Sunday, March 30, 2008

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Perfect Party Cake

This month's Daring Bakers' Challenge was hosted by Morven at Food Art and Random Thoughts.

She chose what turned out to be the best cake I've ever had - and my entire family feels the same way. Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake from her book Baking: From My Home to Yours, is just that; perfect.

I made this one twice, for two reasons. The first was that I didn't think the cake was supposed to be so flat. It really doesn't rise much at all. It was so good, though that I thought it must be right. When I checked with other DBers I found that they had the same "problem", which wasn't a problem after all. The second reason was that the cake was so good, there was no reason not to make it again.

The full recipe can be found at the above link to Morven's blog and these are two photos of the delectable confection:





**I feel like I need a little addendum here ... this cake does not really look pretty. At all. Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that for me to have attempted to actually decorate this cake would have ended in a very disastrous manner. I can cook. I can bake. I do both very well, but decorating? Not my thing for some very odd reason. The cake was absofabulosodelicious, though!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Festa Italiana Time!

Entries are in for Festa Italiana, hosted by Marie of Proud Italian Cook and Maryann of Finding La Dolce Vita!


There were so many delicious submissions that they both have listings on their blogs. Please go and look at these fabulous dishes! My own entry is HERE.

Middle-of-the-week dinner

Artery clogging with a little fattening on the side and greens to balance out my conscience.



Little meatloaves - the kind made in mammoth muffin tins and covered in BBQ sauce with Pierogi Casserole smothered in caramelized onions, and roasted broccoli and field greens salad.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Our Big Day Turned Out to be Far Smaller

Well, somehow communications got garbled and none of the specialists were at the office today. No trauma doctors, no hand specialist. Tuesday is the only day they are there and we'll be going back April 8th.

I guess we got a free (not really) sight-seeing trip to Philly today.

Thanks so much for all the well-wishes!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Royal Foodie Joust Entry



This is my very first "Royal Foodie Joust" and my entry is:

Butterflied Shrimp on Coconut Risotto with Avocado, Lime and Cilantro Cream
Printable Recipe

I know I shouldn't pat myself on the back, but this was so good I could have eaten all 4 servings! If I ever get that restaurant to run, this will be on the menu!


For 4 Servings:

Risotto:

1 cup arborio rice
1 can (14 oz.) coconut milk
2 - 3 cups chicken stock
1 Tablespoon sliced green onion
1 Tablespoon neutral oil
1/4 cup shredded coconut - toasted

Shrimp:

12 large shrimp - tails on and butterflied (sliced down the back nearly all the way through)
1 Tablespoon neutral oil

Cream:

1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves
1/2 small avocado
1 Tablespoon lime juice
1/4 cup sour cream


Make the risotto:

Saute green onion in 1 T oil briefly. Add rice and toast lightly. Mix coconut milk and chicken stock.
Add stock mixture to rice one cup at a time - letting rice absorb stock before adding another cup.
Add the toasted coconut after the second cup of stock.
Stir nearly constantly. When you get to the 20 minute mark, check the rice for consistency.
Once the rice is al dente and creamy, you're done. You may or may not use all of the stock.
Keep warm.

Make the cream:

Combine cilantro, avocado, lime and sour cream in a blender. Puree until very smooth.

Make the shrimp:

Pan-fry the shrimp - cut side down - until lightly browned. This will take about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water to the pan so the shrimp will finish cooking and curl slightly. This will take just another 2 minutes or so.

For service I used coconut halves filled with risotto and topped with 3 shrimp each. Place a
dollop of cream on each shrimp and garnish with a sprinkling of toasted coconut and a cilantro leaf.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Thursday Visit

This is a "Dr. visit week" for us, which always means a bit more hectic than usual. I have several posts I'd like to get up, but there's a lot to do so I may not get the chance.

Really, it's not all that far away, 2 hours one way no matter which route we take, and all-told we're usually gone less than 12 hours, but that seems to be really trying for the kids with both of us parents gone for the day. I need to have everything "just-so" before we head out at 6 a.m. so nobody explodes while we're gone.

Usually one of the older girls is home with several of the little ones and we take the two youngest. Well, last time that was a fiasco. We had SO much to discuss and neither Lara nor Ian would sit still or be quiet. We talked to the doctor for an hour, and whole it was awesome getting so much time in with her, it was rather hellish trying to keep those two kids quiet so I could hear.

Marty could very well go in alone, except that he has no recollection of the accident or first several weeks after his fall. He also doesn't retain medical "lingo" too well and needs to look to me often for answers. So, in reality, it's more like I'm visiting the Dr except that I don't have any injuries.

At any rate, Marty has decided to have arthroscopy done on his right shoulder. Not a big procedure, but a procedure nonetheless, and one that he needs to be sedated for. He's not looking forward to that, and neither am I since it means a 3:30 or 4:00 a.m. departure time on that day.

This visit will be with his ortho and the trauma doctors that cared for him while he was in the STICU. He's never "met" them at all, and I just wonder what they will think when they see him walking and talking.

Hopefully we'll get some answers about the memory losses Marty has suffered (both long and short-term) and the swallowing difficulties and whether or not there is brain damage that is just now rearing it's ugly head.

He also needs an EMG for his leg so they can check out nerve response there and decide if he will ever have normal range-of-motion with is left foot.

I'm betting it will be a longer day than usual with a whole host of doctors, including a hand specialist running in as a special request of Marty's ortho.

Thoughts and prayers, if you will, for everyone that day!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Nacho Mama's Tortilla Soup

Nacho Mama's Tortilla Soup with kidney beans added

I've always liked tortilla soup. It's so easy to make, full of flavor and one of those things that makes a very attractive bowlful.

I'm not going to give you a recipe that simply calls for tossing everything into a pot and simmering for 20 minutes, though. I feel that any good dish is built from the bottom up, flavor-by-flavor, and this one especially benefits from that philosophy.

While divine in its own right, I think the addition of kidney beans makes it hearty enough for a meal.

Here is the basic recipe, but pay close attention to the method - it's not what you think.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Printable Recipe

1 small onion - diced
1 small green pepper - diced
2 cloves garlic - minced
8 cups chicken stock
2 cups peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
2 cups cooked and chopped chicken breast
1 sprig of epazote - chopped OR 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 lime - zested, halved and juiced
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano - rubbed
1 small dried chile such as arbol

For garnish:

8 corn tortillas - cut into strips
1 small avocado - peeled and diced
1 lime - sliced thinly
1/4 cup whole cilantro leaves
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Cook strips of tortilla in a small amount of oil over medium-high heat until toasted. Set aside on paper toweling to drain.

Toast cumin lightly in a non-stick pan. Cool and powder with a spice grinder. Toasting and grinding the seed makes the flavor deeper. Add the oregano to this and set aside.

Heat a couple tablespoons of neutral oil, like canola, in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add onion and green pepper and cook until onion is translucent. Add minced garlic and stir for a moment. Add stock and tomatoes and simmer until vegetables are tender - about 20 minutes.

Add chicken, oregano and cumin, lime juice, zest and lime halves, cilantro and chile. Simmer for another 20 minutes until flavors blend. Remove chile and lime halves.

Serve in bowls, topped with tortilla strips, lime slices, avocado, cilantro leaves and shredded cheese.

Cooking with Anne - The Show

No, not really. It's actually part of a cute comic called, Bitmap World (created by my loverly hosts Michelle and Jim) in which they have created a cooking show based on, well, ME! Double-neat, huh?

Go and see it at BitmapWorld.

Look at That!

I've only written two articles for Helium so far, and one of them, my article about Irish Soda Bread, is on the FRONT PAGE at Helium today! Neat.

Monday, March 10, 2008

I'm back!

Like my new outfit? I have to redirect you here; this work was not done by me. I got tired of pulling my hair out and trying to learn all new web rules etc. and handed it over to a fabulous husband and wife team. They are Michelle and Jim and they own and operate Mirz-Jiles Hosting

This isn't all there is, though! If you'll notice the little links above you, they are directed to my website, cookingwithanne.com and Michelle and Jim did that whole site, too! I'm too excited, can you tell?

If you need hosting, design or otherwise, give them a look, it's really worth it!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Be back soon!

Some spring cleaning is being done here at Cooking with Anne and will take a little bit of time-not too long, I promise. I'll be back ASAP! Keep checking back for the new look!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Cauliflower Casserole




I don't care that I stripped the nutrients from this lovely winter vegetable and ground them into the dirt ... really. This stuff is just too good for me to care. Besides, I'm sure there's something left there in the peppers. Or not.

Cauliflower Casserole
Printable Recipe


1 large head cauliflower
1/2 cup diced red pepper
1/2 cup diced green pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup dried bread crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Break cauliflower into bite-sized pieces and cook in boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Mix peppers, cheeses, sour cream and salt together well. Fold in drained cauliflower and 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs until well blended. Turn into a greased 2 quart baking dish and top with remaining 1/4 cup of bread crumbs.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-30 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown.

Try not to eat the whole thing youself, it should serve 4-6 people.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Veggie Wednesday: Festa Italiana!


Lasagna Rolls on Sauce Béchamel
Lasagna Rolls on Sauce Béchamel


Marie of Proud Italian Cook and Maryann of Finding La Dolce Vita are hosting a new food event called Festa Italiana and this is my entry, which serves two purposes this week. It's meatless, so it's a great dish for Veggie Wednesday, and it's one of my favorite Italian dishes, so it's perfect for Festa Italiana!


You may notice there is no garlic in this recipe - it's not really necessary with the garlic that is in the marinara and you really want to be able to detect the nutmeg in the Béchamel. Add it if you like, though, it certainly wouldn't hurt!


Lasagna Rolls on Sauce Béchamel
Printable Recipe


Sauce Béchamel (a.k.a. white sauce):

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk (use whole milk)
salt and pepper to taste
freshly ground nutmeg - a pinch or so

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan and add flour. Stir together and add milk (at room temp.), stirring over a medium flame until thickened. Pour into a greased 9x13 baking pan - I used a 10" round cake pan, anything that will hold them will do.

Rolls:

1- 15-oz container ricotta cheese
1 cup broccoli florets, cooked until crisp-tender and chopped fine
1 small carrot, peeled and grated - about 1/2 cup
1/2 large red pepper - diced fine - about 1/2 cup
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 large egg lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 cooked lasagna noodles
1 cup tomato, spaghetti or marinara sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix ricotta, egg and Parmesan well. Fold in vegetables. Lay out lasagna noodles and spoon filling onto each-spreading to the ends. Roll up and place in the sauced pan making sure the seam is facing down.

Top each roll with marinara and mozzarella. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly. Stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with Béchamel sauce under each roll.


Filling spread on the noodle.



Set into the Béchamel sauce.


Topped with marinara and mozzarella.


Done!


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A Needed Break

Sometimes this is all I have the energy to make - is that really so bad?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Let's Put This to Rest, Finally


Way back in January of 2006 we started playing a game based on the cooking show, Ready, Set, Cook! . We played for quite some time and had a LOT of fun.

I think it's time to quit, though and I'm going to refer you instead to The Leftover Queen, Jen, and her Royal Foodie Joust, which was started in June of 2007. They have a lot of fun there, too and she gets far more entries than I. It's basically the same premise, except that you really have to make something for the Royal Foodie Joust, where my R,S,C could be virtual or real.

At any rate, I'm busy, busy, busy and may throw in a game from time-to-time just for kicks.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Sunday Dinner


"Thank you for the world so sweet,
Thank you for the food we eat.
Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank you God for everything."

Child's Mealtime Prayer






  • Breaded Pork Filets
  • Risotto
  • Broccoli with Orange Gremolata
  • Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Icing

Is that Risotto you see listed there? Why, yes - it is! It's not really as difficult to make as anyone thinks, and so delicious I couldn't think of a better way to spend half and hour at the stove. This is one of those classic dishes I've wanted to share the preparation of for some time anyway. No time like the present.
The Gremolata is most often made with lemon zest, but I was missing lemons today so I subbed orange zest. It was perfect.

First, here are the pork filets.



One 1/2" thick boneless pork chop, trimmed of fat.

The "stick" I beat the pork with (a.k.a. Grandma's rolling pin).

The beaten pork. Strike from the center outward in a steady motion until the pork is 1/4" thin.


After rubbing the pork with the a garlic clove cut in half, sprinkle with Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Rub this in to the surface of the pork.

I don't like a heavy standard breading - flour, egg, crumbs - so I just pat fresh bread crumbs into both sides of the pork. It's light and crispy at the edges without being heavy in the center.

Frying in hot oil - about 3 minutes per side.

Flipped to the other side. Once all the filets are fried, place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and finish in the oven at 300 degrees F for about 15-20 minutes.

A finished filet.


This is the Risotto:
Arborio rice. See how pretty it is? Arborio is rounder than usual long-grain rice. Do NOT rinse the rice before cooking. All that starch is what makes it creamy.

Half a small onion diced fine and cooked in olive oil - 4T - until translucent.

The rice (1 lb. about 1 1/2 cups) added to the oil and onion and lightly toasted.

Add HOT stock - you will need 6 to 8 cups - a cup at a time to the rice. Stir until the stock is absorbed. Add, a cup at a time, until you have added 6 cups. This takes about 15 minutes over a medium flame with almost constant stirring. Once you hit this point, try the rice to see if it's done. It should be al dente and not crunchy in the center.

This is the stock absorbed about halfway - 4 cups in. The finished Risotto disappeared before I had the chance to photograph it! Finish the Risotto with 2 tablespoons of butter and about 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan if you like.

The cake. A simple Wacky Cake with peanut butter icing. 1/2 stick of butter, 1 cup of creamy peanut butter, 1 t vanilla extract and 1 cup of powdered sugar. I have several here who don't like lots of icing so I go light. The center of these two mammoth cakes (gorgeous 10" pans I got for Christmas) was nothing but peanut butter spread in between.