February 19, 2011 § 2 Comments
With most of my cooking adventures, the end result rarely resembles the initial goal, and I mean that not in a good way. But this time was different. It all started when my friend showed me a Valentine’s Day recipe in USAWeekend. It appeared to be a simple, fool-proof recipe using ready-made short cake cups (the kind you can buy in the produce aisle, next to the strawberries), raspberry preserves, chocolate and whipping cream. Sounded like a winner. But I didn’t plan on Safeway running out of the little ready-made cups the night before Valentine’s Day. Now what? “Plan B” — making my own shortbread or biscuits — was Regina’s suggestion from the get-go. For Regina, making things “from scratch” is the preferred method as well as the “easy” method. For me, it ranks right up there with cleaning the mini-blinds or flossing my teeth. After all, I was trying to keep this dessert simple and quick. Plan B prevailed, with Regina convincing me that it would take no time all, and reminding that, after all, “Dad loved the way his mother made biscuits from scratch.” Arghhhhh…
Once the decision was made to make biscuits from scratch, I decided the companion ingredients should be worthy. I selected high quality strawberry preserves and used one of my favorite chocolate sauce recipes. The end result was a winner! Thanks for talking me into it, Reg!
P.S. Full disclosure to Regina: When I told Dad that I would be blogging this recipe, he suggested a “minor” tweak. He would have preferred the chocolate drizzled on the biscuit, rather than smothered. (I know, crazy!)
Mom’s Valentine’s Day Rescue Ingredients:
Biscuits from Scratch (recipe below)
Chocolate Sauce (recipe below)
1 small jar of high quality preserves (I used Bonnie Mamam’s Strawberry Preserves)
fresh fruit for garnish
Mom’s Valentine’s Day Rescue Method:
1. Slice one heart-shaped biscuit in half. Spread strawberry preserves on one side. Place “top” on bottom layer.
2. To the side, garnish with fresh whipping cream and fruit.
3. Just before serving, drizzle (or pour!) warm chocolate sauce over the biscuit. Serve immediately.
Biscuits From Scratch
(Adapted from Simply Recipes, originally adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, July 2003)
3 cups white flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 +1/2 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons cold butter, unsalted, cut into small pieces
1 cup regular cream
1/2 cup milk (I used skim)
1 +1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Toss with a fork to combine. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or a fork until the largest pieces of butter are the size of peas. (Or pulse several times in a food processor.)
2. Combine the cream, milk and vanilla in a liquid measuring cup. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour the cream mixture into the well. Mix with a fork until the dough is evenly moistened and just combined; it should look shaggy and still feel a little dry. Gently knead by hand five or six times to create a loose ball.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat into an 8 inch square, 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment or silpat, cover with plastic and chill for 20 minutes in the refrigerator. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the dough from refrigerator. Cut the dough with a heart-shaped cookie cutter and place them about 2 inches apart from each other on a baking sheet. Reshape the leftover pieces to make additional biscuits. Bake until the biscuits are medium golden brown, about 18 to 20 minutes. Makes approximately 9 biscuits.
Memere’s Chocolate Fudge Sauce
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 +1/2 cups sugar
1 can (13.5 oz) evaporated milk
8 tablespoons butter, chilled, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon vanilla
1. Start with a heavy-bottomed saucepan, at least 2 quarts because sauce doubles in size. Place sugar in pan with cocoa powder. Stir with wooden spoon until well-incorporated. Add evaporated milk. Continue to stir until mixed. Then, turn heat to medium.
2. Stirring constantly, bring mixture to boil (about 5 minutes). Let it boil for another five minutes, stirring constantly. Make sure chocolate doesn’t burn. Pull sauce off heat and add butter. Stir sauce until butter is completely melted. Add vanilla and serve over ice cream. Store sauce in refrigerator and reheat in microwave or water bath.
December 18, 2010 § 3 Comments
A few days ago I putzed around a nearby market, ambling in and out of the bulk bin aisles. Each time I turned the corner, I noticed another stack of canned, organic, pureed pumpkin on sale — above the roasted almonds, next to the tamari-flavored pepitas, underneath the bins of flaky nutritional yeast and clumpy falafel mix. Pumpkin pies, breads and muffins are on their way out; eggnog, citrus-anythings and biscotti are on their way in. While I wholeheartedly embrace these sweet, seasonal additions, I’m not quite ready to give up my favorite pumpkin recipe. A few weeks ago I caroled and crooned over morning mochas. This piping hot, pumpkin beverage is on par with it’s chocolate-y counterpart. A few times a week, I fill up my leaky travel mug and perfume my little office with smells of pumpkin and cinnamon. My shelves are now stockpiled with pumpkin puree and I just refilled my mini, glass jars of autumn spices.
Ingredients (serves 1 large or 2 small cups):
1 cup almond milk (plain)
1/2 cup coffee, strongly brewed
1 tablespoon pumpkin puree
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin butter*
1/2 teaspoon honey (or more, to taste)**
*I use Trader Joe’s (it’s my favorite!) but you can also make your own.
**If following a vegan diet, swap honey with maple syrup.
1. Prepare coffee. My method, using a french press: Place 2-3 tablespoons of ground coffee beans in the bottom of the glass jar and heat water on the stove until boiling. Remove boiling water from heat and let cool for just a moment (so it stops bubbling), then pour water into french press and steep 4 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, combine almond milk, pumpkin puree, spices and pumpkin butter in a small saucepan on the stove. Heat on medium-high heat and whisk, on-and-off, as the liquid begins to heat. When the coffee is prepared, pour into the almond milk mixture and continue whisking.
3. Stop whisking when bubbles start to appear around the edges of the pan (don’t bring the whole mixture to a boil). Take a quick taste. If too bitter for your preference, add a half teaspoon of honey and whisk until combined. Serves two small or one generous portion.
Diet Notes: gluten-free, vegan (see asterisk)
November 21, 2010 § 2 Comments
It’s by no means “bone-chilling-cold” in Tucson, Arizona. But the nighttime temperatures are scooting toward the 30s and I’m afraid to use my gas heater. As such, I’ve come up with a good reason to untangle myself from 18 very-warm blankets each morning. May I present my latest, daily, sweet-tooth habit: A piping hot, creamy, good-for-the-soul mocha. This isn’t your standard (400 calorie) coffee-shop, chocolaty-espresso drink, but rather, a slightly-less-decadent, winning morning addition to my yogurt & granola addiction.
For the past two weeks, I’ve scuttled out of bed (toes scampering across cold tile) to heat up the water pot while I commence the unexciting doldrums of morning (washing face; yawning). Minutes later, water pot whistling, I whip up a mocha (or a pumpkin latte; recipe coming!). When the drink is steaming-hot, I fill up my travel mug. The house smells rich and spicy. I get ready for work. I walk to the university. When I arrive, I unlock the thick, wooden door and open the flappy blinds by my two desk windows. I wheel the horrendously squeaky chair over to the desk past two, crammed bookshelves, a road bike and cardboard boxes stuffed with plant presses and old newspaper clippings, and I settle in by the humming computer. I sip my special drink, beginning the work day.
1 cup almond milk (plain)
1/2 cup strongly-brewed coffee
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 heaping tablespoon dark cocoa powder (high quality)
1 tablespoon hot chocolate powder (high quality)*
pinch evaporated cane sugar or spoonful of honey, to taste**
1/4 tsp. vanilla (optional)
**For those on a vegan diet, omit honey and swap with maple syrup.
1. Prepare coffee. My method, using a french press: Place 2-3 tablespoons of ground coffee beans in the bottom of the glass jar. Heat a half cup of water on the stove until boiling. Remove boiling water from heat and let cool for just a moment (so it stops bubbling), then pour water into fresh press and steep 4 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, combine almond milk, cocoa, hot chocolate powder and cinnamon in a small saucepan on the stove. Heat on medium-high heat and whisk, on-and-off, as the liquid begins to heat. When the coffee is prepared, pour into the almond milk mixture and continue whisking.
3. Stop whisking when bubbles start to appear around the edges of the pan (don’t bring the whole mixture to a boil). Add vanilla. Take a quick taste. If too bitter for your preference, add a half teaspoon of honey or evaporated cane sugar and whisk until combined. Serves two small or one generous portion.
Diet Notes: gluten-free, vegan (see asterisk)