Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ina Garten's Easy Cranberry & Apple Cake

While I enjoy making savory dinners, there is always room for dessert.  There, I said it.  I like dessert.  I don't eat dessert every night.  But once in a while I like to keep an arsenal of quick dessert recipes, for when the fancy strikes me to make something sweet.  I record some of my favorite Food Network shows, but sometimes it takes me days, weeks, months to find time to watch them.  Last week, I watched a recorded episode of "The Barefoot Contessa".  I watched Ina Garten make this very easy dessert, and I quickly searched for the recipe on line.  D'oh! It's in my latest Ina Garten cookbook "How Easy is That?" that I purchased, and I had forgotten about it.

As luck would have it, I had one more bag of frozen cranberries left, after I made the Cranberry-Almond Poundcake.  I had apples that needed to be used.  This would be tonight's dessert! 

I decided to use two Granny Smith apples, rather than Ina's one, in her recipe.  Cranberries can be a bit tart, so I wanted to increase the apple.  My apple corer helps me to peel, core and slice apples in less than a minute. It's one of my newest favorite kitchen tools.  You also need the zest of two oranges (1 Tbsp.)  and about 1/4 cup of fresh orange juice.

Because I didnt' want the apples to dominate the flavor, I used my secret ingredient, "Boiled Cider." (I buy this online at King Arthur Flour.) 

Combine cranberries, apples, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and 1 teaspoon of  cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set it aside.

It took less than 15 minutes to make the batter.  The beauty of using butter in this recipe is that you melt it, and let it cool-- no having to wait to bring it to room temperature. You also need eggs, sugar, flour, sour cream, vanilla extract and a pinch of kosher salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. Can we talk about the paddle attachment that I use? It's a beater blade that I ordered online.  I love it, because it scrapes the sides of the bowl really well.  To know me, is to know that I love gadgets that make my life just a little easier!With the mixer on medium, add 1 cup of the granulated sugar, the butter, vanilla, and sour cream and beat just until combined. On low speed, slowly add the flour and salt. Pour the fruit mixture evenly into a 10-inch glass pie plate. Pour the batter over the fruit, covering it completely.

I didn't pay attention to the directions, and I sprinkled cinnamon on top.  I should have sprinkled cinnamon-sugar.  The sugar will leave a nice crunch to the cake, so I'm definitely going to do that next time.
NOTE: Be sure to place the cake on a parchment paper lined baking tray, before baking it in a 350 degree oven.  I checked my cake at 50 minutes, rather than 55 and the cake was ready.  Only poke a toothpick into the dough, as the fruit is going to be gooey!

See what I mean?  The fruit will bubble and flow over the sides.  The baking tray and parchment paper makes for easy cleanup.  This cake is best served warm or at room temperature.

A scoop of vanilla bean ice cream is perfect with this. (Or, fresh whipped cream.)

TASTING NOTES: I would call this a cross between a cobbler and a cheater pie, but the dough bakes into a tender cake consistency.  It's not too sweet, and easier than pie!  My husband thought the cranberries were a bit tart. Usually, I'm the one who is sensitive to sour/tart flavor. I actually thought the fruit had a perfect balance of sweet and tart.  My son agreed with me (for a change).  I plan to make this version with all apples. I also plan to make this with berries, and also when fresh peaches come into season.  

How easy is that?!

Now that I'm revisiting Ina's newest cookbook, I've bookmarked a few more recipes that I'll be cooking and baking over the next few weeks.  I love her recipes. This particular cookbook has a lot of easy recipes, and she does share some really great tips.  This book is worth the less than $25.00 investment.  The pictures, as always, are mouth-watering.

I always post a printable recipe card at the end of each recipe post. If you cannot view it, you might be using an older version of InternetExplorer. You should be able to view my recipe cards with Safari, Mozilla, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer.
If you still can't view the recipe card, all of my recipes are stored on Key Ingredient, by clicking here.

If you still can't figure out how to view the printable recipe card, please email me at foodiewife@gmail.com and I am happy to help

Thanks, Ina!

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Meatloaf, again!? You bet! (Psssst, it's the best!)

Meatloaf doesn't sound like a gourmet dinner.  It's isn't. It's comfort food. It's a classic American dish that dates back for generations.  This particular meatloaf recipe is my #1 most viewed recipe from my blog. That pretty much confirms that meatloaf is still a popular main dish.  Meatloaf isn't easy to photograph.  It's a little homely, if you ask me. Until you take a look at the glaze on this version...

I've made my share of meatloaf over the years decades.  I remember adding a load of the canned breadcrumbs (I now make my own.), a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup, or even some of that onion soup mix to a mound of hamburger meat.  They were good, I'll grant it that.

What makes this particular meatloaf recipe so special are a few key things-- I use a combination of ground beef, ground pork and ground veal.  (I have no idea if this would taste as good using ground turkey. I've never tried it.) For those of you who make the best Italian meatballs...you know exactly what I'm talking about!    I cook the onion and garlic, just until softened.  I also use fresh marjoram and thyme.  Last, but not least, I make my own bread crumbs with my food processor and then whisk together fresh eggs, milk, hot sauce and Dijon mustard.  The star of the show is the glaze. Oh, the glaze!  It's so simple-- ketchup, brown sugar and cider vinegar.  While the meatloaf is cooking, your kitchen will be filled with a savory aroma that will make the men in your house start to ask when dinner is ready. I'm speaking from personal experience.
 You don't need to -- heaven forbid-- open a can of brown gravy, or make one from a packet.

Just make some creamy Yukon gold mashed potatoes.  Gravy doesn't hold a candle to this luscious glaze. I'm serious!

You'll be so busy savoring the right balance of onion and garlic, marjoram and thyme and then that glaze hits that spot on your taste buds that says "wow"!  This recipe makes about 10 servings.  There are three of us living in one house.  Leftovers will be fairly divided.  Meatloaf sandwiches are in my future. Mayo and a little mustard. Lettuce and tomato, please. No pickle.

How do you make this recipe?  You can either click here to see step-by-step photos.  Or, just scroll to the bottom of this post and you'll a printable recipe card. 
If you have a meat-and-potatoes kind of person in your life, make this recipe.  They will go back for seconds, and even thirds.

I'm speaking from personal experience. For the record, I ate one-and-a-half slices.  That doesn't count as seconds.

The Kitchen Heroine,

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Meyer Lemon Bundt Cake

Many of you have heard the saying that "Lemon is my Chocolate".  I like chocolate, but lemon is what makes my taste buds very happy.  When I think of lemon, I think of a clean and refreshing taste.  Plus, I think lemon is one of those universal fruits that makes perks up the flavor in otherwise bland dishes, such as creamed soups and steamed vegetables.  My fondness for Greek food is because lemon is found in so many Greek recipes.  Our garden has both a Eureka and a Meyer lemon tree.  For those of you who aren't familiar with Meyer lemons, they are a hybrid that traces back to Mandarins.  The skins are much smoother than the more common Eureka lemon, and the flavor does have a sweet note of mandarin.

The first recipe I made with this year's harvest of these lemons was a Meyer Limoncello Sorbet. (My husband has been hinting for more of this refreshing treat.)  I decided to make one of my favorite lemon dessert recipes, from Ina Garten; it's a popular in blogosphere, as I've seen it on several blogs.  I found the recipe in  my Ina Garten cookbook library, "Barefoot Contessa at Home: Everyday Recipes You'll Make Over and Over Again." The first time I posted this recipe, I named it "Guilt-Less Lemon Yogurt Cake".  This time, I used Meyer lemons, instead of Eureka lemons-- but either lemon works very well.  You can see step-by-step photos on how to make this right here.

This time, I used a bundt pan and I made two changes-- I added pure lemon extract into the batter, for more flavor. I also used low-fat vanilla yogurt since I didn't have Greek yogurt on hand.   The cake took about 45 minutes to be ready, but I always say it's safer to check your cakes before the suggested time (Ina says 50 minutes).

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Corned Beef & Cabbage with a Tangy Glaze

I don't have a drop of Irish blood in me, though I've been all over Ireland and I've kissed the Blarney stone.  Maybe that's why each  March  I crave Corned Beef & Cabbage?  All I know is that this traditional American-Irish dish, in honor of St. Patrick's Day has been on my mind for over a week!

Making Corned Beef & Cabbage is a no-brainer.  Seriously, over the last 30 or so St. Patrick's Day Dinners, I've faithfully bought a package of Corned Beef.  I've simply read the directions on the package, that  includes a seasoning packet.  Per the directions, I always added potatoes, carrots and whatever vegetables sounded good. Sometimes I added beer to the water.  How easy can it be?  Then, one of my dear Food Bloggers, Cathy of "Wives With Knives" posted her mother's own recipe for Corned Beef & Cabbage.  I love Cathy's photos, because they make me want to have a taste of whatever it is she's posted.  I especially liked the way Cathy talked about how she spreads a mixture of brown sugar, Dijon, cloves and red wine vinegar on the brisket, before serving.  Now, why hadn't I ever thought of that?  Cathy uses a slow-cooker, and think that's a great idea. The problem is, when it's 1:00 in the afternoon, and I'm craving Corned Beef & Cabbage on a Sunday afternoon-- I had to improvise.

First, I rinsed and drained the brisket (this is a 3-pound flat-cut piece of brisket. After trimming off the excess fat, I simply opened the seasoning packet and set it into a Dutch Oven.  I covered the brisket with water and simmered it very slowly for about 3 hours.

I had almost completely forgotten about these Cippollini onions!  They're cute, and a bit sweeter than yellow onions.  I peeled some carrots and quartered some red potatoes, and of course I quartered a head of green cabbage.

Preheating the oven to 350F, I removed the brisket (reserving the liquid) and I improvised a glaze of my own, remembering one I use for my Glazed Meatloaf recipe. I used brown sugar, cider vinegar, Dijon mustard and ketchup.

I love the taste of this glaze! I placed the brisket into the oven, and began cooking the carrots, onion and potatoes until fork tender (about 20 minutes.)  I wanted to broil the glaze, at the very end, for a minute or two, but I had bread baking at the same time (I wish I had two ovens at times like this.)

In the last five minutes of cooking, I stacked the cabbage onto the vegetables and liquid, put a lid on it and let it steam.  

The brisket was ready to be sliced, and it looked very juicy...

I'm on a glaze kick, if you haven't noticed!

Dinner is served!

TASTING NOTES:  The glaze is a wonderful alternative to either a horseradish or mustard sauce. My boys don't like horseradish (though, I do).  I like to splash a little cider vinegar on my cabbage, and the glaze has the perfect balance of sweet, tangy and a slight tomato flavor.  In retrospect, I wish I had added tossed the potatoes and carrots with butter- but, I'm trying to cut some calories wherever I can.  Then again, there's always room for a glass of cold Harp Beer to wash this down. 

Cathy, thanks for inspiring me to add a little more pizazz to corned beef, with a glaze by posting your lovely recipe idea.  A printable version of how I made this is at the bottom of this post. 

Irish Soda bread goes nicely with this dinner, too.
If you don't care for Corned Beef & Cabbage, then this Easy Shepherd's Pie might just do the trick!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Glazed Doughnuts - One more "to learn" off my recipe bucket list!

What recipes are on your list of "must try" list?  I have a long list of recipes that  I have always wanted to learn how to make.  I've scratched off  a few-- like "canning my first homemade jam", "souffle", "Cheese Blintzes", "Semolina Gnocchi".  I made  my first batch of Bread & Butter pickles, and finally learned how to make my own Soft Pretzels.  The feeling is one of accomplishment, and I particularly enjoy photographing the process and sharing it for all the Blogger World to see.

A few months ago, I posted a recipe for Baked Doughnuts.  I was proud of myself for trying a doughnut recipe that didn't involve deep-frying. (Did you know that if you deep-fry food at the correct temperature, that the food will absorb less oil? Yes, it's true!)  Honestly, baked doughnuts are simply muffins that are baked with a hole. They were "okay", but they didn't fool my husband nor my grown son-- who are
bona fidedoughnut aficionados.

I give credit to "Colleen's Recipes" for inspiring me to make Raised Doughnuts for my boys.  You need warm milk, not hot-- otherwise it will kill your yeast.  Colleen used butter flavored Crisco, which I simply don't keep in my pantry.  I improvised and used some organic vegetable shortening (Whole Foods) and 2 teaspoons of my beloved Buttery Sweet Dough Bakery Emulsion.

You will need: All-Purpose Flour (I only used unbleached), sugar, salt, shortening and vanilla & almond extract (for the glaze). You also need two eggs, at room temperature.  I use SAF Instant Yeast, so I don't need to proof the yeast in warm water. If you use Rapid-Rise Yeast, then sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let it stand for 5 minutes or until foamy...

 Using my stand-mixer, I add (to the dry ingredients) the water, milk and yeast...

Add the salt, eggs, shortening (and the Bakery Emulsion, if using)...

Using my beater blade, I mix all the ingredients, and then switch over to the dough hook. The dough is kneaded for about five minutes. Perfect!

I placed the dough into my smaller 2-Qt.  "dough bucket" (my 6-quarts were being used for other projects). I make sure to oil the bowl/bucket and place it into my oven, that I have preheated on WARM for a few minutes, and then turned off. Whoa!  That's a lot of dough!

On a floured surface, I gently rolled the dough to about a 1/2" surface.  I actually had a doughnut cutter , but Colleen uses a pineapple can that she's cut out the top and bottom. She then uses a small circle cookie cutter. Clever, huh?  Just be sure to dip the cutter into flour.  Set cut out donuts on a square of parchment paper that you lightly sprayed with cooking spray. This will help you tremendously when it comes time to lift the donuts into the cooking oil. Spray the tops of the donuts with a little cooking spray and cover loosely with plastic wrap for a second rising (takes about 45 minutes to an hour).

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