Archive | January, 2011

Sausage & Cheese Quinoa

30 Jan

I introduced my husband to the wonders of quinoa a while ago. He had never heard of quinoa before. I don’t even think he knew how to spell or pronounce it. I think the first time he saw it he thought it was some dried form of couscous.

My friends, if you’ve never had quinoa before, it’s time to jump on the bandwagon. I have never seen something so versatile. Quinoa can be eaten at any time of the day. You can have it for breakfast. Or maybe you want to have a light lunch. You can have it for dessert. Or you can have it for dinner like I did.

And quinoa isn’t just a side dish. It is the main character here. The star of the show, if you will. Front and center, it’s all about the quinoa.

Did I also mention that quinoa is one of the healthiest foods you can eat? It’s got a lot of protein, essential amino acids, dietary fiber, is gluten free and is easy to digest. Not to mention that it is very filling and will keep you full for a long time. You pretty much can’t go wrong with it.

After I made this quinoa dish my husband said, and I quote, “Feel free to buy and make quinoa whenever you want. It’s really good.”

If I haven’t sold you on quinoa yet, then by the time you finish reading this recipe, you’ll be a convert for sure.

Sausage & Cheese Quinoa

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa*
  • 9oz fresh spinach
  • 1 cup sliced gouda
  • 2 links of cooked turkey andouille sausage, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil

*If you want to learn how to cook quinoa, click here.

In a large saute pan heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, or until the garlic is nicely browned. Add in the spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted. Add in the sausage and stir for another 2 minutes. Add the quinoa and the cheese and stir until the cheese has been distributed evenly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl and add more sliced cheese to the top because it’s that delicious. Garnish with some dried parsley.

If you want to make this vegetarian, just take out the sausage! I would recommend adding more cheese though, or combining 2 different cheeses, to make the dish more interesting.

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Daring Baker’s: Biscuit Joconde Imprime

27 Jan

We interrupt our regularly scheduled restaurant review programming to bring you….! The next Daring Baker’s Challenge!

The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.

When I first read through the Daring Baker’s Challenge for this month I probably sounded like this,

“I’m suppose to make WHAT?!?!?!!?!” ::insert panic screech here::

Then I read it about 20 more times and thought to myself, Well that actually doesn’t sound too difficult.

I originally had ambitious ideas about this cake. I originally wanted to do a German Chocolate base with Bavarian cream and raspberry jam. And then I ran out of time. Whoops? Well that and I’m actually trying to stay on a diet.

So instead I changed it up and went with a Banana Pudding. Homemade banana pudding. It was my first time making pudding and it was a great experience! Definitely worlds away from the boxed stuff.

So for the decor paste, I halved the recipe. And I STILL had too much left over. I may have eaten the leftovers, because the paste was just SO GOOD. Ugh.

As you can see, the sides of my cake didn’t come out to well. I blame a couple of things, my oven, my oven rack being too low, my computer for luring me away from said oven for too long, my cat. I tried to go simple with the design, and may have left it on the pan for too long. I also think I didn’t put enough of the sponge on the imprime. The bottom of my cake was actually done on a whim because I had leftover paste. Less baking time plus putting the cake on the top rack made the bottom absolutely gorgeous. Now I know for next time.

This was really a fabulous challenge and I’m really glad I was able to learn such a great technique. I definitely look forward to refining it and playing around with it. And maybe someday I’ll actually make the original cake I planned for.

Banana Pudding Entremet

Jaconde sponge and paste recipe provided by Astheroshe who hosted this month’s Daring Baker’s Challenge. Banana pudding recipe adapted from Evil Shenanigans

Jaconde Sponge

  • 3/4 cup/ 3oz almond flour/meal*
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons/2⅔ oz confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup/1 oz cake flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 2 1/2 tsp/ ⅓ oz white granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp/1oz unsalted butter, melted

A note about the almond flour/meal. If you want to spend $11 on what branded as “Almond Meal/Flour” then by all means do it. But if you want to spend about $3 instead, buy a package of blanched sliced almonds, and run them through your food processor for about 5 minutes. *POOF* Almond Flour.

In a clean mixing bowl whip the egg whites and white granulated sugar to firm, glossy peeks (I am currently the QUEEN of egg whites. This used to not be the case). Reserve in a separate clean bowl to use later. Sift almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, cake flour. (This can be done into your dirty egg white bowl).

On medium speed, add the eggs a little at a time. Mix well after each addition. Mix until smooth and light. (If using a stand mixer use blade attachment). Fold in one third reserved whipped egg whites to almond mixture to lighten the batter. Fold in remaining whipped egg whites. Do not over mix. Fold in melted butter. Reserve batter to be used later.

Jaconde-Decor Paste

  • 7 tbsp/3.5oz unsalted butter, softened
  • 3.5oz Confectioners’  sugar
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 3oz cake flour, sifted
  • 1 oz cocoa powder

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (use stand mixer with blade). Gradually add egg whites. Beat continuously. Fold in sifted flour.

Banana Pudding

  • 2 cups milk (I used 1%)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
    2 tbsp butter
  • 2-3 large bananas, sliced into 1/8″ slices
  • Vanilla wafers
  • Whipped cream

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Spread a thin layer of the paste onto a silicone baking mat, or parchment paper on an upside down baking pan. Pattern the paste into what you want. Use your imagination! Put in the freezer for 15 minute to harden.

Remove from the freezer and quickly pour about half of the sponge cake batter to cover the design and quickly put into the oven, on the highest rack if you can. Bake until the sponge bounces back at you. This can take anywhere from 7-15 minutes. It all depends on your oven and your pan. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, leave your oven while it is baking. Just.Watch.It.

Pour the remaining batter (and make another pattern if you want!) into a spring form pan. Once the first part of the cake is finished remove from oven and put the cake in. Bake for another 10-15 minutes.

Once the cake base is finished, pop the springform pan apart. Using just the ring, you want to cut your jaconde so it goes entirely around the pan (on the inside) The height should be about halfway up the pan (or more if you want!) Make sure your pattern is up against the ring.

Now time to make the pudding!

In a medium sauce pan whisk together the milk, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla bean paste (if using), salt, egg, and egg yolk.  Once well combined place the pan over medium heat and cool until thick and bubbling.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter (and vanilla extract if you are using) and whisk until completely melted.  Pour the custard through a strainer into a separate bowl and cover with plastic wrap to cool slightly.

In a separate bowl, mash up the banana, leaving a couple of chunks. Mix the banana into the custard. Refrigerate for at least an hour before assembling the cake.

Once the pudding has partially set, put the sponge base into the springform pan and pour the pudding into it. Cover with whipped or homemade whipped cream and smashed vanilla wafers. Put in the fridge for another hour to set. Then eat!

Shrimp & Portobello Quesadilla

25 Jan

Quesadillas remind me of pizza. You can pretty much put anything on it and it will taste good. Sure, you have your traditional cheese quesadilla/pizza, or even a steak quesadilla (pepperoni to continue the pizza analogy). Pretty soon you’re branching out with Fig and Bree Pizza. Or, in this case, Shrimp and Portobello Mushroom Quesadillas.

Another advantage quesadillas have is that they are easy to make, but it looks like you slaved in the kitchen to make them.

Garnished with some avocado slices and pico de gallo. Dinner, my friends, is served.

Shrimp & Portobello Mushroom Quesadilla

Based loosely on Food Network Kitchens Cookbook

  • 1lb uncooked, peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 2 large portobello mushroom caps, chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 190z black beans
  • 2 cups grated Monterey Jack Cheese
  • 1/2 chopped cilantro
  • 4 8″ whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 jalepeno, seeds removed, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

Optional: Sliced avocado and pico de gallo

Preheat oven to 350. Line shrimp on a baking pan and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until pink.

Melt 1 tbsp of butter in a saute pan. Add chopped mushrooms to pan and add salt and pepper to taste, and the cumin. Cook about 5 minutes, then set aside.

Add some olive oil to the pan. Add the onion, garlic and jalepeno and cook until onion is translucent. Add the beans and mash them into the onion mixture. If you want a smoother mixture, pulse in a food processor for a few seconds.

Lay one tortilla on your work surface and spread some of the bean mixture onto half of the tortilla. Then add a handful of cheese, about 3-4 shrimp, chopped, then a handful of mushrooms, a handful of cilantro, and then more cheese on top. Fold the quesadilla over.

Fry the quesadilla in 1 tbsp of butter until brown and repeat on other side. Repeat with 3 remaining tortillas.

Cracked Wheat Loaf

23 Jan


Bread baking has been a big part of my family for as long as I can remember. My Momma makes some fantastic Portuguese White Bread. Whenever she makes it, she makes a lot. Like loaves and loaves of it. When I was a kid I used to watch her pound that dough into submission. When I went to go visit a few months ago I asked her to teach me how to make it.

Momma controlling the dough

My Mom is tiny. She is 4’11”. But she has a lot of spunk. Don’t make her mad, you might regret it. She also has a mean punch and she can handle kneading and punching dough for 10 minutes and not be tired.

 

I told you she makes a lot of bread

Whenever my Mom makes bread, we would have it for dinner, with butter and American cheese. It was the best dinner ever. Have you ever had freshly baked bread from the oven, slathered in butter and topped with American cheese? I think I may have consumed an entire loaf one time. But that was when I actually had a fast metabolism.

My Mom has a big kitchen, and 14 bread pans. I, on the other hand, have a kitchen a third of the size of my Mom’s and 2 loaf pans. Needless to say, my Mom said she would get back to me about the recipe for making 2 loaves instead of 14.

This, is not my Mom’s bread. It’s delicious Cracked Wheat Loaf from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. This book pretty much changed my life. I had made bread before but it never rose high enough for me and resulted in small, dense bread. Even when I tried The Bread Bible’s White Sandwich Loaf, it still didn’t rise as large as I wanted. Through this, I learned a few things about making bread:

1. No matter what the suggested time for dough is suppose to rise, do not pay attention to it. Let it rise until it is the size it is suppose to be.

2. Homemade bread takes a VERY long time. But because it spends 90% of the time rising, you can pretty much leave your house/apartment or do whatever you need to do and not have to worry about your dough

3. In order to make sure you have the exact measurements, use a scale not a measuring cup. More accurate x1000

4. Homemade bread is 1000x better than store bought bread

This time around, a miracle happened. I made delicious, fully risen, popping over the top amazing bread. I may never buy store bought bread ever again. Maybe. Rose’s method of bread making has a few more steps to it, but I really think it makes the bread so much more tender and tastier. You can just call me a convert.

Cracked Wheat Loaf

Recipe from The Bread Bible

Dough Starter (Sponge)

  • 1/2 cup (2.75oz) bread flour
  • 1/2 cup (2.5oz) whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp nonfat dry milk
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp (9.3oz) room temperature water

Flour Mixture

  • 2 cups (11oz) bread flour
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp instant yeast

Finishing Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (3oz) extra coarse bulgur(I used milled flax seed since I didn’t have bulgur and it worked fine)
  • 1/2-2/3 cup (4-5.5ox) boiling water (Skip if using milled flax seed)
  • 1 tbsp granular lecithin or vegetable oil
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp melted butter

Make the Sponge: In a medium bowl combine the sponge ingredients and whisk until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.

Combine Flour Mixture: In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour mixture ingredients. Sprinkle on top of the sponge to cover it completely. DO NOT MIX TOGETHER. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment for 1-4 hours at room temperature. The sponge will bubble through the mixture, that’s ok, and it’s also kind of cool to see.

At this point, if you are using bulgur, place in a small bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit in the water until all the water is absorbed, about 1 hour, then refrigerate until ready to use.

Note: I used a stand mixer for my bread, so the following instructions will be for the stand mixer method. You’ll just have to buy the book yourself if you want to make it by hand!

With your stand mixer, add the bulgur (or in my case the flax seed) and the oil or lecithin to the bowl and then add the dough and starter. Mix with the dough hook on low speed for about 1 minute, until the flour is moistened enough to form a rough dough. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes. Sprinkle on the salt and knead the dough on medium speed for 10 minutes. The dough should be very elastic and jump back when pressed with a fingertip, but still slightly moist.

Using an oiled spatula or dough scraper, scrape the dough into a 2-qt greased container. Lightly spray or oil the top of the dough. Cover with lid or plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled in size. The book says about 45 minutes to 1.5 hours but it took about 2-3 hours for me (it’s quite cold in my apartment).

After it has risen, scrape the dough onto a floured surface and press down gently to form a rectangle. Give it a business letter turn, round the edges and return to the container. Oil the surface again, cover, and rise until doubled. The book says about 45 minutes to an hour, but again, it took longer for me.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a loaf. Place into oiled loaf pan. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let it rise until the center is about 1.25″ higher than the pan.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees one hour before baking. Place oven rack at the lowest shelf and place baking stone on top. Place a sheet pan on the floor of the oven and make sure you have some ice cubes handy.

Once the dough has risen, brush the top with the melted butter, then cut a 1/2″ deep slash down the middle of the dough. Quickly set the load pan on the baking stone. Take a 1/2 cup of ice cubes and quickly throw them onto the sheet pan (this helps the bread keep moisture). Bake for 45-55 minutes, until golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. If you want to be technical then an instant read thermometer should read 190 degrees. Remove pan from oven, remove bread from pan and set on wire rack. Brush with remaining melted butter. Let it cool before eating.

WHEW! That was intense, right? But believe me, it is worth every single moment, because when you slice into that amazing hunk of bread, you know it was all worth it. Don’t forget to slather it with your favorite jam or serve with butter and cheese.

Posted to Yeastspotting

Restaurant Review: Cheeseboy

20 Jan

UPDATE: So I had NO idea when I wrote this that today is National Cheese Day! So it is quite fitting that I decided to write about CHEESE. Have a Happy National Cheese Day and make sure to get in your serving of CHEESE!

I believe truer words have never been said. Just add bacon to that equation and I’m a happy camper.

Cheeseboy opened up in South Station October 2010 and when I saw the huge poster with grilled cheese on it, well, I knew I was going to have a problem.

I would just like to point out that this place gets BUSY. Like, busy from 11:30-2PM there is always a line. People appreciate a good grilled cheese sandwich.

A few of my coworkers didn’t understand the appeal of Cheeseboy. They thought it was too much money for something you can make at home. Yes, you are correct, I said, you can make them at home. But you CAN’T make them at work. That’s the whole point!! ::sigh:: Some people just don’t get it

The menu at Cheeseboy is pretty simple. You can go for a classic, a healthy version, or anything in between. You can add meat, veggies, even change up the cheese. And they have tomato soup. Because what’s grilled cheese without tomato soup?

After they make your grill cheese they pack them in a cute little to-go box. It’s like a mini pizza box. Whenever I go I always get the combo, which includes a sandwich, small soup and a small drink. I love the classic sandwich, and I usually add bacon and tomato to it, because that’s just how I roll.

This time around I actually did order my sandwich with bacon but they forgot to add it. It’s ok, they didn’t charge me extra. The presses that they use create the perfect sandwich. Crispy on the outside, gooey and melty on the inside. It’s pretty remarkable.

Add to that the tomato soup? Foggetaboutit. I like to dunk my sandwich into the soup and leave it there for about 30 seconds so it can sop up all the deliciousness of the soup.

All in all a lunch like this costs roughly $6.00, a little more if you add more stuff to your sandwich. This is easily the best eatery in all of South Station and obviously the hoards of people that wait in line agree. Why go to McDonalds for rubbery questionable meat when you can have a delicious and FRESH grilled cheese sandwich? That’s what I thought.

Cheeseboy on Urbanspoon

Boston Food Bloggers Launch Party

19 Jan

When I first started this blog I never thought I would meet such fabulous people. I feel even luckier to know so many fabulous Boston Bloggers whether I have met them in person, tweeted with them on Twitter or read their blog religiously.

So needless to say I was psyched to be invited to the Boston Food Bloggers Launch Party which was hosted by Rachel over at Fork It Over, Boston! Rachel runs Boston Food Bloggers, which is a cacophony of the Boston Food Blogger scene and I am a happy member.

Held at the Gallows over in the South End, I was greeted by the lovely Rachel and handed an enormous goodie bag that I surprisingly waited to open until I got home. I can’t even believe how fantastic the goodie bag is, or how I’m going to use all the restaurant gift cards. SO AMAZING.

Now, I am used to going to events that have free food and booze, but I was REALLY impressed with the food selection here. BACON CARAMEL CORN!?! It’s a good thing I didn’t know there was bacon in it until later on in the night otherwise I would had to have been rolled home.

Cheeseburgers. Delicious cheeseburgers. Again, it took a lot of will power to not eat 5 of these.

POUTINE. Oh.My.God, the POUTINE. Amazing. I made sure I had every single morsel that was in those cups. Oh man.

And what’s a party without dessert? Berkshire company SoCo Creamery had some ice cream on hand. I had the Dirty Chocolate, which didn’t tasted dirty at all, but tasted like pure, unadulterated chocolate.

And the best part of the night? Meeting and reacquainting myself with some fabulous Boston Bloggers. And I didn’t even get to meet everyone I wanted to! But I did get to meet Janel from Eat Well with Janel, Liz from Eating Places, Megan from Cooking Whims, Kathy at Kathy Can Cook, Renee at Eat.Live.Blog and Boston Brunchers, Ashley of Cooking for 1, Katie at The Small Boston Kitchen, and Ashleigh over at Ashleigh’s Slice of Life.

It was also nice to get reacquainted with some of my favs like Meesh and Jacqui of Just Add Cheese, Nicole of iamahoneybee, Fiona at A Boston Food Diary, Jen at Beantown Baker, and Tania at The Musing Bouche.

There’s a good change I forgot to mention some people, just TOO MANY fabulous bloggers. I’m really just so proud to be part of this wonderful community!

Chocolate Waffles

18 Jan

One of the items on my Christmas wish list was a waffle maker. And not just ANY waffle maker, but the kind that you can turn. I remember my freshman year of college going to the food hall for the first time and seeing that I could make waffles anytime I want.

“Wait, waffles, 24/7?!” (I believe one of the food halls was 24/7, and even though I lived across the street from the gym I still didn’t prevent the Freshman 30 15)

I would get a kick out of turning the waffles when they were halfway done (I was neither high nor drunk at the time either), and then adding all sorts of topping to said waffles. Although never chicken, mainly because I hadn’t been exposed to the wonderment that is chicken and waffles.

Anyway, this past weekend I was craving some waffles. Chocolate waffles to be exact. I hadn’t gone food shopping yet, so I had limited supplies, but I had enough to whip up these delicious waffles. I didn’t add the extra chocolate chips that the original recipe called for, so these waffles had a subtle chocolate flavor instead of a chocolate punch that the chips would have given. Sprinkles with some blackberries and carrot cake jam that a friend of mine made for me, these were a great start to the day!

Chocolate Waffles

Recipe adapted from Lettuce Pray

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/8 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • Optional: 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat waffle maker and spray with cooking spray.

Combine the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. In another bowl combine the eggs, butter, vanilla extract and buttermilk. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients until smooth. Add the chocolate chips if you want.

Since I have a bigger waffle maker, I put about a cup of the mix into the waffle maker and the waffles were done in about 3.5 minutes. Makes 3 waffles total. Add your favorite toppings and enjoy!

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