Sheet pan chicken

22 Jan

Cooking seems to be equal parts high art and necessary chore. Sometimes I would be perfectly content to putter around the kitchen all day long. Other times, I just want to toss something in the oven and just forget about it.

dinner is served

This dish would be perfect for those easy dinner days. You literally toss together whatever sounds good or whatever you have in your fridge, put some chicken thighs on top of it all and toss it in the oven. And you pull out the most delicious, nutritious dinner you could imagine!

nutritious dinner

This is not so much a recipe, but more of a guideline for a delicious meal. This is how I make mine…you can use other vegetables that you prefer, making sure to choose ones that roast well like root vegetables. You can also swap out the protein; to keep it simple, select something that roasts in the same time as the vegetables, such as pork chops or sausages. Fish would also work here, but you’d have to roast the vegetables for a while on their own before adding the fish for a shorter amount of roasting time. Half the fun is experimenting and making this dish your own – let your imagination run wild!!

So first, I cut up the vegetables I’m going to use.

raw vegetables

Some of my favorites are onions, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, cauliflower and broccoli. So let’s start with those, cut up into bite sized pieces. And since I still have some rutabaga left over from the pasties, I’ll chop that up and add it to the mix. Along with a buttercup squash that I’ve had around for quite a while.

vegetables in bag

I cut them all up and place them into a plastic bag, drizzle with olive oil, add crushed garlic, salt and pepper and any other seasonings that you like and toss together to coat all the vegetables completely and evenly with the oil and seasonings. If you have any fresh rosemary or fresh thyme, add them to this mix. They add quite a nice flavor to the dish.

Then pour all the vegetables onto a heavy baking sheet pan.

vegetables on pan

Go ahead and dry the chicken thighs. I love to use chicken thighs with the skin on and bone in because the meat is so tender and flavorful and never dries out. And the skin crisps up so nicely!

You could season the chicken with salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder or go nuts and use jerk seasoning or garam masala or curry powder. Other seasonings that are fantastic are anything by Chef Earl, a local fixture at the St Paul farmers market. Every time I make this dish, I use something different to season the chicken and I have yet to find a seasoning that I don’t like here. Today, I used a little Arisco, some paprika that my brother brought me from his trip to Hungary and some fresh cracked pepper.

Place the chicken thighs atop the vegetables and place into preheated oven for 45 minutes.

chicken ready for oven

Check the vegetables at 45 minutes and if they don’t seem done, leave them in another 15 minutes. Sometimes, I like to have the vegetables nice and browned, other times just having them be soft and cooked all the way through is good. You can check the potatoes and carrots for doneness by sticking a fork in them. If they are soft enough, the fork will  slide right in. If they are still hard, roast them for longer.

I’ve never had any issues with the chicken not being cooked all the way through, but if that’s a concern for  you, put a meat thermometer into the largest piece of the chicken and make sure it measures at least 165F/74C.

Look at the crispy skin on this piece!

crispy skin

Sheet pan chicken

Ingredients:

6 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
1 bunch of broccoli, broken into florets
1/2 head of cauliflower, broken into florets
1 8oz package of mushrooms, halved
1 pound of baby red potatoes, chopped in large pieces
4-6 medium sized carrots, peeled and chopped in large pieces
1 onion, chopped in large pieces
1/2 rutabaga, peeled and chopped in large pieces
1/2 buttercup squash, peeled and chopped in large pieces
4 garlic cloves, pressed
2-3 tablespoons of seasoning
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
cracked pepper
salt
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary or fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 425F/220C.

Peel and chop the vegetables. Make the harder, longer cooking vegetables slightly smaller and make the softer, faster cooking vegetables larger. Place in large plastic bag or large bowl, drizzle with olive oil, add seasoning, pressed garlic and salt and pepper to taste and toss well to coat all the vegetables evenly. Add fresh rosemary or thyme sprigs.

Pour onto heavy baking sheet pan.

Dry chicken thighs well with paper towels. Rub the thighs really well with seasoning of  choice. Place atop the vegetables on the sheet pan.

Roast for 45 minutes, then check vegetables and chicken for doneness. If not done, return to oven for another 15 minutes or until done.

You can easily double the quantity of ingredients and make two pans at the same time. That way you’ll have lunches for the rest of the week. You’re welcome!

There are lots of variations on this dish here and here and here. Enjoy!

 

Pasties, Iron Range-style

16 Jan

Quite a bit has happened since I last posted here. I’ve met and married a wonderful man named Paul and we will be celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary this coming April.

2february

Paul is from a part of northern Minnesota called the Iron Range because of it’s rich iron deposits and many iron mines. I’ve learned so very much about the Ranger culture and cuisine, of which the pasty is one of the most beloved parts. Oh, and it is “pasty” (rhymes with “nasty”) as in a Cornish pasty, not the inappropriate stripper wear or the bland color that my skin turns after a long Minnesotan winter.

Paul loves his pasties, especially the ones made by church basement ladies for their yearly fundraiser. So I set out to try to make pasties, using his family recipe and trying to make it the traditional way…before attempting to add my twist to it (you know that’s going to happen, of course!). I made these twice, once on my own using the family recipe and the second time I had Pam, my sister-in-law, show me the tried and true way.

1a_pam-recipe

The crust is a simple flaky pastry crust. If you’re a pie maker, you’re quite familiar with the process. If you aren’t a pie maker (yet), here’s how you do it.

Measure out the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then add the shortening – we used butter-flavored Crisco and lard, but any brand of shortening would work.

2_pam-cutting-dough

Then begin cutting the fat into the flour. Using a pastry cutter is vastly easier than using two knives, but if you don’t have a pastry cutter, just use two sharp knives to cut up the shortening and help incorporate it into the flour.

When the shortening has been fully incorporated into the flour and is a bit grainy, then add the cold water and combine.

3_add-water

We kneaded the ball of dough briefly, just to make sure it was all combined

4_pam-mix

6_kneaded-dough

divided it up into 8 parts, wrapped each part in plastic wrap and left them to rest on the counter for 20 minutes.

8_wrap-in-plastic

In the meantime, we peeled and chopped up the filling ingredients–onions, carrots, rutabagas and potatoes.

9a_ingredients

After peeling and chopping, we combined all the vegetables in a large bowl and seasoned them with salt and pepper.

10_mix-veggies

I don’t recommend doing as we did in our first attempt – we tried to speed things up by purchasing a bag of shredded carrots, however, the carrots poked out through the dough when we assembled them. Lesson learned – just take the extra 5 minutes and peel and dice actual carrots.

After the 20 minute waiting period for the crust was up, we rolled out each of the dough balls

11_pam-rolling

and we began to assemble them. About a cup and a half of the seasoned vegetables, about a half cup of ground beef (approximately 1/4 pound) and a pat of butter went onto one side of the rolled out dough.

14_pam-butter

The first ones we made could have held a little more filling under the dough, so on our second attempt, we filled them a little fuller.

13_pam-assemble

Then we brushed the edges of the dough around the filling with water and pulled the other half of the dough over the filling

15_pam-crust

 

15_pam-pasty

and pinched or rolled the crust around on itself. You want to seal in all the juices, so crimp or roll the dough over and around the filling. You can also crimp it with the tines of a fork.

16_on-baking-sheet

Then place on a baking sheet covered with a sheet of parchment paper and poke some vent holes in the top with a fork.

Pasties on pan

When you have a pan full of completely assembled pasties, placed about an inch apart in a baking sheet pan, they can go into a 350F/180C oven for 1 hour.

18_pastie-on-placemat

The pasties are ready!

The ones you don’t eat right out of the oven should be cooled fully, then wrapped in aluminum foil and put in a freezer bag and frozen for up to 6 months. You can reheat directly from frozen by putting them directly into a 350F/180C oven for 90 min. Keep the foil on it for the first hour, then open the foil to allow the crust to crisp up for another half hour.

19_lets-eat

Traditionally, an Iron Range pasty is served with Heinz brand ketchup (is there any other??). Other options are gravy or other sauces as desired…but not if you’re a Ranger.

 

Pasty

Crust:
4 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cup lard or butter flavored Crisco (I use 2/3 cup lard and 2/3 cup butter flavored Crisco)
3/4 cup cold water

 

Filling:
5-6 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cubed
3-4 large carrots, peeled and cubed
1 onion, chopped
1/2 rutabaga, peeled and cubed
2 pounds ground beef (raw)
salt & pepper
4 tablespoons of butter

 

Place measured flour and salt in medium bowl, add shortening/lard and cut together with pastry cutter until the mixture is grainy and the fat has mostly been incorporated into the flour. Then add cold water all at once and mix, kneading with your hands until it becomes a smooth dough.

Then divide dough into eight pieces, wrapping each individual ball with plastic wrap and let rest on the counter for at least 20 minutes.

While the dough is resting, peel and dice the potatoes, carrots and rutabaga and chop the onion, combine in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350F/180C.

Roll out each individual ball of dough into about a 12-14 inch oval, making sure to roll the crust pretty thin.

Then place about 1 cup of the vegetables in one end of the oval, 1/4 cup of the beef, crumbled over the top, then another 1/2 cup of vegetables and the remaining 1/4 cup of beef crumbled, topped with a pat (about 1/2 tablespoon) of butter. Feel free to squeeze the filling together to compact it so you don’t have vegetables spread all over the dough.

Using a small bowl of water, rub some of the water around the dough at the edge of the filling to help glue your dough together.

Then pull the dough up and over the filling, doing your best to remove air pockets and seal the top crust to the bottom where you spread the water. Then starting on one end, start crimping or rolling the crust over itself to seal the edges. You can use a fork to seal the crust, if you like, or just leave the crust thick and rolled.

Prick the top of the crust with a fork a few times to vent the pasty.

Then place prepared pasty on a baking sheet covered with a sheet of parchment paper. You should be able to fit three to four pasties on each pan.

Bake pasties for one hour and serve while hot with Heinz ketchup. Enjoy!

 

Allow pasties to cool fully on a cooling rack then wrap in aluminum foil and place in freezer bag and freeze up to six months. To reheat after frozen, place foil wrapped pasties on baking sheet in a 350F/180C oven for one hour, then open foil wrap and return pasties to oven for another half hour until fully heated and crusty.

 

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Curried Apple Chutney

23 Dec

Winter is in full bloom in Minnesota, although this dinner was cooked and eaten when it was still officially fall. My apologies for taking a full season to update this blog with a new post!

When the colder seasons make their appearance, I like nothing better than to turn on my oven and bask in the smells and warmth of baking warm comforting food and sharing it with friends.

Butternut Squash Soup

I got together with a few of my friends at the house of Kyle (the photographer of the professional looking photos on this post–thanks, Kyle!!), we had a lovely dinner and as always, fun conversation and a great time together.

We enjoyed the Bear’s Den (aka Kyle’s garage) and the great company. We had butternut squash soup with curried apple chutney (recipes posted below), potato leek soup with bacon jam (recipes will be posted at a later date), grilled cheese sandwiches, purple cabbage salad and brats with onion jam, topped off by apple crisp with ice cream and salted caramel sauce (recipe taken from the caramel here with sea salt added).

Purple cabbage salad

Purple cabbage salad

Laura loosening the sauerkraut lid

Laura loosening the sauerkraut lid

John got it open!

John got it open!

Apple Crisp with ice cream and salted caramel sauce

Apple Crisp with ice cream and salted caramel sauce

But back to the recipes…butternut squash is a favorite of mine. It’s fantastic cut up and roasted, is delicious roasted and mashed as a side dish and it makes a beautifully creamy soup. As a shortcut to prevent cutting off your own extremities, roast the squash first, then simply scoop the softened flesh out of peel, rather than struggling with cutting and peeling the slippery, solid whole squash.

Butternut Squash roasted

Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, brush with melted butter, then salt and pepper and pop right into the oven.

onion and apple

While the squash is roasting, finely chop an onion and an apple (aren’t they just so pretty?)

apple and onion

Saute the chopped onions and apple along with some sliced fresh sage and salt and pepper in a large pan over medium heat.

Butternut Squash Soup 027

Once the squash is soft and fully roasted, scoop it out of the peel and add it to the soup pot along with the chicken stock and water and let it simmer.

Butternut Squash Soup 038

Once everything is soft and well cooked, blend it well. You can put it in your blender in batches – carefully so you don’t burn yourself or blow the top off your blender – or with an immersion/hand blender. I love my immersion blender as it makes tasks like this so easy! Mine has a plastic blender base, so I can use it with my enamel cookware without fear of damage to the pots.

Butternut Squash Soup 048

I served this soup with curried apple chutney (the one in the middle), which was a snap to mix up and let cook for a few hours on the back of the stove.

Onion Jam, Curried Apple Chutney and Bacon Jam

Onion Jam, Curried Apple Chutney and Bacon Jam

Curried Apple Chutney 006

Just add all the ingredients to the pan and cook. Really. It’s that easy.

Curried Apple Chutney 002

1-Curried Apple Chutney 013

Cook until the apples are soft and it’s all cooked into even more of a browny-beige color (if that is even possible).

1-Curried Apple Chutney 018

This recipe made three jars of this chutney and was an excellent addition to the soup.

1-Curried Apple Chutney 026

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup 
adapted from Chow

Ingredients
4 pounds whole butternut squash (about 2 medium), halved lengthwise and seeds removed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick)
1 medium Granny Smith apple (about 8 ounces)
1/2 medium yellow onion
8 fresh sage leaves
2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
1/3 cup heavy cream

Instructions
Heat the oven to 425°F/220°C and arrange a rack in the middle.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the squash pieces cut-side up on the baking sheet. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and brush all of it over the tops and insides of the squash halves. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast until knife tender, about 50 minutes to 1 hour.

Meanwhile, peel, core, and cut the apple into medium dice. Cut the onion into medium dice. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the apple, onion, and sage, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

When the squash is ready, set the baking sheet on a wire rack until the squash is cool enough to handle. Using a large spoon, scoop the flesh into the saucepan with the sautéed apples and onions; discard the skins.

Add the broth, water, and measured salt and pepper, stir to combine, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking up any large pieces of squash, until the flavors meld, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream.

Using a blender, purée the soup in batches until smooth, removing the small cap (the pour lid) from the blender lid and covering the space with a kitchen towel (this allows steam to escape and prevents the blender lid from popping off). Alternatively, use an immersion blender. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Curried Apple Chutney
recipe from West Coast Mama – adapted from the Well Preserved Cookbook

Ingredients
9 cups peeled, chopped and diced apple
2 cups finely chopped onion
2 cups golden raisins
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon each of ground turmeric, cumin, coriander, cardamom and ginger

Instructions
Combine all the ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until thickened, stirring often. Stir almost constantly during the last 15 to 20 minutes of cooking time to prevent scorching.

Remove from heat. Ladle into jars and store in the fridge for up to 30 days. If you wish to be able to preserve them outside the refrigerator, you will need to follow the instructions below and learn about canning here.

If canning or preserving, then prepare the preserving jars.
Ladle the chutney into hot, sterilized jar leaving 1/2 inch head space. Wipe rims clean. Seal and process jars.

Quinoa Bowl

13 Oct

Quinoa bowl

During my recent birthday trip to visit my friend Karen, I was introduced to my new favorite dish, the Quinoa Bowl. Seriously, it’s so versatile and delicious and healthy and readily available. You can make it for lunch as a salad with what you have in your fridge. Or you can fancy it up and add some beautifully seasonal ingredients and make a completely different dish for a larger more satisfying meal.

ingredients

My version is a late summer/early autumn quinoa bowl. Here in Minnesota, everyone has zucchini (also called courgette) to spare, either from their garden or from the farmers market or even the grocery store. I can usually score a few from coworkers who have so many that they’ve run out of things to do with them and are so very happy to hand them out. They were first on the list.

zucchini

Butternut squash is a lovely ingredient that pairs with so many great fall flavors, which made it a slam dunk for this dish. Since it goes especially well with sage, I tossed the chopped up squash with sage, olive oil, salt and pepper and put it in the oven to roast.

butternut cubed

You have to be careful with cutting up the butternut squash, as you might risk life and limb. If you peel the skin first with a sturdy potato peeler, then the flesh is a whole lot more manageable.

peeling butternut

Because of my upbringing in Brazil, I have a hard time cooking meat without marinating it first. A simple marinade adds so much flavor to meat. For this chicken, I tossed the breast pieces with white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, chopped sage and chopped garlic. It’s super easy in a zip top plastic bag – you toss everything in there, zip the top, mix it up a bit, let it sit for 30 minutes or so, then remove the chicken to the grill and toss the bag. No muss, no fuss. (not pretty, but also not messy)

chicken in a bag

While the squash was roasting and the chicken marinating, I began the quinoa. Rinse it first, then add to a saucepan – 1 cup of quinoa to 2 cups of water, a dash of salt and bring to a boil. (here are fool-proof cooking instructions from the folks at The Kitchn)

rinsing

The chicken and zucchini went on to the grill.

grilled chicken 2

I had half an onion in my fridge, so I drizzled that with olive oil and tossed those slices on the grill too. Have you ever had grilled onion? Oh boy! It’s a happy day when you can grill onions. They are sweet, smoky and a bit crunchy still. Yum!

grilling 2

If you look closely, you can see one of the perils of grilling veggies – they slip right through the grates and out of reach…sadly.

This was also a great excuse to try my new balsamic vinegar and olive oil, a gift from my dear friend Eddie, they are from a local Minneapolis store called Vinaigrette. They were amazing! The balsamic is so sweet, think and mellow that you could drink it straight from the bottle. Thanks Eddie!!

oil & balsamic

I poured a glug of balsamic in a bowl, added olive oil, a blurb of Dijon mustard, fresh ground pepper and salt with a few drops of water and whisked it until well combined.

vinaigrette

Now assemble. Quinoa on the bottom, then top with all the rest of the goodies – I used the roasted and grilled veggies, dried cranberries, chopped pecans, herbed goat cheese and grilled chicken, drizzled with the vinaigrette and garnished with fresh sage.

Quinoa bowl

Voila! My new favorite dish.

helping cats

Anddddddd proof that I’m a certified crazy cat lady! (Never fear, both Hattie and Mabel were swooped off the table 30 seconds after I took this photo)

Quinoa Bowl

Cooked quinoa (how to cook quinoa)
Grilled chicken
Roasted butternut squash
Grilled vegetables (zucchini, onions, or any others)
Dried cranberries
Pecans
Goat cheese

Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt
Pepper
1 teaspoon water

Whisk all the above ingredients together in a bowl until they are all well combined. Drizzle over the top of your bowl for a lively punch of flavor.

Bonus dish: A few days later, I cooked a whole new meal with the leftovers – I chopped up chicken, some of the veggies, some kale and the quinoa, sauteed them until crispy and topped with a boiled egg.

quinoa hash 1

Voila! Quinoa hash!

Quinoa hash

Carrot-Zucchini Bread

19 Aug

Thank you Alice for the amazing tip on the easiest apple pie ever! I now have a packet of puff pastry in my freezer for those last minute dessert needs.

So we’ve explored quite a few fruit desserts recently, but how about a sweet vegetable bread?

1-Carrot Zucchini Bread with Ginger 055

Being the end of summer here in Minnesota everyone has an overabundance of zucchini from their gardens, so why not make bread with it?! This recipe from Leite’s Culinaria intrigued me because of the addition of carrots and candied ginger to a basic zucchini bread recipe. Yum!

Carrots & Zucchini

I grated the zucchini and carrots in my greatly loved, ancient but usable food processor.

grate!

They can very easily be grated with a hand grater as well. Just take care with your knuckles!

1-Carrot Zucchini Bread with Ginger 016

See, so pretty!

My friend and sous chef Karen measured out all the dry ingredients.

dry ingredients

We got to try the candied ginger, which was delicious and quite expensive. After a bit of poking around, I think I might try to make my own as it doesn’t look too difficult to do. David Lebovitz has a lovely recipe that I mean to try shortly.

candied ginger

I mixed the eggs in the mixer until they were frothy,

eggs

then added sugar, oil and vanilla. Once they were all well combined

eggs and sugar

I tossed in the shredded veggies and mixed those in as well.

1-Carrot Zucchini Bread with Ginger 039

At that point the dry ingredients were tossed in all at once and stirred together just until combined.

add dry to wet

While I was mixing and combining, Karen had gotten a loaf pan and a muffin pan all ready for the batter by greasing them with spray oil.

1-Carrot Zucchini Bread with Ginger 048

We filled the baking pans and into the oven they went.

symmetrical

Because the recipe gave baking directions for the loaf but not the muffins, I improvised and checked the muffins at 30 mins. They were perfectly done.

funfetti

They looked like party muffins with the green and orange flecks and then every once in a while there was a spicy chunk of candied ginger to liven things up.

The loaf baked for a full hour at 325°F/162°C.

Carrot Zucchini Bread with Ginger loaf

It was quite delicious plain, but slathered with butter is even better.

Carrot Zucchini Bread with Ginger

I experimented with the zucchini loaf and some sharp cheddar in trying to make a grilled cheese sandwich. It was quite tasty, but the slices of the bread should be very thin to allow the cheese to melt before the bread starts to burn.

Carrot Zucchini Bread grilled cheese

CARROT-ZUCCHINI BREAD RECIPE
via Leite’s Culinaria
Makes two loaves or 24 muffins

INGREDIENTS
Nonstick cooking spray
3 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup minced candied ginger
3 large eggs
1 cup canola oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup carrots, peeled and grated
1 cup zucchini, grated

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (162°C). Coat two loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray or butter. You could also make them in two muffin tins.
2. Sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Stir in the salt and candied ginger.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until light and foamy. Add the canola oil, sugar, and vanilla, whisking vigorously until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in the carrots and zucchini.
4. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture all at once and stir with a wooden spoon just until blended. Divide the batter evenly between the pans.
5. Bake until the zucchini bread is well risen and firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour for a loaf pan or 30 minutes for muffin tins. Let the zucchini bread cool in the pans on a rack for 10 minutes, then invert them and finish cooling them right side up on the rack. Of course, a thin slice for the cook while the loaves are warm isn’t out of the question.

Easiest Apple ‘Pie’

5 Aug

plated1

You know those nights where you think… oh mannnnnnnn.. I wish I had apple pie? (Especially after being tormented by DELICIOUS CAKE RECIPES. Thanks, B!)

Well, here you go, this is the world’s EASIEST substitute. We often have puff pastry sheets languishing in the freezer after some savoury pie, like the leek and chicken pie we made last week. Usually there are offcut pieces that you know will be difficult to use up.

All you need is an apple, a little butter, sugar, alongside some puff pastry offcuts, and you can make this pie like deliciousness.

ingredients

I pre-heated the oven, and then started by peeling, quartering, coring and slicing an apple. I went for a Granny Smith this time, but I am pretty sure I have used every type of apple over the years. Slice them a few milimetres thick… no idea what that is in inches, but thin-ish.
peelslice

I then started to assemble them. Lay your puff rectangles on some baking paper on a baking tray. Mine were around 2 inches by 5 inches, but you can have any offcut size and adapt your topping to suit.

Fan out the apple, this is half an apple on each piece of pastry. Then sprinkle with a scant teaspoon of sugar, and dot with a teaspoon and a half (or so) of butter.

fan_applesugar_butter

Then into the oven…. I baked these for 30 minutes, then while they were still warm, served with ice cream. Cream would work well also.

plated2

Voila… so simple. Also kind of impressive for so little work!

______________________________________________________

Easiest Apple ‘Pie’
ingredients (for two)

Two pieces of prepared puff pastry (around 2 inches by 5 inches)
1 apple, peeled, quartered, cored and sliced thinly
2 scant teaspoons of white sugar
3 teaspoons of butter

Preheat oven to 175C/350F.

Line a baking tray with baking paper and assemble the ‘pies’. Fan half an apple the length of each pastry base. Sprinkle the sugar over the apple, and then dot the butter the length of the apple.

Bake until pastry edges are golden, around thirty minutes.

Serve with cream or ice cream.

______________________________________________________

Chocolate Strawberry Nutella Cake

15 Jul

Mmmmmm, cake is a good direction in which to take this series of blog posts. I’m glad Alice posted that recipe for the Lemon Syrup Cake…I think she has just introduced me to my new favorite cake.

On the subject of rich cakes, how about this one??

Image

I spotted this cake on Pioneer Woman’s blog. I follow her on Facebook and she posted such a tantalizing photo that looked so interesting that I was compelled to try it. I’ve made it a few times now. That’s how you know it’s good.

The first time I made it, my friend Karen and I didn’t want to use strawberries, so we went ahead and swapped them out for cherries. It was a really good choice.

ramekins_cherry

Also, I thought it might be interesting to mix it up and make individual desserts, so we baked those in ramekins. Also a good choice as the cakes were a little gooey in the middle and altogether quite delicious.

The next time I made it was for my little friend’s birthday.

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I used strawberries as the original recipe suggests.

We melted the butter, added the cocoa and boiling water

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Isn’t that pretty??

Mixed together the dry ingredients, then poured the melted chocolate into the bowl while mixing it on low.

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Word to the wise…do as I say and not as I do. I spilled a significant amount of the hot chocolate mixture while attempting to pour it straight from the pan into the mixer.

After mixing together the liquid ingredients,

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pour it into the chocolate mixture and voila!

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Prepare the cake pans by lining them with rounds of baking paper and spraying them with non-stick cooking spray. Then pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake.

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Alternately, grease some ramekins and fill them 3/4 full of batter. This recipe would make at least 12 ramekins full of cake.

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Bake the cakes. When they are finished, let them cool before turning the large cake rounds out onto a cooling rack.

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Peel the parchment paper off the back of the cake before cooling on the rack.

The individual cakes don’t need turning out. You can build the cake right in the cute little baking dish.

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While the cakes are cooling, whisk up some whipping cream and confectioners sugar in the mixer.

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The whipped cream was quite a hit with the helpers.

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Here’s the fun part – building the cakes!

building the cake

First a layer of Nutella on the cake

Nutella

Topped with a nice dollop of whipped cream

whipped cream

Then add the berries

strawberries

Add the second cake and repeat.

For the individual cakes it’s even easier. Keep the cakes in their baking dishes, add the layer of Nutella

ramekins_Nutella

ramekins_covered

Yum!

Top with a generous dollop of whipped cream and the berries.

ramekins_final

Done! Now enjoy!

Chocolate Strawberry Nutella Cake
by the Pioneer Woman

Ingredients

FOR THE CAKE:
2 sticks butter
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup boiling water
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cup Nutella

FOR THE FRUIT:
2 pints strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM:
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Method:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 round baking pans with parchment, then spray the parchment with baking spray.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the cocoa and stir it until smooth. Pour in the boiling water, let the mixture bubble up for 20 seconds or so, then turn it off and set it aside.
In a measuring pitcher or bowl, mix together the buttermilk, baking soda, eggs, and vanilla. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, and salt. Stir in the hot chocolate mixture, stirring gently until it’s halfway combined and less hot. Pour in the buttermilk mixture and continue stirring gently until the batter is all combined.
Pour the batter into the pans and bake them for 17-20 minute, until they’re just set. Remove them from the pans and set them aside to cool completely.
B’s option: For ramekin cakes, spray the ramekins with baking spray and fill them 3/4 full of batter. Bake for 15 minutes and check with a toothpick to see if the cake is fully baked.
Meanwhile, prepare the strawberries by stirring them with the sugar and the vanilla. Let them macerate for 15 minutes, then drain off the excess juice.
B’s option: I used the strawberries without any vanilla or sugar, however, I did macerate the cherries for that cake. The cherries would also be good soaked in an almond liqueur for more a grown up treat.
Whip the cream with the powdered sugar.
To assemble, turn one layer upside down on a serving platter. Spread half the Nutella all over the surface. Spread on half the whipped cream and top with half the strawberries. Place the other layer upside down on top and repeat with the rest of the Nutella, whipped cream, and strawberries. Keep chilled until serving. Cut with a serrated knife!
B’s option: For the ramekin cakes, leave them in the baking dish, spread them with a layer of Nutella, top with a dollop of whipped cream, then the fruit. Serve individually, with a spoon.

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday, Cambria. I hope your wish came true!!

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