You Gonna Eat All That?

A fork in one hand, a pen in the other.

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Location: Virginia, United States

(Biscuit Girl)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Spinach pizza?

[by Jim]

Since Barbara is out tonight at a library murder mystery program, I had to whip something up for dinner alone. Let's see, there's a bag of spinach, a bag of pizza dough, prosciutto, and mozzarella cheese. A half a head of garlic that needs to be used up. So, I quick sauteed the spinach with garlic, and made spinach pizza.

And yes, it's good. Very good, and gets your veggies in. Sophie likes bites of the crust and the prosciutto.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wild Mushroom Macaroni and Three Cheeses with Truffle Oil

A truly decadent mac 'n' cheese recipe that I made for Thanksgiving last year. Even though the recipe says it will serve 4, it could easily serve more. The original recipe called for shaved truffles but I opted for a good quality truffle oil (from Wegmans).

Wild Mushroom Macaroni and Three Cheeses with Truffle Oil
1 1/2 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
1 1/2 cups sliced shitake mushrooms
2 Tbs oil or bacon fat
1 1/2 Tbs sherry vinegar
3 Tbs butter
3 Tbs flour
3 cup whole milk, warmed
4 oz herb chevre, crumbled
4 oz sharp cheddar, shredded
4 oz parmigiano reggiano, separated in 2 2oz piles
1 Tbs fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 tsp fresh sage, minced
2-3 tbsp truffle oil, depending on how strong you like it (I recommend Wegman's truffle oil)
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
10 oz pasta (elbow, shells, bow-tie, etc)
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place a large pot of water over high heat and cover. Place a large saute pan with 2 tbsp oil or lard over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the mushrooms to the pan and saute for 7-10 minutes or until the mushrooms are fully cooked and slightly caramelized. Toss or stir occasionally. Season with a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper then de-glaze the pan with sherry vinegar. Allow all of the vinegar to cook out, then remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside.

2. Begin the cheese sauce. Add 4 tbsp butter to a medium-sized sauce pan and place the pan on the stove over medium heat. Once all the butter is melted and hot, whisk in 4 tbsp flour. Cook the flour, whisking, for about 30 seconds , just long enough to get rid of the raw flour taste, but not long enough for the flour to start caramelizing. Add the thyme, rosemary, sage, and red pepper flakes. Continue stirring and allow the herbs to saute for about another 30 seconds. Slowly pour in the milk while whisking continuously, so the roux and milk incorporate smoothly and there are no lumps. Allow the bechamel to come to a simmer (it won't gain it's full thickness until it does), stirring occasionally.

3. While waiting for the sauce to come to a simmer start the pasta. Liberally salt the pot of boiling water, almost to the point it tastes like sea water. This may take a few handfuls of salt . Add the pasta to the water and cook the pasta for a minute or two less than the suggested time on the box.

4. Once the bechamel has reached a simmer, stir in the chevre, cheddar, 2oz of parmigiano, and truffle oil until all the cheese has melted. Turn off the heat and and taste the sauce for seasoning levels. Season with salt and pepper as necessary. In small mixing bowl, mix together the panko and remaining 2oz of parmigiano reggiano.

5. Strain the pasta immediately once finished cooking. In a mixing bowl, toss the pasta, cheese sauce, and mushrooms together. Pour the macaroni and cheese into a deep glass or ceramic loaf pan and sprinkle the panko/parmigiano mixture evenly across the top. Bake the mac-n-cheese in the upper part of the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the topping is golden and the cheese sauce is bubbly. Serve hot. Enjoy!

Servings: 4

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Four Layer Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I made this cake for Thanksgiving last year. Not only is it a real show stopper, it was much easier to make and assemble than I anticipated and could be made a day or two ahead of time.

Since I work in a library, I have an abundance of cooking magazines at my finger tips every day (as well as several I get at home) which I can peruse during my lunch or dinner breaks. This recipe was from the November edition of Bon Appetit, a magazine that has yet to fail me when trying to make any of it's wonderful recipes. This cake caught my eye while I was looking for Thanksgiving recipes. It's one time of year I usually like to pull out all the stops when it comes to the menu. Everything from using the good china to the table decor to the menu. And dessert is where I really like to show what I'm made of. Although I also made a lamb appetizer that was pretty killer but that's another post.
And I think I did a pretty good job of making my cake look nearly as good as the one in the

My Cake (left) Bon Appetit Cake (right)
Four-Layer Pumpkin Cake with Orange-Cream Cheese Frosting
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder*
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar

3 large eggs, room temperature

1 (15-ounce can) pure pumpkin

1/3 cup whole milk
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 (8-ounce packages) cream cheese, room temperature

1 Tbs finely grated orange peel
1/4 cup orange juice

3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Chopped walnuts or walnut halves, toasted

For cake:

Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with 1 1/2" sides with nonstick spray. Line bottoms with parchment; spray parchment.

Whisk flour and next 4 ingredients in large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in another large bowl until smooth. Beat in brown sugar. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating to blend between additions. Beat in pumpkin. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions, beating to blend between additions. Divide batter between pans.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool in pans on rack 15 minutes. Run knife around cakes to loosen. Invert cakes onto racks. Remove parchment. Using tart pan bottom as aid, turn cakes over onto racks, top sides up, and cool completely.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap cakes in plastic and store at room temperature.

For frosting:

Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add cream cheese and orange peel; beat until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until smooth.

Trim rounded tops from cakes. Using long serrated knife, cut each cake horizontally in half. Place 1 cake layer, cut side up, on large platter. Spoon 2/3 cup frosting atop cake in dollops; spread to edges. Repeat 2 more times with cake and frosting; top with remaining cake layer, cut side down. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake (layer will be thin).

DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover with cake dome; chill. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

Decorate cake with walnuts and serve.

Servings: 16

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Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter & Blood Orange Cake

Don't be alarmed, I know I've been gone for a while but I am going to try to post more this year. I let life and work get me bogged down to the point that I didn't think I had time for this. Turns out, I really missed it. And what better time to start anew than Easter!

A few things to bring some of you up to date. Sophie is all done with her cancer treatments and has a clean bill of health! Work has been crazy. Budget cuts dominate our lives in the library system and for four branches we get the added bonus of going through major renovations. The renovation at my library is nearly complete. We hope to be moved back and re-opened in a few months.

And, of course, my post today also involves food. A trip to Costco a few weeks ago and an impulse buy of a bag of blood oranges. We brought them home, tucked them away in the fridge and forgot about them! Thankfully they were still good so I scoured the internet and my cookbooks for some recipes. I decided on two, Blood Orange Cake and Blood Orange Bars. Jim got the final pick and chose the cake.

I tweaked the recipe a bit and have my revision below. It was fairly easy to make and a taste of the various parts left me optimistic that when assembled they would be great. The cake in the pictures is a mini cake made with left over batter. Using an 8-inch cake pan was too small so I upped it to a 9-inch pan in the recipe below. And since the mini cake was thicker than the bigger one, I cut it into thirds.
We had left over syrup and frosting so I bought a pound cake, sliced it, added syrup and frosting and it was fabulous! We liked it better than the cake in the recipe.

Blood Orange Cake (adapted from Cooking Light)

Cooking spray
4 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted

1 (16-ounce) carton sour cream
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
5 cups blood orange sections (about 5 blood oranges)

1 cup blood orange juice (about 4-6 blood oranges)
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Mint sprigs (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°.

To prepare cake, coat an 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray; line bottom of pan with parchment paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray.

Combine eggs, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, and salt in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at high speed 2 minutes. Gradually add 1/2 cup granulated sugar, beating until egg mixture is thick and pale (about 3 minutes). Gently fold flour into egg mixture, 1/4 cup at a time. Spoon batter into prepared pan.

Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

To prepare filling, Spoon sour cream into a large bowl. Add honey and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla to yogurt, stirring well with a whisk.

Combine cream and powdered sugar in a medium bowl, and beat with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Gently stir one-fourth of the cream mixture into yogurt mixture; gently fold in remaining cream mixture. Cover and chill 15 minutes.

Arrange blood orange sections in a single layer on several layers of paper towels, and let stand 5 minutes. Reserve half of the sections; roughly chop remaining sections. Cover and chill.

To prepare syrup, combine juice and 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a small saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a whisk. Reduce heat; simmer until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat; cool.

Split cake in half horizontally using a serrated knife; place bottom layer, cut side up, on a plate. Brush with 2 tablespoons syrup. Spread with half of yogurt mixture, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Sprinkle chopped blood orange. Repeat with the top layer. Garnish with remaining orange segments and mint (if using). Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Serves 12.

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