Saturday, April 28, 2012

Raspberry-Cream Cheese Braid

I've made this before--the lemon version. It bears repeating, no? This time, it's made with raspberries and cream cheese. I'm finding that these braids are fairly easy to make if you have a stand mixer (I haven't tried it without). Working with dough can be tricky, but as with most things, practice makes perfect. This recipe, adapted from King Arthur Flour, makes a sweet braid that tastes like it comes from a bakery...only better, since you know what went into it.

I won't bore you with pictures of the process. If you would like, visit my post Braided Lemon-Sour Cream Bread and you can see what goes on, from making a "sponge", to braiding the dough. I will share a quick recipe for the Raspberry filling, which is awesome.

You'll have more filling than you'll need for the braids. Just use it on some pancakes...yum!

Raspberry Filling

1 (12 oz) package frozen raspberries
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water

Place the raspberries, water and sugar in a medium sized heavy saucepan. Heat over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Slowly, stir in the cornstarch slurry. Cook and stir for a few more minutes, or until the mixture is thickened and bubbling. Cool to room temperature before using.

Truthfully, I should have used more filling than the 1/2 cup per braid that is called for in the recipe. I don't think anyone would have minded if a bit spilled out....

Now, I'm thinking that a savory braid is order. A "man" braid of sorts. Pizza, perhaps? Or something with beer and cheese? Hmmm....perhaps both. Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Peanut Butter Jelly Roll Cake

After missing last month's Improv, I'm happy to be on track. This month the theme is Peanut Butter and Jelly--the best combination of food since...well...since Peanut Butter and Jelly! I have already combined the two flavors in my PB&J Cupcakes, so I asked my husband what he thought sounded good. PB&J sweet rolls? A good suggestion, but I'm a little over sweet rolls for now, having made several batches of the Sweet Potato Sticky Buns. How about one of those cakes that are all rolled up like a HoHo? A Peanut Butter Jelly Roll Cake? Why, yes...that does sound good. Thank you, Pete. So, with a nod to Kristen at Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker for hosting our Improv event (go visit her new website--it's very cool), I bring to you my Peanut Butter Jelly Roll creation.

Peanut Butter Jelly Roll Cake
Printable Recipe

Sponge Cake:
5 eggs, separated and brought to room temperature*
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup cake flour
* simply place the eggs in a bowl of warm water for several minutes

4 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup jam or jelly of your choice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.; line a 10 1/2" x 15 1/2" jelly roll pan with parchment paper and generously grease and flour it.

Beat the eggs yolks for about a minute, add the sugar and the vanilla and continue to beat until the yolks are thickened and develop a pale yellow color.

Sprinkle the salt over the egg whites and using a clean set of beaters, beat the whites until they are foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until the mixture is stiff, but not dry. Gently fold the egg whites into the egg yolks.

Sprinkle the flour over the top of the egg mixture and fold in with a spatula, being careful as to not over mix. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the top of the cake springs back when lightly touched.

Immediately turn the cake over onto a smooth towel that has been sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Starting at the short end, roll the cake up in the towel and let it cool for at least 30 minutes.

To prepare the filling, whisk the flour and the milk in a small, heavy saucepan. Place over medium/low heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thick and bubbling. Remove from heat and place the mixture in a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let it cool to room temperature.

Whisking is key here...we don't want lumps.

Place the butter, peanut butter, sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat for several minutes until creamy (it may still be a bit grainy). Add the cooled flour mixture and continue to beat until the filling is fluffy and creamy. If thin, refrigerate for about 20 minutes before spreading on cake.

Gently unroll the cake and remove the towel. Spread the jam or jelly over the top, leaving about 1/2" around the edges. Spread the peanut butter filling evenly over the jelly and re-roll the cake. Refrigerate to set the filling.

Before serving, allow the cake to sit at room temperature for a few minutes. Sift a little powdered sugar over the top, if desired. Slice into one inch pieces and serve.

I used blueberry preserves for this time I'll try strawberry.

Check out what kind of Peanut Butter and Jelly Creations everyone else has come up with! :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Coconut Cream Pie

It was definitely time to make a treat at my house this week. Waiting to do our taxes until the very last minute was just the tip of the iceberg. I won't bore you with any details since everyone has a stressful week once in a while, but let's just say it was the kind of week that had to result in a cream pie of sorts.

Now, I'm a pretty big cream pie fan. I like them all--chocolate, banana, butterscotch---mmmm...could be my favorite dessert (next to something with berries). But there is a special place in my stomach for a nice Coconut Cream Pie...and I like it best with real whipped cream on top and a graham cracker crust. Here is my rendition:

Coconut Cream Pie 
Printable Recipe

1 sleeve (18) graham crackers
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup flour or 1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup sugar
3 cups milk or coconut milk
4 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla (add a tablespoon of bourbon, if preferred)
1 cup coconut

1 tablespoon coconut
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 ° F.

Place graham crackers and pecans in blender or food processor and pulse chop until mixture is fine. Stir in sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter and mix until incorporated.

The pecans and cinnamon add a little flavor to the crust. Swap out coconut oil for the butter, if you prefer.

Press graham cracker mixture into a 9" pie plate. Bake in preheated oven for 6-9 minutes, or until edges turn golden. Allow crust to cool completely.

In medium saucepan, whisk together the flour or cornstarch and the sugar. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Heat over medium heat until mixture starts to thicken and bubble. Beat 1 cup of the pudding into the egg yolks and then add the yolks to the pudding in the pan. Continue to cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter, vanilla, and coconut. Pour coconut pudding into the cooled crust, place plastic wrap on top of the pudding and chill for several hours.

I had no bourbon or coconut rum in the house, so I used Butterscotch Schnapps to flavor the custard. Holy Yum! 

Place one tablespoon coconut on a non-stick piece of foil and put in toaster oven. Bake at 350 degrees for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown (watch carefully--it can burn quickly). Set aside.

Whip whipping cream with powdered sugar and vanilla. Top the chilled pie with the whipping cream and sprinkle with the toasted coconut.

Awww...go ahead. Make one for your mother. Better yet, make one for yourself and share with your mother. Isn't Mother's Day coming up?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Grilled Guacamole

The other day, as I was browsing through the Internet, my eye caught an interesting recipe for guacamole. It wasn't your ordinary, run-of-the-mill variety of guacamole. It was grilled. Yes, you heard that right. It was grilled! How yummy does that sound? I actually have grilled avocados before (thanks, Cat Cora!), and they are very tasty. It would only make sense that I would love a grilled guacamole. Here is my version:

Grilled Guacamole

2 avocados (they should have a little "give", but still be somewhat firm)
2 tablespoons olive oil
8-10 grape tomatoes
4-5 cloves of garlic
2 one-inch slices of sweet onion
1 large jalapeno pepper
1 medium lime
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Soak two bamboo skewers in water for at least 20 minutes. Slice the avocados in half and remove the pits. Generously brush the tops of the avocados with oil. 

Thread the garlic cloves and the tomatoes onto the soaked skewers. Brush them with some of the olive oil, or spray them with cooking spray. 

Five cloves of garlic seems like a lot, but the taste mellows out once they're grilled.

Go ahead and use red onions, if you prefer them.

Brush the oil over the onions and the pepper. Place the avocados, flesh side down, on a medium-hot grill. Add the other vegetables to the grill, making sure the tomatoes and garlic aren't directly over the heat. Watch each of the vegetables carefully--the tomatoes will cook quickly. Grill the avocados, onions, and the pepper for about 3-5 minutes, turning often; they each should be slightly softened and have grill marks. Grill the garlic, turning often, for about 8 minutes, or until caramelized and soft. 

Once the vegetables are on the grill they cook avocados were a little too charred, but it was all good.

Remove all the vegetables to a platter and let them cool down enough to handle. Take the garlic and the tomatoes off of the skewers. Scoop the avocados out of the skin and place in a medium-sized bowl; mash. Chop the onions and add to the avocados. Cut the tomatoes in half and smash the garlic cloves; add to the bowl. Cut the stem off of the pepper and discard. Mince the rest of the pepper and add it to the avocado mixture. Squeeze the lime juice over the the avocados; sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Carefully, fold everything together until well combined.

I think the only thing that might make this even better is some fresh cilantro. Next time.

Serve the guacamole with your favorite chips. These are my favorite--really thin and crispy--they taste like the ones you get in a restaurant.

Now all I need is a Margarita......

Friday, April 13, 2012

Almond Joy Muffins

Everyone loves a candy bar, right?  One of my favorites consists of coconut, almonds, and chocolate. I also happen to like muffins. Should I combine the two? Silly me--I already did! These are the muffins I cooked up last weekend:

Coconut-Almond Muffins with Chocolate Chips (aka Almond Joy Muffins)

1/4 cup whole, unsalted almonds
1/4 cup flaked coconut
2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 (6 oz) container coconut yogurt
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup coconut milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup mini chocolate chips

For the topping, place the almonds and the coconut in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the almonds are roughly chopped. Pour the mixture into a small bowl and stir in the chocolate chips; set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. and line muffin pans with cupcake liners (there should be enough batter for 18).

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar; set aside.

My real inspiration for making these muffins was a container of my husband's favorite flavor of yogurt...he wondered where his last one went. 

Combine the yogurt, egg, and coconut milk in a microwave safe bowl or large measuring cup. Microwave on high for 20-25 seconds or until the mixture is at room temperature. Stir in the melted butter and the almond extract. Add the yogurt mixture, coconut, and chocolate chips to the flour mixture and gently stir with a wooden spoon or a spatula until just blended. Spoon the batter into the lined muffin cups. Sprinkle the topping evenly over each muffin. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly touched. 

I used a cookie scoop to put the batter in the cupcake liners.

The coconut and almonds turn a toasty brown in the oven.

Good to the last bite!

I'm really liking the addition of yogurt in my muffins. Next time, I'm going to try one of my favorite flavors--Fig and Plum. What flavor would you like to see in muffin form?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Dave and Paul's Compound Butter

Dutch Pancakes with Oddly Orange Compound Butter

Have you noticed how real butter has been making a comeback? It seems like ever since the Julie/Julia movie a few years ago, people have been giving themselves permission eat the real deal. And it makes sense, doesn't it? Used in moderation, you can't beat the taste. Along with butter's re-emerging popularity, comes a whole new variety of compound butters. What? Compound butter?  You know--it's butter with all sorts of flavors mixed in. I, myself, mixed some butter with honey and cinnamon to put on my waffles for the Pillsbury Bake-Off. It's good stuff and the possibilities are limitless.

A couple of months ago (ok..I do procrastinate), I was fortunate enough to receive samples of some fantastic compound butter from Dave and Paul's LLC. They describe themselves as "two blokes building business blending butter" --isn't that fun?

It was kind of hard to decide which flavor to use first...the Oddly Orange won out, but, truthfully, my husband dipped into the Green Garlic before I even had a chance....

I wasn't real sure what to expect when I heard that one of the flavors was called Oddly Orange, but I like orange, so I was game. It turns out that Oddly Orange is a great combination of butter, orange, and cranberry. It's so good you can literally eat it with a spoon. I decided to make some Dutch Pancakes, though, and really give it a workout. :)

Oh my. This was tasty. And as good as it was, I also enjoyed a couple of pancakes with the Mighty Maple. No need for syrup. Now, imagine either one of these butters on something savory, like veggies. Dave and Pauls actually included a cookbook with the package of butters and it was chock full of ideas. There are recipes for Fish Burritos with Green Garlic Butter, Scrambled Eggs with Calcutta Curry Butter, and Roasted Bacon (!!) with Mighty Maple Butter. Seriously....

So, I have to apologize for waiting so long to post about this deliciousness. What was it exactly that made me get my act together? Well, the hubby and I quickly devoured two of the containers of butter, but I was smart enough to tuck the Calcutta Curry and the rest of the Mighty Maple into the freezer (they keep in the freezer for 6 months). Tonight, I dug out the Calcutta Curry....I had been planning to make some tomato bisque and I think it will make a great topper...but I had to try it right away. So, I heated some refrigerated ravioli and topped it with a little of the butter....

In about 5 minutes, I had drool-worthy food. I was reading up on this particular flavor in the Dave and Paul's Cookbook, and I found that they actually import the curry powder from England in order to get the right flavor. Now, I really want to get that tomato bisque made...this will be so good to use as a topper, no?

I'm a little sad that I can't find Dave and Paul's Compound Butters in the stores, here. As a matter of fact, they are based in Montana. The good news is that you can order any of the butter compounds right online at Dave and Paul's LLC and I also see that they are moving to California! You Californians are so lucky....

Disclosure: I was given samples of Dave and Paul's compound butters to try. My opinions, however, are all my own.