Bourbon Apple Cinnamon Hot Cross Bun Bread Pudding

April 16, 2013

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Since I just shared that wonderfully spicy Chicken & Andouille Jambalaya recipe with you, I thought you might like something with a bit of a Creole flavour to serve for dessert. New Orleans Bourbon Bread Pudding is just such a dessert. Usually this bread pudding would be made with a French baguette or other egg rich bread like brioche or challah.But I had just made a huge batch of Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday. Those Buns were deeee-lish!

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The best Hot Cross Buns I have made to date. However, there were quite of few of those gems sitting around here. Even after the husband and I had eaten our fill, and I’d set one aside for its good luck/medicinal value, we still had quite a few and they were rapidly heading towards a very stale state. Perfect for Bread Pudding! Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Bun Bread Pudding!

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Oh and don’t forget that I’m putting some Bourbon in the mix as well. That is always a good thing! I had made Dorie Greenspan’s Bourbon Bread Pudding before and knew it was a winner, so I just made her Bourbon Bread pudding using my Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns for the bread. I decided to make up a bit of Bourbon Syrup to drizzle over the pudding as well. Oh yeah…and we might have added a little scoop of ice cream on the side. Let me tell you, this bread pudding is just da bomb! I hope you won’t wait until next Easter to make it!

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Bourbon Apple Cinnamon Hot Cross Bun Bread Pudding

Recipe slightly adapted from: Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces left over Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Demerara sugar to sprinkle over top

For the Bourbon syrup:

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Bourbon ( I like Knob Creek)

Directions:

Butter a 9×5 inch loaf pan ( Pyrex or ceramic will work well. I had so many Buns left over to use, I doubled the recipe and made mine in a 9×13″ pan). Line a roasting pan big enough to hold the loaf pan with a double thickness of paper towels. Fill a teakettle with water and put it on to boil; when the water boils, turn off the heat.

Cut the buns into 1″ cubes and remove the cross from the top of the bun as it tends to have a tough texture. If the bread is stale, put it into the loaf pan. If it is not stale, spread it out on a baking sheet lined with parchments and bake it in a 350° F oven to “stale” it for 10 minutes. Once finished, place the bread in the loaf pan and set the loaf pan in the middle of the roasting pan.

Bring milk and cream just to a boil.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, yolks, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a bowl. Still whisking slowly drizzle in about one-quarter of the hot milk mixture-this will temper, or warm the eggs so they don’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remaining milk. Add the bourbon and vanilla and whisk gently to blend. Rap the bowl against the counter to pop any bubbles that might have formed, then pour the custard over the bread and press the bread gently with the back of a spoon to help cover it with liquid. Cover the pan lightly with wax paper and leave it on the counter, giving the bread the back-of-the-spoon treatment now and then, for 1 hour.

Center a rack in an oven preheated to 350°F.

Discard the wax paper. Sprinkle Demerara sugar over the top of the pudding. Cover the loaf pan snugly with a piece of aluminum foil. Poke about 5 holes in the foil. Slide the roasting pan/loaf pan into the oven and very carefully pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the loaf pan. Bake the pudding for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes more, or until the pudding is puffed and golden and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean. Transfer the baking pan to a rack and cool the pudding until it is just warm, or reaches room temperature.

While pudding is baking make the Bourbon Syrup. Stir the water and sugar together in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar melts, then bring to a boil for about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Bourbon. Pour the syrup into a heatproof bowl and let cool.

Once you a ready to serve the pudding, sprinkle powdered sugar over the top and serve with a Bourbon syrup drizzle. Or you could go even one step further and serve it along with a scoop of ice cream.

Enjoy!


French Brownies

February 4, 2013

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All you brownie lovers, pay attention now! These French Brownies a la Dorie Greenspan are just perfect. Well, let me be more specific. If you love “cake like” brownies, these probably are not for you, so sorry for the interruption. You can move on now and go ahead about your business. But for those of you who prefer a nice, moist, fudge like brownie, look no further! These French darlins have a completely silky texture and decadent chocolate flavour. I love the addition of the rum soaked raisins. I never would have thought to add raisins to my brownies, but it works oh so well. Another amazing thing about these brownies is that they don’t taste too sweet. You know how the first bite of some brownies can send you into a full-on sugar conniption, they are just that tooth-achingly sweet? Not these. They have just the right amount of sweetness to leave you satisfied.

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So easy to make, I bet you could have a batch baked before you know it. And their appearance will give you and excuse to talk with an outrageously ridiculous french accent. Come on…you know what I’m talking about! I want to hear zee  “Sacre Bleu!” , “Ooh là là!”,  and “Mon Dieu!”, followed by that crazy French laugh “Hon, Hon, Hon!”, which I’ve heard does not actually occur in France, but we are being ridiculous here, so I say go for it! I want to hear outrageous accents like the French Knights were sporting in Monty Python’s Holy Grail. (I love that movie! To see a clip of the actual “French Taunting” click here.)

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Well, there you have it (voilà)! What else can I say at this point but “Bon Appètit”!

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French Brownies

recipe from: Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours

yield: 16 bars

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 sticks ( 12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces, at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar

Directions:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 300° F. Line a 8X8″ pan with foil, butter the foil and place the pan on a baking sheet.

Whisk the flour, salt and cinnamon together.

Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the water almost evaporates. Add the rum and let it warm for about 30 seconds, then turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum with a long match. Allow the flames to die down and set the raisins aside.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate melts. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring until it melts. Don’t let the butter/chocolate mixture to get very hot.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar until thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter mixture, mixing only until it  is incorporated. You’ll have a thick, creamy batter. add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds-the dry ingredients won’t be completely incorporated. Then finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula. Fold in the raisins, along with any liquid remaining in the pan. Scrape the batter into the pan.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to warm or room temperature.

Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.

Enjoy!


Chicken, Apples and Cream a la Normande with Lemon-Steamed Spinach

November 16, 2012

Good Grief! It has been over one month since I last posted!! I would love to say something like “Time flies when you’re having fun”. I would like to tell you that I won a squillion (squillion = much more than one million) dollars and I was busy trying to find ways to spend it. Or maybe that I was a spy for the CIA and that espionage took up a whole heck of a lot of time. Or that I was just out living it up and having boat loads of fun. But believe you me, I have decidedly NOT been having fun. When I last left you, I believe I was apologizing for not posting for a while (hmmm….this seems to be becoming a habit…) because I had been on holiday in Ireland and was a bit jet lagged. Well, I caught some sort of crud on that plane coming home. I remember sitting on that flying hospital ward and thinking to myself that it would be a miracle if I didn’t get sick, cause everyone around me was hacking and wheezing non-stop for the eight-hour flight. Don’t you know it, about 4-5 days after getting home, wham! I got smacked with some cold. And it wasn’t one of those little annoying things that you can go basically go about your normal business with, albeit with a box of tissues in tow. No it was a bear of a thing. Grizzly, not black bear. I used so many tissues I was sad I didn’t own stock in the Kleenex company! Just when I about had that one kicked, and was ready to dive into blogging again, we lost power for 3 days with Hurricane Sandy. And then, KAPOW! Another coldy/virusy thing descended upon me. I know I said the last one was a bear, well this one was essentially Godzilla! It totally body slammed me to the floor and proceeded to do some sort of celebratory dance all over my prone body. Seriously, it was bad news. And then, apparently I was in the sharing mood, cause I passed it on over to my poor unsuspecting husband, whose usual immune system of steel was unable to protect him from this nightmare. So, I’m sure you can see, there hasn’t been a whole heck of a lot of “fun” going on around here! The good news is, we both seem to be on the road to recovery. I’d appreciate it if everyone would cross their fingers (and perhaps toes) for us at this point!

So enough of our trials and tribulations for now. Please accept my apology for the disappearing act. I’ve finally re-emerged with a lovely Fall recipe, Chicken, Apples and Cream à la Normande, from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table. This dish doesn’t have a whole ton of ingredients, mainly just chicken breasts, mushrooms apples, cream and Calvados (an apple brandy from Northern France), but it tastes wonderfully decadent! It also looks quite fancy, but it very easy to make. I served mine on a bed of Lemon-Steamed Spinach which paired perfectly with the apples and cream sauce.

Great for a romantic dinner for two and impressive enough to serve at a larger dinner party. And it has apples in it, which are good for you. You know what they say, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”…too bad I didn’t think of that about a month ago!  :)

Chicken, Apples and Cream à la Normande

recipe from: Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table

yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • All purpose flour, for dredging
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves at room temperature
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1″ chunks
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 8 mushrooms, stemmed, wiped clean, thinly sliced and slices cut crosswise in half
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • 2 Tablespoons Calvados, apple jack or brandy
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream

Directions:

Put some flour on a plate and season it with salt and pepper. Pat the chicken pieces dry and run them through the flour, coating both sides lightly and tapping off the excess.

Put a large deep skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon each butter and oil. When the butter is melted, slip the chicken into the pan. Cook for 3 minutes, to brown the undersides, then turn over and cook for 3 minutes more.

If you’re low on butter and oil, add a little more now, then toss in the apple, onion and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and turn the new additions around so that they’re well mixed and glossy with butter and oil. Cook for 1 minute, then pour in the broth. When the broth bubbles, reduce the heat and cook for about 10 minutes or until the chicken is almost cooked through.

Turn the heat up again, pour in the Calvados and boil until it’s almost evaporated, about 1 minute. Add the cream and keeping the heat on high, cook until the cream reduces by about one quarter, a matter of a few minutes. Taste the sauce for salt and pepper. arrange the chicken on a dish or on a bed of steamed spinach if you wish, pour sauce over it.

Lemon Steamed Spinach

ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 lbs. (two 10 oz. bags) baby spinach – cleaned and trimmed
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Have your steamer set up and ready to go. Put the spinach in a bowl and toss it with 1 tablespoon of the oil, the zest and salt and pepper to taste. Taste for seasoning and if the spinach looks dry, add some or all of the remaining olive oil.

Turn the spinach into the pot, cover and steam for 3 minutes. Turn spinach and cook for another minute or two until it is tender. The spinach should be served as soon as it’s cooked.

Enjoy and stay healthy!


Rum Drenched Lemon Loaf Cakes

June 6, 2012

I told you that I had something yummy in mind when I made up that batch of Meyer Lemon Curd. As if the curd wasn’t fabulous enough, all on its lonesome, I thought it would be even better if I slathered it over the top of Rum Drenched Lemon Loaf Cake and then added some fresh fruit and whipped cream. Have Mercy! This dessert was unbelievably delicious. So fresh and light. Perfect summer dessert! Now I must admit, Dorie Greenspan’s Rum Drenched Lemon Loaf Cakes can stand up all on their own. I’m sure nobody would be complaining if they were served a gorgeous slice of this cake, completely unadorned.

It has a wonderful texture and fresh lemon zing. The rum glaze that it is drenched in is not too shabby either. Excellent with a cup of tea. But since I had the Meyer Lemon Curd and some fresh fruit, I just couldn’t resist dressing it up a bit more.

These loaf cakes are quite easy to make, so if you’ve already made some curd, why not whip up a couple of these cakes to go along with it? You won’t be sorry!

Rum Drenched Lemon Loaf Cakes

recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours

Ingredients:

For the Cakes:

  • 2 2/3 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 1/3 Cups sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out and reserved, or 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • zest of 2 Meyer Lemons
  • 6 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
  • 2/3 Cup heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons dark Rum
  • 1 stick plus 7 tablespoons (15 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the Rum Syrup:

  • 1/3 Cup water
  • 1/4 Cup sugar
  • 1/4 Cup dark Rum

Directions:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350° F. Butter two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x2 1/2-inch loaf pans, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pans on an insulated baking sheet or two regular sheets stacked on top of the other.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.

Put the sugar, the pulp from the vanilla bean and the lemon zest in a large bowl and, working with your fingers, rub them together until the sugar is moist and thoroughly imbued with the fragrance of vanilla and lemon. (If you are using vanilla extract, add it later, after you’ve added the eggs.) Add the eggs and whisk them into the sugar, beating until they are thoroughly incorporated. Whisk in the extract, if you are using it, then whisk in the cream, followed by the Rum. Continuing with the whisk or switching to a large rubber spatula, gently stir in the dry ingredients in 3 to 4 additions; the batter will be smooth and thick. Finish by folding in the melted butter in 2 or 3 additions. Pour the batter into the prepared pans, smoothing the tops with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. ( As soon as the cakes go into the oven, make the syrup.) After about 30 minutes in the oven, check the cakes for colour – if they are browning too quickly, cover them lightly with foil tents.

For the syrup:

Stir the water and sugar together in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar melts, then bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Rum. Pour the syrup into a heatproof bowl and let cool.

When the cakes are done, transfer them to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before unmolding them and turning them right side up on the rack. Place the rack over a baking sheet lined with wax paper and, using a thin skewer poke holes all over the cskes. brush the cakes all over with the syrup, working slowly so that the cakes sop it up. Leave the cakes on the rack to cool to room temperature.

Top slice of the cake with Meyer Lemon Curd, fresh fruit of your choosing and whipped cream or perhaps a scoop of ice cream.

Enjoy!


Meyer Lemon Cream Mini Tarts

May 25, 2012

After only a short delay, I’m back to those Meyer Lemons. I mentioned previously how long I had been looking for these little devils and how thrilled I was to finally find some last week. The first thing I made was Meyer Lemon Pudding Cakes, which were fantastic. But I still had some Meyer Lemons left after those pudding cakes, (remember, I did say that I grabbed a sack full of them) so I decided to make Meyer Lemon Cream Mini Tarts.

I found a recipe for “Lemon Cream” in Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours under “The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart”. I thought this looked fantastic, but rather than use regular Sweet Tart dough for my tart shell, I decided to go with a graham cracker crumb base, sort of like you would find in a key lime pie. I also had these adorable 4″ Mini Tart pans that I had been dying to try, so I made 6 Mini Tarts rather than a regular 9″ tart.

You may wonder what the difference is between Lemon Cream and Lemon Curd. They are very similar but differ in when the butter is added into the mix. In a curd, all of the ingredients, including the butter are cooked together until they thicken. In this cream, the eggs, lemon juice and sugar are cooked together and the butter is added only after the mixture cools down a bit. This causes the butter to emulsify rather than melt, which results in a light and well…creamy texture.

All in all, these were very easy to prepare. I baked the graham cracker tart shells in the morning and while they cooled I prepared the Meyer Lemon Cream. Once the cream was done, I popped it into the fridge for its requisite 4 hours. I didn’t assemble the tarts until right before I was ready to serve them and then garnished them with some freshly whipped cream and bits of fresh fruit. These little tarts were outstanding! The Meyer Lemon Cream is velvety smooth and satisfyingly sweet yet tart. I loved the contrast that the crunchy graham cracker crust provided. My husband is in fruit filled dessert heaven! We can’t believe we’ve been missing out of these exquisite Meyer Lemons all of our lives! If you’ve been likewise deprived, I urge you, search high and low, don’t stop until you find some of these gems and then get baking!

Meyer Lemon Cream Mini Tarts

Recipe adapted from: Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours

Yield: 6 Mini Tarts (4″ diameter)

Ingredients:

For the graham cracker tart shells:

  • 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

For the Meyer Lemon Cream:

  • 3/4 cup sugar (if you are using regular lemons in lieu of the Meyers, increase to 1 cup sugar)
  • Grated zest of 3 Meyer lemons
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup fresh Meyer Lemon Juice (from 4-5 lemons)
  • 2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons (10 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces, at room temperature

Directions:

For the graham cracker tart shells:

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Butter 6 mini tart pans (or one  9″ tart pan).

Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour in the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. (I do this with my fingers.) Turn the ingredients into the mini tart pans and use your fingers to pat an even layer over the bottom and up the sides of the pan.

Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crusts aside to cool on a rack while you make the Meyer Lemon Cream.

For the Meyer Lemon Cream:

Have an instant-read thermometer, a strainer and a blender or food processor at hand. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.

Put the sugar and zest in a large heatproof bowl that can be set over the pan of simmering water. Off the heat, rub the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs, followed by the Meyer Lemon Juice.

Set the bowl over the pan and start stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid to the touch. Cook the lemon cream until it reaches 180 degrees F. As you whisk – you must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling – you’ll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger and then, as it gets closer to 180 degrees F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks.

As soon as it reaches 180 degrees F, remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of the blender (or food processor); discard the zest. Let the cream stand, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140 degrees F, about 10 minutes.

Turn the blender to high, and with the machine running, add the butter about 5 pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed as you incorporate the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going – to get the perfect light airy texture of lemon-cream dreams, you must continue to blend the cream for another 3 minutes.

Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. The cream will keep in the fridge for 4 days or, tightly sealed, in the freezer for up to two months)

When you are ready to assemble the tarts, just whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the tart shell. Serve the tart or refrigerate until needed.

Garnish with freshly whipped cream and fruit.

Enjoy!


Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake

May 14, 2012

Here it is Monday and I must admit I’ve been back at Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table again. I just love that cookbook! It has yet to disappoint, so if you don’t own it already, you might want to look into it. This time I decided to try her recipe for Marie-Hèléne’s Apple Cake.

I love apples, my favourite fruit, so anything apple gets my attention. And well, I’ve already mentioned how my husband loves a good fruit dessert, so I got busy making this cake. I’m happy to report that this cake is very easy to prepare. Really there is no fuss. Just a no-nonsense simple apple cake. And I love that apples really steal the show here. I would say it is as close as you can get to a pie, but still be a cake. The chunks of apple are held together ever so slightly by a thin matrix of cake.

Oh, and it has rum in it. Always a plus! The cake was absolutely delicious and was gobbled down in its entirity by folks on the very night it was served. Not a left-over in sight!

I dusted the top of the cake with some powdered sugar and served it with freshly whipped cream to which I had added a bit of cinnamon. Cinnamon or vanilla ice cream would also be fantastic. Try this winner today!

Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake

recipe from: Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table

ingredients:

  • 3/4 Cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 large apples (if you can choose 4 different kinds)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 Cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons dark rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Directions:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350°F. Generously butter an 8″ springform pan. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and put the springform on it.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.

Peel the apples, cut them in half, and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 1 – 2″ chunks.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they’re foamy. Pour in the sugar and whisk for a minute or so to blend. Whisk in the rum and vanilla. Whisk in half of the flour and when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have  smooth rather thick batter. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it’s coated with batter. Scrape the mix into the pan and poke it around a little with the spatula so that it’s evenish.

Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 50 – 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean; the cake may pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.

Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan. (Open the springform slowly, and before it’s fully opened, make sure there aren’t any apples stuck to it.) Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper, and invert it onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish.

Serve with ice cream or freshly whipped cream. I served this one with some cinnamon whipped cream.

*This cake is very moist. When you store it, do not cover it. Simply place a piece of plastic wrap against the cut surface. Will keep at room temperature for 2 days.

Enjoy!


Chicken B’stilla

April 23, 2012

I am on a serious Dorie Greenspan kick. I have been nothing short of obsessed with her Around My French Table cookbook. Last week I shared my take on her Bubble Top Brioche and not too long ago I blogged about her Chicken Breast Diable. And I can’t forget her Nutella Double Chocolate & Banana Tart. I’m seriously drooling just thinking about it. For those of you who do not yet have this brilliant cookbook, chock full of over 300 delicious recipes just like these, I don’t know what you are waiting for! It is really stunning!

Today I’d like to talk about her Chicken B’stilla recipe. I had never tried this French adaptation of the classic Moroccan dish, but her description of chicken, all spiced up with ginger, cinnamon, coriander and saffron baked in a filo dough pie crust and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar was irresistible! I know I’ve mentioned before how I love every kind of meat pie that I’ve been lucky enough to stumble upon, so I had very high hopes for this dish. And let me say for the record, it did not disappoint!

Making this tasty dish does require a bit of a time investment though. The chicken thighs need to marinate for 1 hour and then cook for 1 hour more. But the good news for all of you time pressed folks (and who isn’t…) you can break the preparation of this dish up over a couple of days if necessary. The chicken can marinate over night. The next day you can cook the marinated chicken and then refrigerate that overnight, so that on the third day you can just work on assembling the pie. And that was where I had a bit of an issue. I’m sure most of you will be able to complete this final step with no problems. However, I gotta say, me and filo dough don’t seem to get along so well. In fact, we have somewhat of a “love-hate” relationship. So far, my love of that flaky filo pastry when I’m eating the finished dish has been strong enough to overcome my feelings of thorough irritation, bordering on true hatred, when I’m trying to work with it! Sheesh! So, if you haven’t surmised it from my above comments, the final construction of the pie is a bit fiddly to say the least. However, your finished Chicken B’stilla will look marvelous and taste even better. Delight your family and friends with the spicy Moroccan dish!

Chicken B’stilla

recipe from: Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table

yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 8 chicken thighs, skinned
  • 2 large onions, coarsely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Big pinch of saffron threads
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • salt
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 8 sheets filo (each 9 x 14″)
  • About 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 ounces sliced almonds, toasted and chopped
  • Cinnamon sugar, for dusting

Directions:

Put the chicken pieces, onions, garlic and spices into a Dutch oven or other large casserole and give everything a good stir. Cover and let the chicken marinate for 1 hour at room temperature. (If it is more convenient for you, the chicken can be marinated in the refrigerator for as long as 1 day.)

Add the chicken broth and 1 teaspoon salt to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so that the liquid simmers, cover the pot, and cook for 1 hour, at which point the chicken should be falling-off-the-bone tender.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a bowl. strain the broth, saving both the liquid and the onions. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and cut it into small cubes or shred it.

Clean the Dutch oven and pour the broth back into it, or pour the broth into a medium saucepan. Whisk in the lemon juice, bring to a boil and cook until you have about 1 cup liquid. Reduce the heat to low.

Beat the eggs with the honey and whisking all the while, pour into the broth. Heat, whisking constantly until the sauce thickens enough that your whisk leaves tracks in it, about 5 minutes. Pull the pan from the heat and season the sauce with salt and pepper.

Stir the chicken and reserved onions into the sauce, along with the cilantro and parley. (You can make the chicken and sauce up to 1 day ahead and keep it covered and refrigerated.)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Place the filo sheets between sheets of wax paper and cover with a kitchen towel. Brush a 9″ round cake pan, one that’s 2 ” tall, with melted butter. Brush 1 sheet filo with butter and center it in the pan, so that the excess hangs over the edges. Brush another sheet and press it into the pan so that it’s perpendicular to the first sheet and forms a plus sign. Place a third and then a fourth buttered sheet into the pan so that they form and X; the overhang from all of the sheets should cover the edges of the pan.

Sprinkle half of the almonds over the filo. spoon in the saucy chicken, spreading it evenly across the pan, and top with the rest of the almonds. Fold the overhanging filo over the chicken.

Butter the remaining 4 sheets of filo, stacking them one on top of the other on the work surface. Using a pot lid or the bottom of a tart pan as a guide, cut our a 10 to 11″ circle. Center the circle over the cake pan and gently tuck the edges of the dough into the pan, working your way around it as though you were making a bed. Brush the top of the b’stilla with a little butter and sprinkle with some cinnamon sugar. Place the pan on the baking sheet.

Bake the b’stilla for 20 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for 20 minutes more. If the top seems to be getting too brown at any point, cover it loosely with foil. Transfer the b’stilla to a cooling rack and let rest for about 5 minutes.

Lay a piece of parchment over a cutting board, and have a serving platter at hand. Turn the b’stilla out onto the parchement-lined board and then invert it onto the serving platter, so that it is right side up. Serve the b’stilla now, cutting it into wedges, or serve it warm or at room temperature.

Enjoy!


Cinnamon Sugar Dusted Bubble Top Brioche

April 19, 2012

I am somewhat shocked, yet quite pleased to announce that I have somehow acquired magical abilities. I don’t know how or when it happened, I have always been a bit of a muggle (non-magical folk for you who are not familiar with Harry Potter – where have you been?!). However, it has become apparent to me that I do have a bit of the old sorceress inside me. But let me explain, just the other day I decided to attempt to make brioche at home. I LOVE brioche, but had always purchased it from bakeries, never dreaming I could conjure up such buttery, flaky bliss on my own, yet willing to try. So following a Dorie Greenspan (definite culinary enchantress) recipe, I got straight to work.

I was suspicious that something fantastical was happening in my oven the day after I started the brioche making process. (There is an overnight proofing required.) The aroma wafting throughout the house of the that brioche baking was nothing short of intoxicating. Then came the moment when I dared to open my oven door for a peek. My Bubble Top Brioches had risen like champs and were a gorgeous, enticing golden brown. It was then that I knew that I had come fully into my powers. Indeed, I could have stopped right there. Those rich, buttery little brioches would have been delicious all on their own and nothing short of enchanting when slathered with even more butter and jam. But no, something told me that I needed to coat the tops of these delights in a crunchy cinnamon sugar. What can I say…simply magical!

All that Harry Potter-ish talk aside, it really was not difficult to make brioche at home. There is quite a lot of proofing time, so you should plan to start the process the day before you wish to entrance folks with your baking wizardry. (I just can’t let it go…) However as we know, good things come to those who wait and let me tell you, fresh brioche, right out of the oven, is worth every second spent and then some. I chose to make individual serving bubble tops brioches from my dough, however you could divide the dough in half and bake it in two 7 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ pans for 30 minutes. Although the crunchy, sweet cinnamon sugar dusting on my breakfast brioches is completely charming, you could simply brush your brioche with the traditional egg wash. It is very versatile bread and can be used as a vehicle for many toppings such as smoked salmon etc. And once it is stale (as if it will be around long enough to go stale…) it makes a glorious French Toast. My Cinnamon Sugar Dusted Bubble Top Brioches were mesmerizing and have certainly cast a spell over my husband. Bewtich your family today!

Cinnamon Sugar Dusted Bubble Top Brioche

recipe slightly adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table

yield: 12 brioches

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 Cup warm-to-the-touch whole milk
  • 1/4 Cup warm-to-the-touch water
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 3/4 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the topping:

  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Directions:

Pour the warm milk and water into the bowl of a stand mixer, add a pinch of the sugar, and sprinkle over the yeast. In another bowl, mix the flour and salt together.

When all the yeast has absorbed some liquid, stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until you have a creamy mixture. Fit the mixer with the dough hook, add all of the flour mixture at once, and turn the mixer on and off in a few short pulses to dampen the flour. Set the mixer to medium-low speed and mix for a minute or two, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed, until you have a shaggy, fairly dry mass. At this point, what you’ve got won’t look like a dough at all – in fact, it will be pretty ugly, but that doesn’t matter.

Scrape down the bowl, turn the mixer to low and add the beaten eggs one third at a time, beating until each addition is incorporated before adding the next. Beat in the remaining sugar increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes, until the dough starts to come together.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the butter in 2 tablespoon chunks. Beat for about 30 seconds, or until each piece of butter  is on its way to being almost incorporated, before adding the next little chunk of butter. When all the butter is in, you’ll have a dough that is very soft, really almost like a batter. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and climbs up the hook, about 10 minutes, or a little longer.

Transfer the dough to a lightly buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature until it’s nearly doubled in size; it will take at least 1 hour, but maybe longer, depending on the warmth of your room.

Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator until it stops rising as energetically, about 2 hours: “slap” it down every 30 minutes.

Press the plastic against the surface of the dough and leave it in the refrigerator to chill overnight.

The next morning, butter a 12-cup muffin tin.

Divide the chilled dough into 12 portions. Cut each portion into 3 even pieces, and roll the pieces into balls. The dough is soft and sticky, so here’s the easiest way to shape them: Put a little flour on the counter and put some flour on your palms. Put a piece of dough on the counter, cup a hand over it, and droll the dough around under you cupped palm until you’ve got a nice ball. Using 3 pieces for each brioche, put the balls, prettiest sides up, in the muffin cups.

Place a piece of wax paper on top of the brioches and put the pan in a warm place. Let the brioches rise until they almost fill the cups, 1- 2 hours, depending on the warmth of the room.

Just before the dough is fully risen, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 ° F.

When the brioches have risen, remove the paper and put the muffin tin on a baking sheet. Bake the brioches for 20 -23 minutes, or until they are well risen and deeply golden. If you think they are browning too quickly, you can cover them with a foil tent. Transfer the muffin tin to a cooling rack and let the brioches rest for 5 – 10 minutes before lifting them out of the molds and onto the cooling rack.

While brioches are cooling, in a small, shallow bowl mix the 2/3 cup sugar and 1 Tablespoon cinnamon together. In another small, shallow bowl melt 3 Tablespoons butter. Holding the bottom of a brioche dip the top first in the melted butter, making sure to coat it entirely. Then dip the buttered top into the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Shake the excess cinnamon sugar from the brioche and place it back on the cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining brioches.

Enjoy!


Chicken Breasts Diable

April 13, 2012

It’s Friday the 13th today! Scary, spooky! The belief that Friday the 13th is unlucky is one of the most widespread superstitions today. The year 2012 is particularly bad for folks who suffer from this fear since it holds 3 Friday the 13ths – January 13, April 13 and July 13 – and these unlucky days are exactly 13 weeks apart. Yikes! However, the origins of this phobia are pretty murky. It seems that many cultures have regarded Friday as an unlucky day. It is said that the Crucifixion took place on a Friday. And 13 has long been regarded as an unlucky number. Many buildings do not have a 13th floor. Many cities do not have a 13th Street. Many Hospitals do not have a Room 13. Many Airline Terminals omit Gate 13. Legend has it that if 13 people sit down together at dinner, one of them will die within the year. (ie. the Last Supper, Norse legend) As an aside, for those of you looking for a career change, in France there is a custom of the “quotrozieme” a professional guest who can be called on short notice to prevent there being 13 at a dinner party. So it figures that the joining of such an unlucky day with such an unlucky number would be exceptionally bad on the luck front.  And as proof of this, there have been some horrible events which have taken place on Friday the 13ths. The Knights Templar were slaughtered by the Church on Friday October 13, 1307. And more recently on January 13, 2012, the Costa Concordia cruise ship sunk off the island of Giglio killing at least 25 and injuring many others. And looking to the future, who knows what may happen on Friday April 13, 2029 when the asteroid 99942 Apophis will pass very close to the Earth. (at least it’s not asteroid 66642…folks would absolutely freak!…just saying…)Hmmm…..

Yikes!

So I tried to come up with an appropriately ominous dish for all those folks who are holed up at home for the day. The best I could come up with was Chicken Breasts Diable from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table. (Come on!… It has “devil” in the title! That’s scary!) Apparently, according to Ms. Greenspan, whenever you see the word “Diable” on a french menu the dish will include Dijon Mustard, which is as hot as the condiments get in a French kitchen. (o.k., I admit it, mustard isn’t very scary…but work with me here…) This Diable Sauce is, dare I say it, heavenly! The dijon mustard provides a serious kick to those otherwise plain and boring chicken breasts. Apparently this sauce also works well over steak. All in all, a very tasty meal which is quite easy to prepare. Make this dish soon! (though maybe not tonight…it is Friday the 13th after all!)

Chicken Breasts Diable

recipe from: Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table

yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, pounded lightly, at room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 Tablespoons Dijon or grainy mustard
  • 1-2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Directions:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 200°F. Pat the chicken breasts dry.

Put a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter and 1 Tablespoon oil. When the butter is melted, slip the chicken pieces into the pan. Adjust the heat so that the butter doesn’t burn, and cook the chicken until it’s well browned on the underside. Turn the pieces over and cook until the other side is also well browned and the chicken is cooked through. If the pan dries out, drizzle in just a touch more oil.

Transfer the breasts to a heatproof plate, season with salt and pepper, cover lightly with a foil tent and keep warm int he oven while you prepare the sauce.

Lower the heat to medium, toss the shallot and garlic into the pan, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, just until they soften, about 2 minutes.

Pour in the wine, and when it starts to bubble, stir it around so that you can pick up whatever little bits might have stuck to the bottom of the skillet.

Let the wine boil for a few seconds, then pour in the heavy cream. As soon as it reaches a boil, stir in the mustard and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. Taste and decide if you want more mustard, Worcestershire or pepper.

Remove the chicken from the oven, pour any juices ont he plate into the skillet and stir the sauce again.

Serve the chicken with the sauce.

Enjoy!


Quintuple Chocolate Easter Brownies

April 3, 2012

Easter will be here soon! And one of the things I love about Easter is Cadbury mini eggs. I cannot wait until those delicious little morsels show up in the stores. I must admit, I tend to hoard them so that I can indulge in them year round. This year I found both the milk chocolate variety as well as the dark chocolate version and believe me, I was doing my happy, happy dance right there in the store while murmuring “my precious” under my breath! Come to think of it, perhaps it was my dance or that the “my precious” bit wasn’t as much under my breath as I imagined because I did get a few odd glances from the other shoppers. But just like my hero, the Honey Badger, I didn’t care!

So, after arriving back home, I was trying to come up with an Easter recipe in which I could use my Cadbury treasures. Last year I made adorable Chocolate Peanut Butter Bird’s Nests as my Cadbury Mini Egg vehicle.

I considered doing cupcakes, but most of the Easter Cupcakes which featured my beloved eggs, were topped with a nest fashioned of coconut flakes. My husband really dislikes coconut. I probably could eat all of the goodies on my lonesome, (who am I kidding…Cupcakes and Cadbury Mini Eggs…I definitely could!) but figured my waist line would thank me if I were to make a treat that at least the two of us could share. I picked up one of my favourite cookbooks, Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours and came across her recipe for Quintuple Chocolate Brownies. Hmmm…quintuple huh? These brownies had unsweetened chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, cocoa, milk chocolate chips and were topped with a white chocolate glaze. There was a picture of them as well and they looked stunning, a deep, dark chocolate base covered with that beautifully contrasting stark white chocolate glaze. I thought about replacing the milk chocolate chips with Cadbury mini eggs, but in the end decided to colour the white chocolate to make it look more Easter-y and then decorate with sprinkles, sanding sugar and Cadbury Mini Eggs, so that the brownies would resemble an Easter Egg.

I was very pleased with my result. Adorable Easter Brownies. Although I must admit, adding the Cadbury Mini Eggs on top was almost like gilding the lily. Nah! I’ll never say no to a Cadbury Mini Egg!

These Quintuple Chocolate Brownies are phenomenal! More fudgy than cake-like, these brownies are a chocolate lovers dream! So rich, so decadent! They will be showing up sans Easter Bonnet decorations throughout the year on my table! You really must give these a try!

Quintuple Chocolate Easter Brownies

recipe from: Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours

yield: 16 Brownies

Ingredients:

For the Brownies:

  • 1/2 Cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons strong coffee
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces premium-quality milk chocolate, chopped into chips, or 1 Cup store-bought milk chocolate chips
  • 1 Cup chopped nuts ( I omitted the nuts)

For the Glaze:

  • 6 ounces premium-quality white chocolate, finely chopped, or 1 Cup store-bought white chocolate chips
  • 1/3 Cup heavy cream
  • Various sprinkles, sanding sugar, and Cadbury mini eggs (your artistic choice here)

Directions:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325°F. Line a 9×9″ baking pan with foil, butter the foil and place the pan on a baking sheet.

Sift together the flour, cocoa and salt.

Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and add, in the following order, the butter, the two chocolates and the coffee. Keeping the pan over low heat, warm just until the butter and chocolates are melted. Stir gently, and when the mixture is smooth, set it aside for 5 minutes.

Using a whisk or rubber spatula, beat the sugar into the chocolate mixture. Don’t beat too vigorously – you don’t want to add air to the batter – and don’t be concerned about any graininess. Next, stir in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla. You should have a smooth, glossy batter.

If you’re not already using a rubber spatula, switch to one now and gently stir in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated.

Finally, stir in the milk chocolate chips and the nuts. Scrape the batter into the baking pan.

Bake for 35 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out streaked but not thickly coated. transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the brownies rest undisturbed for at least 30 minutes.

Turn the brownies out onto a rack, peel away the foil and place it under another rack-it will be the drip catcher for the glaze. Invert the brownies onto the rack and let cool completely.

To make the glaze: Put the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a boil and pour it over the chocolate. Wait 30 seconds, then, using a rubber spatula, gently stir until the chocolate is melted and the glaze is smooth. If you are coloring the white chocolate, add the food coloring of your choice at this point.

Hold a long metal icing spatula in one hand and the bowl of glaze int he other. Pour the glaze onto the center of the brownies and use the spatula to nudge it evenly over the surface. Don’t worry if it dribbles over the edges, you can trim the side later (or not). If you are doing any Easter decoration, such as adding sprinkles or Cadbury Mini Eggs, do so at this point. Refrigerate the brownies for about 20 minutes to dry the glaze.

Cut into 16 squares, each roughly 2 1/4″ on a side.

Enjoy!



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