Category Archives: Baking

Bloody Mary Scones + ANNOUNCEMENT!

I bid farewell to The Texan New Yorker today, and we couldn’t be going out with a better recipe. I have truly loved my time and space here, and I have loved all of you, regular readers and passers-by. It’s been a wonderful bike with training wheels, a place where I’ve made countless mistakes, tried things on and taken them back off only to try something else on to see what works best. I’m so appreciative of your patience and involvement. I’m proud of the work here, and I’m fine that it’s run its course. I’m ready to try something new, and this site has been invaluable in helping me clarify what I really want out of this thing we call blogging.

I feel like I went into Texan New Yorker trying to play by the rules, trying to decipher the oh-so-fickle SEO gods, the ever-changing Pinterest algorithms, and letting my inner First Born People Pleaser run the show, always trying to guess what would get the most hits, the most shares, the most everything. I don’t say this to complain, but it can get exhausting, doing things that way.

I’ve felt like I haven’t really shown my real self in some ways, I’ve felt rather buttoned-up, the fear of offending people or losing subscribers taking center stage at times. Much of the new blog is about letting myself off that leash, finally – both with the cooking and the writing. These days, it’s not a given that a food blog, even a good food blog, will earn you big bucks, so you might as well have as much fun with it as possible.

The new site will simply be things I like to cook, to eat, and to talk about. My hope is that you will like them too.

Without further ado, please follow me over to:

JALAPENOS AND ANCHOVIES

I hope you will love it as much as I already do. (And please bear with me as we’re still working out a few last-minute bugs :/)

These scones are amazing, SO much better than actual Bloody Mary’s. Sorry, I’ve tried, I just don’t like the drink… Enjoy!

Source: slightly tweaked from Ovenly by Agatha Kulaga and Erin Patinkin

Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbs granulated sugar
1 ½ tbs baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp sweet paprika
¾ tsp ground fennel
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp cayenne
¼ tsp garlic powder
8 tbs unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
2 small plum tomatoes, chopped into small pieces, liquid and seeds removed
½ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, pureed (you should have about ¼ cup puree)
2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 ½ tbs prepared horseradish, divided
2 tbs Tabasco
1 ¼ cups plus 2 tbs chilled heavy cream, plus more for brushing, divided
Crushed red pepper flakes and celery salt, for garnish
Other typical (or atypical!) Bloody Mary garnishes of your choice: cornichons, olives, pearled onions, beef jerky pieces, celery pieces, caperberries… whatever your imagination desires!

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 425 F.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, paprika, fennel, black pepper, cayenne, and garlic powder. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal and you can see some chunks of butter about the size of peas. Using a spoon or your hands, mix the chopped plum tomatoes into the flour-butter mixture.
In a separate bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the sun-dried tomato puree, Worcestershire, 2 tbs horseradish, and Tabasco into 1 ¼ cup of the chilled heavy cream. Stir the cream mixture into the flour mixture until it begins to come together. Once it is mostly together and you only have a few straggly crumbs and bits of flour, quickly knead the dough with your hands until it just comes together, no more than a minute.
Lightly flour a cutting board and transfer the dough. Pat the dough into a circle or rectangle about 1-2 inches high. Cut into 8 equal pieces (they can be squares or triangles).
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat and transfer the scones, keeping them pretty close together.
Mix the remaining cup of heavy cream with the remaining 2 tbs horseradish. Use a pastry brush to brush each scone with the cream, then top each with a few red pepper flakes and a generous sprinkling of celery salt.
Bake 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.
While they are baking go crazy with the garnishes of your choice. Simply “skewer” them on toothpicks. Once the scones are cooled completely, stick the toothpick garnishes in each one and serve.

Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart

Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart

I have a bone to pick with America’s end-of-year food-centric holidays. Why is it that all the flavors of Thanksgiving are still acceptable to serve at Christmas, except pumpkin? I mean, sweet potatoes, cranberries, Brussels sprouts, green beans, sage, turkey, pecans, apples – they’re all carried over past the fourth Thursday in November, but pumpkin is abruptly dropped and seemingly considered verboten even one day past Turkey Day. Why? I mean seriously, who made that rule?

Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart

Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart

I’m not accepting this. Pumpkin isn’t that different from the rest, and too many people love it to just wantonly disregard it with such a thud. It should be in our collective repertoire until at least December 25th.

Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart

If you agree, then you just have to make this superb pumpkin dessert for your Christmas feast. It’s more work than a typical pumpkin pie, but it’s also much more special, and more than delicious enough to be worth it. One small change I made to Fine Cooking’s recipe: they call for candying raw unsalted pepitas. I didn’t do that for two reasons. One, because it’s yet *another* step in an already involved and time-consuming recipe; and two, because online reviewers said it made the tart too sweet. I was extremely happy with my results. Enjoy!

Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart

Source: slightly adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine

Ingredients:

CRUST:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
6 tbs fine cornmeal
1 tbs granulated sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
8 tbs cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vodka

CARAMEL:
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 tbs unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
½ tsp kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup bourbon

FILLING:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
¾ cup plus 2 tbs canned pure pumpkin puree
1 tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of kosher salt
½ cup half-and-half

A few handfuls of salted, roasted pepitas, for garnish

Directions:
First make the CRUST: pulse the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal or wet sand. Combine the egg, egg yolk, vodka and 1 tbs ice water in a small bowl. Add the egg mixture to the processor and pulse until the mixture just comes together, adding more water 1 tsp at a time as needed, up to 2 tbs. Dump the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and use the wrap to help gather the dough into a disk. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
On a floured work surface, with a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out into a 13-inch circle. Carefully transfer the dough to a greased 9-inch springform pan, gently pressing it into the bottom and up the sides of the pan without stretching it. Tear any high areas of the dough so that the height is about ½ an inch below the rim of the pan; the edge will look ragged. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 350 F.
Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork at 1-inch intervals, line it with aluminum foil, and fill it to the top with dried beans, gently pressing them against the sides. Bake until the edges are firm, 15 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and beans. Return the crust to the oven and bake, rotating the pan once and popping any bubbles with a toothpick, just until the bottom is firm, about 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes. Leave the oven on.
Now make the CARAMEL: in a 2-quart saucepan, cook the brown sugar, butter and salt over medium heat, stirring until the sugar melts and begins to darken around the edges, about 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in the cream (some sugar may seize) and simmer, whisking occasionally, until smooth and thick, 7-9 minutes. Whisk in the bourbon and simmer, whisking occasionally, another 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a heatproof measuring cup. Pour 1/3 cup caramel over the bottom of the cooled crust and spread it evenly with a small offset spatula. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes to set the caramel. Leave the remaining caramel at room temperature.
Make the FILLING: in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg, and then the egg yolk, beating until combined. Add the pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Mix thoroughly until combined. Reduce speed to low and add the half-and-half. Mix until just combined.
Slowly pour the filling into the crust. Bake until filling has puffed slightly and its surface no longer appears wet, 35 to 40 minutes. It’s okay if cracks form, they’ll be covered later. Cool the tart on a rack until the filling is completely cooled and warm, about 1 hour.
If the remaining caramel sauce is no longer pourable, warm it in the microwave until pourable. Drizzle the remaining caramel over the custard and spread it evenly. Sprinkle the pepitas around the edges of the top caramel and press lightly. Cover the tart with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. To serve, run a thin knife around the edge of the tart and remove the side of the pan. Transfer to a serving plate and serve chilled.

Bar Americain’s Sweet Potato Pie

Bar Americain's Sweet Potato Pie

Alright, I know everyone who’s hosting has likely finalized their Thanksgiving plans already, and is very likely already in the throes of prepping their feast; so I won’t share this superb pie in the spirit of giving you an idea for your Thanksgiving this year, but more in the spirit of giving you a break from all the cooking/cleaning prep work to look at (somewhat) pretty pictures of a delicious sweet potato pie you can almost taste. And hey, if anyone bookmarks this to put it on their menus for Thanksgiving 2017, then I’m very flattered! I’m sure Bobby Flay is too.

Bar Americain's Sweet Potato Pie

I have been fortunate enough to dine at his Bar Americain restaurant several times, but never have I ordered this particular pie, or the ice cream he serves with it at his restaurant. I have the cookbook; you should have the cookbook too.

Bar Americain's Sweet Potato Pie

As making ice cream is a little more work than this time of year allows, I topped the pie with a sour cream-whipped cream concoction I learned from the great Ina Garten, then topped that with toffee chips. Let’s just say, no one complained about any lack of ice cream.

Bar Americain's Sweet Potato Pie

The pie is outstanding! A traditional sweet potato pie filling ensconced in a cinnamon graham cracker crust, topped with billowy whipped cream and the light tang of the sour cream, plus toffee. Because what can’t be improved with a little toffee? Enjoy!

Bar Americain's Sweet Potato Pie

Source: lightly adapted from Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain Cookbook by Bobby Flay

Ingredients:

FILLING:
2 lbs. sweet potatoes
3 large eggs
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tbs molasses
2 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups evaporated milk
2 tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled

CRUST:
2 cups cinnamon graham cracker crumbs (about 15 crackers)
8 tbs unsalted butter, melted
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

TOPPING:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbs sour cream
Confectioners’ sugar, to taste
Toffee chips, for garnish

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 375 F.
Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork. Place on a baking sheet and roast in the oven until soft, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, halve each potato lengthwise and scrape out the flesh into a large mixing bowl. Discard the skins. While the potatoes are still hot, mash with a potato masher or fork until mostly smooth.
To make the crust, reduce the oven temperature to 350 F. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, butter, and cinnamon in a bowl and mix until combined. Grease a 9” deep-dish pie plate, then evenly press the crumb mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of the plate. Bake until light golden brown and firm, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Keep oven on.
To make the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugars, molasses, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the vanilla and milk. Gradually add the egg mixture to the mashed sweet potatoes, whisking gently until combined. The filling mixture will be a bit lumpy at this point; hit it with an immersion blender until smooth. Add the melted butter and whisk to combine.
Place the pie shell on a baking sheet and pour the sweet potato mixture into the shell. Bake until the filling is set around the edges and the center is jiggly but not liquidy when jostled lightly, about 45-55 minutes. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate until chilled, 2 to 12 hours.
Now make the topping: in a clean mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the sour cream and confectioners’ sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. Spread on the chilled or room temperature pie, then top as you wish with the toffee chips. Slice and serve.

Pumpkin Olive Oil Bread

Pumpkin Olive Oil Bread

Thanksgiving is mere days away, and thus begins the food blogger surge in trying to get all our pumpkin recipes worth sharing onto our blogs before the fourth Thursday of November, lest we seem uncouth, or hurt our SEO ratings, lol! Or maybe this is just me – I feel this crunch every year.

Pumpkin Olive Oil Bread

Whatever reality happens to be, I am in fact sharing a pumpkin bread with you; not because I think it’s unique to do so, but because it’s on my home cooking bucket list, and because it’s extremely delicious.

Pumpkin Olive Oil Bread

Of course, anything that comes from Ovenly is going to be so. While I must admit that I’ve never met a pumpkin bread I didn’t like, this one is exceptionally good, and I’d be perfectly happy with my life were I to only eat this particular pumpkin bread from now on. If you’re needing a go-to, I speak quite highly and think you should land here. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Olive Oil Bread

Source: Ovenly by Agatha Kulaga and Erin Patinkin

Ingredients:
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
½ cup unsalted butter
3 cups granulated sugar
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
2/3 cup water
½ cup olive oil
4 large eggs
Turbinado sugar, for topping the loaves

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease two 9×5-inch loaf pans. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and all the spices.
In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and set aside to cool (alternatively, you can do this in a microwave if you prefer).
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer and a large mixing bowl), blend the sugar, pumpkin puree, water, olive oil, and melted butter until smooth. With the mixer on medium-low, add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until well combined.
Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing on low speed to combine between additions. After the third addition, mix 15 seconds to ensure the batter is smooth and homogenous.
Split the batter evenly between the 2 prepared loaf pans. Sprinkle the tops of both evenly with turbinado sugar. Bake 60 to 65 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Featured Cookbook Friday: Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin

It’s undoubtedly been such a rough week for many, myself included, but I really don’t want to wallow in it. Grieve – yes; wallow – no. Getting back to one of the more fun aspects of my blog, my Featured Cookbook Fridays, seems right. Today we have Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin!

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So yes, I’m well aware that this book was published over ten years ago, but I just got it a few months ago. In my defense, when this book came out, I had *just* started cooking on my own, and frankly Allrecipes and Sandra Lee were much more my speed then. An acclaimed restaurant chef like Goin would have likely been overwhelming to the point of fainting spells. Now, I’m more experienced, confident, and have no problems with books like these. It’s actually perfect for experienced, adventurous home cooks, and if that describes you, I really want this book to be in your collection!

This cookbook is divided by the four textbook seasons – spring, summer, fall, winter – so naturally I focused on fall. First up I made Sauteed Skate with Parsnip Puree, Brussels Sprouts, Pancetta and Balsamic Brown Butter. Yes, almost every recipe in the book has a long name. No matter! This was FANTASTIC. A lot of steps, yes, but none of them were difficult. I adore skate, but it can be very hard to find, and actually finding it spurred me to make this particular recipe more than anything. Absolutely no regrets though, as it was incredible. So many fall flavors made light, but not inappropriately so by a flaky fish. Amazing!

Sauteed Skate with Parsnip Puree, Brussels Sprouts, Pancetta, and Balsamic Brown Butter

Next up I made a dinner salad: Warm Squid Salad with Spinach, Chorizo, and Black Olives. This could easily serve an army. I halved the recipe and still wound up with way more than we could eat. But, we happily devoured what we could, and filled up on it. Quite delicious! The squid was cooked perfectly according to her instructions, and it almost melted in your mouth. The salty flavors of the chorizo and olives punctuated the spinach and squid for a perfect balance of flavors.

Warm Squid Salad with Spinach, Chorizo, and Black Olives

After that, I made… another salad. This one was a Warm Kabocha Squash Salad with Dandelion, Bacon, Manchego, and Pecans. After halving this recipe, it was the perfect amount to feed two people a good dinner. We raved for days after this one. You’ve got sweet squash balanced with bitter greens, salty bacon, and then the cheese shards and crunchy toasted pecans garnish it perfectly. I can’t believe how delicious this was.

Warm Kabocha Salad with Dandelion, Bacon, Manchego and Pecans

And lastly, I made dessert: Cranberry-Walnut Clafoutis with Bourbon Whipped Cream. I changed this one up a little (I know, I know!), but the recipe called for dried cranberries, which made no sense to me. In my mind, dried cranberries are always a side component of a dish, like in granola, or part of a salad, but they are never the main ingredient. So I gambled on using a pound of fresh cranberries, and I think it worked just fine. I’ll say no one complained at all!

Cranberry-Walnut Clafoutis with Bourbon Whipped Cream

And in conclusion, I’m very, VERY impressed with this work of genius. This book will be in the regular rotation for me. The recipes have long titles and some have many components, but the difficultly level is much lower than I expected. Her flavor combinations are spot-on, and perhaps more importantly, you get that satisfaction of having turned out a restaurant-worthy meal in your little home kitchen – and often on a weekday! Can’t beat that.

Polvorones

Polvorones

I figure, it’s been a month (gulp!) so maybe I should stop neglecting my blog, huh? The past four weeks have gone like this: my birthday; work stress; rushing the cat to the vet after he puked blood, upon which we discovered three coins in his stomach (!!!!) – they’re gone now and no, that was not cheap; a week in Chicago for a good friend’s wedding; recovering from said trip to Chicago seeing as I haven’t had a week that debaucherous and sleep-deprived since college – so worth it but oh it hurt; catching up on work; election stresses; more work; and here we are!

Polvorones

A few weeks ago I promised to memorialize Marcela Valladolid’s recipe for Polvorones on this site, and today I shall deliver. For anyone not familiar, polvorones are amazing, shortbread-y little nutty cookies, a staple in Spanish and Latin American cooking, made by grinding and/or chopping lots of walnuts into a thick shortbread-type cookie dough and baked off.

But that’s not the best part – that happens after they come out of the oven and get rolled in powdered sugar. What happens when you roll warm cookies in powdered sugar is that the sugar sort of “sets” on the cookie and makes this almost-shell of sweetness around the entire cookie, but also becomes part of the cookie itself. Obviously, it makes them completely irresistible. So, get them out of the house before you eat the entire platter!

Polvorones

You can almost watch this process happening – as the sugar sets it’s like it becomes a part of the cookie – very cool :). Totally delicious and classic. Try them if you’ve never done so. Enjoy!

Source: Fresh Mexico by Marcela Valladolid

Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup ground walnuts
1 cup chopped walnuts
½ cup powdered sugar

Directions:
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the granulated sugar and beat until well blended. Beat in the flour, then the ground and chopped walnuts. Divide the dough in half, forming each in to a ball. Wrap them separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 325 F. Put the powdered sugar in a separate bowl and set aside. Grease a baking sheet or line with a silpat.
Working with half the chilled dough at a time and keeping the rest in the fridge, roll 2-teaspoon-size chunks of the dough between your palms to form balls. Arrange the balls on the baking sheet, spacing them ½-inch apart.
Bake the cookies until golden brown on the bottom and just pale golden on top, about 18 minutes. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Then toss the warm cookies in the powdered sugar. Transfer the sugar-coated cookies to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

Featured Cookbook Friday: Asian-American by Dale Talde

It’s Friday again, which means, among other things like oh-thank-god-it’s-the-weekend-finally, that I’m writing up my cookbook of the week! Asian American: Proudly Inauthentic Recipes from the Philippines to Brooklyn by Dale Talde.

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The general public first became aware of Chef Dale Talde on his first of two stints on the popular reality show Top Chef. Lots of people, myself included, thought he was a bit of a hot-headed jerk with his first appearance. He redeemed himself on Top Chef All-Stars, and has gone on to open one of Brooklyn, NY’s most popular fusion restaurants. I don’t get to Brooklyn much, as that place is a real logistical pain – I think of it as the Hotel California (you can check out any time you like but you can never leave – seriously, it takes forever to get out of there!); but I digress. Apparently Talde’s restaurant is quite wonderful. Fortunately for anyone who lives far away from Brooklyn or who just hates messing with its parking and insane traffic problems, Chef Dale gave us the recipes in cookbook form so we can make them at home.

Talde combines his Filipino heritage with his American upbringing to make the most insane, irreverent yet delicious fusion cuisine. This cookbook is a must-have if that notion appeals to you at all.

I began the week with his Nachos, which are pretty American, except that he adds Sriracha to the cheese sauce, and once you taste it you will wonder why you haven’t been adding Sriracha to nachos your whole life. I think I messed this one up a little though? Either the ratio of milk to cheese is a little off, or I didn’t thicken my sauce enough before adding the cheese (highly likely) because it was way too thin for nachos. I know nachos can be messy, but this was really pushing it. But, incredible tasting, so I will definitely try this one again with either less milk or more patience.

Dale Talde's Nachos

Next up I was feeling something healthy, so Grilled Sweet Potato Skewers with Maple, Soy and Bacon came to be, much to the consternation of my smoke alarms. These are so delicious, and sweet potatoes after my own heart, in that they are given many savory complements like soy sauce, bacon and scallions. So freakin’ good! I’ll probably have to give these their own blog post.

Sweet Potato Skewers with Maple, Soy and Bacon

Pepperoni Marinara. Need I say more? Very spicy, acidic tomato sauce punctuated by earthy, salty pepperoni, tossed with spaghetti. Amazing.

Spaghetti with Pepperoni Marinara

Lastly, I chose one from the (somewhat short) dessert chapter – Chocolate-Caramel Bars with a Pretzel-Potato Chip Crust. These are crack. After sneaking a taste (or two!) I sent them to work with Matt, and he was literally getting compliments all day. Like, people stopping by his office out of their way to rave about them. It’s an incredibly thoughtful recipe that works beautifully.

Chocolate-Caramel Bars with Pretzel-Potato Chip Crust

I can’t say enough good things about this book. The recipes look way more involved than they actually are – it’s perfect for home cooks with zany palates.

Zucchini Walnut Bread with Rosemary

Zucchini Walnut Bread with Rosemary

I would really love to be one of those food bloggers that cooks whatever they want to share that week. The ones who go by their own inner whims and tastes, who make a dish over and over, for days in a row until they get it just right to then excitedly share their results. But I’m just not.

I’m usually only cooking for two, and we two who eat my cooking are two people who are keenly aware of the fact that we and our metabolisms are not twenty-two anymore. We limit our portions, thus yielding many leftovers. Sometimes that means leftovers from the meal itself, and sometimes it means that I bought too much of an ingredient at the store.

Zucchini Walnut Bread with Rosemary

And when that happens, it usually leaves me looking for a way to not waste it. So when I bought too much zucchini at the farmer’s market last week, I threw it into zucchini bread to avoid throwing it into the trash. So original, right? Yeah, not so much.

Zucchini Walnut Bread with Rosemary

So I hope what is somewhat creative is this particular recipe for zucchini bread I’m sharing today. Common add-ins to zucchini bread seem to include nuts, chocolate, dried or fresh fruits – but I’d never seen rosemary before. Zucchini bread is on the sweet side, rosemary is not, but I loved the punchiness of that sweet-savory contrast it provided. This recipe method was a bit different from what I’ve seen too. Instead of squeezing all the water out of the shredded zucchini as usual, you use that as the liquid in your batter. I was a bit skeptical, but I shouldn’t have been – it worked quite nicely! Enjoy this one, it’s a great vehicle for using up any excess zucchini you may have lying around your house too!

Zucchini Walnut Bread with Rosemary

Source: Down South by Donald Link

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups plus 2 tbs all-purpose flour
½ cup walnuts
2 medium zucchini
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 ½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup canola or olive oil
2 large eggs
Grated zest of 1 small lemon
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a loaf pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and lightly toast in the oven until fragrant, 7 to 9 minutes. Set aside, cool slightly, then chop. Using a box grater, grate the zucchini on the coarse holes. Spread the zucchini out on some paper towels to absorb a little excess water but do not squeeze them out.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. Stir in the rosemary. In another bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, and eggs. Use a spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, then fold in the lemon zest, lemon juice, zucchini, and walnuts. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a skewer inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool the bread in the pan completely before slicing and serving.

Featured Cookbook Friday: Fresh Mexico by Marcela Valladolid

I picked this week’s cookbook, Fresh Mexico by Food Network’s Marcela Valladolid, on something of a lark – I needed a salsa for some tacos I was making, Marcela’s first book has a beautiful recipe for yellow tomato pico de gallo; once I made that one, I decided to keep going! It was a good week. 🙂

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The Yellow Tomato Pico de Gallo was delicious – a very classic Mexican pico but with a twist of yellow tomatoes instead, which makes it slightly sweeter. Good on tacos, good on tortilla chips!

Yellow Tomato Pico de Gallo

Next up I decided to do some baking – another Mexican classic, Polvorones! These are fabulous little cookies, coming to the blog in their own post soon!

Polvorones

Since fresh sweet corn will be leaving us soon, I made this extremely tasty Mexican version of a classic potato salad: Grilled Corn and Poblano Potato Salad. Baby potatoes are boiled then halved, corn is grilled on the cob, poblanos are roasted and peeled, then the whole thing gets tossed together in a mayonnaise and sour cream dressing with plenty of scallions and cilantro. Very nice!

Grilled Corn and Poblano Potato Salad

Lastly, I’ve long since been intrigued by one of her dinner salad recipes: White Bean and Octopus Salad, so this provided as good a time as any! The recipe calls for baby octopus, which I couldn’t find, so I (nervously!) ordered already cooked octopus legs from Fresh Direct, praying they wouldn’t be overcooked, (they weren’t, yea!) and just warmed them in some garlicky olive oil, which became the base for the dressing. Beyond that, I made the salad as written, and we both absolutely loved it!

White Bean and Octopus Salad

I really like this book. So far everything I’ve tried has turned out delicious!

Banana Pudding Poke Cake

Banana Pudding Poke Cake

It’s not a secret: I LOVE banana pudding and frankly, anything else that even halfway resembles it. It’s been this way since childhood. So when I receive a cooking magazine in the mail and one of its featured recipes is a banana pudding poke cake, it was imperative that I drop everything and bake it, immediately.

Banana Pudding Poke Cake

Oh. Wow. This is everything you think it’s going to be. A lovely cake moistened by vanilla pudding, sliced bananas, all underneath a light whipped cream frosting. And of course, those ‘Nilla wafers crumbled on top. It speaks for itself, really.

Banana Pudding Poke Cake

Banana Pudding Poke Cake

A perfect Indian summer treat! Enjoy!

Source: Taste of the South Magazine, May/June 2016

Ingredients:

CAKE:
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 cup whole buttermilk
½ cup mashed banana
½ tsp vanilla extract

PUDDING:
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp kosher salt
3 ½ cups whole milk, divided
8 large egg yolks
1 tbs unsalted butter
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

TOPPING:
3 medium slightly underripe bananas, sliced
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2-4 tbs confectioners’ sugar
Whole and crushed vanilla wafers, for garnish

Directions:
First, make the CAKE: preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with baking spray.
In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Add mashed banana and vanilla, beating just until combined. Pour into prepared baking dish, smoothing the top.
Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 28 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes, then use a wooden spoon to poke holes in the warm cake.
While the cake is baking, make the PUDDING: in a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, and salt. Whisk in ½ cup milk and the egg yolks. In a large saucepan, place remaining 3 cups milk. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently. Whisk 1 cup hot milk mixture into egg mixture, pouring slowly and whisking constantly. Now whisk the egg mixture into remaining hot milk in the saucepan, again pouring slowly and whisking constantly. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once it is boiling, cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla, stirring until butter melts and is completely combined. Let cool 10 minutes (if it cools more than this, it’s fine).
Once the cake is out of the oven, rested, and poked, pour the pudding over the cake. Cover and refrigerate until chilled about 4 hours.
Meanwhile, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and whip more until stronger peaks form.
Uncover the cake, top all over with the sliced banana, then spread the whipped cream smoothly all over the banana. Sprinkle with crushed vanilla wafers and wedge whole wafers around the border of the cake, if desired.