Monday, December 16, 2013

Rum Cake

Ingredients for the cake: 1/2 cups walnuts, crushed 1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened 3 T + 1/2 cup grapeseed or canola oil, separated 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour 1/4 cup cornstarch 4 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 cup vanilla instant pudding mix 4 large eggs 3/4 cup dark rum (recommended: Tortuga Rum) 1 T pure vanilla extract * * * * * * * Ingredients for the rum syrup: 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter 1/2 cup water 3/4 cup granulated white sugar 1 teaspoon Kosher salt 1/2 cup dark rum 10-15 cup Bundt pan Preparing the rum cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour bundt pan, and drop crushed walnuts into the bottom of the pan. Set aside. In the base of a mixer, cream the 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar and the 1/2 cup butter. Add the 3 tablespoons oil, flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and kosher salt combining until evenly distributed. (Mixture will look like fine crumbs.) Mix in the pudding mix. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, rum, vanilla extract, and remaining vegetable oil. Add to the dry mixture and mix well until combined. The batter will be smooth, thin, and pour easily. Pour into the prepared bundt pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the cake comes up clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a rack. Let cool for 20 to 30 minutes. While the cake cools, prepare the rum syrup: In a large saucepan with high sides, combine the butter, water, granulated sugar, and salt. Cook over medium heat until the butter completely melts and the sugar dissolves. Let reduce slightly, keeping an eye on it so it doesn’t boil over. Remove from the heat and stir in the rum (it will bubble). Wash and dry the bundt pan, then place over the cool cake and invert the cake back into the pan. Pour the hot rum syrup all over the cake and let soak for 8 hours (overnight). In morning, invert the cake back onto a serving platter. Keeps covered for 1 week at room temperature.


Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix

Ingredients: 3/4 cup non-fat dry milk powder 3/4 cup cornstarch 1 cup granulated white sugar 2 whole vanilla beans 1 teaspoon Kosher salt Preparing the mix: In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry milk, cornstarch, white sugar, and salt. Use a knife to slice down the center of the vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds to the dry ingredients and whisk well until evenly distributed (you may need to use the back of a spoon or spatula to break up the little clumps of seeds). Cut the scraped-out vanilla beans in 2-3 pieces each, and drop into an air-tight jar or container (such as a mason jar). Pour the mixture in, seal, and shake a couple times to distribute the vanilla bean pieces. Store in a cool dry place. To make the pudding: Combine 1/2 cup of the mix with 2 cups of milk in a medium saucepan over high heat, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil (keep an eye on it because this happens quickly!), then reduce heat to a simmer and continue whisking until the mixture thickens and coats the whisk or spoon. (About 3-5 minutes). Pour in a container and let set for at least 5 minutes before serving. Can be served warm or cold.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Salt-Baked Potatoes

Ingredients: 2 1/2 cups plus 1/8 teaspoon salt 4 russet potatoes, scrubbed and dried 2 sprigs plus 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary 1 whole head garlic, outer papery skin removed and top quarter of head cut off and discarded 4 teaspoons olive oil 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened Preparing the potatoes: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Spread 21/2 cups salt in even layer in 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Gently nestle potatoes in salt, broad side down, leaving space between potatoes. Add rosemary sprigs and garlic, cut side up, to baking dish. Cover baking dish with foil and crimp edges to tightly seal. Bake 11/4 hours; remove pan from oven. Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees. Carefully remove foil from baking dish. Remove garlic and set aside to cool. Brush exposed portion of each potato with 1 teaspoon oil. Return uncovered baking dish to oven and bake until potatoes are tender when pierced with tip of paring knife and skins are glossy, 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, once garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze root end until cloves slip out of their skins. Using fork, mash garlic, butter, 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt (or pinch table salt) and minced rosemary to smooth paste. Remove any clumped salt from potatoes (holding with kitchen towel if necessary), split lengthwise, top with portion of butter, and serve immediately. Serves 4


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Chocolate Chip Shortbread

Ingredients: 1 cup unsalted butter 1 cup powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting 1 teaspoon vanilla 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 12 ounce package of semisweet chocolate chips, divided in half Preparing the shortbread: Mix all ingredients except 6 ounces of the chocolate chips. Roll into a log onto plastic wrap and refrigerate for 60 minutes or until firm. Log can also be frozen and baked off at a later time. When ready to bake, slice the log into 1/4-inch coins and place on a parchment or Silpat-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F. Melt the remaining 6 ounces of chocolate chips. Remove cookies from oven and while warm, sprinkle with powdered sugar and dip half into melted chocolate. Place cookies on wax paper to cool.


Friday, June 29, 2012

Grilled Lobster Bathed in Lemon-Marjoram Oil

Ingredients for the lemon oil:
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
grated zest and juice of 3 lemons
1 bunch marjoram
3 T Limoncello or other lemon liqueur
1 serrano chile (sliced)

* * * * *
 Ingredients for the lobster:
3 2-pound live spiny or maine lobsters
2 lemons (cut into wedges)
zest of 1 lemon  

Preparing the lemon oil: 
Combine the olive oil and lemon zest and juice in a small saucepan and bring just to a simmer over medium heat. Pour into a heat-proof bowl, add the serrano chile and limoncello, and let cool. Tie up marjoram and place into lemon oil. As soon as the oil is cool, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight. Strain the oil and keep refrigerated until ready to use. It can be stored in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed jar for up to 10 days, no longer. 

* * * * * 

Preparing the lobster: 
Split the lobsters completely in half and remove the head sacs from each half. Being careful not to lose any of the tomalley - and roe, if the lobsters are female. 

To kill the lobsters, hold each one firmly on a cutting board with the head toward you, plunge a sharp heavy knife into the center of the head, with the blade facing you, and quickly bring the knife down to the cutting board, splitting the front of the shell in half. Place the lobsters shell side down on the grill and cook until nearly done, 6 to 7 minutes. Use marjoram bunch to brush on lemon oil. Turn them flesh side down and cook for 1 minute longer, or until just cooked through, and brush with lemon oil again. Serve warm or at room temperature, with lemon wedges and the remaining lemon oil on the side. 


Two Cheese, Zucchini and Tomato Jam Tart

Ingredients for the tomato jam:
2 pounds tomatoes on the vine (blanched with the skin removed), or roma tomatoes
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 T honey
1 lemon (juiced and zested) salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

 * * * * * *

Ingredients for the crust:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
5 T olive oil
3/4 cup cold water

* * * * * *

1/2 cup tomato jam
 2 cups ricotta
1 egg
1/4 cup parmesan, freshly grated, plus more for dusting over the top
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
3 T chives, chopped
2 zucchinis  

Preparing the tomato jam: 
Score and blanch the tomatoes, place in ice bath and remove skin. Place tomatoes, sugar, honey, lemon juice and zest, salt and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan. Stir and bring to a simmer and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes. Continue to cook allowing the mixture to come to about 220 degrees F or a thick syrupy consistency, stirring occasionally, about 45 to 50 minutes. Put jam into a jar or use immediately. 

* * * * * 

Preparing the crust: 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
In a large bowl combine flour, salt. Add oil, mix together with a fork. Add water and mix until absorbed; knead lightly. Turn dough on to a lightly floured work surface. Roll out flat into a shape to fit a tart pan. Lay over greased sheet pan. Rest for 30 minutes. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove from oven and allow to cool. 

* * * * * 

Preparing the filling: 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.    

Brush the bottom of the tart shell with the tomato jam. 

In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg, parmesan, basil and chives. Spoon into the tart shell. 

Using a peeler or mandolin (confidence permitting) shave the zucchini lengthwise into long strips. Cover the filling over the tart using the zucchini. Sprinkle strips with salt and place them in a strainer for 10 minutes to allow excess water to drain. Pat strips dry and lay them over top of the filling. Sprinkle the tart with parmesan and transfer to oven to bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Cool slightly before serving.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lemon, Garlic and Pine Nut Spaghetti

1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/2 lemon
2 T pine nuts
6 basil leaves, chiffonaded  

Preparing the spaghetti: 
Prepare spaghetti according to package instructions. While spaghetti is cooking, toast pine nuts in a skillet until lightly golden and remove from pan to a plate to cool. Heat olive oil in a saute pan and add garlic. Cook over low heat until the garlic softens - Do not let the garlic brown. Remove from heat and set aside in a serving bowl. Add basil leaves, parmesan cheese, pine nuts and squeeze lemon into the bowl. Add cooked spaghetti and toss. 

Serves 2


Chocolate Sheet Cake

Ingredients for cake:
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

* * * * *

 Ingredients for frosting:
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 T baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 T milk  

Preparing the cake: 
In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Remove from the heat. Stir in sugar and butter until butter is melted. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. 

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; add to butter mixture and mix thoroughly. Pour into a greased and floured 15-inch by 10-inch by 1-inch baking pan. 

Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack. 

* * * * * 

Preparing the frosting: 
Beat butter, confectioners' sugar, cocoa, vanilla and enough milk to reach a spreading consistency. Frost cake.


Fried Pickles With Ranch Dressing Dipping Sauce

Ingredients for quick pickle:
2 cups red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
3/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 red Fresno chile, split in half 6 Kirby cucumbers (about 2 pounds)

  * * * * * *

 Ingredients for coating and frying:
canola oil or peanut oil, for frying
3 cups quick pickles, drained
1 cup flour
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 cup panko, pulsed in food processor
1 teaspoon dried dill
1 teaspoon garlic powder
kosher salt

 * * * * *

Ingredients for buttermilk ranch dipping sauce:
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 T chopped fresh chives
2 T lemon juice
1 T chopped fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper  

 * * * * * *

Preparing the fried pickles: 
In a large heavy-bottomed skillet or cast-iron pan, heat enough oil to cover 1/2-inch of the skillet over medium-high heat until it reaches 350 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with a wire rack. 

In a large zip-top bag, add the drained Quick Pickles and flour and shake until well coated. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. 

 In a shallow baking dish, add the panko, dill, garlic and 1 teaspoon salt. 

 In batches, dip the floured pickle chips into the eggs and then into the panko, making sure they are fully coated with the seasoned breadcrumbs. 

Place the coated pickles on the prepared baking sheet until all the pickles are coated. 

Working in batches, fry the pickles until they are golden brown, 1 or 2 minutes, turning once. Drain the pickles on a paper towel-lined plate (or another baking sheet lined with a wire rack). 

Sprinkle them with kosher salt as soon as they come out of the oil and serve immediately alongside some dipping sauce. 

In a saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, celery seeds, peppercorns, garlic, chile and 2 cups water and bring the mixture to a boil to dissolve the sugar and salt. 

Using a mandolin, slice the cucumbers 1/4-inch thick and place in a large heat-safe bowl or container. Once the mixture boils, pour the liquid over the sliced cucumbers, making sure the cucumbers are submerged. Let the cucumbers sit in the liquid as it comes to room temperature, for about 20 minutes. Drain the pickles, reserving the liquid. 

Serve as is or fry them. 

 * * * * * *

Preparing the buttermilk ranch dipping sauce: 
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients until fully incorporated. Adjust the seasoning. The dressing can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to a week.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Vanilla Cupcakes with Raspberry Jam and Creme Fraiche

1 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened, and 1 T for greasing the muffin tin
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 cup raspberry jam
creme fraiche (or whipped cream or whipped cream frosting or vanilla buttercream)  

 * * * * * *

Preparing the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

Grease the muffin tin. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla, flour, baking powder, milk and mix until smooth. 

Spoon batters into muffin tin, filling about two-thirds full. Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 9 to 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. 

Dollop creme fraiche over the top and a generous spoonful of raspberry jam. 

Makes 1 dozen cupcakes


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