Zucchini, Pancetta & Cheddar Frittata

September 27, 2016

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Anybody else still have zucchini hanging around their kitchen? I’m so happy to say we do. The husband and I are way into zucchini these days. Can’t get enough of the stuff. It not only tastes fantastic all on its own, but it also seems to magically enhance any recipe you add it to, like that Zucchini Banana Bread I told you about a couple of weeks ago. The addition of that wonderful summer squash made what was already really good banana bread into absolutely amazing banana bread. So when I came across the recipe for a Zucchini & Cheddar Frittata on Once Upon a Chef‘s blog, I just couldn’t wait to make it.

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Frittatas are just a perfect meal in my house. They’re great because they work for breakfast, lunch or dinner. And lucky for me, the husband is a big fan of the whole “breakfast for dinner” concept. I don’t think he has ever met an egg dish he didn’t like and is happy to eat them anytime of day. So frittatas are perfect. They are also wonderfully versatile and are a great way to use up any leftovers you might have on hand. In fact, I did customize the original recipe a bit. I added leeks to it because we love them nearly as much as zucchini. I also decided to add some crispy pancetta. And I must say I quite pleased with the results! This frittata was so delicate, creamy and delicious! It was great warm from the oven and also delicious cold from the fridge the following day. It was really quick and easy to make. I was able to have this tasty summer supper on the table in a little over 30 minutes. Huge win in my book!

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Zucchini Pancetta & Cheddar Frittata

  • Servings: 2 - 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Recipe slightly adapted from: Once Upon a Chef

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound (12 oz) zucchini (about 2 small zucchini -try to use small zucchini as they contain less water)
  • 4 oz. pancetta, chopped*
  • 2 leeks, washed and cut into rings – white & light green bits only**
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 ounces (about 1 cup) grated Cheddar cheese

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Using a food processor or box grater, grate the zucchini. Place the grated zucchini on top of several layers of paper towels and wring dry. If necessary, repeat 1-2 times to remove any excess moisture.

In an 8 or 10-inch ovenproof, nonstick sauté pan, over medium heat, cook the pancetta until crispy and set aside on paper towels to cool. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the grease from the pan. Add the leeks, zucchini and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the moisture evaporates and the zucchini is tender, 6-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, heavy cream, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.

Add the crispy pancetta, cooked zucchini and grated cheese to the egg mixture and stir to combine. Pour the frittata mixture into the pan (no need to wash it), then place in the oven and bake until just set, 20-23 minutes.

Enjoy!

*Don’t have any pancetta? Substitute bacon – everybody loves bacon! Or just leave it out altogether for Meatless Monday.

**The husband and I are mad for leeks, but if they aren’t really your thing you can substitute in 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots, from 1 – 2 shallots.

Zucchini Pancetta & Cheddar Frittata brought to you by Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)


Key Lime Sparkler Cookies

September 23, 2016

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So wait…..is summer really over? I know yesterday was technically the first day of Fall but it still feels pretty summery around here. Actually, it finally feels what I dream summer will feel like but rarely does here in good old swampy Virginia. A typical summertime day around here involves an oppressive haze of thick soupy humidity laden air sitting on top of ridiculously elevated temperatures. But yesterday and today, the first two days of Fall, feel pretty idyllically summery. Hmmm…. Well, before the temperature actually does fall around here, let me get in one more summer time taste treat…Key Lime Sparkler Cookies.

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There is a burst of refreshing lime flavor in every single bite of these light and tender tea cookies. Quite similar to Mexican Wedding Cookies and Russian Tea Cakes, these little buttery cookies pack quite a mouth-puckering tart punch followed by a sweet shower of sugar. Sweet & Sour – what a divine flavor combination!

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Now there are a few ingredients involved here that may give you some pause. Don’t fret, there is an easy work around for most of them. The first thing you may ask is – do I really need to use Key Limes or can I use regular old limes. Most of the limes you find in the local grocery store are Persian Limes or Mexican Limes. They are a good deal bigger than a Key Lime. However, Key Limes are known for their aromatic and much more…well…limey taste.They are more intense in flavor than your ordinary lime. That being said, they are also much more expensive and filled with many more seeds, making them a bit more difficult to work with. Truth be told, I resorted to a bottle of Key Lime Juice, which I keep handy for a certain cocktail that we love. However, if you don’t have access to Key Limes, or bottled Key Lime Juice, using regular limes in this recipe will be just fine. The second ingredient that you might find odd is Lime Oil. I do have a link for where you can purchase lime oil at the bottom of the post. It is a great thing to have on hand especially if you love that zingy lime flavor. However, you can just use the zest from one or two limes in a pinch. Again, it won’t give you as intense a lime flavor, but it will still be quite tasty. Rounding out the trio of strange ingredients here is the Citric Acid or Sour Salt. Citric Acid is found naturally in citrus fruits and is widely used as a flavoring agent and is often used in canning. Again, you can just leave this out, but know that you will be sacrificing a bit of that blast of lime flavor. I do have a link for purchasing it online, but many stores that have canning supplies also sell Sour Salt. I think I have seen it in Target as well as Walmart.

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Once you’ve assembled all your ingredients, these cookies come together easy peasy. So light, so buttery and tender and wow what a citrus punch! Perfect with a cup of tea or a gin & tonic – to each his own. And although I find lime to be a particularly summery flavor, I’m a big fan anytime of year. These cookies would also be delightful for Christmas. (Maybe replace that white sanding sugar with red or green for a festive holiday look.) But whatever you do, if you are a lime fan at all, plan to make up a batch of these amazing little gems!

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Key Lime Sparkler Cookies

  • Servings: 60 - 62 cookies
  • Difficulty: easy
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recipe from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

For the Cookies:

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons Key Lime Juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon lime oil (don’t have lime oil? Use the zest of one lime instead)
  • 1/8 teaspoon sour salt (citric acid)* OR 1/2 teaspoon Tart & Sour Flavor ( I like that limey flavor – so I used 1/4 tsp. plus 1/8 tsp. of Citric Acid)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

For the Coating:

  • 1/8 teaspoon sour salt (citric acid*) – ( I used 1/4 teaspoon Citric Acid)
  • 1 cup glazing sugar or confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white edible glitter (optional) – if you don’t have edible glitter you could also try sparkling white sanding sugar.

Directions:

In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, salt, and baking powder till well blended. Beat in the lime juice, lime oil, sour salt (citric acid), and the egg. Blend in the flour thoroughly.

Roll the dough into 1″ balls (I used a teaspoon cookie scoop), and place them on lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake the cookies in the top third of a preheated 350°F oven for 14 to 16 minutes, until the cookies are browned on the bottom. Remove them from the oven, and cool on the pan for about 10 minutes before transferring to a rack.

Mix together the sugar coating ingredients in a pan or bag (a simple brown paper lunch sack works great here!). Gently shake and roll the still slightly warm cookies in the sugar till coated. Allow the cookies to cool completely, then repeat, coating again with the sugar. (If you’re freezing the cookies, you may choose to recoat the cookies in sugar once they’ve been removed from the freezer, before serving.)

*Sour salt (citric acid) is what gives the cookies their sour bite—if you want less tang, use just a pinch. Or if you are a limey fan, add a bit more!  I actually used 1/4 teaspoons plus 1/8 teaspoon of citric acid in the cookies – which is 3x what this recipe calls for, as well as 1/4 teaspoons citric acid in the coating – doubled the recommended amount- and I thought my cookies had that perfect zing!

Enjoy!

Key Lime Sparkler Cookies brought to you by: Runcible Eats(www.leaandjay.com).

Links to Useful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Key Lime Sparkler Cookies:

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

Nellie & Joe’s Famous Key West Lime Juice

lime oil – Here is a link for a 3 pack of lime, lemon & orange oil or you can purchase a single bottle of the lime oil here.

White Edible Glitter – or White Sparkling Sugar

Citric Acid

Small Cookie Scoop (2 3/4 – 2 tsp. /#100) or King Arthur Flour has this one.


Pretzel Ice Cream Pie

September 16, 2016

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Pretzel Ice Cream Pie! What can I say…Another winner from the Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook! All you pretzel lovers out there need to sit up and take notice because this decadent dessert packs quite the pretzel punch. First let me tell you about the the crust. Well it’s made of magical Pretzel Crunch which is pretzels crumbled up with butter, sugar and malt powder. Crunchy, buttery, sweet & salty bliss! I found it to be nearly as addictive as the Cornflake Crunch that I encountered when I made those Milk Bar Cornflake Marshmallow Chocolate Chip Cookies. So yeah, I probably could have just sat there and gobbled up all of the pie crust then and there, but thank goodness I was able to control myself because this glorious pie shell is filled with this unbelievably delectable Pretzel Ice Cream. Now this isn’t vanilla ice cream that has some pretzel pieces thrown into it. Oh no. This is pretzel flavoured ice cream, made with pretzel infused milk, which I had no idea was even possible. But it is! And once you’ve tasted it, you’ll be hooked! This ice cream is very rich, sweet and salty and has a deep malty pretzel flavour. It  feels amazingly smooth and creamy in your mouth. Chef Tosi attributes this texture to using gelatin rather than eggs when making the ice cream base. The only thing I added was a drizzle of dark chocolate over the top of the pie. Truly the best ice cream pie I’ve ever encountered!

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Now I’m not going to lie to you, making this pie was a good deal of work. I certainly wouldn’t just happen to make one on a whim. As with most Chef Tosi recipes, you actually have to make a couple of recipes for ingredients before you can make the dish you are actually trying to create. And then there are always some odd ingredients that you may need to order online before you get started. With this particular recipe I had to turn to amazon to get glucose. I know, there is a notation that you can substitute corn syrup for glucose, but I have definitely learned a couple of things while working with the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook. You have to follow those recipes closely or you will be disappointed. To that end, I am leery of substituting anything. I stick with the ingredients Chef Tosi intended be used and measure all ingredients exactly using a scale. If you are rather slap dash in the kitchen, I admire you but your success will likely be somewhat fleeting. But those with an eye to detail who are happy to plan ahead, will be fully rewarded with the abundance of mouthwatering morsels to be found in this magical cookbook.

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So I suppose that this Pretzel Ice Cream Pie is more of an occasion dessert. I originally made it for the husband’s birthday. Loving pretzels and sweet & salty combinations, he was very pleased.

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I can definitely see serving this for a non-traditional Thanksgiving Day dessert. I’m sure a few folks out there are a bit weary of good old Pumpkin Pie. Or it would be very welcome at a big Super Bowl party. Whatever you do, find some time to make this amazing treat. It is soooo worth it!

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Pretzel Ice Cream Pie

  • Servings: One 10 inch pie 8 - 10 servings
  • Difficulty: easy but many steps and recipes within recipes
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Recipe from: Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook by Chef Christina Tosi

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe Pretzel Crunch (recipe to follow)
  • 25 grams (2 Tablespoons) butter, melted
  • 1 recipe Pretzel Ice Cream (recipe to follow)
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips – for drizzle (optional)

Directions:

Using your hands (or a food processor if you prefer), crumble the pretzel crunch clusters to half their size. (The smaller size will make for better distribution of the moisture and fat, creating a nice crunchy crust.)

Toss the melted butter into the crumbled pretzel crunch, mixing well. Using your fingers and the palms of your hands, press the mixture firmly into a 10-inch pie tin, making sure the bottom and sides of the pie tin are evenly covered. Wrapped in plastic, the crust can be frozen for up to 2 weeks.

Use a spatula to spread the ice cream into the pie shell. If you would like to drizzle a bit of chocolate over the top of the pie as I did, simply melt about 1/4 cup of chocolate chips of your choice. (I used dark chocolate). You can do this in a double boiler or simply melt it in the microwave in 10 -15 second bursts. Let cool slightly. Either drizzle the chocolate free hand or if you are a bit obsessive compulsive you can place it in a pastry bag and thereby do a much more controlled drizzle.

Freeze the pie for at least 3 hours, or until the ice cream is frozen hard enough so the pie is easy to cut and serve. Wrapped in plastic wrap, the pie will keep for 2 weeks in the freezer.

Pretzel Crunch

Yield: 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 100 grams (about 1/4 (16-ounce) bag (2 cups)) mini pretzels
  • 60 grams (1/4 cup tightly packed) light brown sugar
  • 25 grams (2 tablespoons) sugar
  • 20 grams (1/4 cup) milk powder
  • 10 grams (1 tablespoon) malt powder
  • 100 grams ( 7 tablespoons) butter, melted

Directions:

Heat the oven to 275°F.

Pour the pretzels in a medium bowl and crush them with your hands to one-quarter of their original size. Add the milk powder, malt powder, sugar, and salt and toss to mix. Add the butter and toss to coat. As you toss, the butter will act as glue, binding the dry ingredients to the pretzels and creating small clusters.

Spread the clusters on a parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes, at which point they should look toasted, smell buttery, and crunch gently when cooled slightly and chewed.

Cool the pretzel crunch completely before storing or using in a recipe. Stored in an airtight container at room temperature, the crunch will keep fresh for 1 week; in the fridge or freezer, it will keep for 1 month.

Pretzel Ice Cream

Ingredients:

  • 300 grams (about 3/4 (16-ounce) bag, (6 cups)  mini pretzels
  • 440 grams (2 cups) milk
  • 1 1/2 gelatin sheets
  • 200 grams (1/2 cup) glucose (75 grams (1/4 cup) of corn syrup can be substituted)
  • 30 grams (2 tablespoons tightly packed) light brown sugar
  • 45 grams (1 1/2 ounces) cream cheese
  • 2 grams ( 1/2 teaspoon) kosher salt
  • 0.75 grams (1/8 teaspoon) baking soda

Directions:

Heat the oven to 300°F

Spread the pretzels on a sheet pan and toast for 15 minutes, until the pretzels have slightly darkened in color and your kitchen smells pretzely. Cool completely.

Put the pretzels in a large bowl, pour the milk over them, and stir while steeping for 2 minutes.

Strain the milk mixture through a fine-mesh sieve and discard the soggy pieces of pretzel.

Bloom the gelatin. Place the sheet gelatin in a small bowl of cold water. It has bloomed when it has become soft, after about 2 minutes. If it still has bard bits, it has not bloomed long enough. If it completely falls apart, it has overbloomed. Gently squeeze the bloomed gelatin to remove any excess water. *Powdered gelatin can be substituted for the sheet gelatin: use 3/4 teaspoon. Sprinkle it evenly over the surface of 2 tablespoons of cold water in a small cup. Allow the granules to soften entirely for 3 -5 minutes.

Warm a little bit of the pretzel milk and whisk in the gelatin to dissolve. Add the remaining pretzel milk, glucose, brown sugar, cream cheese, salt, and baking soda and whisk until all of the ingredients are fully dissolved and incorporated.

Pour the mixture into your ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The ice cream is best spun just before serving or using, but it will keep in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

Enjoy!

Pretzel Ice Cream Pie brought to you by Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links to Useful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Pretzel Ice Cream Pie:

King Arthur Flour Malted Milk Powder

Perfecta Gel Silver Gelatin Sheets

Glucose

Cuisinart 2 Quart Frozen Yogurt Sorbet & Ice Cream Maker

Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook


Zucchini Banana Bread

September 9, 2016

Zucchini Banana Bread

Well my, my, my! Here it is September. Summer is over and done with (I wish – yet it is still in the upper 90’s around here, a swampy, sweltering mess – Thanks Virginia!) and I have not posted one thing, not one little morsel, since May! Yup – missing in action or at least missing from the kitchen. For shame! Ah well, I’m making my comeback in a big way today. Yup, I have a recipe that has been “wowing” folks all summer long. It has been my go-to baked treat to take to gatherings with me all summer and I kid you not, every single person who tastes it asks for the recipe. The universal clamor was enough to get me off my lazy bum and back to blogging. So without further ado – here you have it – the recipe of the summer….Zucchini Banana Bread.

Zucchini Banana Bread

I know…I just know how skeptical to probably are right now. I was certainly not thinking this would be as amazing as it is when I first set out to make it. I just happened to have a couple suspicious looking bananas as well as a zucchini or two, lying about the kitchen. And then I remembered a recipe that I had seen on Two Peas & Their Pod blog (great blog – if you haven’t taken a peek, what are you waiting for?!) and I got busy. Little did I know the results would be pure magic. Seriously…This is the best banana bread I have ever tasted!

Zucchini Banana Bread

The husband agrees, as do a whole bunch of other lucky folks that have tried it this summer. Truth be told, you can’t taste the zucchini, but it presence in the recipe transforms this banana bread. It is so incredibly moist. Yet it still holds its shape and doesn’t just fall into a pile of crumbs when you go to slather it with butter. But don’t take my word for it. A loaf of this bread comes together easy-peasy. Give a whirl. You’ll be a believer.

Zucchini Banana Bread

Zucchini Banana Bread

  • Servings: one 8x4 inch loaf
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: Two Peas & Their Pod

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil, cooled to room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup shredded zucchini – you can do this with a box grater or make quick work of it with a food processor fitted with a shredding disc.
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar, optional

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 8×4-inch loaf pan* and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine mashed bananas, granulated sugar, brown sugar, egg, coconut oil, and vanilla. Stir until well combined. Add the flour mixture and stir gently with a rubber spatula until flour is mixed in. Squeeze the zucchini in a paper towel to remove excess liquid. Fold the zucchini into batter.

Pour the batter into prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle top with turbinado sugar, if using. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 55-60 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove the bread from the pan and place on wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

Enjoy!

*If you would rather make muffins, line a muffin tin with liners or grease each well. Baked for 20 minutes or until a toothpick come out clean. Will yield 12 muffins.

Zucchini Banana Bread brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links to Useful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Zucchini Banana Bread:

Cuisinart Pro-Classic Food Processor

Sugar in the Raw – Turbinado Sugar

 


Tres Leches Cake with Dulce de Leche Glaze

May 3, 2016

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Cinco de Mayo is only a couple of days away. You know, Cinco de Mayo. That is the date that folks in Mexico commemorate their victory over France in the Battle of Puebla which took place way back in 1862. I’m not so sure folks here in America know exactly why they’re celebrating, but hey we’ll take any chance for a party, so we’re happy to join in! And it just so happens that I’ve got a great dish for you to bring along to your celebrations…Tres Leches Cake with a boozy, rum laden Dulce de Leche Glaze! Let me tell you, this cake is da bomb! So moist, so sweet and rich, it nearly defies the imagination.

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For those few folks out there who haven’t heard of this confection before, allow me to tell you all about it. “Tres Leches” translates to “three milks”. A Tres Leches cake is a light and airy sponge cake which has been soaked in a milk bath mixture of three different milks, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream. Although its origins are not clear, this dessert is very popular in Latin America. And once you take one bite, I assure you, you will know why. That sponge cake soaks up every bit of that sweet, dreamy, ambrosia of a soaking mixture creating the most amazing texture. You might think it would be soggy, but nope. Not soggy, but moist sweet boozy perfection.

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And that rum spiked Dulce de Leche glaze really puts this cake over the top. This recipe is easy but please take care to follow the directions. Now, I won’t lie, there are a few nail-biting moments along the way, like when you suspend the cake upside down to cool (I was sure it was going to fall into a huge pile of crumbles on the counter, but it didn’t) and then when you pour an impossible amount of liquid over the cake (I was sure it would not all get absorbed and my cake would be left ruined bobbing around in that milk lake, but it soaked it all up like a sponge. Maybe that’s why its called a “sponge cake” huh?). Have faith, the cake will be fantastic and you’ll be a Cinco de Mayo legend!

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Tres Leches Cake with Dulce de Leche Glaze

  • Servings: 24 Two Inch Squares
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Recipe from: Once Upon a Chef (One of my absolute favorite blogs! Definitely Check it out!)

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour or unbleached cake flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

For the Milk Bath (soaking mixture):

  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum

For the Glaze:

  • (13-ounce) can dulce de leche (I found this at the local grocery store in the “Hispanic Specialties” section.)
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1/4 cup water

For Baking:

  • One 9 x 13 x 2-inch Pyrex pan, ungreased, plus 4 cups or glasses for inverting the cake pan after baking

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325° F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, 3/4 cup of the sugar, and baking powder. Mix on low speed for 1 minute to combine. Do not over-mix.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks to break them up. Whisk in the oil, water and vanilla, one at a time. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and beat with the paddle on medium speed for exactly one minute to aerate it slightly (it’s very important not to overmix). Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat for just a few seconds more.

In a clean, dry mixing bowl combine the egg whites and salt. Place on the mixer with the whisk attachment (or you can use a hand held mixer with beaters) and whip the egg whites on medium speed until they are white, foamy and beginning to hold a very soft peak. Increase the speed to medium high and add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a slow stream. Continue whipping the egg whites until they are shiny and hold stiff peaks.

With a large rubber spatula, fold the egg whites into the batter until just combined. Be very careful not to over-mix. Scrape the batter into the ungreased pan and smooth the top. Bake the cake for about 40 minutes, or until it is set in the middle and golden. Let the cake settle on the stovetop or a rack for 1-2 minutes, then invert four glasses onto the countertop and invert the cake pan onto them, positioning one in each corner of the pan. (A chiffon cake needs to hang upside down to cool or it may collapse and fall.)

Once the cake has cooled, flip it over and run a sharp, thin-bladed knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake from the sides. Poke holes in the cake with a skewer or point of a small, sharp knife at 1/2-inch intervals.

Prepare the soaking liquid: in a large bowl, whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream and rum. Slowly pour the soaking liquid over the cake. Let it sit for a few minutes to absorb. If it’s slow to absorb, run a knife around the edges of the cake again and poke a few more holes. Place the cake in the refrigerator to chill for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Once the cake has chilled, make the glaze: in a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine the dulce de leche, rum and water. (Note: If you want a really boozy cake, change the proportions in the glaze to 3 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons rum. You better believe this is how I made my glaze and it was superb!). Heat for 30 seconds in the microwave, then whisk to combine. Let the mixture cool to room temperature, then spread over cake. Place the cake back in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve with fresh fruit, if desired.

Enjoy!

Tres Leches Cake with Dulce de Leche Glaze brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links to Useful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Tres Leches Cake with Dulce de Leche Glaze:

Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer

9″x 13″x 2″ Pyrex Baking Pan

Dulce de Leche

 


Italian Easter Pie

March 26, 2016

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Easter preparations are in full swing in the Runcible Kitchen here. And the star of the show is this Italian Easter Pie! Yesterday I made my traditional Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns. Good Friday just wouldn’t be the same without them!

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And as for today, it was time to try out a new recipe. And I think this one will be making frequent reappearances. Behold this fantastic Italian Easter Pie!

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What we’ve got here is basically an Easter Calzone or “stuffed pizza” filled with smoked ham, hard-boiled eggs and cheese. Traditionally it is eaten in Italian households the day before Easter, but would certainly be welcome on any Easter Brunch table and would also be a great recipe to keep on hand should you have any extra hard-boiled eggs lingering around after the holiday.

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I found this recipe on the King Arthur Flour blog. Rather, I should say I was looking over various Easter bread recipes, trying to pick one to make. Last year I had made Slovak Paska Bread

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and was very happy with the results, so I thought I’d stick with the bread theme. I had pretty much decided on the Polish Babka. But then the Husband happened along and saw the Italian Easter Pie recipe and he was smitten. He loves eggs. Loves them. Could eat them everyday. Prepared anyway. Never gets tired of them. And we had just received an order of King Arthur Italian Style Flour that we were going to try out with a new pizza dough recipe. Sooo….his choice was clear and I got busy making the Italian Easter Pie.  Now I will say, this recipe makes two 12″ Easter Pies. It will serve a whole lot of folks! Apparently there are as many variations on Italian Easter Pie recipes as there are Italian households out there. Everyone has a family favorite. Whilst this pie has fairly mild flavorings (that is why it is important that you use good quality, flavorful ham), I also ran across a recipe that uses a lot of spicier meats, like sausage, pancetta, and salami which looked great. (I’m keeping that one a secret for now to perhaps surprise the Husband with later.)

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I was very happy with how this Easter treat turned out. The crust is light and thin, and I will mention that the Italian Style flour was really easy to work with and roll out.

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The savory filling was perfect, hearty yet not heavy or dense. Italian Easter Pie is generally served warm or at room temperature. And though it is usually enjoyed for brunch or breakfast, I think it would also be great for dinner along with a side salad. Rustic, homey and delicious, this Italian Easter Pie would be perfect for all of your Easter holiday celebrations!

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Italian Easter Pie

  • Servings: 2 - 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

For the Crust:

  • 5 cups (539 grams) King Arthur Italian Style Flour or 4 3/4 cups (566.9 grams) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (43 grams) nonfat dry milk
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) olive oil
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (255 grams) lukewarm water (90° F – 100°F)*
  • *If you use all-purpose flour, increase the water to 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces)

For the Filling:

  • 1 dozen large eggs
  • 1 pound good-quality, full-flavored ham
  • 2 cups (425 to 454 grams) ricotta cheese, part-skim preferred
  • 1 cup (113 grams) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, lightly packed
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh thyme (leaves only)
  • 2 teaspoons Penzey’s Pasta Sprinkle (optional – it is a blend of sweet basil, turkish oregano, thyme & garlic)
  • salt, coarsely ground black pepper, and chopped fresh parsley, to taste

For the Glaze:

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tablespoons (25 grams) sugar
  • Maldon Flaky Sea Salt to sprinkle on edge of crust (optional)

Directions:

Mix and knead together all of the dough ingredients — by hand, in a mixer, or in a bread machine — until you’ve made a soft, smooth dough. 

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and allow it to rise for 1 to 2 hours, until it’s quite puffy, nearly doubled in bulk. While the dough is rising, make the filling.

Hard-boil and peel 6 of the eggs. 

Place the hard-boiled eggs, ham (cut in chunks), and fresh thyme in the work bowl of a food processor. Process until chopped and combined. Don’t over-process; the ham and eggs should still be a bit chunky. You can also simply dice the eggs and ham, and chop the thyme, if you don’t have a food processor.

Combine the ham, boiled eggs, and thyme with the raw eggs, ricotta, and Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and about 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper. Add the Pasta Sprinkle if you are using it.

Deflate the dough, and divide it into four pieces. 

Roll two of the dough pieces into rounds about 13″ in diameter, and place them on lightly greased or parchment-lined 12″ pizza pans. Or roll into ovals about 10″ x 14″, and place on two lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets. Note: If you’re using parchment, it’s easiest to roll right on the parchment, then lift the crusts, parchment and all, onto the pans. I actually baked these pies on a pizza stone which I preheated in the oven. So I simply rolled the crusts out and assembled the pies on parchment paper. Then I transferred the pies to the heated stone on a pizza peel or paddle.

Divide the filling evenly between the two crusts, covering them to within 1″ of their edges. You’ll use a generous 3 cups (about 27 ounces) for each crust.

Roll out the other two pieces of dough, and place them atop the filled crusts, gently stretching them, if necessary, to cover the filling. Seal the crust edges by rolling the bottom crust up over the top, and pinching together.

Using a sharp knife or pair of scissors, cut a 1″ hole in the very center of each top crust; this will allow steam to escape.

Make the topping by whisking together the egg and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Paint each crust with some of the topping; this will yield a golden brown, shiny crust with mildly sweet flavor, a perfect foil for the salty ham. Sprinkle flaky sea salt on the rolled edge of the dough.

Allow the pies to rest while you preheat your oven to 350°F, about 15 minutes. They don’t need to be covered.

Bake the pies for about 25 – 35 minutes, until they’re a deep, golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and carefully slide them off the pan/parchment and onto on a rack to cool. 

Serve warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Enjoy!

Italian Easter Pie brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links to Useful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Italian Easter Pie:

Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Thermoworks Super-Fast Thermapen Cooking Thermometer

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

Cuisinart Food Processor

Norpro Silicone Pastry Mat

SAF Instant Yeast

Emile Henry Flame Top Pizza Stone

14″ x 16″ Aluminum Pizza Peel

King Arthur Flour Italian Style Flour – This is a 00 Flour

Non fat Dry Milk Powder

Maldon Sea Salt Flakes (Fleur de Sel)

Penzey’s Spices Pasta Sprinkle (this is a link to the Penzey’s website)

I should also mention that King Arthur Flour has a wonderful shop full of kitchen essentials as well as their quality ingredients on their website. Definitely worth taking a peek!


Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

March 17, 2016

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It’s here, it’s here! Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I’m going to be celebrating the day with these Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting. Oh be still my heart! I’m sure ya’ll know by now that I absolutely love cupcakes. And that chocolate and peanut butter combination? Om nom nom nom! Yup these cupcakes are right up my alley. They are even topped with a Malteser, which is another personal favorite of mine. (Maltesers are malted milk balls. The closest thing we have readily available in Virginia are Whoppers. But you better believe I keep a secret stash of emergency Maltesers squirreled away.)

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I’m not so sure though, upon reflection, that peanut butter is very popular in Ireland. In fact, when I was living there, which was quite a while ago now, I remember having to search high and low to find a jar of peanut butter. And when I finally found it, it wasn’t “Jif” or “Skippy” brand that I was familiar with. It was called “American Peanut Butter” and was covered with red, white and blue and stars and stripes. And Reese Cups, which I’m pretty much addicted to, were nowhere to be found either, much to my dismay. I should say though, there was an abundance of other really tasty food readily available. I certainly was not in any danger of losing weight while in Ireland. The pints alone would see to that!

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So, considering the whole peanut butter scarcity issue, the Irish pedigree on these cupcakes is probably a bit shaky. I did dress them up with some requisite St. Patrick’s Day shamrocks. Well…at least I did dress one up with the shamrock sprinkles. I don’t think any folks out there over the age of three like to eat those crunchy sugar crumbles really. Though they do look adorable!

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And they do have the whole Guinness thing going for them, which is pretty dang Irish, so there is that. Not to mention the whole delicious thing. That is certainly worth a bunch of St. Patrick’s Day points I should think. The cake is dark, rich and oh so moist. And that Peanut Butter frosting is simply to die for, light, silky and fluffy as a cloud.

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These cupcakes are my St. Patrick’s Day dream come true…all sweet and boozy…just like The Husband! Bake a batch before you head out to your St. Patrick’s Day parties. Folks will be so glad you did. Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daiobh! (Happy St. Patrick’s Day!)

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Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

  • Servings: 18 - 21 cupcakes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe for cupcakes from:Life As a Strawberry

recipe for frosting from: Handle the Heat

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 cup Guinness Stout
  • ¾ cup dutch process cocoa
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the Frosting:

  • 5 large (150 grams) egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 sticks (340 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • maltesers -for topping (optional, but not if you are making them for me! Mini Reese cups would also work well as a topper.)

Directions:

For the Cupcakes:

In a small saucepan, melt butter. Add Guinness and bring mixture to a simmer.

In the meantime, place sugar and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat them together until incorporated. Add salt and flour and continue to mix. The mixture will be relatively dry and resemble coarse biscuit dough.

Add baking soda to buttermilk. Careful, it will foam up and out and all over the counter if you take your eye off of it for a second. Add the baking soda when you are ready to start streaming it into the batter.🙂

Stream buttermilk/baking soda mixture into batter and mix until combined.

Add vanilla extract to batter.

Once stout and butter mixture has come to a simmer, stir a little of the stout mixture into the cocoa and mix until it is smooth and creamy. Add the cocoa mixture into the hot liquid and whisk to combine. Remove the Guinness/cocoa mixture from heat and stream it slowly into batter while mixing. The batter will be thin – that’s okay!

Pour batter into standard sized cupcake liners. Fill about 3/4 of the way full.

Bake at 375° F for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Set cupcakes on wire rack to cool. Remove cupcakes from baking tin after 5 minutes. Continue cooling.

For the Frosting:

Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice or vinegar to remove any trace of grease. Make a double boiler by placing the mixer bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.

Add the egg whites and sugar to the bowl, whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 140°F, or until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl no longer feels warm, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add the butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated. Continue beating until it has reached a silky smooth texture. If the buttercream curdles simply keep mixing and it will come back to smooth. If the buttercream is too thin and runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes before continuing mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together. Add the vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.

Add peanut butter slowly, 1 Tablespoon at a time, and mix until well combined.

If you would like to make this frosting ahead of time, keep in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Let come to room temperature and rewhip in the mixer with the paddle attachment before using.

When you are ready to frost the cupcakes, place frosting in pastry bag fitted with whatever tip you desire and pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Top with malteser if you desire. (Oh yes! You know you do!)

Enjoy!

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links to Useful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting:

Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer

Malteser’s Candy– If you prefer you can substitute Whopper’s Candy for the Malteser’s

 

 


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