Saturday, January 31, 2009

bread pudding with cranberries

and here is the bread pudding i talked about. i heart bread pudding. it's pretty much the ultimate comfort food. i will say, though, that the banana bread pudding with caramel sauce i made last year is still my favorite bread pudding recipe. next time i will try a chocolate bread pudding to see how it compares. i just adore caramel though, so it might be tough to beat. i did like this recipe. i love cranberries and i actually got this recipe at a cooking class my parents got me last year at williams-sonoma. it was a fun class to take and talk about a great gift! a cooking class where i can eat food. mmm. delightful. anyhow, this is the first time i have made this since the class and it's pretty darn good. especially topped with home made whipped cream. you really can't beat that sort of thing.

12 slices day-old baguette, cut into 3/4-inch

4 eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Pinch of salt

4 cups milk

1/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking dish. Spread the bread cubes in it.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt until well blended. Pour in the milk and whisk until combined. Pour the mixture over the bread cubes. Let stand, pressing down on the bread occasionally, until it is evenly soaked, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat an oven to 350°F.

Scatter the cranberries evenly over the surface of the soaked bread and press to submerge the fruit. Set the baking dish in a large, shallow roasting pan. Add very hot tap water to the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the baking dish.

Bake the pudding until a knife inserted near the center comes out almost clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Generously dust the top of each slice with confectioners' sugar. Serves 8.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Dessert, by Abigail Johnson Dodge (Simon & Schuster, 2002 ).

Thursday, January 29, 2009

mac n' cheese

so, one of my favorite dinners is what i like to call "soul food sunday" i've done this a few times a year since i lived in san francisco. i started it to have an excuse to eat pecan pie on a day besides thanksgiving. then i found a really great recipe for mac n' cheese on martha stewart and "sould food sunday" became a must. not to mention my playlist with some of my favorite music, including otis redding, marvin gaye, the supremes, sam cooke, smokey robinson, etc. etc.

back to the mac n' cheese... seriously, i am obsessed with this recipe. it's so good with the crunchy topping and two kinds of cheese and just plain deliciousness.

i'm gonna give the photo credit to my friend damian. he took these tuxturiffic photos. i'm in the background of this other picture working on the bread pudding which i will post later. i also made the obligatory pecan pie and some cornbread.

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
  • 6 slices good white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces
  • 5 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 4 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese (about 18 ounces)
  • 2 cups grated Gruyere cheese (about 8 ounces) or 1 1/4 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese (about 5 ounces)
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into bowl with bread, and toss. Set breadcrumbs aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, whisking, 1 minute.
  3. While whisking, slowly pour in hot milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.
  4. Remove pan from heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere or 1 cup Pecorino Romano; set cheese sauce aside.
  5. Fill a large saucepan with water; bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 minutes less than manufacturer's directions, until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce
  6. Pour mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyere or 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano, and breadcrumbs over top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool 5 minutes; serve hot.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

cinnamon sugar pie crust

you might already do this, but if you don't this is a great and delicious way to use any leftover pie dough. take your scraps and roll it out very think like regular crust, then lightly spray it with water and sprinkle cinnamon sugar and bake at 450° for about 7 minutes. break up into pieces and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

a little bit famous

my very handsome and talented friend dallas does these "daily documentaries" and posts them online. they consist of an approximately 5 minute interview which he posts as a podcast and some photos that he takes before the interview. well, this fall, he asked me if i'd do it—and since i just like hanging out with him because of my huge friendship crush on him, i said yes. i'm pretty uncomfortable posing for a camera (unless i'm with friends and we are just being dumb) but he's so fun and nice i did my best to not look like a complete idiot. then i talked about food the rest of the time. if you have any interest in seeing/hearing this, it's posted here. while you are there, check out his other interviews, he always finds such interesting people and does a fantastic job.

whole wheat pita bread

so i have this goal to be able to make anything i want to eat. hummus, crackers, pitas, bread, and one day, fruit leather (when i get the right machinery that is). i found this recipe on one of my favorite food blogs, the kitchen sink. originally, it's from "gourmet". it's a pretty easy recipe, but quite time consuming. about three hours to be exact. perfect for a lazy sunday morning. i had to add a bit more wheat flour than she put in her recipe, but they turned out very puffy and delicious. ideal for lunches with soon be be homemade hummus.

Whole Wheat Pita Bread

1 (1/4-oz) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/4 cups warm water (105-115°F)
2 cups bread flour or high-gluten flour, plus additional for kneading
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Cornmeal for sprinkling baking sheets

Stir together yeast, honey, and 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl, then let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)

While yeast mixture stands, stir together flours in another bowl. Whisk 1/2 cup flour mixture into yeast mixture until smooth, then cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk and bubbly, about 45 minutes. Stir in oil, salt, remaining 3/4 cup warm water, and remaining 2 1/2 cups flour mixture until a dough forms.

Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead, working in just enough additional flour to keep dough from sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. Form dough into a ball and put in an oiled large bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough and cut into 8 pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Flatten 1 ball, then roll out into a 6 1/2- to 7-inch round on floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Transfer round to 1 of 2 baking sheets lightly sprinkled with cornmeal. Make 7 more rounds in same manner, arranging them on baking sheets. Loosely cover pitas with 2 clean kitchen towels (not terry cloth) and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Set oven rack in lower third of oven and remove other racks. Preheat oven to 500°F.

Transfer 4 pitas, 1 at a time, directly onto oven rack. Bake until just puffed and pale golden, about 2 minutes. Turn over with tongs and bake 1 minute more. Cool pitas on a cooling rack 2 minutes, then stack and wrap loosely in a kitchen towel to keep pitas warm. Bake remaining 4 pitas in same manner. Serve warm.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

christmas food

my family is all about food. as long as i can remember, all of our family traditions have revolved around food or taking roadtrips in our old van to disneyland. even the roadtrips involved food. so this christmas, i thought i'd take some pictures of some food we made and ate. it's amazing i returned back to salt lake in the same size jeans i left in. i can thank a stomach that won't let me eat very much for that, i guess. so i'll start with these cookies that we love. pfeffernusse. we used to call them "pepper-nuts" when we were little cause we couldn't pronounce this little spice cookie the right way.

normally, for christmas eve, we make a big fancy dinner. but this year, since it was just me and my parents, we decided to do a dinner of appetizers for christmas eve and safe the fancyness for christmas day. my mom had some marinated shrimp at an office party, i found some potato latkes on one of my favorite food blogs, and my friend casey told me about this crushed cranberry sauce you pour over cream cheese, so we made those and a few other things for our dinner of appetizers and it was soooo good.

for christmas morning, my mom made this bread pudding that had little bits of cream cheese in it and a caramel sauce over it. yes, i know i'm spoiled. thank you.

and for dinner, i made roasted brussel sprouts, yams with pine nuts, and my dad made pork tenderloin which was garnished with a blueberry chutney my mom made. along with the famous butterhorn rolls and twice baked potatoes. plus a pair salad with goat cheese and a pomegranate dressing. yuuuum.

somehow i was too enraptured with the traditional dessert my mom makes, a pecan turtle tort, to actually take pictures of it. i have no one to blame but myself. but i think i am probably sparing anyone who reads this a major case of mouth-watering jealousy. and you'd probably gain weight just looking at the pictures. it is not a light dessert.

so that was my christmas and it was awesome. i hope everyone had a great one, too!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

banana poundcake

i have made this twice now and learned a bit from the first time. the recipe says it's for one loaf of bread, but it went crazy and overflowed and took forever to bake and never really baked all the way through when i made it that way. so the second time around i spread it between two and it worked so much better. also, i added lemon in the recipe and made a lemon glaze that i poured over the top. this is now one of my new favorite ways to eat banana bread. very moist, and dense in a good way.

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temp.
1 1/2 medium-size very ripe bananas, mashed not too smooth with a fork (3/4 c.) **i used 2 bananas
1 t. vanilla extract
1 1/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
2 1/2 cups cake flour, or 2 cups plus 3 T. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. milk
1 T. freshly grated orange peel **i didn't use this, i used lemon juice, and also made a lemon glaze with powdered sugar and lemon juice

heat oven to 350°. lightly grease and flour a 9x5" loaf pan. **do two. beat butter in mixer for about 30 seconds, or until smooth. with mixer on low speed, gradually add the sugar. increase the mixer speed to high and beat until pale and fluffy. with the mixer still on high speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. continue beating, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice, until the mixture is smooth and very pale and has increased in volume. beat in bananas, vanilla, baking powder, and salt. (the mixture will look curdled.) on low speed, alternately beat in the flour and milk, beating well after each addition. stir in the orange peel **or lemon juice. scrape batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. bake until the cake pulls away slightly from sides of the pan and a toothpick or fork comes out clean, 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 25 minutes. (if the cake starts to brown too much after 1 hour of baking, cover it loosely with foil.) cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 20 minutes. carefully run a thin-bladed knife around the edges of teh cake to loosen. turn the cake out onto the rack, invert, and cool completely. **when i took them out, i immediately inverted the loaves and poked them with a fork all over and poured over the lemon glaze while hot.

the cake can be well wrapped and kept at cool room temp. or in the refrigerator up to 1 week or frozen up to 3 months.