Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Apple Season

I love fall. I love cool weather, turning trees, crisp air... of course, none of these things happen in Texas. But fortunately, the one perk of fall we do get is the apples, especially Honey Crisp Apples. mmmm. So this past week I made a myriad (okay only 2) of apple recipes. I made Apple Zeppole with Cinnamon Whipped Cream and Apple Strudel.

The apple strudel came from my Every Day with Rachel Ray magazine. And, while I honestly didn't love it because of the cream cheese in the crust (i hate cream cheese), everyone else did love it. Between Justin and my parents they were demolished in 2 days. What I did love about this apple strudel was that i got to use my food processor for the first time ever!

Apple Strudel:
1 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
6 oz cream cheese, chilled and cubed
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs milk
3 granny smith apples, cored and cut into chunks
3/4 cup pecan halves, toasted
3/4 cub pitted dates
1/4 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
2 tsp ground nutmeg

Start with your food processor and pulse the flour, cream cheese, butter, and 1/4 tsp salt until the mixture resembles course sand. Funny story... since i'd never used my food processor and apparently don't believe in reading manuals, i thought that the "mini bowl" was the only option and tried to stuff everything in to it, needless to say, it was a huge mess. Add the milk and pulse until the dough just comes together, about 3 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a work surface (i used a wood cutting board) and shape the dough into 2 disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Next, using your handy food processor, coarsley chop the apples, pecans, and dates with 1/3 cup sugar, the nutmeg, and remaining 1/4 tsp salt and transfer to a bowl. I actually went way overboard on this and made it really almost mushy, but it was awesome. Also, i had a really hard time finding pitted dates and had to buy regular ones and get Justin to pit them for me.

Finally, preheat the oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a floured work surface (in my case a wood cutting board), working with 1 piece at a time, roll out the dough into a 1/8 inch thick square (that's really, really skinny) and cut into three 3 1/2 by 10 1/2 inch rectangles. I didn't have a rolling pin, so I used a cup.

Spread about 1/2 cup of filling over the bottom half of each rectangle, leaving a thin border, and fold the top of the rectangle, leaving a thin border, and fold the top of the rectangle over the filling.

Seal the edges with a fork and cut a 1/2 inch vent on the top. I just used my fingers to seal the edges - it worked! Transfer the strudels to the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with water and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden, the recipe says about 15 minutes, but it took me closer to 20 or 30.

The Apple Zeppole on the other hand, i absolutely adored. Though, this is the first fried food i've ever made in my life, and it was a huge mess. I will not be making any friend twinkies or fried ice cream any time soon. This is a Giada De Larentis recipe from foodnetwork.

Apple Zeppole:
1 large apple, peeled and grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup sugar
1 stick butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
4 eggs
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Olive oil for frying

In a medium saucepan combine the butter, salt, sugar, and water over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Take pan off the heat and stir in the flour. Return the pan to medium heat and stir continuously until mixture forms a ball. Food network says about 3 to 5 minutes, but it took me around 2. Transfer the flour mixture to a medium bowl. Using an electric hand mixer on low speed, add eggs, one at a time, incorporating each egg completely before adding the next. Beat until smooth. Add the grated apple and stir to combine. (Be careful when you grate the apple to use a big enough grater, I started with a regular small cheese grater and it was making apple mush) If you're not frying immediately, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

Combine the whipping cream, 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Whip until medium soft peaks form. Transfer the whipping cream to a serving dish. (I did this the next day when I planned on serving the Zeppole - obviously you don't want to make whip cream ahead of time)

Meanwhile, pour enough oil into a large frying pan to reach a depth of 2 inches - or thereabout. Heat the oil over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 325 degrees F. Also, i don't have a deep fry thermometer. I just used a meat thermometer, and making sure it didn't touch the bottom of the pan, took a good guess at when it got hot enough since my meat thermometer only goes up to 250.

Using a small ice-cream scooper or 2 small spoons, carefully drop about a rounded tablespoon of the dough into the hot olive oil. Turn the zeppole once or twice, and cook until golden and puffed up, about 4 minutes. Again, I only cooked each one around 2 or 3 - you'll know when they're done though. Fry the zeppole in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan. Drain on paper towels. Transfer the zeppole to a serving dish and sprinkle with powdered sugar using a small sieve. Serve with the cinnamon whipped cream alongside for dipping. YUM.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

French Onion Soup

I may have said this before, but i'm not really a great cook. However, with a little help from my husband, tonight's dinner was officially awesome. Everything on this blog so far has been baking/sweets related, so this is a little different, but with the sudden cool weather I figured it was time for a good soup. I heartily recommend this french onion soup (courtesy the food network and Paula Dean).

I'm actually going to go ahead and post the link to the recipe, because I really didn't use specific amounts:

I used:

2 really big onions sliced
Some minced garlic (about a teaspoon)
Some olive oil
about 2 tablespoons of flour
1 carton of beef broth
A little bit of Sauvignon Blanc
Some dried thyme
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
Pre-cut french bread from HEB
Grated Italian Blend cheese

And then Justin used (as a fix-it) some brown sugar.

I know, not very precise, but with soup it doesn't need to be. I'm proof that it is REALLY hard to mess this up.

I started by taking about 20 minutes to cut up the two giant onions (one red, one white), then poured the onions in a pot with some olive oil, salt, and the garlic. I sauteed these for a while then added the flour - the sauteing is where I went wrong. You should saute the onions till they get really brown and wilted looking. They should look caramelized. The caramelization is what makes the french onion soup sweet.

(this is how they look when they're NOT done)

I then added the beef broth, wine, thyme, and pepper. That was the point when Justin came in and asked me what I was doing and explained about the caremelizing. I got really upset and almost cried. Yes, I know it's an over-reaction. Luckily, he was able to save the day. I went for a "run" (aka. walk on the treadmill and wish i were in better shape), and he took over the soup. He turned it to a boil and added some brown sugar to sweeten it up. About half an hour later it was done! Magic, i swear!

To make it especially fancy I used the cut up french bread from HEB, buttered and toasted them, then turned the oven on broil and melted the cheese real quick on top.

Truly, the perfect dinner for the first really cool day of the year!

Saturday, September 5, 2009


When I went to central market last week I saw that limes were on sale. Ordinarily limes are really cheap, so limes being on sale really shouldn't have made much of a difference to me. However, the savings of 10 cents (total) made me go a little crazy with the limes, i think i bought 12 of them, though I'm not totally sure about that. When I got home and unpacked my groceries I realized that I now needed to actually USE 12 limes. Justin made guacamole, and that used one. And then I used 4 on this lime tart. I still have a lot of limes to use.

This Lime tart is very similar to the key lime pie I told you about earlier, although definitely a lot more work. But, I did find it satisfying and exciting to use my new tart pan for the first time.
For your tart you'll need:

Tart Shell
3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
(Smitten Kitchen recommends you add in an egg if your crust is too crumbly and hard to shape, I didn't read that part of the directions so I just dealt with it).

4 limes at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
4 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, mix the butter and sugar together until they are just combined using an electric mixer. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. The smitten kitchen instructions said to next dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Press the dough into a 10-inch-round or 9-inch-square false-bottom tart pan, making sure that the finished edge is flat. But, this didn't really work for me because my crust was too crumbly since I didn't read the part about adding the egg. Instead I just put a bunch of the dough crumbles in my crust and pressed them into the pan, it worked just fine! Chill until firm.

Butter one side of a square of aluminum foil to fit inside the tart and place it, buttered side down, on the pastry. Fill with beans or rice. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and beans, prick the tart all over with the tines of a fork, and bake again for 20 to 25 minutes more, or until lightly browned. It actually only took like 5 minutes or so for my crust to be brown but then it wasn't done completely through in the corners, so you might try turning the heat down a little for this part. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Remove the zest of 4 limes with a vegetable peeler or zester, being careful to avoid the white pith. Squeeze the limes to make 1/2 cup of juice and set the juice aside. Put the zest in a food processor (or in my case, a blender, since my food processor is still at Justin's parents house). Add the sugar and process (or blend) for 2 to 3 minutes, until the zest is very finely minced. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar and lime zest. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then add the lime juice and salt. Mix until combined.

Pour the mixture into a 2-quart saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 10 minutes (it took me more like 15 and I had to turn the heat up a little bit to get it to correctly thicken). The lime curd will thicken at about 175°F, or just below a simmer. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Fill the tart shell with warm lime curd and allow to set at room temperature. Once set, serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Now, just tell me that doesn't look delicious!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Buttermilk Cake an Buttercream Cookies

Actually, both of these recipes are a lot easier than pie, which I frequently find to be a little bit difficult (especially if you make your own crust). The first is raspberry buttermilk cake, which is incredibly delectable but only makes about 8 slices, so it's not great for a crowd. The second is Bavarian Buttercream Cookies. One of the things that makes these cookies so wonderful is that the recipe calls for nothing other than ingredients you most likely already have in your pantry, making them the perfect cookies for spur-of-the-moment baking when you just don't feel up to the grocery store.

I would also like to take a moment to point out to all (three?) of my readers, that I am desperately in need of a job, so if you know of one... point me in the direction! Otherwise it is possible that I will be blogging from the public library and living out of a box on the corner within mere months. My blog will have to change titles of course, it will no longer be the Honey-Do Kitchen blog, instead I think I'll call it the I Live in a Box Blog, or perhaps to be more creative... the What You Can Cook Over a Steam Grate on the Street Blog. I anticipate that such a blog will have a much more limited recipe collection.

Now, back to the raspberry buttermilk cake. This could really be made with any berry you wanted. I've also made it with blackberries. The recipe (from smittenkitchen of course) is as follows:

Preheat the oven to 400 with the rack in the middle and butter and flour a 9" round cake pan.

You'll need:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 large egg
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk*
1 cup fresh raspberries (or other berries)

*You can make your own buttermilk, my Mother says to use 1 tablespoon vinegar to 1 cup of milk, let stand until it looks curdled (maybe 8 to 10 minutes). I will point out however, that some people think that this kind of buttermilk isn't as good *coughJustincough*

Start (as usual) by whisking together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and setting this aside. Then in a larger bowl beat the butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, for about 2 minutes, then beat in the vanilla and lemon zest. Add the egg and beat well.

At a low speed mix in the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Begin and end with the flour and mix until just combined. Spoon the batter into the cake pan and smooth the top. Then, scatter raspberries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar.

Now, I think i've already given you all my opinion about scattering things. As you can see, I chose to place my raspberries in concentric circles (is this the right term?). It looked much prettier and far more orderly, plus that way no piece of cake got shorted on fruit.

Bake until the cake is golden and a tooth-pick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto a rack to cool.

Next for the cookies. I got this recipe off of after watching Stranger than Fiction. I am absolutely in love with Maggie Gyllenhaal's character in that movie. Sometimes when I'm baking I like to pretend that I'm really hot and have lots of cool tattoos. Anyway, at the end of the movie she mentions some sort of Bavarian cookie, which I honestly can't remember the name of anymore. But these were the closest thing I could find, and they are so yummy.

Like I said before, you'll probably already have everything you need for these cookies.

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup butter, softened
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar. (Notice, in almost all recipes you will mix together the dry ingredients, then the wet ingredients, then add the dry to the wet. There is some sort of scientific chemical reason for this, but I don't know it) Set aside the dry ingredients.

At medium speed beat sugar and butter until blended, then crank it up to high speed till it's light and fluffy. In yet another bowl beat the egg yolks until thick and pale yellow.

Add the egg yolks and vanilla to the butter and sugar, then stir in the flour mixture until well blended. Shape the dough into 1" balls (or thereabouts) and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes.

Next up: Lime Tart! (i think).