Tag-Archive for ◊ Picnic ◊

31 May 2019 Madelienes

Madeleines. What are they anyway?  Almost a cookie but really a slightly dry cake?  Yes, that’s right! No frosting? Nope, but they are often dusted with powdered sugar… No caramel swirl? Never! No bits of chocolate? Not usually… And what’s with that lump on the back? Gotta have a lump in the back! Sooo…, what’s the big deal? Madeleines are super plain, super dry, and super yummy, I love them! Madeleines are popular tea cakes in cafes around the world. The world loves them!

Madeleines are French tea cakes, but thought of as a cookie, and are instantly recognizable with their scalloped shell shape that is ribbed on one side and smooth, but with a hump, on the other. Direct from the oven these buttery cakes have wonderfully crisp edges, tender crumb and are best eaten right away, although they will keep in a tin on the counter for 3-4 days. A dusting of powdered sugar is all that they really need, although some brush still warm Madeleines with a tangy lemon glaze.  Starbucks dips tips of their Madeleines into chocolate.

Madeleines are quite easy to make, but you’ll need to purchase scalloped Madeleine molds to get started. The molds are available in different sizes and materials, but you’ll probably find non-stick pans to be the easiest to use.

I have tested out many recipes over the years.  This one is from Epicurious, but with changes to cooking times, method, and ingredients (I doubled the lemon zest, upped the vanilla, added in some baking powder, reduced the oven temperature and reduced the baking time).

The recipe below makes 24 Madeleines.

Madeleines

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (usually from one medium lemon)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (125 grams) all purpose flour
  • 5 oz (10 tablespoons, 1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (plus extra to brush in molds)
  • Powdered sugar
  • Extra melted butter to brush on pans
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Brush each madeleine mold with melted butter (use the additional butter, not the 5 oz needed for the batter!)
  3. Beat eggs and sugar with electric mixer just to blend
  4. Beat in vanilla, lemon zest, and salt
  5. In another bowl, whisk flour with baking powder and salt and then add gradually to butter-sugar-egg mixture.
  6. Gradually add melted and cooled butter to mixture, beating with electric mixer just to blend
  7. Spoon 1 tablespoon batter into each buttered madeleine mold
  8. Place in preheated oven and bake for 9-10 minutes or until edges are slightly browned and there is a visible hump in the middle of each madeleine.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for about 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  10. Repeat with remaining batter. Recipe makes 24 standard sized madeleines
  11. When cool, dust with powdered sugar. If necessary dust with powdered sugar again just before serving.

Note: Batter can be made one day ahead. Refrigerate batter and baked on day two.

Variation: replace lemon zest with orange zest and add 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom to the flour mixture.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today! I hope you find someone wonderful to share these special treats with 🙂

13 Mar 2018 British Pork Pie

Finally!  A Pork Pie recipe that is pretty darn good (and not that hard to produce)! My Dad, a traditional Yorkshire-man, loved pork pies. I really, really wish he were still here to taste my version. To my mind, this Pork Pie favorably rivals the famous Melton Mowbry Pork Pies, but that might just be a braggadocious assertion 🙂

I have modified a recipe by new wave British chef, Richard Bertinet, for my version of Pork Pie. I have used Chef Bertinet’s version of hot-water crust pastry, unchanged (hot-water crust pastry is only used for making savory pies that are eaten cold). I made some substantial changes to his filling recipe though. First, I changed the meats and the ratios.  Then I added onion (which is so not traditional). I upped the spices and added a few different ones. I added eight hard boiled eggs (which are optional) and, to the “jelly”, I added a good shot of bourbon, which has been in no recipe I’ve ever seen, but I did it for my Dad and, in my mind, it will remain the magical addition to this very tasty version of a British Pork Pie.

Pork Pie is a traditional picnic, quick meal, or bar snack in England. It’s a firm solid pie, nothing drips out of a Pork Pie.  Instead of gravy moistening the meat, there’s a jelly-like substance. Don’t be afraid of it! It’s delicious. In my version the “jelly” is broth, bourbon and a little unflavored gelatin (see recipe for notes on making the broth).

This recipe requires a 9″ Springform pan. You will also need a meat grinder or a food processor. Have neither? You can still do this, just chop everything very, very finely. A food syringe would be wonderful to have, too, but not to worry if you don’t have one. Above all, you will also need a plan! The recipe has three components: hot water crust pastry, pork filling, and a broth based “jelly”. Cooking time will be approximately 2 ½ hours. Before baking, the pastry will need approximately 90 minutes to “rest”. The filling can be made while the pastry is resting. Make Pork Pie at least one day before serving. The meat and jelly need at least 8 hours to settle, set, and chill before serving.

The British like to spread condiments on their pork pies, so serve your pork pie with a jar of Branston’s Pickle*, Piccalilli Relish*, Mango Chutney or coarse mustard (*available on Amazon, some Indian markets and some supermarkets with large international sections).

Polly’s English Pork Pie

For the Hot-water Crust Pastry:

  • 175g/ 6 oz lard (or, if you can afford it/find it, use goose or duck fat like Richard Bertinet suggests)
  • 175ml/6 fluid oz. water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 450g/16 oz all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg , lightly beaten with a fork
  1. Put the lard, water, salt and sugar in a pan and bring to a boil, stirring as the lard melts. When it comes to a boil, count to 30 seconds and immediately take the pan off the heat.
  2. While the lard is melting, put the flour into a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and stir in the beaten egg.
  3. Pour the hot liquid mixture into the flour mixture, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon.
  4. When the mixture forms quite a dough, cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let rest and cool for 1 hour.
  5. While the dough is resting, make the filling.

For the Three Porks Filling

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bunch of green onions, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil, as needed OR use the oil from the can of anchovies
  • 1 small can (2 oz) anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
  1. Heat oil in a medium frying pan. Add in chopped onion, and sauté until soft and translucent.
  2. Add in green onion and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add in garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Do not let garlic darken.
  4. Turn off heat and stir in diced anchovies. Set mixture aside to cool.
  • 1 ¼ lbs pork chops, with some fat (pork shoulder or country style pork ribs can be used, too)
  • 8 oz diced pancetta
  • 8 oz bacon, diced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 whole nutmeg, grated OR approximately 2 teaspoons of ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon mace
  • 8 hard-boiled eggs, shelled (the eggs just need to be softly hard boiled, the eggs will have additional cooking time in the oven) – optional
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  1. Prepare meat for food processor (large chunks) or meat grinder (long strips). Include some fat! Take your time to season each piece of meat with salt and pepper (heavy on the pepper), crumbled sage, mace, and freshly grated nutmeg.
  2. Combine seasoned pork with diced pancetta, diced bacon, and the reserved onion mixture. Make sure everything is well combined.
  3. Grind the three pork and onion mixture with a meat grinder on a coarse setting or briefly process with short burst in food processor (do not over process, you don’t want a paste, you want chopped meat).
  4. Set ground meat aside and turn attention to pastry now.

To Fill Pie

  1. Turn the pastry onto a lightly floured work surface.
  2. Roll pastry into a rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds by taking one side into the center and then bringing the opposite side over the top. Flatten the dough into a rough oblong shape. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes (or longer, if needed)
  3. Prepare 9″ springform pan by lightly greasing and flouring bottom and sides.
  4. Preheat oven to 400° Fahrenheit.
  5. Remove pastry from refrigerator.
  6. Cut off ¼ of pastry and set aside for top.
  7. Roll remaining ¾ pastry into a large circle to fit along the bottom and up the sides of the 9″ springform pan. Be careful with the rolling out.  Pastry should be thick, and equally thick throughout, the sheet (this pie needs a thick, firm shell on the bottom, sides, and top).
  8. Gently fold pastry to lift into prepared pan. Place pastry in center of pan and ensure it covers all the way up all the sides of the pan. Patch any holes or tears.
  9. Place 1/3 of filling in bottom of pastry case. (If you choose not to use eggs, place all the filling in the pastry case.)
  10. Place shelled hard-boiled eggs in a ring on top of filling in bottom of pan, optional.
  11. Lightly spoon remaining filling over the ring of eggs. Be sure eggs are completely covered and the top is evenly smoothed.
  12. Roll out remaining pasty into circle to fit on top of filling.
  13. Firmly adhere top to side pastry. Trim excess crust.
  14. If you have any excess pastry, make decorations for top of pie, if desired.
  15. Beat egg lightly, then brush over top of pastry.
  16. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, make several holes into top of pastry (for steam to escape). Be careful where you poke. Don’t pierce a hard-boiled egg!
  17. Place pie in oven. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes.
  18. Reduce heat to 325°, bake for an additional 90 minutes.
  19. Meanwhile, make the “jelly”

For the “jelly”

  • 7 oz really good quality pork or chicken stock (I make my own. If your pork came with bones, boil the bones with a bit of extra meat, even throw in an extra pork chop, if you have one. Add in some diced veggies for taste. I like onions, carrots, celery and a bay leaf, simmer for at least an hour. Taste the broth, it should taste good and rich. If you don’t say “mmmm”, keep simmering until you do. Add salt and pepper if needed. If you have more meat, bones, or veggies, add them too. If you have homemade chicken stock, use that. If you have only canned stock, jazz it up a bit. Pour broth into a pan and add in a piece of chicken or some chicken bones if you have them, and any veggies you have on hand plus a bay leaf. Simmer and taste. Once you get a really good taste, strain, throw out the veggies, bones, etc. retain the broth).
  • 4 oz bourbon
  • 1 pkt unflavored gelatin
  1. About 15 minutes before pie is done, put 2 tablespoons of cold broth or water in a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin on top, and let sit until gelatin is soft.
  2. Meanwhile, heat broth to a light simmer. Remove from heat.
  3. Stir in softened gelatin and 4 oz bourbon.
  4. When cooked, remove pie from oven.
  5. If you have a baking syringe, fill it with the gelatin mixture and inject pie with stock mixture, avoiding eggs, all over the top of the pie. If you don’t have a syringe, with wooden spoon, re-punch holes in pastry and punch 3-5 additional holes (avoiding the eggs, of course). Pour gelatin mixture into all the holes. Let mixture settle, then add more liquid. Keep doing this until all the gelatin has been added.
  6. When pie has cooled, cover and refrigerate, preferably overnight but for at least 8 hours.
  7. Remove from refrigerator 2 hours before serving. Serve in wedges with jars of Branston Pickle, Piccalilli, Mango Chutney, and whole grain mustard on the side.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!

24 Mar 2017 Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

 

chocolate-peanut-butter-chip-cookies

This recipe is from the back of the bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips (see picture below).  The cookie is fabulous.  It’s like a peanut butter cup in cookie form.

My daughter made these cookies for a “Back of the Box” themed Cookbook Club meeting.  She loves peanut butter.  She saw the chips.  She read the recipe on the back of the bag.  She made the cookies. Everyone swooned. End of story.

Well, not quite the end of the story because now I’m posting the recipe, as is, lifted right off the back of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Chip bag. You’ve just read the recipe and my swooning review. You are going to go out to get a bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips. You are going to make the cookie. You and yours will swoon. You’ll go down as one of the best cookie bakers EVER!

End of story.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder (natural baking powder-like Hershey’s, NOT Dutch processed cocoa powder)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 10 oz. pkg REESE’S Peanut Butter Chips – divided use
  • 1 1/4 cups butter (2-1/2 sticks), at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

 

  1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  3. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with mixer until fluffy, 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.
  5. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well.
  6.  Stir in most of the  peanut butter chips. Hold out some peanut butter chips to decorate the tops of the cookies before baking.
  7. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased, preferably parchment lined, unrimmed cookie sheet. If desired, press 2, 3, or 4 peanut butter chips onto the top of each cookie.
  8. Bake 8 to 9 minutes. (Do not over bake; cookies will be soft. They will puff while baking and flatten while cooling.)
  9. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.
  10. Makes about 4 dozen cookies, but depends on the size of your cookie.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!

reese-s-peanut-butter-chips

20 Mar 2017 B.O.B. Brownies

bob-brownies-bite

Google “Back of the Box” recipes and you’ll get lists such as 10 Best Back-of-the-box recipes from Epicurious, or Buzz Feed or The Daily Meal.  Never 20 best back-of-the-box recipes or 100 best back-of-the-box recipes.  Nope. Just 10. Because there are only about 10 really good back-of-the-box recipes 🙂

In my (albeit, limited) experience, it seems most back-of-the-box recipes sound good but in reality are quite plain and quite bland.  There are 10 good ones though!  Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies, Philadelphia Cheesecake, Alber’s Cornbread, Rice Krispie Treats, Lipton Onion Dip jump to mind.  Pssst…! And now I have found another one! It’s on the back of the bag of Dutch Process cocoa powder that I purchased at Costco (brand name: Rodelle Organics).

These brownies are delicious, and just my type of brownie.  Everyone seems to have their own preferred brownie type, right? This is mine.  Slightly crunchy top, oh-so-chocolately flavor, dense-but not fudge, light-but not cakey.  These are just right!  AND, they’re easy-to-make, and one batch fills a 9×13 pan!  The brownies slice well, too. What more could one want?

B.O.B.* Brownies

*Back of Bag (Rodelle Organic Dutch Process Baking Cocoa, sold at Costco)

  • 1 cup plus 2 T. butter
  • 2 ¼ cups sugar
  • 5 eggs (yes, 5. I was shocked, too)
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla
  • ¾ cup plus 1 T. flour
  • ¾ cup plus 1 T. Dutch Process cocoa powder (no substitutions)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup chopped nuts (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line 9×13 inch baking pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray.
  3. Melt butter and sugar in a heavy saucepan on very low heat.
  4. Let the mixture slightly cool and transfer to a large bowl. Beat well.
  5. Add eggs, gradually, mixing well.
  6. Add vanilla extract.
  7. Sift dry ingredients together.
  8. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture, stirring gently and minimally.
  9. Stir in chips and nuts.
  10. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake approximately 35 minutes. Do not overbake.
  11. Cool before cutting.
  12. Cut into squares and enjoy.