Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Quiche & Cake

I have a friend who loves quiche and peanut butter with chocolate in almost any form, separately not combined of course. So, for her birthday I made two quiches; Quiche Lorraine and Spinach with Mushroom Quiche as well as a chocolate peanut butter bundt cake. 

I like my quiche to be nice and cheesy and with a hint of egg.  It is rich and gooey and good either hot or cold.  I usually prepare it in my tart pan but it can, and has been, made in a pie dish.  If you have never tried making quiche give this a try, you will be pleasantly surprised at how easy and delicious it is.

Since I don't seem to have a fuctioning brain much of the time I only remembered to take pictures as I assembled the spinache and mushroom quiche but, no matter what you choose to put in your quiche just follow the same process; cheese and other fillings of choice first then top with the egg mixture.  As for the pie pastry you can make your own or....use Pillsbury (GASP!) ;)  .....Few people will notice the difference.

Quiche Lorraine (Bacon and swiss cheese)

2 cups shredded swiss cheese
8 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1/4 cup chopped onion, raw
1-1/2 to 2 cups half and half
4 eggs
1 pie pastry

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Line tart pan or pie dish with the pie pastry.  Sprinkle the shredded cheese, bacon and onions into the pie dish.  In a bowl combine the half and half (start with 1-1/2 sups and add more later if needed to fill the dish) with the eggs and whisk until well mixed.  Pour egg mixture over the cheese, bacon and onions until it fills the pie dish, being carefull not to allow overflow (add the additinal half and half at this point if needed).  Carefully place the pie dish in the center of the oven.

Hint:  You may want to lay some foil on the lower shelf of your oven to catch any egg mixture that may spill as it 'puffs.'

Bake for about 45 minutes until the filling has set.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.

Spinache and Mushroom Quiche

10 oz package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cups shredded swiss cheese
1-1/2 to 2 cups half and half
4 eggs
1/4 salt
2-3 pinches ground black pepper
Olive oil

In a skillet sautee the mushrooms in about a tablespoon of olive oil, over medium heat, until tender.  Remove from skillet and set aside.  Add the chopped onions to the skillet and carmalize over medium heat.  Remove from skillet.

Assemble the quiche as discribed above adding the salt and pepper to the egg mixture mixing.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes, until filling is set.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.

Chocolate Bundt Cake with Peanut Butter Tunnel
(no it is not from scratch but no one will ever know)

1 box chocolate cake mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 cup sour cream
2 cups chocolate chips, divided
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 - 1-1/2 cups heavy cream, divided

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray the bundt pan with oil spray, make sure to give it a good coating.  Stir together in a medium bowl the peanut butter, powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons of heavy cream.  Stir until well combined adding more cream as needed until the mixture is soft enough to squeeze through and ziplock with a hole but not runny.  You want it to hold its shape and be thicker than cake batter but not so stiff that it will be dificult to squeeze out of the zip lock bag.  Fill zip lock bag with peanut butter filing, cut a one inch hole in one of the lower corners of the bag and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs, buttermilk, oil, and sour cream and mix until well combined and no large lumps of cake mix remain.  Add 1 cup chocolate chips to the batter and stir to combine.  Pour 2/3 of the batter into bundt pan.  Take yoru zip lock bag with peanut butter filling and squeeze it around the center of the cake batter going all the way around and using all the filling. 

Pour the remaining batter over the filing and place the pan in the center of the oven.  Bake 50 minutes until a toothpick comes our clean.

Allow cake to cool for 20 minutes.  Place a large plate over the top of the bundt pan, and holding both the bundt pan and the plate together flip them both over removing the cake from the pan.  Allow cake to cool completely.

Place remaing cup of chocolate chips in a medium bowl.  Warm 3/4 cup heavy cream in the microwave until hot and steaming.  Pour hot cream over chocolate chips and allow to sit for 2 minutes.  Stir chocolate and cream together until all chocolate is melted.  If you would like you can add a tablespoon of creamy peanut butter at the point and stir until combined. 

Allow to cool slightly to allow to thicken slightly but still pourable and pour of bundt cake allowing it to drip down the sides of the cake.   

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Birthdays, sushi and ice cream cake cupcakes

Life has been hectic and I have fallen behind blog posts.  I decided that instead of trying to do several posts I would combine several considering they having a theme......Birthdays!

As hard as it is for me to believe, my little princess has turned 18.  The family, minus the sickies Lisha and Marie, came over the day before her birthday for cake and ice cream.  

Each birthday I ask the kids what kind of cake they would like. We have a few favorites that are served fairly regularly but every once in a while they come up with something different.  This year Tara decided she wanted ice cream cake, but she wanted it served as cupcakes.  Now you could go to Cold Stone Creamery and buy them but why when they can be made at home.  I wasn't sure what I was going to do but I dived right in and thankfully they turned out great.  I learned a few things as I went....but more on that later.

On the day of her birthday we went to Kabuki Restaurant and had a wonderful dinner.  The sushi there is so fresh and the presentation is beautiful.  One of our favorites is the spicy tuna on crispy rice.  Luis and Alma (the kids father and step mother) had never been to this restaurant but seemed to love it.  It is hard to resist all the good food, we always seem to order slightly more than we can eat. Our waiter, Ted, was wonderful and handled our party of ten in a friendly and efficient manner.  Everyone had a good time enjoying each others company. 

Luis' birthday was last week and he loved Kabuki so much he asked all to join him there to celebrate.  As usual the food was amazing and the company wonderful.  As you will see there is no shortage of variety and everything looks beautiful (even if I haven't been the best photographer lately).  As usual the waiter (Ted again) was very accommodating and even stroked Luis' ego by saying he thought it was his 21st birthday when Tara loudly announced it that was the reason for our visit.  The usual green tea ice cream (delicious) was brought with a candle and most of us had a bite or two to round out the meal.

Now for the Cupcakes......

Prepare your cake batter and bake it in greased and floured jelly roll pan.  I used the Texas sheet cake recipe.  Allow it to cool completely.  Using biscuit cutters measure the size circle needed to fit in the bottom of a cupcake liner and the top edge of the cupcake liner.  Cut enough circles for a top and bottom layer for each cupcake (I got about 15 cupcakes worth from one sheet cake). 
Place rounds of cake on a tray, using wax or parchment paper to divide layers if needed, and set in freezer for about an hour. 

Now here is one of biggest things I learned while doing this: never use paper cupcake liners - only use FOIL liners!  Why?....well as we all know if you have a piece of paper and you add something liquid to it will become very soft and in the case of cupcake liners.....well they lose their shape.  Now I know this about paper but for some reason it never occurred that softened ice cream was, well, firmer liquid.  I am chalking it up to having a blond moment.  Anyway, as soon as I saw the cups losing their shape I quickly threw them in the freezer and frantically called by son.  Now what you don't know is that at this point he was on a date (of sorts) and I wasn't sure when to expect him home but, darn it, I needed to be rescued!  Thankfully he was on his way home and he stopped in at the store and picked up a package of foil cupcake liners and brought them home.  He is so patient and good to me. Exhibit "A" -

(Thankfully I was able to freeze them quickly enough and transfer them to foil liners)

Moving on,  place a one of the smaller pieces of cake in the bottom of each liner.  Soften ice cream slightly   in the microwave and place a small scoop of ice cream on top of each bottom cake round. I used cookies and cream ice cream on half the cupcakes and mint chocolate chip on the other half.

Place a top cake round on top of each and gently press down using the palm of your hand.  Place them in the freezer and freeze until hard.  I froze them overnight but about 4 hours should do.

Prepare your favorite frosting.  Buttercream or canned (I know! but does the job in a pinch) work the best and hold up well in the freezer. Fill a pastry bag with a star piping tip with frosting, or use a gallon size ziplock bag and cut a small hole in one of the corners to squeeze out frosting.  Remove cupcakes from the freezer.  Working quickly, pipe on the frosting and put them back in the freezer. 

About 5 minutes before serving remove the cupcake from the freezer to allow them to soften slightly.  Enjoy!  My family loved these! (as you can see we are a real formal bunch) I will definitely be making these again soon.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wild Mushrooms

I have recently had the opportunity to participate in a wild mushroom recipe challenge by Marx Foods.  I LOVE mushrooms and was very excited to have this opportunity to this.  They sent me 5 varieties of dried mushrooms; Porcini, Lobster, Black Trumpet, Chanterelle and Matsutake.  They all have a wonderful aroma and I had some trouble deciding what do with them.  I wanted to show a few different ways to use dried wild mushrooms and finally decided that just one recipe would not do.  Here are three recipes I have come up, including a dessert of sorts (yes really) that I hope you will also enjoy.

To begin with for most recipes you will need to rehydrate the mushrooms.  Marx Foods has great instructions HERE.

Filet Mignon with Wild Mushrooms and Red Wine Reduction
2 (4 oz.) pieces filet mignon
1 oz dried wild mushrooms (mix and match any varieties you like)
1 scallion, sliced thin
1 1/2 cups red wine
olive oil
1 T. butter

Rehydrate mushrooms and set aside.  I used Lobster, Black Trumpet and Mutsutake mushrooms.

Make a one inch slit in the side of each filet and create a 'pocket'.  Stuff some of the rehydrated mushrooms inside each filet, save the rest for later.  Season each side of the filets with salt and pepper, drizzle with a little olive oil and allow to set for a few minutes.  Preheat over to 450 degrees.  Using an oven safe pan add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and heat pan until very hot high heat.  Place filets in pan and and sear for one minute, turn meat over and sear other side for one minute.
Place pan with filets in the oven, cook for 4 minutes.  Turn meat over and cook another 3 minutes.  Remove from the oven and removed meat from the pan and allow to rest while preparing the reduction sauce.

Using the same pan add scallions and cook over medium high heat for 1 minute.  
Add wine, mushrooms and butter, stir to melt butter.  
Cook for 1 minute and remove mushrooms from the pan.  Continue to cook wine sauce until reduced by half.  Turn off heat and remove sauce from pan.  

Serve filets whole or sliced with sauce drizzled over it and mushrooms on top.

Serves 2

Porcini Risotto
2 cups Arborio rice
1 small sweet onions, chopped
6 cups chicken stock
1 cup dry white wine
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T. butter
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 oz. dried Porcini mushrooms

Heat the chichen stockand hold warn over medium low heat.  

Place dried mushrooms in a spice or coffee grinder and grind until a fine powder.

Heat pot or skillet large enough to hold all ingredients on medium high  and add the olive oil and onions.  When onions are almost translucent add the garlic, cook for about 30 seconds, mixing constantly.  Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon to toast the rice for about 2 or 3 minutes.  Add the wine and continue to stir until all the wine is absorbed.  
Add about 2 cups of the chicken stock and the ground mushrooms, cook until all chicken stock is absorbed, gently stirring often.  
Do not add more stock until the first addition is absorbed.  Add 2 more cups of chicken stock and stir gently.    Add final 2 cups of stock and continue to stir.  Only add the final 2 cups of stock when all other stock is absorbed.

Once  stock is absorbed removed the pan from the hear and add the butter and cheese, stir gently  once more until butter is melted.

Serves 4 - 6

Toasted Brioche with Goat Cheese, Caramelized Figs and Candied Chanterelle Mushrooms

1 oz. dried Chaterelle Mushrooms, rehydrated (reserve water used to rehydrate mushrooms)
1 cup sugar
32 Black Mission figs
4 oz. goat cheese, room temperature
4 slices of Brioche, toasted

Place one cup of the water from rehydrating the mushrooms (add water if needed to make one cup) and sugar in a small sauce pan over a medium heat.  Once all sugar has dissolved add the mushrooms and bring to a simmer. 
Simmer for 5 or 6 minutes and allow to cool to room temperature.  Remove mushrooms from syrup and drain slightly on a paper towel.  Reserve syrup.  Chop mushrooms into small pieces.

Remove the skin from the figs, cut each fig in half.  Heat a non-stick skillet, sprayed with canola oil, over medium heat.  Place figs, cut side down, in hot skillet and cook until caramelized (watch closely).  gently turn each fig half over and caramelize the other side.  Removed from heat.

Spread about one ounce of goat cheese on each slice of toasted brioche.  Place 8 fig halves on each slice, top with chopped mushrooms and drizzle with reserved mushroom syrup to taste.

Serves 4

Monday, September 20, 2010

Rosemary Raisin Pecan Crisps

A few months ago my boss brought some Raincoast Crisps to the office.  They are crisp, tasty and have the perfect balance of sweet and savory.  Everyone one of us loved them but when we found out they are about $8 for a small box it was decided I needed to find a way to make them.

Fast forward a few months and I finally have a recipe that tastes just like the originals.  They take a little time to make but are not difficult and definitely worth the wait.  These are great all on their own and the bread is really good even before turning it into crisps.  Serve with some cheese and fruit and you will impress everyone.

Rosemary Raisin Pecan Crisps

Makes 6-8 dozen crackers

2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup flax seed, ground
1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the buttermilk, brown sugar and honey and stir a few strokes. Add the raisins, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed and rosemary and stir just until blended.

3. Pour the batter into two 8″x4″ loaf pans that have been sprayed with nonstick spray.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch (Note: For mini loafs bake for 30 minutes).

Remove from the pans and cool on a wire rack.

4. The cooler the bread, the easier it is to slice really thin. You can leave it until the next day or pop it in the freezer (I froze my mini loaves for about two hours). Slice the loaves as thin as you can (I slided them about 1/8th of an inch thick)and place the slices in a single layer on an ungreased cookie sheet. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake them for 15 minutes.

5. Flip them over and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until crisp and deep golden brown, adding more time if needed. Remove from the sheets to a cooling rack. They will continue to crisp as they cool.

Adapted from Dana Treat