Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hungarian Coffee Cake

Monkey bread holds a special place in my heart. Growing up it was one of my favorite Sunday morning treats, the smell and sugary gooeyness was a perfect way to start the day.  We made it using a tube of biscuits and I never thought about making it any other way.  When it was announced as the winning recipe for the August Cake Slice cake I was very excited to give a new version a try.

Lauren Chattman's  version is different from what I had growing up and at first I was a little disappointed.  Chattman's version is more cake like and didn't pull apart into soft billowy balls.  Other Cake Slicers were able to pull their cake apart into little balls, so I think I must have done something that caused mine to bake into more of a solid mass.  The sugar didn't seem to ooze through cake, again this could have been because of an error on my part.  Once I got over my initial disappointment that this wasn't the exact replica of the monkey bread of my past, I really enjoyed this cake.  The cake, while more like a coffee cake than a gooey cinnamon roll was flavorful and delicious.  While I'm not sure I will do this version again I think I will seek out a new recipe for monkey bread so I don't have to depend on dough from a tube.

Augusts Cake: Hungarian Coffee Cake
Makes one 12 cup Bundt cake
Recipe from  Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
¾ cup light brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
9 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
¾ salt
1 cup plus 2 tbsp buttermilk, plus more if necessary
¼ cup walnuts
¼ cup raisins

Method – Topping
Whisk together the melted butter and light brown sugar. Set aside.

Method – Cake
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a nonstick 12 cup Bundt pan and dust with flour.
Combine the granulated sugar and cinnamon in a zipper top bag. Cut the butter into 1/4 inch dice. Place the butter in a small bowl and set it in the freezer while you gather together the rest of the ingredients.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the chilled butter pieces and, with an electric mixer mix on low speed until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the buttermilk until the mixture just comes together, adding an extra tablespoon or two if the mixture is too dry.
Use a small ice cream scoop or spoon to scoop up balls of dough and transfer them to the zipper top bag. Shake the bag to coat the balls with the cinnamon sugar.
Place the coated balls of dough in the prepared pan, sprinkling the walnuts and raisins over them as you go. Pour the melted butter mixture over the cake. Bake until the cake is firm and well risen and the caramel is melted, about 35-40 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert onto a serving platter and serve immediately.
Store uneaten cake in a cake keeper or wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for 1 day.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Choux - SRC August

I love Pate a Choux.  It is easy to make, extremely versatile and a lot of fun to watch come together.  It is also something that I have been wanting to make with the kids, so I was thrilled when I came across it while checking out the Cooking Rookie and her blog Cook Book of Trial and Error, for this month's Secret Recipe Club Challenge.   This is a great blog to check out there are lots of recipes from past Daring Baker's challenges - the profiterols were from the May 2010 challenge - plus a wonderful assortment of delicious looking sweet and savory dishes.

If you haven't made Choux, you definitely need to give it a try.  It is the base for eclairs, cream puffs or profiterols, but it is equally tasty when used with savory fillings.  There are only a few ingredients and it is beautiful to watch these basic items come together to form a puffy golden container.  Because there are only a few ingredients it is a great recipe for kids and beginning cooks.  You can make it using a stand mixer, but it is great to do by hand.  Your really get to see the ingredients come together, plus your arms get a good workout.

I gave my two oldest the task of making these one afternoon, while their sister was sleeping - the help of a 2 year old would have been a bit much for this project.  While they had the challenge of making our dessert for the evening I challenged myself to take a step back and let them work.   I have been trying to do this more when it is just the two of them cooking.  Putting them in charge is not only a good way for them to build their confidence in the kitchen, but it is also a great way for them to learn how to work things out. It is very hard for me to take a step back.  I want  to correct every mistake and make sure they are doing everything my way,  but I am always amazed at what they accomplish when they are given the opportunity to work with my limited input.

Today I was especially amazed at how they worked things out.  Will took on the role of reading the recipe out loud while Maggie hunted for the ingredients, since there are only 5 ingredients she was able to easily find everything.  They took turns measuring out ingredients, then I joined back in when it was time to head to the stove.  At the stove they had fun watching the butter melt and catching steam.  When the flour was added a little help was needed to make sure it didn't burn.  When we moved back to the table they engaged in some impressive negotiations and figured out who would add the eggs and who would stir.  Again, a little help was needed with the stirring, but they each gave it a good try.  The piping was little frustrating, but another good thing about Choux is that it really doesn't matter what they look like going in the oven, they still bake beautifully and puff up into amazing shapes.

For dessert we served the puffs with some vanilla ice cream and a quick chocolate sauce.  It was a yummy dessert and the kids were very proud of their work.  We even had enough puffs leftover to have a puff lunch the following day - puffs filled with tuna salad then another round of puffs filled with ice cream.

Pate a Choux
(Printer Ready)

¾ c. Water
6 Tbs. Butter
¼ tsp. Salt
1 Tbs. Sugar
1 c. All-purpose Flour
4 Eggs

Preheat oven 425.  Line baking sheet with parchment.
In saucepan combine water and butter and sugar.  Over medium heat bring to boil, stirring occassionally.  Once boiling remove from heat and add flour, stir until combined.  Return to heat, stirring continuously, cook until mixture appears dry and pull from pan.
Transfer to bowl and allow to cool slightly.  Add eggs one at a time, stirring until egg is fully incorporated after each addition.  Mixture will look like mashed potatoes and will be very sticky.  
Transfer mixture to pastry bag, fitted with a large round tip.  Pipe into desired shape, keeping them about 1 inch apart.   Place in 425f oven, until puffed and light golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.  Lower oven temperature to 350f and continue baking until deep golden brow and dry, about 15-20 minutes.  Remove from oven and place on rack to cool.

As always be sure to check out the rest of the SRC challenges, lots of great dishes to try.  The group has grown and there will be three reveals throughout the month, so go to the Secret Recipe Clubs new site and see all of the challenges.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Peanut Butter Pie

I don't know Jennie, but like many her story has touched me deeply.  I can't imagine what she and her daughters are going through.  I am amazed how the solitary act of sitting at your computer sharing thoughts and recipes can bring people together to help support a perfect stranger.  As sad as this story is seeing all these pictures of peanut butter pies is beautiful.

Make a peanut butter pie.  Think of Jennie, Mikey, their girls, those in a similar situation.  Give hugs and kisses, spend time with those you love.

Peaches and Cream

This recipe was inspired by a couple of different sources.  The first inspiration is my 7th grade English teacher.  It has been a long time since I was in 7th grade English yet every time I see a peach I can hear her say "I like peaches because they are sweet.  Because they are sweet I like peaches."  Recently there was a big discussion about this on my high school's Facebook page and that combined with the plethora of peaches in my house means this statement is going through my head nonstop.
My second source of inspiration has been numerous blogs where this recipe has been popping up.  I don't remember where I first saw the recipe, I think it was on Jolts and Jollies, but I have seen it in numerous other places and when I did a Google search for it I got tons of hits.

This is a very easy recipe.  My 2 year old and I made this while the other two were at camp.   It gave her the satisfaction of creating something special to show them when they came home, but kept my sanity by not being too messy.

If you haven't already seen the recipe here it is:

Ice Cream Bread
1 pint (2 cups) Ice Cream - slightly melted
1 1/2 c. Self-rising Flour
Mix-ins as desired (optional)

Preheat oven to 350f.  Grease and flour 8x4 loaf pan.  In bowl combine ice cream, flour and mix-ins,  stir until combined.  Pour into pan, bake 40-45 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

Yes, that's the recipe. So easy and so yummy.  I had vanilla ice cream and of course some peaches, so Edy and I made peaches and cream bread, but any type of ice cream will work.  I have seen butter pecan and pistachio, both sound wonderful, but my mind is racing with all the possibilities

Friday, August 5, 2011

Zucchini Fries

The zucchini was out in force at the farmers market this week so we picked up a big bag.  We set some aside to use during the week then sliced, diced or shredded the rest and froze for future use.

We began working our way through our stash, by making zucchini fries.  As a kid I  loved zucchini fritters.  My mom didn't cook fried foods very often and these were a summer treat I looked forward to.  I am following in my mother's footsteps and avoid making fried food as much as possible - I always burn it and the house always stinks, but every summer I begin craving fritters. When I saw this  recipe over at Betty Crocker I knew I had to give it a try, it sounded super yummy, a great alternative to my much desired fritters and a perfect recipe to do with the kids.  My kids love breading and coating items and since there are three steps it is a wonderful activity to do with all three kids.  They each get their own station, which eliminates some fighting,  but they still have to work together.  Once we get past the arguments over who will man which station they take great pride in assembling their individual mixture and  show great enthusiasm thoroughly dredging each item.
I made a couple of alterations to the recipe.  First, I didn't have enough panko crumbs so I added Ritz crackers to the mixture which helped to give the fries a nice sweetness. Secondly, I added a little lemon pepper seasoning to the breading mixture.  Over at Betty Crocker they recommend serving this with a lemon yogurt dipping sauce.  I didn't have the yogurt to make the sauce so I added the lemon flavor to the breading mixture.  I would like to try the sauce, it sounds super yummy, but I don't think the fries really need anything. We had these last night with burgers - corn on the cob and our own homegrown tomatoes, it was a wonderful summer dinner - and a basil mayonnaise.  I tried a little of the mayo with the fries, it went well,  but I think these are great on their own. They are juicy, crunchy and super flavorful - a perfect little bundle of summer yumminess.

Zucchini Fries   (Printer Ready)

¾ c. Panko bread crumbs
½ c. crushed Ritz crackers½ c.  Finely shredded Parmesan cheese
1 Tbs. Finely diced fresh herbs (basil, oregano and/or thyme)
1 tsp. Lemon Pepper seasoning (or lemon zest)
½ tsp. Salt
¼ c. All-purpose flour
2 Eggs, beaten with 1 tsp. water
2 lbs. zucchini, cut into thick strips

Preheat oven 350. Lightly oil cookie sheet.
In small bowl combine bread crumbs, crackers, cheese, herbs and lemon pepper seasoning (or zest).  

Line up 3 shallow dishes, place flour in first dish, eggs in second, and bread crumb mixture in third.  Thoroughly dredge each zucchini strip. Start with the flour, then dip in egg, followed by bread mixture. 
Place coated strips on cookie sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden.  

Monday, August 1, 2011

Car Food and Special Treat

Every summer I throw the kids in the car for a get together with two of my girlfriends from high school, and their 5 kids.  It is always a fun vacation, but very chaotic - putting 8 kids between the ages of 2-6 together can produce a little craziness.  We are scattered across the east cost, so these get together always involve lots of driving, which means lots of snacks in the car.  When I am doing solo road trips I like to get up early and get on the road, which means I need to do breakfast in the car.  I usually do mini bagels, they are quick and easy and my kids love them, but this year I decided to do something different.
My kids have two loves, jam sandwiches and fancy sandwiches.  When these loves are combined I have very happy children, which is just what I need when faced withe an 8 hour road trip.  These sandwiches are great.  They are quick and simple, the variations are endless and my favorite part the kids can make themselves.

To make these fancy treats:
1.  Choose your favorite jam/jelly/marmalade and spread on one slice of bread.

2.  Dice, or thinly slice whatever fruit is ripe and in season, place on top of the jelly covered bread.

3.  Top with a second slice of bread.  If you happen to have a Pampered Chef sandwich cutter now is the time to break it out.  If you don't have one a cookie cutter and fork will work the same.  Simply cut your sandwich and crimp edges together.

4.  Finish by buttering the top slice.  I had just received a sample of  Land O'Lakes Cinnamon Sugar butter spread, which was really yummy and recommend giving it a try, but if you don' have it regular butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar works just as well.  Place in a 350 oven.  Bake until lightly brown.

These are great for an afternoon snack or as an early morning breakfast when starting an 8 hour road trip, and as I said the fillings are endless.  Peanut butter and chocolate, chocolate and marshmallows, cheese and tomatoes.  They can be topped with butter, cinnamon and sugar or olive oil, cheese and herbs.  Sweet or savory, you really can't go wrong.  

If you would like to try Land O' Lakes new cinnamon sugar spread, just leave a comment by August 8th.  I will pick a winner and Land O' Lakes and My Blog Spark will send the winner the wonderful prize package shown below.