Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Roasted Fall Vegetables in Chedder Crust

I received two beautiful new tart pans from my parents for Christmas from Sur la Table, one square and one rectanlge. I decided to try this recipe from Eating Well magazine, which is actually a savory tart rather than a sweet one. It was very easy and quick. For those of you that love goat cheese, this recipe is definitely for you.

There were a few minor technical difficulties along the way (the electricity went out for about an hour while the tart was in the oven), but the tart turned out really well. The cheddar crust is crumbly and satisfying. The tart served as our main course and we all left the table feeling full.

While I made the crust in a food processor, it should work just as well by hand. You can use two knifes or a fork to cut the butter into the other ingredients until you reach a good consistency. I have made a few minor changes to a couple of ingredients. This recipe can be altered to suit your tastes by changing the vegetables used or substituting a pesto or sundried tomato spread for the olive tapenade. You can also substitute feta cheese for the goat cheese.

2 leeks, white and light green parts only, coarsely chopped and rinsed
1 pound small broccoli florets, trimmed and cut in half
2 small or 1 large fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 thinly sliced red onion
1 head garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/3 cup black olive tapenade
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

1 1/4 cups All-Purpose flour
1 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup cornmeal
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons ice water

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. To prepare filling: Spread leeks, broccoli (or Brussels sprouts), fennel and onion in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet along with the unpeeled head of garlic. Season the vegetables with rosemary, salt and pepper. Drizzle oil over the vegetables and garlic and toss to coat.
3. Bake, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife and the garlic is soft, 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, set aside the garlic, and toss the vegetables with vinegar. Let cool.
4. To prepare crust: Coat an 8-by-12-inch rectangular or 11-inch round removable-bottom tart pan with cooking spray.
5. Place flour, Cheddar and cornmeal in a food processor; pulse to combine. Add butter one piece at a time, pulsing once or twice after each addition, until incorporated. Add oil and water and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. Turn the dough out into the prepared pan (it will be crumbly), spread evenly and press firmly into the bottom and all the way up the sides to form a crust. Refrigerate until ready to bake.
6. When the vegetables are done, reduce oven temperature to 350°. Bake the crust until set but not browned, about 15 minutes.
7. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet. Spread tapenade over the bottom of the crust. Top with the roasted vegetables. Cut off the top of the garlic and squeeze out the cloves onto the vegetables. Sprinkle with goat cheese.
8. Bake the tart until the edges of the crust are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing the pan sides and cutting into squares.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Orange Blossom Ice Cream

This recipe is so simple, quick and easy. It really came into being due to the insane holiday crowds. The grocery store I was at was completely out of cream and I was unwilling to fight the crowds at yet another store. I was therefore faced with a dilemma: forgo the ice cream or make do without cream.

Needless to say I decided to give it a shot with just whole milk, and it in fact turned out great! I made the recipe in a really small quantity, but you can simply double it to produce more ice cream.

It really tastes so amazing, I have to admit I licked the churn bowl of the ice cream machine clean. Don't tell please.

Orange Blossom Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups whole milk
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange blossom water

Heat the milk, vanilla, orange blossom, and half of the sugar in a saucepan. Meanwhile, whisk the yolks and rest of sugar slowly but continuously. Once the milk begins to boil, slowly stream about 3/4 cup into the yolks all the while whisking.

Place the saucepan with the rest of the milk back on the stovetop. Slowly stream the yolk mixture into the saucepan, whisking to incorporate. Switch to a spatula or wooden spoon and continue stirring for about 2-3 minutes or until mixture reaches 185 degrees.

Transfer ice cream base to container and allow to cool in fridge.

Churn ice cream in mixer and enjoy!

I failed to mention above that the reason I made the ice cream was for Amy's birthday! Happy birthday Amy!!! Those of you that read my blog will remember that Amy was in fact the person who introduced me to orange blossom water and brought me a bottom each of rose water and orange blossom water which I used to make my flavored macaroons.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pumpkin Muffins with Maple Glaze

Delicious, moist, adorable, easy and pumpkin!

You don't even need a stand mixer for this recipe, although I did use mine. You can mix all the ingredients by hand, being careful not to over mix once you add the flour at the end. This will ensure light and airy muffins.

Pumpkin Muffins

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 can (one pound) pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray Bundt muffin molds very well with non-stick spray (if you are using regular muffin tins, you may line with muffin cups or spray).

In mixer or bowl, mix the eggs until well blended. Mix in the sugar. Add the oil in a steady stream, mixing all the while, until the batter is thick and smooth.

Mix in the pumpkin, vanilla, spices and salt. Add the baking soda and baking powder. Stir in thoroughly.

Stir in the flour until just blended.

Pour the batter into the molds (about 3/4 full) and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. If you are baking muffins in smaller cupcake molds, they will cook quicker, so check them around 15 to 20 minutes.

Invert muffins onto cooling rack and allow to cool.

Maple Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons maple extract
1 tablespoon milk or water

Mix all ingredients, adding more powdered sugar to thicken if necessary. Once muffins are completely cooled, spoon glaze over top of each and allow to set.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Vegan Nog

I love Silk's seasonal soymilks, and my all time favorite is their version of eggnog. Growing up I was the only person in my family who even liked eggnog and now that I can drink it guilt free as both a vegetarian and a health conscious adult (except when it comes to dessert where I accept no impostors), I'm thrilled. In comparison to dairy based eggnog, Silk's version is far healthier.

This evening my mother and I decided to put my version of eggnog to the ultimate test by adding a little bourbon. We weren't sure how it would fare in comparison to the classic version of eggnog, but figured a little bourbon never hurt anybody. The verdict:

Me: "this is amazing"

Mom: "it's so thin"

We both finished our glasses, however, and I for one will make this again. I would strongly suggest this drink to anyone searching for a healthier substitute for a classic eggnog and to those wanting to get the party started by drinking several glasses of nog (this is a more difficult feat with classic eggnog due to it's heaviness and thickness).

My version of nog won't leave you feeling guilty or bloated, but will still afford you a taste of the holidays and a trip down memory lane.

Happy holidays!


8oz Nog Soymilk
1 1/2 oz bourbon, brandy, or rum
dash of nutmeg

Granola Bars

As someone who works the 5am shift at the bakery every day, I take my lunch break around 9 o'clock in the morning. At this point in my day I am starving, but never really in the mood for anything other than a granola bar. I started checking the ingredients more closely on the bars I had been buying, and many use high-fructose corn syrup as well as preservatives. As a vegetarian, I usually go for the granola bar with the most protein and vitamins, but these of course tend to have more preservatives and ingredients I am not familiar with.

I then remembered my first position as a baker.

At my first job, I was responsible for baking all the granola (loose and bars), which was then sold retail, wholesale, and at local farmer's markets. As you can imagine, I baked at least a hundred pounds of granola per week, and more during the holidays.

I decided to start baking my own granola bars for work so that I would know exactly what went into them and could control the amount of sugar used. I wanted a bar that would keep me full throughout the day and provide me with a good amount of protein.

In the following recipe, I used barely any sugar and relied upon honey as the binding agent. I used three types of whole nuts and dried cranberries. To add a little extra flavor, I used orange extract, vanilla extract, and cinnamon.

Another important ingredient I added was wheat germ. Wheat germ not only has more protein and iron than can be found in most meats, it is also is rich with vitamins. It doesn't change the texture or taste of the granola at all, in fact, it blends right in.

Granola Bars

2 cups oats
3/4 cup wheat germ
1 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup pistachios
3/4 cup pepitas

1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tsp orange extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon

8oz dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix the first 5 ingredients in a bowl and spread out on two sheet pans. Bake for 15 minutes, turning ingredients with a spatula about every 5 minutes so they don't burn.
Meanwhile, bring the next 5 ingredients to a simmer over low heat. Once the nuts and oats are toasted, transfer them to a large bowl and add the dried cranberries. Pour the sauce over and mix well.Line a glass pan (I used a 10"X6" but you can use a larger or smaller depending on the desired size of bar). First spray pan well with non-stick spray, then cut a piece of parchment or wax paper to fit across the pan with two of the sides hanging over (see picture).

Pour granola into pan and spread out with spoon. Using a piece of parchment paper that has been sprayed with non-stick spray, press granola into pan. This step is very important for a "tight" bar. Make sure that the granola is even and well pressed down.Bake for 30 minutes, turning pan halfway through. Allow to cool for at least 2 hours so it has time to fully set.Now comes the more difficult part. To cut the bars, place the granola on a cutting board and use a good bread knife (serrated). I cut my bars into 8 pieces, but you can cut them smaller or larger. If kept in an airtight container, these bars should last for several weeks.

This recipe of course can be adapted to suit your tastes. You can use any type of nut or dried fruit you desire. You can also add some chocolate chips or use different extracts or spices to flavor the bars themselves. Have fun with it and enjoy!
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