Saturday, January 29, 2011

10 Minute Roasted Hummus - Simple Saturday

10 Minute Roasted Hummus

Hummus is the Arabic word for chick peas, which is translated in Spanish to garbanzo beans, which in Italian is Cece beans - and all of them can be pureed with spices to make a darn good dip or spread. One of the fantastic things about cooking (and Mediterranean cooking is no exception) is how personal you can make it. As long as the technique is there, the flavors are completely up to the taster. Hummus, which is also called hamos, hommos, hommus, homos, houmous, hummos, hummous, or humus (whew!) can be made smooth and earthy with the addition of tahini (sesame) paste, or spicy and chunky with peppers and veggies. The Simple Saturday recipe today keeps it fast and clean-up to a minimum. You roast the drained can of garbanzo beans (chick peas) on a parchment lined sheet pan along with the minced garlic and spices. Pour it all into a food processor and blend it with olive oil. That's it. Done and delish!

1) Drain one can of Garbanzo Beans (may be labeled Chick Peas).2) Pour them onto a parchment lined baking sheet and add a few minced garlic cloves, a pinch of red pepper flakes, cumin and dried thyme (you can also vary this to your tasting.) Squeeze a half lemon over the whole pan.

3) Stir it all together, then drizzle with Olive oil and place into a preheated 350F oven for TEN (10) MINUTES (you can vary the time if you'd like a more toasty flavor, but don't burn them.)

4) Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Using the parchment paper, lift it all up and pour into a food processor. Pulse a few times, then while the processor is on puree, carefully pour in 1/4 - 1/2 cup Olive oil. Check during the process to see if it's to your desire. Taste and season with salt and pepper, and maybe more lemon if needed.

Hummus can be served in little individual shooters with thin carrot sticks or other veggies for an elegant service...

Or put into a casual dish and served with crackers or flat bread.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Joconde Imprime Entremet with Nutella Mousse - Daring Bakers 1-11

Joconde is a french term (after the Mona Lisa) used for a light spongy cake that has a design within the cake.

Entremet is a french term that in contemporary times has come to mean a decorated cake, fancifully ornate or multi layered.

I loved reading about the term, entremet. In ancient times, beginning in Rome, it was a moment during the meal that included "entertainment" to please the palate. It started out as simple porridge that had the colors of imported saffron and eventually turned into chickens and animals dressed like the host, or people popping out of elaborate cakes and musicians delivering the food. What an amazing party, right?

Almond Jocande Entremet
w/ Nutella Mousse, Espresso Ganache & Cherry Gelee
The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.

One lesson I've learned in life: You can not rush excellence. One lesson I learned during this past Daring Baker's challenge: You can not rush excellence. Hmmm, you'd think I'd get it by now, but I just keep being taught the same lesson over and over. I loved making this Jocande Imprime Entremet, but I'll be honest with you; I rushed it. I can't wait to take what I've learned and try many other designs and more difficult fillings. I am hooked on the technique, and I will master it, just wait and see. :D

The recipe reads a lot more difficult that it really is to make. That being said, like a lot of the Daring Baker's Challenges - if you read it through and take it in step by step, visualizing along the way - you'll be great. My rush came in trying to fit it into a busy week of other deadlines and getting frustrated because I wanted to DO more than I had time to play around with. Ever have that happen? Just as soon as I have a "play-time", I have a million other ideas I want to try using this technique. Ohhh, I can't wait.Until then, YOU play and let me know how it comes out. On the Daring Baker's site, you'll see some spectacular cakes from many cooks who had never made one of these before, truly inspiring.

So, basically - you are making a recipe for a paste that you use to paint/draw or scribble with. It's very simple to make and then you can pipe it onto a silpat (that you lay on the back of a sheet-pan so there are no sides to bother you.) You freeze the drawing, design, scribbles, words - whatever-EVER you'd like to make and when it's hard, you pour this really easy-to-make batter... ...over the top very thinly and then bake it at a high temp. for a very short time.

(the batter should be put on a lot thinner than I have it here *see below*)

The "paste" cooks into the "batter" as they both heat, and VOILA you have a design within your thin sheet cake (these were supposed to be flowers, but I drew them way too thick and too close together because I was rushing and not thinking ahead -- NOTE: do NOT do that :D )** oven smoking while the thick -- way too thick -- sponge cake drips over and off my pan onto the oven floor. Note: Do NOT do that :D ***

Then, you cut the thin sheet cake into strips, wrap those around the inside of a parchment paper lined mold and fill the mold with mousse, ice cream, pudding, ganache, jams, other cake, cookie crumbs - you name it (as long as it can hold up a bit) for serving chilled. It's a magnificent technique and unique to everyone that makes it.
Patterned Joconde-Décor Paste

YIELD: Two 1⁄2 size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan
14 tablespoons/ 210ml/ 7oz/ 200g unsalted butter, softened
11⁄2 cups plus11⁄2 tablespoons/ 385ml/ 7oz/ 200g Confectioners' (icing) sugar
7 large egg whites - about 7 oz / 200g
13⁄4 cup/ 420ml/ 73⁄4 oz/ 220g cake flour
Food coloring gel, paste or liquid

COCOA Décor Paste Variation:
Reduce cake flour to 6 oz / 170g.
Add 2 oz/ 60 g cocoa powder.
Sift the flour and cocoa powder together before adding to creamed mixture.

1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (use stand mixer with blade, hand held mixer, or by hand)
2. Gradually add egg whites. Beat continuously.
3. Fold in sifted flour.
4. Tint batter with coloring to desired color, if not making cocoa variation.

Preparing the Joconde- How to make the pattern:

1. Spread a thin even layer of décor paste approximately 1/4 inch (5 millimeter) thick onto silicone baking mat with a spatula, or flat knife. Place mat on an upside down baking sheet. The upside down sheet makes spreading easier with no lip from the pan.
2. Pattern the décor paste – Here is where you can be creative. Make horizontal /vertical lines (you can use a knife, spatula, cake/pastry comb). Squiggles with your fingers, zig zags, wood grains. Be creative whatever you have at home to make a design can be used. OR use a piping bag. Pipe letters, or polka dots, or a piped design. If you do not have a piping bag. Fill a ziplock bag and snip off corner for a homemade version of one.
3. Slide the baking sheet with paste into the freezer. Freeze hard. Approx 15 minutes.
4. Remove from freezer. Quickly pour the Joconde batter over the design. Spread evenly to completely cover the pattern of the Décor paste.
5. Bake at 475oF /250oC until the joconde bounces back when slightly pressed, approx. 15 minutes. (NOTE:** too hot and too long - try 400 for only 6 minutes**) You can bake it as is on the upside down pan. Yes, it is a very quick bake, so watch carefully.
6. Cool. Do not leave too long, or you will have difficulty removing it from mat.
7. Flip cooled cake on to a powdered sugared parchment paper. Remove silpat. Cake should be right side up, and

pattern showing! (The powdered sugar helps the cake from sticking when cutting.)

Joconde Sponge

YIELD: Two 1⁄2 size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan

3⁄4 cup/ 180 ml/ 3oz/ 85g almond flour/meal - *You can also use hazelnut flour, just omit the butter
1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons/ 150 ml/ 22⁄3 oz/ 75g confectioners' (icing) sugar
1⁄4 cup/ 60 ml/ 1 oz/ 25g cake flour
3 large eggs - about 51⁄3 oz/ 150g

3 large egg whites - about 3 oz/ 90g
21⁄2 teaspoons/ 121⁄2 ml/ 1⁄3 oz/ 10g white granulated sugar or superfine (caster) sugar
2 tablespoons/ 30 ml/ 1oz / 30g unsalted butter, melted

1. In a clean mixing bowl whip the egg whites and white granulated sugar to firm, glossy peeks. Reserve in a separate clean bowl to use later.
2. Sift almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, cake flour. (This can be done into your dirty egg white bowl)
3. On medium speed, add the eggs a little at a time. Mix well after each addition. Mix until smooth and

light. (If using a stand mixer use blade attachment. If hand held a whisk attachment is fine, or by hand. )
4. Fold in one third reserved whipped egg whites to almond mixture to lighten the batter. Fold in

remaining whipped egg whites. Do not over mix.
5. Fold in melted butter.

Preparing the Joconde for Molding:
Video: MUST WATCH THIS. This is a very good demo of the joconde and filling the entremets:

1. Trim the cake of any dark crispy edges. You should have a nice rectangle shape.
2. Decide how thick you want your “Joconde wrapper”. Traditionally, it is 1⁄2 the height of your mold.

This is done so more layers of the plated dessert can be shown. However, you can make it the full
3. Once your height is measured, then you can cut the cake into equal strips, of height and length. (Use a very sharp paring knife and ruler.)

This recipe looks more complicated than it is to really put together (you know the French; simple in their complexity and complex in their simplicity.) It's also a whole lot of fun, designing and dreaming of what you'd like to put on your cake.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Butternut Squash Casserole w/ Stewed Apples & Toasted Pecans

If a pumpkin and a sweet potato had a baby - it would be Butternut Squash. And, it's perfect for a casserole. This mellow-yellow, tawny elongated vegetable is packed with its own natural sweetness, NO fat and tons of vitamins and minerals (including Calcium, Folate and Vitamin C.)

It beats out the pumpkin (in my opinion) because it has none of the stringy filling. Roasting a butternut is so easy, and you can cook it and hold it while you decide if you want to serve it in chunks for a risotto, maybe in a frittata, or as a casserole topped with stewed apples, raisins and toasted pecans. Be back in a moment, I just made myself hungry.

{Butternut Squash break....}

As I was saying... This casserole is great as a side dish (wonderful for holidays), but can also be eaten for breakfast. Why not, it certainly has a lot more going for it than a muffin, right?

This particular recipe came about when my family in California joined my sister-in-law from NYC and my In-laws from Chicago to celebrate my Father-in-law's 70th birthday last month. The 11 of us rented a home outside of Las Vegas for 6 days just after the holidays. Can you imagine ELEVEN family members of all ages and (to put it mildly) every variety of personality, staying together for SIX days in one house? Guess what? We had a blast! We had billard matches, a trip into the casino and buffets night, a show night to see LOVE Cirque du Soleil, DVD night, Grill night, Apples to Apples game day, a birthday evening, and what felt like hundreds of meals together. My mother-in-law and I decided we should write a book about how to share a kitchen and cook together because the two of us practically lived in the kitchen. She is an experienced and wonderful cook and together we planned out theme nights and tag-teamed the breakfast mornings so neither of us had to do every early morning meal.

This recipe came from having roasted butternut squash leftover from the soup I made one night and stewed apples leftover from the morning meal she made. We combined them, threw on some toasted pecans and had a healthy, brand new (to our hungry crowd) side dish to go with the Birthday-night Beef Tenderloin meal. Now, it remains in our own Family Collection and voila, a tradition is created.

Recipe: Butternut Squash w/ Stewed Apples & Toasted Pecans

1 Butternut Squash
Drizzle of Olive Oil
1 Tbls Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Heavy Cream (or Coconut Milk)
1/2 tsp. nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
1/2 cup pecans - toasted and chopped
Stewed Apples (with raisins)- see Simple Saturday recipe HERE-

1) Cut the butternut squash into fourths, drizzle all sides with olive oil and place cut side down on a baking sheet in a preheated 350F oven for approx. 45 minutes (til fork tender).

2) Cool on tray, then spoon out seeds and fiber (you may want to keep the seeds for roasting, etc.) and discard.

3) Spoon out the roasted and sweet squash into a large bowl,
add the brown sugar, cream, nutmeg and salt/pepper to taste. Puree with Immersion blender or whip until creamy.

4) Butter or oil an 8x8 inch baking dish and pour the squash puree into the dish.
5) Place Stewed Apples (with raisins) over the top, then sprinkle toasted chopped pecans and cook in a preheated 350F oven for approx. 30-40 mins.

Have you ever tag-team cooked with a family member? How'd that go?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Stewed Apples - Simple Saturday

So many family favorites are in the hands and hearts of people we love, but there are no real "recipes" for them. These Stewed Apples are one of the many things my Mother-in-law makes and we all love them on pancakes, over granola, beside scrambled eggs and just a big bowl of them hot from the...microwave? That's right. It's just that easy. When I asked her if she would share her recipe for these, I got an email that said:
Hi Cathy,

I have no recipe for the apples as I just put and taste. But, I will do my best.

6 apples peeled and cored and sliced
1/4 cup white or brown sugar
Hand full of raisins
1/2 stick of butter (cut into pats)
1/4 (?) cup water

Put all together, sprinkle with cinnamon and microwave until the right texture.
I suppose you could bake it as well.
How wonderfully easy and I can witness to how tender and sweet these are with just the right tang if you use Granny Smith Apples. Plus, I love the term "Put and Taste" and I'm adopting it for my blog. My mom - who is also an inventive and "taste with the heart" kinda cook has always made these amazing soups with whatever she had on hand, using the "Put and Taste" method. Love it!

If you don't have a microwave, you can old-school it and heat it up in a saucepan on the stove or even bake it in a dish (my preference). Do YOU cook things with the "Put and Taste" technique?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Best Banana Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake - and It's Gluten-Free

This has become one of my favorite and Best Banana Chocolate Chip Coffee Cakes, and it's also Gluten Free.

I developed it for a friend, who eats gluten free, but had to give her a "half-cake" because I kept slicing it, toasting it, and eating it for breakfast, snack and dessert before I could get it to her house. I hope when she reads this, she'll laugh as she remembers me decoratively delivering to her a perfect "half-cake" with no explanation about the other half and its absence.
If you already eat Gluten Free, please let me know if you try this and what you think of it. If you've never experienced eating Gluten Free - this recipe requires two flours (coconut and rice) that you may have never used in baking. Instead of letting that deter you, why not try something new? They can both be purchased at many grocery stores, at Whole Foods and online.

A great deal of our population have difficulty digesting gluten, and many are extremely allergic to gluten and have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease. There are others who suffer from digestive problems, headaches, nausea and other symptoms who haven't been tested or realized that perhaps Gluten intolerance is the issue.I've heard a few people comment about Gluten Free eating being a fad or another "trendy food style" of celebrities. This must be so frustrating for the thousands of intelligent people who sometimes have no choice (due to allergies), or have found Gluten Free eating to be a restorative and life saving routine.

I've also heard comments that ask why there is
all of a sudden so many people being diagnosed with gluten intolerance. The answer is an exciting one. For years, many people suffered (even developed stomach cancers) without this being considered, but now since it's on the radar they're getting help. It is because of the increased awareness and demand from patients that more and more doctors are testing and researching this challenge. This has also resulted in wonderful new gluten free products and recipes.

I grew up eating everything from garden grown vegetables and farm fresh eggs to time-saving, processed, canned meat on white bread sandwiches. I've even eaten a mud-pie or two (compliments of some older, sneaky cousins convincing me they would taste like moon-pies.) So, I'm not so much preaching about food, as trying to share while I learn and grow healthier.

(this is a great way to use up over-ripe bananas)

The more we learn about our food choices, our options and how ingredients help or challenge our systems, the better quality of life we can have and pass on to our families. There are several wonderful blogs, books and talented writers who can make the learning process and the cooking experience with gluten free products very exciting and delicious. Here are just a few:

Gluten Free Girl and the Chef
The Practical Celiac
Celiac Teen

And there are great recipes out there being developed by Gluten and Gluten Free cooks. Here are a few of those:

The Recipe Girl - Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
ShowFood Chef - Simple Saturday Almond Butter Cookies
Family Fresh Cooking - Coconut Corn Flour Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce
La Fuji Mama - Endive Boats Appetizer with Crab Salad

RECIPE: Best Banana Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake - Gluten Free

1 cup Coconut Flour
1 cup Rice Flour
1 Tbls. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup Coconut oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
4 eggs
4 over-ripe bananas
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1) Sift together the flours, baking powder and salt.
2) In a mixing bowl, beat together the coconut oil and sugars til creamy, then beat in the eggs one at a time, then the bananas until all is mixed well.
3) Beat in the dry ingredients and chocolate chips, just until combined, don't over beat.
4) Pour into a well greased, deep sided 8"- 9" cake pan until 3/4 full. (If you have left-over batter, make muffins or small bundt cakes.)
5) Cook in a preheated oven 350F for approx. 1 hour or until browned and set in the middle. Cool for a few minutes before releasing from the pan and cooling on a rack.

This is particularly good warm and eaten the same day, but wonderful the next day, sliced and toasted, and the next day, and the next day - trust me I ate, uh, tested it.

If there are favorite Gluten Free recipes that you enjoy, leave the link in the comments for us all. Thanks for stopping by - always a pleasure.