Sunday, May 30, 2010

Onion Pie - Zwiwwelkuche

I originally saw  this recipe some while back in one of my Mennonite/Amish cookbooks and then was delighted to see it on the Good Morning America Website. It was presented by the esteemed and inestimable Julia Child.  It has been haunting me since I first read about it.

Gorgeous buttery crust topped with a thick layer of golden onions, crispy bacon and fresh, thick sour cream and the lightest sprinkle of caraway seeds, baked to perfection.

Reviews of similar recipes on Allrecipes.Com  and Recipezaar gave this recipe glowing remarks of how rich it is and that it's a new family favorite and so on.  I could barely wait to take my first bite.  The aroma of this while it was baking was mouth watering and we were filled with anticipation.

After all that, can you believe that neither Sweetie-Pi nor I really cared for this?  It seemed to us to be seriously lacking in flavor.  I used full fat sour cream (low fat can sometimes translate to low flavor), but perhaps a different brand?  I used yellow onions, but perhaps Vadalias would have been better?  One thing is for certain, the amount of salt called for in the dough was not enough  for our tastes, but then, I  confess I used only used regular table salt, so perhaps the sea salt has a deeper, saltier flavor. Aside from that, the crust was delicious.  It's thick, bready, buttery, and reminds me of the softer type crusts used for thick pan pizzas, and indeed that is how I intend to use this recipe in the future. 

I really want to like this and I'm not willing to give up on it, smiles, because I think it has the potential to be all that I imagined.

Onion Pie ~ Zwiwwelkuche
(Good Morning America website)

Start the crust first.

Yeast Raised Butter Crust
(other recipes I've seen suggest using a store bought pie crust)

1/4 oz.  (one package, 2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (98F)
3 1/2 cups  white-bread flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt**
1/4 c. cold unsalted butter, cut up
3 large eggs, separated, using  yolks only

Proof the dry yeast in the lukewarm water in a small bowl or two-cup measure.

Sift the flour and salt into a deep bowl. Add the butter and rub the mixture through a sieve or colander to form a fine crumb or process it in a food processor.

Make a well in the center of the crumbs. Beat the egg yolks into the yeast and pour into the well in the crumb mixture. Stir and work into a stiff dough. Knead 5 to 10 minutes on a well-floured work surface until the dough is soft and spongy and no longer sticks to the fingers.** Cover and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk (about 1 1/2 hours).**

Preheat the over to 375 F. Fill the crust with the pie filling as directed and bake for 40 minutes or until the filling is set in the middle and the crust is golden brown.

Note: Any sort of pie filling may be baked in this crust as long as the volume of the prebaked filling does not exceed 1 to 1 1/2 qts.

Onion Pie Filling

4 cups sliced onion
3 tablespoons safflower oil or butter
2/3 cup diced slab bacon
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream or organic yogurt
1 teaspoon caraway seed

While the dough is rising, put the onions and the oil or butter in a heavy skillet, cover, and sweat over medium heat until soft and beginning to brown (about 15 minutes). Fry the bacon in a separate pan until golden, then drain and reserve. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Press down the raised dough and roll it out to 1/4-inch thick.** Line a baking pan measuring 8 1/2 x 14 inches with the dough.

Roll the edges of the dough down and tuck under to form an even rim about 2 inches high along the sides. Let the crust recover for about 15 minutes, then spread the cooked onions and bacon evenly over the bottom.

Beat the eggs until lemon colored, then combine with the sour cream. Spread over the onions, then scatter caraway seed over the top. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until the filling has set and begun to turn golden brown on the surface. Serve hot or at room temperature.

**I used regular table salt and found that the bread was bland; I would increase the salt to at least one teaspoon if your not using sea salt.
**In my estimation this dough was very sticky to work with and required at least another 3/4 to 1 cup of additional flour to make it easier to work with and knead.  My kitchen was quite warm on the day I made this dough, and the dough only took 1 hour to rise.
**I did not roll the dough out (because it is sticky to work with). After punching it down, I let it rest for five minutes or so, and  I greased my cookie sheet, and pressed and pushed the dough into place, like a pizza dough, allowing it to rest again, then proceeded with adding the toppings.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Chocolate Cream Pie

Lately, I am on a bit of a pie kick,  Perhaps it's because summertime is rapidly approaching and the season here is all too short so I must have as many light and creamy and fruity pies as I can.  Perhaps it's just because I love pies, irregardless of the season. That's probably more closely related to the truth, smiles.

I've mentioned before that I am not a great fan of chocolate, preferring citrus and vanilla and fruit flavors, but perhaps I should recant that and refine it to say I am not a great fan of bad chocolate, but, then, is anyone.  I have been on a years-long quest to find a really good chocolate cream pie, and so far this one is as close as I've come; it's not perfection, but it is very good and worth the small effort it takes.

I have two chief complaints about chocolate cream pies.  One is that they can be too chocolaty (or worse yet, tastes like watered down chocolate)  for my tastes, and secondly, they do not seem to have that smooth, creamy mouth feel that I am looking for. (When I make those prepackaged hot chocolate mixes, I always add more cream because I know that it's not creamy enough for me.)  This recipe uses a combination of milk and heavy cream and gives the option of adding additional chocolate for a richer chocolate flavor.

Why isn't this pie perfection?  Well, I went ahead and added the extra chocolate (see recipe) and it made it too chocolaty (even for Ole Sweetie-Pi who is the chocolate lover in this house and the reason I made the pie) and it could still do with a bit more cream, so I will change the milk to cream ratio next time.  Then we'll see.  I think I'm onto something here.

However, as everyone has their own idea of what's perfect, so I'm going to share the recipe.

Chocolate Cream Pie
 (From the cookbook The Perfect Pie by Susan G.Purdy)

Prebaked 9-inch pastry shell (I use this recipe)

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon
2 1/2 cups milk**
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
3 tablespoons Dutch-processed coco, optional
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Blind bake your favorite pie crust recipe.  My current favorite for blind baking is the one from Penzey's that I posted here.

Melt the four ounces of chocolate in the top of a double boiler.

In a medium-sized sauce pan combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt (and the 3 tablespoons of cocoa if you are using it.). 

In a bowl, add the egg yolks, then whisk in the milk and cream.

Slowly whisk the egg-milk mixture into the cornstarch-sugar, taking care to ensure that all the cornstarch is picked up from the bottom of the pan and is dissolved.

Set the pan over medium heat and cook the mixture for about 12 minutes:  Stir frequently the first five minutes using a  wooden spoon,  then whisk constantly for about 7 minutes, until the mixture is thickened and reaches a boil.  You should see fat heavy bubbles work up to the surface and burst.  Boil for 1 full minute while stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and stir in the butter, vanilla, and melted chocolate.  

Strain the cream ** into a bowl, then spoon into the prepared pastry shell.  Cover the hot cream with plastic wrap or dab with butter to prevent a skin from forming.  Set the pie aside to cool, and then chill until shortly before serving.

Top with your favorite whipped topping.

**The recipe only says "milk," but I would be inclined to say "whole milk," especially if you, like me, enjoy a creamier tasting cream pie. 
**I wouldn't bother straining the cream unless I thought there were undissolved lumps.  Otherwise I think this is an unnecessary step.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta with Homemade Cajun Spice Mixture

Oh, boy, if you want a dinner that will make your eyes pop open and reawaken your taste buds,  try this quick and inexpensive recipe.  In the time it takes to boil the water for the pasta and cook it, you can have a spicy, piquant meal that is as delicious as it is filling.  There's cream and grated Parmesan cheese in this, which helps to put out some of the fire, smiles, but this is definitely for for anyone who may not care for spicy hot (that would be Ole Sweetie-Pi who wouldn't even take a little whiff to see if he'd even sample it).

I found this recipe on Recipezaar.Com, and made a couple of adjustments.  First of all I  didn't have Cajun seasoning in the spice rack, because I thought it was something I didn't like, but after seeing it was just a mixture of spices that I do like,  I had to mix up my own.  I was a little leery of the cayenne pepper, but in for a dime, in it for a dollar, right?  I used the 2 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning called for to coat the chicken, but did not add any additional to the sauce even though it was a small amount.  Even if I do say so myself, it was the right decision; any more and it would have been too spicy hot, and as it was, I found it to be tad salty but still delicious.  I would definitely make this recipe again for the enjoyment of my spicy friends.

Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta
(Recipezaar.Com #39087)

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips **

2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning (recipe to follow)
2 tablespoons butter
1 thinly sliced green onion **
 2 tablespoons chopped sundried tomatoes

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 ounces pasta, cooked and drained

Place chicken and Cajun seasoning in a bowl and mix well to coat chicken.

In a large skillet, over medium heat, saute the chicken in butter or margarine until chicken is tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Reduce the heat and add remaining ingredients, except the Parmesan cheese, and heat through. Stir to bring up any flavorful bits.
Place drained pasta in a bowl, and pour the chicken and sauce over.  Sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese, toss gently, and serve immediately.

Serves 2

Homemade Cajun Seasoning

3 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt **
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne powder **
1 tablespoon black pepper **
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon thyme

Combine all ingredients in a covered jar, shake well to mix.

**My notes
I used skinless, boneless chicken thighs.
I didn't have a green onion, but I did have a scallion, used one small, diced fine
I found this to be a little salty for my tastes, I would suggest reducing salt to half; you can always add.
I used a Penzey's spice mixture called Red and Black, a mixture of  red  and Tellicherry pepper. Wonderful!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Tomato Soup Spice Cake

It was one of my father's Vermont cousins who originally introduced us to her tomato soup cake. She brought it as a hostess gift when she came visiting, and delighted the family with guessing what the secret ingredient was.  Like me, Mother enjoyed quirky, secret-ingredient recipes, and the idea of tomato soup in a cake was just too much for her to pass up, so she asked for and received the recipe and it immediately frequented our table.

There are a number of versions of this cake but I  added the word spice to the title. The spices definitely stand out, but when one reflects upon the taste, there is a definite pleasant, but not usual, background flavor, smiles, and that would the tomato. Tomato is, after all a fruit, and we should not be surprised or dismayed to see in in sweet recipes.

I've had this cake with both a butter cream and cream cheese frosting and in this instance used cream cheese as I had it on hand. It seems to go well with the spicy flavors and aromas.   The one caveat to this cake is, in my estimation, is that it's a little dry.  As a result, it is best enjoyed with a glass of milk, tea or coffee.

I don't think this will ever have the popularity of a great chocolate cake, but as an heirloom recipe it's worth remembering and enjoying. I know we do.

Tomato Soup Spice Cake
(Best Recipes from the Backs of Boxes, Bottles Cans and Jars by Ceil Dyer)

2 1/4 cups cake flour (or 2 cups all-purpose flour)
1 1/3 cups sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1-10.75 ounce cake condensed tomato soup
1/2 cup shortening, softened
2 eggs
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 F. 

Generously grease and flour two round 8- or 9-inch layer pans, or a 13x9 inch oblong pan. 

Measure  and sift dry ingredients into large bowl; add soup and shortening. Beat at low to medium speed for 2 minutes  

Add eggs and water. Beat 2 minutes more, scraping bowl frequently. 

Divide batter equally between pans or if using the one oblong pan, spread the batter evenly. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes; remove. Cool.

Frost with butter cream or cream cheese frosting.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Marinated Chuck Roast

Love beef?  I saw this on Chaya's My Sweet and Savory blog, and when she said that she and her husband are not big beef eaters but really liked this, then I knew this was for us. Chaya did not mislead. This has to be the very best roast I have ever eaten.  A rich marinade deepens the mahogany color. But the flavor!  Oh,  the flavor is amazing, getting  into the very corners of your mouth ~ slightly sweet and tangy, slightly winey, and  tender good.

Marinated Chuck Roast
(Discovered on Chaya's Sweet and  Savory)

3 to 4 pounds. chuck roast
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon tarragon **
1/3 cup rice vinegar **
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoon olive. oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup red cooking wine**
8 small mushrooms **
1 tomato, sliced **

Preheated 350 degrees oven.

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients, except tomatoes, to make the marinade.
Salt and pepper both sides of the roast and then place roast in glass pan. Pour the marinade over the roast.  Cover, refrigerate and allow meat to marinate at least 3 to 4 hours. Spoon marinade over roast from time to time. Just before roasting, slice the tomato and place on top of the roast.  Roast at 350 degrees for one hour.

I didn't have all the ingredients, so I had to make some substitutions.
**tarragon - after Googling for a substitute, I used a tiny pinch of anise seed
**rice vinegar - rice cooking wine
**red cooking wine - Madeira wine
**garlic powder - fresh diced garlic
 ** mushrooms - used Shittake
**tomatoes - omitted because I didn't have any fresh

Chaya, as I said, this has to be the very best roast beef I have ever made or eaten.  Thank you so much for sharing; it's a keeper and a recipe we'll enjoy many more times.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Jelly-Filled Doughnut-Muffins

Every have something in your mind that you want but feel that you shouldn't have?  I have been craving doughnuts something fierce these past few days, but really, do I need another deep fried doughnut on my hips. Sadly, no. So, I have been denying myself. Denial is not always a good thing.  I have been snacking around my desire for a jelly doughnut, sigh.

As luck would have it, quite serendipitously (I just love that word, serendipitously), I found a recipe on Recipezaar for jelly doughnut cupcakes. Now, you'll note that the original recipe calls these a cupcake.  I think they are more of a muffin because they tend to be a tad heavy (in my opinion) for a cupcake, but what's in a name.

Cupcakes...muffins...These are very good!  No, they are not like deep-fried doughnuts, being  a bit heavier but still cake-like, but they are good.  Ole Sweetie-Pi immediately fell in love with these, and declared that the muffins would be terrific even without the jam.  Personally, I wouldn't go so far as to say that because it was the sweetness of the jam that I wanted, but the muffin by itself is sweet and delicious.

These little ruby-eyed treats are a keeper in our house.  The recipe makes only six muffins (cupcakes), perfect for the two of us.

Jelly-Filled Doughnut-Muffins

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup butter, softened, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest**
1/2 cup milk

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Good quality red jelly (any flavor), slightly warmed**
Confectioners' sugar for sprinkling 

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour 6-8 cups of a cupcake/muffin pan.

In a large bowl, add the butter and sugar, and cream until light and fluffy

Add the vanilla, egg, zest, and milk; beat well

Add the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Beat until the batter is light and fluffy.  

Fill each cupcake cup about two-thirds full.

Bake 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack. 

Using a small paring knife, cut a core-shaped divot from the center of the muffin, being careful not to go all the way to the bottom.  Spoon slightly warmed jelly into the cavity.  Sprinkle sifted confectioners' sugar over the tops.

**I didn't have any lemon zest, so I just added a 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice; seemed to work just fine.
**The original recipe doesn't state to, but I warmed the raspberry jam I was using for in the microwave. The heat lightly melts the jam, making it much easier to spoon.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Shrimp Scampi

If someone were to ask me if I liked shrimp, without hesitation, I'd say no.  And then I would have to correct myself and  say well, mostly no.  I don't like shrimp cocktail, shrimp fried rice, coconut shrimp, shrimp in tomato sauce.  Forrest Gump and I would not do well together.

However, what I am mad about is shrimp scampi.  There is just something about wonderful coral colored shrimp swimming in a sauce of garlic, butter, vermouth and lemon makes me swear an eternal allegiance to their splendiferousness. 

And if that's not enough, in the time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta, you can have a dinner that's company-worthy. 

Shrimp Scampi
(Adapted from The Food Network)

1 1/2 pounds pounds shelled and deveined shrimp**
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons unsalted butter **
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 cup dry white vermouth
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried (or 2 teaspoons fresh, chopped) parsley leaves
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
Generous sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional, but good

Pasta of choice, prepared according to package directions, drained

Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat until  the butter foams but not browned.  Add the shrimp in a single layer.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook one minute.  Add the garlic, cook for another minute.  Turn the shrimp over and cook another two minutes.

Transfer the shrimp to a bowl, leaving butter in pan.  Add the vermouth and the lemon juice and boil about 30 seconds; the sauce will thicken, stir while it is reducing to bring up any brown bits.  Add the lemon zest and the parsley.  Add back the shrimp for a few seconds slightly reheat through again, if needed.

Pour this over drained, hot pasta and mix to combine.  Let it sit for a minute before serving to give the pasta a chance to absorb the buttery, garlicky goodness of the sauce. Sprinkle a small amount of Parmesan cheese on top if desired. 


** I used the jumbo, frozen, precooked shrimp and they were delicious cooked in this recipe.
**Original recipe calls for only 2 tablespoons of butter, which I found to be totally inadequate for my tastes..  I double the amount as I like a nice buttery sauce for my pasta.