Monday, July 28, 2014

Magic Cake

Pantry cooking may seem simple. There's no need to go to the store, after all, if you cook with whatever you have on hand. This cake recipe, however, is far, far, far from simple. In fact, it's a miniature chemistry experiment, though it's way more fun to think of it as MAGIC than science. Calling it magic makes it way more fun to clean up the mess, because wow, I went through four mixing bowls. (Don't be like me!)

Using the power of butter, eggs and sugar, this slowly baked cake cooks firm on the top and bottom but remains custardy in the center -- meaning it's certain to impress, even if you didn't need to grocery shop.

Friday, July 25, 2014

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

This recipe, adapted from a recipe on the Homesick Texan blog, is one of our favorite casseroles and I usually have the needed ingredients on hand. When the Good Cook Potluck Pantry Panic Challenge was presented, I knew immediately this was my pantry panic go-to recipe. Before discovering this recipe, I made King Ranch Casserole the old way, with the two different kinds of soup. It was good. It’s what I was used to. Once I found this recipe, though, I have never made it any other way. This is a spicy dish. The freshness of the peppers, cilantro and fresh lime juice, make this dish pop with flavor. Save yourself the regrets and double this recipe so you have plenty for leftovers and to freeze.

Bengali Potato & Zucchini Curry

We love Indian food and when the opportunity arose to prepare a dish from Silk Road Vegetarian, I was excited! The delightful fragrance of the spices had my mouth watering while I was cooking this dish, and the final result was delicious. I would suggest preparing the Raita several hours prior to cooking the curry, so it will be nice and chilled. The ingredients are all easily obtainable and the recipe not too complex; however, it all comes together in a wonderful melange of flavors that will please anyone craving a tasty Indian dish!

Bengali Potato & Zucchini Curry 
by Judy
adapted from Silk Road Vegetarian by Dahlia Abraham-Klein

Prep time: 30 minutes, plus 10 minutes for standing
Cook time: 50 minutes
Serves 4

2 zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
2 large baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
2 Tablespoons oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
4 Tablespoons water
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Basmati rice for serving
Raita (recipe below)

Combine the zucchini, potatoes, turmeric, and garlic salt in a large bowl and toss gently. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium heat, saute the zucchini and potato mixture for about 7 minutes or until slightly golden.

Remove the zucchini and potato mixture with a slotted spoon, keeping as much oil in the pan as possible. Set mixture aside on a platter.

Return the same skillet to the stove and reduce heat to medium. Saute the garlic, ginger, ground ginger, curry powder and cumin, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes, or until fragrant.

Add the tomatoes, water, sugar, and salt. Increase heat to medium-high and cook until boiling. Add the zucchini and potato mixture, reduce heat and simmer covered for 25 to 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Serve over rice and with Raita.

by Judy
adapted from Silk Road Vegetarian by Dahlia Abraham-Klein

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
2 green onions, chopped
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Fresh mint, for garnish

Dry roast the cumin seeds in a skillet for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until fragrant. Combine cucumber, yogurt, onions, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a medium-sized bowl. Crush cumin seeds with a mallet or the back of a large spoon and add to cucumber-yogurt mixture. Serve chilled, garnished with mint.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Saffron and Cardamom Rice Pudding

If you are looking to experiment with Indian flavors, this is your book. The author, Rinku Bhattacharya, provides the general population with delicious and easy to prepare dishes packed with flavor and sustainable ingredients. In Spices & Seasons, each recipe is carefully labeled as vegan/vegetarian and/or gluten-free. The index in the back of the book is also separated as such; gluten-free index, vegan/vegetarian index, vegetarian index, and recipe index! I found this to be extremely helpful when trying to pick which dish to make.

It was very difficult to pick a dish due to the large selection of recipes included in the book and how many of them were gluten-free. I finally decided on the Saffron Pistachio Rice Pudding on page 333, with a few minor changes/substitutions. I am in the process of packing up my life and putting most of my belongings in storage for a year as I start my next adventure in NYC, so I wanted to use what I had on hand instead of going out to buy things. Rice pudding can be a fairly simple recipe, but this one was packed with flavor! Oh my is delicious and I promise you, you will want to make this. Here are my substitutions: Instead of half and half, I used unsweetened coconut milk, for the white rice I used short grain brown rice, and I did not have pistachios around (trust me those do not last long around me), so instead I diced up some granny smith apple (it added such a delicious, fresh crispness to it). And yes...I do have saffron lying around. :)

I've seen rice pudding be super creamy and I've also seen it where there is some creamy liquid remaining, which is how I prefer to enjoy it (as you can see by the picture below.) If you like more of the liquid, then just cook it for a bit less time, or simply add additional liquid.

Saffron and Cardamom Rice Pudding
by Jenny

Adapted from Spices & Seasons Simple Sustainable Indian Flavors by Rinku Bhattacharya, page 333

4 cups unsweetened coconut milk
whole cardamom pods
1/4 cinnamon stick
1/3 cup organic short grain brown rice
1/2 cup organic sugar
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1/2 cup diced Granny Smith apple

In a medium pot, add coconut milk, whole cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, rice, and sugar and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer, uncovered, and stir frequently until it begins to thicken, about 35 minutes.

Remove and discard the whole cardamom pods and cinnamon stick.

Stir in the saffron threads and granny smith apples, cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Serve with sliced of granny smith apple on top - enjoy!

This is a great cookbook to have in your collection, especially if you or someone you know is either gluten-free, vegetarian, and/or vegan! So many delicious recipes and flavors to experiment with.  

Note: The cookbook was provided to me from the publisher for this review. All comments and opinions are 100% my own.

Almond-Crusted Pear Tres Leches Cake

Meagan Micozzi’s The New Southwest: Classic Flavors with a Modern Twist presents not only a book full of terrific Southwestern recipes, but also a compendium of classic Southwestern elements, ingredients, and techniques, updated for the modern kitchen. There is a whole section devoted to “The Southwestern Pantry” which describes appropriate spices & herbs, produce, dairy, pantry staples, and more. There is even a whole section devoted to chile peppers.

Micozzi presents the building blocks needed to create your own authentic Southwestern menu. From basic condiments (Salsa Verde, Agave Ancho Butter, Roasted Crema) to menu staples (Corn Tortillas, Navajo Fry Bread, Chorizo), you will be equipped to make a simple Southwestern-inspired breakfast (Mushroom & Leek Migas, Pinyon Butter Oatmeal), or even a complex, multi-course dinner, complete with beverages (Sangrita, Cucumber & Melon Agua Fresca), appetizers (such as Salsa Bandera Chicharrones or Black Bean & Corn Quesaditas), main courses (like Picadillo Meatloaf with Habanero Ketchup, or Citrus & Herb Red Snapper), and desserts (try the Brown Butter Coyotas, or even Grilled Apple Pie). Speaking of desserts, I was inspired to try the Almond-Crusted Tres Leches Cake. The addition of almonds and pear were perfect updates to the classic dessert, and I opted to add touches of canela, or Mexican cinnamon, after reading about its authenticity in the Southwestern pantry. The almond/graham crust was rich and nutty, and the subtle addition of pear blended perfectly with the creamy milks.

The New Southwest is a very informative book, with lots of inspired recipes to try. The recipes are well-written, concise, and easy to follow.

Almond-Crusted Pear Tres Leches Cake
by Gary
Adapted from The New Southwest by Meagan Micozzi

Serves 8-10

For the crust:
9 whole graham crackers
1/2 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup almond meal (may be made by pulverizing whole or slivered almonds)
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking soda
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
1/2 cup whole buttermilk
1 can (15-ounce size) light sliced pears, drained and liquid reserved

For the soak:
1/4 cup whole milk
1 can (14-ounce size) sweetened condensed milk
1 can (12-ounce size) can evaporated milk
1 cup pear juice (from the can of light sliced pears)
1 pinch canela

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line a 9-inch springform pan with a depth of at least 3 inches with parchment and set aside.

To make the crust: Break the graham crackers into large pieces and place with the whole almonds in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process to a coarse meal. Remove to a large bowl and toss together with the almond meal and melted butter. Spread the very damp mixture over the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, to prepare the cake: Whisk the flour and baking soda together in a large bowl, and set aside. In another large bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar. Slowly beat in the dry ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk in approximately four portions. Mix just until you have a uniform batter. Pour the batter over the crust and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and set aside to cool at least 10 minutes before unmolding.

To prepare the soak: Whisk the whole milk, condensed milk, evaporated milk, pear juice, and canela together in a large bowl. Once the cake has cooled, release it from the pan, remove the parchment paper, and set the cake on a rimmed platter. Using a wooden skewer, poke a series of holes through the top of the cake and pour the soak over the top. Set the cake aside to allow the soak to be absorbed. Serve cake either chilled from the refrigerator or at room temperature. Garnish with reserved pear slices.

Many thanks to the publisher for providing copies of The New Southwest to 37 Cooks for review.

Black Forest Honey Streusel Coffee Cake

First, I want to say how excited and privileged I felt to be able to receive 'The New Southwest' cookbook by Meagan Micozzi. It's truly a stunning book. I'm a graphic designer by trade (for over 25 years now) and love the fact that there are pictures with every recipe. I had difficulty picking just one, but decided on the coffee cake since I've never made one with honey.

I changed the title to just 'honey' and not Sonoran honey, since I live in Colorado. I used local unfiltered raw honey from Black Forest, Colorado. I substituted almond-coconut milk for the buttermilk simply because I just prefer it. I also could not find ground canela and used ground cinnamon like Meagan suggested. I felt there was too much streusel topping and ended up using only about 2/3 of what is recommended in the recipe and I added some pumpkin pie spice to give it some zing!

I recommend serving this cake warm with a dusting of powdered sugar, but it's equally great at room temperature with a good cup of coffee.

Black Forest Honey Streusel Coffee Cake
by Holly
Adapted from The New Southwest: Classic Flavors with a Modern Twist

For the cake:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup local honey
2/3 cup almond-coconut milk, unsweetened
Powdered sugar (optional), to dust on top

For the topping:
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/6 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Heat oven to 350˚F. Coat a 9 x 9" baking pan with cooking spray and dust with flour.

For the cake, in a large bowl, add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt, whisk until blended.

In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time until blended. Add the vanilla extract.

Add the flour mixture, honey and milk, alternating by thirds until completely incorporated. Pour the batter in the pan.

For the topping, combine the butter, sugar, flour and spice, using a fork until pea-sized crumbles are formed. Spread on top of the batter.

Bake the cake for 40-42 minutes on center rack. Test with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool pan on rack for 10 minutes before serving. Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy warm.