Friday, October 31, 2008

Plum Cake or Plum Tarte Tatin

dictionary results for: TATIN–adjective
caramelized and baked in the manner of an upside-down cake: an apple tart Tatin.

So here is my version of a lovely classic. The only part of this recipe that is caramelized is the sugar syrup, which is traditionally not how a Tatin is prepared.
Even though this isn't a traditional Tatin it is very delicious! I was inspired by Ina Garten for this particular dessert.
You can serve it this at room temperature or warm, with or without a garnish. Say fresh vanilla ice cream or whipped cream? I however thoroughly enjoy it left completely alone with a cup of hot coffee.
Ahhhhhh the small pleasures of life!

6 tbs butter at room temperature
1/4 ts salt if you are using unsalted butter, omit if using salted butter
4-5 plums cut in half and pitted
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 ts grated lemon zest
1/2 ts vanilla extract
1 tbs fresh lemon juice or 1 teaspoon lemon extract (optional)
1 cup plus 2 tbs all-purpose flour
1/2 ts baking powder
powdered sugar (optional)

    Preheat your oven to 350.
    At this point you can begin the syrup while you are making the batter, that's what I do, but it isn't necessary.
    At medium to high speed cream the butter and 3/4 cups of sugar, set aside the remaining one cup of sugar.
    Stop beating when it's light and fluffy.
    Lower the speed of your mixer and add one egg at a time, beating well after each addition.
    You will have a nice and thick creamy egg batter.
    Add the cream, extract(s), lemon juice if using (I did), and zest.
    Fold in the flour and salt if using gently. I used my mixer but if you do that make sure you just incorporate the flour, don't over mix.
    Set aside the batter if you haven't already began the syrup.
    To make the syrup bring the remaining one cup of sugar and 1/3 cup of water to a boil until amber colored.
    Don't stir this, but swirl the pan carefully. This is like making candy.
    While the syrup is boiling, cut, pit and place the plums cut side down on your buttered pie plate.
    Pour the finished syrup directly on the plums.
    Gently spoon the batter onto of the plums and smooth out as evenly as possible.
    Bake for about 45 minutes. A toothpick inserted will be dry with the exception of the syrup.
    Let the cake rest for ten minutes, the syrup will stop bubbling during this time.
    Invert onto a stand or plate and let sit until ready to serve.
    Dust with powdered sugar if you like. 


    Wednesday, October 29, 2008

    The Best Ever Fudge Brownies

    Chocolate! Well, what else can I say....

    1 cup melted butter
    2 1/4 cups sugar
    1 1/4 cups dutch process cocoa
    1/2 teaspoon of salt if using salted butter 1 teaspoon if using unsalted
    1 ts baking powder
    1 tbs vanilla extract
    4 large eggs
    1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

      Melt the butter over medium heat in at least a saucepan. Add the sugar. Whisk or stir until melted, hot and shiny but not bubbling. This will make for a shiny crust.
      After you have reached a shiny and smooth sugar mixture, turn off the heat. At this point you may transfer to another bowl, I don't, but you can.
      Stir in the cocoa, salt, baking powder, and vanilla.
      Add the eggs and mix until very smooth and creamy.
      Stir in the flour and chips. I started using a spatula to finish it off, a whisk won't work well at this point.
      Spoon out and smooth out the brownie mix into your lightly buttered pan.
      Bake at 350 for about forty five minutes. 
      Before you remove them, make sure the sides and middle are set, not dry but not raw either.
      A toothpick inserted will come out with crumbs it's not a cake, it's brownies. It's not supposed to be dry.
      After five minutes of cooling loosen the sides with a butter knife. This prevents the brownies from sinking in the middle. Cool completely before cutting.


      Friday, October 24, 2008

      Classic Butter Pound Cake

      Here is a classic ! Old fashion pound cake, with just a hint of vanilla and no other flavors besides butter. You can flavor this with almond, orange, lemon or any other extract or even add some dried fruit or nuts if you like. I tend to like this one as is, alone, with just the flavor of the butter. I really enjoy this cake with a cup of hot coffee, but my husband slathers on the Nutella, which is also pretty tasty. I do that when the cake is a few days old ... but first I toast it.
      1/2 pound of softened unsalted butter
      5 large eggs at room temperature
      1 cup of sugar
      2 ts vanilla extract
      2 cups flour (if you sift the flour after measuring it helps the texture)

        Preheat your oven to 325
        Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. On medium high for about five minutes if you are using a stand mixer.
        Add the vanilla.
        Reduce the mixer speed to medium and add three eggs, one at a time beating until smooth after each addition.
        Reduce your mixer speed to low and beat in one third of the flour, mixing well, but don't over mix and scrape down the sides.
        Beat in one egg.
        Beat in half of the remaining flour, scraping down the sides.
        Add the last egg and mix until incorporated.
        Add the last addition of flour.
        Give your batter a last scrape with your spatula.

        Using tin foil or parchment paper line your pan. I don't butter mine, but you can if you like, it will make for a browner crust. Spoon out the batter into your pan.
        Smooth out the top.
        Bake for about one hour in half, until golden, well risen, cracked on top and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let it cool off for about an hour.


        Monday, October 13, 2008

        Simple Jam Coffee Cake

        Here is a simple cake, made with any preserves or jam you have sitting right in your refrigerator. Quick and easy cakes always hit the spot in a jam! I used my homemade orange carrot marmalade, which I really love. I never used carrot marmalade for this recipe before, but it came out nicely. You can use any jam you have on hand!

        1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
        1/3 cup sugar
        1 ts baking powder
        pinch of salt if using unsalted butter
        4 tbs melted butter
        2 eggs
        1/2 cup of sour milk (regular milk with lemon a tablespoon of lemon), sour cream, yogurt, or buttermilk, which ever of the above you have on hand
        1 1/2 ts of almond extract or vanilla
        1/2 to 2/3 cup jam, preserves or fruit spread
        1/2 cup of sliced almonds (optional)

        Melt the butter, set aside to cool.
        Measure and set aside your preserves.
        Preheat the oven to 350, grease and flour your pan of choice and set to the side.
        Combine all the dry ingredients and set aside.
        Combine the butter, eggs, sour milk and extract and whisk until thick and creamy.
        Add the dry ingredients and whisk until no lumps, smooth and creamy.
        Your batter will be thick.

        Spoon the batter into your prepared pan, evenly press it out.
        Spoon out the preserves, dotting it onto the surface of the cake then insert a butter knife and swirl gently to distribute the jam throughout the cake.

        Sprinkle with nuts if you are using them.
        Bake 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
        Let the cake cool for 10 minutes then serve warm or room temperature.


        Saturday, October 11, 2008

        My Kitchen In The AM

        Here is a typical morning in my home, after praying Fajr, showering, and straightening up the bedrooms.

        A hot cup of coffee to sip and a book to read in between flipping pancakes. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I'm a birth junkie, so this history book is a great read for me. I was shocked to actually get a copy of it, I have been looking for awhile, gotta love Amazon!
        Of course all the while three children are playing under my feet, and the baby just sits and looks on, waiting for the day he can join them in their games.
        I really do love whole wheat pancakes.
        The weekends and early mornings are the best part of life I'm almost certain.

        Friday, October 10, 2008

        Baghrir #2 .... All Semolina

        As it turns out, I love 100% semolina baghrir!
        I didn't before because I didn't have a recipe that produced a light and spongy crepe, with the needed million holes. Finally... I have!
        As it turns out, this recipe is no exception of the many other foods found in Algeria. Meaning that this recipe changes from household to household which sometimes I find extremely frustrating when trying to achieve perfect results from a food that I adore, but cannot seem to duplicate due to lack of access to recipes. By the same token I also find it fascinating and awesome that a country is so diverse with so many different ways of cooking the same dish. I must also say that many times it turns out that I love all the recipes.
        I truly have to say that I prefer the 100% semolina as opposed to it's opponent however. I will keep this recipe and use it often.
        You must try them and you will be hooked! You can size this recipe up or down to your need.

        1 / 2 kg of fine semolina
        1/2 liter of warm water
        1/4 liter of warm milk
        1 egg
        a pinch of salt
        20g of yeast
        1 ts of baking powder

        melted butter

        Activate the yeast in a few tablespoons of the warm water. Then place all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk together, afterwards place the wet ingredients including the yeast and whisk well, making sure to eliminate all lumps.  Wait 30 minutes.
        Here is the part that got me at first. Baghrir has to have a million holes, as the name so states. If you are used to cooking crepes or swedish pancakes (my favorite) then discard all that you know and don't apply it to these pancakes!
        With crepes if the pan is too hot you develop holes, exactly what you don't want, so with baghrir you must make the pan scalding hot as to create those little holes.
        Cook on one side in a skillet until the baghrir are dry and full of holes.
        As you can see in the pictures, it dries out fairly quickly. Just a few minutes from start to finish.
        Resist the temptation to flip them over... Just be patient and let them dry out.
        Here is your finished baghrir. In Algeria they cut them into wedges, just like a pizza. Drizzle with honey and butter, or any other topping you may find appealing.


        Thursday, October 9, 2008

        Smothered Potatoes

        This was a fairly simple dish to prepare, just cutting a few vegetables and with an occasional stir I had made a really nice meal. This dish is seasoned to your liking, meaning season to taste, not precise measurements by any means. My husband is a cumin man, so I added a fair amount of cumin and caraway as they compliment each other so well. I love spicy foods, so the hot paprika was a must in this dish, however you can always omit it, as well as any other spice you may not care for. Use your imagination, this dish can be spiced pretty much any way you like.

        depending on the size of your family, 1 potato per person generally works well
        chicken in any form and any amount, or omit
        1/8 cup of olive oil
        2 large onions diced
        1 head of garlic finely chopped
        3 large tomatoes diced or 2 tbs tomato paste
        1 cup of chickpeas well washed
        salt to taste
        pepper to taste
        paprika to taste
        hot paprika to taste
        cumin to taste
        caraway to taste
        1 large bunch of chopped fresh parsley

        For my potatoes I decided on boiling them. I have also used them peeled, sliced and steamed for the same dish, I actually prefer them steamed but was in a hurry, so boiling it was!
        Peel and chop garlic and onions and saute them in oil, I love extra virgin olive oil, so that's my standard for all dishes.
        After the onions are translucent and a bit soft add your chicken and all spices allowing to brown the chicken and create this earthy aroma of cumin and caraway.

        Add chopped tomatoes or if you are using tomato paste add now.

        After you have really fragrant sauce going it's time to add the chickpeas and if you like a more soupy type consistency add a half up of water, I don't so I didn't.

        I am pressure cooker kinda girl so after adding the chickpeas, twelve to fifteen minutes later, here it is.
        Potatoes smothered in sauce and chicken.


        Wednesday, October 8, 2008


        Here is a really simple and all around plain cake for every day occasions. I like it because it's so simple, requires just a few ingredients, minimal time and works great on short notice. I usually eat this for a nice breakfast or afternoon coffee. It's an Algerian Dish.

        6 eggs
        1 ts salt
        2 tbs vanilla extract (optional)
        6 tbs all purpose flour
        3 tbs fine semolina
        1 ts baking powder
        pure honey or simple syrup
        slivered almonds (optional)
        powdered sugar (optional)

        You can use all semolina which on occasion I do, but it makes for a much denser cake. You can also just omit the semolina all together which I have also tried, but I don't like it as much. I'm sure you could dress this up with adding flavors other than vanilla, which the original recipe doesn't even call for, but I couldn't resist adding. You could even add slivered almonds on top for a garnish although I don't do that unless they are on hand, which today they weren't. I have thought to add powdered sugar on top as well, but haven't done that yet.
        Beat the eggs, vanilla and salt until thick and creamy, it should be a bit stiff.
        Incorporate the flour, semolina, and baking powder. Do this gently and slowly being careful not to deflate what air you have incorporated into the eggs.
        Pour the batter into a warm, set on low heat, buttered pan.
        In about ten minutes you will notice the cake has risen, browned a bit on the bottom and pulled away from the sides.

        About five minutes later, making about fifteen minutes total, it's ready to turn out onto another hot pan.
        The flipping requires a bit of clever and fast work, but it's pretty easy if you use your imagination. Just place one pan on the top of the cake and flip it around and over as quickly and steadily as you can. Don't move the cake once it's in the second pan, let it cook, no matter how lopsided it may appear.
        After about another 15 minutes your cake is ready to drench in honey! You can use a simple syrup if you like, or you can use raw honey as I do.
        Cut and serve warm or room temperature.