Saturday, October 12, 2013

French Toast



How has it been over a year since my last post? Wow. Gotta love that french toast is what brings me back. Maybe it's because I'm home on a lazy Saturday for the first time in, oh, over a month. Maybe it's because we had leftover challah and I improvised a french toast recipe that was so delicious I just had to share it. Regardless, I'm back. We've made quite a few dishes here in our kitchen in Ann Arbor that are "dinner party worthy", i.e., it is not the slop we make for our selves that we're too embarrassed to serve to other people. I'll start to share the "dinner party worthy" dishes we've concocted, so you can see what we're up to here in our new home.

Still-sleepy French Toast

4 thick (3/4") slices of Challah
1 cup milk (we used 1% since we had it in the fridge)
1/4 cup liquid egg whites (or egg beaters)
1 egg (note, if you don't have egg beaters or just want to use eggs, use a total of 3 eggs)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp brown sugar
pinch of salt
pat of butter
real maple syrup (d'uh) 

In 9x13 pyrex, or other shallow baking dish, combine milk, liquid whites, egg, vanilla, brown sugar and salt. Stir with fork to mix well. Add slices of challah in single layer. After about three minutes, flip slices of bread to let the other side sit in liquid mixture. 

In a large skillet (I used non-stick), heat a small pat of butter (maybe 1/2 tablespoon) on medium heat. Add however many slices of french toast will fit in a single layer. Fry for a few minutes then flip once golden, then fry on the other side.  Do the second (and third if necessary) batch, adding a little butter as needed. 

Serve warm with more butter and real maple syrup. Delicious!


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Zucchini Muffins

This recipe I adapted from smitten kitchen's zucchini bread recipe (here)

I wanted to lighten it up just a little so I could eat 'em for breakfast, and maybe, just maybe, Jason would have a few.

3 eggs (would have subbed with egg beaters but we were out)
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup non-fat yogurt

11 oz shredded zucchini (about 5 x-small zucchini, equals about 2.5-3 cup shredded)
2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 350º
2. In large bowl, mix eggs, oil, sugar, yogurt
3. In separate bowl, mix flours, spices, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
4. Shred zucchini (I used food processor) and add to liquids. Add vanilla. Mix
5. Add dries to wets, and fold to evenly distributed. As a matter of principal I tried not to overmix, but I think you'll be decently protected because the shredded zucchini will be in the way of you overmixing.
6. Portion in to paper lined muffin cups
7. Bake 25 min. I switched racks and rotated pans after 20 min, probably not necessary though.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Rhubarb Crumb Cake



Combine rhubarb that needs to be used up and a lazy Saturday afternoon and you get rhubarb crumb cake. I checked Smitten Kitchen (my starting place for most receipes) and sure enough found exactly what I was looking for. See her recipe here (http://smittenkitchen.com/2012/05/rhubarb-snacking-cake/)

I adapted it only slightly out of necessity (little short on sugar, no sour cream), but I'm hoping it'll turn out similar to hers.

Here is the recipe with my adjustments.

Cake
12 oz rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch lengths on the diagonal
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice (psst, skip ahead and zest it for the cake before you cut it)

1/2 cup  unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups  all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 cup non-fat yogurt

Crumb
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


Preheat oven to 350º
1. Mix the cut rhubarb with the first amount of sugar (2/3 cup) and lemon juice. Set aside.
2. Cream butter, sugars and zest until light and fluffy
3. Scrape down, and add eggs one at a time, mixing well
4. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, ginger in a separate bowl
5. Add flour and yogurt in alternating batches (flour, yogurt, flour, yogurt, flour)
6. Take a 9x13 ish size baking pan, line with parchment (you can drap it over so only the long edges are lined).
7. Spread batter into pan, I used an offset spatula like she suggested. Top with rhubarb in an even layer. (I threw the juice that settled to the bottom of the bowl too).
8. Make the crumb by combining all ingredients except butter. Mix to combine. Add melted butter and stir with a fork. You can be agressive to incorporate dries and bust up the big pieces. Sprinkle crumb evenly on top of rhubarb.
9. Bake 50-60 min (i rotated it after 35 and checked it at 45). Check to make sure it's cooked through in the middle (use a toothpick) before removing it.






Monday, June 20, 2011

Steamed cod with ginger

I typed this up from an old issue of Everyday Food (magazine), and accidentaly published the post. Looks like it was a popular item though, so I'll leave this post up - even though I haven't made this yet!

Let me know how it is!

4 scallions, white and green parts separated and sliced
2 Tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp red-pepper flakes
1 tsp sugar
coarse salt
4 skinless cod fillets (6 oz each)
(rice to serve..)

1. In a shallow 2 quart microwave safe dish with a lid, stir together scallion whites, ginger, vinager, oil, red pepper flakes and sugar. season with salt. marinate cod in dish 20 min, turning once.

2. Cover and microwave on high 5 minutes, let stand, covered until fish is opaque throughout, 5 minutes. top wiht scallion greens. serve fish with rice if desired.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Back to blogging and baking?

You might have noticed that I'm trying to post more... more recipes that I make, more meals out, more easy ideas, more vegetarian meals, and more cakes!

Let me know if there are any requests. Now that I have this thing called "time", I hope to be cooking more often! and baking more wedding cakes too.. bellesbouchees.com





Black Bean Burgers




We made up gigantic pot of black beans earlier in the week, so we wanted to make something to use them up. Black bean burgers it was!

I pulled out the food processor and mixed up the ingredients. Had to add some more almond meal after I saw that the first ones I fried up were too mushy... fry them up one or two at a time, so you can play with the consistency and do what works for you. If you are making them to be served on buns - you might need to add more almond meal to thicken them up.

Ingredients
2 cups cooked black beans
1 Tbsp dijon mustard,
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp minced onions
2 Tbsp minced cilantro
1 cup (ish) almond meal
1 egg

serve with:
butter lettuce leaves
tomatoes, sliced
red and yellow peppers, roasted
onions, super thinly sliced
hot sauce
dijon mustard

Instructions
1. Roast off the peppers first. Put peppers directly over open flame on stove (if you don't have a gas stove.. put on burner?? I don't know what to do in that case..) Once the peppers are good and charred, place them in a bowl and put plastic wrap on top, OR put in a brown paper bag. Basically you are just trying to trap the steam as the peppers cool, which helps the charred skin be peeled off of the pepper flesh. mmmm...

here are the peppers roasting.
2. Place all ingredients to make burgers (black beans, mustard, garlic, onions, cilantro, almond meal, egg) in food processor. Pulse until well mixed.


3. Form patties and place in oil in a medium fry pan that is over medium-high heat. Fry on both sides for a few minutes. You'll have to play around here with the right amount of heat, oil, time, etc...

4. Serve burgers with lettuce (topped or topless) and all the fixin's.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Stuffed Red Peppers

Our take on stuffed red peppers: tofu and almond meal in the filling and plenty of chives - that we grew (!!) on top.

These were super quick and easy to make, yet something I like to jokingly call "dinner party worthy". Some of our quick weeknight dinners leave something to be desired in the looks category, but this one I would gladly serve to guests!

Ingredients
1 pack Tofu (1 lb)
1/2 cup Almond Meal (blanched, not blanched, whatever)
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
2 Tbps Pesto
1 small-medium onion
italian spices (oregano, thyme, red pepper, etc..)
2 - 4 Red Peppers (one per person)
1 bunch Chives

Instructions
note: we made this a few weeks ago, I hope these instructions are accurate enough!

-preheat oven to 375 deg-
1. Mince up the onion and sauté until translucent.
2. Take the tofu, cut it up into small pieces (about 1/4"). Toss in a big bowl.
3. Add the onions, the tomato paste, pesto and almond meal to the tofu in the bowl. Stir it up. Add a little salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, red pepper, etc.. to your taste preferences.
4. Take the tops off the peppers by cutting around the stem with a paring knife. Pull out the center with the white part and seeds. Use your hands to remove any that stayed behind.
5. Fill the peppers with the stuffing mixture. Put stuffed peppers in a pyrex dish or whatnot
6. Bake until tops are uber golden (if I recall it took about 45 min?!) Top with chives and serve!

note: this filling made way more than enough for two peppers... we filled reusable silicon muffin cups with the filling, and baked it for about 20 min - until golden. Those were super good reheated later in the week, almost like vegetarian meatballs!

Friday, March 25, 2011

No really, you came to New York to cook?!?

We cook a lot in SF. In the Bay Area, I think it's expected that you both know how to cook, and enjoy cooking. So it's no surprise many people cook together, as you know, a 'fun' thing to do.

Well, I flew to NY to visit people, and visiting friends includes cooking with friends. Revolutionary I know. I have been told that New York is known for food, and I am sure that the city knows what it's doing... but so do Joyce and I! Why go out to eat, when you can spend the evening catching up, and hearing amazing stories, all while trying to figure out how to make quinoa burgers? Don't get me wrong, I enjoy going out to eat as a treat, but I adore cooking and dining with friends. Life can't get much better than that.

Brooklyn Quinoa Burgers on the Fly
(take this recipe as a really rough guide, this is beyond approximate)

2 c cooked quinoa (leftovers!)
1 small onion
4 cloves garlic
1 carrot
1/4 c chopped parsley
1 cup dried mushrooms, rehydrated and drained
a melange of french and italian herbs (herbs de provence, oregano and tarragon)
leftover prune apple duck gravy (true story)
2 eggs
some matzo meal

brioche buns
mustard
watercress
tomatoes
fontina, sliced

1. Mince onion and garlic, sautee
2. Fine chop in food processor the drained rehydrated dried mushrooms, carrot, and parsley.
3. Add onion garlic, pulse a little to mix.
4. Add maybe 1/2 cup of gravy and pulse into mixture
5. Dump into bowl, add in quinoa and 2 eggs and some matzo
6. In a pan, heat up some canola (or whatever) oil, make a patty and fry one to check consistency. Add more egg/matzo as needed
7. Fry up patties, remember to be gentle. If you don't manhandle it, it will stay together. Low heat, slowly getting brown will help.
note: when burgers are done, throw the cheese on top of the patties with a lid on for a few minutes, that'll melt it.
8. Eat on toasted brioche bun with watercress, tomato and mustard and melted fontina.

I've always loved burgers





Wednesday, March 23, 2011

SFO-JFK for mexican food?

I know, I know, what on earth am I doing eating mexican food in NYC not 12 hours after leaving SF? Well, there's this great new place, Pachanga Patterson in Astoria (Queens) that is serving up fresh local fare with an obvious mexican twist.

(Sorry the pic was as good as it was gonna get! I need to bring my camera next time!)

We ordered the trio of salsas and fresh fried chips to start on while we were sipping on our south of the border inspired cocktails. I enjoyed the anticuado, a tequila cocktail with blood orange slices and bitters. Since I hadn't eaten all day, I knew an entree wouldn't satisfy, so I also ordered the cheese quesadilla, which was excellent. The main course for me was the 'veggie jenga' - two tostadas piled with radicchio, avocado and beans, topped with a fried egg and sitting on sweet potato puree. It was fantastic, and a very large portion. My dining partners all enjoyed their tacos, the chipotle braised short ribs being the winner.

Here's how the restaurant describe their own cuisine (from their website) http://pachangapatterson.com

"For years we've worked in all kinds of restaurants - Asian, pan-Asian, seasonal American, new American, rustic Italian, upscale Italian - but at the end of the night, after the last customer has left, the food that comes out of every NYC restaurant kitchen is decidedly Mexican. The cooks primarily from Mexico, take the ingredients available and create Mexican-influenced food for the rest of the staff. It's family meal Mexican style. We've come to love this mash-up of Mexican and NYC. It's fresh, delicious, uncomplicated and without pretense. This restaurant is dedicated to our restaurant family.
"

If you ever find yourself in these parts, I'd definitely hit up Pachanga Patterson.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Pho by The Real Mamma Dang


Last night I went to my good friends' house for a special dinner. Homemade pho. Her parents were in town, so it was a chance for me to "learn" how to make it. She explained all the steps, and I got to watch, but I don't think she was ready to chance the outcome on my helping out! The house smelled wonderful, and the soup was amazing.

No recipe, but here's the gist.

Homemade Mamma Dang Pho
Beef Marrow
Ox Tail
Flank Steak
Onions, 3 whole
White Radish, 2 peeled
Star Anise
Salt
Sugar
Fish Sauce
Rice Noodles
Bean Sprouts

for garnishing at the table:
Cilantro, Basil, Mint, Green Onions - chopped
Red Onion, thinly sliced
Additional Bean Sprouts
Sliced Lemon
Hoisin, Oyster and Sriracha Sauces

"Instructions"
Boil beef marrow bones in a small pot of water to 'clean' them.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a simmer with the three large white onions.

After the bone marrow are clean (don't ask me how long this took...maybe 30 min?), rinse them in fresh water. Rinse the oxtail, and rinse the flank steak in water.

Add meat to big pot of simmering water. Add star anise, large chopped radish, and boil until the flank steak is chopstick tender (that is, you can easily stick a chopstick in it!)

Cook rice noodles.

Add broth, sliced meat and heated meat balls, bean sprouts and serve at the table with garnishes.

At least I think that's how it went down.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Roasted Dinner (When we're lazy but still cook)


We probably have a roasted dinner once a week. This colorful dish comes together quickly, and just somehow made enough for a little leftovers.

Roasted Confetti Veggies with Tofu and Tempeh
Bunch Broccoli
Head Cauliflower, white
Head Cauliflower, purple
Half, large jalapeno, finely sliced
Half an onion, finely sliced
Super firm, vacuum packed tofu
Tempeh
paprika, to taste
cayenne, to taste

Heat oven to 425 deg.

Chop up veggies, but use that stalk! After cutting off florets, peel the base with the knife if really thick, then chop up into small pieces.


Put a good glug of olive oil on the bottom of two sheet pans.

On the sheet pans, mix cubed tofu, tempeh, chopped veggies and some salt, pepper, cayenne and paprika.

Bake in the oven 'til done' (you'll get used to me saying that). I'd give it 20-30 minutes. Make sure it's brown on the edges though, that's the best part.

Tips:
1) Try to have vegetables be a size so they cook in the same amount of time. That is, all the florets the same size, but the stalk pieces smaller so they cook in the same amount of time as the florets!

2) Don't crowd the sheet pan. You want your veggies roasting, not steaming!

3) HOT oven! 425 works for my oven, experiment with yours.

*****
Do you think we made enough??

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chocolate Cake for Grown ups?

This version of chocolate cake I have made a few times, and made it again this weekend for a wedding cake tasting as well as a birthday cake. I take my all time favorite - financier - which is a brown butter almond cake, traditionally bite sized, and use it for a larger cake. I added cocoa powder for a chocolate version, and filled it with a thick salted creme fraiche caramel, and iced it with a bittersweet chocolate ganache.

The cake is undeniably chocolate, yet it has many more dimension than a traditional chocolate cake. There's nuttiness from the almond meal, saltiness from the caramel, and bitterness from the dark chocolate ganache. Plus the texture of the cake due to the moisture from the almond meal and brown butter gives the cake an almost truffle like texture and density.

I made a few in cupcake form, with the tops cut-off so I could fill them with caramel, then added back the tops and iced them with ganache.

And, maybe the best part about this recipe? It's super easy. Well.... certainly not as easy as chocolate chip cookies, but for the results you get, it's relatively easy :)

If you have a scale (and a good calculator) you can make just about any size batch - and you can make it by hand.

Here's the recipe:

Chocolate Financier:
This batch yielded 2- 6" cakes, and 10 cupcakes (random I know), maybe it'll yeild 2 - 9" pans?

12 oz Butter - melt and brown this after weighing
16.5 oz Powdered Sugar
3.33 oz Cake Flour
6.5 oz Almond Meal
2 oz Cocoa Powder
12 oz Egg Whites

1. Melt and Brown the butter (here are instructions if you don't know how. note: i always use a whisk, not a spoon, and use a light metal pan so you can watch the color). Leave butter on the counter top for a little while, and then put in fridge to help it cool down. You will want to add the butter to the batter when it is a thick liquid, and almost solidified. Keep an eye on it in the fridge, otherwise, if it solidifies - you just nuke it for a few seconds so it's pourable!

2. Measure all dry ingredients and mix with a dry whisk in a med/large bowl.

3. When the butter is cool but still liquid (and maybe a litle thick), add the egg whites to the dries. Mix with a whisk until incorporated.

4. Add the butter in 3 additions, whisking the batter after each addition. The butter, as it starts to cool, will allow the batter to stiffen, and start looking like a creamed cake batter. (You can do this in a stand mixer: Pour the butter in a thin stream on low, then crank it up to med/high for several seconds to whip some air in the batter.) The batter should be kinda fluffy and not runny like when just the eggs were in it. (If you aren't able to get the air in, not a big worry, the cake will just be more dense!)

5. Pour into cupcake molds (this batter doesn't rise as much as a sponge cake, so fill the cups 2/3 full), or a butter and parchment lined cake pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 deg - until the top springs back when touched or a tooth pick when inserted comes out clean. Maybe 20 min for the cupcakes, and 30 for the cake? Bottom line: bake 'til done!

Salted Caramel
yields 2-3cups?
* make in advance so that it is cool and thick for the cake filling or topping*
2 cups Sugar
1/4 cup Corn Syrup
1/2 cup cold sliced butter
5 Tbsp Heavy Cream
3 T Creme Fraiche

Note: If you haven't made carmel before, or are nervous still, have a large bowl of ice water at the ready. If you get caramel on your hand, you can dunk it in there, and the heat will diffuse quickly so you won't be as badly burned.

1. In a light bottomed small/med sauce pan with a lid (2-3 qt?) place the sugar and corn syrup, and a little water (maybe 1/2-3/4 cup). Make sure the water reaches the side and bottom, but don't swirl the pan or you'll get crystals on the side!

2. Crank up the heat, and cook the sugar water WITH THE LID ON, until the steam stops coming out. A well fitting lid traps the moisture (most of it), which then rains down the sides of the pan, eliminating the need to wash the sides of a pan with a brush. Take the lid off once the water is evaporated, and continue to cook the sugar syrup until it starts to color. Don't walk away at this point! Watch it until it gets a medium amber, then remove the pot. You can shock the bottom of the pot in the bowl of ice water - this is good if you are making a larger batch since the residual heat will keep darkening the caramel.

3. Off the heat, add ONE piece of butter. Stir carefully, it might spatter. Add the slices (pats) of butter a few at a time, and whisk to melt.

4. Add the cream and creme fraiche, the caramel will still be very hot, so be careful when adding it. It still might spatter. If the cream and creme fraiche aren't being incorporated easily, you can return the pot to the stove and stir over low heat. That should do the trick.

5. Pour into a heat proof container (I use glass) and let cool. (Overnight is easiest)

Bittersweet Ganache
5 oz Bittersweet Chocolate (70%), chopped
4 oz Heavy Cream

1. Put chopped chocolate in a heat proof bowl (metal/glass).
2. Bring cream to a boil, dump over chocolate.
3. Let sit for a few minutes, then whisk to incorporate.
4. Let cool on the counter, stirring occasionaly, to thicken it to an icing state.

Note: If the ganache looks a little separated (like it's oily), I add a splash of cold cream, and use an immersion blender to bring it back together. That's my trick, what's yours?

Assembly of the Cake

1. I try to level off the cake layers a little, but don't get rid of too much cake!
2. Pipe a thin (1/4"?) border of ganache on the top edge of the bottom layer, so that the caramel filling is contained once you spread it (it'll try to leak out if you don't!).
3. The caramel if left to cool completely will be VERY thick, nuke a small amount for 5-8 sec (seriously no more), and it'll be spreadable but still thick. Carefully, spread the caramel on the top of the bottom layer, trying not to pull up all the crumbs. Basically, just "encourage" the caramel to spread.
4. Place the second layer on top, and Ice the sides (you can find a how to video on youtube if you need one..) Don't ice the top of the cake.
5. Spread another round of caramel on the top, bringing it about 1/4-1/2 inch from the edge.
6. Pipe a border on the top, making sure to create a seal with the icing on the side of the cake, so that the caramel doesn't seep through (it'll try!). Pipe a border on the bottom too.

Voila!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

When Jason is in charge of dinner...


it is very creative.

Open faced sandwich with jalepeno-almond crusted seared tofu, topped with a broccoli slaw omelette. Fire roasted jalepenos on the side.

Eat your heart out ladies

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Whole Wheat Pancakes


Just made some Whole Wheat Pancakes last weekend, and then saw this article from Mark Bittman about Whole Grain Pancakes

The pancakes I made was a recipe adapted from this site by Scott Jensen (proper citing of course)

Here's my adapted recipe
Buttermilk Whole Wheat Pancakes

1.5 cups (350ml) buttermilk
1 egg
3 Tablespoons Oil (can be substituted with melted butter)
2 Teaspoons (10ml) Vanilla

1 cup (125g) whole wheat flour
3 Tbsp (40g) sugar
1/2 tsp (3g) baking soda
3/4 tsp (2g) baking powder (if you are not using whole wheat flour, use 1/2 tsp)
1/2 tsp (4g) salt
1/4 cup ground flax seed (optional)

Mix first four ingredients (wets) in a small bowl. Mix last 5 ingredients (dries) in a big bowl. Add wets, and mix only a bit. Distribute the liquid, but leave a lot of lumps. Batter will be thick!

Heat griddle/fry pan on med heat with oil or butter. Start with one pancake to test heat.

Batter is thick, so you'll need to encourage it a bit to take the shape of a circle. When bubbles start to pop on the wet surface, it's probably ready to flip. Fry up all the batter, any leftovers pancakes can be frozen and reheated in a toaster or toaster oven.Tips
1) Do NOT over mix batter

2) Don't get that gridle too hot!

3) if you want blueberry pancakes, add the berries to the wet side of the pancakes once they are on the griddle, it's easier and more uniform than adding 'em to the dough (I just sprinkle frozen blueberries on, no need to thaw!)

I eat with butter and maple syrup, but jam is also good. (Here they are pre-syrup)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Meatless Mondays!

So, have y'all heard of this website? I had of course heard of the concept of cutting meat out of the diet without going completely veg, and I had even heard of "Meatless Mondays", but didn't know there was a big website and movement!

http://www.meatlessmonday.com/

I took the pledge to not eat meat on Mondays. I figured it would be a good commitment, although I think I'm already down to one serving of meat once every other week.

You in? Spread the word too :)

-Markell