Monday, April 21, 2014

Secret Recipe Club: Cran-Apple Streusel Coffee Cake

It's Secret Recipe Club time of the month again! It's only my second month of participation but it has already become on of my favorite parts of keeping this blog. I look forward to the surprise of seeing what other people will create, and I find so many new blogs that I never would have known existed otherwise. So far I'm 2 for 2 in finding recipes to add to my regular rotation as well.

This month's recipe comes from  Authentic Suburban Gourmet, a blog run by Bay Area native Lisa. By day she's an executive, but by night (and weekend) she's a self taught home cook and overall foodie. Her blog is filled with plenty of great recipes and wonderful restaurant reviews that made me more than a little homesick for Berkeley/San Francisco. 

I had a hard time deciding between recipes this month. The Caramelized Apple Skillet Cake and the Cranberry Orange Bars all looked delicious. But I ended up choosing her Cranberry Streusel coffee cake. Like her, I buy a few bags of cranberries and put them in the freezer to have all year. I knew I wanted to use some of those cranberries on this recipe. 

I changed a few things in this recipe to fit the ingredients he had in our house on that lazy Sunday morning. I substituted Greek yogurt for sour cream, which made it a little more dense but still quite good. I also used used half apples and half cranberries because we have 10 pounds of apples in the fridge from our CSA box that really need to get used. I also used a different streusel recipe because I was running out of butter, but it's all essentially the same. Thanks for the awesome recipe Lisa!

Cran-Apple Streusel Coffee Cake

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup frozen cranberries
  • 1 apple, peeled and cored (I used a pink lady)
Ingredients for topping
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup AP flour
  • 4 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • pinch of salt 
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  1. Cream together butter and sugar for the cake. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the yogurt, vanilla and almond extract
  2. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add that to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  3. Fold in cranberries and apples and spoon into a prepared 9 inch pan.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together all ingredients for topping until a crumbly mixture forms. Sprinkle over the top of the coffee cake
  5. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for about an hour until cooked through. Let cool completely before serving. 

Secret Recipe Club

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

Happy Easter everyone. This month, the wonderful folks at Sourdough Surprises have challenged participants to make sourdough hot cross buns. I had never made hot cross buns before, but I knew they were related to Easter, and it's always great to try out something new.

I took the inspiration for this recipe from Nourishing Joy and thought it was excellent. It was just sweet enough to make you want another bite, but not overly so. I did find the batter very soft and difficult to work with (next time I might retard it overnight like I do with brioche and see if that works better). But then again, my scale was seriously broken so I had to use their dry ingredient measures as opposed to the weight measurements. Maybe that's why

The texture of the bread was good and it was a very easy, very quick (in terms of sourdough) recipe. I will make sure to make this again.

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

  • 1 cup sourdough starter (active)
  • 3 1/2 cups AP flour
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • pinch of cloves
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup dried fruit (used raisins and cranberries)
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • flour, water and oil for crosses
  • honey and lemon juice for glazing

  1. 2 days before you intend to bake, refresh your sourdough starter to make sure it's active
  2. On baking day, mix starter, flour, zest, sugar, spices, egg, honey, milk and water in a stand mixer. Mix until combined and sticky dough form
  3. Meanwhile, soak dried fruit in warm water for 10 minutes. Drain water from fruit and mix with the salt.
  4. Mix fruit and salt into the bread and knead for 10 minutes
  5. Add butter and knead until fully incorporated. Finished dough will be very soft, shiny and a little sticky.
  6. Let dough rise 1 hour in an oiled bowl. Stretch and fold dough on itself a number of times and let rise another hour. 
  7. Divide dough into 12 pieces and place into 9x13 baking sheet not quite touching. Let rise 2 hours or until doubled
  8. To make the crosses, mix together flour, water and oil until a thick paste forms that you can still pipe. Pipe crosses across your buns.
  9. Bake buns at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.
  10. When you remove buns from the oven, glaze immediately with honey and lemon juice or orange juice. Let cool completely before serving. 

This post has been submitted to Yeastspotting

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Tomato Focaccia

This recipe provides a much more interesting focaccia recipe than normal.  The bread itself is a great pink color because of the tomato paste and the toppings give it so much great flavor. The bread is light and soft without having a lot of air pockets. It's perfect for an interesting sandwich, and it fulfills a pizza craving as a snack or lunch with a salad.

This post has been submitted to Yeastspotting

Tomato Focaccia


  • 1 oz active dry yeast
  • 2/3 oz sugar
  • 1 oz salt
  • 2 lb bread flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • water (about 2 cups)
  • tomatoes, basil, olives, Parmesan and feta cheese for garnish
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix yeast, sugar, salt, flour, eggs, tomato paste and rosemary. Begin mixing and slowly add water as needed until a soft dough forms. It should still be heavy, but uniform and not wet. Knead until dough comes together
  2. Let dough rise in an oiled bowl for 1 hour or until doubled in size
  3. Remove dough and roll out to the size of a half sheet pan. Line pan with parchment paper. The dough should be about half an inch thick when rolled out.
  4. Oil the top of the dough and top it with tomatoes, Parmesan, basil, olives and feta cheese as desired. Let rise another hour
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until everything on the top is golden.
  6. Cool completely before serving.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Lemon Meringue Pie

I love lemon meringue pie. This year I decided to make lemon meringue pie for pi day (a little late on this post, I know) and it was a big hit with my fiance. It's super easy and you really can't go wrong with something adapted from a 1970s Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. They do certain things well, and pie is definitely one of them. 

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 T flour
  • 3 T cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ c water
  • 2 lemons, juiced and zested
  • 2 T butter
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 9 inch pie crust
  • 6 T white sugar

  1. Pre-bake pie crust for 10 minutes at 400 degrees
  2. Mix sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt together. Add lemon juice, zest and water.
  3. Bring to boil and temper beaten egg yolks with the . Add eggs and butter to the juice mixture and stir until thickened.
  4. Pour curd into pie crust.
  5. Beat egg whites until foamy. Add 6 Tbsp white sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
  6. Pour meringue over the top, making sure to seal the edges and prevent weeping.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 until lightly browned.
  8. Cool completely before serving.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spinach ravioli with butternut squash filling

For Christmas this past year, my future sister-in-law got me a ravioli plaque for our Secret Santa exchange. I loved making pasta before and I enjoyed making ravioli, but it was always so time consuming to fold and crimp each individual ravioli by hand. It wasn't worth it. But this place sped up the process so much. I can make ravioli in less than half the time it took me before, and with a lot less aggravation. 

I decided to make this ravioli because we had all the things in our house. We had a butternut squash that needed to be used as well as some spinach that was looking a little tired. It seemed like the perfect use of both items.

This was a delicious pasta and great ravioli. It made an excellent dinner with salmon and arugula salad that evening. Best of all, we have leftovers in the freezer for several nights in the future.

Spinach ravioli with butternut squash filling

  • 1 recipe spinach pasta dough
  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 cups of meat)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
  • nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • bread crumbs
  • fresh parsley
  1. Cut the butternut squash in half and remove seeds. Roast squash for 45 minutes or until tender. Let cool
  2. Remove meat from the squash and place in a food processor or mash with a fork. Use the neck only if you can, as it will be less stringy than the bulb.
  3. Mix squash with ricotta, parmesan, bread crumbs and spices. Season appropriately. You can use more or less cheese depending on your preference. 
  4. Roll out your pasta dough until desired thickness (I use setting 6 of 9 on my pasta roller) and cut to the desired size. 
  5. Fill ravioli and crimp the edges either by hand or with a ravioli plaque
  6. Boil ravioli in well salted water until done. Freeze any unused ravioli by by freezing them on a baking sheet and then moving them to a plastic bag.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Spinach pasta dough

Thanks for all the love with Secret Recipe Club everyone! I loved joining the community, seeing so many great posts and getting so many great comments on my own. I can't wait until next month.

Until then, I have so many other wonderful things to show you!

Making fresh pasta has become one of my favorite activities on my days off. You'd think that when I'm not working in the kitchen, the last thing I would want to do is cook more at home; however, I find certain things very relaxing on my day off. I love making pasta and I love making gyoza. It's a mindless task I can do in the living room while watching a movie, and it gives me plenty of leftovers I can store in the pantry or the freezer. 

This spinach pasta is a wonderful color before cooking and it retains its color after cooking. It looks beautiful and tastes delicious with just olive oil, Parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper and black pepper. It's a very easy second course for dinner. In this case, it was an afternoon snack with the leftover scrap pasta after making ravioli (recipe to be posted later)

Spinach Pasta dough 
  • 5 ounces all purpose flour
  • 5 ounces semolina flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 160 grams fresh baby spinach, stems remove
  1. Bring a pot of liberally salted water to a boil. Blanch spinach in water until just wilted and shock in cold water to preserve the color
  2. Squeeze water out and chop in both directions so the final product will not be stringy. Place spinach and eggs in a food processor and blend until smooth. It will not be uniform, but the spinach pieces will be very very small.
  3. Pour egg mixture into the flour and form pasta dough. You can use volcano method or stand mixer. If too wet, add more flour mixture as needed
  4. Let rest for 30 minutes for the gluten to relax
  5. Roll pasta to desired thickness through your pasta roller. Boil until done and serve as desired.

Secret Recipe Club: Lentil, Sweet Potato and Sausage Stew

After almost a year, I've finally been accepted to the Secret Recipe Club. I've tried cooking or baking challenge blogs before and they've rarely worked out, mostly because we are forced to make a particular thing. This club really caught my eye because it was a way to recognize something great a member created and it didn't require us to make anything in particular. They said to pick anything off their blog.

This month, I was assigned Feast on the Cheap, a blog hosted my mother-daughter team Mary Ann and Mariel. My recipe choice for this month comes from Mary Ann, the mother of the team. She's been an O. R.  nurse, caterer and blogger. Not sure how she has the time for everything and maintaining as beautiful a blog as she does, but she does an excellent job of showcasing great recipes that won't break the bank.

When looking for a recipe, I had every intention of making her Mom's Cranberry Nut bread because I knew it would be a big hit with the man for breakfast. But then we had another unexpected cold snap and the winter I thought was gone came rushing right back. This is the first real winter I've had since moving to Virginia from California. It has been difficult at times, but I find myself getting used to it.

Seeing Mary Ann's recipe for Lentil, Sweet Potato and Sausage stew was quite fortunate because it was an exceptionally cold evening and we had everything for this recipe in our house. We had just made a Costco run the night before and we literally had everything. That never happens with a recipe. It was destiny, and it was delicious. My future husband doesn't even like lentils or beans much, but he ate a bowl of this for dinner and even had one for lunch the next day. If you can make a lentil dish (which I love) and the man like it, then I think it's a winner.

I hope you all enjoy this recipe as much as I did. I cut the recipe in half since we are only two people, but I will include the large recipe in my blog. It's suitable for a family of 4 with leftovers. I also didn't have cilantro (and really didn't want to go to the store for just one thing) but it would have been awesome. I will make sure to have it next time. Because of that, I added peas to the recipe (because green is good!)

Lentil, Sweet Potato and Sausage Stew

  • 1 sweet onion (Maui or Vidallia) diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 large sweet potato, diced into half inch pieces
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 lb dry green lentils, rinsed
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 lb mixed mushooms (I used crimini and shiitake)
  • 3/4 lb chicken sausage (I too used the chicken apple sausage)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • brandy or sherry
  • yogurt and fresh cilantro for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  1. Sautee onions, celery ad carrots in olive oil until they begin to soften
  2. Add the garlic and sautee until aromatic, being sure not to burn. add the lentils and chicken stock. Bring it to a boil
  3. Simmer soup for 30-45 minutes until lentils are cooked. Season as needed
  4. Simultaneously, slice chicken sausages and mushrooms. Cook chicken sausages in a separate pan until well browned.
  5. Remove sausages and cook mushrooms in the pan with a little extra olive oil. Cook mushrooms until they are soft and nicely browned
  6. Deglaze pan with a little sherry or brandy (I had brandy in the house). Cook off the alcohol, scraping the delicious crusty bits as you do.
  7. Stir the mushrooms, sausages and peas into the lentils before serving. Let it continue to simmer for 5 minutes or until peas are heated through but still vibrant green.
  8. Garnish with plain yogurt, cilantro and a twist of lime. Serve with crusty bread and enjoy immediately.

Secret Recipe Club