Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sour Cream-Apple Pie with Lemon-Cardamom Streusel

My mom and I swooned over this pie via email a few months ago, and just had to make it once I got home, even thought it was the middle of summer!  Despite the hot weather, this apple pie was a huge hit.  The original recipe is for a huge deep dish pie, but we halved everything except the crust and it still made plenty (and fit in a regular pie plate).  We had some homemade apple pie filling from one of my mom's students, so we subbed that for the apples in the original pie and just added some egg, sour cream, and lemon zest to mimic the original filling - this worked really well, but I've listed the original filling recipe below in case you don't have a jar of homemade filling around the house!  Feel free to add some cinnamon if you like - although the original recipe doesn't list it, the filling we used already had some mixed in and it was very tasty. 

Sour Cream-Apple Pie with Lemon-Cardamom Streusel (adapted from Unforgettable Desserts)

For the crust:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at cool room temperature, cut into small pieces
5 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups sifted cake flour

For the apple filling:
4-1/2 cups peeled, cored and thinly sliced apples (about 5 apples)
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream (not low-fat)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

For the streusel:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (4 T) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Make the crust:
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter with the flat paddle attachment on medium-high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugar slowly and continue to beat on medium-high speed until lightened and creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg yolk until well combined. Add the flour and pulse the mixer on and off until it begins to combine, and then run the mixer on medium-low speed just until the dough begins to form. Scrape out onto plastic wrap and press the dough into a flat disk. Wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
2. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until large enough to fit in your pie plate - a deep dish pie plate is best here. Fit the dough into the pan, trim the edges, and crimp edges with a fork.  Chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Make the filling:
1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Toss together the apple slices and sugar in a large sauté pan. Cook over medium heat, occasionally stirring gently. Cook for about 5 minutes, just until the apples soften just a bit. Remove from the heat, cool slightly, then sprinkle with flour and toss gently to coat.
3. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl, then whisk in the sour cream and lemon zest. Fold into the apples.
4. Remove the crust from the refrigerator and scrape the filling into the crust.  Bake for 15 minutes while you prepare the streusel.

Make the streusel:
1. Combine all the ingredients until well blended.
2. After the pie has baked for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and turn the heat down to 375 degrees. Scatter the streusel over the pie, forming it into small clumps with your fingers.
3. Return the pie to the oven and bake for 15 minutes more. Turn the heat down to 350 degrees and continue baking for 20 to 30 minutes more, or until the streusel is evenly browned. If the crust is getting to brown, cover it with foil. 
4. Cool the pan on a rack to allow the filling to thicken and set. Serve at room temperature.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Nutella-Chocolate Chip Cookies

The addition of Nutella to these cookies makes for a smooth flavor and keeps them moist and chewy.  The Nutella flavor isn't very pronounced, but definitely adds something special to these!  My mom and I made them, and our family loved them - we thought they looked and tasted like cookies from a good bakery, very professional.  You can definitely make them on the bigger side to really add to that "bakery" feeling, but we liked them smaller - a little over a tablespoon per cookie - since the cookies are fairly rich and it's nice to be able to eat more than one!

Nutella-Chocolate Chip Cookies (from The Perfect Finish)
Makes 4 dozen small cookies

 2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup Nutella
2 eggs
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups chocolate chips or coarsely chopped dark chocolate
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with foil or parchment.
2. Whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside.
3. Beat together the butter and sugar, and then add the Nutella and beat until smooth.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla.  Fold in the dry ingredients, followed by chocolate chips or chocolate chunks and nuts, if using.
4. Drop heaping tablespoon-fuls of dough two inches apart on the cookie sheets, and then flatten slightly by hand.  Bake 8-10 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Blueberry Yogurt Pancakes with Shagbark Hickory Syrup

My dad and I discovered shagbark hickory syrup at a local farmer's market, and had to get some to try at home.  It has a much more mild flavor than maple syrup, which I like because I often find maple syrup on pancakes to be too strong a flavor.  If you're a huge maple syrup fan, I think you'd likely find the flavor to be too subtle, but I liked it.  It paired well with these healthy yogurt pancakes with fresh blueberries.  The yogurt - we used homemade, non-fat yogurt - makes the pancakes super moist and fluffy, and using just a bit of whole wheat flour lends good flavor without making the pancakes overly dense.  The small recipe here is perfect for a small breakfast since this was just for my mom and me, but of course you can double it if the whole family is eating. 

Blueberry Yogurt Pancakes with Shagbark Hickory Syrup (adapted from Pancakes and Waffles)
Serves 2-3

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 T sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup plain yogurt, more for serving
1/2 cup low fat milk
1 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Shagbark hickory syrup, to serve

1. Whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a small bowl.  Put the egg, yogurt, milk, and melted butter in a second bowl, and beat until smooth.  Add the flour mixture, and fold in, being careful not to overmix.
2. Heat a skillet over medium heat and spray with oil.  Spoon the batter into the pan, and top each pancake with a few berries.  When bubbles appear on the surface, flip the pancakes, finish cooking, and then serve with shagbark hickory syrup and more plain yogurt.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Banana Cake with Crackly Brown Sugar Frosting

I've been back in Ohio for the past week and a half visiting my parents, and this cake is one of the first things my mom and I baked together.  We were really skeptical when it came out of the oven, because the top had a lot of cracks and it just looked like it would be really dry and heavy.  Luckily, looks were deceiving, because the cake was moist and delicious.  On top of that, the frosting is absolutely to-die-for, maybe my favorite frosting ever! It's basically like a butterscotch fudge spread all over the top of the cake, and it pairs perfectly with the banana cake.  The original recipe was called "banana snack cake", which I can definitely agree with - this cake was easy to snack on! 

Banana Cake with Crackly Brown Sugar Frosting (from You Made That Dessert?)

8 T butter, plus more for pan
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 large, very ripe bananas
1 cup sour cream or yogurt (or a mix)
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large eggs
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

For the frosting:
1-1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
 5 T butter, cut into 10 pieces
1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9x13 baking pan.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together to flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a large bowl, mash the bananas and then stir in the sour cream and vanilla
3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar until fluffy with an electric mixer, about 2 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat another 30 seconds.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
4. Stir half the dry ingredients into the butter-sugar mixture with a rubber spatula.  Stir in the banana mixture, and then the remaining flour and the walnuts.  Be careful not to over mix.
5. Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top.  Bake 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool completely before making the frosting.
6. Make the frosting: Combine all frosting ingredients in a saucepan.  Place over medium heat and cook, whisking often, until the butter is melted and the ingredients are combined.  Continue to cook, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches a full boil that cannot be stirred down.  Boil 1-2 minutes, whisking vigorously.  (This will take quite a while - just be patient and keep whisking!)
7. Remove from heat, and beat the frosting with an electric mixer for 6-8 minutes, until lightened in color and thickened to a spreading consistency.  The frosting should be completely cool at this point.  Frost the cake immediately, before the frosting forms a crust.  The top of the frosting will become crackly and delicious as it cools.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Potato Salad with Fava Beans and Fennel

I made this potato salad a few weeks ago as part of my plan to pack more lunches for myself.  A nicely-sized portion makes a good lunch along with some yogurt or a piece of fruit, since the potatoes and fava beans are fairly filling.  If favas are out of season (or too much trouble), lima beans make a good substitute here.  My sister and grandma made the recipe using limas for a church potluck, and said the results were excellent.  The dressing of olive oil and lemon juice makes this recipe much lighter than the usual mayonnaise-based potato salad, and the fennel adds a perfect crunch. 

Potato Salad with Fava Beans and Fennel (adapted from the kitchn, original recipe here)
Serves 2

3/4 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks
2 T olive oil
Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
Juice of 1/2 to 1 Meyer lemon (to taste)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound shelled fava beans (removed from outer skins)
1 generous cup very thinly sliced fennel
1 T finely chopped fennel fronds
2 T chopped chives

1. Cover the potatoes with water, add a generous pinch of salt, and then bring to a boil.  Simmer until the potatoes are cooked through.
2. Meanwhile, whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest, and juice of 1/2 lemon.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and add more lemon juice as needed.
3. When the potatoes are cooked through, remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and toss with the lemon dressing while still hot.
4. Add the fava beans to the boiling water for 30-40 seconds.  Immediately run under cold water and then slip off the skins.  Taste, and boil a bit more if needed (this will depend on the size).
5. Add the fava beans, fennel, fennel fronds, and chives to the potatoes, and gently toss to combine.  Taste and add more salt, pepper, lemon juice, and/or oil as needed. Serve warm or chilled.

I'm sending this salad off to Kitchen Bootcamp: Salads.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Pesto Salmon with Broccolini in a Foil Pouch

My new housemate Nina and I made this recipe a couple of weeks ago when we were in search of an easy, healthy dinner.  We had some leftover homemade pesto, which made it an even better choice - but I think this would be tasty with store bought pesto as well.  The original recipe called for green beans, but the green bean options at Whole Foods were pretty pitiful, so we went with broccolini instead, which was a great substitution.  I think asparagus or wax beans would also work well.  I found the 7-ounce portion of salmon to be a bit too much, but your mileage may vary on portion size.

I love these little meals in a packet.  Easy to put together, and not too much clean-up!  Since this one has just a few ingredients, it's even easier to make, especially if you have two cooks in the kitchen. 

Pesto Salmon with Broccolini in a Foil Pouch (adapted from Jamie's Food Revolution)
Serves 2

1 bunch broccolini
1 lemon
2 7-ounce salmon fillets, skin on, bones and scales removed
2 heaping spoonfuls of pesto
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Trim the broccolini and and blanche in boiling water until just barely tender.
2. Take about 1 yard of tin foil and fold in half long-ways to make a large rectangle.  Mound half of the broccolini in the middle of the rectangle.  Lay a salmon fillet across the broccolini and spread a spoonful of pesto over the top.  Drizzle with olive oil, squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon over the salmon, and then season with salt and pepper.  Pull the edges of the foil together and scrunch together to seal the packet.
3. Repeat to make the second parcel.
4. Place both parcels on a sheet pan, and place in the oven.  Cook for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let stand for a  minute before checking to see if the salmon is cooked through. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Peach-Raspberry Jam

This peach-raspberry jam is absolutely addictive.  Since we had some peaches that needed to be used up at just the time when I had raspberries ready to can, I thought I'd combine them.  My friend Nina wanted a seedless raspberry jam, so I recruited her to sieve the raspberries (my least favorite part of seedless raspberry anything!) and this jam was the result.  Other than getting the seeds out of the raspberries, it's very easy, and the color is absolutely amazing!  Just be very careful when canning as I burned my thumb by pouring a ladle-full of steaming jam all over it (not advised!). 

Peach-Raspberry Jam (adapted from momee4five on Tasty Kitchen)
Makes 8 jars

2 cups pureed peaches (either peel first, or puree and then strain; either way, you want to have 2 cups smooth puree)
2 cups pureed raspberries, seeds strained (again, measure after straining)
7-1/2 cups sugar
2 T lemon juice
1 package pectin

Combine the fruit, sugar, and lemon juice in a large pot.  Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Add the pectin and boil for one minute, stirring constantly (or follow package instructions).  Ladle into jars.  Store in the fridge/freezer, or can in boiling water.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Raspberry-Nectarine-Almond Cake

I have to say, raspberries might be my favorite fruit!  I was actually originally intending to make this rhubarb cake, but for unknown reasons my grocery store didn't have any. (Seriously, they have rhubarb in the dead of winter, so I have no idea what was going on...)  Anyway, I had to improvise, so I decided to go for a combination of raspberries and nectarines.  They made a very tasty cake with a light crumb and a nice background flavor of almonds, although I would still like to try this with rhubarb sometime!  The cake did end up a bit sweet, I think because the rhubarb would have been much more tart than the fruits I ended up using. Although the cake is plenty sweet enough for dessert, it also has that perfect coffee cake texture that I think makes it appropriate for breakfast, as well!

Happy Fourth of July! I'm off to Stockton to enjoy homemade spring rolls from my friend Kim's mom, a minor league baseball game, and fireworks! 

Raspberry-Nectarine-Almond Cake (adapted from Baking for All Occasions by Flo Braker, via Radishes and Rhubarb)

1 3/4 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large room temperature eggs
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 white nectarine, peeled and cut into small pieces
3/4 cup red raspberries
1/2 cup ground almonds
Sliced almonds, to decorate

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 10-inch springform pan with oil.
2. Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.
3. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla and beat to combine.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until fluffy.
4. Add the flour and buttermilk in alternating additions (flour-buttermilk-flour-buttermilk-flour), mixing until just incorporated after each addition.
5. Add the nectarine, berries, and ground almonds and very gently fold to incorporate with a rubber spatula.
6. Scrape batter into the springform pan.  Sprinkle with sliced almonds.  Bake until a tester comes out clean.