Archives for posts with tag: butter

March 14 2013 041

I believe that when teaching children to cook you can also teach them about the science of cooking.  How the different components of a recipe combine and change during baking make for a great science experiment.

I also stress the importance of paying attention to the details.  This is an important lesson for my twelve-year old son.  He is very meticulous in the kitchen and I see him take that skill and use it in other aspects of his life.  Like cleaning his room…very important.  I find it easy to get him involved when it is a dessert but he also like to cook chicken, pasta and rice.

He has also become interested in trying new foods when he is involved in the cooking process.

We decided to make a pound cake this week.  My family loves a simple and rich pound cake.

We weigh our ingredients to make sure they are the correct amount.

March 14 2013 002

All of the ingredients are readied before we begin.  Eggs are at room temperature and butter is soft.  Dry ingredients are in a bowl together and wet are in a liquid measuring cup.

March 14 2013 014Ben is careful to sift the dry ingredients together.

March 14 2013 012He will then cream together butter and sugar.

March 14 2013 018Next he adds the eggs one at a time and scraps down the sides of the bowl to make sure it is all well mixed.

March 14 2013 024The batter is then mixed well.

March 14 2013 028The batter is poured into a bundt pan that is  coated with butter and lightly floured.

March 14 2013 030Then Ben sets his timer and bakes his cake in a pre-heated oven.  Ben checks to see if the cake is done with a cake tester stick.

Perfect Pound Cake

March 14 2013 039

Ben’s Tasty Pound Cake Recipe

12 oz. butter

3 cups flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1⁄2 tsp. salt

1 cup milk, at room temperature

2 tsp. lemon juice 

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

3 cups sugar

6 large eggs, at room temperature

Heat oven to 325°. Generously grease a bundt pan with butter. Add  flour; turn the pan to coat it evenly with flour, tap out any excess, and set aside.

Using a sieve set over a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

Repeat 2 more times.

In a measuring container with a pourable spout, combine milk and the  lemon, and vanilla extracts.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, cream butter at medium-low speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar, 1⁄4 cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and beat until satiny smooth, about 3 minutes.

Add 1 egg at a time to the butter mixture, beating for 15 seconds before adding another, and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Reduce the mixer speed to low and alternately add the flour and milk mixtures in 3 batches, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down sides of the bowl; beat just until the batter is smooth and silky but no more.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and firmly tap on a counter to allow batter to settle evenly. Bake until light golden and a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out moist but clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cake cool in pan on a rack for 30 minutes. Invert cake onto rack; let cool completely before slicing.

A la greqce cauliflower 012

I was thinking of Thomas Keller when I was trying to figure out what to do with all of this lovely cauliflower I had in my refrigerator.  I usually roast cauliflower, or make a soup or just steam it, but I wanted to do something new.

Thomas Keller has a  recipe for vegetables a la grecque.in his cookbook Bouchon. I love bistro food and preparing food ahead of time to be eaten later.  This recipe is perfect for making a day ahead and enjoying it all week.

You gently cook veggies in a court bouillon with olive oil, aromatics and lemon juice.  After cooking you store the veggies in the refrigerator in the cooled cooking liquid and reduce the liquid and make a vinaigrette before serving.  Genius.

I tweaked the recipe a little bit and substituted  butter for olive oil and  white wine for lemon juice.  The result was amazing.  I have been eating little happy bites of cauliflower lightly scented with herbs and wine for days now.  Heavenly.

This is a wonderful recipe for a party since most of the work can be done up to 2 days ahead of time.

A la greqce cauliflower 010

Start by cutting up your cauliflower.

Feb 27 2013 019In a large pot add 2 cups water, 2 cups white wine, 1/4 cup butter and aromatic herbs.  I used thyme, sage and rosemary.  I also threw in a garlic clove sliced into rounds.  Season the water with 1 teaspoon sea salt.

Feb 27 2013 021

Bring water to simmer and add veggies.

Feb 27 2013 024

Cook until tender crisp.

Feb 27 2013 027

Rinse veggies in very cold running water to stop the cooking process.

Feb 27 2013 029

Cool the cooking liquid and store veggies in the cooled cooking liquid for up to 1 week in your refrigerator.

Feb 27 2013 036

I suggest you try both my method and then go out and buy the Bouchon cookbook and try Thomas’ recipe as well.  I am sure I will be making this dish all summer when it is hot because the veggies, right out of the fridge are cool and packed with flavor.

Carmels 2 015

My kids love caramels.  When we go to the store they have caramels that cost about a dollar each by the register.  They are lovely and tasty and expensive.  I decided we needed to make our own.  Time consuming, this recipe is worth the work.  You don’t need to stand over the stove and stir the whole time but you do need to be in the kitchen for a few hours so you can make other things when the caramel are cooking.  I made some granola bars and some bread at the same time.

Some of my recipes call for corn syrup.  One of the DIY projects that I have undertaken recently is making “corn” syrup out of cane sugar.  Corn syrup is expensive and after reading “The omnivores Dilemma” by  Michael Pollen, I have been committed to reducing the amount of corn products my family consumes.  Not an easy task.

It is very easy to make your own “corn” syrup from cane sugar.  This will substitute in any recipe that calls for corn syrup.  For example, it works great in my granola bar recipe.

Here is the recipe I used to make “corn” syrup.  Cupcake Project, How to make corn syrup.

You should make these caramels because they are worth the work and this recipe yields 120 caramels which will last a long time if kept in the fridge.

Carmels 2 008

Ingredients

  •                                         4 cups heavy cream
  •                                         1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  •                                         4 cups home-made “corn” syrup
  •                                         4 cups sugar
  •                                         1 teaspoon salt
  •                                         1/2 pound unsalted butter
  •                                         1 tablespoon home-made vanilla extract
  •                                         Vegetable-oil cooking spray

Directions

  1.  Spray a cookie sheet or half sheet pan with vegetable-oil spray.
  2.  In medium saucepan, combine cream and sweetened condensed milk; set aside.
  3.  In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, combine “corn” syrup, 1 cup water, sugar, and salt. Clip on candy thermometer. Over high heat, cook until sugar is dissolved, stirring with a wooden spoon, 8 to 12 minutes. Brush down sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to remove any sugar crystals if needed.
  4.  Stop stirring, reduce heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until temperature reaches 250  degrees (hard-ball stage).  You need to have a candy thermometer for this recipe because you cannot guess about the temperature.   This will take about 45 to 60 minutes.
  5. Cook cream mixture over low heat until it is just warm. Do not boil.
  6. When sugar reaches 250  degrees. slowly stir in butter cut into chunks added one at a time, and warmed cream mixture, keeping mixture boiling at all times.  Take your time with this step as you do not want the mixture to stop boiling.  Add the butter very slowly.

Carmels 017

  1. Cook over medium heat until thermometer reaches 244  degrees (firm-ball stage), and this will take around 55 to 75 minutes.

Carmels 023

  1. Stir in vanilla.
  2. Immediately pour into prepared pan without scraping pot. If you scrape the bottom of the pot dark brown bits will end up in your candy.  Just leave the bottom of the pot alone and throw out what is left after you pour the candy into the pan.
  3. Let stand uncovered at room temperature for 24 hours without moving.
  4. After candy has hardened cut into 1 inch pieces and wrap with waxed paper.
  5. These will keep for up to 2 months in the refrigerator.  Keep the candies in sealed bag or jar so that they do not pick up any odd flavors from the refrigerator.

Carmels 2 007

In my quest to make everything from scratch that my family eats one of the items that has slipped from the list is crackers.  My husband and son love to eat cheese and crackers.  My son also adores cheese crackers like cheese its.  I decided to give crackers a try for Easter.

When I am trying a new recipe I google recipes for what ever it is I am making.  This is the best cookbook around.  As a professional chef many people ask what my favorite cook book is and I usually say Google.  The reason Google can be so powerful as a cookbook is that you can peruse many different recipes in minutes.  Then you can see what underlying themes or techniques are used.  At this point I will usually build my own recipe or try one from a respected source.

There are thousands of places to find recipes on the internet.  With recipe sites, blogs and food sites, lists can be endless.  How do you know which ones are any good?  Over the years there are a number of sites that I find are invaluable resources and I am sure the recipes are well written and tested.  Here is a list of sites that I find have great recipes every time.

www.cooksillustrated.com  If you are not familiar with Cooks Illustrated I encourage you to pick up a copy of the magazine at your grocery store or check out the website.  They literally test recipes many  times and find the best possible way to make each recipe.  On their website you can pay a small yearly fee and have access to hundreds of tested recipes for everything from cupcakes to pot roast. Money well spent in my household.

www.marthastewart.com  Now I am sure everyone is familiar with Martha.  Not only are her recipes good but the comments section at the bottom of each recipe contains comments from people who have made the recipe and what they found worked or did not work.  It is great information. Martha also has great recipes for the season with stunning photos.  This site is a great inspiration.

www.smittenkitchen.com   This veteran blogger has not only some of the most beautiful photos on the web but she is honest in her posts.  A good example would be her Everyday Chocolate Cake post.  She was not successful with her first attempt and discussed where she got her original recipe, how she tweaked it and what worked and what did not work.  This kind of information is great for home cooks and professionals alike. It is always good to learn from someone elses mistakes.

www.simplyrecipes.com  Another talented veteran blogger whose beautiful pictures and simple prose get right to the point and convey great information on how to make nearly everything.

www.realbakingwithrose.com  Rose Levy Beranbaum is the queen of pies and cakes.  She writes her recipes in weight measurement, she has adjustments for altitude and gives you just about any information you may need.  Her meticulous recipes have been a staple in my kitchen for years.  I usually consult one of her cookbooks or website where ever I bake anything!  Check out some of her cookbooks.  The Cake Bible, The Pie and Pastry Bible and Rose’s Heavenly Cakes.

www.davidlebovitz.com  The undisputed pastry king he writes a wonderful blog about making everything from appetizers, entree and baking all set in lovely Paris.  I have never made one of his recipes that failed.  All of his recipes are meticulously tested and documented.  This blog is beautiful, fun and informative.

There are also many different personal blogs that I follow but that is going to have to be another post.

So on with the cracker trials.  I decided to try a recipe that I found on www.foodnetwork.com.  This recipe is by Ina Garten.  Parmesan and Thyme Crackers.

On the first try the dough came out too dry.  This could be because it is a very dry climate here in the mountains.  I added a teaspoon of water and then the dough came together nicely in the food processor.

I chilled the dough and rolled it out with minimal flour on the rolling surface.  The dough rolled out nicely.  I used a flower shaped cutter and lined the baking sheet with parchment paper.  The crackers baked nicely and came out lightly browned.

They were delicious.  Much like a tiny and thin biscuit.  I recommend these crackers for entertaining.  A bit heavy for everyday snacking but great for a special occasion.  After Easter dinner some of my family and friends went home smiling with little bags of crackers for later.

Parmesan and Thyme Crackers

Inspired by Ina Garten

1 stick or 1/4 lb unsalted butter at room temperature

2 1/2 oz freshly grated aged parmesan cheese ( I used Parmigiano Reggiano – Riserva Stravecchio from Costco which is a great price and very tasty)

187.5 grams of all-purpose flour or 1 1/2 cups

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp dried thyme or 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

Place butter in the bowl of food processor.  Process until creamy.  Add cheese, flour, salt and thyme.

Process until dough forms a ball.  Dump the ball of dough out on a lightly floured surface.  Push down into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap.

Chill for half an hour.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and roll out on a lightly floured surface.  Flouring your rolling-pin if needed.

Roll to about pie dough thickness.  You can roll it out thicker if you like.  They were good both ways.

Cut with a cookie or biscuit cutter.

Bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned about 20 minutes.

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