Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Raspberry-filled Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream

Last week my sweet baby Madeline turned 1 year old. While planning her birthday party, I knew I wanted to make two different kinds of cupcake- one fruity and one more decadent. After debating with myself if raspberry filling and raspberry butter cream would be “too much”, decided on these for one of the cupcake options. And let me tell you, these cupcakes were perfect! The butter cream reminded me of raspberry frozen yogurt. And the filling reminded me of heaven in raspberry form.

Raspberry-filled Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Raspberry ButtercreamPrintable Recipe

Vanilla Cupcakesmakes 12 cupcakes
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
zest of 1 medium lemon
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare 12 muffin cups with paper liners and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer beat together sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, combining well before adding the next egg. Beat in the vanilla paste or extract and lemon zest.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in half the flour mixture, then the milk, then the remaining flour. Mix just until combined.

Scoop the batter evenly between each of the muffin cups. Bake for 17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the cupcakes from the pan and let cool on a wire rack completely.

Raspberry FillingIngredients:
2 10-ounce bag frozen raspberries, thawed
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Using a food processor or blender, puree the raspberries. Press the puree through a fine strainer to remove the seeds. Pour the puree into a medium saucepan and combine with the sugar and cornstarch. Bring to a boil and stir until thickened. Let cool completely.

Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, cut a small cone, about an inch in diameter and depth in the top of the cupcake. Slice off all but the top 1/4 inch of the cone. Spoon a bit of the filling into the center of the cupcake and top with the remaining cupcake disc. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes.

 Raspberry Buttercream Frosting

20 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon raspberry liqueur or 1 1/2 teaspoons raspberry extract
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
red or pink gel food coloring, if desired

Beat together the butter and confectioners sugar until smooth. Add in the salt, raspberry liqueur or extract, heavy cream and food coloring. Beat until well-combined.

Spread or pipe the frosting onto cupcakes.

Sources: Cupcake recipe found at The Novice Chef, Raspberry filling found at Smitten Kitchen, Raspberry buttercream frosting found at Apple A Day

Friday, June 18, 2010

Overnight Apple French Toast


An oldie, but a goodie. I can remember childhood mornings, waking up and walking into the kitchen to find my mom pulling this glorious breakfast out of the oven. It was one of my favorites and yet somehow I kind of forgot about it for a few years there. Then a few weeks ago on the way home from work I had to stop at the store. Suddenly Apple French Toast thoughts filled my head and I immediately pulled out my cell phone and called my mom for the ingredients. I had gone for years without this sticky goodness and out of nowhere I couldn’t go another day. It was every bit as good as I remembered.

Overnight Apple French Toast
print this recipe

For the French toast
1 loaf French bread, sliced 1-inch thick
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 Tablespoons corn syrup
2 large tart apples, peeled and sliced
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the syrup
1 cup applesauce
10 oz apple jelly
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves

Combine the brown sugar, butter and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes or until thick.
Pour the mixture into a 13x9 glass pan. Top the caramel sauce evenly with the apple slices.

In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla. Dip the bread slices into the milk mixture, then lay evenly in the glass pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The following morning remove the pan from the fridge 30 minutes prior to cooking. Preheat the oven to 350.

Bake the toast for 30-40 minutes or until golden.

Stir together the syrup ingredients in a medium saucepan and cook until hot.

To serve, place the toast on a plate, top with apples, caramel sauce and syrup.

Source: My mom, original source unknown

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Caesar Salad

When it comes to egg, I am a total hypocrite. I could eat raw cookie dough like there is no tomorrow, but when it comes to raw egg in anything else I get a bit skeeved out. Thankfully, I got over that quickly when I came across this recipe for Caesar dressing. It was rich and creamy, yet not overpoweringly so. The anchovies give it that well-known Caesar flavor without being fishy. Trust me, don’t skip these and don’t let the anchovies deter you. And for those of you that would prefer to keep your raw egg in cookie dough, you can substitute 2 Tablespoons of mayo for the raw egg. Topped with freshly made croutons this was a great meal for a freakishly hot spring evening.
Homemade Caesar Salad Print this recipe
For the croutons
6 slices crusty white bread, such as Italian or Ciabatta, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon minced flat leaf parsley
coarse salt
3 Tablespoons olive oil
For the dressing
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 egg yolks (or 2 Tablespoons mayo)
1 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
4-5 anchovies
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
coarse salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Romaine lettuce
shredded parmesan cheese
To make the croutons 
Preheat the oven to 350
Mix the bread pieces  with the minced garlic, parsley, salt and olive oil in a large bowl. Place on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10-15 minutes or until toasted and golden brown.
To make the dressing
Mash the garlic cloves with egg yolks and mustard until it forms a paste. I used a food processor for this, but it can be done with a fork. Grind in the anchovies until well-combined. Mix in lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir in the olive oil until the mixture is creamy.
Toss the dressing with lettuce, croutons and parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper if desired.
Source: Joy the Baker

Monday, June 14, 2010



The summer I turned 16 I was fortunate enough to spend a few weeks traveling through Europe. I went on a whirlwind visit with a choir tour to 7 countries in 16 days (and, how awesome is this?! I got to sing in Notre Dame on my 16th birthday. That definitely takes the cake as one of the highlights of my life). During the 2 or 3 days in France we would wake up every morning to a gorgeous spread of food the hotel set out for us. Every day, the shining breakfast moment were the flakey, buttery croissants.

Croissants were the very first thing I'd added to my mental to-make list when I started tackling more complicated recipes, but I've put them off for quite a while because of how complicated laminating dough sounded. As so often happens, I built up the difficulty in my head so much that when it came time to actually do it, it was NOTHING! Sure, I had to stay near to the kitchen for a few hours, but oh darn! Other than that, it was actually quite simple. These fluffy and buttery croissants lived up perfectly to the memory of 16th birthday in France  breakfast croissants. Impressive.

print this recipe

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus some for rolling
1 Tablespoon instant yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk, cold
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

Butter Square
24 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-Tablespoon pieces, kept cold
2 Tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

Egg wash
1 large egg, lightly beaten

To make the dough
In a medium bowl mix together 2 3/4 cups of the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Pour the milk into the bowl of an electric mixer, and add in the flour mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough forms into a ball, about 5 minutes.

Cut the butter into small pieces, then add into the mixing bowl. Continue to beat on low speed until the butter is fully blended into the dough. If the dough is still sticking to the sides of the mixing bowl, sprinkle in the additional 1/4 cup of flour one tablespoon at a time until the dough is smooth and tacky, but not sticky.

Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

To make the butter square
Mix together the butter and flour on a clean surface and blend together with a bench scraper. (I mixed the flour and butter together in an electric mixer until fully blended.) Once the flour and butter are completely combined, scrape the butter into a 7-inch square. Wrap the square in plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.

To make the dough turns
Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour. Place the dough on top of the flour and roll out to an 11 inch square. Place the butter square diagonally (butter square corners pointing to the flat edges of the dough square). Fold the corners of the dough square into the center and pinch the edges together to seal.

Tap the dough with a rolling pin, starting at the center and working outward until the butter softens. Work the dough into a 14-inch square, dusting with flour if the is sticking.

Fold the dough in thirds (like a business letter). Fold in thirds again so the dough is square. This is the first 2 turns of the dough.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours.

Remove the dough from the fridge and repeat the above turning process to complete 2 more turns. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour and roll out the dough into a 20-inch square. Cut the dough square down the middle to make 2 long rectangles. A pizza cutter works great for this. Cut each rectangle in thirds. Cut each remaining rectangle in half diagonally to end up with 12 dough triangles.

Gently lift a dough triangle and stretch the short end of the triangle until the 2 long sides are even. Make a 1-inch cut in the middle of the short base of the dough triangle, then roll up the dough, starting at the base, leaving 1/4 inch of the triangle tip unrolled.

Place the croissant, triangle point facing down, on one of the baking sheets. Repeat with the rest of the dough triangles.

Cover the croissants with plastic wrap and let rise for 45-60 minutes at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 400.

Brush the tops of the croissants with the beaten egg using a pastry brush. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown, rotating the pan 180 degrees halfway through. Let cool a bit on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Source: Baking Illustrated

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ciabatta Bread


I absolutely love bread. I love eating it, I love baking it. And for some reason I love punching down the risen dough. It’s an excellent stress-reliever. Ciabatta has been on my list of things to make for a long, long time. Then, a couple of months ago I pulled out my flour-covered copy of Bread Baker’s Apprentice and leafed through it. I landed on this ciabatta recipe and decided I was long overdue. This might be my favorite bread recipe I’ve made thus far. The center is fluffy and light, the crust golden and chewy. I have found that it gives the bread a slightly sourdough undertone if I let the poolish sit out at room temperature overnight rather than the suggested 3 hours.

Ciabatta Bread
print this recipe

For the poolish- Day One
2 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 cups water, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast

For the dough- Day Two
3 1/2 poolish
3 cups unbleached bread flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
6 Tablespoons to 3/4 cup water (or milk or buttermilk- I prefer milk)
cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting

To make the poolish
Mix the flour, water, and yeast together in a medium bowl and stir until all of the flour is hydrated. The dough will be thick and sticky, much like thick pancake batter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 3-4 hours (or over night). The sponge will be bubbly. Refrigerate until 1 hour prior to baking.

To make the dough
Remove the poolish from the refrigerator 1 hour prior to baking.

In the bowl of an electric mixer stir together the flour, salt and yeast. Add in the poolish and 6 Tablespoons of water. Beat on low speed until the dough forms a ball. Add additional water as needed to bring the ingredients together. Knead either by hand or in the mixer for 5-7 minutes or until the dough is smooth and soft yet sticky. It should clear the sides of the bowl yet will stick a bit to the bottom.

Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour, then turn the dough onto it and stretch gently to form a rectangle. Let rest for 2 minutes, then lightly stretch the dough into a long rectangle, doubling it’s original length. Fold the dough into itself in thirds (like a business letter) back into a small rectangle.

Mist the top of the dough lightly with oil and dust with flour, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.

Stretch and fold the dough again, mist with oil and dust with flour, re-cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 1/2-2 hours, until the dough is swollen but not necessarily double in size.

Lightly dust a countertop with flour again. Remove the dough from the plastic wrap and turn out onto the flour. Divide into 2 freestanding loaves. Lightly spray with oil and dust with flour again, recover and let rise for another 45-60 minutes, or until noticeably swollen.

Preheat the oven to 500. Place a heavy duty (not glass) sheet pan on the bottom of the oven. Dust the back of a sheet pan or a peel with the cornmeal.

If the middle of the loaf has risen high lightly press it down with a finger. Place each of the loaves on the sheet pan (I prefer to do one at a time) and place in the oven. Pour 1 cup of hot water into the pan at the bottom of the oven and close the oven door. Wait 30 seconds and spray the sides of the oven with water. Repeat twice at 30 second intervals. After the final spray turn the oven temperature to 450. Bake for 10 minutes.

Rotate the loaves 180 degrees and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until the bread is golden and is reading 205 degrees in the center of one of the loaves.

Transfer the loaves to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely before slicing.

Source: The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart, pages 106, 136-139

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cherry Pecan Chicken Salad


This year for Mother's Day we decided that we would have our families over to us. When I started thinking about what to make for everyone I decided it would be the perfect time to try out a few new recipes. I knew I wanted to make croissants since they've been on my to-make list for eons.  I started to think about what would go well on a croissant and immediately thought of the recipe I've had concocted in my mind for months for cherry pecan chicken salad. I cooked the chicken the night prior so all I had to do was throw together the ingredients in the morning and put them on the croissants. As far as hostessing goes, it could not have been more simple and the chicken salad was exactly what I'd envisioned: slightly sweet, a bit crunchy and full of flavor.

Cherry Pecan Chicken Salad
print this recipe

4 cups cubed cooked chicken
1/3 cup Mayo
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
3-4 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup chopped pecans
2 Tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix until well-combined. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Serve.

Source: An original Laura’s Recipe Collection recipe

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Chicken Souvlaki


While I love those rare moments that I can spend 4 hours in the kitchen making an elaborate meal, sometimes it's great to have a favorite dinner that can be tossed together in less than 20 minutes. This tops my new list of favorite super-fast dinners- an absolute must for a mother of 2 young children. I can also credit this delightful dish for teaching Brian that cucumbers are not all evil. Especially when they're covered in garlic and feta cheese.

Chicken Souvlaki
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For the sauce
2 oz (1/2 cup) crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely diced cucumber

For the chicken
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups roasted skinless, boneless chicken breast
2 cloves garlic, minced

4 (6-inch) pita, cut in half
1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
1/4 cup chopped peeled cucumber
1/2 cup chopped plum tomato
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

In a small bowl combine feta, yogurt, dill, 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, and 1 clove of garlic. Finely chop about 1/4 cup of the cucumber and mix into the sauce.

Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Sauté the remaining 2 cloves of garlic and the oregano for about 20 seconds. Add in the chicken and cook until heated completely, about 2 minutes.

Place a bit of the chicken mixture and 2 Tablespoons of the sauce into each pita half. Add tomato, cucumber and red onion to serve.

Source: Slightly adapted from Cooking Light

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

While it may not be perfectly authentic, I absolutely love PF Chang’s. Unfortunately the closest location to us in Northern Michigan is more than 3 hours away, so we don’t get to go as often as we’d like, thus leaving me lettuce-wrap-less. Tragic, I know. Then a few weeks ago my new Food Network Magazine showed up in my mailbox. I opened it up and there was a recipe for lettuce wraps! Of course, we made them for dinner the following night. And, even less surprising, they were better than the original. No 3 hour drive required!

P.F. Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps
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For the chicken
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
1 large egg white
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry

For the Stir-fry sauce
2 Tablespoons oyster sauce
1 Tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 Tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch

For the noodles2 bundles cellophane noodles
peanut oil for frying

For the Stir Fry4 Tablespoons peanut oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced peeled ginger
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
4 scallions; 2 minced, 2 cut into 1 inch pieces
Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and diced
3/4 cup diced water chestnuts

For Serving
Small lettuce leaves
Soy sauce, chili paste and/or hot mustard

Directions:To make the chickenIn a small bowl whisk together the egg white, rice whine and cornstarch together. Toss in the chicken until coated, then cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To make the stir-fry sauceIn a small bowl, combine the hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil. Add in the cornstarch and whisk together until the cornstarch has dissolved.

To make the noodles
Place a medium saucepan over high heat and fill with 3/4 inch of peanut oil. Heat the oil until it reaches 380 degrees. While the oil is heating pull apart the bundles of noodles. Place a handful of the noodles into the heated oil for 5-10 seconds or until they puff up. Remove from the oil and place them on a plate covered in paper towel, then repeat in several batches for the rest of the noodles.

To make the stir-fry
Place a large skillet over medium heat and coat in 2 Tablespoons peanut oil.  When the oil is hot add the chicken and sauté 2-3 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the remaining 2 Tablespoons of peanut oil to the skillet and heat. When the oil is nearly smoking add the garlic, ginger, jalapeño, minced scallions, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the sugar. Stir together and sauté for 30 seconds.

Add the mushrooms, water chestnuts and scallion pieces to the pan and stir-fry for 2 minutes.

Pour the stir-fry sauce and chicken into the pan and cook for 1 minute.

To serve place the noodles on a platter and top with the chicken mixture. Place on lettuce leaves and soy sauce for dipping.

Source: Food Network Magazine