Homemade Pierogi

1 Mar

Why Pierogi are awesome:

1. Pierogi is both the singular AND plural form of these delicious Polish dumplings. I know, you were calling them pierogies…me too.

2. They have aliases – They’re also known as varenyky in the Ukraine, taskice in Croatia, koldunai in Russia, pelmeni in Romania, gombac in Hungary and knedle in Czechoslovakia. Basically, they are sooo awesome, everybody has their own version.

3. They float to the top when they are done – Built in timer!

4. They are dumplings made of pasta-like dough, stuffed to the brim with mashed potatoes, enriched with sour cream, laced with creamy cheeses and often FRIED or BATHED in butter! I think we’ve said enough.

You buy your pierogi? From a lovely woman named Mrs. T? Those are great, don’t get me wrong, but these…these are a labor of love…and they are worth it. During my cultural foods class’s Eastern European unit we ( 20 teenagers and one crazed teacher ) make these in two 40 minute periods, you can TOTALLY do this. The first time I taught this, I tried a recipe from a student’s Polish grandma. Unfortunately Grandma recipes are rarely written down in specifics and are hard to replicate. The second year I did it, I found out that Martha Stewart’s mom was quite the perogi expert and Martha’s website features an adorable video of them making them together. Martha’s mom, Mrs. Kostyra, just seems like the type of grandma you can trust and you can, this recipe is pretty straight forward and my students and I were able to pull it off. The original recipe left us with a lot of filling leftover, leaving me to believe that we were probably not skilled enough to stuff them as much as Martha’s mom did. If you find yourself with leftover filling DO NOT DESPAIR! They make AMAZING potato croquettes. Refrigerate, roll into balls or cylinders and bread with flour, egg and then breadcrumbs. Fry or bake until golden brown. Two treats in one. Good deal.

Potato Pierogi – adapted slightly from Martha Stewart Recipes

http://www.marthastewart.com/339781/potato-pierogi

For the dough:

  • 1/2 large egg ( scramble and divide)
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

For the filling:

  • 5 medium baking potatoes, peeled and diced small
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted – Plus 3 tablespoons for frying
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese grated
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • cornmeal

Directions

Make the dough:

In a medium bowl, whisk egg. Add sour cream, and whisk until smooth. Add milk and water, and whisk until combined. Slowly add 2 ½ cups flour and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.

Turn dough out onto a clean work surface and work in remaining 1/4 cup flour as you knead. Knead for 8 to 10 minutes, the dough should be elastic in texture and no longer sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest while you prepare filling.

Make the filling:

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Season with salt. Place over high heat, and bring to a boil. Cook until fork-tender. Drain and mash with a potato masher. Add 2 tablespoons melted butter and the cheeses and continue to mash until well incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Lay a clean linen towel on your counter, and evenly distribute cornmeal on it to prevent sticking.

To roll, cut and fill dough:

On a floured surface, roll out dough to about 1/8 inch thick. Using a glass or cookie cutter measuring 2 1/2 inches in diameter, cut out about 30 circles. Gather dough scraps together, rolling them out again, and continue cutting.

Form filling into 1- 1/2-inch balls, and place a ball in the center of each dough circle. Holding a circle in your hand, fold dough over filling, and pinch the edges, forming a well-sealed crescent. Transfer to linen towel. Continue this process until all dough circles are filled.

To cook pierogi:

Place a large pot of salted water over high heat, and bring to a boil. Place pierogi in boiling water in batches. They will sink to the bottom of the pot and then rise to the top. Once they rise, let them cook for about a minute more. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat with 3 tablespoons of butter. Sauté boiled pierogi until golden brown and crisp on the edges. Serve immediately.

Home Canning – Fruit Preserves and Scones

24 Feb

At some point during the day, no matter how crazy the day is, I realize how lucky I am to be able to teach what I love.  Not only am I lucky enough to teach cooking at a school with a wonderfully supported program, I am also surrounded by equally food obsessed colleagues that are talented chefs in their own right. Besides the several food competitions for charity and amazing luncheons with homemade items that co-workers run, there are people who bake and cook for no reason, often for the whole staff. Last week, two very talented cooks provided scones and homemade jams for the staff to sample.  It was such a beautiful spread of colorful fruits, it was hard to pick just one. I ate mine like a tasting flight, a little of each on a plate with a bite of scone.

The scones were provided by Patti, one of the most amazing bakers I have ever met. Every pay day, in addition to every holiday or teacher appreciation day, the 100 plus mailboxes are filled with some sort of amazing treat, everything from homemade caramel corn to giant cookies. I’ve heard she’s got a double oven and a pretty nice counter set-up at home but I cannot understand how she pulls it off. I do this professionally and I still can’t understand how she whips up hundreds of biscotti, muffins, cupcakes or brownies every other week in a home kitchen, by herself. Not to mention the time, money and care that goes into it. Ellen, another talented co-worker, was responsible for the preserves. Since the second I saw them I’ve had extreme jam envy! This stuff is seriously delicious and the way she packages them is so adorable and clever, they were just screaming out for a photo shoot. 

 

Of the strawberry, raspberry, plum, peach, blueberry and orange marmalade varieties I tried, I couldn’t tell you which was my favorite. They were all equally delicious with different textures and tartness. I got to take home a special jar of pear, which I can’t wait to try. Although I’ve had all the jars and supplies for canning for years now, I use them all to freeze my garden goodies instead of really canning them. Seeing Ellen’s gorgeous jams has given me the caning bug again and this summer, I think I’m going to give it a try. Between my u-pick obsession and my backyard container garden, it’s going to be a busy Spring. Here’s a recipe from Ellen to get you started, I will be posting Patti’s scones next week. The preserves are the perfect excuse to eat 3-4 scones in one sitting!

Ellen recommends following any canning recipe exactly and to be very careful to keep your cooking equipment and area sterile to ensure safety.

SURE.JELL Peach Jam – Kraft Foods

http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/surejell-peach-jam-53003.aspx

4 cups prepared fruit (about 3 lb. fully ripe peaches)
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. EVER-FRESH Fruit Protector (optional)
1 box SURE-JELL Fruit Pectin
1/2 tsp. butter or margarine (optional)
5-1/2 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl (See tip below.)
 
BRING boiling-water canner, half-full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.

PEEL and pit peaches. Finely chop fruit. Measure exactly 4 cups prepared fruit into 6- or 8-quart saucepot. Add lemon juice and fruit protector; stir until well blended. Stir in pectin. Add butter to reduce foaming, if desired. Bring to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly.

STIR in sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

LADLE immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with 2-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 minutes. Remove jars and place upright on towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middle of lid with finger. (If lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)

Kraft Kitchens Tips

How to Measure Precisely
To get exact level cup measures of sugar, spoon sugar into dry metal or plastic measuring cups, then level by scraping excess sugar from top of cup with a straight-edged knife.
Altitude Chart
At altitudes above 1,000 feet, increase processing time as indicated: 1,001 to 3,000 feet – increase processing time by 5 minutes; 3,001 to 6,000 feet –
 

Real Bagels

25 Nov

As a New Yorker, I feel privileged to be able to enjoy the best bagels in the world, anytime I want. (Is it wrong to say “in the world” even though I can’t back that up?) I guess if you have never had the real thing, you probably don’t mind a frozen supermarket bagel, but once you’ve have a New York bagel, I’m pretty sure you’ll be disappointed by everything else forever. With a bagel store available 5 minutes in every direction of any town here on Long Island, there has never been a need or desire to make my own bagels. But when I saw the recipe for “Real Bagels” in last month’s Cooking Light magazine, I saw it as a challenge. Real bagels? That’s quite a claim…what do the people at Cooking Light consider a “real bagel”? Could this super simple, one page recipe even come close to being anything like a good bagel? But just like any true Southerner knows how  to make their own fried chicken or how every Maryland chef  has their own secret crab cake recipe, shouldn’t I, a proud Long Islander, have a recipe for true New York bagels in my repertoire?

I made them immediately, even though it was 9:30 at night. The folks over at Cooking Light don’t lie. This wasn’t a roll masquerading itself as a bagel, it was truly the real thing… chewy, dense, crusty on the outside and moist and tender on the inside. I don’t think I have ever been so amazed at the authenticity of something I made. I really expected the recipe to fail on some level…. how could it be that easy? If it was that easy, why, when I take a road trip to another state, are the bagels so bad different? Maybe it’s the water. Maybe you have to be born here to be able to do it. I don’t how it happened, but once it did, I made sure everyone I could get my hands on tried one. I challenged them, “Eat this bagel, I MADE it. It tastes like a bagel. Really.” They were equally amazed. “You MADE a bagel…? ( Bite ) This is a real bagel…it tastes just like a really good bagel.”  This went on, pretty much word for word, with each of the 11 people I gave them to. As the recipe describes, “these are a revelation”. As a teacher, my favorite thing is seeing the excitement of my students when they create something amazing that they never thought they could make at home. I knew I had to make them with my classes but I had to find a shorter way to break the time up, so the second time I made them, I made the dough and popped it in the refrigerator overnight. I am glad to say it was a success. This dough is perfect for making Saturday night and then rolling, boiling and baking fresh on Sunday morning. My fellow New Yorkers, I challenge you, for the sake of your heritage, to make these immediately. For those of you who live elsewhere, you now have a way to enjoy something wonderfully authentic and awesome.

No 1 rule to follow with this recipe: Weigh your flour, don’t measure it. When I weighed it, it came out to about 4 cups rather than the 6 1/4 stated. I did not have barley malt syrup, which the recipe said could easily be omitted, so I left it out. The bagels were perfect, but I ordered the stuff on Amazon just to see if they could become any more perfect, just in case.

Real Bagels – adapted from Cooking Light Magazine – November 2011 issue

For the bagel dough:

2 cups warm water- 100- 110F

1 teaspoon active dry yeast

28.5 ounces bread flour – divided

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 Tablespoon barley malt syrup ( can be omitted )

To Boil in:

12 cups water

3/4 cup sugar

To Sprinkle on top: ( Optional )

Sesame seeds, dehydrated onion, garlic salt, sea salt, poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, oatmeal etc.

Directions:

Combine the warm water and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached. Proof the yeast by stirring it together and waiting for bubbles to form to see if the yeast is alive. ( Both times I didn’t get bubbles but the yeast was alive. My kitchen was cold and with no sugar to feed the small amount of yeast I didn’t see much bubble action)

Weigh 28.13 ounces of bread flour into a separate bowl and stir in salt. Add flour mixture and malt syrup ( if using) into yeast mixture.

Mix on low speed for 6 minutes. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand until smooth and elastic. Add remaining ( .37 ounces)  of flour if mixture is too sticky. ( I didn’t measure that part out, I just sprinkled a little down on work surface and my hands as needed.)

Place in a large greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm ( 85 F) spot for 30 minutes. ( Or overnight in the refrigerator) Test to see if two fingers inserted in the center leave an imprint. If it springs back, let it continue to rise.

If dough was refrigerated overnight, let it come to room temperature. Turn out onto a floured work surface and and divide dough into 12 equal portions.They make smaller bagels than compared to the over sized ones seen more often. For larger bagels make 10 instead of 12.

Pinch dough together at the bottom and roll each section into a smooth ball. Cover with a towel to prevent drying.

Using both hands, gently stretch a 1 1/2 inch hole in the center of  each ball of dough to form the bagel shape. If hole is too small it will close up completely when cooked.

Set bagels on a lightly greased sheet pan and cover with plastic. Let rise in a warm place for 10 -15 minutes. Bagels will only rise slightly.

While the bagels rise, pre-heat oven to 45oF. Prepare two greased cooling racks set over a sheet pans to place the bagels on after boiling. gather any toppings for the bagels and prepare another two sheet pans with parchment paper for baking the bagels.

Bring 12 cups of water and sugar  to a boil in a large dutch oven or heavy bottom pot.

Gently lower 3 risen bagels at a time into the boiling water and cook for 30 seconds, gently bobbing them under the water occasionally.

Remove and place on greased cooling racks. Sprinkle with any toppings at this point.

Transfer boiled bagels to lined sheet pans and bake for 7 minutes. Rotate pans and bake another 7 minutes.

Make sure you are out of your pajamas by now because once you are finished you will be so proud and excited that you will knock on your neighbors doors and get in the car to deliver them to people. They are amazing right out of the oven but if that’s not possible make sure to heat them in the oven before sharing. DON’T MICROWAVE a bagel, that’s a sin, and remember to check your teeth before you head out…

Spiced Pumpkin Mousse Pie with Graham Cracker Crust

20 Nov

Back on the Fourth of July, after I posted a recipe for strawberry mousse pie. In that post I promised you this, ” I also tried it with pumpkin and added some spices but I’ll save that one for you until October.” October came and went. I apologize. I know you have all been waiting by the computer counting down the days. I may have missed Halloween but I am in time for Thanksgiving.

Barely Adapted from: http://www.marthastewart.com/352652/raspberry-mousse-pie

Ingredients

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 7 graham crackers, plus 2 or 3 for crumbling garnish
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons powdered gelatin (from one 1/4-ounce packet)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups cold heavy cream

Directions

  1.  Coat a 9-inch square metal baking pan ( alternately an 18 inch for a double batch which is pictured below) with cooking spray and line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides.
  2. Arrange graham crackers in 1 layer in pan, breaking them to fit if necessary.

3. Place water in a small bowl and sprinkle with gelatin on top. Let  gelatin to soften for 3 minutes.

4. In a saucepan, simmer pumpkin puree, spice mixture and 1/2 cup sugar over medium heat until bubbles form at edge. Add gelatin mixture and stir until gelatin dissolves, about 1 minute.  Let cool to room temperature completely otherwise it with melt the whip cream.

5. Beat cream and 2 tablespoons sugar until firm stiff peaks form.

6. With a rubber spatula, gently fold whipped cream into cooled pumpkin mixture.

Do you know how to fold?  Folding is the process of gently incorporating something light and airy, like whipped egg whites or cream, into something heavier without deflating it. Start by placing about a 1/3 of the lighter product on top of the heavier product.
Mix that in to lighten it before folding the rest in.
Then place the rest of the lighter product on top. With a rubber spatula, cut down the center of the bowl and come around the side, turning the bowl one half turn.
Bring the heavier product from the bottom and side on top of the lighter product in the middle as you come around with the spatula. Place it on top.
Repeat the process by cutting down the center, coming around the side and down the center again, while turning the bowl  until only a few streaks of the lighter product can be seen.
  The finished mixture should be fairly homogenous.
7. Pour over graham crackers. Smooth top, cover and  refrigerate until set, about 2 hours (or up to overnight).
8. Using parchment, gently lift pie out of pan and cut into pieces with a sharp knife, cleaning it in between cuts. Top each piece with crumbled graham crackers, transfer to a serving platter.

3 Pumpkin recipes to share this Fall: Pumpkin Bread, Pumpkin Snickerdoodles and Pumpkin Chai Latte

2 Nov

Food and cooking is about sharing…

It’s why tea cups come in sets of 4.

It’s why a sheet cake feeds 20.

It’s why coffee urns can brew for up to 40.

It’s why a pie is meant for more than 1.

Great recipes are also just as important to share. The way I figure it, the more people who know how to make it, the more there is to eat of it.

This simple, moist, perfectly spiced Pumpkin Bread was given to me by my amazing co-operating teacher, Vanessa, when I was student teaching with her. The first time I made it with her class, it was a disaster. The over zealous new teacher in me had decided to re-type the recipe in a new program and in the process, switched the baking soda amount with the cinnamon. Kind of funny now, not so funny then. The second time we made it, with the correct measurements, it became one of my favorite recipes of all time. I make it each October with my students and it never fails, the kids love it and it has become the number one recipe other teachers come knocking on my classroom door for.

PUMPKIN BREAD

Ingredients:

•    1¾ cups sifted flour
•    1¼ cups sugar
•    1 teaspoon baking soda
•    ¾ teaspoon salt
•    1½ teaspoon nutmeg
•    1½ teaspoon cinnamon

•    ½ cup oil
•    2 eggs
•    1 cup pumpkin

Directions:

1.    Pre-heat oven to 350 F degrees.
2.    Prepare a large loaf pan by spraying it with non-stick cooking spray.
3.    Cut a piece of parchment paper to fix the bottom of the pan.
4.    Line pan with parchment and spray again.
5.    Sift all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
6.    In a separate bowl, whisk pumpkin, eggs and oil together.
7.    Make a hole in dry ingredients and pour in the pumpkin mixture.
8.    Mix just until smooth.
9.    Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan.
10.    Bake loaf 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

This recipe was something Annie, from Annies-eats.com, shared on her beautiful blog. They are my new favorite cookie, a must try.

PUMPKIN SNICKERDOODLES
Ingredients:
For the cookies:
3¾ cups all-purpose flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
For the coating:
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger

Directions:

1.    In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
2.    In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
3.    Beat in the pumpkin puree, egg and vanilla until incorporated.
4.    Add in the dry ingredients and beat just until incorporated.
5.    Cover and chill the dough for at least 1 hour.
6.    Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.
7.    Spray baking sheets with cooking spray.
8.    Combine the sugar and spices for the coating in a bowl.
9.    Remove dough from the refrigerator and scoop 2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball.
10.    Coat the dough ball in the sugar-spice mixture and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough to fill the sheets, spacing the dough balls 2-3 inches apart.
11.    Flatten the balls of dough slightly with your hand or the back of a glass.
12.    Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes.
13.    Let cool on the baking sheets about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
In my big crazy family, when its time to see who wants coffee, the hostess asks, “who’s playing grown – up?” I don’t drink coffee, but I like to play grown- up. This is my version of the Chai Tea Latte with Pumpkin Spice Syrup from Starbucks.

PUMPKIN CHAI LATTE
Ingredients:
•    1 gallon  milk
•    2 1/2 cups sugar
•    5 chai tea bags
•    1 cup pumpkin puree
Directions:
1.
Combine the milk, pumpkin puree and sugar in a heavy bottom pot.
2.    Whisk over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture begins to simmer.
3.    Wrap tea bags in cheesecloth and place into simmering mixture.
4.    Shut the heat and let steep for 30 minutes.
5.    Remove tea bags and whisk to bring up any pumpkin from the bottom of the pan.
6.    Serve with sweetened whipped cream.

6 Varieties of Homemade Pizza

11 Oct

If you looked at my list of text messages, 95% of them are questions people ask me related to food. Here are three of my favorites from this year.

1. I just had a medium rare burger at 9pm, I feel dizzy – do I have E Coli? If so, how long until I die?

2. I have breakfast sausage, Craisins and tofu in the house, what should I make?

3. How do I deep-fry a turkey?

Number three, you know who you are, do you really expect me to answer that via text message??? I feel honored to be on the top of so many people’s food question call list, but the funny thing is, most of the people in my life, friends, family and co-workers alike, are amazing cooks who don’t really need my advice. I understand their reasoning though, I question myself just as much.  The two people on my call list are my cousin Paul, who is an amazing professional chef and the other is my Mom, because Moms know everything, like how to tell if you have a fever by kissing your forehead.

This coming week I will be teaching an adult education course on homemade pizzas. I have been making homemade pizza for years, throwing it on the grill at BBQs, roasting it over a campfire, throwing  it onto my fancy pizza stone in the oven…with one exception… I was buying the dough. Every year I have a big pizza competition with my students at school and we make hundreds of fresh yeast doughs from scratch, so I am very familiar with it. I love working with yeast and I was whipping up baguettes and sourdough left and right, just not pizza dough. I guess I felt it was just as good to use a refrigerated dough from the bakery section of the supermarket because they were making it the same way I would.

But then I started to feel the guilt. How could I teach this to my students every year if I didn’t do the same thing at home? How could I maintain the right to receive and answer food text questions if I was secretly purchasing prepared pizza dough? I was living a lie. The madness had to end.

I am kicking myself for all the years I have taken the time to make a homemade pizza but robbed myself of the opportunity to enjoy this truly superb dough. The really sad thing is, this comes together in less time than it took my other other dough to defrost or warm up. One try and you’ll see how stupid easy it is. One taste and you’ll see there is no comparison in flavor and texture.

Below are pictures of the varieties I have been making weekly, with all the tomatoes I still have in the garden. The other 4 are the recipes for this week’s class. I have been making them for years with the prepared dough and they were great then, so I can only imagine how good they are going to be this week with the REAL dough.

Continue reading

Cinnamon Buns

30 Sep

It’s an amazing thing how smells are so deeply connected to memories. Sweet potatoes roasting in the oven bring back a memory of climbing the steps to my grandparents apartment for dinner, the smell of Polo cologne sets the stage for Christmas Eve at my childhood house on a snowy winter night and charcoal burning transports me to our beach cabana in such a real way I can feel sand in my shoes. And then there’s cinnamon buns. The amazingly sweet, spice smell of warm, gooey yeast dough baking up fresh from the ovens of…Ikea. Yep. That’s my memory connected to cinnamon buns. I’ve tried to reset the memory by baking cinnamon buns on special occasions but time and time again it’s still Ikea. I guess I can live with that. Ikea is a pretty cool place and where else can you get  furniture plus swedish meatballs, lingonberry jam and a cinnamon bun for only a $1?  

This is a fantastic recipe from Cooking Light magazine.(There are only 234 calories per roll)  The first time I made it I wrote on top ” AMAAAAZING, but  takes forever”. I decided to give it another try and re-wrote the recipe into easier to understand steps so the process didn’t seem so daunting to me. I hate when recipes call for ingredients to be “divided” throughout the recipe. I like to do the math ahead of time so there is no possibility for misreading during the process. Here is my version of the recipe which I now find just as amazing and much less confusing.

Combine and let stand for 5 minutes:

  • 1 cup fat free milk at 105 degrees
  • 3 TBL melted butter
  • 1 TBL sugar
  • 1 package of quick rise yeast

Add ; let stand 1o minutes:

  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour

 

Add; Stir until a soft dough forms, knead 6 minutes, adding up to 1/4 cup of additional flour 1 TBL at a time if dough is too sticky:

  • 2  1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Place dough in bowl coated with oil, cover and let rise in warm ( 80 degrees) for 35 minutes and doubled in size.

Punch dough down, re-cover and let rise for 35 minutes and doubled in size.

Punch down and let rest 5 minutes. Meanwhile combine in a small bowl:

  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 TBL ground cinnamon
  • 3 TBL melted butter

Roll dough into a large rectangle, about 18 x 11 inches.

Brush on cinnamon sugar butter mixture and press into dough gently with fingers.

Roll dough up tightly from one long end to the other long end, pinch to seal.

Slice into approx 18 slices.

Arrange slices into 2, 8- inch baking dishes coated with oil or 1, 16- inch pan.

Cover and let rise 35 minutes until doubled in size.

Pre-heat oven to 350. Bake cinnamon buns for 22-25 minutes and let cool for 10 minutes in the pan.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl throughly combine:  

  • 3 TBL soft butter
  • 2 TBL cream ( I used milk )
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Gradually whisk in 1 cup SIFTED powdered sugar.

Drizzle over warm cinnamon buns before serving.

Creamy Corn Fettucine with Late Summer Tomatoes and Fresh Basil

30 Sep

The past couple of weekends in New York have been beautiful, the perfect mix of Autumn and late Summer, cool enough to wear jeans but warm enough for flip-flops. I gave up fighting to hold on to Summer and embraced the Fall by spending a few afternoons on the beautiful east end of Long Island, enjoying seasonal traditions of wine tasting and apple picking. Despite the deliciousness of some sweet dessert wines and the tart crunch of a freshly picked Macintosh, nothing beat the amazing roasted corn we had at the side of the road farmstands. At 3 bucks a pop you would think you are getting ripped off. Just the opposite, with one bite you realize you’d pay 10, it’s just that good. Picked before dawn and roasted all morning, the corn is at its absolute sweetest. In addition to the 35 pounds of apples ( we’ve discussed my u-pick addiction before)  and the bottles of wine we brought home, we were lucky enough to get our hands on a few ears of the amazing corn to pair with all the tomatoes that are still being churned out from our backyard garden. The sauce comes together quick and making the fettucine from scratch is really no big deal and so worth it. In my opinion nothing beats making fresh pasta on a crisp Sunday morning for an early dinner anyway.

Creamy Corn Fettucine with Late Summer Tomatoes and Fresh Basil – Inspired/Adapted from Cuisine at Home Magazine, Oct 2008

This is one of the best recipes I have tried in a long time, it is one of the rare things I make repeatedly, often only a week later because I crave it as soon as it’s all gone. The original recipe uses cream and adds the tomatoes and basil in at the end. off the heat. I slimmed it down with non-fat milk and added more tomatoes and basil. I have prepared it with the tomatoes and basil both cooked and raw and loved both, the cooked version has a deeper sweeter flavor and the raw version is fresh and tart.

See my post for Homemade Pasta recipe and directions

1 large onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 TBL butter

1 TBL olive oil

1 tsp sugar

2 cups cherry tomatoes

2 ears fresh corn, shucked ( save corn cob and boil them in the pasta water for extra flavor, remove before adding pasta)

1/4 cup milk

3 TBL parmesan cheese

1/2 cup basil

Saute onion and garlic and butter and olive oil until softened. Add corn, cherry tomatoes and sugar and cook until corn is tender and tomatoes are shriveled. Add in milk and simmer until reduced. Stir in parmesan and basil, season with salt and pepper. Toss with cooked pasta and thin with pasta water if needed.

Tomato and Cheddar Pie

17 Sep

 

I collapsed on the couch last night with a piece of this pie, turned on the TV and watched about 30 minutes of a dirt bike race in another language before I snapped out of it and realized what I was watching. It’s been that kind of crazy, head spinning, busy week. It was the type of week for lots of take-out.  Apparently, my garden had other plans for me.  All 38 tomato plants are spitting out pounds of fruit faster than I can eat them. When the freezer hit the point where it could not possibly hold another jar of tomato sauce, I pulled out a recipe I had seen from the beginning of the summer for this Tomato and Cheddar Pie. Even though I would have loved to have been cocooned under the covers, recovering from the day, I deliriously made pie dough while standing up, half asleep. It was well worth it and deliciously distracting enough to sit through a dirt bike competition without realizing it. 

So this pie… WOW. Where do I begin? This pie is a wonderful Southern creation. I’ve never had anything like it before or really seen any recipes for it. Here’s why I think this Southern staple is great, certainly not exactly health food, but great none the less. The best part of the recipe is the batch of biscuit dough which ingeniously serves as the pie crust.  The buttery biscuit crust is layered with fresh tomatoes and obscene amounts of cheddar cheese and then smothered in the most deliciously tangy mayonnaise sauce with fresh herbs you have ever tasted.

 Bake it. Eat it. FEEL NO GUILT. It is worth every single calorie.

Tomato and Cheddar Pie

Loosely adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine 

Crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup buttermilk or 1 cup milk soured with a splash of white vinegar

Filling

  • 1 1/2 cups red cherry tomatoes
  • 2 large yellow ( or red ) tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 1/2 cups grated cheddar
  • 1 baby leek or scallion, washed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoon chopped basil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Crust

  • Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl. Using your fingers, rub in butter until a coarse meal forms. Some small chunks of butter should remain. Stir in buttermilk and gently knead with your hands briefly, until a soft dough forms. Wrap in plastic and chill for an hour.

Filling

  • Preheat oven to 425°. Roll out dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to a round that will fit into a 9 inch ceramic or glass pie dish.  Remove top layer of plastic wrap and turn dough over into pie dish. Take-off remaining top layer of plastic wrap. Gently press dough into pan if some areas on the sides are thicker than the bottom.
  • Whisk scallion/leeks, mayonnaise, herbs, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
  • Layer 1/3 of the cheese onto the pie crust and then top with cherry tomatoes. Spread half of mayonnaise mixture over tomatoes and another 1/3 of the cheese. 
  • Next layer the large sliced tomatoes. Spread remaining mayonnaise mixture on top of slices. Finish by sprinkling the remaining 1/3 of the cheese.
  •  Bake pie until crust is golden and cheese is golden brown, 35-40 minutes. Tent with foil if crusts is getting too dark. Let pie cool at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.

For original recipe see http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2011/08/tomato-and-cheddar-pie#ixzz1XyIpu5m2

Peach, Nectarine and Plum Cake

11 Sep

 

  

Back to school time… the start of exciting things but the end of summer. I will do anything I can to try to hold onto a few more weeks of sun. I naively thought to myself this week, “why can’t I still go to the beach after work? 3 o’clock is early!” That plan didn’t work out…not even close. Routine is back in full swing and there is no sight of  lazy, hazy days anywhere. Flip flops are in the back of the closet and in their place are the foot torture devices and band-aids of September.  

In a desperate attempt to keep summer around, I’ve been baking with the last delicious bits of peaches, nectarine, plums and berries I can get my hands on. I just can’t commit to apples and pumpkins yet. I’m glad to report that the mall does not have Christmas decorations up yet, although drug stores are pumping up Halloween like it’s nobody’s business. Why must they rush us??? 

Peach, Nectarine and Plum Cake – adapted from Martha Stewart’s Plum Cake

This cake lacked a little moisture at the bottom the first time I made it. I used dark brown sugar the second time and added a lot more fruit which helped extend the delcious top part of the cake more towards the center. I used yogurt in place of sour cream as well. Some times fruit is too perfect as is to bake with, but I can assure you there is something magical that happens to this fruit when it bakes. The flavor morphs into something totally new and wonderful.  

 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 3 plums, 2 nectarines and 2 peaches, halved, pitted, and cut into eighths

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Butter an  9-inch cake pan and line bottom with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt.
  4.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Then add vanilla and lemon zest. Beat in 1/2 the flour mixture and then the yogurt. Add remaining flour mixture and mix just until combined.
  5. Spread batter into pan and smooth top with a knife. Arrange the fruit over the batter in a decorative fashion, creating two layers, one on top of the other makes for a more moist cake.

6. Bake until cake is golden brown. After 30 minutes, loosely tent with foil and bake 30-35 more minutes until cake pulls away from side of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cake cool completely before removing from pan.