Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Smores Two Ways

I have been craving smores.  But as I also crave making new recipes, I made this recipe for cookies and this doctored crescent roll recipe.

The cookies were really easy and delicious.  There is a lot of cinnamon in the recipe and I think it is a preference thing... if you like cinnamon, use it.   If not, keep it out.  Cinnamon is not a smores component so I am not sure WHY it is in the recipe.  Why ask why?  These held up well and were just as good at room temperature the next day as they were warm out of the oven.

The crescent rolls were super simple and SO VERY TASTY!  I put about 5 mini marshmallows and 2 squares of chocolate in the center and then wrapped up the roll.  You cannot mess this up.  I was afraid if I did not wrap tightly that all the goodness would fall out, but nope, it stays right where it is supposed to be. I also feared this would be too sweet, but again, nope.  PERFECT. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Snickerdoodle Bread

A neighbor requested snickerdoodles, presumably cookies, but I had this recipe for snickerdoodle bread on my pinterest so I made it instead.  This recipe features a new ingredient for me:  cinnamon chips.  Funny thing - Walmart did not have any but HEB did.  They are made by Hershey's and as far as I can tell, there is no chocolate in it.  They look like little chocolate chips but instead are cinnamon goodness.

I bought disposable, mini loaf pans and this recipe did, indeed, make 4.  I had to bake it for more than the allotted time, so be mindful of that.  

This is more like a cake baked in a loaf pan than a bread.  It was moist and full of cinnamon goodness from the cinnamon in the batter, cinnamon chips and cinnamon and sugar on the top.  YUM.

January 13, 2013

Evelyn hosted at her daughter (and new member) Rina's home.  All Gourmet Gals were in attendance but for Tonya and Teresa.

Appetizer:  Mary, Jicama Salsa, Guacamole and Feta Cilantro Dip
Side Dishes:  Angie, Broccoli and Cheddar Casserole with Leeks and Winter Squash and Carrot Puree
Bread and Wine:  Carol, Flaky Parmesan Dinner Rolls
Main Dish and Cocktail:  Rina and Evelyn, Cochinita Pibil and Tequila Sunrise
Dessert:  Janet, Flan

Mary started our afternoon off with a trio of dips, served with tortilla chips.  The jicima salsa was crunchy and sweet.  Mary added some agave syrup to make it a little more sweet too.  The guacamole was creamy and perfectly seasoned and the last dip of feta and cilantro was unusual yet delicious!  Feta, being a Greek cheese, added a brightness and tang to the dip.

Rina prepared beautiful Tequila sunrises, drizzling the grenadine into the bottom and then the orange juice and tequila.  I stirred it up and ruined the layered effect.  Oops. 

I brought two side dishes, both from Food and Wine.  One was complicated and decadent and the other was very simple and pure. 

The broccoli and cheddar casserole with leeks was the BEST broccoli casserole I have ever tasted.  I was able to lighten up the recipe by using 2% milk and 1 cup of low fat cheese and 1 cup of regular cheese.  The casserole was not greasy at all and re-heated very well.  The topping of almonds and crackers was absolutely essential.  The leeks are so mild that I did not taste them at all despite using three.  Next time I will use 4.

The winter squash and carrot puree called for kabocha or buttercup squash.  I misread the buttercup for butternut so that is what I used. It turned out great and I think any winter squash could be used.  This recipe is super simple.  I roasted the squash and boiled the carrots the day before and then pureed in the morning and baked it right before serving.  I forgot to add the fresh thyme to the carrots so I used some dry when I stirred it all together.  The recipe does not make much so for a dinner party, I would double it. 

Our main dish was CochinitaPibil and Evelyn said this is "a traditional Mexican slow roasted pork dish from the Yucatan Peninsula of Mayan origin.  We can celebrate that the world did not end this past week with a Mayan dish.  Cochinita means baby pig and the Mayan word pibil means buried.  Traditionally, cochinita pibil was buried in a pit with a fire at the bottom to roast it."  Rina and Evelyn had the dish prepared prior to our arrival and Rina used chicken thighs rather than pork since she could not find the cut she needed.  

The chicken was delicious, tender and moist.  I really enjoyed the complex yet well blended flavors.  

Carol baked for us flaky Parmesan dinner rolls prepared in a clover leaf pattern.  The rolls were pull apart light and flavorful.

Flaky Parmesan Dinner Rolls by Sur La Table

Yield:  9 to 10 rolls

1 small russet potato, peeled and quartered
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast or 1 tsp instant yeast
1/4 cup sugar, divided
1/2 stick unsalted butter, soft
1/2 cup warm whole milk (110 to 115 degrees)
1 large egg, room temperature
2 1/2 cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Cook potato in a small saucepan, covered with water and set over medium.  Bring to simmer and cook 15 to 20 minutes until tender.  Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of cooking water.  Return potato to pan and mash.  Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Warm the reserved potato water to between 100 and 115 degrees and pour into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add the yeast and 1 tsp of the sugar and whisk by hand to blend.  Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes or until yeast is activated and foamy.  Measure 1/2 cup mashed potatoes and add to the bowl.  Add the remaining sugar, butter, milk and egg and whisk by hand until well blended.  Add the flour, Parmesan and salt and knead on low speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until the dough comes together.  It will seem sticky.  With the mixer on low, add additional flour, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.  Turn the speed to medium-low and continue to knead until the dough feels firm, dense and springy, another 5 to 6 minutes.  Note:  this dough is soft and sticky and will not pull away from the sides completely.  Do not over knead or the starch from the potato will break down and make the dough gooey.

Lightly butter or oil a large mixing bowl, scrape the dough into the bowl and lightly coat the surface of the dough with a little butter or oil.  Cover with plastic wrap or a damp lint free  cotton towel and let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 45 to 60 minutes (longer if the room is cold).  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Press down on the dough firmly to expel some of the air bubbles.  Chill, covered, for at least 2 hours and up to overnight or until dough is very cold.

To shape the dough, cut into 3 oz portions (about 1/3 cup) and shape each into a taut, round ball.  Press each portion into a flattened disk, then grab the edges and draw them up into the center, pinching all the edges together where they meet.  Flip the dough over so the smooth side is up.  Cup your hands around the dough and create extra tension by gently pulling the dough downward and tucking it under.  Move the dough in a small circle between your cupped hands, passing it back and forth, and gently tucking around the edges to create extra tension.

Cover the rolls loosely with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise until almost doubled in size, about 35 to 45 minutes. They should look like they have taken a deep breath and should pass the "thumb test".  This is proofing the rolls.

To bake the rolls, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and position an oven rack in the center of the oven.  Bake the rolls for 10 minutes.  Rotate the pan and continue to bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer until the rolls are golden brown and their internal temperature registers 200 degrees on the instant read thermometer.  Transfer to a cooling rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  For cloverleaf rolls divide each dough portion into 3 equal pieces and form into balls and nestle 3 balls into each muffin cup.  Proof and bake as directed.

Dessert was flan as prepared by Janet.  It was beautifully caramelized and garnished with orange chocolate.  The flan was rich and creamy.

(Janet’s recipe, it’s a combo of several)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
1 cup sugar
In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt sugar until liquefied
and golden in color. Carefully pour hot syrup into individual baking
dishes, turning the dish to evenly coat the bottom and sides. Set
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Put the following in a blender and blend for one minute.  Alternately,
you can put it in a large bowl, beat eggs and add in sweetened
condensed milk, milk and vanilla and mix until smooth.
8 eggs
1 (14 ounces) can sweetened condensed milk
18 ounces of milk (when added to the condensed milk it will equal 4 cups)
1-2 tablespoons of vanilla extract (Mexican vanilla if you can find it – I used regular Madagascar)

Place ramekins in a large glass or ceramic baking dish and fill with about 1-2 inches of hot water. Pour custard into caramel lined ramekins.  If you would like, you can cover with foil (I didn’t so mine browned a bit)

Bake for 45 minutes in the water bath and check with a knife just to the side of the center. If knife comes out clean, it's ready.

Remove and let cool. Let each ramekin cool in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

To serve, carefully invert each ramekin onto a small plate, the caramel sauce will flow over the custard.

OPTIONAL:  top with whipped cream and/or grate chocolate on the top.