Sunday, December 26, 2010


I wanted to make baguettes at home for Christmas dinner. So, I turned to French Women Don't Get Fat for the recipe. They were wonderful and not to hard to make.

Baguettes (from French Women Don't Get Fat)

What You Need
- 4-5 cups cake flour
- 1 teaspoon dry yeast
- 2 cups warm water
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt

What You Do
1. In a small bowl dissolve yeast in ½ cup warm water using a fork.
2. Set yeast mixture aside for 10 minutes.
3. Combine flour and salt.
4. Add yeast mixture and stir in remaining 1½ cup water.
5. Mix until sticky enough to knead.
6. Knead for 6-10 minutes; dough should be sticky and smooth.
7. Put in a bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let rise at room temperature until doubled in volume (1 hour).
8. Punch down and divide into 4 pieces.
9. Roll each into a ball and shape into a baguette.
10. Transfer to slightly greased baking sheet and let rise until nearly doubled.
11. Brush with mixture of one beaten egg and one tablespoon water.
12. Score diagonally with sharp knife.
13. Pour two cups of hot water in a pan and place in preheated 450° F oven. (I didn't do this, but I think it would be good!)
14. Bake the baguettes for 15 minutes then lower temperature to 400° F and bake for 10 minutes until golden brown.
15. Remove and cool on a rack before slicing.

So good and not too difficult.

Christmas Weekend

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. My sister and I spent a low-key weekend here in the Washington D.C. area with some friends. For Christmas Eve, we went to a great restaurant in Eastern Market, Belga Cafe. It was perfect!

On Christmas Day, we spent the day watching movies, playing with Logan, and cooking. Our Christmas Dinner included the following:

- Baguette(s)
- Roasted Garlic
- Red-Green Salad with Vinaigrette
- Roasted Cauliflower
- Vegetarian Lasagna (same recipe from Christmas dinner last year)
- Winter Fruit Salad (from Smitten Kitchen)

I'm looking forward to the snow and enjoying the rest of the weekend! Hope you are too.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Peanut Noodles

Warm peanut noodles! It is one of my favorite appetizers at a Chinese restaurant I go to with my family up in New Jersey. I've tried to make it at home before and it was terrible. My roommate made a great one and told me the secret: adding in hot water to get the sauce just right! I've finally made it myself based on Bittman's recipe.

Peanut Noodles (adapted from Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian)

What You Need
- 12 ounces long Asian noodles (I used pad Thai noodles) or fresh Chinese egg noodles
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger, optional
- 1 tablespoon rice or wine vinegar
- Hot sesame oil or Tabasco sauce to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more
- 1/2 cup hot water
- At least 1/2 cup minced scallions for garnish

What You Do
1. Depending on the noodles you are using, follow the directions on the package. But, usually: soak for 30 minutes.
2. Drain noodles.
3. Add boiling water and let soak for 5 minutes.
4. While noodles are cooking, whisk together sesame oil and paste, sugar, soy, ginger, vinegar, hot oil and pepper in a large bowl.
5. Thin sauce with hot water, so that it is about the consistency of heavy cream; you will need 1/4 to 1/2 cup.
6. When noodles are done, drain.
7. Toss noodles and sauce (there are other things you can add here like chicken, tofu, or cucumbers- be creative).
8. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary (the dish may need salt), then garnish and serve.

This dish is good cold, warm, or even hot!

Chocolate-Red Wine Cake

A very celebratory dessert. My roommate took the lead on this one, but it was too good not to share with you. This cake started with my roommate and I drooling over the cover of December's Bon Appetit and the pictured Spiced Chocolate Torte Wrapped in Chocolate Ribbons. Go check out the link immediately and come back.


So, the torte was a bit elaborate for us pre-finals so I found an amazing alternative. We even went out to get a bundt pan for the occasion.

Chocolate-Red Wine Cake (adapted from Food and Wine and this one too)

What You Need
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups dry red wine
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips/chopped

Variation: The original recipe called the cake to be served with confectioner's sugar (for dusting the finished cake) and whipped cream. We opted for a chocolate icing. Of course, the choice is yours depending on how luscious you are feeling.

What You Do
1.Preheat the oven to 350°.
2. Butter and flour a 12-cup bundt pan.
3. In a bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
4. In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, 4 minutes.
5. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated.
6. Add the vanilla and beat for 2 minutes longer.
7. Working in two batches, alternately fold in the dry ingredients and the wine, until just incorporated.
8. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
9. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer.
10. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and pour the hot cream on top.
11. Let stand for 3 minutes, then whisk until smooth.
12. Let the frosting stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until thick enough to spread, about 1 hour.
13. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack; let cool completely.
14. Spread the frosting on the cake!

Pumpkin Chowder

I really like this recipe. I found it when I was browsing through Williams-Sonoma a couple years ago near the register. I used to cook this chowder using the bacon recommended in the recipe, but now have taken the bacon out. The vegetarian version is very good, but of course bacon gives it something extra special. I've done it as a butternut squash chowder (as in the original recipe) as well as a pumpkin chowder. Both are delicious!

Pumpkin Chowder (adapted from Williams-Sonoma)

What You Need
- 2 tbs. olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp. chopped fresh sage, plus small sage leaves for garnish
- 4 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
- 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
- 2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 4 cups pumpkin (or butternut squash) puree
- 1/2 cup heavy cream

Optional: replace 2 tbs. olive oil with 4 bacon slices, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

What You Do
1. If you are using bacon: cook the bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, until crispy, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Set aside. Pour off all but 1 Tbs. of the fat from the pan and return the pan to medium heat.
2. If no bacon: heat the olive oil.
3. Add the onion, celery, bay leaf, chopped sage, the 4 tsp. salt and the 1 tsp. pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, just until the vegetables are soft, 5 to 6 minutes.
4. Stir in the potatoes, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.
5. Add the wine and simmer, stirring to scrape up the browned bits, for 1 to 2 minutes.
6. Add the broth and bring just to a boil.
7. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes.
8. Add the puree (and bacon if you are using it) and simmer for 5 minutes.
9. Stir in the cream and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.
10. Remove the bay leaf and discard.
11. Ladle the chowder into warmed bowls and garnish with sage leaves. Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

Tip from Williams-Sonoma: Make the soup (withholding the cream) up to 1 day in advance. Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until just before serving time. When reheating the soup, stir in the cream.

Very filling and yummy!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holiday Fudge

My roommate's family strikes again! We made wonderful holiday fudge to give out as gifts: Uncle Scott's peanut butter fudge and Annie Erie's caramel icing (turned to fudge). Yum yum yum!

Uncle Scott's Peanut Butter Fudge

What You Need
- 2 cups white sugar
- 3/4 cup milk
- 4 tablespoons peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla

What You Do
1. Pour sugar, vanilla and milk into a small pot and heat, stirring constantly until 240-245 degrees (soft ball) on a candy thermometer.
2. Add in peanut butter and stir/beat well.
3. Spread fudge in a pan covered in wax paper and let cool.
4. Cut into desired size and shape.

Note: We added in some chocolate chips after stirring the peanut butter in well and just mixed it lightly for some chocolate-peanut butter fudge.

Annie Erie's Caramel Fudge

What You Need
- 1/2 cup salted butter (1 stick)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 1/2 cup confectioners sugar

What You Do
1. Melt butter in a medium pot.
2. Add brown sugar and bring to a boil.
3. Let butter and brown sugar mixture boil for 2-3 minutes (keep stirring).
4. Add milk and bring back to a boil.
5. Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit.
6. Beat in sifted confectioners sugar until spreadable.
7. Spread fudge in a pan covered in wax paper and let cool.
8. Cut into desired size and shape.

Note 1: We added some sea salt on top. It looks lovely and tastes delicious.
Note 2: Recipe was originally intended for caramel icing. So, to use as icing allow brown sugar and butter mixture to boil only 2 minutes and reduce confectioners sugar to 1 1/2 cups.

We wrapped each piece individually and put into festive boxes and bags.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Beet Risotto

It's possible that I should change the title of the blog to something related to risotto because I've posted so many risotto recipes. But here is another great one! Beets! I found the recipe in one of my Food and Wine cookbooks and cut it in half (the original recipe called for 3 cups arborio rice, too much for me!).

Beet Risotto (adapted from Food and Wine)

What You Need
- 3-4 cups vegetable stock
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
- 2 beets , peeled and coarsely shredded, plus thinly sliced beets for garnish
- 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 3/4 cup young pecorino cheese, freshly grated (I used parmesan)
- 2 teaspoons poppy seeds, plus more for garnish (I didn't have any, but I think it would be nice looking with them)

What You Do
1.In a saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer; cover and keep warm.
2. In a medium enameled cast-iron casserole, melt the butter.
3. Add the onion and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened, 5 minutes.
4. Add the shredded beets and cook, stirring, until the pan is dry, 12 minutes.
5. Spoon half of the beets into a small bowl.
6. Add the rice to the casserole and stir.
7. Add white wine and cook, stirring until wine is gone (2 minutes).
8. Add 1 cup of the warm stock to the rice and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the stock is nearly absorbed.
9. Continue adding the stock 1 (or half) cup at a time, stirring constantly, until the rice is al dente and a thick sauce forms, 22 minutes.
10. Stir in the cooked beets, cheese and the 2 teaspoons of poppy seeds (if you have them).
11. Cook, stirring, until heated through; add a few tablespoons of water if the risotto is too thick.
12. Spoon the risotto into bowls. Garnish with sliced beets and poppy seeds and serve.

Crazy color! But delicious.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Best Donuts Ever: A Family Tradition

Today is the fourth day of Hanukkah. It has been a wonderful holiday so far and we are only in the middle! Part of what has made this holiday so special has been the two wonderful parties attended this weekend. And, the homemade donuts I made with my roommate.

While planning for Friday's Hanukkah Party, a friend of mine and I discussed important food groups to bring for the event, including Sufganiot (Hebrew for Jelly Donut). She asked, "Well, can you make them?" The idea had never crossed my mind. I figured I'd go to a bakery or Dunkin Donuts and pick some up. But, why, I wondered, was I so afraid of donuts?

I asked my roommate if she had any ideas. She said to me via email: "If you'd rather stick with a recipe you've already chosen, I totally understand, but below is my great grandmother's donut recipe."

How could you possibly go with another source if you have a family heirloom recipe?

We made them on Fri. night and again on Sat. Not only were they amazing (best donuts ever), they were a huge hit with all the guests at both parties and were surprisingly easy to make. Here is the recipe. Please try it! It is fun and a great way to impress friends and party-goers.

Best Donuts Ever (aka Annie Erie's Donuts, from my roommate's great-grandmother Annie Erie)

What You Need
- 1 yeast cake (we defined this as 1 tablespoon yeast)
- 2-3 tablespoons warm water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (use a bit less)
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 egg
- 1 1/4 cups scalded milk (just heat it up in a small pot until it starts to steam)
- 4 1/2 cups flour
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1.5 pints peanut oil (for frying but Annie Erie says "deep fat")
- 1/2 cup sugar for coating (add more as needed, you can also add a dash of cinnamon here too)

What You Do

1. Heat up the milk.
2. Dissolve the yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in warm water.
3. When milk is steaming, remove from heat and add to bowl. Let cool until lukewarm (you don't want to kill your yeast).
4. Add 1 1/2 cups flour and yeast mixture and beat well.
5. Let rise until bubbles burst on top (5 minutes). We didn't see many bubbles burst but we moved ahead after 5 minutes.
6. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar.
7. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and egg and beat well.
8. Add the creamed mixture to the batter and beat well (again!)
9. Add remaining flour and knead for 2 minutes.
10. Let rise 1 hour.
11. Roll dough to about 1/2 inch thick.
12. Cut dough into desired size and shape. We used small wine glasses to cut out small circles. To make the jelly donuts we took two circles and put jelly on one and covered it up (making a jelly sandwich). We then pinched the sides to close the donut. With the remaining dough, we made small round balls (which turn into donut holes). You can play with this and actually made donuts with holes in them (move out of the way Dunkin Donuts!) by making a circle and cutting out a hole in the middle.

13. Let rise again for 30 minutes.
14. Heat up all the oil on medium heat in a small dutch oven.
15. "Fry in deep fat". Which means add one or two donuts (when the oil gets really hot, you can add 3-4 at a time) into hot oil and then let them get golden brown on all sides. Sometimes they will turn over on their own, but you may have to move them around.

16. When golden, remove from oil and let drain on a cooling rack (wire-mesh rack). It's a good idea to put something under the rack to catch the oil.
17. When cool(ish), shake in a bag of sugar (we used a plastic container). You can use powdered sugar, regular sugar, or a cinnamon and sugar mixture! We used regular sugar on the jelly donuts and a cinnamon and sugar mixture on the donut holes.
Share with friends and family this holiday season! Also, don't forget to save your oil for another frying adventure.