Thursday, May 28, 2009

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

If you've been looking for a recipe that shows off the bright, brilliant flavors of both strawberries and rhubarbs, that looks gorgeous on the plate and, of course, is lip-smackingly delicious, look no further.

It's so good that Kian has asked if he could have one, all to himself, for his birthday.

I think I can make that happen.

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart (source)

Pie dough (either homemade or store bought)
2 cups sliced rhubarb
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. water
3/4 tsp. cinnamon, divided
3 cups sliced strawberries
1 Tbsp. sugar

Preheat oven to 400-degrees F. Press dough into bottom and up sides of a 10-inch removable-bottom tart pan. Line bottom of dough with a piece of foil; arrange pie weights or dried beans on foil. Bake for 5 minutes, remove pie weights and foil and bake an additional 5 minutes until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Combine rhubarb, 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch, water, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until rhubarb is tender, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, and stir in strawberries. Spoon strawberry mixture into prepared crust. Combine 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of sugar; sprinkle evenly over tart.

Place tart on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until filling is set. Cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Apple Strudel: A Daring Bakers' Challenge

Guess what? It's that time again -- Daring Bakers' Challenge time!

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

Apple Strudel is not one of those desserts I'd normally think to make so, yet again, the DBers have pushed me to try new things. (Which is a good thing.) And strudel is a lot easier to make than I thought.

The dough came together quickly -- throw some flour, water, vinegar, salt and oil together, then knead -- and it was fairly easy to roll/pull out and make thin. The filling was as easy as, well if not pie, then strudel filling. And then you roll the whole thing up, put it in the oven and, presto, you've got yourself some strudel.

I would have preferred a sweeter filling; perhaps I'd add more sugar (and cinnamon) to the apples in the future, or try something else entirely (a sweet cheese filling mixed with Nutella?). The pastry, however, was just as a strudel should be: flaky and crispy.

Despite my quibbles, I had seconds with vanilla ice cream. As did Shane, Kian and my friends Jenny and Nancy, so how bad could it have been?

Apple Strudel

from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers
2 tablespoons (30 ml) golden rum
3 tablespoons (45 ml) raisins
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (80 g) sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick / 115 g) unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 1/2 cups (350 ml) fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup (120 ml, about 60 g) coarsely chopped walnuts
2 pounds (900 g) tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch-thick slices (use apples that hold their shape during baking)
strudel dough (recipe below)
1. Mix the rum and raisins in a bowl. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in another bowl.

2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the breadcrumbs and cook whilst stirring until golden and toasted. This will take about 3 minutes. Let it cool completely.

3. Put the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with baking paper (parchment paper). Make the strudel dough as described below. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter over the dough using your hands (a bristle brush could tear the dough, you could use a special feather pastry brush instead of your hands). Sprinkle the buttered dough with the bread crumbs. Spread the walnuts about 3 inches (8 cm) from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch-(15cm)-wide strip. Mix the apples with the raisins (including the rum), and the cinnamon sugar. Spread the mixture over the walnuts.

4. Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.

5. Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.

Strudel dough
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

1. Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour with the mixer on low speed. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary.
Take the dough out of the mixer. Change to the dough hook. Put the dough ball back in the mixer. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.

2. Take the dough out of the mixer and continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally.
Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better).

3. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches (60 x 100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can.
Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.

4. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it's about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

How To Make Broccoli Fattening: Broccoli Bacon Salad

Take fresh, chopped broccoli.

Add some raisins & red onion.

Mix with crumbled bacon.

Toss the whole thing with mayonnaise, sugar and a touch of vinegar.

Voila! Deliciously fattening broccoli.

Broccoli Bacon Salad
6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled into bits
8 cups broccoli, chopped into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 cup raisins

1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar

In a large bowl, combine bacon, broccoli, onion and raisins; set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar and mayonnaise. Pour dressing over broccoli mixture and toss until well combined. Refrigerate for at least two hours. Serve chilled.

Yields 16 servings.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Khatte Chole

Another chick pea recipe! But, this is the last one for a long while because I'm not sure how chickpeas could taste more delicious than in this dish.

This recipe comes from Madhur Jaffrey's classic cookbook, Indian Cooking. I stumbled on it via a discussion on Shapely Prose (linking to this recipe) and, not only is it delicious (bury-your-face-in-your-plate delicious), but it's inexpensive and easy to make.

I adapted it slightly from the original to use canned chickpeas rather than dried, and added a teaspoon more of Garam Masala.

Khatte Chole (Sour Chickpeas)

2 cans chickpeas, drained with liquid reserved
3 onions, chopped
2.5 tsp salt
1 green chili, chopped
1Tbsp. ginger, grated
4 Tbsp. lemon juice
6 Tbsp. oil
2 tomatoes, skinned
1Tbsp. coriander
1 Tbsp. cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp. garam masala
1/4 tsp cayenne

In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 tsp salt, chili, ginger, lemon juice, and 2 TBS onion, chopped fine; set aside.

In a heavy skillet, heat oil over medium heat and add remaining onion. Fry about 10 minutes, until onions begin to brown. Add tomatoes and cook another 10 minutes, mashing with back of a spoon.

Add spice, stir and let cook 30 secs. Add chickpeas, salt and chickpea liquid plus enough water to equal 1 ¾ cups Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat, cover and let simmer about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove skillet from heat, and stir in reserved salt, chili, ginger, lemon, onion. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Mediterranean Chicken Sandwiches

If you look on the sidebar or at the bottom of each post, you'll notice that give recipes a grade using the standard system: A to F. You'll also notice that there are almost no Fs, Ds, or Cs and very few Bs; it's mostly As. That's because, at some point on the blogging journey, it felt pointless to post bland, boring, flavorless results. So when I test a recipe that isn't so hot, I (usually) let it fall by the wayside

Which leads me to what I do post: the OPPOSITE of bland, boring or flavorless, but fantastic, scrumptious, dream-about-it-at-night delicious food. And that's what we have here, with these grilled Mediterranean chicken sandwiches.

There are a number of elements that make this sandwich bite-worthy -- grilled ciabatta bread, fresh basil, roasted peppers, melted mozzerella -- but by far, the piece that pushes this sandwich into a category of amazing deliciousness is the sundried tomato pesto mayonaisse. So simple, so tastebud-popping wonderful.

The recipe follows below, but feel free to play with it. Obviously, you could use a grill instead of a broiler and cook it up along with some grilled veggies. Yesterday, I swapped out the chicken and mozzerella for turkey, capicola, and provolone cheese, left off the peppers, added some red onions, and ate it, chilled, as part of a picnic lunch. It was fantastic.

Mediterranean Chicken Sandwiches (source)

1/4 cup (about 2 ounces) sun-dried tomato pesto
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
3/4 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 (8-ounce) loaf ciabatta
12 large basil leaves (or enough to cover the sandwich)
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup sliced bottled roasted red bell peppers
1 large tomato, thinly sliced

Combine pesto and mayonnaise in a small bowl, stirring to blend.

Sprinkle chicken with pepper and salt. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken to cutting board, and cool slightly. Cut chicken lengthwise into thin slices.

Preheat broiler.

Cut ciabatta in half horizontally. Place bread, cut sides up, on a baking sheet. Broil 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove bread from pan. Spread pesto mayo evenly over cut sides of bread. Arrange the chicken slices evenly over bottom half. Top chicken evenly with basil leaves, and sprinkle cheese over top. Place bottom half on baking sheet, and broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Arrange roasted peppers and fresh tomatoes over cheese, and cover with top half of bread. Cut into 4 equal pieces.