Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sweet Potato Bread

I used to be the only one here who ate sweet potatoes, that is, until I made this sweet potato bread.  My, my, my is it good!  It's very similar in taste and texture to a pumpkin bread, and if you didn't mention it, I suspect no one would be the wiser.  The recipe makes two loaves (with the typical hump in and the crack running down the middle of it).  It may not be pretty on the outside, but it is beautiful on the inside. 

Ole Sweetie-Pi had a recent stayover at his sister's and boyfriend's home, and I packed up some goodies for him to tote along, and a loaf of this was among them. There was some initial skepticism but then  I received phone calls and emails the next day telling me how much they all loved it.  When Ole Sweetie-Pi came home, he had to reassure himself that we still had a loaf for ourselves. 

Original recipe is on Allrecipes.  This is my adaptation. 

Sweet Potato Bread

3 sweet potatoes, cooked, (or enough to make 2 cups mashed)
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup orange juice

3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cloves

Prepare the sweet potatoes by first washing them. Then you have a couple of options.  I pierced three big sweet potatoes and microwaved them until soft. Or you can slice them lengthwise and place on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake at 350*F for about 30 minutes, or until soft. Allow to cool, peel, and then mash and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, oil and applesauce.  Stir in the orange juice and the mashed sweet potatoes. 

In a separate bowl sift together the dry ingredients.  Stir the dry ingredients into the sweet potato mixture and stir until just combined, being careful not to overmix. 

Divide the batter between two generously greased 9" x 5" loaf pans.  Bake in a preheated 350*F oven for about 1 hour and 15-25 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Roasted Turkey Breast

When we eat turkey at times other than the holidays,  I make this turkey breast.  It is so moist and tender you can virtually cut it with just your fork. 

The ingredients are simple and the results far outweigh the effort.  If you love gravy, you will be in gravy heaven with this recipe.  The gravy is made at the same time the turkey is being roasted, and if you like a thicker gravy, only a small amount of thickening may be desired.  If you like a lot of gravy, double the ingredients. 

Just a small caveat: I don't roast a whole turkey.  First off there's just the two of us, and I buy the smallest turkey breast I can find.  Secondly, to me, this does not make a particularly beautiful Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving turkey because it is cooked in the broth and the part that sits in the roasting pan looks a little flabby and uninspiring.  I recommend carving this  into gorgeous slices onto and placing on a platter before being served at the table.

And never you mind about all the butter and mayonnaise in this. And you may as well know it ~ I use more mayonnaise than the recipe calls for, smiles. My turkey is well covered in it.   When you taste this, you won't mind one little bit!

Moist and Tender Turkey Breast

1 fresh or thawed turkey or turkey breast (5-20 pounds)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 10.5-ounce can chicken broth
1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise

Place the turkey in a roasting pan. (This is personal preference, but I lightly salt the cavity.)

Combine melted butter and chicken broth and pour over the turkey.

Rub the mayonnaise over the outside of the turkey.  Lightly salt if desired.

Roast at 325*F until the internal temperature reaches 170*F at the thickest part of the turkey, or if you don't have a thermometer, pierce the bird with a two-pronged fork and press against the side the to see if the juices are clear.

Remove from the oven and let rest for about 30 minutes before serving.

Test the broth/gravy for seasoning, adding salt or pepper or whatever else you like;  I think it's perfect as is, but you may want to add a little thickener if it seems a little thin to you.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Chicken Liver Pate with Pistachios

I know, I know, the thought of liver sends most of you screaming and running for the hills.  For the most part, it does me, too, except I have acquired a taste for chicken liver. I only like it in a couple of  recipes, and let me assure you, I loved it in this one.  There is a suaveness and sophistication that is beyond description.  If you need something different and elegant, I hope you try this.  I made this for New Year's, and this went down a storm with everyone, except for Ole Sweetie-Pi.  He was running for the hills!

Speaking of elegant, I discovered this keeper recipe on the very elegant Christine's blog,  Fresh Local and BestI am a big fan of Christine; her food is consistently amazing and her photography and travels leave me wanting more.  Christine's recipe and  title is fancier than mine, as my little grocery store didn't have porcini mushrooms, and you know they didn't have duck fat, smiles.  I made do with regular button mushrooms and real butter, and this pate was still out of this world wonderful. 

Chicken Liver Porcini Pate with Pistachios
(Christine's Fresh Local and Best)

5 grams dried porcini mushrooms (I used 5 grams fresh)
200 grams chicken livers
75 grams butter, divided
3-4 thyme sprigs
1 scallion
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Marsala wine
2 tablespoons heavy cream
3 tablespoons salted pistachios, coarsely chopped, divided
3 tablespoons duck fat or butter

Soak the porcinis in hot water for at least fifteen minutes, then squeeze the excess liquid out of them, and chop finely.

Prepare the liver:  Put the liver in a strainer and rinse the livers under cold running water.  Dry with a paper towel.  Remove the sinews and membrane. Cut large livers in half.

Melt 50 grams of the butter in a small saucepan and set aside.

Rinse and dry the scallion and thyme.  Pluck off the thyme leaves.  Finely chop the scallion.  Set aside.

In a small-to-medium saute pan, melt the remainder of the butter over medium heat until it foams.  Saute the scallions.  Add the thyme, liver and porcinis.  Saute until the liver is cooked through, approximately six minutes.  You can test for doneness by taking one of the larger pieces and cutting through the middle.  The center should be barely pink.  Add the Marsala wine and salt and pepper to taste. 

Briefly cool the liver and  then place the liver mixture  into a food processor.  Pulse several times, watching for texture; you do not want to pulse this too fine.

Stir in the cooled butter that was set aside and the heavy cream.  Add half the coarsely chopped pistachios and mix into the pate.  Put the pate in a small bowl that still leaves some headroom at the top.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator for about an hour.

Melt the 3 tablespoons of duck fat or butter over low heat and pour over the chilled pate with a tablespoon.  Evenly distribute the fat by tilting the bowl so that the fat covers the pate.  Sprinkle the remainder of the pistachios over the pate, cover, and refrigerate for another hour.

Christine says the pate should last about four days.  Ours was gone long before that!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sour Cream Coffeecake

A while back a good friend of mine asked me if I had a good blueberry muffin recipe, and I said no, but I'd try and find on for her.  Since then, I've tried a couple of different recipes, one that proclaimed to be "The Best" and one from a national growers' organization, and both were disappointments.  Talk about doorstops!   Perhaps I just don't have the blueberry muffin touch.

What does my search for a blueberry muffin have to do with sour cream coffee cake?  Well one of the recipes called for sour cream and I though perhaps the sour cream contributed to its heftiness.   So, to test my theory I made this sour cream coffeecake to see if I obtained similar results.

Was I in for a surprise!  This coffeecake is dee-licious and is easily one of the best coffeecakes I've ever made.  For me, it has just the right amount of sweetness, and a pleasing crumb that is substantial without being leaden. This coffeecake is best on the day it is made and is irresistible when served warm.  We can thank the good cooks at King Arthur's Flour for providing us with another keeper recipe.  This can be made in a 9" x 13" baking pan or a 9" or 10" tube pan with removable bottom.

Barbara's Watch Hill Sour Cream Coffeecake

1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cups sugar

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (yes, I use King Arthur Flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup (5 tablespoons) butter, softened
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup (8 ounces) light sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350*F and grease a 9"x13" pan or a 9" or 10" tube pan and set aside. 

In a small bowl, combine the walnuts, cinnamon, and 1/2 cup sugar and set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

In a large-sized bowl, beat the butter, oil and one cup sugar together until well mixed.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, sour cream and vanilla, being careful not to overbeat the mixture.

Spoon half the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle with half the nut mixture.  Spoon the remaining batter into the pan and cover with the remaining nut mixture.

If using a tube pan, bake 45-55 minutes.  If using a 9"x13" pan, bake 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Serve warm.