Friday, March 26, 2010

FrankenCake



I love mashing recipes together.  I don’t do it all the time, especially when I’m in unknown territory (see Anadama Bread), but I can’t resist mixing it up when I’m reasonably sure what I’m doing.  That’s how I accidentally invented this awesome citrus ginger brown sugar sour cream pound cake this weekend!  Frankengoodness! Whee!

Seth and I were in charge of breakfast one morning on this past weekend’s sojourn north.  When this particular responsibility falls to us (which is on most trips because we get up at ungodly hours to hit the slopes) I like to have an option for those who can’t roll with our early wake up time, and miss out on the made-to-order egg sandwiches (suckas!)  Enter pound cake – a simple, satisfying category of cake great for anytime, including breakfast.

I was originally inspired by a recipe for ginger lemon bundt cake, then couldn’t resist looking at my Mom’s sour cream pound cake recipe too.  Then I found another recipe Internet searching, for a brown sugar pound cake and started to lose my mind!  All these cakes!  But we really only needed just one.  And behold, a lovely, buttery, fruity, gingery pound cake with a succulent crumb and a lovely golden hue was born…to be enjoyed by early and late risers alike.

Citrus Ginger Sour Cream Poundcake
A frankencake, by me

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter and a bit more for the pan
3 cups all purpose flour and a bit more for the pan
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (you could throw some orange in too, go crazy!)
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon and orange juice (I think I went completely half and half, again do what you like!)
1/3 cup minced crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar, loosely packed
6 large eggs
1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350˚.  Butter and flour a standard bundt pan (12 cup).  Whisk together flour, citrus zest, ginger, baking soda and salt…set aside.

Using a stand mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium high until fluffy, about 4-5 minutes (it will actually take this long, legit).  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping sides.  Mix in citrus juices.

With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture in 3 parts and sour cream in 2, starting and finishing with flour mixture.  Mix until just incorporated (don’t over do it!).  Pour batter into prepared cake pan and smooth top with a spatula.  Important!  Firmly tap pan on a work surface to level the batter and fill in any lurking holes in the bottom.  This is especially good practice if you’re using a pretty molded pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 55-60 minutes.  Tent with foil if the cake is getting too brown for your liking.  Let cake cool in pan for 30 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.  Store tightly wrapped in plastic wrap.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Papillotes!



This is just a quick posting before I head north to partake of the last of the melting snow on my trusty board!  I’ve had a couple requests from friends to post this fantastic recipe for tarted up fish and asparagus cooked in parchment packets.  I found the recipe in the lovely Clotilde Dusoulier’s Chocolate and Zucchini cookbook, and have adapted it only slightly, to include cod rather than the sea bass she suggests.  This is definitely a spring meal, to be best enjoyed when asparagus is in season, in all of its verdant splendor.

It is honestly one of the most delightful things I’ve cooked in a long time!  It paired exceptionally well with M-Stew’s Corn Risotto at dinner last Sunday.  And don’t worry if you’ve never cooked using parchment packets before – this was my first time and it is a simple technique that is pretty easily mastered.

So go forth with your parchment!  And happy SPRING!

Asparagus and Cod Papillotes
Only barely modified from Chocolate and Zucchini, by Clotilde Dusoulier

1 ½ pounds cod, cut into 4 equal servings
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons (packed) grated orange zest
¼ cup finely diced shallots (from 2 small shallots)
1 ¼ pounds slim green asparagus
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted until golden
4 pieces of parchment

Preheat over to 400˚.  Have baking sheet and parchment paper ready.
Wash and dry the fish, then season with salt and pepper.  Combine orange zest and shallots in a small bowl, then season with salt and pepper.  Cut asparagus into 2 inch sticks, discarding the fibrous ends, and split sticks in two.

Place one sheet of parchment on your work surface, and fold in two horizontally.  Unfold. Place ¼ of the asparagus in a single layer about an inch above the crease – they should form a rectangle.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Top with one serving of cod.  Top cod with one tablespoon of sour cream, ¼ of the orange shallot mixture, and ¼ toasted almonds.

Fold the parchment over the fillet so that the two edges meet.  Make a thin tight fold along the joined edges, repeating until you reach the fillet.  Close the open ends of the packet by folding them into pointed ends and tucking them under the package.  Do this for each fillet, then carefully transfer all four to baking sheet.

Bake for 14-18 minutes, depending on how thick your cod fillets are (I cooked mine for almost 18 – they were about 1 ½ inches thick).  Transfer hot packets carefully to plates, then slice open with a sharp knife.

If anyone tries this with sea bass, let me know how it goes.  I wasn’t feeling quite right about it at the fish market, but I would never judge!  I have some friends who fish locally for striped bass, so maybe I’ll try it with that this summer – exciting!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Buttery McScotchinsons


I love butter.  I think it’s my favorite flavor.   A little sweet, a little salty, creamy, dreamy, yum.  It makes everything better and special.  If you want to make bread better, smear some on.  Easy.  If you want to make bread amazing, add three freaking sticks of it to the dough and presto, brioche. (Okay, it takes a little more than ‘presto’…post to come on that in the future)  Add it to sugar and you get magical crumble topping or the start of a wicked cookie base.  Add it to different types of sugar and boil it with some other dairy goodness and PRESTO (for reals this time), you get…butterscotch.

I love scotch too.  But that honestly has nothing to do with any of this.  The jury is actually still out on why this lovely dessert sauce is named butterscotch at all…but it dates back to early 19th century England! Some say it comes from scorch, because one scorches the sugar.  Some say it comes from scotch, which means “to cut into pieces”.  Mystery!  And thus ends your history lesson (thanks Wikipedia!).

Butterscotch takes literally 5 minutes to make.  I won’t lie and tell you that you probably have everything you need to make it on the fly, because you might not stock corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk.  But those are easily obtainable, peoples!  It’s not like they’re diamond berries and snake melon.  So let’s do this.

Butterscotch Sauce
Shamelessly copied word for word from M-Stew’s Everyday Food

¾ cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/3 cup light corn syrup (scary! But it’s okay.)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup sweetened condensed milk

In a small saucepan, combine sugar, water, and corn syrup; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar has completely dissolved, about 3 minutes.

Add butter; stir until melted.  Remove from heat, and stir in condensed milk.  Serve warm.
 
Over ice cream!  With pecans is nice!  Or sprinkles!  And if you can’t eat it all in one sitting (ha!) it will keep for a month in an airtight container in the fridge.  Make a little over a cup.  Of deliciousness.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How to deftly induce a food coma.



Red meat, butter and cheese – the holy trinity of dinnertime naughtiness.  A dangerous, stupor inducing combination that can catch even the heartiest of appetites off guard.   I pretty much just recovered from the steak I made two nights ago, but it was worth every bit of debilitating fullness.

I mean steak is good enough by itself.  Excellent in fact, a lovely treat.  And steak with a buttery herbal red wine pan sauce is even better.  Divine.  But I couldn’t leave well enough alone, oh no.  I had to also melt herbed boursin cheese on that steak.  Just to push it all the way over the edge into the realm of complete awesomeness. 

There’s actually not much more to say than that.  If you’re of the carnivorous sort, you should probably make this right now.  As long as you’ve got time for a little catnap after.

New York Steaks with Boursin and Red Wine Sauce
adapted from Bon App├ętit
Serves 2 (but is easily doubled, or whatever’d)

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 New York steaks, 1 inch thick (NY Steaks are actually just strip steaks, trying to be fancy)
Boursin herbed cheese (as much as you dare)
¾ cups drinkable, fruity red wine (I used this)
¼ stick chilled butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat.  Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper.  Add steaks to skillet and cook about 4 minutes per side for medium rare (maybe a little less).  Transfer steaks to platter, top with boursin, and tent with foil to keep warm.

Pour off drippings from skillet, add wine and boil over high heat until reduced to about 1/3 cup, scraping up browned bits – 3-4 minutes.

Remove from heat, add butter and stir until melted.  Mix in parsley and chives.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Pour over steaks.