Tuesday, June 30, 2009

No-Knead Red Bean Paste Challah

Whilst browsing through food blogs one day, I got to Steamy Kitchen's post on No-Knead Nutella and Roasted Hazelnut Challah and knew my browsing was over. It looked seriously delicious, and I've never tried making a bread on my own w/o the aide of a bread machine, so a no-knead dough seemed like the perfect introduction.

I made a few changes though, given the material I had on hand. I don't really like honey (and therefore never have any on hand), so I substituted equal parts sugar for the honey, which I expect drastically reduced the sweetness. I also had 1/4 cup butter and didn't feel like opening another package, so I substituted a bit less than 1/4 cup olive oil (about 3 Tbsp). I also skipped the egg wash, and I have to say, I really like the way it turned out without it.

The biggest change was that I used red bean paste instead of Nutella, since I almost always have some on hand. I do in fact have some leftover dough and plan on trying another loaf tonight. After trying this, there's one thing I can say for sure - next time I swing by a bookstore, I've already ordered the book she got the recipe from, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I have to say, I was skeptical about rising dough in a fridge and making such a large batch in one go, but I'm now convinced it's nothing short of brilliant.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Simple Bite-Sized Quiche

I had leftover pie crust from the Father's Day spread, so I decided to clean out some stuff in the fridge and make a quiche. It's really very simple. I just estimated everything, so I don't have exact measurements for the ingredients.

Time: 0:45
Serves: 8

Crust from mini cherry tart
1/4 lb ground meat (I used turkey)
equal volume chopped veggies (I used spinach, peas and carrots)
equal volume grated/chopped cheese (I used brie, mozzarella and smoked gouda)
salt, pepper to taste
1 egg
1.5 Tbsp milk

1. Season the meat and brown over medium heat. Stir in the veggies.
2. Preheat oven to 350F.
3. Place pie dough into mini muffin pan. Fill with meat/veggie mixture and cheese.
4. Lightly beat the egg with the milk. Season with salt and pepper. Divide evenly among the quiches.
5. Bake for 20min or until egg mixture is firm and quiche crust is done.

Serve warm.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fireman Cake!

So, as usual, no fancy recipes from me. In fact, this is just a simple box cake. White cake. White frosting. The fun is all in the decorating.
This cake was for a really good friend of mine's 24th birthday. We decided to poke fun at the fact that this past year she lit her kitchen on fire and at her propensity to fall asleep at random times and places.
The frosting was piped on by simply putting the frosting in a Ziploc bag and cutting a tiny hole in the corner of the bag. The candle placement was key!
It was a lot of fun to make...and definitely brought on a lot of laughs!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

I had some old bananas last week, so the logical step was to make banana bread! I modified this recipe.

Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread
3 very ripe, soft, darkly speckled large bananas, mashed well (about 1 1/2 c.)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 c. plain yogurt
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. walnuts, coarsely chopped
1-4 oz. Hershey Symphony chocolate bar, coarsely chopped
2 c. white whole wheat flour
3/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Butter and flour an 8x8 baking pan.
3. Mix the mashed banana, eggs, yogurt, melted butter and vanilla in a large bowl.
4. Stir the walnuts and chocolate into the banana mixture (doing so will reduce the risk of over-mixing).
5. Sift flour, sugar, salt and baking soda into the banana mixture.
6. Mix gently with a wooden spoon just until the dry ingredients are moistened. The batter will be lumpy. DO NOT overmix!
7. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for ~1 hr, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
8. Let the bread cool in the pan; slice and serve.

The bread will keep well for a week or so. Store covered in plastic wrap. You can also wrap in plastic wrap and freeze it. Tastes best served warm--so nuke a slice in the microwave for ~30 seconds before eating!

Chocolate Cream Puffs

Again, I turned to all recipes and picked one that looked particularly easy and yummy. I opted to follow this one, which turned out really easy and delicious. They were a lot bigger than I expected though (the batter expands a lot), so it didn't really fit my image of a mini sampler plate, but oh well. I don't think my grandpa will mind too much. :) I love the pastries and could easily see them being used for other things, sweet or savory.

Time: 1:00
Serves: 15

Choux Pastry
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
a dash of salt
2 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Our oven flipped out and went to 550F, which in turn made me flip out and I think collapsed the puffs, but oh well. Grease and flour baking sheet.
2. In a stainless steel skillet, boil water, milk and butter over medium heat. Stir in flour and salt until it pulls away from the skillet in a ball. Remove from heat and transfer to mixing bowl. Let cool a few minutes.
3. Beat in eggs one at a time until it becomes a smooth batter.
4. I used a tablespoon again, but the batter really expands. If you want to make small puffs, don't use anything larger than half a tablespoon. Drop even amounts onto baking sheet. Don't worry if it spreads a little - it'll form up.
5. Bake at 400F for 15 min, then bake at 350 for 30 min.
6. Cool, then with a sharp knife, cut halfway across the center.

Chocolate cream filling
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar (or to taste)
1 Tbsp cocoa powder (or to taste)

1. Using a mixer, beat cream until satiny and soft peaks form when you pull out the mixer. I overmixed it and it started forming lumps not unlike cottage cheese, but it still tasted great (I mean, you really can't go wrong with cream, sugar and cocoa).
2. Slowly add the sugar and cocoa powder until it tastes nomlicious.
3. Chill in fridge until it hardens a bit.

Scoop desired amounts of the cream into the pastry and serve immediately, or the pastry will get soggy. If you like, you can drizzle some chocolate over the pastry and let it harden in the fridge. I used a chopstick to get pretty, random looking lines without having to use a pastry bag.

Chocolate Covered Coconut Macaroons

For Father's Day, I decided to make my grandpa a sampler plate of desserts, so there will be a plethora of baked goods recipes from me forthcoming. My favorite I think are these - they were easy to make and turned out really well. I pretty much just followed this recipe. I decreased the amount of sugar and it turned out not sweet enough, so I dipped half in chocolate to sweeten it up, and it was fabulous. You could alternatively add an extra 1/2 Tbsp sugar, and it'll be sweet enough as a stand-alone.

Time: 0:30
Serves: 15

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp flour
dash of salt
1 egg white
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
4oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Grease and flour baking sheet.
2. Mix coconut flakes, sugar, flour, and salt. Whisk in egg white and vanilla extract, making sure to mix well.
3. Using a 1/2 tablespoon spoon, drop little balls onto baking sheet. They'll be very uniform and pretty, and just the right size.
4. Bake 20 min or until tips start to brown. Immediately remove from baking sheet and let cool completely on plate. Resist eating them all immediately, as they are much better with chocolate.
5. Using a double boiler (or a smaller pot in a bigger one, which is what I did), melt the chocolate chips. With a pair of chopsticks, dip half a macaroon into the chocolate, being sure to coat the half uniformly. With a wooden spoon, wipe off excess chocolate.
6. Set on a plate covered with wax paper, and chill in fridge until chocolate hardens.

Alternatively, add 1Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder and an extra Tbsp sugar and make chocolate coconut macaroons, which are also yummy.

Friday, June 19, 2009

My Favorite Food Ever

And no, to the surprise of many, it is NOT a burrito. Rather, it's my mom's chocolate cake. For my roommate's birthday, I figured it was time to attempt to attack this recipe. It's actually a really simple recipe, but I don't think I quite made it as well as my mom...perhaps because she's got about 15+ years experience on me :) The cream cheese icing adds a tangy and not-so-sweet accent to the taste of the cake.

Best Chocolate Cake Ever
2 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. cocoa powder
4 tsp baking powder
2 c. sugar
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 c. oil
1 tsp coffee
1 c. hot water (for coffee)
1 c. cold water

Preheat oven 325F. Butter and flour a 9x13 baking pan.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and cocoa. Resift, while adding sugar and salt. Add eggs and oil, and beat with electric mixer. Dissolve coffee in the hot water. While continuously mixing the batter, add the coffee until smooth. Then add the cold water and blend until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for ~40 min, or until the center is set and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool for 20 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack. Frost with cream cheese frosting.

Best Cream Cheese Icing Ever
8 oz (1 package) cream cheese (full-fat or 1/3 fat), at room temperature
8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1+ c. confectioner's sugar

Cream the cream cheese wiht an electric mixer until fluffy. Slowly add the butter and continue creaming. The mixter should be incredibly light and fluffy. It'll take a while, but it will be worth it! Slowly sift confectioner's sugar into the mixture while continuously beating (honestly, a stand mixer helps for this a lot, but I'm too cheap so I made do with the hand mixer). Mix in as much sugar as necessary to create the desired sweetness. If desired, sift in some cocoa powder to make chocolate frosting. Feel free to add food color for decorative purposes. This frosting freezes as well, but just let it thaw at room temperature and DO NOT place it in the microwave because it will melt and be ruined :( Re-beat the thawed icing if necessary.

For frosting the cake, make sure the cake is completely cooled. It should feel room temperature when you touch the cake. Be super patient about this. If that means leaving the cake overnight, then do so (but cover with plastic wrap to make sure you don't lose all the moisture). You can also freeze the cake at this point, which might make it easier to frost. Once the cake is completely cooled, take about 1/3 of the frosting and place into a separate bowl. Frost the cake with a thin layer of the icing. It's ok if crumbs mess up the look of this coat; it's just a "crumb coat" and we'll be covering it later. Make sure you don't let any crumbs get into the majority of the frosting; you won't be able to use decorating tips because the crumbs will clog the tips.

After frosting the cake with the crumb coat, place the cake in the freezer. Let it freeze overnight if possible, or as long as possible. Then use the remaining frosting to create the top layer of icing on the cake. My roommate loves tennis, so the cake became a tennis court with obnoxiously green frosting and pirates playing tennis...and a flaming candle net :D


My first attempt at tiramisu turned out very tasty, but rather soft and liquidy. Next time I think i'll try more custard and less whipped cream in the filling (twice as much custard, half as much cream). And I would soak the lady fingers in actual espresso instead of really strong instant coffee (or make the instant coffee even stronger). I modified this recipe from Cooking for Engineers.

Yield: 1 8x8pan, ~9 servings
4 large egg yolks
1/2 c Bailey's liquer
1/2 c granulated sugar
8 oz marcarpone cheese
1 c heavy whipping cream
36 lady fingers (enough to cover an 8x8 pan twice)
2 c very strong instant coffee (~2-4 Tbsp dry coffee granules)
cocoa powder for dusting

First make a custard by beating the egg yolks until light and fluffy. Beat in the Bailey's and the sugar. Place mixture over a double boiler and cook (while continuously stirring) until the mixture has thickened and is slowly bubbling (about 10min). Remove from heat and allow to cool.

While the custard is cooling, beat the mascarpone cheese until fluffy. Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Fold the cheese and the cream into the custard.

Pour the coffee onto a plate. Just pour a little amount at a time. Dip each lady finger into the coffee VERY quickly and place into the 8x8 pan. Use half the lady fingers to create a layer completely covering the bottom of the pan. Spread half the custard mixture over the lady fingers. Create another layer of lady fingers and spread the remaining custard. Dust with a layer of sifted cocoa powder. Cover with plastic wrap and refridgerate overnight.

Gale Gand's Chocolate Cake with White Chocolate Bailey's Frosting

Gale Gand (she's a dessert chef with a few food network shows) has a recipe for chocolate cake that I've tried a few times, and generally enjoy. I don't like baking soda so I replace it with baking powder, but otherwise the recipe stays the same. This cake was made for fellow 4S blogger Adrienne, who loves chocolate, so the frosting needed chocolate as well. We wanted a white frosting for decorative purposes, and bailey's is delicious, so we ended up with a mixture of white chocolate, Bailey's and cream cheese for the frosting.

Gale Gand's Chocolate Layer Cake Yield: 2 11x17ish thin cookie sheet cakes
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 3 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 1/3 cups sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups hot coffee
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 2 11x17" cookie sheets. Cut 2 rectangles of waxed paper or parchment paper to fit the bottoms of the pans, then press them in.

Using a hand mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and eggs and mix until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla, cocoa, baking powder, and salt, and mix. Add 1/2 of the flour, then 1/2 of the sour cream and mix. Repeat with the remaining flour and sour cream. Drizzle in the hot coffee and mix until smooth. The batter will be thin. Pour into the prepared pans and bake until the tops are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (a few crumbs are okay), about 10 minutes. Halfway through the baking, quickly rotate the pans in the oven to ensure even baking, but otherwise try not to open the oven. Let cool in the pan 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks and let cool completely before frosting.

Bailey's Frosting Yield: 32 oz (ie a big yogurt tub)

  • 1-8oz package cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 4 Tbsp Bailey's liquer
  • 1 c confectioner's sugar
Beat the cream cheese with an eletric mixer until smooth. Continue beating and add the butter. Mix until smooth. Drizzle in the Bailey's and mix until smooth. Sift in the confectioner's sugar while still mixing. Add more or less sugar based on your tastes. To decorate with dark chocolate icing, sift in cocoa powder until the desired color is achieved.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Quick Baked Sweet Potato

I love sweet potatoes, and I love quick easy recipes. This one, stolen from my grandpa, combines both and therefore makes me incredibly happy.

Time: 0:10 (I kid you not)
Serves: 1

1 sweet potato

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Microwave the sweet potato on high for 5 minutes.
3. Bake in oven for 5 minutes.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Mini Peach Pies

Since the mini cherry tarts were such a hit with my family, I decided to go with a similar concept for my team's picnic/BBQ. The white peaches looked so good in the store that I couldn't pass up the opportunity to make mini peach pies. I don't think I should use white peaches in the future though, since the color looks too washed out with a basket weave crust.

Time: 2:00
Serves: 10

See the recipe from the mini cherry tarts; it's exactly the same. I made the crusts a bit thinner for pies, though it's really just to your preference. Remember to set aside part of the dough for the top.

I borrowed the basics from the first Google result and modified it to the ingredients I had.

1 cup peeled, thinly sliced peaches
1.5 Tbsp sugar
1.5 Tbsp flour
two dashes cinnamon (I used about 1/8 tsp)
two dash salt (about 1/8 tsp)
1/2 Tbsp Triple Sec

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Pour the Triple Sec on the peaches and mix to cover thoroughly. I don't know why peach pie recipes all call for lemon juice, but as I had no lemons on hand, I substituted the liqueur. The alcohol bakes off and it tasted fine.

3. Mix the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Pour on the peaches. Mix thoroughly.

4. Spoon the peaches into the pie crusts. Try to make them bulge up in the middle as much as possible. If the filling mix is too liquidy, don't add all the liquid to the pies - it will bubble out and ruin the look of your pies.

5. Roll out little circles to cover the pies with, making sure to slit them for vents. You can also try to cut four strips of even width and making a basket weave.

6. Bake for 40-45min. Let cool and set for 15-30min before removing from muffin pan and serving.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mini Cherry Tart

I dragged friends cherry-picking over the weekend. We got a very good haul of fresh, ripe cherries. I decided it was a waste to cook such fresh cherries in any way, so I opted to make tarts out of them. I tried two different crusts - a standard pie crust and a wonton-wrapper crust, but the pie crust was decidedly better. :P

Time: 1:30
Serves: 15

1 cup flour
6 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp cold water

1. Cut the butter into the flour in a medium mixing bowl. Mash with a fork or your hand until there are small chunks in the flour.
2. Pour in the water a little at a time. The dough should take shape and pull into a ball away from the bowl.
3. Wrap in cling-wrap and put in the fridge for 30min. Preheat oven to 350F.
4. Cut the dough into approx 15 evenly sized pieces. Roll into a ball, then with a rolling pin, roll into a circle. For tarts, don't make the crust too thin. Place into a mini-muffin pan, making sure to leave some of the dough hanging over the edge.
5. Bake for about 15-20min or until edges start to brown. You could weigh down the crust with beans or something, but I liked letting it puff up a bit.
6. Cool on a rack.

1 package instant pudding mix
15 fresh cherries, pitted

Make the pudding according to the package and let firm in the fridge. Spoon into the tart crusts until it's about 3/4 full, then place a pitted cherry on top.
To pit cherries, I poked a pointed chopstick through the hole where the stem was, drew a circle around the pit to loosen the fibers around it, then popped it out. The underside of the cherry should remain whole with minimal practice.

Press thin wonton wrappers into the mini muffin pan and bake at 350F for 10min or until the edges brown. I used thick wonton wrappers this time which turned out too hard to bite, but I've baked thin ones before which worked out much better. A word of caution - the pudding filling can sit in the pie crust tart without seeping in, but an assembled wonton wrapper tart should be served immediately, as it will soften over time.
Use homemade pudding or pastry cream. I was short on time, so I just used the instant stuff.