Carolina Cole Slaw

June 25, 2010

Red and I grill a lot during the summer, and sometimes we go fancy–but most of the time, we go for the basic like burgers and brats. I really love cole-slaw as a side salad, but I wanted a variation that doesn’t use any mayo. I made some tweaks to this recipe that I found on an old magazine, and added a few of my additions. And the result was a really light and refreshing salad, with clear flavor and just enough tang to to give my taste buds a little wake up call. The only thing that I was looking for was a little bit more heat to the dressing, which next time, I would have to try to experiment. We enjoyed this at home with our burgers, but I think they would be great for picnics since it doesn’t have any mayo in it, and would be fantastic on pulled pork. Happy eating!

Adapted from Bon Appetit, 1996

1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
6 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1-1/4 pounds mixed cole slaw vegetable

Combine vinegar, sugar, oil, mustard and celery seeds in non-aluminum medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and dressing comes to boil. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper. Cool completely.

Put the vegetable in a large bowl and add dressing; toss to coat. Cover; refrigerate until cold, tossing occasionally, at least 2 hours.

(Can be made1 day ahead. Cover; keep refrigerated.)

Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits

June 19, 2010

Some certain food are delicious and welcomed any time of the day. To me, these cheesy biscuits fall under that category. They are great served at breakfast, lunch, brunch or dinner–and can be paired with almost anything. These biscuits have light and tender crumbs in the inside, with crispy flakes in the outside–and a lot of cheesy goodness. I love serving these for breakfast, or brunch–where they can be sliced in half and stuffed with honey-roasted ham (and maybe more cheese!). And since this is another Ina’s recipe, it was pretty much fail-proof. I had no issue with the dough, and I was able to freeze the leftover, and they could be rewarmed and still turned out great! Happy eating!

Adapted from: Barefoot Contessa Back to Basic

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 -1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup cold buttermilk, shaken
1 cold extra-large egg
1 cup grated extra-sharp Cheddar
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water or milk
Maldon sea salt, optional

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Place 2 cups of flour, the baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, add the butter and mix until the butter is the size of peas.

Combine the buttermilk and egg in a small measuring cup and beat lightly with a fork. With the mixer still on low, quickly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and mix only until moistened. In a small bowl, mix the Cheddar with small handful of flour and, with the mixer still on low, add the cheese to the dough. Mix only until roughly combined.

Dump out onto a well-floured board and knead lightly about 6 times. Roll the dough out to a rectangle 10 by 5 inches. With a sharp, floured knife, cut the dough lengthwise in half and then across in quarters, making 8 rough rectangles. Transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Brush the tops with the egg wash, sprinkle with salt, if using, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the biscuits are cooked through. Serve hot or warm.

Yield: 10-12 biscuits

Classic French Toast

June 12, 2010

This is a recipe that I have posted before when I started blogging back in 2008. It is a traditional simple custard mixture that I keep on going back to when I have stale bread that needs to be used up. I especially love making them when summer berries are in the season, so I can make simple compote as topping and sprinkle them with powdered sugar. This time, I used sliced strawberries that I mixed with a little bit of lemon juice and a couple of pinches of sugar (depending on the sweetness of the berries).  I have also since then discovered brioche as a favorite to use on this dish. Happy Eating

Adapted from Martha Stewart

6 large eggs
1 -1/2 cups heavy cream, half-and-half, or whole-milk
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
6 slices (1-inch-thick) bread, preferably day old (I used brioche)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
Pure maple syrup, for serving (optional)

Whisk together eggs, cream, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
Place bread in a shallow baking dish large enough to hold bread slices in a single layer. Pour egg mixture over bread; soak 10 minutes. Turn slices over; soak until soaked through, about 10 minutes more.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet, and set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Fry half the bread slices until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to wire rack; place in oven while cooking remaining bread. Wipe skillet, and repeat with remaining butter, oil, and bread. Keep in oven until ready to serve. Serve warm with pure maple syrup, if desired.

Yield: 6 pieces

Chicken-and-Sage Sausages

June 7, 2010

I am a big-breakfast fan, and always try to find some sort of variations to make my breakfast experience a little bit more exciting! Having a little bit of protein during breakfast also keeps my tummy happy a little longer! I  fell in love with this recipe simply because it’s easy to make, delicious and can be made ahead–or freeze some, and reheat for later. It definitely beats the prepackaged option. You can also substitute ground chicken with turkey, or use other favorite herbs you have in hand. I used ground chicken breast for mine, and I was surprised at how juicy they were. Apples are also good substitute for carrots. One word of caution, make sure that the chicken patties are cooked thoroughly in the inside. Red got a little bit excited when he shaped these, so a few of them came out thicker than the rest, so I had to split those during cooking to make sure that there wasn’t any pink in the middle. Happy eating.

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, February 2008

2 pounds ground chicken
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
1 medium garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
1/4 cup finely shredded carrot
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Chutney, for serving

Using 2 forks, gently combine chicken, shallot, garlic, sage, carrot, mustard, salt, and pepper. Loosely shape mixture into 2-inch patties (about 1/2 inch thick), being careful to not overwork. Place sausage patties on a baking sheet.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook sausage patties until cooked through and golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Add more oil to skillet between batches as needed. Serve warm with chutney.

Yield: 20 patties

Berry Perfect Party Cake

June 5, 2010

My friends are often surprised when they find out that my favorite cake flavors are white, yellow, or banana (but I have to be in the mood for it!). Yet, I don’t really have a go to recipe for a white cake recipe. Enter Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake. I have heard a lot of raves about this cake from a lot of blogs and have put this on my mental to do list for a while. A couple of weekends ago, I ran into a copy of her cook book at a local used-book store for $10. Score! I knew that I had to make this cake right away!

Since strawberries are in the season, I decided to use sweetened whipped cream as the filling along with sliced strawberries, and frost them with fluffy butter-cream frosting, which is a lot firmer than the whipped cream. I might have whipped the heavy cream a little bit too much that it did not seal the two cake layers as well as I wanted them to; so halfway through cutting them, the two layers fell apart. Also, because I used regular butter, instead of white butter, the cake did not appear snow-white like Dorie’s on her cook book.

Overall, everyone really loved the consistency of the cake and the delicate flavor of the cake, frosting and filling! I actually liked this cake so much that I enjoyed a whole slice (which I rarely do with cakes!). It looks like I just found my go-to white cake recipe.

Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

For the cake:
2 ¼ cups cake flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ tsp. lemon extract (I used 1/2 tsp of clear vanilla extract instead)

For finishing:
1 recipe of fluffy vanilla frosting (see below for recipe)
1 recipe of whipped cream for filling (or, alternatively you can use the same one as the frosting)
Fresh berries of your choice

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°.  Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment paper.  Dust both pans with flour, shaking out the excess.  Set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk and egg whites.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar and lemon zest.  Mix them with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant.  Add the butter to the sugar mixture and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.  Beat in the lemon extract.

Add one third of the flour mixture, continuing to beat on medium speed.  Beat in half of the egg mixture, then half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated.  Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.  Finally give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated.  Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans and smooth tops with a rubber spatula.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well-risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted in the centers should come out clean.

Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes.  Run a knife around the sides of the cakes, invert the cake pans to remove the cake, peel off the parchment paper, and invert once more so cakes are right side up on the cooling rack.  Cool to room temperature.

Using a sharp, serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half.  Place one layer on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate, cut side up.  Spread one third of the preserves on top.  Cover the jam evenly with about 1/3 of the white chocolate whipped cream.  Top evenly with fresh berries.  Top with another cake layer, and again layer with jam, whipped cream and berries.  Repeat once more with a third cake layer.  Place the last layer of the cake cut side down on top of the cake.  Use the whipped cream frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake.  Top with fresh berries.

Because of the whipped cream, this cake should be stored in the refrigerator.  Remove from refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes before serving.

Yield: 12-14

Fluffy Vanilla Frosting

Adapted from Martha Stewart

1 -1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 pound (4 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

With an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.

Reduce speed to medium. Add the confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed; after every two additions, raise speed to high and beat 10 seconds to aerate frosting, then return to medium-high. This process should take about 5 minutes. Frosting will be very pale and fluffy.
Add vanilla, and beat until frosting is smooth. If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 10 days in an airtight container. Before using, bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

Whipped Cream Frosting

2 cups heavy cream
2 tbsp of powdered sugar

Place heavy cream & sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; beat until thick and spreadable. Use immediately.

Makes: 4 cups