Thursday, November 4, 2010

Garlic and Herb Sirloin Roast with Guinness Gravy

One thing about our house is that we are very carnivorous. Ben's not a fan of cooked vegetables, and sometimes I think raw veggies are pretty boring, so we end up making hamburgers more often than we should, and salad doesn't happen enough.

I was running out of dinner ideas when I noticed my local grocery store ad. Tri tip roasts were on sale, and all I could think of was a delicious slow cooked roast my mom had made, with carrots and potatoes...

I picked up a 2.5 lb roast, a roast pan, meat thermometer, and pulled out my copy of The Joy of Cooking. While this isn't the same roast that my memory salivated for, it is definitely a delicious meal.

Garlic-and-herb Studded Sirloin Roast
adapted from The Joy of Cooking

1 boneless tri tip roast (between 1 and 3lbs)
2 large garlic cloves, thinly slivered
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Toss slivered garlic with thyme, salt, pepper.
2. Make slits in the roast and insert seasoned garlic slivers.
3. Rub the reamaining seasonings over the meat, then marinate the meat, covered, between 30 min and 2 hrs at room temperature or up to 24 hrs in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven at 425 degrees (F)
4. Roast beef in oven until internal temperature is 120-125 degree (F) for medium-rare.
(between 10 and 20 minutes per pound)
5. Remove meat to a platter, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let stand for 15-20 minutes before carving.
6. Carve roast into 1/8-in to 1/2-in slices.

Guinness Pan Gravy
adapted from The Joy of Cooking's "Pan Gravy for Meat"

2 tablespoons reserved fat from roasting pan
1-2 tablespoon AP flour
1 cup Guinness
Dried thyme, rosemary
Ground pepper
1 tablespoon butter

1. After pouring and reserving far from the roasting pan, place roasting pan on a burner over medium heat.
2. Pour in reserved fat and stir in all-purpose flour.
3. Cook, whisking or stirring constantly and scraping up browned bits from bottom and sides of pan, for several minutes to remove raw taste of flour and smooth the mixture.
4. Add Guinness, herbs, salt and pepper to taste.
5. Cook, whisking of stirring, until slightly thickened.
6. Swirl in butter and continue cooking to desired consistency.

We enjoyed our gravy-topped roast with a side salad and a piece of corn bread.

Monday, November 1, 2010


I love foods that are bad for me. I'm crazy for sweets (ice-cream, candy), and cheesy, carb-y foods (burgers, chinese); therefore, it was pretty bad when I found out how EASY it was to make my own pizza. If I make it myself then it has to be better for me than the other stuff, right?

So I was living the dream when I put together two of these pizzas. Dough and sauce both made from scratch. I don't have a recipe for the sauce yet, (they were meatballs gone awry, but since they didn't hold their shape, it was basically a meaty marinara sauce).

I thought I'd share my pizza dough recipe.

Olive Oil Dough
From Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
Great book that I bought from Amazon, which I highly recommend.
*Makes four 1-pound loaves. (For myself, 2 large pizzas) Recipe easily doubled or halved.

2 3/4 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoo
ns granulated yeast (2 packets)
1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour (and for you more disciplined eaters, this could easily be substituted for all-purpose whole-wheat flours)

1. Mix the yeast, salt, sugar, and olive oil with the water in a 5-qt bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.

2. Mix in the flour without kneading, using a spoon, 14-cup capacity food processor (with dough hook), or using a heavy-duty stand mixer (again, with dough hook). If you're not using a machine, (like myself), I combined the flour by stirring with a spoon. You may also need to use very wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.

3. Cover (without an airtight seal), and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.

4. After this initial rise, the dough can be used right away. Some prefer to handle the dough when after refrigeration. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 12 days.

Three Meat Pizza
My own creation, using baking directions from Artisan Bread in 5 as a guide.

About 2-lb of refrigerated pre-mixed dough
3/4 cup Marinara Sauce with ground beef
12 oz. Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage (I used a pack from Trader Joe's that comes with 5)
1 small package of Pepperoni
1/4 lb sliced Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, (Parmesan, or any other italian cheese blend works well, too)

1. Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat oven with a baking stone at 550 degrees (F). Or Your oven's maximum temp if it doesn't reach 550.

2. Prepare and measure all the toppings in advanced, (slicing sausage, cheese, grating parmesan, and if you're bold cooking vegetables).

3. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 2-lb piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.

4. Flatten the dough with your hands and a rolling pin on a wooden board to produce a 1/4-in thick round, dust with flour to keep dough from sticking to the rolling pin or the board. Don't overuse flour, consider a dough scraper to "unstick" dough from the board. You may also need to let the partially-rolled dough sit for a few minutes to "relax" to allow further rolling. At this point, stretching by hand may help, followed by additional rolling. Place the rolled-out dough onto a liberally cornmeal covered-pizza peel.

5. Distribute the sauce over the surface of the dough. Do not cover the dough thickly; leave some of the dough surface exposed.

6. Scatter Mozzarella over the surface of the dough, then the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, sausage, and pepperoni. No further resting required before baking.

7. Slide the pizza directly onto the stone. Check for doneness in 8-10 minutes; at this time turn the pizza around in the oven if one side is browning faster than the other. It may need up to 5 more minutes in the oven.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Peanut Butter Blondies with Milk Chocolate Frosting

I made these a while back, when looking for a peanut-butter brownie recipe.
People say nothing goes together better than peanut butter and jelly, but I'm going to have to disagree. The union of peanut butter and chocolate is a gift from the gods.

Now, some of my friends, (namely, Ben), are horrified when I tell them that I'm not crazy about chocolate, but when chocolate is paired with peanut butter, I am definitely a fan.

This was my first blondie, and I was very pleased. It was delicious, moist, dense and packed with sweet peanut-butter flavor. Topped with a decent layer of creamy, chocolate frosting, they were absolutely perfect.

Peanut Butter Blondies with Milk Chocolate Frosting

From Joy the Baker

(Makes one dozen big brownies in a 9×13-inch pan)

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter cut into cubes

2 cups brown sugar

1 cup smooth and natural peanut butter

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9×13-inch pan.


In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and sugar together until the butter is just melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Add peanut butter and stir until incorporated. Allow to cool for 5 minutes more, then whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract. You want the sugar, butter and peanut butter mixture to be cool enough that the eggs won’t begin to cook when they’re added in.

In a separate bowl, whisk together salt, flour and baking powder. Add dry ingredients all at once to the wet ingredients. Stir until just incorporated. Pour the thick batter into the prepared pan and smooth out. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the blondies comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before frosting.

Milk Chocolate Frosting

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 – 2 cups powdered sugar

3 Tablespoons milk

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, cocoa powder and salt. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar followed by 1 tablespoon milk. Beat well. Add another cup of powdered sugar, followed by 2 tablespoons of milk. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave or in a double boiler. Add melted and slightly cooked chocolate to the sugar mixture and beat to incorporate. Add the final 1/2 cup of powdered sugar if you need a bit more thickness. Spread evenly over peanut butter blondies.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Spiced Caramel Apple Pie

It's definitely fall. In case you didn't notice.

Just to be sure, I went up to Oak Glen with Sam and Ben. Mid-October and Apple season was already well underway. We took advantage of the weather, there was hazy fog, and rain west of the orchards which I think kept people home. There were still plenty of Apple enthusiasts out there, tasting the different varieties.

We stopped at a couple of Orchards and picked 5 different kinds of apples. Tasted some hyped-up apple cider donuts, and took home some cider. It was a great Sunday afternoon.

After doing some research, I found out that the Winesaps and Romes I had picked are good baking apples, so I got to work.

Spiced Caramel Apple Pie
As seen on Beantown Baker. Originally from Rebecca Rather’s “The Pastry Queen"

Make your favorite pie crust and place in a pie plate.
1/2 cup walnuts
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup AP flour
1/3 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Make the Topping
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F). Arrange the walnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer, and toast them in the oven for about 7 minutes, until golden brown and aromatic. Coarsely chop the nuts.

In a food processor, process sugars, cinnamon, salt, and flour for about 1 minute. Add chilled butter; pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the pecans. Refrigerate the topping, covered until ready to use.

5 to 6 medium-size apples, such as Winesap
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup Bourbon, (I used Maker's Mark)
1/2 cup heavy cream

Make the Filling
Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees (F). Peel, core and cut the apples into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

When the butter starts to foam, add the apples and sauté for 5 to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle it on the apples, and reduce the heat under the skillet to medium-low. Simmer the apples for about 1 minute.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the apples from the skillet to a large baking sheet, and arrange them in a single layer. (The single layer will keep the apples from becoming soggy)

Pour the Bourbon into the butter-sugar mixture in the skillet. Simmer the mixture over medium heat at least 5 minutes, until the alcohol burns off. Add the heavy cream, and continue cooking about 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture is a thick pourable caramel. Return the apples to the skillet.

Pour the apple filling into the unbaked pie crust, and sprinkle the topping evenly over the apples. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, (with a baking sheet directly underneath the pie plate to catch any boil over), until the filling is bubbling and the topping is brown.

Garnishes (optional)
Vanilla or cinnamon ice cream
Whipped cream
Caramel sauce

Serve the pie warm or at room temperature with ice cream, whipped cream or caramel sauce.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Chicken Enchiladas

So, my friend asks for some pointers on Enchiladas, and I respond with an overly detailed recipe. Whoops!

What to do? Publish it on the web, of course.

Have some Chicken Enchiladas, tonight! I'm going to. The recipe feeds about 5, but Ben and I will enjoy this for at least 3 meals.

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • about 15 corn tortillas (may be more or less depending on the size of your pan)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 Bay Leaf (optional, I've cooked without and didn't notice the difference)
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • Monterrey Jack cheese, or cheese of choice.
  • 28 oz can of Enchilada sauce of choice (mine is Medium Salsa de Chiles Verdes by Las Palmas)
  • An additional 10 oz can of same sauce (optional*, see note below)
  • Oil that can sustain high heats, (Canola, Grapeseed, etc)

  1. Halve the onion, (save the remaining half for filling, later) place it in the pot with 4 crushed cloves of garlic, and the bay leaf.
  2. Season chicken breasts (both sides) with salt and pepper and place in pot with onion and others.
  3. Fill pot with water, enough to cover the ingredients.
  4. Bring water to boil, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Turn over chicken breasts and simmer for another 15 minutes.
  6. Turn off the heat, and if chicken looks ready, (it's ok to cut in to check), remove from pot. Otherwise, let it finish cooking in the residual heat.
  7. Cool chicken until it is easy to handle
  8. Shred chicken to no larger than bite sized pieces

While the chicken is cooking, you can prepare your remaining ingredients:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  1. Shred your cheese, if it isn't already.
  2. Chop remaining onion, somewhat finely
  3. Pour warmed sauce into a shallow bowl, (I have put mine, bowl and all, in the microwave for over a minute) it should be warm, but not too hot to handle with your hands
  4. In a small shallow pan, pour to 2" high (I hope that's clear)
  5. Prepare pan, (like a 9x13 pyrex), (I can't even remember if I grease mine, but I don't think it would hurt...)
  6. Heat oil to medium-high (Consider asking a 2nd person to help...but I think you said you mastered this on your own, so rock on)
  7. Heat tortillas over the stove (a cast iron skillet is good for this)
  8. One by one, as tortillas are heated, place in hot oil so to lightly fry them. (Stiff enough so they don't fall apart in sauce, but still soft enough to bend easily)
  9. After fried, tortillas go into warm sauce
  10. Once covered in sauce, fill tortilla with chicken, cheese and chopped onions, (ratios aren't specific, but base it on your preferences), and roll together
  11. Rolled enchilada goes straight into pan, using the edges and bottom to keep it shut. Remaining enchiladas will press up against one another to hold each other's shape.
  12. Repeat steps 7-11, (hehehe), until pan is filled to capacity
  13. Pour remaining sauce over the enchiladas, (*sometimes I've felt that the 28oz can is enough, but the leftovers have been drier that I would like. If you like saucy enchiladas, consider the extra 10oz can), sprinkle with cheese.
  14. Heat, uncovered, in oven until cheese is melted and sauce bubbles.

Sweet! Enchiladas are ready.
Invite friends, serve with rice, guac, a corona, whatevs.
Eat and be happy.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Salmon with Mustard Dill Sauce

So a two-week hiatus is not a great way to start a blog.

There are countless reasons why I haven't posted, but the most important being that my photographer has started a new job which means he has less time to help me take pictures.

Since I had a moment, (and since I'm recovering from cupcake overload), I thought I'd share a nice dinner recipe that I really enjoy.

We've had the recipe twice within a one month period, and for me, it's all about the dijon sauce. The first time I made it, I had to finish up all the sauce as a salad dressing, I couldn't get enough of it.

Recipe adapted from Life's Ambrosia

Serves 2

You will need:

  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • juice of 1/2 lemon (we used 1 1/2 tablespoons Real Lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil, plus more for salmon
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 salmon fillets, pin bones removed
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray.
  2. In a bowl whisk together Dijon mustard, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon olive oil, dill and garlic.
  3. Place salmon fillets on the prepared baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil (about 1 teaspoon per fillet). Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, tent with foil for another 10 minutes, (I just bunched up the foil on the baking sheet to keep the warmth in). The salmon will continue cooking during this time.
  4. Transfer salmon to a serving platter. Spoon sauce over the top.
I served the dish over a bed of lettuce, which was delicious with the sauce if you don't mind warm lettuce. We also enjoyed the salmon with brown rice and some veggies on the side. It's a quick, easy weeknight meal that I hope to have again, soon.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cupcake Camp: Cinnamon Toast Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Buttercream

I went to lunch today with two high school friends that I hadn't seen in 5 years. That's over a fifth of my life span!
They asked what I would be up to for the next few days and I told them about how I'd be spending my Sunday at Cupcake Camp.

After they laughed at me, they were really curious about what that involved.

One of Cupcake Camp's Baking competition categories is "Most Childhood-Inspired" which made me immediately think of breakfast cereals...and then I thought about Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Since there will be over 5,000 cupcakes at Cupcake Camp this year, I decided mini-cupcakes would be best so that people can maximize their cupcake consumption.

I first heard about Cinnamon Toast Cupcakes from Anne Byrn, in her book Cupcakes from the Cake Mix Doctor. She recommends topping Cinnamon Toast cupcakes with a Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting, but in addition to not using her recipe for the cupcakes, I also decided against the Cream Cheese Frosting.

I was working on a Vanilla Bean Buttercream...and then my whisk broke. So of course I had to stop and take a picture.

No broken whisk can stop me when I'm on a mission. Especially if it's a delicious mission.

Basic Golden Cake
(adapted from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle)
Makes 55 mini cupcakes

3 1/4 cups (325 g) sifted cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks/8 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar 3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (250 ml) fat free milk
1/3 cup prepared vanilla pudding

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare pans, as necessary.

Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon into a medium bowl. Whisk to combine, and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium-high speed until creamy. Gradually add the sugar and beat at high speed until light. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Add the flour mixture at low speed in three additions, alternating it with the milk (and pudding) in additions and mixing just until the flour is incorporated. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans, dividing it evenly, and smooth the tops.

Bake the mini cupcakes for 20 minutes, (about 23 minutes for regular cupcakes), until lightly browned around the edges. Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks for 15 minutes. Invert the layers onto the racks and cool completely.

Store at room temperature, covered in foil, for up to 5 days.

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting
Very slightly adapted from Cupcake Project

1 1/2 C powdered sugar (add more until it reaches your preferred consistency)
1/2 C unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (I used the vanilla beans scraped from ½ a pod and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract)
1 tablespoon milk (similarly to the powdered sugar, adjust amount as necessary)

Blend sugar and butter until creamy. Add vanilla bean paste [or pulp plus pure extract], salt, and milk and continue to beat for another minute. If desired, add more powdered sugar to make it stiffer, or milk to make it less so.
When cupcakes are cool, frost with Buttercream Frosting and top with Cinnamon Sugar or crushed Cinnamon Toast Crunch breakfast cereal.
Since I had so many cupcakes to frost, I ended up adding about another 3/4 cup of sugar and another
1 1/2 tablespoons of milk to get my desired amount/consistency; (without having to add more butter or vanilla beans). The frosting is delicious, and reminds me a lot of vanilla ice-cream. They were great on the cupcakes, and even better on a regular-sized cupcake!