October 22, 2014

Candy Corn Cookies

Looking for an easy Halloween treat to make?  These candy corn cookies definitely fit the bill.  The recipe comes from PBS Food and is one I've had pinned to my Halloween Pinterest board since 2011.  I love it when recipes actually turn out like the photo.

10 dozen cookies may seem like a lot but I promise that it doesn't take very long to cut all the candy corn triangles.  This sugar cookie recipe is much easier than rolling out dough and messing around with cookie cutters.

While cutting, I left half of the dough in the fridge because soft triangles aren't as easy to transfer from a cutting board to the cookie sheet.  However, when the dough is nicely chilled you can use your chef's knife to easily pick up an entire row to transfer.

Candy corn can be sickeningly sweet after a couple pieces but the same is not true of these cookies.  In fact, in my experience 10 dozen bite-size cookies can go fairly fast :)

Ingredients (10 dozen 1-inch cookies)

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • yellow and orange food color (I use AmeriColor soft gel paste)
The Day Before
  • Using a stand mixer, cream together the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the stand mixer bowl and mix just until a soft dough forms.
  • Remove dough from mixer bowl and separate into three equal pieces (about 10 oz each). Knead orange food color into one piece, yellow into another and leave the third plain. I used a Silpat mat to knead the color into the dough.
  • Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving enough overhang to pull the dough out and cover it. Past down the white dough inside the loaf pan, spreading it evenly along the bottom of the pan. Then firmly pat the orange dough on top of it, followed by the yellow dough.
  • Use plastic wrap to remove the dough from the pan and then wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

The Day Of
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cut 1/4-inch slices down the width of the dough. Continue cutting each slice into triangles. Place triangles on a cookie sheet and bake for 6 minutes.

  • I recommend using a chef's knife to cut the slices. If you want crispy cookies, cut thin slices and if you want softer cookies, cut a tad bit wider slices.
  • Recipe Source: PBS Food
Powered by Recipage

October 19, 2014

Kale & Butternut Squash Baked Risotto

Baked risotto is a great shortcut version of the traditional stand-by-the-stove-stirring-for-20-minutes risotto.  In this case, you can use that time to cut up a butternut squash.  I love the taste of butternut squash but detest the process of chopping it into the cubes needed for recipes.  

Just three main ingredients are needed for this recipe.  Flat leaf kale (also known as lacinato, Tuscan or dinosaur kale), a butternut squash and arborio rice.  The recipe also calls for white wine, but if you don't have any on-hand feel free to omit it with no substitution needed.  On the other hand, I find that risotto recipes are a great excuse to buy a nice Pinot Grigio :)

This recipe comes from Martha Stewart's Meatless cookbook; a cookbook that is in heavy rotation in my kitchen.  Each recipe has a photo, which is much appreciated and the recipes don't rely on meat alternatives, although there are a few tempeh, seitan and tofu recipes.

Ingredients (serves 6 as a main dish)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried ground thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled and chopped into 1/2" cubes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 bunch flat leaf kale, stems removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a 5-quart dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes. Add thyme and cook, stirring, for another minute.
  • Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper. Add wine and cook, stirring, until completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add squash and broth; bring mixture to a boil. Stir in kale.
  • Cover with lid; transfer to oven and bake until rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

Recipe Source: Martha Stewart's Meatless cookbook - page 172 (can also be found on marthastewart.com)
Powered by Recipage

October 05, 2014

Marinated Kale & Goat Cheese Grandma Pizza

It's been a weekend full of pizza, making my first Grandma Pizza and attending a pizza class at Pummarola with Chris.  I had not heard of a Grandma Pie until seeing an article in this month's Bon Appetit.

The photos caught my attention but as I read the article I became even more intrigued because the recipe was developed by the owner of Best Pizza in Brooklyn which we visited last month during our first visit to New York City.

The article begins "Those supremely thin, hearth-blistered pizzas coming out of upscale pizzerias these days?  We love 'em, but trying to replicate the conditions of an 800-degree wood-fired oven in your kitchen is a good way to meet your local fire department.  Enter the grandma pie."

Upon hearing my smoke detector today I immediately thought of this intro, as I lowered my oven temp from 500 to 450 degrees.  By the way, if you google "cooking at 500 degrees" you'll see recommendations for removing the battery from your smoke alarm :)

This recipe is ideal for a weekend because the grandma-style pizza dough cold-ferments for 24 hours and if you're adding marinated tuscan kale (which I highly recommend), you'll want to marinate it for a couple of hours.  Tuscan kale is also known as dinosaur kale or lacinato kale and is easy to spot, just look for the flat kale which is sweeter and more tender than curly kale.

During our pizza class Stefano stressed the importance of pizza sauce containing only three ingredients - whole peeled tomatoes in juice, basil and salt.  I recently listened to a great America's Test Kitchen podcast (episode 301) which included a canned whole tomatoes taste test (along with a Yotam Ottolenghi interview worth listening to).

The clear winner of the taste test was Muir Glen organic whole peeled tomatoes which is in agreement with The Splendid Table's advice on canned tomatoes.  Jack Bishop, from America's Test Kitchen, said "a lot of people in the food business go on and on about San Marzano tomatoes" but the taste test showed they're not worth purchasing.

To make tomato sauce for this pizza, I added one large can of Muir Glen tomatoes with basil to my blender along with a little salt.  It turned out to be the quickest and tastiest pizza sauce I've ever made!

During the class, Stefano also stressed the importance of using fresh mozzarella cheese but I prefer lower-moisture mozzarella cheese, and it appears others do too according to this Serious Eats poll.  Someone in the class asked "why is this pizza so wet in the middle?"  Gino explained that it's caused by using fresh mozzarella cheese and that Italians prefer it that way but said many Americans complain.

Unless you're looking to waste some olive oil, I do not recommending adding the 1/2 cup of olive oil called for in Bon Appetit's recipe.  It's one of those things that didn't seem right but I try to follow a recipe pretty closely the first time trying it, so I gave it a go.  Yeah, and then I dumped over half of it off after checking online and finding multiple people saying a 1/2 cup led to a greasy crust.

Chris said this crust reminds him of focaccia bread and he nailed it.  I typically prefer thin crust pizza but I will definitely be making this focaccia-like pizza again!  A half-sheet pan of pizza is enough for 6 people but as someone who has been snacking on the leftovers tonight, I can tell you it's delicious both warm and cold, so please don't be afraid to make this if you have a household of two like me.

Ingredients (serves 6)

    • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)
    • 1 1/2 cups warm water (105-110 degrees)
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
    • 4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil (for greasing the pan the next day)
    Marinated Kale

    • 1 bunch Tuscan kale, stemmed and chopped
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon coarse salt

    • 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes with basil (Muir Glen brand recommended)
    • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

    • 8 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
    • 3 oz goat cheese, crumbled
    The Day Before
    • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine yeast and water. Let stand for 10 minutes. Mix in 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and 2 cups of the flour. Then add 2 more cups of flour, a cup at a time, until a shaggy dough forms.
    • Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook and knead the dough for 10 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, adding a bit to your hands in order to remove the sticky dough from the mixer bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 24 hours.
    The Day Of
    • To marinate the kale, add kale, 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt to a medium bowl. Mix with your hands until the kale is coated in oil. Then let the bowl sit at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours.
    • Remove dough from fridge and let warm for 10 minutes. Coat a half sheet pan (13 x 18-inches) with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add dough to pan, gently stretching the dough until it reaches the edges of the baking sheet.
    • If the dough springs back, let it rest 10 minutes before continuing. Cover dough on baking sheet with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place (about 70 degrees) for 40 minutes. While waiting for the dough, heat oven to 450 degrees.
    • To make the sauce, drain the tomatoes then add to a blender along with the salt. Puree until mostly smooth; set aside.
    • When the dough is ready, top with mozzarella cheese, then dot pie with the tomato sauce. Even spread the marinated kale on top of the pizza along with the goat cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the crust is crisp on the sides and bottom.

    Recipe adapted from: Bon Appetit
    Powered by Recipage