Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mini Brownies

These were supposed to be the highlight of my week. They were tasty but I didn't butter the pan, I thought they wouldn't stick, so of course they stuck! I had to dig each one out with a spoon... not fun!

1 cup butter
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, or 2 chocolate bars
1 cup sugar if using unsweetened cocoa powder and 1/2 cup if using chocolate bars
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs
2 tbs vanilla
1 ts baking powder
1 tbs instant coffee powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

You can half, double or even triple this recipe, it's very forgiving and really a nice way to bake something  sweet in a hurry if you have to. For example if you are married to a very unorganized but very sweet, lovable and sensitive rustic kinda man who rushes into your kitchen and exclaims, "So and so are coming! They just called and will be here in a hour or so, what do you have sweet to nibble on with tea or coffee?" This can be your lifesaver, after all, who doesn't love chocolate?

Preheat the oven to 350.
Melt the butter and sugar together, you can always taste for sweetness if you like it either more sweet or more chocolaty cut or add more sugar. Continue stirring while it's cooking until it gets shiny, this gives it a great crust.


Melt in the chocolate if you are using bars, if using cocoa powder then just whisk it in. Since I'm making it with chocolate bars, I add the vanilla, salt, and coffee now.

Add the eggs, and what's left of the dry ingredients, flour and baking powder.


Pour into a oiled, sprayed or buttered baking dish, I liked the idea of miniature brownies today but any 9x13 will work just as well. Don't over bake! No end pictures, they were a mess! Tasted good, but not pretty!


Enjoy!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Vanilla Cupcakes

I'm in sweet mode these days! It's like all my favorite cakes and breakfast breads have to made asap!  I know these are not your traditional cupcakes, although I do own a miniature pan for cupcakes it rarely gets used and the two *one odd shaped the other regular* I have for full sized cupcakes, plastic ones that aren't supposed to burn, also rarely get used. I like this miniature bundt cake pan!

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
3 large eggs
1 tbs vanilla extract or an entire little package of powder
zest of 1 large lime or lemon
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 ts baking powder
1/4 ts salt
1/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350
Combine the dry ingredients together and set aside.
Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.


Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one.


Starting with the flour add one third and mix well, then add half of the buttermilk, repeat with the remaining buttermilk and then add the last portion of the flour. Don't over mix.. this is not bread!



Gently stir in the lemon/lime zest.


Fill prepared cupcake pan or cake pan and bake until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.


Place on a wire rack to cool completely and frost when ready to serve.



Enjoy!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fluffy Waffles


I can eat waffles for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert, I'm sure I'm not the only one in the world like this, but I do however seem to be the only one located in Northern Africa. :-D

I mostly love fluffy waffles, on occasion I like crispy ones too, but I really dislike thick heavy ones, you know bricks! Finally I found a recipe that makes pretty close to what I can get in restaurants, in the States that is.

I know machines make a huge difference for the quality of waffles, but even though I don't have an expensive waffle maker (This is the one I have) they still come out deliciously light and fluffy, therefore anyone can make yummy waffles! Whoo- Hoo!

I finally figured out that the difference in lightness and flavor is really all in the milk, buttermilk is the way to go!

8 eggs separated
4 cups buttermilk
4 cups flour give or take for desired thickness of waffles
1/4 cup or so of milk to thin out if needed
sugar to taste
2 ts salt
2 tbs baking powder
8 tbs melted butter or oil
vanilla to taste

Melt the butter and set aside.


Stir together the dry ingredients including vanilla powder if you are not using extract *doesn't exist here*.
Beat the egg whites with sugar until stiff peaks form.




Beat the egg yolks, with vanilla extract if not using powdered, until thick and pale yellow.
Add the yolks to the buttermilk, gently stir and add the melted butter.
Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour and stir gently. Don't worry about the lumps, like pancakes you don't want a particularly smooth batter. Fold in the whites to the batter and cook on a hot waffle iron until finished.



Cook in appropriate amounts in the machine you are using. If it drips over, just wipe it off and let it finish. I'm dying to get a cast iron waffle iron, old fashion to make waffles on. I'm looking here in Algeria, I have a feeling that would be the only thing available here, and my sister in law said she bought waffles in Algiers awhile ago made with one. Any ideas sisters?



Enjoy!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chicken & Peas



 Here is a pretty quick dinner that is flavorful and nutritious.

1 cut up and skinned chicken
2 or 3 cups of fresh or frozen peas, I much prefer frozen because they are always sweeter
5 or 6 potatoes depending on the size of your family, sliced into desired shapes
3 small tomatoes or 2 large ones chopped or minced
1 large onion chopped or minced
1 head of garlic chopped or minced
1 parsley bunch chopped and divided into two portions
1/8 cup quality olive oil
2 tbs rasul hanout
1 tbs salt or to taste
1/2 tbs pepper or to taste
1 ts cinnamon

Throw everything in a pressure cooker and brown for a few minutes.
Cover about 1/4 of the way up with water and bring to a boil, cover and bring up to pressure.
Cook until everything is tender, I like chicken to fall off the bones, but that's just my personal preference. That takes about twenty minutes give or take.
Serve on a platter and sprinkle with the reserved chopped fresh parsley.
Eat warm with a hot baguette or warm butter rolls.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Crispy Fried Chicken



I'm still a southern girl at heart, the foods I grew up eating still have a warm place with me and I do crave them like crazy when I'm pregnant. Fried chicken is one of them! Yes, I do know that it's really not that good for you but boy when you crave it, it is just something that nothing else can substitute.

I have found through lots of trail and error the way to get a nice crispy crust isn't just in if you leave the skin off or on. It's more in the batter and using baking powder works wonders! So, leave on the skin or not, you will still have a great crust!
1 cut and skinned or not chicken
2 cups, give or take of quality buttermilk
3 eggs
3 cups flour 1 cup set aside to put the seasoning in
1-2 tbs baking powder
seasoning to taste;
I like, paprika, salt, pepper, spicy paprika, dried thyme, garlic powder and onion powder
oil for frying

Beat together the eggs, buttermilk, baking powder and the flour until you have a pretty thick batter, pancake batter is a great comparison.
Place the cut chicken directly into the batter and let it marinate as long as you like. I leave mine for a couple of hours, but if I'm pressed for time a few minutes does well. 
Place all of your spices into the reserved cup of flour and mix well.
Depending on where you will fry your chicken, set up a place to dip and shake, a place where you have the batter and flour/spices in one place. This will make for a quick and easy clean up.
Heat up the oil about five to ten minutes before you are ready to fry.
Make sure the oil is hot, sprinkle a drop or two of water, if it pops your ready to fry.

Dredge a piece of chicken one at a time into the flour and spices. 

Using tongs or two forks place the chicken into the hot oil.
Fry on one side until golden brown and then gently turn over to continuing cooking on the other side. 
Make sure you are not cooking to fast, otherwise you will have uncooked chicken, not pleasent! 
 

I love fried chicken with mashed potatoes, homemade gravy and corn slathered in butter and salt! But, any side will do just fine. 
Enjoy!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls


Dough:
2 ts yeast
1 1/4 cups lukewarm milk
1/4 cup white sugar or less
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/3 butter at room temperature
3 cups flour

Filling:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup raisins
cinnamon to taste
3 or so tbs soft butter

Glaze:
1/2 - 1 cup confectioners sugar
2-4 tbs buttermilk or milk or cream
juice of one small lemon if not using buttermilk

As a true cinnamon roll lover, I go straight for the center one!
Before anyone even knows it's gone or that the rolls are finished I have been thrown into a buttery, sugary, cinnamon-y induced coma...
Heaven on earth!



I make this as an overnight-er, if you have a fairly warm kitchen in the am you will have a great breakfast!
The night before, or if you would like an afternoon tea treat;
Add all of the dough ingredients together and knead until silky and smooth.
Lightly oil a bowl and set aside to double.
Set in the fridge overnight in the same bowl you kneaded in and let rise in.
Take out in the morning, gently deflate and let it come to room temperature.
Butter a baking dish and set aside.
Roll out to 1/2 inch thick and paint the dough with the butter.
Sprinkle with cinnamon, sugar and raisins.
Roll up jelly roll style and slice into even sized rolls.
Place in your baking dish a good inch or so apart, these will rise quite a bit!
Set aside to rise again, until doubled.
Mix together the glaze and set aside while the rolls cook.
Cook in a preheated 350 oven until golden brown and bubbly all over.
Drizzle on the glaze and relax with a cup of coffee and the morning paper or the net.


Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sleeping & Weather

I'm not an easy sleeper, in fact I sit up for hours sometimes just thinking. Mostly about nothing important, which kinda perturbs me. How is it that I forget I could be managing my insomnia better? It always ends the same way ... me trying to utilize what time I can making Dhikr, but alas, this is the point I always end up passing out! FRUSTRATION!!

Last night I had this lovely post all typed out in my head (non food related I remember) plus pictures. I also had a lovely recipe to post.
HA!
The joke is on me, because for the life of me I cannot remember any of what I had in my thoughts.
1. What was it I wanted to cook?  ......
2. What exactly was it that I had wanted to blog about? ......
3. What were those pictures I wanted to post? That would help me out, since they would be related to what I had wanted to talk type about.
Staring blankly at my keyboard...................... 
This is not the first time I have done this.













Weather is something to think about, especially if you have changed where you live dramatically. These days the weather is divine here! It's in the low to mid fifties at night, which is just utterly heaven for me... however much I love it, it's the pits for my family (in-laws). Being true Bedouins (just two generations or so ago leaving that life to come to a more city like life) they don't appreciate the cold as much as I do. The days are in the upper sixties to lower and occasionally mid seventies, another plus for me!!! My neighbors (in-laws) however are walking around complaining about how cold it is, already wearing layers upon layers of clothing and scared to death to take a bath in fear of becoming deathly ill. Poor people! I can relate since everything is in the exact reverse now. During the summer months when it was hot I would have walked around stark naked if it would have been acceptable. When I say hot, I do mean HOT! It was around 117 daily for weeks, yes that's right folks, 117 and sometimes got even hotter. I was miserable! I grew up on the coast of Northern California, Redwood Country, which means layers upon layers of fog, and cold, comparably so all year around. I love that weather, and indeed there are not words for how much I miss it (the weather/scenery and family that is)!

The pictures posted are from my home town, both the ocean and the Redwood Forest are our neighbors, a truly gorgeous place!


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Brioche French Toast


This is an overnight recipe. I break this recipe into two portions so you can easy half it. I make one loaf for egg and grilled cheese sandwiches as well as french toast for hubby and I after the kids are off to school. The second half of the batch goes for brioche rolls.
8 cups, divided into half
1/2 or more if you like cups of room temperature butter
1/2 or more if you like of sugar
6 eggs or less if you don't have on hand, room temperature as well
2 tbs yeast
6 tbs powdered milk
1 cup water or milk depending on what you like, I use water since I use powdered milk

Starter
Add 4 cups of flour, all the yeast, eggs, powdered milk if using, sugar and water or milk and mix. You will get a really wet dough, don't worry, this is supposed to look like thick pancake dough.

Set covered in a warm place to double. It has a lot of eggs and butter in it so it will probably take more than an hour, mine took a couple of hours.

If you have a stand mixer this will take a lot less effort, I don't use one but I like to play with dough.
Add the remaining 4 cups of flour and knead until you have a soft shinny dough. It will be really really sticky like this for a few minutes. Resist the urge to add more flour!


It will look like this after several minutes. I let this rise again overnight in the fridge covered w/ saran wrap, then took it out in the morning to come to room temperature.


After it's come to room temp, butter a bread pan. Shape the dough and place it in a warm place to double. Preheat your oven to 350.

Brush with egg wash. Bake in the oven until golden brown.



Beat up a couple of eggs and a pinch of salt. I guess I'm an odd ball kinda, I don't like to make a custard with milk or cream when I'm frying the bread right away, and  that's especially if I'm using brioche... it's already very soft. It always makes for a soggy slice of toast that I just don't enjoy! That being said, if I'm making overnight or stale bread french toast I do add milk or cream. Dip your sliced bread in and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Fry in a dab or two of quality butter, a plus to being here is that it's really cheap, organic and very sweet! Serve hot with honey and hot coffee!


Enjoy!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Brioche Rolls


I love brioche! Who doesn't? Well I guess anyone with an egg allergy... maybe, but that's about it.
This is an overnight recipe. I break this recipe into two portions so that I can make one loaf for egg and grilled cheese sandwiches and french toast for hubby and I after the kids are off to school and the other half is for chocolate stuffed rolls which is given as gifts and or eaten with coffee.

8 cups, divided into half
1/2 or more if you like cups of room temperature butter
1/2 or more if you like of sugar
6 eggs or less if you don't have on hand, room temperature as well
2 tbs yeast
6 tbs powdered milk
1 cup water or milk depending on what you like, I use water since I use powdered milk

Starter
Add 4 cups of flour, all the yeast, eggs, powdered milk if using, sugar and water or milk and mix. You will get a really wet dough, don't worry, this is supposed to look like thick pancake dough.


Set covered in a warm place to double. It has a lot of eggs and butter in it so it will probably take more than an hour, mine took a couple of hours.


If you have a stand mixer this will take a lot less effort, I don't use one but I like to play with dough.
Add the remaining 4 cups of flour and knead until you have a soft shinny dough. It will be really really sticky like this for a few minutes. Resist the urge to add more flour!



It will look like this after several minutes.


Butter a cooking dish.
Break dough into even sized balls, and place a piece of chocolate in the middle. Roll the ball between your palms making sure that the the edges are sealed and arrange in a shape that fits your fancy.



Place in the fridge covered with saran wrap or a plastic bag overnight.


In the morning you will see that they have risen a bit.


Place the rolls on your stove and preheat it to 350.
Brush with egg wash and when they have doubled bake until golden brown.


Serve warm with a hot cup of coffee.


Enjoy!