Friday, February 28, 2014

Cheese Souffle 101

"Cooking is like love; it
should be entered into with
abandon or not at all."
~Harriet Van Horne
I know just hearing the word Souffle, most of you will cringe, but I'm going to show you how easy it easy to make and take the fear out of trying something that is truly amazing.

I actually learned how to make a souffle in 8th grade Home Economics class and fell in love with this light, airy dish that I would make again and again.  It was one of the dishes that impressed even my mother, who had never made one.  A souffle is an egg dish for sure and can be savory, as I have made today or sweet as the ones you have to pre-order in restaurants for dessert.  The word souffle is French and means to "blow up" or "puff up" which it does by whipping the egg whites separately from the yolks to a stiff meringue, then folded in, gently.  The one thing I cannot stress enough is that egg whites wait for no one; once they are whipped you must fold them in and get the souffle baking.  This will mean having everything mise en place; having all your ingredients and your baking dish ready to assemble.  Also, once it's in the oven, DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR TO PEEK FOR 30 MINUTES!  Okay, that was probably a little scary, but we got it out of the let's create a magnificent dish that will have your family, like my hubby saying, "you should make this more often!"

Cheese Souffle
4 T unsalted butter, melted 
3 T King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
4 large egg yolks
5 large egg whites
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
salt & pepper, to taste
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar, for the egg whites)
1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated

Preheat oven 400F-degrees.  Melt butter in a 2 quart sauce pan.  Remove 1 T (approx) butter the 6-cup souffle dish and a "collar" of aluminum foil to wrap around the top of the dish.  This helps to hold up the souffle as it climbs. 

Sprinkle the souffle dish with about 3 T Parmesan cheese.
Next, place the milk in a small sauce pan and heat to a light boil.  Keep it on a simmer while you make a "white sauce."  

In the pan with the melted butter and over medium heat, add the flour, all at once and stir with a rubber spatula.  Cook over the medium heat until the flour/butter mixture foams, about 2 minutes, but does not brown.  
Remove from the heat and add the simmering milk, all at once and beat vigorously with a whisk until well blended.  
Stir the seasonings in and return to the heat to continue to cook one minute more.

Remove from the heat and start adding the eggs yolks, one at a time, until well incorporated.
Having fresh eggs should gives a golden appearance! 
Add the Gruyere cheese, keeping out about 1 T to sprinkle on top of the souffle after it's spooned into the baking dish.

In a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, start on low to to break up the egg whites.  Increase the speed and add the cream of tartar and a pinch of salt.  Continue to whip on high until you have a glossy white sheen and the egg whites are stiff and firm.  Remove bowl from the stand.
Add about 1/3 of the egg whites to the egg/cheese mixture to lighten it up slightly, then, add this to the egg whites in your mixing bowl. The method of folding is important so you don't deflate these beautiful whites.

Use a large rubber spatula, cut down the middle of the mixture and then, pull up and over.  Turn the bowl a quarter turn and continue to do this method until the whites are incorporated. (However, if you see some traces of white, don't worry. It's best not to overwork the whites.)
Carefully spoon the mixture into the prepared souffle dish.
Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1 T Gruyere Cheese.  Place in the oven and close the door.  Immediately turn the oven down to 375F-degrees.  Bake for exactly 30 minutes and remember--DO NOT open the oven during that time!  

The souffle should be puffed up and a lovely golden brown on top.  If you use a tester, it should come out clean.

To serve, use the 2 spoons to lightly puncture the top of the souffle.  Start serving from the top to enjoy the airy texture...if you scoop to the bottom, you will deflate it.
 It was delicious and my hubby is right...I should make this more often!

Tomorrow, I will choose February's winner, but I haven't made the March apron yet; my sewing machine is in for service.  I was making a shower curtain for my daughter and when I was on the last button hold, it stopped!  I was told my automatic button-hole foot and machine needed to be calibrated.  Well, it's almost 20 years old and I guess it's due:-D  

I hope this recipe takes the fear out of souffles and you will try this wonderful dish. Enjoy!   

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Blood Orange Pound Cake

It's been such a dreary Winter for most; snow and more snow predicted in the next few days, that I thought a lovely citrus cake would make it more manageable!

Pound cake and chocolate cake were my mother's two favorites to bake.  I remember the first I made one with her and just loving the golden color from the eggs and made me happy.  Admittedly, I went to the market to buy Meyer Lemons for this pound cake, but was told, "they aren't in season yet."  Then, I saw these lovely gems called Blood Oranges and I knew it was meant to be.

The blood orange is a variety of orange that is smaller than it's familiar "cousin."  The distinctive, dark maroon flesh is due to anthocyanins, a family of antioxidant pigments found in some fruits and flowers, but not citrus fruits!  It's consider a mutation of the sweet orange and I have to say, I was delighted by it's intriguing color and the taste.  As you can see from the bottom photo, it's rind is definitely thicker and much tougher to peel, but don't let that deter you of it's unique flavor.

Blood Orange Pound Cake
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
zest from 2 Blood Oranges
4 T fresh Blood Orange juice
2 tsp. Vanilla extract
8 large eggs
3 cups Queen Guinevere Cake Flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Spray a 12-cup Bundt or Tube pan with a non-stick baking spray.
Into a small bowl, measure the granulated sugar and add the zest from the oranges.  Use your fingers to "rub" the zest into the sugar to maximize the aroma and flavor of the oranges.
In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter until fluffy.  Add the sugar and cream once more, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, scraping the sides again.

Add the vanilla extract and fresh orange juice and mix on medium speed.  Measure the dry ingredients into a bowl and hand whisk to combine.  Add to the butter/egg mixture and beat on low speed until combined, then on medium for 1 minute.
Spoon the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top.
Place the pan in the oven and close the door.  Bake for 15 minutes, then, lower the temperature to 325F-degrees and continue baking another 45-50 minutes.  (A wooden skewer poked into the cake should come out cleanly.)  Remove from the oven and allow to set in the pan about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1/4 cup (approx) of juice from the two oranges with 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar to make a glaze.  Poke some holes into the cake top (as it's resting in the pan) and pour the warm glaze over the top.
I used a straight, metal spatula to make sure the sides were loose, then, turned the cake out onto the serving platter.  
 Although it was a very pretty cake in this position, I decided to flip it to its original, upright position for serving.
My mother would say, "all a good pound cake needs is a dusting of confectioners' sugar."  And, that's all that I did~
Hubby loved the flavor and the simplicity of the cake, which is his favorite.  Stay warm, Enjoy!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Southern Corn Cakes

My mother would make corn cakes; in the morning and sometimes, for dinner.  I love the heartiness and the taste that is so different from pancakes and here in the South, corn cakes take center attraction over those.  Also known as Johnny Cakes or Hoe Cakes, which is even heavier like cornbread, these golden cakes have been around along time.  After breakfast, farmers would carry extra cakes into the fields to have something to snack on during their work day.  Typically they are served with maple syrup, which is how I served them this morning, but my Dad would pour molasses on his, which is really Southern!

I had a notion on how I could make these lighter and less gritty tasting...and it worked.  By heating the cornmeal with buttermilk in the microwave for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes, it definitely softened the grain and gave them the melt-in-your-mouth characteristic found in pancakes.  Along with fresh...and I mean fresh farm eggs that our builder's wife brought me yesterday, these corn cakes will definitely be made again and again in our home.

Southern Corn Cakes
Preheat oven to 200F-degrees and place a rack on top of a baking sheet.  When the temperature comes up, place this in the oven--it will keep your corn cakes hot while making more on the griddle.
In a 4 quart glass measure:

1 1/4 cups buttermilk (+1/2 cup more to mix with the eggs)
1 1/4 cups fine grind cornmeal
2 T unsalted butter
Mix the buttermilk, cornmeal and butter together.  Cover with plastic wrap or a silicon lid, as I did, and microwave for 1 minute.  Remove the plastic (or lid) and stir.  Microwave 30 seconds to 1 minute more until the mixture starts to solidify around the edges.

Notice how the edges look "thicker" 
Set aside while you mix the dry ingredients in a large glass bowl:

3/4 cup King Arthur all-purpose flour
2 T granulated sugar
1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

In a 1 cup glass measure, whisk 2 large eggs with the remaining 1/2 cup of buttermilk.  Add to the cornmeal/buttermilk mixture, then pour into the dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula or dough whisk. Cover with a cloth towel and allow to set about 10 minutes.
Heat a griddle or large frying pan on top of a medium heat.  My mother would test if the griddle was hot enough by dipping her fingers in water and splashing the griddle; if it sizzles, it's ready!
Brush about 1 1/2 tsp. Vegetable Oil on the griddle and ladle the corn cake mixture onto it.  

When the edges look dry, flip the corn cakes.
Cook another 3 to 4 minutes, then remove them to the heating rack in the oven.  My mother didn't do this trick and consequently ate last:-( !
While the corn cakes were staying warm, I made two soft boiled eggs for hubby's breakfast.  Here's the trick for PERFECT soft boiled eggs.

Heat 1/2-inch of water in a covered saucepan to a boil, gently lower cold eggs into the pan (the pan size determines how many eggs you can do, not the water!)
Cover the pan and lower to a simmer.  Set timer for exactly 6 minutes.  When the timer goes off, shut off the heat and take the pan to the sink.  Next, run cold water over the eggs for 30 seconds.  Remove the eggs and dry with a paper towel.  I have this wonderful gadget that takes the tops off the egg without getting shell into it--Rosle Egg Topper.
All that was left to do was to heat maple syrup in the microwave for 1 minute and plate the rest of the breakfast.  I made hubby his favorite veggie sausage to complete this dish.
Our son-in-law gave us maple syrup from Ohio that is just wonderful! 
I love making breakfast; it is a great way to start a beautiful sunny day. Enjoy!


Saturday, February 22, 2014

PB~Banana~Chocolate Swirl Bundt Cake

I don't know how to say this, other than...more overripe bananas were hanging on the stand and my hubby asked, "are you going to do something with these?"  It must be growing up with a frugal mother who let no food item go to waste; she was definitely the Queen of turning leftovers into something else that encourages me to do the same!

My task was to come up with a new banana recipe...and yes, I've lost count how many that has been.  What inspired me with this recipe was seeing a bottle of Hershey's Chocolate Syrup on the shelf. I had bought when the grands were here for their milk, but hadn't used it.  Years (and I mean years) ago I made up an Orange and Chocolate Swirl Cake that everyone loved and I had used the chocolate syrup in that, so I decided to give it a go with bananas.  It turned out great and I hope you love it.

PB~Banana~Chocolate Swirl Bundt Cake
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. Vanilla~Butternut flavor
3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup + 1 T milk
1/3 cup Hershey's Chocolate Syrup
2 T Dutch-processed cocoa
1/4 cup peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Use a baking spray to coat a 10-cup bundt pan.
A present from my Sis!

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the sugars, oil and eggs.  Add the mashed bananas and flavorings and mix again, scraping the sides with a rubber spatula.  Mix the dry ingredients and add them alternately with the milk.  Beat 1 minute more on medium speed.  

Remove 1 cup of the batter and place in a bowl.  (I use my "push-up" measure for ease).
Measure the 1/3 cup of Hershey's Chocolate Syrup in the same measure and add to the removed batter along with the 2 T of cocoa.  Stir together.

To the remaining batter, add the 1/4 cup of peanut butter and mix on low to combine.  Then, spoon this batter into the prepared bundt cake pan.
Add dollops of the chocolate batter over the PB~Banana batter, using a knife to swirl through the two.

Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes.  Check with a wooden skewer in the center after the 45 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 7 to 10 minutes.  
 Turn cake out onto a serving platter and make up a glaze, if desired...I did!
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 T cocoa
1 T Light Karo syrup
2 to 3 T very hot water

Stir together all the ingredients to a smooth, pourable glaze.  Pour over the cake and allow it to drizzle down.


Monday, February 17, 2014

My version of Sally Lunn Buns

Sally Lunn is said to be a French Huguenot refugee, who fled France during the revolution to the town of Bath, England.  There are many stories surrounding Sally Lunn, but one thing I can tell you for certain, her little brioche-like buns are delicious!
(photo borrowed from the internet) 
My hubby and I traveled to Bath, England in 1993 for our 25th anniversary and thanks to our oldest daughter, Erin, who had spent time there during her junior year of college and planned our trip, had a wonderful time.  I was drawn to this building, not only for its history, but the intoxicating aroma of buns baking.  We had lunch there one day and one day we just bought buns to take with us on a hike.  The building was acquired in the 1930s by Marie Byng-Johnson and she opened it as a tea-room specializing in Sally Lunn buns promoting the recipe she is said to have found in a secret cupboard.

Sally Lunn Buns
4 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
2 tsp. sea salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar + 2 tsp.
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup milk 
4 large eggs
1 pkg (or 1 T) active dry yeast
1/4 cup very warm water (about 110F-degrees)

extra melted butter to brush the pans and tops (about 4 Tablespoons)

[You will be happy to know that I made these by hand] In a large bowl, measure the flour and salt, set aside.  In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar.  In a small pan, melt the butter with the milk.
In a 1 cup glass measure, whisk the active dry yeast and 2 tsp. sugar together--allow to set about 7-10 minutes to proof.

Add the egg/sugar mixture to the dry ingredients and with a rubber spatula, start to combine.  Next, add the proofed yeast, then, the melted butter/milk.  Continue to mix with the spatula until thoroughly combined.  The dough will seem sticky, but not to worry.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate about 1 hour for ease in handling.

Remove bowl from refrigerator and you should be able to lightly knead the dough; I did this right in the bowl it was made in.
Now, cover the bowl again with more plastic wrap, but this time, make sure you lightly spray it with a non-stick vegetable spray.
I had a wonderful birthday present last year from my daughter--a proofing box!

If you don't have one, I would highly recommend it for all you serious bread bakers.  Otherwise, find a warm place in your kitchen to allow this dough to rise--about 1 1/2 hours.

When the dough has doubled, transfer it to a lightly-floured bread board and divide into 6 pieces.
Place one of these in the palm of your hand and while pressing on the bread board, roll into a smooth ball.
I found these "small" cake pans in the grocery store (they're made by Wilton and were only 3/$5.99).
With the extra melted butter, brush the pans well and place a dough ball in each. Brush the tops of the balls with more melted butter and cover with plastic wrap to rise once more until doubled (about 40 mins-1 hour).

 Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  When the buns have doubled in size, place in the oven and bake for 23-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Brush the tops once more with butter (heck, can you really have too much butter:-D) then, remove the buns from the pans and allow to cool slightly.
These "cake-like" buns brought back such memories of a warm, Fall day in Bath; life is good, Enjoy!