Monday, February 24, 2014

Apple Walnut Pancakes

After staying in my sister's home for a month and making myself comfortable in her kitchen, I came away with the decision that I was ready for an electric griddle.  I'd avoided one mainly because they seem like such an awkward device to store and my cupboard space is limited.  But she sold me.  So I asked for one for my birthday and my husband pulled through.  We've been eating pancakes, bacon, eggs, grilled sandwiches, and quesadillas like kings!  Mainly, I love my new kitchen friend because I can cook whatever we're having in at least half the time it used to take me to feed my family of five, which means the time I'm standing in the kitchen versus the time I'm sitting at the table with my family has a much better ratio now!  So here are the pancakes I made last Saturday.  We lingered at the table, myself included, and ate the entire batch!

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 cups milk
2 eggs, well beaten
2 Tbsp. oil
1 cup diced or grated apples
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Combine flours, salt, baking powder and brown sugar in a large bowl.  Set aside.

Combine milk, eggs, and oil in a separate bowl.  Add liquids to dry ingredients and stir until just mixed.  Add apples and walnuts, stirring just until combined.

Bake on hot, lightly greased griddle.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Walnut Mocha Torte

This is what I made for my Valentine last week.  His definition of a good dessert is anything that enhances his cup of coffee, so this was a winner.  The mocha topping was my favorite part.  I saved some to put on ice cream!  

6 eggs
1 cup (200 g) white granulated sugar (divided to 3/4 and 1/4 cup)
1 cup (120 g) finely ground walnuts
1/2 cup (55 g) fine dry bread crumbs (plain, unseasoned)

Mocha Topping:
1/2 cup (100 g) white granulated sugar
2 Tbsp corn starch
1 cup (8 fluid ounces, 236 ml) strong coffee
1 ounce (30 g) of chocolate chips (a little less than 1/4 of a cup)
1 Tbsp butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (8 fluid ounces, 236 ml) heavy whipping cream
Separate the eggs, into yolks and whites.  Take care to make sure there are no pieces of shell or egg yolk in the whites, and that the bowl you are using to contain them is completely clean with no residue of fat. Any fat from yolks or oil will make it difficult to beat the egg whites.
Prepare two 9-inch cake pans. Line the pans with parchment paper or wax paper. Lightly butter the sides of the pans (not the paper).
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Mix together the ground walnuts and the bread crumbs in a small bowl and set aside.
Place the egg yolks into a mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Slowly add  3/4 cup of white sugar and continue to beat the egg yolks until thick and pale. (I use a hand mixer for this.)

Using a stand mixer, beat the egg whites with the whisk attachment until foamy.  Slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup of white sugar, and beat until soft peaks form.

With a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture, alternately with the walnut mixture.
Spoon the batter into the prepared, parchment-layered cake pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 350°F (175°C) until a slight imprint remains when touched.
While the cake is cooking prepare the mocha frosting base. Place 1/2 cup of white sugar and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch into a saucepan. Turn the heat onto medium and gradually stir in the coffee and the chocolate chips.  Stir continuously until the mixture starts to simmer and thicken quite substantially. Continue to stir while the mixture simmers for 1 minute. Then remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla extract until well blended.  Let cool completely. (You will incorporate this mocha base into whipped cream when you frost the cake.)

Remove the cakes from oven and cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Run a dull knife around the edges of the cakes to separate it from the sides of the pans. Carefully invert the cakes onto a rack. Carefully peel back and discard the parchment or wax paper. Let cool completely.  Note that if you want to make ahead, you can cook the cakes first, let cool to room temp, wrap with plastic wrap, and freeze until you are ready to frost and serve.

Complete the frosting. Whip the cream until it is rather thick, just before that point to which if you kept on whipping it would turn to butter. This will help it hold up as a frosting. Once whipped, fold the whipped cream and mocha base together. It may be a little speckled, and if you fold it only lightly, you can have almost a marbling effect of light and dark with the frosting, if you wish.  Place one cake on a serving platter. Frost the top. Place the second cake on top of it, and frost the top and sides of the cake.  Serve immediately, or keep chilled until serving.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Pork Carnitas

Go ahead and make this.  I doubt you'll be disappointed.  The last step of broiling the meat is what made the difference for me.  A splash of fresh lime juice is the only thing my soft taco was missing in the end.  The meat was so tender with delicious hints of the flavorful sauce.  I only used 2.5 pounds of pork, but kept the rest of the measurements the same.  Yum!

4 pound boneless pork butt, fat trimmed and cut into 2 inch cubes
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 onion, peeled and halved
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
2 Tb fresh lime juice
2 cups water
1 medium orange, juiced and keep the spent halves

Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat to 300 degrees.  Combine all the ingredients in a large Dutch oven, including the spent orange halves and juice.  Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, uncovered.  Once it simmers, cover pot and transfer it to the oven.  Cook until the meat falls apart when prodded with a fork, about 2 hours.

Remove the pot from the oven and turn on the broiler.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the meat from the pan and place it on a large foil-lined jelly roll pan.  Remove and discard everything from the pot except for the cooking liquid.  Place pot over high heat on the stove and boil until thick and syrupy, about 20 minutes.  You should have about 1 C of liquid remaining when it is finished.

While the liquid is reducing, use two forks to pull each cube of pork into three equal sized pieces.  Once the liquid has become a syrup, gently fold in the pieces of pork into the pot.  Try not to break up the pork any further.  Taste and add additional salt and pepper. 

Spread the pork back onto the foil lined pan and evenly spread the meat around so there is a single layer of meat.  Place the jelly roll pan on the lower middle rack of the oven and broil until the top of the meat is well browned and edges are slightly crisp, about 5 to 8 minutes.  Using a wide metal spatula, flip the pieces of meat and broil the other side until well browned and edges are slightly crisp, 5 to 8 minutes. (I didn't flip and broil.  One side was enough for us)  Serve immediately in a tortilla with all your favorite toppings.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Sausage, Jerusalem Artichoke and Savoy Bake

The kids and I looked through our veg box delivery and were stumped by one potato-looking smallish knobby thing.  We smelled, poked, broke, and tasted it before pulling out the trusty A-Z vegetable guide where we discovered we were the lucky recipients of a bag of jerusalem artichokes!  So what do you do with jerusalem artichokes?!  Thankfully, a recipe card was included that provided a great dinner for my family.  The artichoke had a very mild flavor, but was as soft as a potato might have been after baking.  However, I would make this dish again, substituting some small potatoes for the artichokes and I think it would turn out great.

oil for frying
8 sausages
3-4 cups chicken or beef stock
5-7 jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed and cut in half or wedges
1 cup lentils, rinsed and drained
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried chili flakes
zest from 1/2 a lemon (optional)
1 savoy cabbage, outer leave removed, cut into wedges with the root intact

Preheat oven to 350.

Heat 1 Tbsp oil in an ovenproof pan.  Fry sausages until brown on all sides.  Add 3 cups stock.  Remove from heat, cover with foil or lid, and bake for 15 minutes.

Uncover and add jerusalem artichokes, lentils, thyme, chili, lemon zest and season with salt and pepper.  Bake for 20 minutes more, uncovered.

Wedge the cabbage between the other things in the pan and spoon over a little more stock.  Bake another 15 minutes, or until everything is tender.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Avacado, Feta, and Egg Toastie

This quick lunch came together for me one afternoon while the girls were resting and I needed a fast dose of protein before I collapsed from a busy morning.  "I spy with my little eye a ripe avocado . . . and some feta . . . "  Add a fried egg and buttered toast.  The obvious salt and pepper on top and I called it good!  You should really try this one.  It's so easy I don't even need to share a "recipe", but so good I couldn't not share the idea.
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