Thursday, May 17, 2012

{SJS} Food Swap Recipes - May 2012

I am so excited for tomorrow.  A lot of behind-the-scenes work and organization to organize the food swap is finally going to pay off.  Please help spread the word!

Here you will find the recipes I used for a couple of my food swap items. I tried to keep it seasonal and use Strawberries and Rhubarb.  If you ended up with either one (or both), please let me know what you thought!

Strawberry Honey Butter

(Recipe from Half Baked blog)

1 pint strawberries, hulled
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened

Here's the honey I used - from Pittstown, NJ
In a food processor purée the strawberries and force the purée through a fine sieve into a saucepan. Add the honey and the lemon juice and boil the mixture, stirring, for 3 minutes, or until it is thickened. Let the strawberry mixture cool to room temperature. In a bowl cream together the butter and the strawberry mixture. (I used my immersion blender)  Let the butter stand, covered, in a cool place for 1 hour to allow the flavors to develop.  Keep refrigerated and use within 2-3 weeks.

Rhubarb Liqueur 

(Recipe from Cooking Light April 2012)

6 T sugar1/4 c. water
1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, coarsely chopped (I used food processor)
3 c. vodka
1/2 c. Grand Marnier

Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring just until sugar dissolves; remove from heat. Cool.  Place coarsely chopped rhubarb in a wide-mouth jar.  Add vodka, Grand Marnier, and cooled sugar syrup; stir.  Screw lid on tightly; let stand at room temperature for 2-3 weeks or until all the color leaks out of the rhubarb.  Strain mixture through a coffee filter lined-sieve over a bowl; discard solids.

Rhubarb still pinkish, Day 1

3 weeks later - rhubarb is almost clear and ready to be strained

Look at that color!

I chilled some in the freezer for a quick taste.  It's some strong stuff, I'm not gonna lie.  I probably wouldn't drink it alone, but all the flavors are well-represented.  Mix it with club soda and lemon for a nice refreshing cocktail or maybe some fresh mint, muddled strawberries and simple syrup :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tuesdays with Dorie: Pecan (Walnut) Sticky Buns

Warning: This recipe is not for someone on a diet, or someone even THINKING about going on a diet.  There are at least 4 sticks of butter in these sticky buns (I lost count after 4).  I'm sure the name came from the sweet gooey stickiness surrounding the pastry, but I really think it's because you may as well stick the butter right on your buns!

The recipe begins with a Brioche dough, a sweet flaky bread pastry.  I was unfamiliar with this bread and the technique of folding the butter into the dough.  I didn't take many pictures of the process, because, well, it wasn't pretty.  I think I added about 1/2c more flour during the time I was supposed to hear the "slapping" of the dough.  It would slap the sides of the bowl as soon as I added the flour and then it would stop?

This recipe is also not quick.  The dough has 2 rises, one of which should be overnight, and the buns need time to rest, freeze and rise again.  Goodness these buns are high maintenance!

And My Critic says:  WHEN are they going to be done?! Haha, finally he got to taste and of course says he prefers a cinnamon roll.  UGH - I'm so tempted to whip out Pillsbury next time for him.  I don't know if I'd make these again, but I'm glad I did.  I still have one log of dough to use for house guests.

Was anyone brave enough to calculate the calories?

Well, I'm leaving this week with a HUGE appreciation for anyone that makes these from scratch.  And if I haven't talked you out of making them, jump over to Eat Drink Man Woman Dogs Cat by Lynn and Cookies on Friday by Nicole for the recipes.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

NYC Food Frenzy v2.0

  So my friend and I decided to do another whirlwind trip to NYC.  Basically just to eat.  We have a board on Pinterest where we keep adding places.  Each place is known for something, whether it be a cookie, a cupcake, pizza, macaroons, waffle, a weird-flavored ice get the point.  In just under 10 hours we hit 17 places - we don't mess around :) So here's a photo recap of our tour:

# 1.  Magnolia Bakery - I don't think this needs an introduction. The place was super cute and ol' fashioned.  I chose the German Chocolate and Salted Caramel (I think). Both were good, but nothing spectacular.

#2.  Murray's Cheese - A cheese and specialty shop.  I picked up some neat looking pasta, yogurt and bread.

#3.  Sweet Revenge  - Known for their cupcake, wine and beer pairings - not to mention the awesome artisan menu we didn't get to sample.  We did try the Tart cupcake, pear cider, South African Rock Shandy, and the America Rock Shandy.  The cupcake was amazing-the brown parchment it was baked in added to its charm.  We got some other flavors to go and they were all sooooo good.  Just look at that menu! And the to-go cups...genius!

#4.  Kee's Chocolate - I didn't get anything here, mostly because the prices were outrageous. $2.50 for a small piece of chocolate!  Was it worth it, Abi?

#5.  Kate's Paperie - Not food, but I like paper :)

#6.  Detour to Anthropologie, because, well, it's Anthropologie.

#7.  Topshop

#8.  Eataly - I wish I could say more about this place, but we didn't stay here long.  There were just too many people here and we could barely walk around.  This was our second visit, so no disappointments.

#9.  NY Cake and Baking - Picked up some odds and ends for the kitchen.

#10.  Don Antonio's Pizza - Known for their Neapolitan pizza, we tried three different kinds: The Pizza Fritta, a lightly fried pizza filled with cherry tomatoes, homemade mozzarella, fresh ricotta and salami; The Montanara Starita, lightly fried pizza dough, sauce, imported smoked mozz, wood fired oven; and The Margherita.  The margherita was the best.  The others were good, in a different sort of way.  I think it was the fried dough - the dough may have taken on the flavor of the oil a little too much. Motorino's (from last tour) was much better.

#11.  Columbus Circle for Bouchon Bakery - I got a few cookies here. There were just okay.

#12.  Levain Bakery - Known for their Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookie, OMG these were good. I wish I had gotten more than just one.  You must go and try these.

#13.  Central Park - why not, right?  And it's not every day you get serenaded by a pirate.

#14.  Starbucks - Needed to refuel.

#15.  Laduree - "These small, round cakes, crisp on the outside, smooth and soft in the middle, are the most famous creation of Ladurée."  I tried the lemon, pistachio, and strawberry marshmallow.  I now know why they're been dubbed the best in the world.

#16.  Wafels & Dingas - These aren't just any Belgium waffles.  And what's a Dinga?  It's a topping.  We happened upon one of the Wafel & Dingas carts outside Central Park.  I was completely ready to pass on it, because really, we've been eating all day and I just couldn't eat one.more.thing.  Then I tasted the Liege Waffle, the "other" Belgium waffle.  According to their website, it's a wheat-based yeast sweetened dough with pearl sugar.  They're chewy and soft, and then you get that crunch from the half-carmelized sugar melting inside.  Our dingas was spekuloos spread.  'Nough said.  This may have been my favorite out the of whole trip. 

#17 - Momofuku Milk Bar - We went to try the cereal milk ice cream.  It tasted a little too much like corn flakes, and I never did like corn flakes that much.  They weren't sweet enough for me :)  I bought a variety of cookies, which included their infamous corn cookie (more corn flakes) and the compost cookie.  I liked the compost cookie and found it very interesting one of the ingredients listed is coffee grounds - guess that's why they call it compost.  Abi got the crack pie, one of their other specialties.  It didn't look like much, so I passed.  Then she gave me a taste days later and it makes sense why it's called crack pie. Because you can't stop eating it.  I will be making this very soon. 

How's that for a whirlwind day?  Anyone have any recommendations for next trip?

P.S. I just hit 1,000 page views today! Wahoo!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tuesdays with Dorie: Hungarian Shortbread

I did it again.  I waited until the night before to make the recipe.  But lucky for me this one was easy.  I was surprised by the picture of Hungarian Shortbread in the cookbook.  It's 2-layers of sweet shortbread with jam in between.  I had planned on using store-bought jam, but my friend Amy made Strawberry-Rhubarb jam today and shared a jar (Thanks, Amy!!).  It was so yummy.  I probably skimped adding it to the shortbread, because I wanted to save some.

Amy's fabulous jam!
There's a pound of butter in this recipe.  That scared me a bit.  I swear I'm thinking of a BJ's membership just for butter and flour.  I divided the dough into 2 logs and only made one tonight.  I'll save the other for another time.  The recipe calls for a unique way of handling the dough.  The dough is placed in the freezer to harden, then you grate it into the pan.  Since I don't have a box grater (seriously?), I shredded the dough in the food processor.  Thank goodness for the Ps & Qs section and that great idea!

Another tip in the Ps & Qs was to bake the first layer by itself (I did 20 minutes) - this proved to have worked well.

Here's the finished version!

I LOVED it.  It was so crunchy with a bit a chew and the jam really made it. 

And My Critic says:  MMMmmm, that's good.  But I'd prefer a non-fruit version.   Can anyone help him out with suggestions?  I've still got that other half of dough to use :)

For this week's recipe, please check out Lynette of 1smallkitchen and Cher of The not so exciting adventures of a dabbler...  And take a look at all the shortbreads here.

Come back in 2 weeks for Pecan Sticky Buns.  Oh my.  More. Butter.