Thursday, July 22, 2010

Recipe: Bacon Jam

I have no words.

Well, I have a few.

Think of a time when you have had nice little crispy bits of meat left in the pan after it's been simmering in a syrupy sweet mixture for hours. Oh wait, that was today.

This is bacon jam.

Bacon Jam

1 Lb Smoked Bacon (or use regular bacon and liquid smoke)
4 Cloves Garlic, chopped
1 Onion, diced
3 Tbsp Brown Sugar
Hot Sauce, to taste
1 Cup Coffee
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
Black Pepper, to taste
2 Cups Water

In a non stick pan, fry the bacon in batches until lightly browned and beginning to crisp. Cut into 1 inch pieces.

Fry the onion and garlic in the rendered bacon fat on medium heat until translucent.

Transfer the bacon, onion, and garlic into a dutch oven and add the rest of the ingredients except for the water. Simmer on low for 2 hours, adding 1/4 cup of water every 25-30 minutes or so. Stir periodically.

When ready, cool for 15-20 minutes, then place in a food processor. Pulse for 2-3 seconds so to leave some texture to the “jam”, or pulse longer for a smoother texture.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Recipe: Mollie Katzen's Savoury Vegetable Cheesecake

I know, when we think of cheesecake we think of a decadent, glorious dessert. A rich, sweet cheese mixture settled into a dense, crumbly crust. Why don't we think of a savoury cheesecake?

This cheesecake will get you to think of cheesecake in a new light. A savoury cheesecake made of ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan, filled with zucchini, carrots, and onions. Surprisingly light and terribly delicious.

You could really put any combination of vegetables in this cheesecake, provided you sweat them of a lot of their moisture. I served this with a panzanella salad - a perfect pairing.

Mollie Katzen's Savoury Vegetable Cheesecake

3 Cups (packed) Coarsely Grated Zucchini (3 or 4 small zukes)
A little salt
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Cup Minced Onion
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Cup Grated Carrot
2 Tbsp All-Purpose Flour
2 tsp Dried Basil (I opted for 3-4 leaves of fresh basil from the garden)
1/2 tsp Dried Oregano (I also used fresh)
1/2 tsp Dried Thyme (Fresh here too)
5 Cloves Garlic, minced
1/4 Cup Minced Fresh Parsley
1 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
3 Cups (1 1/2 pounds) Ricotta
1 Cup (packed) Grated Mozzarella
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan
3 Lg Eggs, beaten
Black pepper to taste
2 Tomatoes, sliced into rounds, then in half to make "D's"
3 to 4 Tbsp Bread Crumbs

Place the grated zucchini in a colander over a sink. Salt lightly and let stand 15 minutes. Squeeze out all excess moisture.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F. Use a little of the olive oil to oil the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. (A pastry brush is the best tool for this.)

Heat the rest of the olive oil in a large, deep skillet. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and sautŽ over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini, and the carrot, flour, and dried herbs. Cook, stirring, over low heat for about 2 to 3 more minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in garlic, parsley, and lemon juice.

Place the cheeses and eggs in a large bowl, and beat vigorously for a minute or two. Add the vegetable mixture, and mix well. Season to taste with black pepper, and adjust salt, if necessary.

Transfer to the prepared pan, and arrange the tomato slices on top in a lovely pattern of your own design. Sprinkle with bread crumbs.

Bake in the center of the oven for 50 minutes. Cool for at least 20 minutes before removing the sides of that pan. Serve at any temperature. This is delicious for any meal, including breakfast!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Appetizer: Ham and Swiss Thumbprints

I'm making it my mission to try out some new appetizer recipes in the hopes of finding some good ones to take to various events this busy summer season. This recipe is a basic pate a choux, flavoured with black forest ham, swiss, and black pepper added in. It was tested on my significant other, who is my worst tester since I'm quite sure he'll tell me he likes everything, along with my parents and my brother in law. Even my dad, who is generally picky about food said they were "interesting". I always take that as a sign of approval.

Happy Dad's Day Dad, I sure love ya.

Ham and Swiss Thumbprints (Makes 36)

1/2 Cup Butter, cut into large pieces
1/2 Tsp Coarse Salt
1 Cup Water
1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
4 Large Eggs
1/2 Tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/2 Cup Black Forest Ham, finely chopped or ground (2 ounces)
1 Cup Swiss Cheese, finely shredded, plus 36 cubes (1/2 inch) for centres

Preheat oven to 400F.

Bring butter, salt, and water to a boil in a large saucepan, over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add flour, and stir vigorously until incorporated. Continue to cook, stirring, until the mixture pulls away from the side of the pan and a thin film forms on the bottom of the pan, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, let cool 2 minutes.

Transfer dough to a large bowl. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating with a wooden spoon to incorporate each before adding the next, about 2 minutes. Stir in pepper, ham, and shredded cheese.

Spoon dough into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch star tip. On baking sheets lined with parchment paper, pipe rosettes about 1 1/2 inches wide, 2 inches apart. Make a deep indentation in the centre of each rosette with your thumb (dampen thumb with water to keep it from sticking). Bake, rotating sheets half way through, until crisp and golden, 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove from oven. Press a cheese cube into each indentation. Continue baking until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Don't expect leftovers. :-)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cranberry Orange Muffins: Orange Muffins Filled With Pretty Red Gems

love it when I discover something in the freezer that I have forgotten to use. Today I found some frozen cranberries that I bought on sale. I often pick things up on sale with the idea of using them later. Sometimes I forget to do that. Luckily, today was one of those days.

Cranberries are a gorgeous fruit. They're so pretty, you almost want to put them on some tiny hooks and wear them as earrings. Today I chose to put them in muffins.

I'm still thinking about the earrings though.

Cranberry Orange Muffins

2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 Large Egg
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Oil
1 Cup Cranberries, Chopped (I used frozen)
3/4 Cup Orange Juice (the juice of 1 large range, plus frozen concentrated orange juice to top up the 3/4 cup)
Grated Zest of One Large Orange

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Measure first 4 ingredients into large bowl. Stir. Make a well in the centre. Set aside.

Beat next 3 ingredients in medium bowl.

Add remaining 3 ingredients. Stir well. Add to well in the flour mixture. Stir until just moistened. Fill 12 greased muffin cups almost full. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until wooden toothpick inserted in centre of a muffin comes out clean. Let stand in pan for 5 minutes.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Chocolate for Breakfast - Who Can Argue With That?

My friend Dorie Greenspan (I call her my friend now, even though it's only a dream of mine to meet her) makes delicious banana bread. She also happens to be the author of the best baking book I own, and that's saying a lot, considering how many I own.

This is mostly a chocolate loaf with a bit of banana goodness in it. See, this is why Dorie and I are "friends". She's always trying to find new ways to have chocolate for breakfast. I think this is my most favourite way that she's come up with - this loaf is dense, moist, and seriously delicious.

So, when life gives you these:

You make Dorie's cocoa-nana bread (recipe from 'Baking', by Dorie Greenspan):

2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Cup Butter, at room temperature
3/4 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar (packed)
2 Large Eggs
2 Ripe Bananas, mashed
3/4 Cup Buttermilk
1/2 Cup Chocolate Chips

Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9x5 inch loaf pan and place it on an insulated baking sheet, or on two regular baking sheets stacked up on top of each other, to ensure the loaf doesn't overbake.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed for about a minute, until softened. Add the sugars and beat for two minutes more. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition. At this point, the batter may look a little curdled - it's OK. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the mashed bananas. Add the dry ingredients, in 3 additions, mixing only until they disappear into the batter. Still on low speed, add the buttermilk, mixing until it is incorporated. Stir in the chopped chocolate. Scrap the batter into the pan.

Bake for 30 minutes. Cover the bread loosely with a foil tent to keep the top from getting too dark, and continue to bake for another 40-45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for at least 20 minutes before running a knife around the edge of the pan and unmolding it. Invert the loaf onto a cooling rack and continue cooling to room temperature right side up.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sometimes You Just Have to Be a Little Self-Indulgent

For the first five minutes after taking a bite of one of these cupcakes, we couldn't speak. Partly because they were so delicious, and partly because they are such a dense chocolate cupcake. I recommend a glass of milk with one of these, or a litre of milk with six of them.

Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes (Makes 12 Cupcakes)

1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1/4 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa
1/4 Tsp Baking Powder
1/4 Tsp Baking Soda
1/4 Tsp Salt
1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
3/4 Cup Sugar
1 Lg Egg
1 Lg Egg Yolk
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Buttermilk
2 oz Bittersweet Chocolate, melted and cooled

Chocolate Glaze

3 oz Bittersweet Chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp Confectioners' Sugar, sifted
2 Tbsp Cold Unsalted Butter, cut into 6 pieces

Center a rock in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for about 2 minutes, until it is blended into the butter. Add the egg, then the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla, then reduce the mixer speed to low and add half of the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear. Scrape down the bowl and add the buttermilk, mixing until incorporated, then mix in the remaining dry ingredients. Scrape down the bowl, add the melted chocolate, and mix it in with the rubber spatula. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin molds.

Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Transfer the muffin tin to a cooling rack for 5 minutes before unmolding them. Allow them to cool to room temperature.

To make the glaze: Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Transfer the bowl with the melted chocolate to the counter and let it sit for 5 minutes.

Using a whisk or rubber spatula, stir the confectioners' sugar into the chocolate, followed by the pieces of cold butter. When the glaze is an icing consistency (it may take a few minutes to cool down to the right temperature). You may also be able to dip the cupcakes into the glaze to ice them.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Brownies: Turning Frownies Upside-Downies Since Well... Now

Who Says Blondies Have More Fun? These brownies are a fantastic time. They'll make your life better, trust me.

The honey taste is absolutely wonderful. Resist omitting the nuts.

Honey Nut Brownies

1/2 Cup Butter
4 oz (4 squares) Bittersweet Chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 Lg Eggs
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 Cup Honey
2/3 Cup Sugar
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1 Cup Chopped Nuts (I used walnuts)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 325F. Line a 9" square baking pan with foil and coat the foil with butter to prevent the brownies from sticking. Set aside.

Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler just until everything has melted and consistency is smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or an electric mixer and a large bowl, beat eggs and salt on medium-high speed until foamy. Add the honey, sugar, and vanilla and mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Add the chocalate and butter mixture and mix only until incorporated. Add the flour and mix on low speed just until it disappears into the batter. Fold in the nuts. Spread the batter in the pan.

Bake the brownies for 45-50 minutes, until the brownies have risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.

Invert the pan onto a cooling rack and remove the foil. Turn the brownies over to allow them to continue cooling right side up.

Cut the brownies into 16 squares. Dust the brownies with confectioners sugar before serving, if desired.