Friday, February 25, 2011

Savory Sauce: Asian BBQ

New Theme! Let's all be excited. So, as I'm sure you are aware, Western culture is obsessed with carbohydrates (such as wheat, corn, sugars, etc.). It is also common knowledge that an excess of these foods contributes to weight gain and unhealthiness. I do not eat an excess of these foods, but I have recently decided to try and eat even LESS of these foods. Out of this goal, my new theme was born. Using flavorful sauces is a perfect way to make eating meats and vegetables much more interesting.

Asian BBQ Sauce over Drumsticks 

Asian BBQ Sauce
1 part soy sauce
1 part ponzu sauce
1 part BBQ sauce

I rarely post recipes involving pre-made ingredients, but there you go. The amount of sauce you make is up to you. Your parts will be bigger or smaller depending on how many drumstick you are making.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Mix ingredients for sauce together in a bowl.
- Place the drumsticks and mushrooms (or vegetable of choice) in an oven safe dish.
- Pour half the sauce over the meat and vegetables, then place in the oven.
- Use the rest of the sauce to baste the drumsticks throughout the cooking process. 
- Bake until the meats internal temperature is around 160 degrees F., around 50 minutes.
- If you want more of a glazed effect, broil the drumsticks briefly at the end of the cooking process. Baste the meat constantly while broiling to form that nice layer on top.

Any BBQ sauce will work for this recipe, store bought or homemade. Ponzu sauce is a Japanese citrus sauce. It comes in a bottle similar to a soy sauce bottle and can be found in the international section of a grocery store or at a specialty Asian market. Soy sauce, is pretty self explanatory. I made this recipe up using things I had laying around my house. Feel free to experiment with how much of each ingredient you use. Changing the ratios will change the flavor and in that way you can achieve the taste you like best. 
More flavor-filled food to come!



Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines Day: Heart Cookies with Jam

After a short hiatus, I am back with a cooking vengeance. Conveniently, a holiday came along to help me re-kick things off.

Heart-shaped cookies with jam

1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 1/3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 cup buttermilk
Jam of your choosing (strawberry, blackberry, apricot, etc.)

The dough has to sit for at least one hour and up to as long as overnight (I did overnight), so make time to prepare it first.
- Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy.
- Add the egg, then beat well.
- In a separate bowl combine the four, baking soda, and salt.
- Alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the sugar and butter mixture until everything is combined.
- Wrap the dough in wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for alloted amount of time. 
- Wait.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Take out the dough and roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1/8 of an inch thick.
- Cut out your hearts. Use several different sizes of cookie cutters to make cookie-windows for the jam, or just use a pairing knife to cut out whatever size hearts you want.
- Warm up the jam so it is liquidy and easy to spread.
- Place whole heart cookie (for the bottom of the sandwich) on a baking sheet, smear with a light coating of jam, put the cookie with a window in it on top of the jam cookie, carefully add a little more jam to the heart-window.
- Bake for about 10 minutes, you want them to only be barely browned on the edges.
- Recipe makes approximately 4 sheets of cookies (give or take).

This is a time-consuming process, but I think it is worth it. The cookies were both adorable and delicious (the people in my household couldn't stop eating them). The original recipe suggests you chill the cookies for 30 minutes once you have cut them out and put them on the tray, but before you put the jam on them. I skipped this step and did not notice any negative consequences, so do as you will. I used strawberry, raspberry, and blackberry jam to create a variety of red shades. You will have leftover little hearts from making windows, I suggest making small jam cookies and also just making some simple heart-shaped sugar cookies (maybe with sprinkles!). Here's wishing you all the happiest of Valentines Days.

Modified from Martha Stewart

L. Mousse

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Peppermint: Chocolate Peppermint Cake Role

With the holiday season comes not only delicious food, but also lots of time with family and friends. And of course, if you work in a restaurant like I do, even more hours at work than usual. Basically, I'm asking you all forgive me for the delay on posting this, the last of my peppermint recipes.

Chocolate peppermint cake role filled with peppermint cream

Cake Role
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 11 by 15 jelly role pan with parchment paper and grease with vegetable oil.
- Place a clean kitchen towel on a flat surface and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
- Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and set aside.
- Separate the eggs. Whip the whites with 1/4 cup of the sugar until soft peaks form. Set aside.
- Beat the egg yolks with the rest (1/2 cup) of the sugar for 2 minutes. It should thicken and turn a light yellow color.
- Add the water and vanilla. Then, beat in the flour mixture in two batches until just combined.
- Carefully stir in half of the egg whites, then delicately fold in the rest of the egg whites.  
- Pour batter into the pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or just until cake springs back.  IMPORTANT: Do not overcook!  The cake is more likely to break when rolled if it is overdone.
- Gently loosen the edges of the cake with a sharp knife. Carefully invert then cake onto the sugared towel.  Remove parchment paper.  
- Begin at one end (a short side) of the cake and slowly roll the cake and the towel together.  Place on a wire rack to cool, 30 minutes or more.

Peppermint cream
8oz package of cream cheese, room temperature
5 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
3 cups whipped cream, chilled 
2 candy canes, crushed 
3 drops red food coloring

- Beat the cream cheese with the sugar and peppermint extract until smooth.  
- Beat in whipped cream until just combined. Stir in the crushed candy canes.  
- Mix in the food color, leaving streaks if you wish to give it more of a candy cane look.
- Carefully unroll the cake and the towel. Do not force it to lay completely flat. Spread the cream equally over the cake, then slowly re-roll. Don't worry if it cracks, just keep going as best you can.
I served this cake on Christmas day. I had never made a cake role before, and I must say, it was stressful. Luckily, the cake turned out wonderfully, especially for a first attempt. The original recipe is designed to be low-carb, so I changed it to use real sugar, as opposed to sugar substitute. Overall, it was absolutely delicious. The cake was fluffy and the flavor of the cream wasn't overwhelming. A tip from the original recipe: let the cake sit overnight before serving, it makes the flavor better. 
Eating Well, Living Thin blog

Tata for now,
L. Mousse

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Peppermint: Peppermint Bark

Normally I am not a fan of white chocolate, but peppermint bark is what I would have to call a Christmas staple. Home-made peppermint bark has thicker layers and more crunch than the store-bought version, and is cheaper, which is why I choose to make my own. Also, I think peppermint bark is just downright pretty, and that is what holidays should be about, pleasing the senses. 

Peppermint bark

6 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
6 oz white chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup crushed candy canes

Line an 8x8 pan with tin foil.
- Melt the semi-sweet chocolate with 1 tablespoon of oil in a double boiler.
- Pour melted chocolate into the pan, be sure the chocolate creates an even layer.
- Refrigerate the pan for 30 minutes.
- Melt the white chocolate with 1 tablespoon of oil in a double boiler.
- Pour melted white chocolate on top of the semi-sweet chocolate, making a second even layer.
- Sprinkle crushed candy canes evenly across the top of the (still melty) white chocolate.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- To remove the bark, lift the foil out of the pan and peel away from the chocolate.
- Break into uneven pieces and store in air-tight container in the fridge.

One key to making good peppermint bark is to make sure you sprinkle the candy cane on the top while the white chocolate is still soft. Very important! If the white chocolate is allowed to harden, the candy canes will not stick and will fall everywhere and make a mess when you try to break up the bark. This is an excellent treat to have out on Christmas eve for the family to munch on, or to offer to guests during holiday house visits. I think I'll go eat some right now.


Tata for now,

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Peppermint: Christmas Cupcakes

I made these a couple years ago and they were a big hit, so here they are for all of you!

Christmas Peppermint Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup water
4 peppermint tea bags
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt, and a pinch for egg whites
3 oz dark chocolate
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Boil the water and add tea bags, allow to steep for around 10 minutes (then discard tea bags).
- In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. 
- In a double boiler (or a make-shift one composed of two pots) over simmering water combine tea, chocolate, sugar, and butter. Stir until the mixture is smooth.
- Remove from the heat and pour into a large bowl. Whisk in egg yolks.
- Alternately add flour mixture and sour cream, beating well between additions.
- In another bowl, beat egg whites and salt until it forms stiff peaks. Fold into the batter.

Fill the cupcake papers about 2/3 full. Bake for approximately 25 minutes.

Peppermint candy frosting
1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon milk
A pinch of salt
A few drops of peppermint extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup crushed peppermint candy (I use candy canes)

- In a large bowl, blend together the cream cheese, milk, salt, and peppermint extract. Beat until smooth.
- Gradually add in the powdered sugar, mixing well after each addition.
- Fold in the crushed peppermint candy. Spread on cupcakes.

For more decoration get creative with candy canes or sprinkles. I used extra crushed candy canes this time but I have used whole mini candy canes before as decoration for these and that also works well. These are rich cupcakes. The icing is very sweet and the cupcake is moist and has a distinctive flavor. I hope some of you still have holiday parties that you can use this tasty recipe for.

Cupcakes Galore by Gail Wagman

Tata for now,
L. Mousse

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Peppermint: Peppermint Meringue Cookies

Greetings All~
The seasons continue to change and I continue to bake. With the colder weather comes a new theme, peppermint! When I think holiday treats immediately peppermint comes to mind; candy-canes, peppermint hot chocolate, and red and green Christmas cookies. No matter what holiday you celebrate this time of year, if you celebrate any at all, it is hard to go wrong or offend anyone with peppermint as a theme. I begin this new theme with what I consider one of the cutest of cookies of all time.

Peppermint meringue cookies

Swiss Meringue
4 egg whites, room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 pinches cream of tartar (a pinch is commonly considered to be 1/8 of a teaspoon)
1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 175 degrees F. and cover two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
-Put water in a pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
- In a heat-proof bowl mix together egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar.
- Place the bowl over the simmering water and whisk ingredients consistently for about 3 minutes.
- Whisk until all the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are warm (not hot).
- Remove mixture from heat and whisk, by hand or electric mixer.
- Begin whisking on a low speed and slowly increase to high speed over about 10 minutes.
- When glossy peaks begin to form add the peppermint extract, mix in.
- Put the meringue in a pastry bag or decorating gun and pipe onto baking sheets in whatever shape makes you happy (I used a large star-shaped tip).

Bake cookies for around 2 hours. They should be firm, but not browned. Remove them from the parchment paper promptly and cool on a wire rack. 

~ As far as presentation goes, I chose to attempt to make half of the cookies pink. Unfortunately, adding the food coloring disrupted the meringue and my pink cookies did not hold their shape as well as the white cookies did. However, I think a little extra cream of tartar and extra whipping could remedy this because, come on, pink meringues are so cute! These work well on a plate or in a bowl, as they aren't squishy and won't lose their shape when all thrown in together. They are also relatively easy to make, as long as you don't mind a lot of whipping, and would make an excellent treat to give out as holiday gifts.

Modified from the Martha Stewart website

Have a mentioned that I love holidays?

Tata for now,
L. Mousse

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pumpkin: Pumpkin Custard Pie

Happy Thanksgiving week everyone!

Grandma Linny's pumpkin custard pie

3 eggs
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup sugar
3 cups pumpkin
6 tablespoons butter, melted
3 cups milk, total (use 1 can evaporated milk and then the rest regular milk)
cinnamon, for topping

This recipe makes two 9 inch pies, or three 8 inch pies
- In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a whisk.
- In a small bowl mix sugar and cornstarch together until there are no lumps.
- Add sugar and starch to eggs, mix well.
- Add the pumpkin to the bowl and, once again, be sure to mix well.
- Melt the butter in a pan, then allow to cool slightly.
- Combine the milk and butter.
- Stir milk and butter into the pumpkin, mix VERY well.
- Pour into pie shells and top with cinnamon.

Bake at 425 degrees F. for 20 minutes first, then bake at 325 degrees F. for 30 minutes. A knife inserted into the middle should come out clean.

This pie is not spicy, like a traditional pumpkin pie, and the consistency is different. However, this is the pie my family makes for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so when I think holidays I think this pie. Pumpkin custard is one of the greatest creations ever, at least in my opinion. 

Pumpkin custard (variation)
1 can pumpkin (or equivalent, approximately 1 little baking pumpkin per pie)
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons butter, melted 
cinnamon, for topping 

This recipe makes one pie worth of custard, bake at 350 degrees F. until firm
- Beat the eggs, then add sugar.
- Add pumpkin and mix well.
- Melt the butter and then add it to the milk.
- Add milk and butter to the pumpkin bowl, mix well.
- Top with cinnamon

This recipe works in either a pie or just for a bowl or casserole dish of pumpkin custard. To know if it is done, do the jiggle test (mentioned here) or insert a knife and see if it comes out clean.  If you really prefer spiced pumpkin desserts, feel free to add whatever spices strike your fancy to the mixture before you bake it (nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, etc.). 

Recipes from my family!
I took pictures of a pie my roommate made

Tata for now,
L. Mousse