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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Donut Muffins

The original recipe for these muffins called them Cinnamon Butter Puffs. Well, they didn't really puff at all. The original name just sounded really unhealthy. These muffins taste just like cake donuts. I thought they were really good for a muffin pretending to be a donut, or are they donuts pretending to be muffins? Donut muffins makes them sounds as though they are a healthier version of a donut. Kind of like baked potato chips are much better for you than fried. Anyway you look at it they are good for a lazy weekend morning. I only dipped the tops of the muffins in butter and sugar. I have seen these posted other places where the entire muffin is coated in cinnamon-sugar or powdered sugar. I might try making them in mini muffin tins next time and serving them as faux donut holes.

Donut Muffins
adapted from The Breakfast Book

Muffin ingredients:
1/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup milk

Topping ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar combined with 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tins.
Beat the shortening, sugar, and egg in a mixing bowl. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Add flour mixture to shortening mixture. Pour in milk and mix until smooth. Fill muffin tins 1/2 to 2/3 full to divide batter evenly between 12 tins. Bake 20 minute or until lightly golden brown.
Have topping ready when muffins come out of the oven. Place melted butter in a small bowl. In a shallow bowl or deep plate place cinnamon sugar mixture. Immediately remove muffins from pan when they are done. Dip one by one in melted butter and roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Serve.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Signs that spring is coming...

We can now see water in the river...
There are bare patches on the ski trail...
Brody is wearing the latest spring fashion accessories including a green bow from an Easter package...
and well...yes,  part of a rose bush he found while looking for dead things in the yard!

Brody says, "Quit laughing, put the camera away, and get this thing off of me already". 

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dutch Baby

There are so many breakfast dishes similar to this one. My obsession with them started when we picked more lingonberries than we knew what to do with last fall. I thought it would be nice to make a traditional lingonberry dish and made Pannukakku. It was good, but the recipe I used was nothing like the Pannuakakku I remembered eating at the Soumi Cafe when I was growing up. So a few weeks ago I made a similar dish called an Apple Pancake, which was much better and quite tasty. I'm sure the apply pancake will become a regular player in the Saturday morning breakfast routine. I was still looking for a solid stand alone replacement that could nicely hold a lingonberry sauce. Then I found this recipe for the dutch baby in the last issue of Gourmet Magazine. I stuck to the recipe and topped it with lemon sugar. Yes, I did use Meyer Lemon zest that I have stored away in the freezer. The next time I make this I will use some of the lingonberries that are still lingering or would that be lingonring in my freezer. I loved the texture and the flavor of this Dutch Baby pancake. The recipe called for making this in a 10 inch cast iron skilled, but I used a glass pie plate and it turned out just as well. Next time I might double the recipe and make it in a 9x13 pan. I can't wait to make this one again...

Dutch Baby with Lemon Sugar
from Gourmet

1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
3 large eggs at room temperature 
2/3 cup whole milk at room temperature
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Put a 10 inch skillet or pie plate on middle rack of oven and preheat oven to 450ºF.
Stir together sugar and zest in a small bowl.
Beat eggs with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and frothy, then beat in milk, flour, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt and continue to beat until smooth, about 1 minute more (batter will be thin).
Add butter to hot skillet and melt, swirling to coat. Add batter and immediately return skillet to oven. Bake until puffed and golden-brown, 18 to 25 minutes.
Serve immediately, topped with lemon sugar.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Herb Roasted Pork Chops with White Wine Mustard Sauce

This was our Easter dinner, nothing fancy. I have to say that I was very thankful that I decided to make something simple. After our long walk that day I was tired and starving by the time I got home. I was able to throw this together in a few minutes and put it in the oven while I took a shower. By the time I got dressed and made the sauce, the pork and potatoes were cooked and dinner was ready to go in under an hour.

Herb Roasted Pork Chops with White Wine Mustard Sauce
adapted from Herb Roasted Pork Loin recipe from Gourmet Magazine

Pork Chops
2-3 pounds of boneless pork chops
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
6 rosemary sprigs, divided
8 large thyme sprigs, divided
8 sage sprigs, divided
8 savory sprigs (optional), divided
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (4 to 5)
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
Pat pork dry and season with 1 3/4 tsp salt and 1 1/2 tsp pepper.
In a large glass baking dish arrange herbs in the bottom of the dish. Stir together ( I just tossed everything in my mini food processor) shallots, garlic, mustard, and 1 Tbsp oil and smear all over pork chops. Place pork chops on top of herbs. Roast 30 minutes. Remove pan from oven and scrape shallot mixture off the tops of pork chops to allow them to brown. I left the mixture in the pan. Turn heat up to 400°F and continue roasting approximately 15-20 minutes until top of chops get lightly browned. Start White Wine Mustard Sauce when you return the pork chops to the oven.

White Wine Mustard Sauce
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Boil white wine and mustard until reduced by half. Add broth and simmer 3 minutes. If you have more than 1 1/2 cups, boil longer to reduce; if less, add water.
Melt butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking, until pale golden, about 3 minutes. Whisk in wine mixture and simmer until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.
Serve sauce over pork.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Chocolate Caramel Crackers

I was not really feeling in the holiday spirit this weekend. With all the snow we have been getting, it feels more like Christmas than Easter. Although we have a small window of hope the last two days, this morning I awoke to more snow! I'm craving hearty soups and all things drenched in caramel. So, when I saw this recipe using Matzo crackers it seemed like the perfect compromise.
The sweet, the salty, the chocolate. Oh, yes these are good and quite addictive. The original site where I found this recipe referred to them as Crack(ers). Unlike toffee which requires a candy thermometer and a little more precision. These are super easy to make. I ended up just putting the whole bag of chocolate chips on top, so my chocolate was a little thicker than the original recipe.

Chocolate Caramel Crackers
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

4 to 6 sheets matzo (I used the lightly salted ones) or approximately 40 Saltine crackers or crackers of your choice
1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into a few large pieces
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips 
You can top with toasted nuts as well

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet completely with foil, and then line the base of the foil with parchment paper, cut to fit.

Line the bottom of the baking sheet with matzo or crackers, covering all parts. 

In a medium heavy-duty saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and stir it over medium heat until it begins to boil. Once it has begun boiling, let it bubble for three more minutes, stirring it well. It will thicken a bit as it cooks. Remove from the heat and add the salt and vanilla, and then quickly pour it over the matzo or crackers. You’ll want to spread it quickly, as it will begin to set as soon as it is poured.Bake the caramel-covered crackers for 15 minutes, watching carefully as it will bubble and the corners might darken too quickly and/or burn. You can reduce the heat if you see this happening.

Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand five minutes, and then spread them evenly across the caramel. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to one week. 

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Walk

Moose tracks on the little Chena.
Brody is in over his head!
The only flowers we will be seeing for a while.
A lovely blue sky day.
Some Fairbanks Color...

Happy Easter

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Chocolate Guiness Cake

I hate to start this post on a defensive note but, I CAN BAKE A CAKE!! Ok, that feels better! The reason I am feeling so defensive is because for the third year in a row I screwed up David's Birthday cake. 
Ok, the first year hardly counts as a screw up because I never even made the cake. Year one, we were still living in separate countries. Well, that is not nearly as dramatic as it sounds. In order to get to David's apartment I would ride my bike two miles to the bus stop in Port Townsend and put the bike on a bus, then ride the bus for about 1 1/2 hours to Port Angeles, Washington. From Port Angeles I would get on the ferry for an hour and ride to Victoria, B.C. where I would get back on my bike and take another short ride up to David's apartment. I did this nearly every other weekend for nine months before we moved to Alaska. So, back to the cake... That year I promised David a home baked cake for his birthday. I left work early so I could get to Victoria early to surprise him for his birthday. When I arrived at his place I first searched the cupboards for a mixer. No mixer. No big deal, I can mix it by hand. Ok, how about a cake pan. No cake pan. No big deal, I'll just run downtown to one of those cooking shops and buy one along with the pizza stone I was buying for a birthday gift. David loves pizza, so I thought homemade pizza would be the perfect gift, it was and still is three years later. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving! Oh yeah, the after shelling out $60 for a pizza stone I was hoping to find a cheap cake pan and maybe a rubber spatula. After walking past three dozen bakeries and searching out three cooking stores where I could not find a cake pan for less than $40 I decided to stop in one of the bakeries to price out a cake.  The first cake I looked at was $12, sold. Why purchase $60 on baking equipment and groceries and spend my afternoon baking when I can buy a perfectly good cake for $12 and spend the rest of my afternoon sipping coffee at Bean Around the World
This brings me to birthday #2. New location...Fairbanks, Alaska. David has not let me forget that I still owe him a homemade birthday cake. He chooses Lava Cakes for his birthday cake. I think I am off the hook as Lava Cakes are super easy to make. Oh no, I get running late and the Lava Cakes have not hardened up in the fridge by the time we are finished with dinner. David says, "just put them in the oven, they will be fine". Well, they were not fine, lava cakes became Lava Soup. So, now I am two cakes in the hole. Finally, in September I discover a Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake that turns out beautifully and it becomes Make up a Birthday Cake #1. 
Finally, this year (are you still awake out there?) I get the recipe from David's Mom for THE birthday cake. This is the cake his mom made every year for his birthday. I made sure to get the recipe when we went back east last summer. The recipe was obviously well loved and parts of the directions had worn away. Do you see where this is going? I was determined to make this a good one. I read the directions carefully, creamed the sugar and shortening, added the melted chocolate, I'm getting ready to add the mix to the baking pans and I do one last scan of the ingredients list and What? Two cups of milk? When was that supposed to go in there? Maybe the milk is for drinking. Is it really supposed to go in the mix? So I dump it in and ugh, this does not look right. The mix is really watery. I put it in the oven anyway and it puffs up like a souffle. Of course David comes home and says, "this doesn't look anything like Mom's". I figured as much! 
So, as to not be two cakes in the hole I decided to make this Chocolate Guiness Cake as make up cake #2. We opted for ice cream rather than the ganache in the original recipe. May I recommend Bailey's Irish Cream Ice Cream? 

Chocolate Stout Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
which was adapted from Bon Appetit, September 2002, recipe originally from the Barrington Brewery in Great Barrington, MA

1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process) ( I used King Arthur's Black Cocoa)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream*
6 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
6 tablespoons heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon instant coffee granules ( I used 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder)

Cake prep:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter or spray a bundt pan well; make sure you get in all of the nooks and crannies. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Transfer cake to rack; cool completely in the pan, then turn cake out onto rack for drizzling ganache.**

For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of cooled cake.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

What's Happening?

We attended the sled dog races...

Brody and I spotted a large creature in the woods. When I got home and blew up this photo I discovered two creatures in the woods. 
David went to Anchorage to pick up a new truck for work.
He is still baking popovers on Sunday,
and still blowing snow from the driveway.
I'm still baking scones.

Brody, well...
he is just hoping someone will take him for a walk.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Chocolate Mousse

I went with the Bourbon option with this one, but I must admit that I couldn't really taste it. The mousse was super easy to make and I usually have most of the ingredients in the kitchen. It is great for one of those after dinner, I want something sweet cravings. 

Real Chocolate Mousse

Serves four.
6 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, preferably 60% to 62% cacao, chopped
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
3 large egg whites
Pinch of table salt
3 Tbs. granulated sugar
3/4 cup cold heavy cream
Chocolate shavings for garnish (optional)
Put the chopped chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a skillet of barely simmering water. Stir the chocolate with a heatproof spatula just until it is melted. Remove the bowl from the skillet, add the butter to the chocolate, and stir until the butter is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.

In a medium bowl with an electric hand mixer on medium-high speed (or with a balloon whisk), whip the egg whites and salt until they barely hold soft peaks. While whipping, gradually sprinkle in the sugar—go slowly, as adding it too fast may cause the whites to fall. Continue whipping until the whites just start to hold stiff peaks (see photo below). Don’t overbeat or the dissolved sugar may weep out of the whites.

Wipe the beaters (or whisk) clean and then whip the cream in a large bowl until it’s fairly thick and holds a soft peak when the beaters are lifted.

With a large spatula, gently fold about onethird of the egg whites into the chocolate until the mixture is no longer streaky. Fold in the remaining whites. Scrape the chocolate mixture into the whipped cream. Add a flavoring, if using (see variatons below). Fold gently until the mixture is uniform in color and texture.

Divide among 4 dessert dishes and serve immediately, or refrigerate for at least 30 minutes for a slightly firmer texture. Garnish with chocolate shavings, if using.

Note: The risk of salmonella infection from consuming raw egg whites is low, but the only way to be completely safe is to use pasteurized egg whites.


Hazelnut: 3 Tbs. Frangelico
Bourbon: 1 Tbs. bourbon
Coconut: 1/2 cup toasted sweetened coconut (serve immediately to retain texture)

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