized Onions (adapted from Bon Appetit)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups (packed) chopped onions
8 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
12 ounces dried pasta
1/2 cup whole-milk fresh ricotta cheese
1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions. Saute until onions are pale golden, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and saute onions until tender and deep golden, about 15 minutes longer. Add peas to onions in skillet. Saute until peas are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.

2. Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.

3. Add pasta and 1/2 cup cooking liquid to onion mixture; stir over medium-high heat 30 seconds. Mix in ricotta, basil, and lemon peel, adding more cooking liquid to moisten as needed. Season with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

June Daring Bakers: Bakewell Tart

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England. The flavors were absolutely delicious together...I loved this dessert!

A Bakewell Tart is basically a sweet shortcrust shell topped with fruit jam or curd and frangipane. I'd never made frangipane before, so I was excited about this challenge! I decided to make Sherry Yard's blackberry-lime curd as my filling because I'd been flipping through her cookbook just before finding out about the challenge and wanted to try out the recipe. I'd never made a curd that wasn't lemon or lime, so this was also a new recipe for me!

I unfortunately underbaked the tart a bit, so the frangipane in the middle was too soft, but the tart was really delicious nonetheless (I just scraped off the oozy frangipane at the end of each slice). The sweet-tart curd went really well with the soft frangipane and overall it was just a really delicious dessert.

Next time I would probably use Dorie's sweet almond tart dough instead, only because I think it's a bit easier to work with and it has a nice crumbly texture from the addition of almond meal. I'd also make sure to bring my filling to room temperature before using it in the tart and to cook the tart until it is no longer at all wobbly in the center. I'm also interested in trying this with some different jams in the future.

Bakewell Tart with Blackberry-Lime Curd
Makes one 9” tart

Prep time: less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements)
Resting time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Equipment needed: 9” tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges), rolling pin

One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
Bench flour
250 ml (1 cup) blackberry-lime curd, room temperature
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)

Assembling the tart

Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it's overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Remove shell from freezer, spread an even layer of curd onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 40 minutes.

The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. A tester should come out clean. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm.

When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

Sweet shortcrust pastry

Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film

225 g (8 oz) all purpose flour
30 g (1 oz) sugar
2.5 ml (½ tsp) salt
110 g (4 oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
15-30 ml (1-2 T) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

Lightly beat the egg yolks with the vanilla seds and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.

Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes


Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula

125g (4.5 oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5 oz) icing (confectioners') sugar
3 eggs
125g (4.5 oz) ground almonds
30g (1 oz) all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

Blackberry-Lime Curd (adapted from The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard)

2 pints (4 cups) fresh blackberries
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 large eggs
4 large egg yolks

1. Prepare a double boiler with simmering water in the bottom portion of the pan.

2. Puree the berries and pass through a fine-mesh strainer into a small bowl. Measure out 1 cup of puree and reserve the remaining puree for another use (like blackberry lime-ade...yum!)

3. Melt the butter and blackberry puree in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is fully melted. Add the sugar and lime juice, and stir until the sugar is fully dissolved.

4. Whisk together the eggs and egg yolks in the top of the double boiler. Slowly whisk in the hot blackberry mixture into the eggs in a thin stream, whisking constantly.

5. Put the top of the double boiler over the simmering water and whisk continuously for about 5 minutes, using a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl from time to time. The curd is ready when it is as thick as sour cream and registers 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer.

6. Strain the curd through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, and let sit at room temperature until cool, stirring occasionally. While cooling, cover the curd with plastic wrap and press down so the plastic wrap touches the entire surface of the curd, to prevent a skin from forming.

7. You can now use the curd immediately, or chill it in the fridge. Just make sure to bring it to room temperature before using it in the tart. You will have extra, which is delicious on toast or pancakes!

You can see how runny my almond frangipane was in the middle! Oops!

Here are some of my personal favorites from this month. Be sure to check out all the amazing Bakewell Tarts at the Daring Kitchen.

Bakewell Tart with No-Recipe Cherry Jam
Bakewell Tart with Hazelnut Frangipane and Nutella
Bakewell Tart with Strawberry-Maple Jam
Bakewell Tart with Plum Jam or Lemon-Myrtle Curd
Mini Tarts with Lots of Flavors, Including Pear Vanilla Bean Jam
Bakewell Tart with Peach-Rosemary Jam
Bakewell Tart with Chili-Apricot Jam
Bakewell Tart with Lots of Lemon Curd
Bakewell Tart with Cherry-Thyme Jam and Cashew Frangipane
Berry and Coconut Bakewell Tarts

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cherry-Apricot Upside Down Cake

This dessert is an unusual spin on pineapple upside down cake--the pineapple slices and maraschino cherries are replaced by apricots and fresh sweet cherries. It's also not overly sweet despite all that sugar, because the fruit and sugar topping is combined with a delicious, not-too-sweet rustic yellow cake. The apricots also add a slightly tart note (or at least the variety I used did!).

The cake is easy to pull together, and the fruit topping makes it really special. I used a fancy muscovado sugar because I had it on hand from another recipe, but any brown sugar would work well. Make sure to unmold the cake from the pan while it is still warm so that the sugar doesn't solidify and make the fruit stick. I love the presentation of this cake, with the pieces of fruit like little jewels all over the top! Enjoy!

Cherry-Apricot Upside Down Cake (adapted from Eating Out Loud, original recipe here)
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup muscovado or brown sugar, packed
In a large skillet, melt the butter and add the sugar. Cook over medium heat just until sugar begins to bubble. Remove from heat and allow to cool while you prepare the cake.
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 /2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp fresh lemon zest
6-8 apricots
1/3 cup cherries, pitted
1. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and milk, and beat until well combined.

2. Slowly add the flour, mixing just until blended. Add all remaining ingredients and beat together until the mixture is smooth, about 1 minute.
3. Check the skillet. If the sugar has totally hardened, you may need to place it back over a burner for a couple of minutes until it softens. Arrange slices of apricots and cherries on top of the butter and brown sugar mixture, pushing them down slightly.

4. Pour cake batter over fruit, using a spoon to gently spread it smooth and to the edge of the skillet. Bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

I'm sending this post off to BSI: Cherries, hosted this week by Jax House!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pasta with Goat Cheese, Roasted Asparagus, Sausage, and Lemon

This pasta dish is really flavorful and delicious. I saw a similar dish on Smitten Kitchen, and tweaked it a bit, primarily by roasting the asparagus (I just can't resist roasted asparagus!), adding some chicken sausage, and adding a bit more cheese (because there's always a need for more goat cheese!). The elements come together really well with the sweet asparagus, the slightly salty and creamy cheese, and the savory sausage. It's also a really easy dinner, which I always appreciate.

I'm sending this dish off to Presto Pasta Nights. Thanks to host Kait of Pots and Plots and to Ruth of Once Upon a Feast for coming up with the idea of Presto Pasta Nights!

Pasta with Goat Cheese, Roasted Asparagus, Sausage, and Lemon (inspired by Smitten Kitchen)
Serves 5-6

1 pound slender asparagus spears, trimmed, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
Freshly ground black pepper1 pound spiral-shaped pasta
3/4 pound chicken-lemon sausage (or sausage of your choice)
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon plus more for garnish
1 8-ounce log soft fresh goat cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the asparagus with about 1/4 cup oil, salt, and pepper, and spread on a large baking sheet. Roast until just tender in the oven.
2. Cook the pasta in a pot of boiling, salted water. Reserve a cup or so of pasta water before draining.
3. Meanwhile, crumble the sausage or cut into small pieces and saute over medium heat until fully cooked through.
4. Prepare the sauce: combine the remaining 1/4 cup oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and tarragon in a small bowl.
5. In a large pot, combine the drained pasta, roasted asparagus, sausage, lemon-oil sauce, and crumbled goat cheese. Mix well. Taste, and add additional salt, pepper, and lemon juice as needed. Add some pasta water if the dish is a bit dry.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

BBA Challenge: Challah

I made a half recipe of Peter Reinhart's challah for this week's installment of the BBA Challenge. I've made Mollie Katzen's challah in the past and really enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to this recipe. The bread turned out perfectly, even though I totally forgot about the egg wash and sesame seeds before popping it into the oven. The bread was light and fluffy, not too rich, and really delicious for sandwiches or toasted with jam.

I attempted a 4-braid rather than the usual 3-braid following the instructions in BBA, and it turned out well! I didn't get a good photo because the bread didn't come out of the oven until after dark, but you can see the braiding worked out fairly evenly:

It doesn't look too different from a regular 3-braid, but it was a fun variation to try!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Brussels Sprout-Bacon Quiche

I love Brussels sprouts with bacon, and they complement one another perfectly in this quiche. I baked this in normal 10-inch pie plate and a smaller 8-inch springform pan because I was making a smaller portion without bacon for a veggie housemate, but you could probably also use a 10-inch springform or quiche pan with tall sides if you want to make the whole recipe in one pan; the cooking time will just be longer. If you'd like to make just one regular pie-plate sized quiche, you will probably want to reduce the amounts a little bit. I find quiche to be fairly forgiving, so go for it!

I used my food processor to shred the Brussels sprouts, which definitely sped things up. I would recommend using the slicing function on yours if you have one to save time. You can also use it to grate the cheese with just a rinse in between since everything is going in the same dish.

By the way, I defend my dissertation proposal this afternoon, so wish me luck! It's a tradition in our department to provide our committee with snacks for the defense, so I bought some cheeses at local cheese shop Cheeseboard, crackers, cornichons, and chocolate. (I considered baking something, but got too stressed out about that and went the purchasing route!)

Brussels Sprout-Bacon Quiche

1 pie crust (I used this one), partially baked in the pan(s) of your choice
1 medium shallot, diced
1 T olive oil
A few generous handfuls of Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 thick slices bacon, cut into small squares
6 1/2 ounces Fontina cheese, grated
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
4 eggs

1. Saute the shallot in the olive oil until softened over medium high heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and saute until just tender but still bright green. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
2. Saute the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Drain well on paper towels.
3. Sprinkle the Fontina cheese over the bottom of the pie crust. Spread on the Brussels sprouts, and then top with the bacon pieces.
4. Whisk together the cream, milk, and eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the custard mixture carefully over the quiche filling, and even everything out with a rubber spatula.
5. Bake at 375 degrees until puffed and brown, and until a knife comes out mostly clean (30-45 minutes depending on your pan size).

Sunday, June 14, 2009

BBA Challenge: Casatiello

This week's bread was Casatiello, and let me tell you: I might have a new favorite bread! PR calls it "dreamy," and I would definitely have to agree! The thing is, I was really hesitant about making this bread, skeptical that salami in bread would be very good...but believe me, it was more than good! That's one of my favorite things about the BBA challenge: it inspires me to make breads that I would probably never otherwise attempt, but that turn out to be delicious.

This bread is basically a brioche with cheddar cheese and soppressata salami added after kneading. It bakes up to be an incredibly flaky, buttery, and flavorful bread. It's definitely best warm, maybe 20 minutes out of the oven, at which time it sort of tastes like pizza in bread form. It's also very tasty once the bread has cooled off, or toasted. It needs no accompianment, and is excellent just sliced and plain with no toppings.

Here's a photo of the sponge:

The soppressata is lightly sauteed to bring out even more flavor.

Here's the mise-en-place, ready to be mixed into the sponge: dry ingredients, egg, butter, cheese, and salami.

This is what the dough looks like after adding the extra flour:

After adding all that butter, things get much messier! But keep kneading and everything comes together without adding any more flour.

Here's the kneaded dough with the cheese and soppressata added, ready to rise.

These minis only had cheese (no meat) for vegetarians.

The larger loaf had the meat and cheese. So pretty!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Meyer Lemon-Cornmeal Loaf Cake

This cake is pretty much amazing. In fact, I had to make it twice in the space of a couple of days because it was so popular! It has a perfectly moist-yet-fluffy texture, and it's sweet from the cornmeal and sugar but also just the right amount of tart from the double dose of lemon. I love the technique of pouring a glaze over the hot cake. It makes the inside moist while icing the cake all in one, and it's totally non-fussy--no spreading icing or decorating. Maybe the best thing about this cake is that it's sweet enough to be a totally satisfying dessert, but not so sweet that I won't eat it for breakfast (well, I'll eat almost any dessert for breakfast, but this one doesn't feel so guilty!). Yum.

Meyer Lemon-Cornmeal Loaf Cake (adapted from Bon Appetit)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup sugar
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 T Meyer lemon zest
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 1/2 cups (packed) powdered sugar, sifted
2 T (or more) freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a loaf pan and set aside.

2. Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in large bowl; whisk to blend. Whisk buttermilk, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla in small bowl. Pour buttermilk mixture and melted butter into flour mixture. Using rubber spatula, gently fold liquids into flour mixture until just blended (do not stir). Scrape batter into pan; spread evenly.

3. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean and cake pulls away from sides of pan, about 30-40 minutes. While the cake is baking, prepare the glaze: whisk together the sugar and lemon juice until you get a smooth and pourable sauce. Add more lemon juice as needed.

4. Immediately poke the top of the cake all over with a long skewer while the cake is still hot. Pour the glaze over the cake and smooth with an offset spatula. Some of the glaze will soak into the cake and some will stay on top as a glaze.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Fresh Pasta with Roasted Squash and Goat Cheese

I'm so excited that I just got a pasta maker! I'm still sort of figuring out how to use it, but it was still so much better than rolling out pasta by hand as we did for the March Daring Bakers challenge. I made an easy egg pasta and used the machine to roll it out and cut it into fettuccine. I ended up getting the noodles a little too thick, so I'll roll them a bit thinner next time, but otherwise they were really delicious and it was very satisfying to make my own pasta!

The fresh noodles went perfectly with the goat cheese and roasted butternut squash. Sweet and creamy, the cheese and veggies were really delicious and easy to pull together (crucial since I was spending extra time on the pasta). I think a hit of lemon juice would add a bit of needed acidity to the dish (I didn't think to use it at the time, but I've added it to the recipe below).

Fresh Pasta with Roasted Squash and Goat Cheese (adapted from The New York Times)
Serves 4

1 recipe Egg Pasta (see below)
1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into cubes
2 whole garlic cloves, unpeeled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp chopped fresh sage
2 T extra virgin olive oil (more as needed)
4 ounces goat cheese
Juice of 1/2 lemon (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Cover a baking sheet with foil. In a bowl, toss the squash with the garlic, salt, pepper, sage, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until all of the squash is coated with oil. Add more oil as needed so that everything is well coated. Transfer to the baking sheet, place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes or until tender and caramelized.

2. Remove the garlic cloves and carefully squeeze out the now-soft insides. Add them to a bowl along with the squash and the cheese.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cook the fresh pasta for only 1-2 minutes until it is perfectly al dente. Ladle about 1/2 cup cooking water from the pasta into the bowl with the squash and cheese and stir together.
3. When the pasta is ready, drain and toss with the squash mixture and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Squeeze lemon juice over the top of the pasta and serve hot.
Egg Pasta (adapted from The Splendid Table)
4 extra-large eggs
14 ounces all-purpose flour
A few drops of water, as needed
1. Place the eggs and flour into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix together with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until the flour is mostly moistened. Place the bowl on the stand mixer, and knead with the dough hook on the lowest speed until the dough is satiny, smooth, pliable, and not at all tacky. Add a few drops of water if it looks like all the flour isn't getting incorporated.
2. Shape the dough into a ball and let rest 30 minutes to 3 hours at room temperature.
3. Work the dough through your pasta machine until it is your desired thickness (or roll it out with a rolling pin). At this point you can either cut it by hand or use an attachment for your machine to cut the dough into noodles. I made fetuccini but any long noodle shape would work.
4. You can use the pasta in the above recipe immediately or let it sit out for an hour or two with no ill consequences. Just make sure it is well floured so the noodles don't stick together!

I'm sending this recipe off to Presto Pasta Nights! Thanks to hostess Daphne of More than Words.  I'm also sending it off to BSI: Pasta!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

BBA Challenge: Bagels and Brioche

I'm doing a double post for the BBA Challenge this week since I managed to delay so long on posting my bagels! I've had them made but have been busy setting up my new computer, which finally came! Yay. So, on to bagels!

These bagels were delicious. I made two batches, one a mini test-batch with all-purpose flour and brown sugar, and one with hi-gluten flour and diastatic malt powder. The test batch actually came out better because I under-baked the final batch by a few minutes (darn!). They looked done on top, but...not quite. They were still really yummy with salami and soft cheese, or with lox and capers. Here are some photos of how I made the bagels:

Here's the sponge before (above) and after (below) rising.

And here I've added the flour...

...Only to have it explode all over my kitchen when I accidentally turned my mixer up too high!

Here are some balls of dough kneaded and ready to be shaped into rings:

And here they are as bagels!
Boiling bagels...
Here are some shots of the final product! Mmmmm, bagels...

Overall, I enjoyed making the bagels but I don't know if I'd make them again because they were an awful lot of work. The mini-batch was more manageable, so maybe I'd make a half recipe for a special occasion mixer seemed to be able to better handle a smaller amount of dough anyway.

I also made brioche. For this recipe, PR offers three options, all with different amounts of butter. Since we had another rich bread coming up (Casatiello, which I'll post about next week), I decided to go for the Poor Man's Brioche, which has the least amount of butter (thought it's still pretty rich!). I thought the bread was buttery enough to eat plain, and it was also delicious with jam or Nutella. We gobbled up both loaves in no time, and I will definitely be making this one again sometime! I would also like to see what it's like as a pie/tart crust, as PR says this is a possible use for the recipe. I didn't get any shots of the "process" for this one, but here's a photo of the finished product (the slice of bread is spread with Nutella).

I'm sending this post off to this week's YeastSpotting, a weekly round-up of yeast-y goodies. I've gotten so many great ideas from this round up...I definitely recommend checking it out! New round ups go up on Fridays.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Berry-Peach Cornmeal Muffins

Coconut & Lime is holding a 5 year blogiversary contest--wow, 5 years! Very cool, and even more so because this is one of my favorite blogs. To enter, you just need to make a recipe from her blog and post it to yours! I chose her blackberry-cornmeal cake because we had some berries in the fridge that really needed to be eaten. I didn't end up having quite enough blackberries, so I added some raspberries and a diced peach. I also baked the cake in muffin cups, just 'cause. :)

These fruity muffins were really delicious! I love cornmeal in muffins because it adds such a nice sweetness and texture. The muffins are on the sweet side (since the recipe was originally a cake), but still appropriate for breakfast (in my sweet tooth opinion). They're excellent plain, but also spread with a tangy fruit curd.

Berry-Peach Cornmeal Muffins (adapted from Coconut & Lime, original recipe here)
Makes 12

1 cup flour, plus more for berries
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
5 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
8 oz mixed fruits (I used blackberries, raspberries, and a peeled, diced peach)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a muffin tin.
2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, cornmeal, and baking powder in a large bowl. Whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and butter in a small bowl, and then very gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing no more than necessary to combine.
3. Toss the fruits with flour to coat them lightly. Gently fold them into the batter, and then divide it among the muffin cups.
4. Bake the muffins until a tester comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Pizza Night: Potato-Asparagus-Goat Cheese and Broccoli-Pepperoni

We had a great pizza night recently featuring two really interesting toppings. Above is pictured the broccoli-pepperoni variation. We had fresh broccoli from the garden, and it was amazing. You might want to use broccolini if you don't have it from the garden since it's a little more delicate. I steamed the broccoli briefly until just tender before topping the pizza.

Below is a really tasty potato-asparagus-goat cheese version. For this one, I didn't use tomato sauce and just spread a little olive oil on the crust. The pizza had excellent contrast between the creamy cheese, slightly crunchy but tender roasted asparagus, soft potatoes, and lemon juice for a little kick. Next time I think I would also roast the potatoes since I think roasting tends to lend a better flavor than steaming.

Potato-Asparagus-Goat Cheese Pizza (adapted from Bon Appetit)

1 recipe pizza dough (here are a few to choose from: Martha Stewart, Peter Reinhart, PR's Sourdough) Make enough dough for 2 medium or 1 extra large thin-crust pizza.
5 ounces Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into small cubes
1 bunch skinny asparagus (about 8 ounces), cut into 1 inch pieces
1 garlic clove, minced
3 T extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
4 ounces mozzarella, grated
2 Meyer (or 1 regular) lemons

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the potatoes and 1 T olive oil in a bowl. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and then spread on a baking sheet. Toss the asparagus and garlic with an additional 1 T olive oil, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Place the asparagus on another baking sheet. Roast both vegetables in the oven until tender and browned.
2. After you remove the veggies from the oven, turn it up to 500 degrees. Stretch out your pizza crust. Spread the remaining 1 T olive oil over the crust. Top with the veggies, goat cheese, mozzarella, and a generous squeeze of Meyer lemon juice.
3. Bake the pizza until the bottom crust is browned and the cheese is melted and bubbling. Serve with more lemon wedges to squeeze over the pizza.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Contest Winner

Thanks to all who entered my contest to win Desserts by the Yard by Sherry Yard. The winner is Jill of Jillicious Discoveries! Congrats, Jill! :) Please get in touch with me to let me know your address and I will mail the book to you.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sourdough Potato Bread

I was really craving potato bread a couple of weeks ago, but let me tell you--it's really hard to find a recipe for soft potato bread that also uses sourdough starter! I wanted that sort of soft sandwich-y bread, but also wanted to use some of my starter. I ended up adapting a recipe for Discovering Sourdough, and it really hit the spot! The bread was easy to make and it had exactly the tender texture I was looking for, along with really excellent flavor and a wonderful crunchy crust. I added some instant yeast so I could make the bread fairly quickly and some vital wheat gluten to make sure everything was perfectly soft and fluffy even with some white whole wheat flour. Yum! I will definitely be making this bread again. I'm also sending it off to the one-year anniversary edition of YeastSpotting!

Sourdough Potato Bread (adapted from Discovering Sourdough)

1 cup (9 ounces) sourdough starter
11 ounces bread flour, more as needed
5 ounces white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup (4 ounces) mashed Yukon Gold potatoes
1/4 cup (2 ounces) potato water, more as needed
1/4 cup (2 ounces) milk
2 T vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 T brown sugar
1 1/2 T butter, melted and cooled
2 tsp instant yeast
2 tsp salt

1. Combine all of the ingredients except the salt in the bowl of your stand mixer. Stir until just incorporated. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let rest for 20 minutes.
2. Add the salt and knead the dough with the dough hook until smooth and supple. Add more water or flour as needed so the dough just clears the bottom and sides of the bowl. Place in an oiled bowl and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.
3. Punch down the dough and shape into a round or oval shape. Place on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet, cover, and let rise until again doubled in bulk.
4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. When the dough is ready, slash the top and place in the oven. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes, and then reduce heat to 400 degrees and bake for 10-15 minutes more until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.