Archive for February, 2014



Pipe Dream #248: To Be a Better Butterer – Caramelized Mushroom and Onion Biscuits

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There are a few lovely things about biscuits. 1) They are an easy way to round out a meal as a side. 2) They are a multi-meal affair. Breakfast lunch and dinner are all biscuit-approps. 3) They are a simple foil for all types of complex flavors.

Case in point: caramelized mushrooms and onions and balsamic vinegar reduction. A tatch made in heaven. ‘Tatch’ is my new word for ‘match,’ but with three components. I haven’t urban dictionaried it yet, but I’m kind of scared to in case I can’t use it anymore, so I won’t. I’ll just use it and wait for one of my sisters to laugh and call me naive because I’m not up on the street slang.

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Like I said, balsamic vinegar reduction. This picture is almost too much for me.

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I made these busting beauties as an accompaniment to this garlic tart, which, as we have discussed, was an explosion of flavor beyond. Never being one for subtlety, I figured a few extra onions wouldn’t hurt anyone.  Heck, they were practically a palate warm up for the main course.

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Biscuits rustique.

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Better BUTTERED biscuits bustique.

Fake wording,

L

Caramelized Mushroom and Onion Biscuits

You can find the recipe at Joy the Baker.

Pipe Dream #247: To Fudge It – Nutella Mousse Cake

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This is it. The requisite “Valentine’s Day equals chocolate” blog post. Baking for people isn’t a foolproof way to make them love you, so I suggest you only make this cake if you are already happily married and have a date planned.

If your darling cousin is having a baby shower this week, you also have an excuse to make this indulgent gluten-free cake. The first layer is a fudgy chocolate cake made with mostly eggs and melted chocolate. It’s similar to this and this. The second layer is a decadent mousse made with Nutella. (Actually, I used a generic brand of hazelnut spread, so feel free to fudge on this. Jokes.) It was good atop the cake, but man, you could cut half the difficulty of this cake by making the mousse alone and eating it out of little dessert cups.

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I garnished the cake with hazelnut pirouline cookies and chocolate-covered espresso beans. The beauty of the cake is that it can be made ahead for minimal fuss on the day you serve it (take a while to firm up in the fridge), but make sure to garnish it just prior to serving. I noticed that the cookies got a little soft even a few hours after placement on the mousse. Raspberries, fresh whipped cream, drizzled chocolate, toasted hazelnuts? Go crazy, mes amis. Oh, and for best slicing results, slice with a a hot knife, dipped in hot water and dried after each cut. A little extra effort, but it looks fab and it’s V Day, so why not?

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Golden delicious Midas fudge.

L

Nutella Mousse Cake

Cake adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

Mousse adapted from Table Talk

For the flourless cake layer:

2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter

12 oz dark chocolate, chopped

6 large eggs

1 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons Irish whiskey or liqueur of choice

Preheat oven to 350. Line the bottom of a 9-inch sprinform pan with a parchment round and lightly spray with non-stick spray. Triple wrap the springform in foil and place in a larger pan with high sides.

Melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave in a large bowl, stirring at 30-second intervals until melted. Whisk in the eggs and sugar until well combined. Stir in the vanilla and liqueur and then pour the batter into the springform.

Place the two pans in the oven, then fill the outer pan with enough hot water to come up to the top of the batter. Bake 35-40 minutes, until firm to the touch, and then remove from the oven. Let cool in the water bath. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.

For the Nutella mousse:

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (from a 1/4-ounce envelope)

3 tablespoons cold water

1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread, such as Nutella (5 oz)

1/2 cup neufchatel cheese, cream cheese or mascarpone (1/4 pound)

1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

3 tablespoons white sugar

Sprinkle the gelatin over water in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. Heat the gelatin mixture over low heat, stirring, just until gelatin is melted, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the chocolate hazelnut spread until combined and remove from heat.

Beat together neufchatel cheese and chocolate hazelnut mixture by hand in a large bowl. Beat together cream, cocoa powder, and sugar in another large bowl with an electric mixer at low speed until just combined, then increase speed to high and beat until cream just holds soft peaks. Whisk one third of the whipped cream into the cheese/hazelnut mixture, then fold in the remaining whipped cream until well combined. Spoon the filling over the chilled flourless cake layer and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.

Garnish as desired with cookies and chocolate-covered espresso beans. Raspberries or drizzled chocolate would also be lovely.

A Pastry Delayed – Glam Doll Donuts

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Can we just look at these donuts for a moment?

Donuts for a minute.

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This wasn’t my first time at Glam Doll, but the first performance was worthy of an encore (let’s just take another moment to celebrate the use of fresh raspberry curd, so unlike the lemon goo served up at Voodoo Donuts), so I’ve been biding my time until I could bully a friend into meeting me there. Donuts should be shared. That is, donuts should be eaten with another person. I mean, each person should have their own donut (obv).

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The decor is mid-century kitsch, but please don’t read the literature. I thought “pinups” were just like about fishnet stockings, but turns out, it is a little more graphic. It was a few wasted minutes before I realized that instead of reading about the history of pinup literature, I could have been reading The Flavor Bible at my elbow. What a shame.

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These beauties were the signature item of the day–a nonpareil-esque donut. I was severely tempted, but cake donuts aren’t really my thing, so I opted for an almond cream-filled donut with chocolate icing.

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Please visit soon,

L

FAKE FAB Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars

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Let’s talk about the easiest thing I ever did. Snickerdoodle cookie mix topped with a quick buttercream= great party food in a flash.

People were all like, “Lauren, these are so good.

And I was all like, “I know, they’re from a box.”

And they were all like, “Wutttt?  A box? Lauren, I didn’t think you were capable of making something from a box. You’re better than that.”

And I was all like, “There are no depths I wouldn’t sink to. I like Kraft Mac and McDonald’s and homemade chicken pot pie and great espresso. I love it all, so don’t hate on the box mix. And besides, as my pastor likes to say, the ground at the foot of the cross is level.” Meaning I can make things from a box if I have a need.

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Plus, these actually were good, and I know snickerdoodles inside and out. Great quick party food if you’re in pinch. If you’re looking for some from-scratch snickerdoodle action, I’ve already covered this territory. Check out

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Recovering,

L

Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars

1 package Betty Crocker snickerdoodle cookie mix

8 tablespoons butter

3-4 cups powdered sugar

a few tablespoons of milk

Prepare the cookie mix according to package directions (you’ll probably need an egg and some water for this. Press the dough into the bottom of a pan. I think my pan 8 x 11. The smaller your pan, the thicker your bars. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon sugar mix from the package on top of the bars. Bake at 350 degrees F until set and crackled on the top, maybe 12-15 minutes. Let cool.

Beat the butter until fluffy, then slowly stir in the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until incorporated. Add a couple tablespoons of milk and the other half of the cinnamon sugar packet, increase mixer speed and beat until light and fluffy. Spread frosting over cooled bars. Sprinkle with sprinkles, if you want.

Pipe Dream #246: To Master Comfort – Chicken Pot Pie with Cheddar Drop Biscuits

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One of the perks of going to an English boarding school is that you don’t have to make your own meals. If I were a Baudelaire, this would be awful, but I’m not, and the school food I experienced was highly superior to dorm food, not to mention high school caf chicken patties. Now that I think of it, some days in England we did have chicken patties (aka Chick-wich), which were awful.

Besides the days when we had Chickwich or lamb curry, which, for reasons unknown to me, made me gag, I relished the experience of being served. It was a real time-saver, and I could focus on things like how Jesus actually loved people practically and how the book of Hebrews is so worth delving into.

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The meals were on a loose rotation, and every month we would get some form of biscuit-topped pot pie. Often it was chicken and mushroom with these individual biscuits atop it, but the very first pot pie I had at school was a traditional chicken and vegetable pot pie, with the most pillow-y biscuits. I cannot tell you enough what a homemade pot pie will do for a jet-lagged human overwhelmed by a sea of foreign people in a foreign country. Comfort food to the max.

Real pipe dream: to recreate this masterpiece of glorious comfort. Anyway, the biscuits. They were so fluffy and pillow-y. There is no other way to describe. I think this is because they had been baked atop the pie, soaking up some of the moisture from the filling and squishing together, rather than being baked on a separate pan and dropped on the pie later so their bottoms got crispy.

Soft vs. crispy biscuit bottoms are, of course, a matter of personal preference. I prefer soft, which you may have guessed given my chronic under-baking issues. This pot pie recipe is the nearest I could come to re-creating that very first pot pie. For variation, I added cheese to the biscuits, and I did not regret it for even one second.

You may not live in a foreign country, but nothing beats this on an Average Joe snowy day. Use a rotisserie chicken, and it comes together in a flash on a weeknight.

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Chicken Pot Pie with Cheddar Drop Biscuits

Adapted from Alaska From Scratch

For the pot pie:

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup flour
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup milk
2 cups leftover roasted chicken, light and dark meat, shredded (from a rotisserie chicken, if you wish)
1 3/4 cups diced carrots and broccoli florets
1 tablespoon dried thyme
salt and pepper

For the biscuits:

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 12 pieces
1 cup medium cheddar cheese, grated + half a bunch of diced green onions
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
black pepper

For the filling:
Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter and add the onions, stirring and sautéing until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour, stirring constantly, for a couple minutes more, allowing the flour to cook a bit. Pour in the stock and the milk, stirring until combined. Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to a low and let simmer about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally as the mixture thickens. Add the chicken, peas & carrots, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Preheat oven to 425.
To make the biscuits:
In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Cut in the butter using two knives until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the cheddar cheese, followed by the buttermilk, until it all just comes together and forms a thick, sticky dough. Try to handle the dough as little as possible.
To assemble the pie:
Drop the biscuit dough in 1/4 cup sized dollops onto the top of the pot pie filling (about five biscuits total). Sprinkle the biscuits with black pepper. Place the skillet into the preheated oven and bake for 18-20 minutes, until the biscuits are golden. Serve promptly.

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