Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sticky Buns

The other day I almost made cinnamon rolls for breakfast. The recipe looked fab, and got rave reviews from the food network community, plus it seemed pretty easy. Until I saw Ina do this. Holla!

Easy Sticky Buns
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup pecans, chopped in very large pieces
1 package (17.3-ounces/ 2-sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a 12-cup standard muffin tin on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the 12 tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Place 1 rounded tablespoon of the mixture in each of the 12 muffin cups. Distribute the pecans evenly among the 12 muffin cups on top of the butter and sugar mixture.

Lightly flour a wooden board or stone surface. Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry with the folds going left to right. Brush the whole sheet with the melted butter. Leaving a 1-inch border on the puff pastry, sprinkle each sheet with 1/3 cup of the brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of the raisins. Starting with the end nearest you, roll the pastry up snugly like a jelly roll around the filling, finishing the roll with the seam side down. Trim the ends of the roll about 1/2-inch and discard. Slice the roll in 6 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2 inches wide. Place each piece, spiral side up, in 6 of the muffin cups. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry to make 12 sticky buns.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden to dark brown on top and firm to the touch. Be careful - they're hot! Allow to cool for 5 minutes only, invert the buns onto the parchment paper (ease the filling and pecans out onto the buns with a spoon) and cool completely.

Sauternes syrup

Why am I fixating on ice cream? I blame Quinn's article on using wine in cocktails for getting the wine syrup idea in my head, and then brainstorming cocktail ideas with him just now for keeping it going.
Thinking about a delicious sauternes syrup and how it would go lovely with a lightly flavored or maybe even vanilla ice cream with delicious dried fruit pieces. I'm really into these subtle, lightly sweet flavors right now, which is not wintery of me at all. Guess I just can't wait for a nice spicy meal on a warm summer night. Now I'll have to go somewhere where it's warm during the summer.

Sauternes syrup by the way, is just the wine and some additional sugar cooked down just like simple syrup. Maybe one part wine to 1/4 or 1/2 part sugar, versus the traditional 1:1 since there is already a pretty high sugar content in the wine. This would be awesome with pears too.
Mmmmm, like this recipe. Nom.

Uh. Muh. Gawd.



I tried to get into the whole roasted chickpea thing via South Beach, but I was never happy with the texture. They were never crunchy enough, just getting crumbly, brittle and chewy. Not exactly satisfying. However, I trust the good people over at, so I'm willing to give this another go. Especially since it sounds like so many people were into this snack - maybe I just did it wrong?

15 Chickpea Flavor Combos
(click through for amounts and more details)

Garlic, Pepper, Rosemary
Soy Sauce, Sesame Oil, Chili Powder
Tomato Juice, Curry Powder
Brown Sugar, Rosemary, Cayenne Pepper
Cinnamon, Cumin, Chipotle Powder, Smokey Sea Salt, Smoked Paprika
Corriander, Cumin, Chili Powder, Sweet Paprika, Cinnamon, Allspice, Ginger, Cayenne Pepper
Lime Juice, Chili Powder, Pepper, Cilantro
Sage, Roasted Garlic
Agave, Basil, White Pepper, Cinnamon
Peanut Flour, Salt
Maple Syrup, Apple Cider Vinegar, Nutmeg, Ginger, Cinnamon
Honey, Cinnamon
Apricot Jam, Wasabi Paste, Horseradish
Tamari, Rosemary, Lemon Juice, Agave
• Tarragon, Fennel, Roasted Garlic, Honey, Lemon Juice (our personal favorite - simply add a few finely diced tablespoons of each)

03.15.10 update

A drizzle of olive oil, a shit ton of garlic powder, some Kosher salt (perhaps less than I used. . . ) and some dried rosemary made for a tasty treat. But I still can't figure out why some of the peas are crispy fantastic, and some are still a bit chewy. No mind - they're good.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Corn Dogs

Well I don't know how you even thought I wasn't going to try to make these at some point this summer.
I smell a circus party in my future! I can wear my zombie clown outfit again, but with less zombie.

Corn Dogs
spicy ketchup:
3/4 c ketchup
1/4 c pickled hot peppers, diced
1/4 c pickled sweet peppers, diced

1 egg
1 (8.5 oz) package corn muffin mix
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
3/4 c milk
1/2 c ap flour
1 pkg cocktail franks
veggie oil for frying
20 6" wooden skewers

In a small bowl combine ketchup and pickled peppers. Mix well and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine egg, corn muffin mix, garlic powder, onion powder and milk. In a separate shallow dish add flour. Insert wooden skewers half way into cocktail franks.

Heat oil to 375 degrees F in a deep-fryer. Dredge each cocktail frank in flour, dust off excess then dip into cornmeal batter. Fry 2 to 3 corn dogs at a time for about 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm with the relish.

Monday, January 11, 2010

PB& J!!

Hell YES peanut butter and jelly pancakes! I had a pb&j souffle dessert in New York that was awesome so I am all over these pancakes. Trying to figure out how I can SB them up. . . I'm thinking SB baking mix like Carbquik; and sugar free jelly/jam oughta do it.

Looks like a couple of our FN faves are into it.

Here's Sandra's:

PB&J Pancakes!
1 cup grape jelly
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water

1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup peanut butter
2 1/2 cups baking mix
2 eggs
Canola cooking spray

For Syrup:

To make the syrup, heat the grape jelly in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Dissolve the cornstarch in 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl. When the jelly has become liquid, stir in the cornstarch mixture. Simmer until a syrup consistency is reached, about 5 to 10 minutes.

For Pancakes:

In a small saucepan warm the milk over low heat. Whisk in the peanut butter and combine until completely smooth, then remove from the heat.

In a large mixing bowl add the baking mix. Stir in the eggs and milk mixture and combine until just incorporated.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.

Put a large cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray it with cooking spray. Put 1/4 cup of pancake batter in the center of the skillet and cook until golden brown. About 1 to 2 minutes per side. When bubbles in the center of the pancake have deflated, flip over and cook the other side. Store on a sheet tray in the preheated oven to keep warm while making the rest of the pancakes.

Transfer the pancakes to a large serving platter and serve with warm grape syrup.

I still want to try a PB&J ice cream, but I bet I can do a SB pop for that too. . .

Take one generic vanilla recipe, doctor up with natural, no sugar added PB and sugar free jelly. Easy peasy. Patrick had a great suggestion for turning our fave peanut butter cup SB dessert into pops. I'm sure I can just add a swirl of jelly to that and be in business. I don't have an ice cream maker, so hopefully I can take a page from this previous ice cream entry and go from there.

Beef Burgundy

While trying to decide on last night's dinner (it was garlic and soy pork and grilled veggies - it was okay), I saw "NEW BEEF BURGUNDY" in my SB cook book and the magically enticing phrase, "this version of the familiar French boeuf bourguignonne . . . " Dr. Agatston ('s hired food writers), you had me at boeuf.
I tried to see if there was an online version so I didn't have to retype it (laaaaazy) and found another version. They both sound good, HOWEVER! I have used whole wheat flour to thicken stews before (see the Chicken & Biscuits experiment) and I thought it was not so awesome. This recipe calls for only half of the amount though, so maybe it would be okay.

Dear M. Quinn -
Please make me one of these thankyouverymuch. Looks like you'd better get cooking on Wednesday. Sorry. :(

New Beef Burgundy
1/4 c whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 lbs round steak, cubed (remember what Julia says - pat the meat dry!)
2 tbsp evoo (just like Quinn's Food Network girlfriend always says!)
1/2 lb pearl onions
1 lb mushrooms, quartered
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 c burgundy wine
4 c beef broth
1/4 c tomato paste
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 bay leaves
1/4 c Italian parsley, chopped (which you can skip on account of me not really liking parsley)

In a ziploc bag, combine flour, salt, and pepper. Add the beef, seal, and toss to coat.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large saucepan over medium-high. Working in batches to prevent overcrowding, add the beef and cook, stirring/turning frequently, for 5 minutes or until browned. Remove to a plat and repeat with remaining beef.
Add the remaining 1 tbsp oil to pan. Add onions, mushies, garlic & cook, stirring often for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Add the wine, broth, tomato paste, cocoa powder, bay leaves and beef. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 2 hours. Remove and discard the bay leaves.
Sprinkle with parsley.

Beef Burgundy Simplified
The taste vastly improves if the stew is stored overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
2 T. oil
18 small white onions, peeled (or frozen)
3-5 pounds beef chuck, cut in 1 1/2 inch cubes
2 T flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1-2 C. Burgundy or other dry red cooking wine
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3/4 Cup beef stock (or canned beef bouillon)
1- 8 oz can tomato sauce
2 T. chopped parsley
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. thyme
3/4 pound fresh mushrooms
2 T. butter

Lightly brown the onions in the oil and remove with a slotted spoon and reserve. Pat meat dry between paper towels and brown it on all sides in the same pot without crowding. You may have to do it in batches. Sprinkle browned meat with flour, salt, and pepper. Add wine, garlic, stock, tomato sauce and herbs. Over heat bring the mixture to a simmer and then cook it, tightly covered for two or more hours or until the meat is fork tender. Add the onions after one hour.

Meanwhile, wipe the mushrooms with a damp cloth and trim off stem ends. Quarter mushrooms if large, leave small ones whole. Heat the butter and remaining part of oil in a large skillet and lightly saute the mushrooms for about 4 minutes and set aside.

When done, skim off any fat and add the mushrooms. Voila! Beef burgundy! After cooling, it can be refrigerated or frozen at this point. If the sauce is too thin, combine 2 TB flour with 1/2 Cup water and whisk the mixture into boiling beef burgundy. Serve over whole wheat noodles.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Cucumber Salad

One of my very favorite Thai dishes is the cucumber salad that comes alongside satay. I know it's practically a garnish, but I adore it.
Old roomie, McD, was coming over for dinner earlier this week and I knew he'd enjoy the SB pork satay and I knew I had everything I needed at home already - major bonus. I also knew I had a cucumber and a half - excellent. * Mr. Burns fingers *
I asked McD to grab a red onion and some cilantro on his way over and we were in business.

Cucumber Salad
1 1/2 cucumbers, sliced thinly
1/4 of a red onion, sliced very thinly
3-4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp Splenda (don't inhale while opening or closing the package or you'll get a lung full)
3 dashes of sesame oil
3 dashes of chili oil (or to taste)
1-2 tsp soy sauce (or to taste)
cilantro if you have it and like it

Of course I'm trying to use muscle memory to recall how much of everything went in as I glugged and dashed it into the bowl, but please keep in mind that I am in my 30s and I drink, so I cannot promise this is entirely accurate.

You can probably mix up all of the dressing ingredients first, so they're well blended, then add in the cukes and onion, but I threw everything into the bowl as I thought about it and it still worked out well, so you just go ahead and do whatever feels right. I let it sit for about 20 minutes as I prepped and cooked the satay, stirring periodically to make sure everyone got sauced. This is probably enough to make a decent sized side dish for four people, but two of us ate the hell out of it.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Pan Seared Gnocchi

I'm in love. It's not new really, I've felt this way for a few years, from the first time we met. It was definitely love at first bite (too far?).
This link will probably break (just like my heart) because the chef's latest restaurant was closed THE DAY AFTER I LAST VISITED. Thank GOD I got in one more time. In any case, chef Sean O'Brien makes the most heartbreakingly angelic gnocchi you will ever have the honor of caressing with your mouth. If the link is broken google him! You'll know you've found the right one if it says he worked at Myth & Zinnia in San Francisco.
Seriously, the man is a gnocchi genius. And his wild boar ragu? Do NOT get me started (where can I even get wild boar?! * note to self; befriend hunters).

And now, NOW that I can no longer saunter down and stuff myself full of potato fluff goodness (with a delicate crispy coating) I have to dedicate the rest of my life to perfecting his craft. At least until he opens something else in the area. (Sean, it's not YOU - it's the space. It's cursed, I'm sure of it.)
Obsessed much? Yes.

I give you, the starting point recipe. . . (also, how do I get invited to this mystical gathering of Bay Area Food Bloggers please and thank you?) I am NOT currently interested in these shell beans however; I favor parmesan crusted, brown buttery goodness to start, and then maybe the wild boar ragu. But, we all must start somewhere and this Heidi Swanson dame has got my mouth watering so I'll forgive her her summer version.

Golden, Crispy Gnocchi
Look for fresh shell beans, still in pods at your farmers' markets. This time I used cranberry beans, not being able to resist their vibrant, mottled pink pods. I also added a few handfuls of butter beans, and of course favas (which I can get here at the market through November). Most beans you can pop right out of the pod and throw into a pot of boiling water to cook. Favas you need to remove the beans from their big outer pods, give them a quick boil (a minute or two), drain, rinse with cold water to cool them off, and then pop them out of their light colored inner shell. Intensive but worth it.

I buy fresh gnocchi from a pasta maker at the farmers' market as well. Throw them right in a well-seasoned pan with some clarified butter, toss and let them brown on each side, no boiling. This is not a typo.

fresh shell beans (try a mix of fava, cranberry beans, butter beans), shelled, roughly three cups of beans

1 pound fresh gnocchi

1/2 pound chanterelle mushrooms (optional - if you can't get chanterelles, skip the mushrooms)
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
3 medium shallots, thinly sliced

a big handful of small cherry tomatoes, halved

clarified butter or extra virgin olive oil

splash of cream (optional)
freshly grated parmesan (optional)

Take the shelled beans and cook each type of bean in its own pot of water. They will take between 10 and 20 minutes to cook (taste to tell when they are done). Drain and salt to taste. Set aside. See header notes re: fava beans.

Heat a couple tablespoons of clarified butter (or olive oil) in a large well-seasoned (or non-stick) skillet over medium-high heat. Add the gnocchi in a single layer and toss to coat with the butter. Let them cook until they are golden brown on the bottoms and then use a metal spatula to flip the gnocchi. Cook until they are golden all over. Salt, transfer to a platter and set aside.

Clean out that same big skillet, add a bit more butter or oil, and over medium-high heat saute the mushrooms, shallots and thyme along with a few pinches of salt and pepper. The mushrooms will release a bit of moisture, keep cooking, and let them get a bit of color (another minute or two).

Toss the cooked shell beans into the skillet with the mushrooms, add the tomatoes and cook for another few seconds. Remove from heat and stir in a splash of cream if you like. Pour the beans and mushrooms over the gnocchi and sprinkle with grated parmesan.

Serve family style on a big plate or platter.

Serves 4-6.

Wait. What do you mean I just pan sear them in butter? That's it? That's all? This doesn't require virgin sacrifice and listening to old Beatles records backwards? No chanting? No dancing? Just. . . butter?
I'm a little disappointed.

Okay, looks like it's time to start working on that wild boar ragu then.