Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Kitchen Tip: Softened Butter

Properly Softened Butter - ButterYum

Here's a quick tip that will help ensure your baking projects turn out well.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Ham and Cheese Grits Casserole

Grits Casserole with Ham and Cheese - ButterYum

I have to go on the record and tell you there are some food items out there that I avoid purchasing, if at all possible - things like egg substitute, cool whip, bricks of orange goo masquerading as cheese - you get the idea.  But recently my dearest friend convinced me to give this recipe a try despite the fact that it contains a couple of the ingredients I try to avoid.  So went to the grocery store to get what I needed and went home to see if the recipe was as good as described.  So I bet you're wondering how it was.... I can honestly say, it's really, really delicious.  This would be an dish to serve for Easter Breakfast, or use leftover ham a couple days after Easter.




Friday, April 11, 2014

Traditional Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns - ButterYum

Here's a post I shared a couple of years ago.  Perhaps you'll make them this Easter.

I have one word for these - Delish!  The recipe comes from Rachel at The Traveling Spoon who spent an exorbitant amount of time searching for the traditional Hot Cross Buns of her childhood in England.  Rachel is a purist and says these are the real deal.  She also says traditional hot cross buns never have icing crosses - the crosses you see here are made from a sweetened flour paste that is piped on just before baking.  These buns are excellent warm from the oven or gently heated the next day.  I'm posting the recipe as written, but I'll share my notes for using a stand mixer.

Note - The only thing I'd change next time would be to use dried currants instead of raisins because currants are smaller and would distribute more evenly throughout the dough. 


Hot Cross Buns
from The Traveling Spoon via Citrus and Candy
makes 12 buns


For buns:
310ml warmed milk
60g granulated sugar
16g dried yeast (about 4 teaspoons)
600g all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 large eggs
60g butter, room temperature
1 - 1 1/2 cups raisins (I prefer dried currants)

For crosses:
about 60g all-purpose flour
about 60 ml water
1-2 teaspoons granulated sugar

For glaze:
2 tablespoons fruit jam, warmed (apricot recommended)

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, warmed milk, and yeast until sugar has dissolved. Cover loosely and set aside for 10 minutes or until mixture becomes frothy - it should almost triple in size, so be patient!

Meanwhile, mix the flour, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl. Rub the softened butter into the flour mixture with your fingers until evenly distributed (I prefer doing this in a heavy duty stand mixer fitted with a dough hook). The mixture will be crumbly. Stir in the egg, frothy yeast mixture and the raisins (or currants) until completely combined.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for about 5 minutes until it comes together and becomes smooth and elastic. Add flour to your kneading surface as necessary. Lightly grease another large, clean mixing bowl (I knead in the stand mixer on speed 1 or 2 for five minutes).

Place the dough in the bowl, turning it several times to coat lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm, non-drafty place for about 45 minutes, or until it has doubled in size.

When dough has doubled, remove the plastic wrap and punch down the dough (don't be shy - you can really thwack it). Knead briefly, on your lightly floured surface, until smooth. Separate the dough into 12 even rounds.

Shape each round into a bun and place in a lightly greased 9x13-inch baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 390°F.

Whisk together the 60g of all purpose flour, the sugar, and the water to create the paste for the crosses. Add flour if necessary to thicken so that the paste can be easily piped onto the buns - use a piping bag or a zip-top bag the a small hole cut in one corner.  Pipe crosses onto the buns and bake for 10 minutes at 390°F. Then reduce oven temperature to 350°F and bake for another 15 minutes, or until buns are golden and sound hollow when tapped - don't worry, they will soften after baking.

Warm the jam for the glaze and dilute with water if necessary. Brush onto buns while still warm.

Buns are best eaten warm from the oven or freshly toasted on the day of baking, but they're also tasty cold and you can store any leftovers in an air-tight container for a day or two.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Chinese Almond Cookies

Chinese Almond Cookies - ButterYum

Happy Chinese Almond Cookie Day!  These cookies are a long-time family favorite going back to my childhood - and a particular favorite of one of my brothers.  The original recipe was lost during a move many years ago, and despite many of us trying, we were unable to find a suitable replacement.  Then I tried this recipe, and as far as I was concerned, the search was over.  But to be completely sure, I needed to know if they would pass my brothers scrutiny.  So the next time we got together, I placed a container full of these tasty morsels in front of him and opened the lid.  He gasped and exclaimed, "Chinese Almond Cookies!"  He then proceeded to eat most of them - so yeah, they passed the test.


 Put all the ingredients in a stand mixer and combine well.  Use a #50 scoop to portion the dough.  Knead each portion 5 or 6 times to soften, then roll into a ball, make an indentation with your thumb, and press a blanched almond into the depression.


 If the dough cracks like the ball on the right, knead it a few more times and try again.


 Pop them into the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes.


The cookies should barely turn a very light golden brown color.


These cookies are soft and chewy and will remain that way if you store them in an airtight container.


Chinese Almond Cookies
makes about 40 cookies
Printable Recipe

2 ¾ cups (365g) all purpose flour
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt (or table salt)
1 cup (176g) vegetable shortening
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
40 blanched almond (optional)

To Blanch Almonds:
Boil almonds in water for 1-2 minutes until the brown papery skins start to loosen and wrinkle. Remove from boiling water and cool in ice water. Drain and slip skins off by gently pinching one end of the almond. The nuts should slip right out of their skins. Allow almonds to dry.

To Make Dough:
Preheat oven to 325F. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the flour mixture and shortening until combined. Add the egg, milk, and almond extract; mix well.

To Bake the Cookies:
Use a #50 cookie scoop to evenly portion dough and knead in the palm of your hands 5 or 6 times, then roll into balls; place balls of dough on a silpat or parchment lined sheet pan, 12 at a time. Make a depression in the center of each ball of dough with your thumb and gently press a blanched almond into the depression. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until they just start to turn light golden around edges. Cool 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container. 

Sesame Noodles with Roasted Pork

Sesame Noodles with Roasted Pork - ButterYum
If you ever find yourself with a few slices of leftover pork roast or pork chops, try this easy Asian inspired recipe.  It's super fast to put together too - just boil some noodles and heat everything together in a saucepan.  

Gather all your ingredients.


Oops, I forgot to show you the chili oil.


 I used chow mein stir-fry noodles which cook in about 2 minutes, but you can use any long noodle - even spaghetti.  Rinse the cooked noodles in cold water to stop the cooking process.


 In a medium saucepan, combine the garlic, soy, vinegar, canola oil, sesame oil, chili oil, and the white parts of the scallions.  Heat until bubbly.


Then stir in the thinly sliced leftover pork.


And the precooked noodles.  Stir everything together and serve.


Enjoy!


Sesame Noodles with Roasted Pork
Serves 2-3

6 ounces long noodles, cooked and cooled to stop from overcooking 
6 ounces cooked pork, sliced into matchsticks
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons pure sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon chili oil (or 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes)
2 scallions, sliced thin on the diagonal, green tops reserved for garnish
Garnish with crushed red pepper flakes or Sriracha (optional)

These noodles cook very fast - they only take boil for about 2 minutes, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.  Heat garlic, soy, rice vinegar, oils, and white scallion parts until bubbly, add pork to heat through, then stir in noodles.  Garnish with green scallion tops.  For more heat, sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes or Sriracha.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Jello Easter Eggs

Jello Easter Eggs - ButterYum
My fun little Easter Egg idea has turned into one of my most frequented blog posts through the years so I can't let the Easter season go by without sharing them again.  I got my molds years ago, but I see them at thrift shops and on eBay all the time.  They're also available at the Kraft Corner Store.  Alternatively, you can purchase half egg molds on amazon - I'll share a link below.


 Been pretty busy this week, but I wanted to take a moment to share these jello eggs with you guys.  I came up with the idea of making them when my kids were little and I've been making them ever since.  I usually make them at Easter time, but they're fun any time of the year. 


 I start with these egg molds.


 I fill the molds with the jello jiggler recipe (below), then chill over night.  After unmolding, I cut them in half lengthwise and then I use a melon baller to make a little well in each half.  Pop that little bit into your mouth - cook's treat.


 Arrange the prepared halves on a serving tray.
Do this before you fill the halves, or you'll have a huge mess on your hands.


I like to pipe a pretty swirl of the vanilla cream mixture using a pastry bag and "closed" star tip.
The closed star makes those deep grooves.


 To pipe the filling more than 6 hours ahead of time, add a packet of Whip It with the heavy cream when you make the filling.  You can skip this step if you like, but I think of it as extra insurance.


Ta-da!
Go make some fun and tasty Jell-o Easter Eggs.

Jello Easter Eggs 
Printable Recipe

For the Jello Easter Eggs:
(makes approximately 3 whole jello eggs)
3 ounce package of jello, any flavor
3/4 cup boiling water

For the Vanilla Filling:
(makes enough to fill about 24 egg halves)
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (mascarpone works well too)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

To Make the Jello Easter Eggs:
Lightly coat egg mold with a thin layer of canola or vegetable oil.  Snap mold together and set it on a tray to catch any spills.  Combine jello and boiling water together; stir for 3 minutes until the jello is completely dissolved.  Slowly pour mixture into mold.  Chill overnight.

When you're ready to unmold the eggs, slowly pry the mold halves apart (I use a butter knife to gently coax the halves apart).  Using a sharp chef's knife, cut the eggs in half lengthwise using one continuous motion.  Next use a melon ball tool to make a well in the large end of each egg half.

To Make the Vanilla Filling:
Cream together the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth.  Add the heavy cream and whip until stiff peaks form.  Put the cream cheese filling into a pastry bag that has been fitted with a large star tip and pipe the filling into the egg halves.  Chill until service. 

Note: To fill the jello eggs with cream cheese filling more than 6 hours ahead of time, add a packet of Whip It to the cream cheese filling mixture when you add the heavy cream.




Monday, March 31, 2014

Favorite Kitchen Things: Jar Key

Favorite Kitchen Things: Jar Key - ButterYum
If you've ever struggled to open a new jar, you need to get one of these nifty tools.  It's called a Jar Key and it releases the manufacturer's vacuum so you can twist the lid off with ease.


 You just place the jar key on top of the jar so the little feet catch on the bottom edge of the lid.


Then you lift up on the handle slightly until you hear the vacuum release.
POP!


That's it.  Now you can twist off the lid with hardly any effort at all.
Love it - don't know how I ever lived without it.
  
Note: this tool works on short lids like the one shown - it doesn't work on tall lids like the ones you'd find on a peanut butter jar or a 2-liter soda bottle.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Guyanese Lime Cookies

Guyanese Lime Cookies - ButterYum

I had a couple of leftover limes in the fridge and I was in the mood to make cookies so I found this recipe online.  I honestly would have passed right by it, but I couldn't ignore the fact that it had earned more than fifty 5-star reviews.  Suddenly I needed to find out what all the fuss was about.  Cinnamon and nutmeg are not spices one typically would expect to combine with lime, but together the produce a very complex and sophisticated flavor profile.  Not my favorite, but my husband and daughter absolutely loved them.











Guyanese Lime Cookies
adapted from allrecipes
makes 36
Printable Recipes

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lime zest
3 tablespoons lime juice

Preheat oven to 350F. and prepare 3 sheet pans with parchment or silpat liners.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; set aside.

In a small bowl, combine 1/3 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter, 1 cup sugar, and lime zest until fluffy.  Add lime juice and beat until combined.  Add reserved flour mixture and mix to combine.

Use a #50 scoop to portion cookie dough into about 36 cookies, roll each portion into a ball and roll in sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon mixture.  Place on prepared sheet pans, 12 at a time and bake for 10-12 minutes.  Let cookies rest for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.   Store for up to a week in an airtight container.

Beautiful hand-thrown pottery by Deidre Morgan



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

No-Knead Quinoa Bread

No-Knead Quinoa Bread - ButterYum
 
Any Pinterest fans out there?  I love it - so many wonderful new recipes to discover, like this one I found for Quinoa bread.  If you're not a bread baker, don't be intimidated by this extremely easy recipe - there's no kneading required, and the dough can rest in your refrigerator for up to 10 days before you bake it.  The finished bread tastes wonderful, has a soft interior, and is packed full of protein.  Kind of delicate, kind of rustic, totally awesome.

No-Knead Quinoa Bread
adapted from Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day
makes 2 small loaves (approx 8x3-inches)
Printable Recipe

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (made by King Arthur, available at most grocery stores)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup uncooked whole Quinoa grains, rinsed
2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
15 fluid ounces lukewarm water (1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons)
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix all the ingredients until combined.  Rest, loosely covered, for 2 hours.  Transfer dough to an oiled container large enough to allow the dough to double in volume.  Cover and refrigerate overnight, or up to 10 days.

On baking day, divide the dough into 2 balls and form each one into a narrow oval; allow to rise at room temperature for 90 minutes (after 30 minutes, preheat the oven to 450F with a bread/pizza stone on a lower-middle rack).  Just before baking, slash the top of the loaves a few times with a very sharp knife or lame.  Bake loaves for 30 minutes. Cool completely before slicing.

Note:  I'm not a fan of flour or cornmeal on the bottom of my breads, so I like to form my loaves on  parchment paper.  The parchment enables me to easily transfer the wet dough onto the preheated stone.  If you don't have a very sharp knife or lame, you can slash the bread with a serrated knife or clean razor blade.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Date Delight Oatmeal Cookies

Date Delight Oatmeal Cookies  - ButterYum

Okay, I know this is a bad picture, but there aren't any cookies left for a retake, and they're too good to make again, if you know what I mean.  You'll just have to take my word for it.  A little background for you - I bought a box of chopped dates for a specific recipe I wanted to try around the holidays, and I never got around to trying that recipe - not only that, but I forgot which recipe it was that I wanted to try.  So there I was, stuck with a box of chopped dates that I had no use for.  Thankfully there was a recipe for these cookies printed right there on the back of the box.  The family absolutely loved them - hope you do too.

Date Delight Oatmeal Cookies
recipe adapted from Amport Foods
makes 4 dozen
Printable Recipe

16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups quick oats
8-ounces chopped dates (about 1 cup)

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugars.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Add flour mixture, just until combined.  Stir in oats and chopped dates.  Using a #50 scoop, portion 12 scoops of dough per sheet tray and bake for 11-14 minutes until golden brown around the edges.  Cool cookies on sheet tray for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.