Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sunny Side Up - Lemon Meringue Cookies

Um, Hi! I still exist!

I took a little mini-blogcation. Mostly cause last week I had a major case of the Lazys.
And then we flew to Houston to see a good friend get married. 

It was lovely, and left me very little time to throw something up on the blog. I was tempted to do a iPhone photo round up, but then again, I don't really take that many pictures on my phone...

You see the reason for the lack of posts. 

But - look! I made you lemon meringue cookies!

And they are cute. They look like sunny side up eggs. 

Which I'm taking to mean that I can eat them for breakfast. 

See? Totally worth the wait. 

Start off with 4 egg whites - save the yolks for the curd. 

Beat the whites until frothy. Then add salt. 

Slowly - slowly!! - sprinkle in the sugar, while beating. It should look like melty marshmallows when you're done. 

Fold in the vanilla. 

Spoon into a piping bag and pipe out 2" circles. 

Use a spoon to make a divot in the middle of the circle. 

Bake for 2 hours. 

In the meantime - make lemon curd!

Then, when the meringues are out of the oven and cool, top with the curd. 

Serve immediately! You don't want the meringue to get soft.

Sunny Side Up - Lemon Meringue Cookies
Inspired by Joy the Baker
For Meringues
4 egg whites
1 1/3 c. sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. In a large bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until frothy. Add in salt. Beat again for a minute or so. Using a 1/3 c. measure, sprinkle in the sugar - slowly! - with the beater on the whole time. The mixture should resemble melted marshmallows when finished. Fold in the vanilla. 

Transfer to a piping bag and pipe large circles onto parchment lined baking sheets. Use a spoon to create a divot in the middle (this is where the curd goes). 

Bake on racks in the middle and upper third of your oven, for 2 hours. Don't open the oven. They are fine. 

While they are baking, work on the lemon curd. Recipe found here. I added the extra yolk. Allow to cool.

Once the meringues are done, remove them from the oven and let sit until completely cool. Spoon a bit of curd into the middle of the cookies. 


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Surprise Blackberries

Panna cotta. 

Doesn't it sound fancy?

Much fancier than vanilla pudding. Which is totally what it is.

But I love me some vanilla pudding. And in this one - I've added a surprise. Hidden blackberries. Cause pudding is just so smooth and opaque, right? You could hide anything in there.

So I chose blackberries. You could choose blueberries. Or raspberries. Or strawberry halves. Any fruit would work, really. 

It's like finding a hidden treasure! mmmmm. Edible treasure. 

Start off with the vanilla bean. Split it lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.

In a small saucepan, mix the cream, sugar, and vanilla bean seeds and pod. 

Bring to a simmer. 

Remove from the heat, cover, and let sit for 15 minutes. 

After that time is up, mix water with the gelatin in a small bowl. Let sit.

Put the pot back on the heat and bring to a simmer again. 

Remove from heat and toss the vanilla bean pod.

Mix the gelatin in the cream mixture. 

Pour into four 4-oz ramekins. 
Add in the blackberries. 

Top with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours. 

When ready to serve, use a spoon to scrape around the sides of the ramekins to loosen the panna cotta. Invert onto a plate.

Combine sliced fruit with a few tsp of sugar. 

Top the panna cotta with fruit. Serve!

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Surprise Blackberries
Adapted from Food & Wine

2 c. heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean
1/4 c. sugar
1 heaping tsp powdered unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 tbsp water
1 pt. blackberries
1 nectarine, cut into matchsticks

Using a sharp knife, split the vanilla bean lengthways. Scrape out the seeds with the knife. In a small saucepan, mix together cream, sugar, vanilla bean seeds and pod. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cover. Let rest for 15 minutes. 

After the 15 minutes is up, take a small bowl. Add in the 1 1/2 tbsp of water. Then sprinkle in the gelatin. Swirl it around to evenly wet the gelatin. Let sit while you put the cream pot back on the stove. Bring to a simmer again and remove from the heat. 

Fish out the vanilla bean pod. Stir in the gelatin, until it dissolves in the cream. Pour into four 4-oz ramekins. Place 3 blackberries in each dish. If you don't like a skin to form on the top of your panna cotta, cover with plastic wrap.

Refrigerate for 4 hours. 

Using a large spoon, scrape around the sides of the ramekin to pop the panna cotta free. Invert onto a dessert plate. 

In a small bowl, mix together the nectarine matchsticks and the rest of the blackberries - halved. Toss with a few tsp of sugar.

Spoon fruit onto the panna cotta. Serve!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Basic Skills: Mashed Potatoes

So yesterday was Valentine's day. We had the best meal ever. Steak and mashed potatoes. 

I looooooooove mashed potatoes. Just ask my Grandma. 

Honestly, I think at least 40% of my desire to go up to Indiana to see her derived from the fact that I knew she would make mashed potatoes for me at least 7 or 8 times in a one week period. 

I love my Grandma. 

And I can't think of anyone better to honor by emulating than her. You guys - she's fantastic. After she graduated college in 19-ahem, she moved to Chicago to work for McCall's magazine. Seriously you guys. McCall's. Eleanor Roosevelt wrote for McCall's.

When Grandma left McCall's (to marry my Grandpa, live on a farm in Indiana, and become an English teacher), they gave her a wedding present of re-doing the kitchen in their farm house. And making it the cover story of one of their issues. 

My Grandma ROCKS. 

And so do her mashed potatoes. 

Such a wonderful thing, mashed potatoes. Definitely a Basic Skill. 

Start off with the brown baking potatoes. 

Peel them. You don't have to get super persnickety about it. A little peel is a-ok. 

Quarter them and put them in a pot and cover them with water.  

Boil them for 20-25 minutes, until you can pierce them through with a fork. Drain. 

Get out your handy dandy hand mixer! Grandma's is a little bit more experienced than mine, but I think mine did an ok job. First, smash the potatoes.

Then add 2 tbsp of butter and a 1/4 c. of milk. Beat. 

Add a 1/4 c. of cream (or more milk). Beat. 

Add a 1/2 tsp of salt. Beat. Taste and add more milk as needed by the tablespoon. 

Mind you, Grandma never measures ANYTHING. She's the Jedi Master of mashed potatoes. 

And I'm the happy apprentice who gets to eat them!

Don't worry. My leftover steak will go great with scrambled eggs on Saturday morning.

Grandma's Farmhouse Mashed Potatoes
Faithfully remembered from peeking over the counter at Grandma's house
Serves 4 (or one Megan and one Austin)

2 large brown baking potatoes
2 tbsp butter
1/4 c. + a few tbsp milk
1/4 c. cream (or more milk)
1/2 tsp salt

Peel potatoes and quarter them. Transfer them to a pot and cover with water. Boil for 20-25 minutes, until tender enough to be pierced through with a fork and light pressure. Drain. Add the butter and milk. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add cream and salt. Beat again. Taste and add more salt, milk, and butter as required. 

Pile high and serve with a large spoon! Grandma's table typically has pork chops or ham and mashed potatoes, occasionally steak, and sometimes even burgers. Mmmmmm. Mashed potatoes!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Lemon-Lime Shortbread Hearts

Valentine's Day is coming! And there are actually people in this world who don't need mountains of chocolate.

Chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate truffles, chocolate covered potato chips? Trust me. They exist. 

And I've eaten all of the above. They are good (mostly). But I've eaten enough Valentine's chocolate to hold me for a while.

This year, Mr. S. is getting a zesty citrus Valentine's treat. And heck, if he feels gypped, I'll dip 'em in chocolate. 

Not that they need that. 

Mmmmm. Zesty. 

Start with a bowl. Whisk together flour, sugar, salt and zests. 

Then the butter and vanilla. 

Work it in with a pastry blender, fork, or your fingers until it looks like sand. 

Pour out onto a lined baking sheet and flatten into a large disc. 

Bake until lightly golden. And as soon as it comes out of the oven - get in their with the cookie cutter. 

Shortbread hardens as it cools. 


Lemon-Lime Shortbread Hearts
Makes 25-30 small hearts

1 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 tsp salt
zest of 1 lime
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp vanilla
1 stick butter (chilled)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and zests. Add in the vanilla and work the butter in with a pastry blender or forks or your fingers. Until the mixture looks like sand. 

Pour out on a lined baking sheet and pat down into a thin circle. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a pale golden color. 

As soon as the shortbread is out of the oven, immediately use your heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out the hearts. Allow to cool. Shortbread will harden as it cools. 

Serve with coconut ice cream or coconut flavored milk. Enjoy!

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Greatest Conundrum: Churro or Beignet?

Holy cow. 

These two boxes are currently next to each other on my counter. I really want both. Like, rightnow.

But I just can't decide which to make first!

The Beignets are only just a few steps, and actually come from New Orleans. 

The Churros have a special tool.

You see my conundrum!

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Monday, February 4, 2013

No-Knead Cinnamon Rolls

These are the cinnamon rolls of my childhood. 

I feel like we ate them all the time (which probably means once a month or so). These are the cinnamon rolls I pit all others against. 

They aren't Cinnabons - those are the Mark Maguire of cinnamon rolls. Steroids must have been used. 

Though I don't doubt if you made these into 12 rolls instead of 24, you'd probably get pretty close. 

These are the rolls that are baking in the oven when you wake up on a Saturday morning. The rolls that you get when you go to grandma's house. The rolls that you keep sneaking from their container in the fridge - even if you know you'll get in trouble. 

The base dough is my Aunt Joyce's Crescent Roll dough. So if you'd like to make crescents, just make the dough and then turn it into crescents. Trust me. Aunt Joyce knows what she's doing. 

Start off with the dough: 

The weirdest start of a bread dough ever:

Cream together butter and sugar. You heard me. Do it. 
Then add in the salt and eggs. More mixing. 

Then the yeast, foamed in water. Add that in too.

Next, add in half the flour. Beat for 2 minutes. 

Add the other half of the flour.

Beat with a wooden spoon until a ball forms.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours. No kneading!!

Cut the dough in half. Roll out each half into a large rectangle. 

Pour on melted butter and vanilla. Spread out to the edges. 

Sprinkle on cinnamon sugar. 

Roll up.Tight.

Cut into 12 pieces. 

Plop the rolls into your grease pan and give them a good smoosh. 

Let rise for an hour. 

Bake for 20 minutes. Then cool for a little while. 

Mix up the frosting. 

Pile it on!

Snarf. Taste the flavors of home!

No-Knead Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 24 rolls (2 9" round pans)

Joyce's crescent rolls:
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, room temperature
2 pkgs rapid rise yeast
3/4 c. warm water
4 c. flour

Sprinkle the yeast in the water. Let sit for a few minutes. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together. Add in eggs and salt. Beat together. Add in the yeast and water. Beat to combine. Add 2 c. flour, beat 2 minutes. Add 2 c. flour and mix in with a wooden spoon until combined. Form into a rough ball.

Do not knead. 

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 hours.

To make them cinnamon rolls -
1/4 c. butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla
2/3 c. sugar
3 tbsp cinnamon
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp butter, softened
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
a few tbsp milk

Divide dough in half. Roll each half into a rectangle. Pour half the melted butter on each rectangle. Add a 1/4 tsp of vanilla to the melted butter. Use your fingers to spread the butter/vanilla over the entire rectangle. 

Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle half the cinnamon sugar mix over each rectangle - making sure to get it on all the edges. 

Starting on the long edge, roll up the dough. Cut into 12 pieces. Place in a greased 9" cake pan. Let rise for another hour. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from pan. Let cool about 12-15 minutes.

Mix up the frosting - Beat the cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar together. Add in the vanilla and milk by the tbsp until you get a consistency you like.

Top with the frosting and serve!