Baklava, and why not!

I usually go nuts with the cookies for Christmas. Make dozens and dozens. Ship them off to friends and family. But this year, I just wasn’t feeling the cookie love. We tried some candied orange peel (delicious!), and then when I was at Caravan the Force of the Baklava was too strong to resist.  Of course, the problem with that is that there is now half a tray of baklava in the house…..

 

 Baklava2SQ

 

This is just AB’s recipe, basically. Except I skip the almonds and use 9oz ea pistachios and walnuts. Oh, and use orange blossom water instead of rose. This is one of those things like cheesecake – people ooh and aah, and it’s really a simple simple thing to make. It just has a lot of steps, but they’re not impossible complicated ones. 

Thaw the fillo:

baklava4

 

Whiz the nuts, spices and sugar in the robot:

baklava5

 

 Brush the layers with butter, and put in some of the nut mix every few layers:

baklava6

 Remembering to bless each layer with some orange blossom water
baklava3

Score the tops, bake:

baklava7Make the syrup

baklava9

Pour it over the cooked pastry, garnish with more chopped nuts and let it soak up the syrup for 8+ hours

baklava8

 

 

God, I love this stuff. Crunchy, nutty, buttery, sweet, exotic with orange blossom. Yum.

baklava

 Alton Brown’s recipes are always awesome – give it a try. You will become very popular.

Blueberry Cobb

Not much of a post this week – just a quick snapshot and link.

 BBcobb1MED

Chopped romaine with blanched petit green beans, roasted hazelnuts, cubed leftover roast chicken breast and some chèvre.  Tied together beautifully with this blueberry vinaigrette (although I added a tsp. of toasted hazelnut oil)

Yum!

Pumpkin Cranberry Orange Pistachio Muffins, or P-COP’s for short

 PCOP Muffin

Tender crumb, full of chewy cranberry, tender pistachios and orange-y goodness. Made with the usual suspects (except the white chocolate – it didn’t make it in.)

COMingred

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line your muffin tins. Get out your ½ cup scoop and set it in a large glass of hot water. If you don’t have a scoop, a pair of soup spoons will do just dandy. Sift your dry ingredients on to a parchment sheet or flexible cutting board (to be able to easily add it to the wet later.)

COMsift

COMdry

 

Beat the butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy.

COMsugbut

 

 Add the eggs.COMegg

Then the vanilla, zest, pumpkin, and buttermilk.

COMbuttermilk

Next the cranberries and pistachios.

COMfruitnut

Finally, stir in the flour mixture to just barely mix. Scoop the batter into the muffin liners, being sure to swirl the scoop (or spoons, use one to scoop the other to scrape the batter into the liner) in the hot water before each scoop.

COMscoop

 Bake 25-30 minutes, until it passes the toothpick test.

COM24

Cool, dust with powdered sugar before serving.

24PCOP1

 

Recipe here by Karen Maginnis, adapted from: http://whiteonricecouple.com/recipes/pumpkin-coffeecake-recipe/

Roasted Beet, Chèvre & Escarole Salad with Garlic Balsamic Vinaigrette

 BEsalad2MED

Creamy goat cheese, earthy sweet beets and crunchy bitter escarole topped with a strong vinaigrette is one of my favorite salads.

BEingredMED

 

First up – the beets.  Peeled, cut into 8ths. Mixed with some olive oil, balsamic, salt, pepper and herbes de Provence.

BEbake3I roasted them for 45-60 minutes at 375, with a parchment hat. That probably has a technical chef name for it, but I don’t know what that is.  I still had to check halfway through and add some water. (When are they done? They’re like potatoes – test ’em with a fork.)  When they’re done, they’re hard to resist – little earthy bites of candy.

BEbakeD1MED

 

While they cooled, I made the dressing:  Mix a teaspoon of good dijon mustard, a pressed garlic clove, salt, pepper and a 1/2tsp of sugar with 1/4 c. good balsamic vinegar. Then, slowly drizzle in about 1/2c. good olive oil until you get a nice thick emulsion.

Vinaigrette

Alrighty, salad time!  I chopped up the escarole and sliced some medallions of chèvre.  Next come those cooled beets and a drizzle of dressing and it’s time to eat! This is also really good with some added hard boiled eggs, or chicken. We’ve even skipped the goat cheese and used cubes of the apricot stilton from Trader Joe’s. Deelish!

BEsalad1MED

 

The Great Pasty Experiment

Rich meat pocket pie with peppery onion gravy.
Rich meat pocket pie with peppery onion gravy.

So, please forgive me but this is more a story of what I tried than an actual recipe.  It must be the cooling weather but I am obsessing on shepherd’s pie and pot pie and pasties.  So I was browsing the interwebs and its plethora of awesome food blogs and came away with general idea: a pasty is pie crust filled with meat onion and potato, or more. So after a grocery store run, I set off.

First up? The crust.  Just a double batch of Martha’s pâte brisée, only going with half lard/half butter for the fat.

P1med

Only thing is, the lard is WAY softer than the butter, so with the second round in the cuisinart I whirred the butter several times before adding the lard.

P2med

I added the cold water by hand, and then divided the dough in to 9 balls, wrapped ’em in wax paper, flattened them and put them in the fridge for a couple hours.

P3med

Next up, the filling.  Not even remotely traditional. I diced one celery stalk, half an onion, one large russet potatoe, two medium carrots and sliced 4 oz of button mushrooms.  Then, browned the lean (10%) ground beef and added the veg until they were halfway cooked.

P4med

 

I let that cool in ice box, and took a little nap.  A couple hours later, it was assembly time. I heated the oven to convection 400*. And rolled out, then filled the dough. 

P5medP6med

 

Sealed those mofo’s up.

P7med

 

Brushed them with an egg wash.

P8med

 

And baked them for forty minutes. At the halfway point, I flipped the trays. Meanwhile, I started the gravy.  I had put aside about half a cup of the filling, and put that in a saute pan with the other half of the onion, sliced in to thin half-moons.  I cooked them with about a teaspoon of butter on low for about thirty minutes, until they were browned and tender and almost falling apart.  Here I debated – just use a flour slurry, or go for the Bisto?  I went with the bisto. Stirred that in and cooked until thickened.  Then, after I tasted it, I realized it needed some more flavor, so I added some beef broth base.  Then we were done.

These are tasty. But very, very rich. As in, now I want to go take another nap rich.

Try some – they’re good!

Pastymed

Cranberry Orange Scones

COscone1Fresh cranberries. I LOVE this time of year, in part because of the fresh cranberries.   And cranberry and orange? Heaven in my book, absolute heaven!

I thought I’d try a scone with fresh cranberry instead of the treacly sweet dried kind, and some orange.  Google led me to our Lady of Excellence and Butter, Ina Garten.  These are delicious, and on the cakey side more than the biscuity side.  I’m too lazy for a round cutter, so wedged discs it was for me – and I like to brush on my glaze while the scones are still hot – it dries as a pretty shine, and keeps them from drying out if you’re planning to take your sconage to your co-workers the next day.
FlourZestCranberries

 

Cranberry Orange Scones with Orange Honey Butter
Yields 24
A soft, cakey scone full of fall flavors
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
316 calories
33 g
83 g
19 g
4 g
12 g
81 g
117 g
16 g
1 g
6 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
81g
Yields
24
Amount Per Serving
Calories 316
Calories from Fat 168
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 19g
29%
Saturated Fat 12g
59%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 83mg
28%
Sodium 117mg
5%
Total Carbohydrates 33g
11%
Dietary Fiber 1g
4%
Sugars 16g
Protein 4g
Vitamin A
13%
Vitamin C
7%
Calcium
2%
Iron
2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
For the scones
  1. 4 c. AP flour
  2. 1/4 c. sugar
  3. 1 Tbsp orange zest
  4. 1 tsp. salt
  5. 3 sticks of butter (relax - this makes A LOT of scones)
  6. 1 tsp. vanilla
  7. 4 eggs
  8. 1 c. heavy cream
  9. 1 1/4 c. chopped fresh cranberries
For the glaze
  1. 1 Tbsp. orange zest
  2. 1/4 fresh orange juice
  3. 2 c. powdered sugar
  4. Crystal sugar for the top.
For the orange honey butter
  1. 6 Tbsp soft unsalted butter
  2. 2 Tbsp honey
  3. 1 tsp. orange zest.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375*. Line two cookie trays with parchment.
  2. Cube the butter and stick it in the freezer. Whir the dry ingredients and the orange zest in the bowl of your food processor. Add in the super cold butter and whir til it looks like crumbs. (Ten or twelve pulses). Put in to a big mixing bowl.
  3. Mix the eggs, vanilla and cream. Add that and the chopped cranberries and gently fold the dough together. Divide the dough in to 3rds, and for each third gently roll it in to a ball, then roll it to a disk about 7" across. slice in to 8 wedges. Repeat for the other two, and place them on the cookie trays.
  4. Bake about 20-25 minutes. They should be golden brown and sound hollow when thunked. While they're baking, mix together the glaze. It should be about the consistency of maple syrup.
  5. When you remove the scones from the oven, let them cool 5 minutes. Then use a pastry brush and coat them - top, sides and all. While the glaze is still moist, sprinkle with the chunky sparkly sugar.
  6. Mix all the ingredients for the honey butter, and serve it with the scones.
Notes
  1. I underbaked mine - go closer to the 25 minutes.
Adapted from Ina Garten
beta
calories
316
fat
19g
protein
4g
carbs
33g
more
Adapted from Ina Garten
Bucket of Yum http://bucketofyum.com/

Torta di Pastore…ok, fine. Shepherd’s pie.

 

 

Ready for the oven….

Potato-y goodness ready for the oven.

SPshepherdPie2So, planning the menu this week I intended to make Budget Bytes’ super amazing  lentil and sausage stew. Only it was a hellacious day. And when I got home, these bewitching comfort-in-starchy-skins were staring at me from their basket above the counter. I answered their Siren’s song, dammit. The base of this perverted autumn classic is the sausage and mire poix with a veg stock/maizena sauce, a layer of frozen chopped spinach, and then the topping with those luscious spud sirens smooshed to submission with butter, olive oil, parsley, garlic salt and chopped kalamata olives.  Screw you, Tuesday. This is delicious.

 SPShepherdPie3

Torta di Pastore (Shepherd's Pie)
Yields 6
An italian sausage and chickpea base, layer of chopped spinich and luscious kalamata parsley mashed potatoes.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
524 calories
39 g
61 g
35 g
14 g
12 g
421 g
487 g
4 g
0 g
21 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
421g
Yields
6
Amount Per Serving
Calories 524
Calories from Fat 312
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 35g
54%
Saturated Fat 12g
58%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 17g
Cholesterol 61mg
20%
Sodium 487mg
20%
Total Carbohydrates 39g
13%
Dietary Fiber 5g
19%
Sugars 4g
Protein 14g
Vitamin A
114%
Vitamin C
43%
Calcium
16%
Iron
20%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 Tbsp olive oil
  2. 12 oz ital. sausage
  3. 1 c chopped celery
  4. ¾ c chopped carrot
  5. ¾ c chopped onion
  6. 2 tsp minced garlic
  7. 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  8. 14 oz can garbanzos, drained
  9. 2 tsp Penzey's Tuscan sunset (or just Italian Seasoning)
  10. 1 tsp fennel seed
  11. 1 tsp veg stock base
  12. 1 tsp corn starch
  13. 1 c water
  14. 1/2 c. chopped parsley
  15. ¾ c chopped frozen spinach
  16. 5 potatoes, mashed with
  17. 4 Tbsp butter
  18. 4 Tbsp olive oil
  19. 1/3 - 1/2 c. (almond) milk
  20. garlic salt & pepper
  21. ¼ c chopped kalamata olives
  22. ¼ c minced parsley
Instructions
  1. Make your mashed potatoes, stirring in the olives and parsley last.
  2. Preheat oven to 375*. Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet on medium high. Add the italian sausage, and cook until no pink remains. (Drain oil here if necessary). Add the chopped vegetables, tomato paste and garlic. Reduce heat to medium and cook stirring occasionally for five minutes. Add the garbanzos, herbs and fennel. Mix the water, corn starch and veg stock base and stir in to the pan, reduce heat to medium low and simmer until sauce is thickened. Stir in the chopped parsley and remove the pan from the heat.
  3. Transfer filling to a 9'x9" square pan. Sprinkle with the frozen chopped spinach. Then layer on the mashed potatoes. (Or pipe them on with an 8B French star tip if you are a total spaz like me.) Sprinkle with some grated pecorino romano or the like. Slide in the oven, bake 50 - 60 minutes, until the potatoes are beautifully browned.
Notes
  1. Serve with a salad, and dinner here we come!
beta
calories
524
fat
35g
protein
14g
carbs
39g
more
Bucket of Yum http://bucketofyum.com/

Blondies

Blondie2

Blondies. Bill has this memory of earth-shatteringly good blondies from the Just Desserts bakery in San Francisco from [cough cough] years ago.

I can’t tell you how many recipes I’ve tried over the years, hoping to give him that little slice of bakery happiness…. but have yet to find THE ONE. 

Blondie  mis en place
Blondie mis en place

These are not them, but they are damn tasty.  They’re from Smitten Kitchen, with walnuts and (in honor of The City) Ghiradelli white and dark chocolate chips, some walnuts, and crystal sugar on top.

Alright – now that the photo’s up, it’s time to go make a pot of coffee to do these bad boys justice.

Blondies - a one-bowl wonder of chewy goodness
Yields 16
Brown sugar bar with dark and white chocolate chips, walnuts, and a sprinkle of sparkle sugar.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
196 calories
24 g
28 g
10 g
2 g
5 g
42 g
22 g
17 g
0 g
5 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
42g
Yields
16
Amount Per Serving
Calories 196
Calories from Fat 91
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 10g
16%
Saturated Fat 5g
26%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Cholesterol 28mg
9%
Sodium 22mg
1%
Total Carbohydrates 24g
8%
Dietary Fiber 1g
3%
Sugars 17g
Protein 2g
Vitamin A
4%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
3%
Iron
3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 c. unsalted butter
  2. 1 c. dark brown sugar
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1 tsp. vanilla
  5. 1 c. AP flour
  6. Dash salt
  7. 1/4 c. white chocolate chips
  8. 1/4 c. dark chocolate chips
  9. 1/2 c. chopped toasted walnuts
  10. 1 Tbsp. sparkle sugar or raw sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350*. Line an 8" square pan with parchment, spritz with non-stick spray.
  2. In a microwave-safe bowl, just barely melt the butter. Stir in the brown sugar, vanilla and salt. Stir in the egg, then the flour, then the chips and 1/2 the nuts.
  3. Smooth the batter in to the pan. Sprinkle with the rest of the nuts, and a sprinkling of big-grain sugar (sparkle sugar, raw sugar, etc.)
  4. Bake 20-25 mins. Test will come out clean, blondies will pull in slightly from the edge. Do.Not.Overbake.
  5. Slice and devour - warm or cold.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
beta
calories
196
fat
10g
protein
2g
carbs
24g
more
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Bucket of Yum http://bucketofyum.com/

 

 

Count Dracula’s Pasta Dinner

CDplate 

 

We are so lucky to have this amazing Italian deli and food shop in town, Roma Imports. They make their own sauces, sausages, desserts, and carry salume  and pasta like that reginette in the photo that we otherwise just would not find here.

We are in love with their Count Dracula sausage, and it is my favorite to use when making what my Italian-American friends call “gravy” (and what the rest of us call pasta sauce.)  It is a beautiful thing, bursting with juicy porky goodness, seasoned with lots of hot pepper and garlic. YUM! 
Since we don’t do the whole primo/secondo thing at our house, we like to slice the sausage in the sauce after it’s cooked. It serves more that way, I think. But hey, I’m a cheap ass. Ask my husband. 

SauceINGRED

 

Count Dracula's Pasta Dinner
Serves 8
Spicy sausage tomato sauce served with reginette noodles, whose wavy edges really hold the sauce.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
3 hr
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
3 hr
711 calories
95 g
43 g
25 g
25 g
7 g
369 g
584 g
9 g
0 g
16 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
369g
Servings
8
Amount Per Serving
Calories 711
Calories from Fat 222
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 25g
38%
Saturated Fat 7g
37%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 12g
Cholesterol 43mg
14%
Sodium 584mg
24%
Total Carbohydrates 95g
32%
Dietary Fiber 6g
25%
Sugars 9g
Protein 25g
Vitamin A
59%
Vitamin C
26%
Calcium
9%
Iron
21%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 pound hot italian sausage
  2. 1 28oz can peeled tomatoes
  3. 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with onion and garlic
  4. 1 14.5 oz can tomato sauce
  5. 3 stalks of celery, diced
  6. 1/2 medium white onion, diced
  7. 2 medium carrots, diced
  8. 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  9. 2 Tbsp. Penzey's Tuscan Sunset seasoning (or plain old Italian seasoning, or1 1/2 tsp each dried: marjoram, basil, oregano, and 1 tsp rosemary)
  10. 1 Tsp. Fennel seeds
  11. 1/3 bottle soft red wine (TJ's 3-buck-chuck Syrah or Merlot, for example)
  12. 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  13. 2 pounds long pasta (spaghetti, reginette, linguini, whatever floats your boat)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350*. Get out your big enameled dutch oven, or your crock pot. Open the canned whole tomatoes, dump them in and smoosh them with your clean hands (or your potato masher if you're a big wimp). Dump in the other tomatoes and sauce, and add the garlic and herbs. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium. Add the olive oil and the veggies and sauté until they begin to soften. Add them to the sauce. Now turn up the heat to medium high and brown the sausages on all sides. When they are on their last side, pour the wine over them and cook it down for just a couple minutes while you deglaze the bottom of the pan. Toss all that in to the sauce. Stir. Cover and put in the oven (or the crock pot on high) for two and half to three hours. Go past that at your own risk (the tomato starts to taste burn-y) or else have that oven at 300* from the get-go and cross your fingers.
  3. About half an hour before you're ready to have dinner, put on the pasta pot and follow the package directions to cook the noodles of your choice. While the water is heating, take the dutch oven out of the oven and remove the sausages to a plate to cool a few minutes. While they cool, take your stick blender or your potato masher and puree the sauce. Taste the sauce and adjust any seasoning (need more garlic? more herbs? more hot pepper? Possibly salt?) Once they're cool enough to handle, slice them or dice them and put them back in the sauce. Or, leave them whole. Since we don't do the whole primo/secundo thing at our house, I like to dice them up so I get yummy sausage in every bite.
  4. When your pasta is done (don't overcook it!!), reserve about half a cup of the pasta water before you drain it. Return the pasta to the pasta pot, and put in a couple cups of the sauce and the pasta water. Stir it all together. Serve, garnished with a good freshly grated pecorino romano and red pepper flakes, and extra sauce on the side.
  5. BUON APETITO!
Notes
  1. This sauce is also really good over polenta. It freezes beautifully, too.
beta
calories
711
fat
25g
protein
25g
carbs
95g
more
Bucket of Yum http://bucketofyum.com/