Cream Biscuits

Biscuits 2With a holiday weekend approaching, chances are you might be hosting or attending a gathering, so here is a fantastic (and easy!) cream biscuit recipe to try.  For brunch these go great with butter and jam, or make excellent egg sandwiches with ham and cheddar or peppers and Fontina.  If you are fond of eggs Benedict, these would be a superb choice to substitute for the English muffin. They also go perfectly with dinner to accompany a baked ham or a fried or roasted chicken. For dessert, cut in half and add sliced strawberries and whipped cream.  There are only five ingredients needed and you probably have at least four of them already in your kitchen.  This recipe yields eight biscuits but can easily be doubled. Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream (do not substitute milk or half-and-half in this recipe; since there is no butter, the fat from the heavy cream is necessary to make these biscuits tender)

Directions

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.  Stir in the cream with a wooden spoon until a dough forms, about 30 seconds.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and gather into a ball. Knead the dough briefly until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  3. Pat the dough into an 8-inch round, about 3/4-inch thick.  Using a floured 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter or upside down drinking glass, stamp out 8 biscuits, gently patting the dough scraps back into a uniform 3/4-inch thick piece as needed. Arrange the biscuits, upside down, on the prepared baking sheet, spaced about 1 1/2 inches apart. If doubling the recipe, bake only one sheet at a time.
  4. Bake the biscuits until lightly browned, 15 to 17 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool for about 5 minutes, then serve warm.

Cupboard Niçoise Salad

Faux Nicoise

Spring has finally sprung in the Pacific Northwest and this delicious and satisfying protein-packed salad is a perfect light meal for lunch or dinner.  A traditional salad Niçoise has tuna, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, anchovies, and Niçoise olives (and variations include potatoes, green beans, lettuce, radishes, etc), but this version has the essence of those ingredients based on what I had on hand. A crusty baguette is a perfect accompaniment. Bon appetit!

The above salad is assembled with a big handful of blanched green beans, canned tuna, handful of grape tomatoes cut in half, one hard-boiled egg cut into bite-size pieces, and a few green olives.  Drizzled with olive oil and vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.  Fresh herbs are great if you have them!

 

Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed MushroomsI love making stuffed mushrooms either as an appetizer or a main dish.  The beauty is that they are so darn versatile, which makes it easy as a weeknight option.  The three things I always put in mine are the chopped up stems, bread crumbs and garlic (and right there you have a simple and satisfying stuffed mushroom) but think it is even more amazing if you add a cheese (Parmesan, Asiago, goat cheese, mozzarella, etc), fresh herbs (Italian parsley, basil, or thyme…), maybe a bell pepper, and I am not opposed to adding ham, Italian sausage or prosciutto.  It makes quick work on the stove before you pop them in a hot oven for about 20 minutes.  Great for a party or for dinner served with a salad.

These particular stuffed mushrooms are goat cheese and ham; I usually just eyeball the amounts.  If you have leftover stuffing, it goes great tossed with pasta and a little extra olive oil.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb cremini or white button mushrooms
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Olive oil
  • 2 slices good quality deli ham, chopped
  • handful of breadcrumbs
  • handful chopped Italian parsley
  • Grated Parmesan
  • Goat cheese
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove stems from the mushrooms; set caps aside and coarsely chop the stems.  Heat a skillet over medium high heat, add a little olive oil then the chopped stems and minced garlic.  Cook until the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates.
  2. Add the diced ham and cook until browned.  Turn off the heat and add the breadcrumbs, Italian parsley and Parmesan.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Fill each mushroom cap with the filling and place in a roasting dish or on a rimmed baking sheet.  Top each mushroom with goat cheese.
  4. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until goat cheese starts to brown and mushrooms are heated through.

Green Smoothie

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  I am sure a lot of us are wearing some green today or perhaps there were some green eggs and ham on your breakfast plate or green beer in your future.  Another way to get some green in is with this spectacular green smoothie!  (Today’s challenge: how many times can the word “green” appear in this post.)  The beautiful hue comes courtesy of spinach, but the flavor is cleverly disguised by the sweetness of the fruit.  The concept of a green smoothie has limitless interpretations; mine is usually dictated by the selection of greens (spinach, kale, cilantro, etc), fruits (banana, peaches, mango, coconut, strawberries, lemon, blueberries, etc) and nuts/seeds (peanut butter, almonds, chia seeds, etc) found in my kitchen that day.  I have discovered this is a superb way to help my family achieve our daily fruit and veggie intake. The addition of cocoa powder makes these smoothies a lovely dessert.  But I digress, back to the green…

Green SmoothieIngredients (I usually just eyeball the amounts so these are approximates; feel free to experiment)

  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk, coconut water, or water
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 tbsp shredded coconut
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup peaches, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup mango, fresh or frozen

Directions

  1. Blend coconut milk or coconut water with spinach and shredded coconut until well blended
  2. Add the banana, peaches, and mango; blend until smooth.  If using fresh fruit, adding a couple of ice cubes will help make the smoothie refreshingly cold and a little frothier. Add more water if smoothie seems a little too thick.

Heavenly Steel-Cut Oatmeal

I like oatmeal, the rolled variety cooked with water and a dash of cinnamon, adorned with nuts, butter and brown sugar.  However, I LOVE this steel-cut oatmeal recipe.  I had always shied away from making steel-cut oats because of the time commitment (40 minutes vs 5 minutes for rolled oats), even though I usually have a canister of it in my cupboard.  Then I read about these miraculous oats on Orangette and I am not sure I can go back to the quick variety again, at least for breakfast.   The rolled ones will always have a place in cookies and granola, but that might be their only role in my kitchen now.   This pot of goodness cooks up so nutty, creamy, and has a little chew still in the oats.  I have taken to adding vanilla or almond extract and a handful of raisins (which plump up nicely) along with the oats to the simmered milk/water and I highly recommend you do the same.  And if you have leftovers, it reheats perfectly with a little water.  I think I might try using toasted coconut and coconut milk next time.Steel Cut Oatmeal2Steel-Cut Oatmeal

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup steel-cut oatmeal
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
  • dash of cinnamon
  • handful of raisins (or other dried fruit)
  • Optional toppings: nuts, bananas, berries, brown sugar, maple syrup, etc.

Directions

  1. In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and then toast the oats until fragrant and golden, stirring occasionally; about five minutes.  Set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, bring the water, milk, sugar and salt to a simmer, then add the extract, cinnamon, raisins, and oats.  Bring to a simmer and lower the heat, partially cover and cook for about 25-30 minutes, again stirring occasionally.
  3. Serve with any desired toppings.

Baseball Cake

My nephew is a baseball nut (well actually both of my nephews are) and when his birthday rolled around, I made a simple and easy baseball cake to celebrate.  This kind of cake is one of my favorites in that you don’t need any special pans or tools, just two round pans, a round tip, some red hot candies and red gel.  The cake itself can be whatever suits the birthday kid’s fancy (this particular one was vanilla cake) and your basic vanilla frosting recipe.   This could also be easily made as cupcakes.  It’s a home run!

DSCN0862

 

Vanilla Frosting (recipe from America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book)

Ingredients

  • 3 sticks butter, cut into chunks and softened
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar

Directions

  1. Beat the butter, cream, extract, and salt together in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low, slowly adding the confectioners’ sugar, and beat until incorporated and smooth, 4 to 6 minutes.  Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, 5 to 10 minutes.

To decorate cake:

  1. Frost entire cake.  Put two curved lines in vanilla frosting on top for the seams; use red food gel to make the stitching.
  2. Decorate the bottom of cake with alternating vanilla frosting dots using a round tip and red hot candies.
  3. Optional: put the child’s age or jersey number in red gel.