Sunday, February 24, 2008

Peanut Butter Smoothie Pie

I needed an easy dessert tonite and thought a peanut butter pie sounded good. But alas, someone (Lacey) ate the milk chocolate, and semi-sweet didn't sound right to me. So I decided to honor a favorite candy from days of olde- the Smoothie. It's a peanut butter cup that uses butterscotch instead of chocolate.
Yes, yes, I know. Chocolate and PB are the best. (You could swap out the butterscotch chips for 3 oz. of milk chocolate.) But this is really good, too! Tastes somewhat like a butterfinger. I cheated and used a prepared graham crust.

Peanut Butter Smoothie Pie

Use your favorite graham cracker or shortbread crust

3 oz. butterscotch chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Place butterscotch chips in a medium bowl. Place 1/2 cup cream in a small saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Pour over chips, and set aside for 5 minutes to yield ganache. Whisk to combine. Set in ice bath until ganache is cool, whisking constantly. Once cool, remove from ice bath, and whisk until ganache is just thick enough to hold its shape; do not overbeat. Spread in the bottom of the prepared crust, and return to the refrigerator until set.

8oz. cream cheese
3/4 cup powdered sugar
Mix together until smooth.
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup peanut butter
Mix until well blended.
Fold in
2 cups whipped cream lightly sweetened with sugar OR 1- 8 oz. container whipped topping

Spoon mixture over prepared pie. Top with crushed butterscotch chips. Chill until ready to serve.

Basa with Herb Citrus Vinagrette

Yesterday and today again I made fish for dinner. Yesterday I wanted fresh lake perch which is so plentiful on Fridays around here during Lent, but everywhere has it deep fried. No denying, everything is better deep fried, but we know we should stay away from fats and oil. So I bought some lake perch myself and lightly floured and seasoned it and bake in the oven with a little olive oil at 450 degrees. Not bad, and it served as a good perch fix!

Today I made Basa, aka Vietnamese Catfish (so inexpensive) and used a light Herb Citrus Vinaigrette -pictured above-from Marie Simmons Fast and Fresh Cookbook. It really is easy and adds good flavor to the fish.

Basa w/Herb Citrus Vinaigrette

Olive oil to coat fish

1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp orange zest
1 tsp. garlic finely chopped
1 Tbl fresh dill
1 Tbl fresh basil
1 Tbl italian parsley chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbl fresh lemon juice
2 Tbl cold water
1 Tbl sun dried tomatoes minced
salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

Mix vinaigrette ingredients together. (You can do this while the fish is cooking.)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Very lightly coat fish with olive oil so it stays moist. Bake fish 6-10 mnutes until almost done. Remove from oven and pour vinaigrette evenly overeach piece of fish. Place back in hot oven for a few minutes. Remove from oven and serve. Do not overcook fish.
Note- Marie Simmons recipe uses halibut.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Pepperoni Roll and Rocky Ledge Bars

Today appears to be "sweets- n- bread- use up supply" day. This morning we decided to skip the usual Sunday pancake routine that Mark is fond of lately, and I made Monkey Bread. I had cans of biscuits left since I was gonna make this again over the holidays, but never did.

Since the oven was hot, I picked Martha Stewart's recipe Rocky Ledge Bars to serve at a gathering this evening. Like the biscuits, I had leftover chocolate chips from Christmas to use up. The bars are okay, but I don't think I would make them again- no one was crazy about them. If I do make them I would put on the top marshmallows AFTER they bake, instead of before as the recipe states.

For dinner tonite I am making one of Mark's favorites, Pepperoni Roll. I have had the recipe since early in our marriage. The recipe was originally printed in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
I made one with regular pepperoni and one with turkey pepperoni. I use 2% cheese in both. The turkey pepperoni in not a bad substitute, but I think next time I will add chopped banana peppers, blotted in a paper towel, to give it the extra kick you lose from using the turkey.

Pepperoni Roll

1- 1 lb. loaf frozen bread dough
1 egg - beaten
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2- 3 ½ oz pkgs sliced pepperoni
2 cups shredded mozzarella
½ teas. Dried whole oregano

Thaw dough and let rise according to pkg directions. Divide dough in half. Set one portion aside.
Turn out remaining dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a 10 inch circle (or rectangle). Combine egg and parmesan, stir well; spread half of egg mixture over circle leaving a ½ inch margin at edges. Layer half of pepperoni and mozzarella over egg mixture and sprinkle with half the oregano.
Roll up dough in jellyroll fashion. Seal edges and fold ends under. Transfer loaf, seam side down, to an ungreased baking sheet. (line with parchment and foil for easy cleanup.)
Repeat procedure with remaining ingredients.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Cut into slices to serve.
Yield 6-8 servings.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Famous Chocolate Cake

I decided to jump on the train and make "the chocolate cake everyone is talking about" (says the Today Show). I have never made a chocolate cake (or ganache for that matter) from scratch and thought it was a good time to try.
The cake is fairly easy to make. It calls for 2- 10 inch pans, but since the ones I have are 9 inch, I poured the extra batter into my silicone cupcake pan. (I love silicone pans!) I placed the extra cakes on individual plates and topped with the ganache.
The cake is very moist and delicious and the ganache makes it special. It is quite a rich, sinful chocolate blast. All ready for our group tonite!

Double Chocolate Layer Cake recipe from Epicurious

For cake layers
3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate (I used scharffen berger and ghirardelli)
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
For ganache frosting
1 pound fine-quality semisweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter

Special equipment - two 10- by 2-inch round cake pans

Make cake layers:Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease pans. Line bottoms with rounds of wax (parchment) paper and grease paper.
Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well. Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

Make frosting:Finely chop chocolate. In a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until smooth.
Transfer frosting to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until spreadable (depending on chocolate used, it may be necessary to chill frosting to spreadable consistency).
Spread frosting between cake layers and over top and sides. Cake keeps, covered and chilled, 3 days. Bring cake to room temperature before serving.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Brussel Sprouts with Carmelized Tofu

Oh what a time! I just decide to blog as a way to keep track of what I am cooking and my father-in-law Bill has a big health scare. He never had any problems major problems and has been pretty healthy so this was a surprise.
He went in for a CAT scan the Monday before last. At the scan they found he had a 10cm (4inch!) aortic aneurysm and immediately admitted him to the hospital. The next morning before the surgery they did a cardiac cath (they do this because a lot of aneurysm patients have heart problems- which he or his family have not had a history of) and found arteries 95% and 100% blocked. So they did a triple bypass 2 Tuesdays ago, he recovered for 2 days then did the 5 hour surgery for the aneurysm that Friday. Today my husband Mark and his mom took Bill to a nursing home just for rehab till he gets his strength back- then he gets to start cardiac rehab.
Bill is in for a big wake up- he loves to cook and eat. His specialty is potato pancakes. He loves pork. Whenever he goes out to eat he would ask the waitress for hard butter fresh from the fridge. We joked that his arteries were clogged with potatoes and butter.
Luckily it appears that he is on the road to recovery.
So of course now Mark has decided to try eating healthy. I have been gradually changing the way I cook over the last few years and our 2 daughters (Lindsay, 25, lives in DC, and Lacey, 22, lives at home and goes to grad school) have changed their habits as well. Today I made this recipe for Carmelized Tofu and Brussel Sprouts from the 101 Cookbooks blog. It was Mark's initiation to tofu. I added some cayenne pepper to the tofu for extra zing and used dried cilantro in a much smaller amount cuz we really don't care for it.
All in all a good meal -well received!

Caramelized Tofu Recipe adapted

7 ounces extra-firm tofu cut into thin 1-inch segments
a couple pinches of fine-grain sea salt
a couple splashes of olive or peanut oil2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 t dried cilantro
16 brussels sprouts, washed and cut into 1/8-inch wide ribbons
1/4 t cayenne

Cook the tofu strips in large hot skillet (or pot) with a bit of salt and a splash of oil. Saute until slightly golden, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and pecans, and cook for another minute. Stir in sugar. Cook for another couple of minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Scrape the tofu out onto a plate and set aside while you cook the brussels sprouts.
In the same pan (no need to wash), add a touch more oil, another pinch of salt, and dial the heat up to medium-high. When the pan is nice and hot stir in the shredded brussels sprouts. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes, stirring a couple times (but not too often) until you get some golden bits, and the rest of the sprouts are bright and delicious.