Thursday, December 8, 2016

Cake Classique: A French Poundcake w/ Dried & Candied Fruits

I have a whole slew of cookbooks, most are on shelves in the basement, never to see the light of day in my kitchen again.

There is just not enough room on my shelves for all these books and their wonderful tales and recipes.

My favorites get a place in the kitchen, always at arm's reach and I visit them often.

I was craving the cake classique that I buy in France. It is a luxurious pound cake made w/ delectable dried fruits. It is moist and I love it. I buy it in the boulangerie and even the supermarche when I am there.

I went to my basement cookbook stack and revisited Stephane Reynaud's beautiful book FRENCH FEASTS, translated into English from the French original version.

I love this book, the photos are magnifique! I want to eat everything in this huge bible, however, the recipes are translated from French into English and somewhere along the line, they got lost......they just don't translate well, temperatures, measurements (11 tablespoons and 1 tsp butter?), etc. You have to be a good cook/baker to figure it all out.

I tweaked the baking temperature on this one, and I was very happy with the results.

But where to find candied fruits like you do in France? It is not possible.
I have only found those nasty chopped neon things, and that will ruin this cake for sure.

Look at these beautiful fruits!

I suggest you use the best quality dried and candied fruits you can find (I order mine on amazon), so this cake comes out as it should.

French Poundcake w/ Candied & Dried Fruits: (aka Cake Classique) adapted from French Feasts

3 eggs
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup butter (11 tablespoons)
1/2 tsp almond extract
2/3 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 tbsp rum or Grand Marnier
7 oz. of good quality candied fruits (I used candied orange peel, dried figs and dried cherries)
1/3 cup of raisins

Plump up the raisins in the rum and hot water for 15 minutes.

whisk the eggs w/ the superfine sugar until pale and thick. Add in the softened butter, flour and baking powder.

Cut the fruit into large dice and combine w/ confectioner's sugar to prevent them from sticking together (good idea).
Add to the bowl and add in the macerated raisins last. Batter will be nice and creamy.

Butter and flour a loaf pan and pour in batter.

Here is where the directions are odd.
It says bake at 350F for 20 minutes, then turn down the temperature to 235F for 30 more minutes.

I tried it, but felt my oven needed to be a little hotter, the cake was still not done, so instead, I baked for 20 minutes at the 350F, then turned oven temp down to 275F for 25-30 more minutes. The cake will be puffed and golden.

Let rest in the pan for 10 minutes then invert onto a cooling rack.

This was perfect.

Reminded me so much of those beautiful slices of cake classique I get in Paris.

I loved it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Roasted Broccoli and Farro Salad w/ Feta

I'm keeping it more and more simple these seems more people look at my instagram feed than read my blog!

My posts have been getting shorter and shorter, and I guess people get bored after 9 years. (I am glad my husband still likes me after 30 years).

Recently, a few instagram readers asked "could I please post the recipe that I am showing?".....people, go to the link in my profile!
I write a food blog w/ recipes 4 days per week. duh.

Well, here is a simple, healthy and delicious recipe for you loyal readers of my blog.....can you tell I am discouraged?

Roasting broccoli is the best way (in my opinion) to serve the little green trees. I could eat the whole head.

And if you haven't had farro yet....why not?

It is better than rice, and has this "toothsome" (I love that word) quality.
It is a wheat grain, FYI, usually grown in Abruzzo and Tuscany.

Here is a delicious salad for your lunch today.

Roasted Broccoli & Farro w/ Feta: (adapted from Fine Cooking)

Kosher salt
3/4 cup farro (either pearled or whole-grain)
1 lb. broccoli
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup crumbled feta
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar; more as needed

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. In a 4-quart saucepan, bring 2 quarts of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Boil the farro in the water until tender, 20 to 30 minutes for pearled and 45 to 60 minutes for whole grain.

Drain well and transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, remove the broccoli crown from the stem and cut into small florets. Peel and halve the stem lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the broccoli florets and stems with 2 Tbs. of the olive oil and season w/ kosher salt. Roast until tender and browned in spots, about 20-30 minutes, flipping over halfway.

Add the broccoli, feta, scallions, red pepper flakes, and parsley to the cooked farro. Sprinkle with the vinegar and 1 tsp. salt and toss. Drizzle with the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil and toss. Season to taste with more vinegar and salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I took the liberty and added a crispy egg to my plate, and boy was it good!

The Bored Food Blogger

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Great Ideas: Avocado Toast w/ Apples & Honey!

Why hasn't anyone else thought of this by now?

I have paired everything under the sun with my morning avo toast, except for apples, which are in season and plentiful now.

The combination is fabulous, with some honey drizzled on top of the mashed avocado, slices of your favorite apple and sliced almonds. A pinch of sea salt, of course.

This is revolutionary!


Monday, December 5, 2016

Kimchi Shrimp Fried Rice

I'm still on a kimchi kick....I have a huge tub in the fridge, so trying to come up with recipes to use it in.

I love it. I love the smell, taste, funk, everything about it.

Here is a simple weeknight fried rice recipe that doesn't even need to use day old leftover white rice.

I cooked regular Jasmine rice and just tossed it in the pan at the end.

I used opal basil, but any basil will do.

This is the best version of fried rice I have made to date.

Measurements are not exact, so don't be afraid to add a bit more or less of this or that.

Kimchi Shrimp Fried Rice:

1 cup of kimchi (Korean fermented cabbage), chopped
1/2 cup of frozen peas
1 small onion, chopped
bunch of scallions, chopped
2 cups of cooked Jasmine rice
1 lb. uncooked shrimp, chopped into big pieces
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
opal basil for garnish
fried eggs to top (optional)

In a large wok or nonstick skillet, heat some vegetable or sunflower oil.

Add in chopped onions and cook until translucent. Add in shrimp and stir fry for a minute or two.

Next, add in the kimchi w/ its juices and stir away.

Mix in the rice and peas to combine. Add in the vinegar and sesame oil, scallions and sesame seeds.

Chopped basil to garnish.

If you want to make it even better, add a crispy fried egg on top and eat for breakfast!


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Experiment: Ricotta Cake w/ Dates, Chocolate & Hazelnuts

I had a big bag of dates hanging around and some leftover ricotta cheese.
I searched for a cake recipe in which to combine the two.

I found many recipes on BBC websites using that beautiful golden caster sugar, which I was out of.....and it seems like date cakes are a big Christmas thing in the UK, so there were many recipes to choose from.

I experimented and combined some English recipes with this wonderful Italian ricotta cake to make a rich, gorgeous delicious cake.

My husband, taste tester said it was one of his favorites.

I cut the recipe in half to make a 9" cake, vs. a big 12" cake.

Ricotta Cake w/ Dates, Chocolate & Hazelnuts (loosely adapted from Italian Food Forever and some BBC sites):

1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 cup of almond flour (or almond meal)
1 cup of brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
4 oz. (1 stick) of butter, softened
1 large egg

Ricotta Mixture:
16 oz. (2 cups) of fresh ricotta cheese
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
3 tbsp Amaretto liqueur or Grand Marnier
1 large egg
3/4 cup of pitted dates, chopped
1/4 cup of dark chocolate chunks
1/4 cup of toasted hazelnuts, chopped (optional)

I guess I didn't read all the recipes thru, and got mixed up with the UK recipes and this one, so I just mixed the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. I promise, the results were amazing.

The UK recipes want you to soak the dates in the liquor which I did for 15 minutes.

Add the dry into the wet, and then mix in the nuts, chocolate and dates w/ the liquor....there's a lot going on here.

The batter seemed very heavy, I must admit, and I was a bit nervous about it. Would it bake thru? Did I waste all those luscious expensive ingredients because I felt over confident?

Next step: (ignore my side notes, I like to talk to myself).

Pour into a greased and parchment lined 9" springform pan.

I baked at 325F for 30 minutes (all the UK recipes said to bake at a low temperature), then turned up the heat to 350F for 20 minutes more until golden.

I let completely cool in the pan then unmolded. I sprinkled with my usual powdered sugar and stencil spoons.......waited, wasn't sure what the results would be.

I let the cake sit about 6 hours, and waited to serve after dinner. A bit nervous, but hey, how bad could it be?

We loved the results!
The hazelnuts w/ the chocolate and dates made for a rich, complex gorgeous cake.

I rarely follow the rules, even when it comes to baking (which is supposedly a science), and rarely do I get into trouble.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Mimi's "Pumpkin" Squash Quiche

Just what I needed, another new cookbook for my collection.

If you follow me on instagram and facebook, then you know I met the lovely Mimi Thorisson at her book signing party at the Maille Mustard Boutique last month in NYC. She was in the city to promote her new cookbook FRENCH COUNTRY COOKING.

It is her second cookbook and it is as beautiful as her first book.

I am planning on cooking thru the recipes this winter, since many of them are on the traditional French rustic side, and a bit heavy for bikini weather.....

The first recipe I tried is what Mimi calls a "pumpkin" quiche.

The recipe says use whatever squash variety you like.
Since sugar pumpkins are not that available here, I chose butternut squash.

I changed the recipe just a bit using the pureed roasted squash, but also left some of the pieces of roasted squash whole.
I loved the texture of the whole pieces of squash instead of a soft fluffy pie.

I also am lazy, and did not beat the egg whites separately, and the results were still fantastic.

I served this on Thanksgiving, and everyone loved it!

It is much like that fabulous butternut squash galette, but just in a quiche form.

Mimi's Pumpkin Squash Quiche (adapted from French Country Cooking):

1 (1 1⁄4 pound) pumpkin or winter squash, (I used 2 cups/16 oz. of cut up squash from Trader Joe's)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp of smoked paprika/pimenton (optional)
1 large sprig rosemary leaves, chopped
kosher salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
3 1⁄2 ounces bacon, cut into lardons or diced
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
12 ounces puff pastry (thawed if frozen)
3 eggs
2/3 cup heavy cream
1⁄4 tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400F.

Roll out the puff pastry dough to fit a 9" tart pan with removable bottom (I used a deep dish tart pan).

Keep the dough in the refrigerator until ready to fill.

On a parchment paper lined baking sheet, lay out the cut up squash and drizzle with olive oil and some kosher salt.
I added a tablespoon of pimenton, because I love it.

Roast the squash at 400F for 20-25 minutes, being careful not to burn it.

While the squash is roasting, cook the bacon pieces with the sliced onions in a skillet until the bacon is almost crisp and onions are just turning golden.

Transfer the roasted squash to a large bowl and remove 1/4 of the pieces to a separate bowl. You will use them later.

With a masher, puree the squash in the large bowl (you can also do this in a food processor, but why dirty it?), or mash it with a fork.

Add in the rosemary, onions and cooked bacon/lardons, and let cool a few minutes.

Now add in the eggs and cream and some black pepper. Mix together to make a nice custardy consistency. You can add in more cream if you like it looser (Mimi calls for 1 cup of cream).

Pour filling into the prepared tart pan and dot with the rest of the saved whole pieces of roasted squash.

Bake in a 400F oven for 25-30 minutes until puffed and golden.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Roasted Potatoes w/ Mushrooms, Crispy Shallots & Truffle Mustard!

Once again, I have paired up with the French company Maille Mustard to create some recipes using their special limited edition mustards.

It's truffle season and Maille has created a luxurious moutarde with black truffles w/ ceps (which is a European term for a mushroom with a stout white stalk and smooth brown cap) and Chablis.

This mustard is quite special. It has a smokey depth and subtle mushroom flavor and was DELICIOUS paired with this roasted potato dish.

This special mustard is only available until December 31, so if you can't get to Paris or Dijon (or NYC!), you can order it online at the Maille Mustard Boutique.

Here is the recipe.
This would be a wonderful luxurious holiday side dish.

1 lb. of assorted small potatoes (I used purple, red and Yukon gold), cut in half
1 lb. of button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 shallots, sliced thin
olive oil
kosher salt
fresh parsley
bunch of arugula
heaping tbsp of Maille Truffle & Cep Mustard
1 tbsp of cider vinegar

Lay the sliced or quartered potatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle w/ kosher salt.
Cook the potatoes for 45 minutes at 300F (I usually roast at a higher temp, but didn't want too much caramelization here).

While the potatoes are baking, prepare the mushrooms.

In a nonstick skillet, heat some olive oil or butter and cook the mushrooms with the shallots, adding the garlic in at the last minute.
(I leave the mushrooms alone in the skillet without disturbing them at first, so they have a chance to get nice and golden, this way they won't be squishy!).

Once the potatoes are done, add them to a large bowl of arugula with some of the oil from the roasting pan.
Toss w/ the cooked mushrooms and shallots.

Mix the mustard and vinegar with a fork.

Pour the dressing over the warm potatoes and mushrooms on the greens.

Garnish w/ fresh parsley and black pepper.

Best served immediately, but still delicious at room temperature hours later!


Monday, November 28, 2016

Turkey Waldorf Salad

Ah, the favorite part of the holiday meal.

The possibilities are endless. I love having Thanksgiving turkey leftover to make delicious sandwiches, soups and main dishes.

Did you know you can freeze cooked sliced turkey?
It freezes beautifully, wrapped well in plastic wrap, then foil. It keeps for about 2 months.

This weekend, we saw a lot of sandwiches (no complaints), but saved enough turkey for this wonderful Waldorf Salad.

This salad originated at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in NYC, and originally did not contain poultry.
But cold, shredded turkey just seems to go so nicely with the apples, grapes and crunchy celery.

The yogurt mayo honey dressing is delicious and I was happy to have something other than carbs after this weekend of feasting.

You can also make this with leftover cooked chicken breast for another day.

Turkey Waldorf Salad: (adapted from Food Network)

2 cups shredded leftover turkey meat
2 stalks celery, sliced
1/2 cup celery leaves, coarsely chopped, plus more whole leaves for garnish
1 crisp apple, such as Gala or Macintosh, cored and chopped
1 cup red seedless grapes, halved
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted, and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup non-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon honey
1 small celery root (celeriac), peeled and cut into matchsticks (optional, you can use any lettuce/arugula)
sea salt & black pepper

In a large bowl, gently toss the turkey, celery, celery leaves, apple, grapes, and pecans until combined.

In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, mayonnaise, honey, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until well combined. Put the celery root in a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons of the dressing, and toss to coat completely. Add the remaining dressing to the turkey mixture, season with salt and pepper, and toss gently to evenly dress the salad.

To serve, spread the celery root evenly onto a serving platter, top with the dressed salad, garnish with celery leaves or fresh parsley. I served on top of arugula, because I was using what I had on hand.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Ricotta Crostini with Carrot Jam & Mario Book Winners

I know, the title sounds odd doesn't it? Carrot Jam?

I have been so into preserving, pickling and making condiments for the fridge lately.
I love having these lovely jars on hand to spread on crostini, cheese platters or sandwiches. They bring your cooking to a new level.

I had never heard of carrot jam before, but come to find out it is very popular in Iranian and Egyptian cultures.
I love spicy sweet carrots, so knew this recipe would be for me.

I watched Boston chef Ana Sortun's video on how to make carrot jam with walnut crumble on baked feta (YUM) and did this while getting ready for work in the a.m. It's that easy.

This carrot jam made gorgeous crostini w/ fresh ricotta and lemon zest......the possibilities are endless.

Carrot Jam (recipe from Panna Cooking and Ana Sortun):

3 cups of water
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup honey

2 cups of grated carrots
1 1/2 tsp of ground coriander
pinch of sea salt
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil

In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the water, honey and bay leaf to a boil. Turn down to medium and cook 6-8 minutes, until syrupy.

Now add in the grated carrots and coriander.

Simmer on low for about 45 minutes until you have a jammy consistency....the kitchen will smell lovely.

Fold in the olive oil and lemon juice at the end.

Voila! You have carrot jam!

Spread it on everything!

PS The winners of Mario's Big American Cookbook are Tara Kali and Rose from NJ! Please contact me and I will get the books to you!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving! See you next week. :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Spinach & Feta Quiche w/ Sweet Potato Crust

I liked this idea of saving calories and carbs by making a quiche crust out of sliced sweet potatoes.

You can add in any cheese you like for this recipe.

The holidays are coming, so I am trying to keep it light when I can.

Spinach & Feta Quiche w/ Sweet Potato Crust (adapted from Cooking Light):

2 medium sweet potatoes
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 (5-ounce) bag spinach (I like real spinach, not baby spinach)
1 small onion, sliced or chopped
1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1.5 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 350°, then peel and slice sweet potatoes. I sliced mine using a mandoline, but a knife works great as well.

Coat a pie dish with cooking spray, then fill the bottom of the dish with a layer of sweet potato slices. Cut the sweet potato rounds in half and fill around the edges of the pie dish; round side facing up. It's ok if you have a double layer, the more sweet potatoes, the better.

Once the entire dish is filled, spray the sweet potatoes w/ more cooking spray. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Turn heat up to 375°.

While the sweet potatoes are baking, make the spinach filling.

In a large skillet, heat the onion in olive oil for 3 minutes until translucent. Add in the spinach and cook another 3 minutes until the spinach is wilted. If you have liquid in the pan, just drain or squeeze it out. Season the spinach onion mixture liberally with kosher salt, hot pepper flakes and black pepper. Let the filling cool.

Once the filling has cooled, spread it into the sweet potato crust.

Mix the eggs w/ milk and pour the custard over the filling, it's ok if it goes over the sides of the potatoes.

Dot the top with the crumbled feta.

Bake in the 375F oven for 35 minutes, until puffed and golden.

I used a Pyrex glass pie dish, and the quiche came out of the pan like a dream.

Keepin' it light (until coffee time when I have a slice of cake).


Monday, November 21, 2016

Chocolate Pumpkin Bundt Cake

I wanted to get this recipe on before the wire, just in case you are still not sure what dessert to make for Thanksgiving!

Forget the pumpkin pie!

Truth: I have never bought a can of pumpkin puree and I have never even tasted pumpkin pie!

What am I missing?

I decided to break the silence and start with a pumpkin cake, this way I would ease myself in using other ingredients, like flour, chocolate, etc.
I have made butternut squash cakes with much success, but a would I cook a whole Halloween pumpkin?

Trader Joe's sells organic pumpkin puree in a can, so I took the plunge.

Of course, feel free to use any squash you like here, but reading about real pumpkin vs. canned pumpkin when baking, the canned stuff wins.

This makes a beautiful, impressive, delicious, rich moist cake, need I say more?

It's big and bold and would be oh so nice for the holidays.

I don't have pumpkin pie spice here, so added in a pinch of ground cloves and allspice.

Chocolate Pumpkin Bundt Cake (adapted from Simply Gloria):

10 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree or cooked squash
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice (what is that anyway?)

1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa

I took out my hand mixer for this job.

You will need 2 separate bowls. One for the pumpkin batter, one for the chocolate pumpkin batter. You follow me?

In bowl #1: Cream the butter w/ the sugar, eggs, pumpkin, sour cream and vanilla.

Mix in the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and soda. You will have a rich, thick luscious batter.

Remove 1 1/2 cups of the pumpkin cake batter to bowl #2.
Add in the 1/4 cup of cocoa and the chocolate chips. Mix together to make a rich brown batter.

The idea here is to layer the orange and brown batters to create a swirl.

Grease a large bundt pan.

Layer half the pumpkin batter on the bottom, then a layer of chocolate batter on top. Swirl with a knife, or leave in clumps, it's up to you.

Repeat with another layer of orange batter, then a layer of chocolate batter.

Bake in a 350F oven for 50-55 minutes. I use a Simax glass bundt pan, so my cake only took 45 minutes.

Let completely cool before removing the cake from the pan.

Dust with powdered sugar or white chocolate glaze. It's up to you. I left mine naked, because I liked the look of it without.

The pumpkin ban has been broken.