Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Kugelhopf

This week's TWD selection, Kugelhopf, was chosen by Yolanda, of The All-Purpose Girl. . Dorie Greenspan's recipe can be found on pages 61-63 of Baking: From My Home to Yours and when I caught a glimpse of that beautiful photo, I couldn't wait to try this cake out. Her Kugelhopf nearly graces the sky with how tall its peaks are! The yeasted batter for my Kugelhopf rose as Ms. Greenspan said it would, until I chucked it in the fridge for an overnight rest, as recommended. I baked it the following morning and unfortunately for me, my poor kugelhopf remained shamefully flat, never achieving the glorious height that Kugelhopfs are renowned for. Although my Kugelhopf will never win over anyone other than those who enjoy yeasted raisin pancakes, I thought my Kugelhopf tasted pretty good, thanks to my addition of toasted almonds to the batter. For some successful Kugelhopf eye-candy, please visit the other TWD bakers. Thanks!

Read more!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes + Happy Birthday, Dear Gabby

This week's TWD is Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes, chosen by Clara of IHeartFoodForThought. I hope I am within the bounds of TWD rules by letting you know that I made this recipe in September, for my daughter's first birthday. Overall, these cupcakes were a success, mostly thanks to the awesome ganache frosting. The cake part was not the best ever, but not too bad, either. It would work just fine in a pinch, I guess you could say. Since I have a phobia about the potential for dry cakes, I always add a smidge more liquid (especially if it's buttermilk) and a bit less flour than called for. I guess you can say that I don't buy that whole baking as a precise science school of thought. It seems like this additional buttermilk and a touch less flour make for a more moist interior. As you can see, these cupcakes turned out to be a hit, as evidenced by Gabby's face-plant into her cupcake.

I intended to post about these chocolate chocolate cupcakes on Gabby's birthday, which is in September, but I'm so behind the eight-ball, what with this move and all. But we're getting settled in and with a little luck, I won't be 6 weeks behind in my posting in the future! Happy first birthday, my darling Gabriella. You've taught David and I so much in the short time you've been with us. We joyously look forward to seeing the person you grow into.

For the full recipe, please visit Clara's site or find it in "Baking: From My Home To Yours", by Dorie Greenspan. Please visit the TWD blogroll to check out all the beautiful cupcakes.

Read more!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Pumpkin Muffins

This week's TWD was chosen by Kelly, of Sounding My Barbaric Gulp; the recipe can be found either on her blog, or in Baking: From My Home To Yours, by Dorie Greenspan. These pumpkin muffins sound promising, but I do not really care much for pumpkin. Every Thanksgiving, I bypass the often soggy pumpkin pies in favor of the other pies, those lovingly dotted with pecans, chocolate, or apples. So, why did I make this recipe, then, you might be wondering? Truth be told, I stumbled over a can of pumpkin in the kitchen, which is still a disaster, now going on two weeks status post move to New Jersey. Our place is a wreck, littered with half opened moving boxes and takeout food containers. But I unpacked a long forgotten can of pumpkin and instantly realized this week's TWD was kismet. Unfortunately, these muffins confirmed all my suspicions about pumpkin. But perhaps it's not the recipe, which seemed to garner many upturned thumbs on the TWD message board. I doctored it, trying to make it more healthy. See, I'm on a health kick, because I started eating oatmeal every morning for breakfast. So, I swapped a half cup of the all purpose flour the recipe calls for with a half cup of whole wheat flour. I also added flax seeds to the mix and used a bit less sugar than called for, and all brown sugar, at that, too. Lastly, since I haven't unpacked any sunflower seeds, yet, I decided to crush up some pistachios instead for the topping, thinking it might be a nice touch of green to the tops. Given all my changes, I thought the muffins turned out mediocre. They are what they are is how my husband would put it. The pumpkin flavor is subtle, they aren't overly sweet, so it's a good choice for breakfast, and boy do those flax seeds pack an Omega 3 punch! My husband, on the other hand, loathed the muffins. In fact, here is our conversation:

Me: "Try one."
David: (with mouth full) "These are dense and flavorless."
Me: "HEY! I worked hard on those! Just because I didn't follow the recipe and they're not loaded with white sugar, you don't like them!"
David: "No, I don't like them because it looks like you crushed an avocado on top."
Me: "hmph! I'm happy that the Red Sox lost!"

Please visit the TWD blogroll to see the other members' creations. Next week: Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes. Thanks!

Read more!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

TWD - Caramel Peanut Topped Brownie Cake

It has been a long, long time since I lasted chatted with you all in the cyber world. Like Shirlie -- life has been unbelievably busy. Funny how we both ended up moving in the same month and both ended up in kitchens that are not our own. Shirlie is in the process of moving to her new place at the moment, and I am still here with my in-laws for a few more months while my new house is being built. Good news on that front -- they start framing the house tomorrow!

Shirlie has been picking up the slack for me lately, so I promised her I would be in charge of the Tuesday's with Dorie post this week. (Thanks to my friend Becca who let me take over her kitchen to make the cake!)

This week's TWD challenge, hosted by Tammy of Wee Treats by Tammy, was a Caramel Peanut Topped Brownie Cake. Brownies and peanuts! I had high hope for this dessert. Unfortunately, I was not impressed. I am sure part of it was my fault. Not sure exactly what I did wrong, but I did not think this cake was worth the calories. My cake baked up like a bowl -- the edges rose, but the middle didn't. And, it was dry. The caramel helped, and perhaps a scoop of ice cream would of helped more, but overall the cake tasted more like cake than brownie -- which is not what I was expecting.

So, no ringing endorsement for this cake here, but it looks like other TWD members had better luck, so please go check them out .

Read more!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Creme Brulee

Creme Brulee is one of my all-time favorite desserts, and since I haven't had it in so long, I was practically foaming at the mouth in anticipation for this week's TWD. I'd like to share with you my creme de la creme of creme brulee recipes: Ginger and Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee. It's from Bon Appetit and it has 200 reviews with a 97% "would make again" score (which is quite high!). The ginger adds a dimension to this dessert which is very special and also a bit unusual. I've stuck to this recipe for the last few years and have found that it's easy to leave out the ginger and equally as easy to sub in other flavors, just like Dorie mentions in her book, as well. I couldn't wait to see how Ms. Greenspan's Creme Brulee stacks up against my favorite. Unfortunately, the custard part of Dorie's Creme Brulee sat in the oven for ages, barely baking at a wee 200 degrees Fahrenheit. The recipe calls for a baking time of 50-60 minutes "or until set." At 80 minutes, I got nervous and took it out, even though it was still a bit jiggly. I figured it would set a bit more in the refrigerator, as it should chill for at least 3 hours, preferably longer. I really love Baking: From My Home To Yours, and, of course, I adore Dorie Greenspan but this recipe just fell short for me. It's cloyingly sweet, and the vanilla extract seems to cheapen the taste. I know that makes me sound like a snot-nosed home baker, but the vanilla bean in the Bon Appetit recipe gives it much greater depth, it seems. It might follow the whole argument regarding recipes with very few ingredients: use the best components you can. Furthermore, I had the issues of baking it for so long at such a low temperature and not feeling like it quite set like it should. I refrigerated the custards for 5 hours and then made the crackly topping and found that the custard was not quite set. Although it was delicious, the custard was too loose to do it's job, which is to support that awesome sugary topping. I refrigerated another custard to see if it fared better after a 24 hour rest in the refrigerator. The next day, the custard was really perfect and I was much happier with the texture. But the sugar! It's as though the sugar became concentrated overnight and became tooth-achingly sweet, which did not sit well with me. I compared Dorie's sugar specifications to my Ginger and Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee recipe and there's a bit more sugar in the Bon Appetit recipe, but also 2 extra egg yolks, which seems to dilute the sugar. Anyhow, the Bon Appetit recipe is still number one in my book. I'm glad I tried this week's TWD, though, and if you'd like to try too, check out Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking: From My Home To Yours. Also, please visit the other TWD bakers to see how their Creme Brulees turned out! And, Thanks for a great choice, to our hostess this week, Mari, of Mevrouw Cupcake.

Read more!

Monday, September 22, 2008

TWD: Dimply Plum Cake

It's been a while since I've participated in Tuesdays with Dorie. It's been so hectic for both Erin and me in the last month or so, which is why we had to take an unwanted hiatus. Way back in 2007, when we decided to start Smell The Basil jointly, we figured that if life got too busy for one of us, then, certainly the other would be available and capable of picking up the slack. Crazily enough, we both ended up moving at the exact same time and now, Erin's stuff is in storage, my stuff is in storage, and neither of us are able to cook or bake in the comforts of our own kitchens. It's frustrating to try to cook in other people's kitchen's, isn't it? I'm temporarily living at my parent's house, and I'm loathe to re-purchase any necessities since I know all my favorite pans, whisks, and fancy vanilla extract are patiently waiting for me in a cold, dark storage unit in Central Jersey.

Well, this week's recipe is so easy that I could participate in TWD even with my mom's bare-bones baking supplies. My mom hasn't touched a cookie sheet in years, but she does have a glass pyrex 8x8 dish and we lucked into loads of fresh prune-plums last week, everything needed to make this Dimply Plum Cake, chosen by Michelle of Bake-En. The batter was a cinch to put together and tasted pretty good, as well. It's the perfect breakfast treat, punctuated with a hint of cardomom and orange zest. The crumb is moist, but also firm and it sets up quite nicely.

The only downside is that the cake rose up and over the plums, mostly covering them, but they're in there, I promise! I'd make this again, for sure. For the full recipe, please check it out, either in Dorie Greenspan's book, "Baking, From My Home To Yours," or visit Michelle's site! Thanks!

Read more!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse

A while back, on another food blog, Bake or Break, I saw an outstanding chocolate dessert, a Chocolate-Glazed Hazelnut Mousse Cake. I spent days and nights thinking about this cake, but never had the courage to make it, mostly because the ingredient list and involved steps were intimidating. Um, so when I finally got a hold of the ingredients for this cake, I set to work and immediately fumbled. The shortbread base turned out overcooked and shrank so much, it didn't fit in the cake pan like it should. It was a mess and I'll spare you the details. But the mousse-- it was perfect. And no eggs, either, which is critical for me when making mousse. Something about raw eggs in many mousse recipes turns me off. This mousse had nary an egg, and big chocolate flavor with subtle nuances of hazelnut, thanks to Nutella. It was light and fluffy and impossible to keep my spoon out of. Full recipe after the jump.

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (from a 1/4-oz envelope)
3 tablespoons cold water
1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread such as Nutella (5 oz)
1/2 cup mascarpone (1/4 lb)
1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3 tablespoons sugar

Sprinkle gelatin over water in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. Heat gelatin mixture over low heat, stirring, just until gelatin is melted, about 2 minutes. Whisk in chocolate hazelnut spread until combined and remove from heat.

Whisk together mascarpone and chocolate hazelnut mixture in a large bowl. Beat together cream, cocoa powder, and sugar in another large bowl with an electric mixer at low speed until just combined, then increase speed to high and beat until cream just holds soft peaks. Whisk one third of whipped cream into mascarpone mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whipped cream until well combined. Spoon filling into ramekins, gently smoothing top, then chill, covered, at least 3 hours.

Read more!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Daring Baker's August Challenge -- Chocolate Eclairs

I am late. I know it. This post was suppose to go up days ago when the rest of the Daring Baker's membership unvieled their eclair baking experiences during the past month. What can I say... life is super crazy. But, I was determined to make these all month, no matter what. So, make them I did... in stages.

That's what was nice about this recipe. The pastry cream, chocolate glaze and eclair dough can all be made seperately and put together at a later date. I made everything on Sunday and put them together last night. I will agree with some other Daring Bakers that the dough was really eggy. But I am not eclair expert so they still tasted fine to me. In fact, these could have been the first eclairs I have ever eaten.

(Funny thing would have it, Eddie told me last night that he is actually a huge eclair fan. I had no idea! He told me that when ever his family vacationed with his grandparents, he and his grandfather would seek out eclairs whereever they went and then compare notes.)

Knowing that these would end up being eaten by my coworkers I decided to make mini elclairs. So, my eclairs were only about 3 inches long and rather skinny. Pretty cute if I do say so myself. And, perhaps you will think so too.

Please check out our hosts this week, Tony and Meeta for the recipe.

Read more!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dog Biscuits for Gabby's Pediatrician

As we say adios to San Antonio, my husband, Gabby, and I look back fondly over the last year of memories we've made while being Texans. Our greatest souvenier is our daughter, who was born at Lackland Air Force Base in September of last year. The year flew by and when David announced he'd landed a job in New Jersey and he was getting out of the ARMY, our feelings were bittersweet. It's hard to establish roots in a town when you know you'll only be there a limited time, but, it seems that a sense of community began to develop at about the one year mark, at least for me. I've made some friends, found good restaurants, and also discovered the love of my life. I'll miss shopping there; do visit if you are in Texas, as they have locations in all the major cities.

Another one of my Texas favorites is Gabby's pediatrician. She's awesome and has been so patient with my many mnay questions. I'm a first time mom and I often begin jotting questions and notes down 2 weeks in advance of our appointments. By the time the appointment rolls around, I've got several pages of issues I need to discuss with her. And she's never once rushed me and she's always given spot on advice. She's terrific and we wanted to thank her but she's very careful about her diet. And I didn't want to make her something she couldn't enjoy so I made her dog biscuits, because I know how much she adores her dogs. My brother teased me that now I'm resorting to cooking for canines since I won't get negative feedback (I've had some duds lately, which I could be talked into sharing with you later) but my neighbor's dog gobbled these treats up and Gabby's pediatrician called to tell me how much her dogs loved them, as well. And Epicurious reviewers have scored this recipe a very positive 4 forks, with a 90% would make again rate. It doesn't get much better than that! If you have a special dog in your life, you could launch yourself into number 1 status by making these treats. I followed it as is, but I mixed bacon drippings into the batter before shaping the cookies because I've read that dogs love meat drippings. Full recipe after the jump.

Dog Biscuits
Gourmet, December 2005

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/4 cups cornmeal
1 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1 large egg
1/4 cup bacon drippings (optional, can use more or less to suit needs)
Special equipment: a pastry or bench scraper; a dog-biscuit cookie cutter

Pulse flours, cornmeal, oats, wheat germ, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with pea-size butter lumps. Add 1 cup water and pulse until a coarse, dense dough forms.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead in parsley and mint until well distributed. Gather, then halve dough with scraper. Form into 2 balls and flatten each into a 6-inch disk.

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 2 large baking sheets.

Roll out 1 disk of dough into a round (1/3 inch thick) on a well-floured surface with a well-floured rolling pin. (If dough becomes too soft to roll out, wrap in plastic and chill until firm.) Cut out as many biscuits as possible and arrange about 1/4 inch apart on 1 baking sheet.

Gather scraps and reroll, then cut out more biscuits. Repeat with remaining dough, using other baking sheet.

Whisk together egg and 1 tablespoon water. Brush biscuits with egg wash and bake, switching position of sheets halfway through, until tops are golden brown, about 35 minutes total. Turn off oven and dry biscuits in oven overnight.

Biscuits keep, layered between sheets of wax paper or parchment, in an airtight container at room temperature 1 month.

Read more!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Grilled Tuna with Tomato-Cilantro Salsa

Hello again! It has been awhile since I last posted a blog. It seems Eddie and I like to make life changing decisions with usually only a few days of consideration. Our latest decision... get a new house built, sell our current house and move in with our in-laws until the new house is finished. Yeah, we made this decision after discussing it for about... oh 2 days! So, needless to say the past month has been a little hectic. However, the new house is going to be awesome and despite a crappy housing market, we sold on house in 10 days! Now we are fantically packing up our house because we are moving a lot sooner than originally planned. Hence... I haven't had a lot of time to take pictures for the blog and, we have been eating a lot pizza.

However, last night I was determined to make something new and delicious for dinner. After thumbing through a few magainzes I found a great recipe in the September issue of Food & Wine that would use up two tuna steaks that were in the freezer (as part of the move I am trying to clean out the freezer).

I was able to throw this grilled tuna recipe together in the time it took to heat up the grill and cook the tuna ... no more than 15 minutes. And, it is a fantastic way to use up the tomatoes that are overflowing on my counter. I did make a few changes to the recipe, so the one below relects exactly what I did.

Eddie was a big fan too. He declared it a "definite make again" meal.

Please excuse the lousy picture. As Eddie likes to say "Babe, you are a wonderful cook but a horrible photographer."

Grilled Tuna with Tomato-Cilantro Salsa
Serves 2

1 pound tomatoes, quartered
3 scallions, chopped
1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves
1/3 cup mint leaves
1 jalapeno pepper, halved (leave the seeds in for more heat)
1 tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 tbs. fresh lime juice
1 tbs. olive oil
Salt and Pepper
2 6-oz. tuna steaks

1. Heat the grill on high.
2. In the food processor, combine tomatoes, scallions, cilantro, mint, and jalapeno. Pulse for 15-30 seconds in 2 second intervals (2 seconds on, 2 seconds off). Process until you have a nice looking salsa. Do not purify.
3. Transfer salsa to a bowl. Stir in lemon juice, lime juice, and olive oil.
4. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

5. Coat tuna steaks with oil (Don't worry most will grill off)
6. Season tuna with salt and pepper on both sides. Be generous, a lot will stick to the grill.
7. Grill tuna on high heat about 2-3 minutes per side. Do not overcook! You want the tuna to be still pink in the middle.*
8. Remove tuna steaks from grill. Let rest 3 minutes.
9. Cut steaks onto 1/4 thick pieces.
10. To plate: Put a few tablespoons of salsa on a plate, fan out tuna slices on top of salsa. Top with a little more salsa.

* Personal Rant: Nothing is worse than overcooked tuna. Please, please only cook the tuna medium. There should be some pink left in the middle. If you like it cooked all the way through then don't waste your money on fresh tuna... you might as well eat the canned stuff... or eat chicken! Okay, peronsal rant finished.

Read more!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Erin and Shirlie's versions of Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream

First up: Erin's version of Dorie's Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream

Instead of blueberries I used frozen blackberries. I used about 1 1/2 cups to 2 cups of blackberry instead of the 1 cup it called for. I also put in the optional lime juice. Oh, and I used 2 % milk, not heavy cream. I didn't have heavy cream in the fridge and I am currently in an anti- "run to the grocery for just one ingredient" mode, so I used the milk I had in the fridge. This is also why I used blackberries because I had an open bag from Trader Joes in the freezer that have been there longer than I would like to admit.

This stuff is great. Not too much sugar, so it allowed some of the tartness to shine through. And, it was even healthier b/c I used milk not cream. So, this one was probably more like a sorbet, but I thought it was delicious. Even Eddie, my "dessert isn't dessert unless it involves chocolate" husband liked this one.

Shirlie's Version of Dorie's Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream

This week's TWD dessert was selected by Dolores, of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity, blueberry sour cream ice cream. Minimal fuss, fast set up and delicious pay-off. I hemmed and hawed about the recipe for a number of reason. I figured since it involved fruit, my husband would only tolerate it, and not actually enjoy it. I, on the other hand, can get behind another fruit based dessert, especially since I'm a new fruit dessert convert, thanks to this run of summertime desserts at TWD. Secondly, I really need to lay low with the cooking and baking because of our move, which is now right around the corner. I mean, we're finally able to see some space in the freezer so I wasn't sure it would be a good idea to make a vat of ice cream. Well, fast forward to Monday afternoon, and after another self-satisfied gaze at the progress I've made using up stuff in the freezer, I realized there was an old bag of frozen blueberries which had been hidden for a very long time! Total fate, I tell you. The other ingredients are easily found on-hand as well: sour cream, lemon zest, heavy cream. Since I didn't have heavy cream, I subbed whole milk which didn't take away from the richness or creaminess. This ice cream was really good, despite not having an egg-based custard, which usually means a creamy, delicious ice cream, in my book. I also added a splash of vodka, which is a tip from "Perfect Scoop," by David Lebovitz, to keep the ice cream from freezing solid. I was really happy with this ice cream, especially given how easy it was to prepare. And much to my surprise, my husband approved of it, even though there was no chocolate involved. He deemed it "refreshing." My daughter, on the other hand, wasn't a fan, but perhaps her palate is not quite sophisticated enough!

Please visit the other TWD bloggers to see their lovely creations. Full recipe after the jump.

Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream
Dorie Greenspan, Baking, From My Home to Yours

1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen, if frozen, thaw and drain)
1/2 cup sugar, or more to taste (I used 1/4 cup and it was sweet enough)
grated zest and juice of 1/4 lemon(or lime, as you prefer), or more juice to taste
3/4 cup heavy cream (I used 1 cup whole milk)
3/4 cup sour cream (I cut back to 1/2 cup and compensated with an extra quarter cup of milk, totaling 1 cup whole milk)

1/2 teaspoon neutral flavored vodka*
*(this was my own addition, to ensure a creamier finish)

1) Put blueberries, sugar, salt and lemon zest and juice in a medium non-reactive saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the mixture boils and the berries pop and soften, about 3 minutes.

2) Turn the blueberries into a blender and whir until you have a fairly homogenous puree, about 1 minute. (it will not be completely smooth, and that's OK). Add the heavy cream and sour cream, and pulse just to blend. Taste and, if you'd like, add a squirt more lemon juice or a tiny bit more sugar.

3) Pour the custard into a bowl and refrigerate until it is chilled before churning it into ice cream.

4) Scrape the chilled custard into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer's instructions. Pack the ice cream into a container and freeze for at least 2 hours, until it is firm enough to scoop.

Storage: Packed tightly in a covered container, the ice cream will keep in the freezer for about 2 weeks.
And here is the rest of it.

Read more!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Deviled Chicken Drumsticks

Upon first perusal of August's Gourmet Magazine, I bookmarked numerous recipes I wanted to try. But we're moving a three weeks and I can't fill up the pantry or fridge with a bunch of obscure ingredients which will only have one use for one dish. When I hit upon this recipe, deviled chicken drumsticks, I knew I had the sort of recipe of which all the ingredients, and there are only six total, were readily available in my kitchen. This recipe is ridiculously easy to throw together and the taste is unique: a hint of the Dijon with every bite alongside the crunch of panko and an occasional taste of salty Parmigiano-Reggiano. Instead of roasting the chicken in the oven, my husband grilled the drumsticks and we were very happy with the results. A glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc and a side salad, and we had a perfect summer meal. Gourmet says this chicken is tasty cold, as most chicken is, and they're absolutely right. The leftovers made an easy snack the following day, no reheating required! Full recipe after the jump.

Deviled Chicken Drumsticks
Gourmet, August 2008

12 chicken drumsticks (2 1/2 to 3 lbs total)
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
3/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
3/4 cup grated Parmagiano-Reggiano ( 1 1/2 oz)
3/4 tsp cayenne
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit with rack in upper third.
2) Pat chicken dry, then toss with mustard until evenly coated.
3) Stir together panko, cheese, cayenne, and 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper. Drizzle with melted butter and toss.
4) Dredge each drumstick in crumb mixture to coat, then arrange, without crowding, in a buttered large 4 sided sheet pan. Roast until chicken is browned and cooked through, about 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Note: Chicken can be roasted 1 day ahead and chilled.

Read more!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Pesto, Pesto, and more Pesto!

Some of you may have wondered where did we get the blog name "Stop and Smell the Basil." Well, when Shirlie and I were bouncing back and forth names we discussed our favorite herbs. Mine is basil. In fact, the reason mine is basil is because years ago I became addicted to pesto. I put it in everything! It is just such a great way to incorporate fresh herbs into all kinds of dishes.

Usually, I just make fresh pesto each week in the summer and then before the first frost of the fall I harvest all my basil to make pesto to freeze for use over the winter. However, then past week there was a deal at the farmer's market I just couldn't pass up... 3 bunches for $5. When I saw the sign I thought "oh sure, I'll pick up the bunches on my way out." When I was ready to leave the market I gave the vendor my $5, grabbed the first bunch of basil and was like "holly cow, this is the best deal of the day." The bunches of basil were enormous! This is what my three bunches looked like:

So, of course I drove home and promtly set out to make a ton of basil. Usually I just throw the ingredients together in the food processor and go. But this time I decided to write down the recipe to post here so it took me a little extra time to actually measure the ingredients.

At my house we put it in everything... spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, over pasta, salad dressings, various appitizers. In fact, tonight I made phyllo trianges with a combination of pesto, goat cheese, and roasted cherry tomatoes... Delish. I make lots of pesto during the summer and save it in little Dixie cups like this...

Pop the little cups in the freezer and once frozen put them in a big freezer bag. Then, you have delicious homemade pesto all year round. Luckily for me, this deal on basil happened the very week that I used up my last pesto cup from last summer's harvest... I think it was meant to be!


4 cups packed basil, washed and spun dry
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 teas. salt
1/2 cup olive oil

1. Place basil, garlic, pine nuts and salt in food processor. Process for 15 seconds.
2. While the food processor is running, stream in the olive oil.
3. After you add on the oil, turn off machine and scape down sides.
4. Process for an additional 20 seconds.
5. Place in tupperware to keep in fridge, or put in dixie cups to freeze.

** Some people also freeze pesto in ice trays. That also works fine.. I just don't have ice trays so I use Dixie Cups.

** To use as a pasta sauce on pasta... 2 small dixie cups is enough for 1 pound of pasta. Combine with cooked pasta, toss in 2/3 cups grated parmesan cheese, and a ladle full of pasta cooking water. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Read more!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Summer Fruit Galette

This week's TWD challenge, Summer Fruit Galette, was selected by Michelle, of Michelle in Colorado Springs. I almost didn't make this, even though all the stars were in alignment for me to make this dish. My 10 month old daughter was sitting peacefully in her swing, watching me in the kitchen, and my peaches, nectarines, and plums had been ripening in a brown paper bag for the last few days. My college roommate, Whitney, taught me to ripen fruit in a brown paper bag. Her mother would bring her crates of peaches and plums and we would ripen them until they nearly burst; we would devour this fruit, often in lieu of actual meals, while standing over the kitchen sink, juice dripping off of our elbows, neither of us saying a word, as we would revel in our contentedness. This is one of my fondest memories of my old roommate and whenever I eat stone fruits, I think back to those summers.

Now that I've painted a picture of my idyllic youth, surrounded by fresh fruits and good friends, imagine my horror last summer when I was pregnant and suddenly developed some kind of strange allergy to stone fruit. And only stone fruit. My ears and throat would itch, and my throat felt like it was swollen upon consumption of even a single cherry. It became painful to eat cherries, plums, peaches, apricots, and nectarines. I tried to soldier on and just deal with the symptoms, but my reaction seemed to be getting progressively worse, the more pregnant I got. My doctor just told me it was an unlucky coincidence; it wasn't the baby's fault, and I would have just developed this allergy pregnant or not. I didn't believe my obstetrician one bit. I knew this had to do with being pregnant, and as much as the low energy, swollen feet, and shortness of breath bothered me, nothing made me more upset than my new inability to enjoy summer stone fruits. Anyhow, flash forward to this summer. I'm not pregnant any longer, and I can eat stone fruits again, without consequence! Apparently, my allergy to stone fruits was brought on by being pregnant! My doctor still thinks I'm a bit crazy, but those symptoms were real, I tell you. So, I gleefully made this galette, and was so happy with the results. Ms. Greenspan's galette recipe has a custard which you pour over the fruit for the last 15 minutes of baking. I cut the sugar from 1/3 of a cup to 1/5 of a cup, as I felt my fruit was sweet enough. I think this was perfect and her crust perfectly showcases lusciously ripe stone fruits. Please visit Michelle's blog for the full recipe and don't forget to check out what the other TWD'ers baked up this week! Thanks!

Read more!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Corn and Tomato Salad with Honey-Lime Vinaigrette

Another great week at the farmer's market. Corn was in abundance and there was an array of tomato varieties to choose from. I came home with a bunch of beautiful orange tomatoes and a few Cherokee Purple ones. This year I am growing Cherokee Purples in my garden but they aren't ready yet. So, I decided to a buy a few to learn what I have to look forward too next week when mine have ripened.

This is a quick corn and tomato salad that highlights the best of summer. The picture is a little dark but is was almost dusk before I got around to making the salad. The tomatoes had this beautiful purplish hue (Eddie says the tomatoes actually look like raw tuna in the pictures) and were divine. I can't wait until mine ripen.

The leftovers were great the next day for lunch!

Corn and Tomato Salad
Serves 3

3 ears of corn
1 tomato, diced (preferably an heirloom variety)
2 tbs. chopped chives

1 1/2 teas. honey
1 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. fresh lime juice

Salt and pepper to taste.

1. Bring a pot of water to boil.
2. Cook corn cobs in boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove and let cool.
3. Cut kernels of the cob.
4. Combine corn kernels, diced tomato and chives
5. Whisk together honey, olive oil, and lime juice. Pour over corn and tomato mixture.
6. Season with salt and pepper.

Read more!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

TWD: Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler

I wasn't sure what to make of this week's TWD challenge. Rhubarb is something I've never tried before, let alone purchased, prepped, and baked with. I was eager for the challenge, as my blogging partner, Erin, loves rhubarb. Every summer, I see this mysterious pale pink stalk-like vegetable, in bins next to the celery and eggplant and wonder if I can load up a dessert with enough sugar to tame the sour that rhubarb brings to the party. I say this because one of my favorite patients (I'm a physical therapist, I don't think I've mentioned that, yet) told me her husband only had eyes for her rhubarb pie, and her secret was a full 2 cups of sugar! Luckily, Ms. Greenspan's recipe cleverly uses the sweetness of cherries to its full advantage. I was ready to try this. I bought the rhubarb, brought it home, scrubbed it clean, trimmed it, and peeled a layer of it off, like celery, as instructed by Dorie. I pitted my cherries, using a paper clip contraption because I have yet to purchase a cherry pitter. One of these cherries was determined to cling to its pit and even after digging around in the bowl, I couldn't seem to locate this rogue cherry pit. So, I chalked it up to my imagination playing tricks on me and figured the pit never actually made it into my bowl of pitted cherries. I really should have been more careful, because I was serving this dish to 5 other people, 4 of whom are lawyers. Luckily my husband ended up with the cherry pit and luckily, he didn't break a tooth. Unfortunately, I have a birthday coming up and needless to say, he's told me that all I'm getting this year is a stupid cherry pitter.
I'm so glad I tried this recipe. I enjoyed the dichotomy of sour and sweet which melded together beautifully after 45 minutes in the oven. The topping is really unique, as it uses whole wheat flour and ginger as well. I tweaked it a little by adding 1/2 cup of cornmeal ala David Lebovitz who made a jam tart last week with cornmeal and whole wheat flour. I loved the texture and pleasant grit the cornmeal gave to the topping. And thank you, Steph, from A Whisk and a Spoon, and Jacque of Daisy Lane Cakes for your advice on rhubarb. I was ready to give up, so thank you for responding on the TWD help board! For the full recipe, please visit Amanda, our hostess for this week's challenge, at Like Sprinkles on a Cupcake. And do check out what all the other TWD bloggers have created by visiting TWD and clicking on each blogger. Thanks!

Read more!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

TWD - Chocolate Pudding

Could it really be better then the boxed instant stuff? That's the first question that popped into my mind when I saw that this week's TWD recipe was chocolate pudding. When I was a little kid my mom used to make me chocolate pudding for dessert. Now she didn't use the complete instant stuff - she at least went for the cook and serve pudding. To me, it was great... only thing that needed to be measured was the milk and if you are like me and prefer pudding warm it could be ready in 5 minutes.

But, I promised Shirlie that I would be be in charge of the TWD blog this week and I was open to the notion that perhaps making pudding from scratch is worth the effort. Here's what I can report back ........ totally worth the effort! And it really didn't take that much effort. The pudding was so decadent. I used super high quality chocolate and it made such a difference. Instead of 5 minutes this may have taken me 15 minutes. The only change I made was to use a stand mixer instead of the food processor. I'm at the beach this week and while I brought many kitchen appliances (including my stand mixer), I somehow forgot the food processor. Still, it worked like a charm.

If you want the recipe, this week's host Melissa from Its Melissa's Kitchen has it posted. Please check out how the rest of my fellow TWD Bakers did here.

Read more!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Balsamic-Marinated Red Onions

Hello from Hilton Head! I am on vacation this week with my husband's family and in true "Erin style" I packed our car full of kitchen stuff to bring down here. That is the great thing about driving to a vacation destination... you can fill the car with all kinds of stuff that for some reason you need, but if you were flying you somehow wouldn't need it.

So, this week I loaded that car up with cake pans, my Kitchenaid mixer, bamboo steamer, spices, cookbooks and other random kitchen items that I deemed necessary. The night before we left Eddie said "sure, take whatever you want." Then, when he decided at 3:00 in morning on Saturday that he couldn't sleep anymore and we should go ahead and leave for the beach that I was crazy for bringing all this stuff. That's right... my husband got me up at 3:00 a.m. to drive to Hilton Head. Since I run a little slower at 3:00 a.m. he had to pack the car and then all of a sudden I was "packing everything but the kitchen sink." So, now my goal is to use every item I brought just to prove that they were necessary.

But I digress...

My first new recipe of the week is Balsamic-Marinated Red Onions. This came out of The Summer House Cookbook by Debra Ponzek and Geralyn Delaney Graham. We gilled up some steaks and fish for dinner last night and this was the perfect accompaniment. The balsamic viniger and orange juice marinade cuts the bite of the onions and the orange juice really shines through. Total prep time was about 5 minutes, I let them marinate for about 5 hours, then tossed them on the grill with the meat. Delish!

View recipe after the jump.

Balsamic-Marinated Red Onions
Adapted from The Summer House Cookbook by
Debra Ponzek and Geralyn Delaney Graham
Serves 4

2 red onions, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbs. sugar
Grated zest of 1 orange
Juice of 1 orange
Salt and Pepper

1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. (I used a flat pan so that the slices could lay flat.)

2. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

3. On a medium-hot grill, cook onions for 5 minutes on each side, or until they are tender but still hold their shape.

4. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

*** These could also be a great appitizer: Cut them up and serve on toasted bread with a little bit of goat cheese.

Read more!

Friday, July 11, 2008

TWD Blueberry Pie - Erin's take

I know, I know. I am completely late in posting about the blueberry pie this week that was the Tuesday's with Dorie recipe. Normally I would have just left the Smell the Basil take completely to my on-time partner Shirlie who posted on Tuesday. But, I think the picture I took looked so good I just had to share.

Funny thing about this challenge was that I made the pie a week before the challenge, not even knowing that the recipe for the week was going to be Blueberry Pie. I just stopped by a farm stand on my way home one day and the blueberries looked so good that I couldn't pass them up. So, pie it was!

I kind of combined Dorie's recipe for the blueberry filling, and a Martha Stewart recipe for pie dough that I use all the time. (Unlike Shirlie who has an aversion to fruit desserts, I would take a fruit pie over chocolate any day of the week, so I end up making a lot of pies in the summer.)

My secret to making pie dough is to replace 1 tablespoon of water with 1 tablesoon of apple cider vinegar. I can't even remember who told me to do this, or even the chemisty behind it... but it makes a great flaky pie dough every time. One day I will post my "official" pie dough recipe, but I leave for the beach in the morning so I need to pack.

Anyways, the blueberry pie was great. Problem was... Eddie doesn't like fruit desserts. He didn't even eat a bit of this pie! Oh well, more for me... And the friends and neighbors I ended up giving some to so that I wouldn't have to throw it away.

Read more!

Monday, July 7, 2008

TWD: Double Crusted Blueberry Pie

Double Crusted Blueberry Pie was this week's Tuesdays with Dorie selection, chosen by Amy of South in Your Mouth. I know I've recently told you that I'm not partial to fruit desserts, so when I heard this week's recipe was a fruit pie, I was fully determined to sit this one out. Didn't we just make a fruit cobbler, I thought? So, I let most of the week go by without much thought about pie. Towards the end of the week, I received the current edition of Cooking Light Magazine, which was lovingly gifted to me by my dear friend, S., and lo and behold, you'll never guess what was on the cover! It was the most beautiful lattice topped cherry pie I've ever seen, with step by step instructions for mastering this intricate maze of pastry dough. Lattice topped pies have forever intimidated me; I mean, pie crust alone is scary, let alone trying to piece together fragile strips of dough on top of your pie. I decided to own up to my insecurities and overcome my fear of lattice topped fruit pies.
And how did my endeavors go, you might be wondering? Well, let's just say that I have a new respect for those who can lattice top a pie. It took me forever; so long that I had to re-refrigerate my dough at least 4 times. I would cut a few strips and lay it out, then, try to get another strip of dough up from the wax paper, only to find it tearing into remnants because the dough had softened too much. I had to reshape it and re-cut strips and re-refrigerate it and attempt all over again. It was demoralizing, but I finally did it. And as you are my witness, I fully recant my earlier declarations that fruit desserts were not for me. I misspoke. I had yet to try Dorie's double crusted blueberry pie. I suppose trying this pie at the height of blueberry season also helped. I used 3 cups of sweet cherries and 2 cups of blueberries in this pie. It was unbelievable. And now that I've made a lattice topped pie, I don't think I'll ever go back to merely topping a pie with just a plain slab of dough.
If you have put off trying to top your pies with a lattice design, I urge you to give it a shot. I swear it might make the pie taste even better! So, to re-cap, not only was the lattice top conquered, but I also came to the realization that some fruit desserts can be freaking amazing. I'll definitely make this pie again; perhaps with a different berry combination, although cherries and blueberries were sublime. Please visit the other TWD bloggers to see everyone's lovely creations. For the recipe, check out Amy's blog, South in Your Mouth, or get your hands on Baking: From My Home To Yours. You won't regret this purchase!

Read more!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Farmer's Market Succotash

It is a great time of year for local produce. At the farmer’s market this morning there was plenty of corn, fava beans, green beans, blueberries, cherries, cucumbers, radishes, carrots, and I started to see the first of summer eggplant, peppers and more tomatoes than last week. (Have I mentioned that I am a die-hard farmer’s market shopper?)

This is a veggie side dish that I love to make this time of year. It is so fresh and incorporates the best that summer has to offer. I usually serve it with grilled fish, but would be equally delicious with any grilled meat. In this recipe I use fresh fava beans, but later in the summer fresh lima or butter beans would make a great substitute.

Here are a few tips if you have never worked with fava beans and get them still in the pod. You must remove the fava’s from the pod like any other bean. However, the bean is also surrounded by a thick shell that should be removed before cooking. I just make a small slit in the shell with a paring knife and then pull it back. Inside will be the bean. Fava’s should be cooked first in boiling water for 3-4 minutes before being added to any dish.

Hope this makes an appearance at your dinner table!

Recipe after the jump.

Farmer’s Market Succotash

1 ½ tbs. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
4 ears corns, kernel cut off. (Save the cob to make broth)
1 ½ cups fava beans, parboiled
½ cup diced red pepper
Salt and Pepper
¼ c. chopped basil

1. Heat oil in large skillet on medium heat.
2. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute.
3. Add corn kernals, fava beans and red pepper. Cook 5-6 minutes until corn is cooked.
4. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Toss in basil and serve.

Serves 4

Read more!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Daring Bakers: Danish Braid with Apple Spice Filling

I know, I'm late for Daring Bakers! I am sorry for the delay. We've had a lot going on. Big news: We're moving to New Jersey! We're leaving San Antonio in about 6 weeks or so. We're both really excited to get back to the East Coast because this central time zone thing is still something I can't get used to. I mean, who can remember to watch "How I Met Your Mother" at 7 pm? It's a great show, by the way, in case you've never caught it. Anyhow, we've been busy with planning and trying to sell off stuff (thank you, Craigslist) before our move. So, I hope you'll understand about my tardiness. I'll keep this short, since by now, you've probably seen more Danish Braids than you can handle. You should already know that this month's Daring Bakers Challenge was wisely chosen by Kelly of Sass and Veracity and Ben, of What's Cooking. The dough for these Danish braids is "laminated" which means layered, which was new to me. I was truly terrified when I looked at this recipe and all its many steps. Luckily, I read other Daring Bakers' comments stating this recipe, by Sherry Yard, could be stretched out over a few days. Which is exactly what I did and was rewarded 2 days later with an impossibly fragrant scent of vanilla, cardamom and orange filling my house. It's similar to puff pastry, in that it has numerous, light layers, but the dough creates more of a bread-like texture. This dough is rolled into thirds and refrigerated a total of 4 times, or "turns", as it's called. I don't know much about doughs and yeast, but I gathered that these "turns" are what makes the layers possible. Therefore, I completed 6 turns to ensure that I would have actual layers. As novice a baker as I am, I had no problems with this recipe and was gleefully counting layers in my finished braid. Although time consuming, the results are worth it. This was the sort of pastry that I thought could only be made in fancy bakeries by professionals. Thank you, Daring Bakers, for inspiring me to bake something I would normally have been frightened of! Please visit the other Daring Bakers to see their lovely creations! Erin, my wonderful blogging partner, has already posted the full recipe, please see her post here for detailed directions.

Read more!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

TWD: Apple Cheddar Scones

This week's TWD, Apple Cheddar Scones, was selected by Karina, of The Floured Apron. This was a quick and painless recipe which produced a crumbly, yet still moist scone. I thought the combination of apples and cheddar seemed interesting; I'd heard of people eating apple pie with slices of cheddar on top, so I was determined to give this recipe a try. As soon as they came out of the oven, I tried a bit of one and was surprised at how good it was. The taste of apple was subtle, and the savory component of cheddar delivered an unexpected twist. My husband kept saying he didn't taste the bacon. I kept telling him that these were Apple Cheddar Scones, not Bacon Cheddar Scones. He seemed vaguely disappointed that Ms. Greenspan left out bacon in her Apple Cheddar Scones. I told him the book was written by Dorie Greenspan, and not Bob Evans! Please visit the TWD bloggers to view their creations. The full recipe can be found at The Floured Apron, or in Dorie Greenspan's book, "From My Home to Yours".

Read more!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daring Baker's June Challenge - Danish Braid

This month the Daring Bakers challenge was a Danish Braid chosen by Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What's Cookin'?. Making pastry dough before always seemed so time consuming. But, being a member of The Daring Bakers is supposed to broaden my culinary skills and I think this recipe did just that.

Here’s some information about the dough:
* Danish dough is in the family of butter-laminated or layered dough’s with puff pastry being the ultimate. Danish dough is sweet and is yeast-leavened, however, where as puff pastry is not.
* The process of making Danish dough is less complex than that of puff pastry, but equally as important to achieve best results, and a great starting place to begin to learn about laminated dough’s in general.
* Danish dough is extremely versatile, and once made can be used for a variety of baked goods. The possibilities are endless.

What really excited me most about this challenge is that we were able to pick our own fillings. And, since it is the beginning of summer in these parts the fresh fruit filling options were endless.

In making this pastry I also incorporated another recipe: Pastry Cream. I made the pastry cream recipe out of the Baking with Dorie cookbook by Dorie Greenspan. The cream did not take that long to make, perhaps 10-15 minutes. But, you have to be dedicated to making only that cream for those 15 minutes because it requires a lot of whisking over the heat to make sure nothing burns. I made it a few days before I was ready to make the braids and kept it in the fridge.

I also made a fresh rhubarb filling and fresh cherry filling in the other. Didn’t really use a recipe here. Just put the fruit in a saucepan, added some sugar, a squirt of lemon juice and a touch of vanilla. Let the fruit come to a boil and then thicken. My cherry filling didn’t thicken as much as I liked, so in the end I mixed some cornstarch with water and poured that it. (Note: for the novice baker... never, ever put cornstarch straight into a sauce. You will never get the clumps of cornstarch to dissolve. Always dissolve it with a little water first.)

I made my dough on a Sunday and my filling the next Monday. Only problem was that the week I picked to bake this it was well over 100 degrees for five days straight! Not exactly when I want to be turning my oven on. But, the dough kept fine for a few days in the fridge until the temperature dropped a little bit.

I made two different braids: rhubarb and pastry cream, and cherries and pastry cream. I would definitely recommend dividing the dough and making two. Mine were quite long and I couldn’t imagine what size cookie sheet would be needed to cook one large braid. To make two: make the dough as described below. Cut the dough in half right before the instructions tell you to roll it out and put down the filling. Here's what one looked like halfway through the process:

I took these into work and they were gone in no time. They took a bit of work and definitely some planning, but I would most definitely make them again.

Please check back soon for Shirlie's take on Danish Bread.

Recipe follows after the jump.


Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

For the dough (Detrempe)
1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

For the butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Combine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed. Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice. Mix well. Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Without a standing mixer: Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk. Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well. Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain. Make sure that the “walls” of your fountain are thick and even. Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain. With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges. When the ingredients have been incorporated start kneading the dough with the heel of your hands until it becomes smooth and easy to work with, around 5 to 7 minutes. You might need to add more flour if the dough is sticky.

1. Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free. Set aside at room temperature.
2. After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour. Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough. Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third. The first turn has now been completed. Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left. Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third. No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
4. Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns. Make sure you are keeping track of your turns. Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight. The Danish dough is now ready to be used. If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it. To do this, roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze. Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling. Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Makes enough for 2 large braids

1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves (see below)

For the egg wash: 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 15 x 20-inch rectangle, ¼ inch thick. If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again. Place the dough on the baking sheet.
2. Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 5-inch-long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1 inch apart. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.
3. Spoon the filling you’ve chosen to fill your braid down the center of the rectangle. Starting with the top and bottom “flaps”, fold the top flap down over the filling to cover. Next, fold the bottom “flap” up to cover filling. This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling. Now begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished. Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.

Egg Wash
Whisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.

Proofing and Baking
1. Spray cooking oil (Pam…) onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 90 degree F environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.
2. Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
3. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown. Cool and serve the braid either still warm from the oven or at room temperature. The cooled braid can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for 1 month.

Read more!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Erin's #1 Tomato Recipe - Bruschetta

My absolute favorite appetizer during the summer is bruschetta. There is just nothing better than fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil on top of toasted bread. Actually, the bruschetta itself is great on top of any grilled meat or fish, in scrambled eggs for breakfast, or on top of a salad as a dressing. In fact, my garden consists mostly of tomato and basil plants so I can make as much bruschetta as I like without emptying my wallet on the store buying produce. My basil plants are doing great this year, but my tomatoes have about another 20-30 days before any fruit will be ready to pick.

So, I picked up a quart of tomatoes at the market and eagerly came home to throw this together. The recipe below is mine and the amounts are merely approximations. This is made so often at my house that I rarely measure it out. Which is great for everyone… If you like more garlic… put more in. If you don’t like vinegar… put in less. You get the idea.

One thing I never do it make this in the winter when the tomatoes in the store have been shipped thousands of miles and although they look nice, they are mealy and tasteless. Lucky for you I have posted this recipe at the start of tomato season, so you can make this many times for the months to come.


3 tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup onion or shallot, minced
2 tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 tbs. olive oil
Salt and Pepper
¼ cup basil, chiffonade or chopped

1 loaf good bread (French, ciabatta, etc.), sliced and toasted. (I usually toast my bread under the broiler or on the grill.)

1. Cut tomatoes in half, the gently squeeze them over the sink to get out most of the seeds and pulp. Cut tomatoes into a small dice. Should yield about 1 ½ cups. It is important to half a small dice because it will be easier to eat on top of the bread.

2. Toss tomatoes, garlic, onions, vinegar and oil in a bowl.

3. Sprinkle with about ½ teas sugar. (This helps cut the acid of the tomatoes.)

4. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in basil.

5. Serve over toasted bread.

Read more!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

TWD: Mixed Berry Cobbler

This week's TWD recipe is Mixed Berry Cobbler, selected by Beth, of Our Sweet Life. This recipe is lightening fast to pull together and doesn't taste half bad, either. It's just not that special, unfortunately, which is a shame because Dorie's recipes are always spot on. But maybe it's me and not the recipe, because I've never been enamored with fruit desserts, though, which is a result of my upbringing. My parents are both big fruit eaters and every night after dinner, we'd share a big plate of whatever fruit was in season. It's so easy to put away fruit when it's been lovingly peeled, sliced, and diced by a mom, isn't it? I just learned to associate fruit with healthy, after-dinner snack. In my mind, if you're going to splurge calorically on dessert, might as well make it rich and sinful. Chocolate and cheesecake come to mind. Fruit desserts seem a bit too healthy to me. But don't get me wrong. I don't think I'm capable of turning up my nose at a single dessert out there. I like fruit desserts. It's just not a piece of chocolate cake, you know? I sense that I'm digging myself into a hole, so I'll just get on with my TWD outcome. Many TWD'ers posted that the topping is bland. I took their advice and tried to jazz it up, with the addition of 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and swapped brown sugar for the suggested white sugar. I ended up with a topping which tasted pretty good, sort of like a buttery, flaky sugar cookie which complemented the berries beautifully. Since this recipe took 15 minutes to prep and only 25 minutes to bake, (I used 2 small ramekins & also quartered the recipe), I can't be too upset about the lack of wow!-factor with this dessert. It was a perfectly acceptable dessert and it's probably a good one to keep on hand if you're ever in a pinch and need to throw a dessert together quickly. Please visit Beth's blog, Our Sweet Life, for the full recipe. And, please visit TWD and click on the bloggers to see everyone's results! Thanks! Next week's TWD: Apple-Cheddar Scones

Read more!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Guest Blogger from Malawi

Smell the Basil would like to introduce a guest blogger that will post occasionally on the site. Alicia is my sister and she is currently a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi, Africa. She is a food lover just like me and is learning how to cook in Malawi will limited ingredients, cooking utensils and no refrigeration.

Alicia has her own site Chichewa Chit Chat where you can learn all about her experiences in Africa. However, she would love to include her food stories here on Smell the Basil. If you have any questions for her please put them in the comment section and I will be sure to ask her next time I talk to her. Enjoy the insight into cooking from the other side of the world!

Skillet Pita Bread

In my village there is no bread. I could bike a long way to get it, but it doesn’t really seem worth it for stale, white sandwich bread. So I decided to make bread in my skillet since I don’t have an oven. The recipe is your standard pita recipe, but cooked in a screaming hot skillet! Who knew you didn’t have to heat up an oven every time you want bread!
½ tsp yeast
1/3 cup warm water
½ tsp. salt
1 T. Honey
1 cup flour
Mix warm water, yeast, and honey. Let stand 5 minutes until bubbles form. Add salt, flour and knead for 10 minutes. Form into a ball, coat boat and dough in a little bit of oil. Allow to rise in a warm place (covered with a damp towel) for 1 ½ hours. Divide dough into 4 equal sections and knead each section for a few minutes. Roll into 6 inch pita rounds. Place in a very hot, dry skillet for 1 ½-2 minutes on each side.

Falafel Mix

In the village protein is hard to come by. Between powdered milk, peanuts, oatmeal, and beans I do just fine. But cooking beans everyday takes a lot of planning and a lot of fuel. So I developed a way that I could have beans on the fly, even when I forgot to soak them overnight or I’m not home during the day to watch the pot.
1 ½ cup dried chickpeas
2 T. sesame seeds or tahini
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 small onion, diced
10 dried mustard leaves or 2 T. dried parsley
3 garlic cloves
1 egg
Flour or cornmeal
Soak chickpeas overnight. Bring chickpeas to a boil and cook until just soft, about 45 minutes. Mash peas, sesame seeds, cumin, salt, and dried mustard leaves in a mortar and pestle (mtunda in Chichewa) until it is an even consistency (if your are super special and have electricity you could use a food processor). Place in the sun until completely dry. At this point the mix can be stored in an airtight container. When you are ready to have Falafel burgers, for each ½ cup of mix soak in hot water until all the liquid has been absorbed. Start with ¼ cup and add water as necessary. Add diced onion, garlic, and beaten egg. Roll into golf ball sized balls/patties, coat in flour/cornmeal, and panfry until brown and crisp. Makes 6 golf ball sized patties for each ½ cup of mix. Serve on pita bread with sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, and yogurt sauce.

Read more!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mushroom & Shallot Quiche for Gabby's First Playdate

My daughter, Gabby, is 9 months old now. She's ready for playdates, and I hosted my first playdate at home the other day. I had another mom over who has a son who is a few weeks younger than Gabby. It was such fun to watch them play together. I made my favorite quiche for my friend and it was perfect with a bit of salad alongside. This quiche is from Dorie Greenspan, featured in the October 2006's Bon Appetit. I love Ms. Greenspan's crust, but I've changed up the filling ingredients a bit. I've posted her recipe as seen in the magazine, and in parentheses are my changes. Quiche should be served warm or at room temperature, but I always love how the leftovers taste directly out of the fridge. Recipe follows after the jump.

Mushroom and Shallot Quiche
Dorie Greenspan, Bon Appetit, October 2006

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg
1 teaspoon cold water

1 large egg white, lightly beaten

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup chopped shallots (about 2 medium)
1/2 pound mushrooms, cut into 1/4-inch slices (I use baby bellas or white button)
5 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided (I usually omit this, as well)

3/4 cup whipping cream (I use 1 full cup of whole milk instead)
2 large eggs (I increase eggs to 3 large eggs)
Pinch of salt
Pinch of ground black pepper
2 green onions (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced
2 tablespoons finely grated Gruyère cheese
(I also add 1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg)

For crust: Blend flour, salt, and sugar in processor. Add butter; using on/off turns, process until coarse meal forms. Whisk 1 egg and 1 teaspoon cold water in small bowl; add to flour mixture. Using on/off turns, process just until moist clumps form. Transfer to work surface and knead gently until dough comes together, about 4 turns. Form into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill 1 hour. Do ahead: Dough can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.

Butter 9 1/2-inch round fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer dough to pan, pressing onto bottom and up sides of pan; trim any excess dough. Chill 1 hour. (I've skipped this step on occasion & just put the crust directly into the oven, however... I've read that a super cold crust turns much flakier and tastier than a room temperature crust does in the oven).

Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter large square of foil and press, butter side down, onto crust. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and weights. Using fork, pierce bottom of crust all over (about 10 times). Bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Brush lightly with egg white. Cool. Do ahead: Can be baked 6 hours ahead. (I've left it overnight and it's been just fine). Let stand at room temperature.

For filling:
Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add shallots; sauté until soft, about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Increase heat to high and sauté until liquid is absorbed and mushrooms are tender, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle with 2 1/2 teaspoons thyme and cook 1 minute. Transfer mixture to plate. Cool mushrooms completely.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place cooled crust in pan on baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining 2 1/2 teaspoons thyme. Drain mushrooms, if needed. Scatter mushrooms over thyme. Whisk cream, eggs, salt, and pepper in medium bowl. Pour egg mixture over mushrooms. Sprinkle with green onions and cheese.

Bake quiche until custard is set, about 25 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Read more!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Spinach and Onion Dip

Eddie and I love to entertain – especially in the summer. So, I am always looking for quick and easy appetizers that I can put together for an unexpected dinner party. Flipping through a recent issue of Martha Stewart I can across a creamy spinach and onion dip. It looked delicious, but called for a few things that I rarely have in my kitchen – watercress and avocado. However, I liked the concept –a little cooking on the stovetop, the puree everything in the blender. So, I decided to create my own dip using ingredients that I normally have. It turned out really well. It is super nutritious – full of fresh spinach and yogurt. I used plain low-fat yogurt that was in my fridge. In the future I would prefer to use plain Greek yogurt to make the dip a little thicker. This is sure to make an appearance many times this summer when something refreshing is needed to combat the summer heat. Enjoy!

Spinach and Onion Dip

2 tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
10 oz. fresh spinach (Add more if you like)
1 c. plain yogurt
1 tbs. lemon zest
2 teas. fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper

1. Heat olive oil in large skillet.
2. Sauté onions until translucent (6-8 minutes).
3. Add garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute.
4. Add spinach to skillet and cook until spinach is wilted and most of the water that is released has evaporated.
5. Dump spinach mix into food processor. Add yogurt, lemon zest and lemon juice. Process until smooth.
6. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Place in refrigerator for at least one hour to set up.
8. Serve with veggies, pita chips of crackers.

Read more!

Monday, June 9, 2008

TWD: La Palette Strawberry Tart

Marie of A Year From Oak Cottage has selected La Palette Strawberry Tart, page 374, From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan for this week's TWD recipe. After making this recipe, I realized something about Ms. Greenspan's sweet tart dough. It can do no wrong. I could fill it with brussel sprouts and lingonberry jam from IKEA and I could still put a few slices away, no problem. I know I shouldn't knock IKEA, after all, IKEA's "as-is" room has furnished many an apartment in my past. I guess it's just the fact that a furniture & household goods store would sell perishables such as preserves and meatballs which cause me a certain amount of cognitive dissonance. But I'm working through that, because the last time I visited IKEA, I couldn't stop drooling over the beautiful granite countertops. Anyhow, this recipe involves fully baking her sweet tart dough and then filling the cooled crust with strawberry preserves and fresh strawberries. A twist of ground black pepper and creme fraiche, and voila! A simple and rustic dessert is yours. I halved the recipe and made 2 small tartlets, and used balsamic vinegar-doused strawberries in one and kiwi and blueberry with blueberry preserves for the second tart. Verdict: The strawberry tart was good, nothing to write home about, though, unfortunately, but it did have one saving grace. The real star was the buttery, just sweet enough crust. The blueberry-kiwi tart, on the other hand, was outstanding. The sweetness of the berries and the tartness of the kiwi was evenly matched by Dorie's delicious crust. I would definitely make this recipe again, using blueberries and kiwi.

The full recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspan's book, "From My Home To Yours." Please visit the other TWD bakers to see their lovely creations. Thanks, Marie, for choosing a terrific recipe!

Read more!