Sunday, September 28, 2008

Molten Chocolate Cakes

6 tbls unsalted butter
6 tbls unsweetened cocoa
1 oz 70% cocoa baking chocolate (or other good, strong bittersweet chocolate)
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
6 tbls (1/4 cup plus 2 tbls) sugar
a small pinch of salt
2 tsps flour

Melt the butter and chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. Add the cocoa and mix till well combined. Beat the eggs, yolk, vanilla, salt and sugar until very well combined. Beat the egg mix into the chocolate mix until smooth. Add the flour and beat till just combined. Butter and dust with cocoa powder two 7 oz ramekins and divide the batter up between them. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, till the edges are set but the center is still shiny and a toothpick comes out with batter attached. Run a knife between the cake and the ramekin and turn it out, upside down onto a warm serving plate.


If you haven't ever had these little beauties then you are missing out on some serious deliciousness. They can be found in tons of restaurants, running the gamut from bland and over cooked to achingly sublime. You can even get decent frozen ones from the grocery store, if you are so inclined. But I really wanted to make my own. I'm kind of like that. This recipe is adapted from several different sources for a couple different reasons. Reason one, I only had one ounce of baking chocolate on hand and wasn't going out in the pouring rain for more when I had lots of unsweetened cocoa. I saw several recipes that had both, so I figured it would work out fine with a little tweaking. I added a little more butter than some (still less than others), to compensate for the cocoa's lack of fat and a little more sugar, for its lack of sweet (although my girlfriend still wanted them sweeter. As is, these are almost like dark chocolate, more rich than sweet. If you want them sweeter add a couple more tablespoons of sugar.). Reason the second, I am not so fond of separating eggs that I'm going to do any more than I have to and lots of recipes called for upwards of four yolks. Plus I found a recipe that makes two cakes, which is perfect since I'm baking for two. With those measurements as a guideline, I came up with this.

First thing is to melt the butter and the bar chocolate. I used a makeshift double boiler this time around. Once those are melted add in the cocoa and mix it up. In a separate bowl mix together the sugar, eggs, yolks, vanilla and salt. Add the chocolate mix to the egg mix (or vice versa) and combine them well. Add the flour and just combine it. Now apparently this batter is very forgiving and will sit in the fridge for hours or even freeze well. One tip I saw was to freeze them in the ramekins and just toss them into the oven during the preheat cycle and they turn out fine. I haven't tried that, but if it works then that's just lovely. Either way, you need to prep the ramekins. Butter them well then dust them with cocoa powder. I like using cocoa powder instead of flour to dust with when making chocolate cakes. It works the same but doesn't give you any white spots on them. Divide the batter between the ramekins and toss them in a 350 degree oven. Pull them out in about 15 minutes or so. Mine actually took almost exactly 15 minutes. They should be set around the edges, but still shiny in the middle. You want to serve these immediately, or else you won't get good goo coming out. Run a knife around the inside of the ramekin if you need to then turn them out onto a plate. On both of mine the bottom didn't really set... but whatever. There was a nice cakey ring around the edge and plenty of molten chocolaty goo on the inside. Now these were very, very rich. I topped them with whipped cream, since that's what I had, but I think they would be best with ice cream. Or you could cut down on the cocoa to make them less rich... but I can't really recommend that. So there you have it, molten chocolate cakes. I was surprised by how easy these were, but not by how good.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Moms Beef Stroganoff

1 lb ground beef
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup (you can use low fat)
1 cup sour cream (you can use low fat for this too)
2 tbls milk
1/2 cup diced onion
salt and pepper
pinch of paprika

Brown the onions and ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sour cream, milk and soup. Mix it together and let simmer for 15 minutes or so. Add paprika, salt and pepper to taste, then let simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve over egg noodles.


Ok, I know. This isn't much of a recipe. Or even "real" stroganoff (yes Shane, you can call it "faux-ganoff", but I'm going to glare at you. Heh). But whatever, it's one of my all time favorite comfort foods and what it lacks in authenticity it more than makes up for in cream based products. My mom used to make this when I was a kid, I'm pretty sure she got it from an old cookbook that was put out by a soup company. Every fall I start wanting to make it wicked bad, it's just the best thing in the cool weather. It's a great weeknight meal too, since it's so fast. And even people who don't like mushrooms (like my girlfriend and me) love it. If you have something against condensed soup there is nothing stopping you from making this from scratch. Just make up some white sauce, add some chopped sauteed mushrooms to it, maybe a little garlic and spices to punch it up a bit and use that instead. I've never tried it, but I can't imagine it wouldn't work. I would let the sauce simmer with the mushrooms in it for a bit to give it some extra flavor. If anyone gives it a shot let me know how it turns out. But, lets make it how my mom did.

First, brown you onions and ground beef. I like to get the onions really brown or even caramelized for this, I think it adds great flavor. Once it's all cooked add the soup, sour cream and milk (and the paprika, if you want to mess up and add it too early...). Mix it all together and let it simmer for 15 minutes or so, stirring frequently. If you notice it getting too thick (personally I like it thick enough to eat with a fork) you can add more milk. Add salt and pepper to taste, and the paprika if you want to time things right. I've heard that heat does bad things to paprikas flavor so you should add it towards the end of cooking. I don't know if it's true, but I just try to add it at the end anyway. Can't hurt. Let it simmer for another couple minutes and that's it. Serve it over egg noodles.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cocoa Ripple Ring

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
4 eggs
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
1 1/3 cups milk
1/3 cup cocoa, or more, (mixed with a tbl or so of sugar if you like)

Cream the sugar and butter. Add the eggs and beat well. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture and milk, alternately, until smooth. Layer batter in thirds, alternating with cocoa mixture, into a well greased bunt pan. Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes, till toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in pan then turn out onto a plate, top with powdered sugar and serve.


So when I was growing up, my mom was the main cook/baker in the house. But my dad wasn't exactly a slacker in the kitchen. He didn't cook as many things or as often, but when he did it was always awesome. He made crepes (don't worry, we'll get to those), orange chocolate chip muffins (once I have sourdough starter, then I will make them. Yes, sourdough. Don't worry, they are wicked good) and of course, cocoa ripple ring. He used to make this on Saturday mornings. Counting cartoons, this was one of the few things that could get me up on a Saturday. It's like a coffee cake... but not really. It's muffiny, but cakey and chocolaty and... well, wicked good. It smells like heaven while it's baking (of course, I'm biased), it's very simple and there isn't really a good excuse not to make it. So, here we go. This recipe is doubled from the original (which I believe is from Better Homes and Gardens) so it fits in a bunt pan. Apparently BH&G thought everyone would make this in ramekins or something.

So, first off, cream your sugar and butter. Now add the eggs (uhm, yes. Mine is halved. I foolishly blindly followed the directions instead of what I thought would be best) and mix them up well. Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder (but don't take pictures!). Add the flour mixture and milk alternately, mixing well in between each addition. Till it looks like this. Now, I will be frank, this batter is a bit hard to work with. My brother has been talking about doing some experiments to make it easier, but he hasn't gotten around to it yet. Of course, as mildly irritating as the batter may be, you can't argue with results. Oh, you haven't seen the results yet. Well, lets just keep on then. Now take your bunt pan and grease it. I'm still using my crappy silicon one. I know, it sucks. But I just don't have the cash or space to get or house a new one. Some day, some day. Anyhow, put one third of the batter into the pan. Now sprinkle it with the cocoa mixture. Then put another third of the batter down and sprinkle again. The batter is kind of sticky and tough to work with, but flawless exactitude isn't really the goal. Sweet cakey goodness layered with chocolate is what we are looking for. So don't stress the layers too much. Repeat layering till you are out of batter. Then toss it in a 350 degree oven for 35-45 minutes or so. Pull it out, cool it for a couple minutes then turn it out onto a plate. See how pale and lame looking this is? That's the silicon. I really can't recommend silicon pans. Fortunately it still tastes fantastic and if you use a normal metal bunt pan, you will get some good browning. Sprinkle it with a little powdered sugar and you have breakfast.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Barbecue Pulled Chicken with Bacon

1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups chicken broth
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbl brown sugar
fresh ground pepper, lots (to taste)
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder
2-3 pieces of bacon, browned and crumbled
1/2 cup bbq sauce

Brown the chicken in a medium pot. While the chicken in browning mix together everything else except the barbecue sauce and bacon. Pour the broth mixture into the pan with the chicken. Simmer for an hour or two, till the chicken pulls apart fairly easily. Take the pot off the heat, pour off the broth and set it aside. Pull the chicken apart in the pot using your hands or a pair of forks. Add a couple tablespoons of broth back to the chicken and mix it around. Return the pot to medium-low heat and add the barbeque sauce and bacon. Mix it well then let it sit for a minute. Repeat several times. Remove from heat and let it cool for a couple minutes. Serve hot.


I love pulled barbecue stuff, it is awesome. But it has a major drawback. That is that most of it, especially the really good stuff, takes a long time. Even the stuff you do in the oven instead of a smoker takes a long time. This recipe, on the other hand, only takes about an hour. You can take more time with it if you want, but you really don't need to. You actually want the chicken to dry out a bit when you braise it, that way it will soak up some of the barbecue sauce. So here we go, pulled barbecue chicken that is almost quick enough to be a weeknight meal.

First, brown up the bacon in a medium/large sauce pot. Now you don't have to put bacon in this, it's technically optional. But it's really good and I highly recommend it. I mean, cmon. Bacon. Especially if it's smoky it's good in this recipe. Anyway, brown the bacon. Remove it from the pan to a paper towel lined plate. Pour out most of the grease from the pan but leave enough to brown the chicken. Salt then brown the chicken. While the chicken is browning mix together the braising liquid. If you want you can make this stuff stronger (or weaker), spicy, smoky, whatever. The seasonings listed are a guideline only. Once the chicken is browned add the broth mixture. Now let it simmer for an hour or so. Pull the pot off the heat and pour off the liquid, but keep it. Shred the chicken either by hand (wear gloves for this, it's hot work) or with a pair of forks. I usually fork it. Now the chicken should pull apart pretty easily, but if it doesn't don't fret too much. Just do the best you can, and if there are big chunks they will be breaking down a little more in the next stage. Which is this, adding back a 2-3 tablespoons of the braising liquid and turning the heat on to medium-low. Stir the chicken around till it absorbs it then add the barbecue sauce and bacon. Ok, I admit it. I use bottled sauce. I haven't found a homemade barbecue sauce recipe that I really like. But if anyone wants to share one that they think would be good, I like sweet, sticky ones. Like, oh... say, Bullseye. Just as an example. Now, you don't have to use a bottled sauce like I do. Use whatever kind you like best. You could even take some of the braising liquid, reduce it a bit, add some vinegar, maybe some mustard and have a Carolina style sauce. Just treat it like I do the bottled sauce. Which you should treat by stirring it occasionally, but not too much you want a little caramelization if you can get it, till it is partly absorbed into the chicken. This should take about 3-5 minutes. It will make the meat juicy and tender and break up some of the pieces chicken if you couldn't get them all by hand/fork. And that's it. Serve it on a toasted bun, maybe with some pickles and cole slaw. Good stuff.

Peanut Butter Surpise Cookie Things

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
12 mini peanut butter cups, unwrapped
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
2-3 tbls cream
1/4 cup chopped Snickers bar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix peanut butter, sugar and egg together well in a large bowl. Divide the dough evenly into a mini muffin pan. Cook for 13-15 minutes until almost done. Remove them from the oven and press a peanut butter cup into the center of each cookie until flush with cookie top. Top each cookie with a couple chunks of Snickers and return to oven till the candy is melted, 2-3 more minutes. Remove them from the oven and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Place chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals until melted smooth. Stir in 2-3 tablespoons cream until silky and smooth. You can return back to microwave for 15 seconds to get a thinner consistency. Spoon chocolate over the top of the cookies.


So I got the original recipe for this from Picky Palate and I kept it mostly the same. I replaced the marshmallows from the original with chopped up Snickers bar because, well, I had Snickers and no marshmallows. I also don't have a mini muffin tin, so I used my regular one. They came out good though, so that's fine. Other than that, same thing. I liked them, they have a good peanut butter flavor and they couldn't be easier. This is a very kid friendly recipe. The cookie dough only has three ingredients and pushing in the peanut butter cup is totally something kids would enjoy doing. Well, I did anyway. But I would still play with Legos if I thought I could get away with it. Uhm, anyway, these cookie things are sweet, rich, gooey and good. They are also, by far, the oddest cookie I have ever made. But cookies they are and therefore, they are good.

So first make your dough. Ready? This is the big one. Take a cup of peanut butter, a cup of sugar and one egg. With me so far? All right, mix them together. Ok, doughs ready. Heh. Divide the dough up evenly into greased muffin tins. Mini is recommended by the original author, I used regular and they came out fine. Only got eight of them though. Bake them at 350 for 10-15 minutes or so. You want them not set in the middle but starting to be browned around the edges. Now pull them out and push a peanut butter cup in the middle of each one. Now you can top these with marshmallows, like in the original, or Snickers like I did, or pretty much anything that you can fit on there and keep from falling off. Toss them back in the oven for another couple minutes till the marshmallows are puffed or the chocolate is melted. Pull them out again and let them cool for ten minutes or so. While they are cooling melt the chocolate chips in the microwave. I only used a half a cup because that was all I had left. I hate it when I think I have another bag of something and I don't. Grumble. Anyway, use 30 second bursts in the microwave to melt the chocolate. Then add the cream and mix them up well. Spoon this over the cookie things. Now you can either wait till they cool completely or just eat a warm one now. I, myself, like them warm. Should have put some ice cream on it... oh well. Next time.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Garlic Studded Pork Tenderloins with Cider Sauce

2 pork tenderloins
2 cups cider
2-3 cloves of garlic
1-2 tbls dried rosemary, crushed
salt and pepper

Cut the garlic into matchstick thick slivers. Trim pork as needed. With a paring knife make 20 or so holes up and down the tenderloin. Stuff each hole with a sliver of garlic. Rub the tenderloin with half the rosemary. Put it in a roasting pan with a rack in it. Pour the cider in the pan along with the rest of the rosemary and any leftover garlic. If there isn't any left over garlic, dice up a half a clove or so and add it in. Roast the pork at 450 for 10 minutes or so, till slightly browned, then turn the heat down to 350 and baste it with the cider. Baste it every 10 minutes or so till it is cooked. Remove it from the oven to a ceramic plate and tent it with foil, let it rest for 5-10 minutes or so. While the pork is resting remove any unwanted solid from the cider in the bottom of the pan. Reduce the cider for a minute or two and taste it. Give it a turn of pepper and a pinch of salt. If it needs more reduction or spices then take care of that now. If the flavor is how you want it add a cornstarch/water mixture and boil it for a minute, till thick. Slice the pork and serve it with the sauce.


Pork tenderloin is a wonderful thing and inexpensive to boot. It is easy to over cook it and have it be dry, but there are some tricks to keeping that from happening. Marinades help, especially if you can do it for several hours. Brining it is good too, but also takes some time. For this one we are going to baste it. I don't remember exactly when this recipe came to be, I think it was one time when me and a buddy of mine were trying to figure out what to do with a tenderloin he had. And he had cider. So we made this. Do you like the deep background story for this one? Make you care about the characters? Heh. Anyway, this recipe is really simple and just awesome. Using a paring knife to make the holes to stud the garlic in lets the cider really soak into the meat and keep it juicy. Not to mention infuse it with garlicky, appley goodness. Which is a good time.

So first cut some garlic into slivers. I used about 2 big cloves, but I like it fairly garlicky. Trim the pork, if it needs it. I find it doesn't often need much. Now take a paring knife and stab about twenty or so deep holes in the tenderloin. Don't worry too much if a couple go all the way through, any garlic that falls out just goes in the sauce. Put a sliver of garlic in each hole. If you don't have any leftover, dice up some more to put in the sauce. Now rub half the rosemary and a pinch of salt into the pork. These measurements here aren't very exact, I'm afraid. My hands were all porky and I didn't get things measured up right. Sorry. Now put the pork on a roasting rack in a roasting pan or if you don't have a small roasting pan, use a jellyroll pan. I lined mine with foil, for ease of cleaning and pouring. Pour the two cups of cider into the pan along with the rest of the rosemary and garlic. Roast the pork at 450 for ten minutes or so, till it has just a little brown on it. Now reduce the heat to 350 and start basting. You want to baste it every 5-10 minutes. This will make it take a little longer, but here's the thing about that. A pork tenderloin usually only takes a half hour or so. I cooked this tonight for almost an hour and a half. I was trying to get the sauce to do the glaze thing and it just wasn't working. I lost track of time and thought "crap, this is going to be dry as a bone". But when I cut into it it was tender and juicy. All the basting and the big holes running through it made it just soak up the cider. I wonder if maybe as it was drying out in the oven I was replacing it's liquid with the sauce... That would make sense, but I don't know if it actually happened. It would be cool though. Either way, the pork came out awesome. Once the pork is done put it on a ceramic plate and tent it with foil to rest for a couple minutes. Pour the cider into a small sauce pan. Pull out anything that the tenderloins may have dripped in that you don't want to be there. Add a twist of pepper, a pinch of salt and bring it just to a boil. Give it a taste and see if it needs anything. I sometimes add a clove or two to simmer in there with it, a little sweet onion or some shallots would be good. If the taste is how you want it to be but it is still too thin get a couple tablespoons of cold water and mix in a teaspoon or so of cornstarch. Add that to the sauce and bring it to a boil, stirring constantly. After a minute or two it should be plenty thick. Now slice the pork, put it on a plate and pour some sauce over it. And there you go. That empty spot on the plate was going to have salad on it, but we ate it while the pork was cooking. You know, like courses. Very la-dee-da. There was too salad, look! I do so eat greens. Now that I think of it, the sauce could make a good salad dressing base. Add some balsamic maybe, or cider vinegar to keep with the theme. UPDATE: Yes, it does make a good dressing base. I added some cider vinegar, more pepper and a little more salt and it was lovely. I'm sure you could add other spices, but I couldn't think of what to use. Any ideas?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Challah Bread

1 cup lukewarm water
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons oil (I used vegetable)
3 tablespoons honey
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
sesame or poppy seeds ( optional )

Combine the water, eggs (except the 2 whites), honey and oil together in large bowl. Whisk till they are well mixed. Add two cups of flour, the yeast and salt. Whisk together till well mixed. Rest for 15 minutes, uncovered. Add the remaining flour, half a cup at a time till the dough becomes firm enough to knead. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead it for 10 minutes or so adding flour by rounded tbl as needed. Rub it with a small amount of oil and place it in a greased bowl, covered, to rise till doubled, 1-1.5 hours. Once it's doubled turn it out onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Cut it into three equal portions and roll them into 3 15 inch or so pieces. Braid the bread, tucking the ends underneath when you are done. Whisk the whites till they are foamy. Brush some foam on the top of the braid. Cover it and let it rise till doubled, about 1-1.5 hours. Remove the cover, re-whisk the whites and brush another coat of foam onto the braid. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. After 20 minutes turn it around and cook it for another 10-15 minutes, at 375. It should be 190 on an instant read thermometer. If it starts to get too brown at any point cover it loosely with foil. Cool on a wire rack.


So I got this recipe off a website, but I don't remember where it was. If this is your recipe, let me know and if your site is the one I got it from I will give you credit. Anyway, challah rules. It's slightly sweet, rich and eggy. It makes awesome french toast, sandwiches and general snacking.

First thing is put the water, 2 whole eggs, 2 egg yolks, honey and oil in a large bowl. Make sure to keep the whites from the separated eggs since you will be using it as a wash later. Keep them in the fridge, please. It will be better for everyone that way. Heh. Anyway, whisk the liquids together. Once that's combined put in two cups of flour, the yeast and the salt. I also added some sugar here because I didn't have 3 tablespoons of honey. I also didn't use bread flour in this, but it came out really good anyway. But mix all that stuff together really well. I used a whisk. Once it's well combined let it sit, uncovered, for 15 minutes. After it has sat add the rest of the flour, 1/2 a cup at a time, till it is firm enough to knead. Eventually you will need to just get in there with your hands. But this is what bread is all about here folks, sticky hands and flour to the elbows. Now turn it out onto a floured surface. I didn't bother working all the flour into the dough before turning it out, I figured it would all work out in the end. And it did. So that's good. Now knead it for 10 minutes. It's pretty tiring, but wicked worth it. Now oil it lightly and put it in a big, lightly oiled container. Cover it and let it rise till doubled, this will take about an hour and a half or so. Once it's doubled turn it out onto your prep surface or right onto a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper. Cut the dough into three equal sections and roll them out into 15" inch or so long rolls. Push them together at one end and... well, now you learn something a little bit personal. I hope it doesn't change your opinion of me but... I can't braid. Lets.. lets not talk about it, ok? Let's just move on. Braid the dough. If it's not already on the prepped sheet, do that now. Take the whites out of the fridge (you might want to do this earlier so they get to room temp) and whisk them till they are foamy. Brush them on the braid and cover it loosely with plastic wrap. You should probably put the whites back in the fridge. Let it rise till it's doubled, it will take about 1-1.5 hours again. Once it's doubled remove the plastic and brush it with some more whites (you will need to re-whisk them a bit). Now sprinkle it with sesame or poppy seeds if you like. I like sesame seeds myself and lots of them. Bake the loaf in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or so. Take it out, turn the heat down to 375 and if it is brown enough cover it loosely with foil. Now turn it around and put it back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes or until 190 degrees inside and gorgeously browned. Check it every once in a while in the last leg of the baking and if it starts getting too brown cover it with foil. Take it out and then let it cool as much as you can.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin