April 27, 2010

Chilaquile Casserole

Alexis officially gets credit for exposing me to chilaquiles from her post here on RFL, but the first time I actually ate them was at Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe in Emeryville (across from PIXAR). They are delicious and I crave them all the time. So I was pretty ecstatic when I found a recipe for a casserole version in one of Mollie Katzen's books - Still Life With Menu. It's super simple and easy to improvise on. Don't be afraid of the casserole, either. I've nostalgically come to love them in the last year, even though I hated them as a kid. So throw on an apron and whip this tasty dinner/breakfast/lunch/midnight snack up!

What's in it
12 corn tortillas
2 4oz cans chopped green chiles
3 C grated jack cheese
salt and pepper
4 eggs
2 C buttermilk

Optional additions
1-2 C pinto beans
1-2 C corn
1/2 lb firm tofu, cut in thin slices
1 C chopped and sauted onion
1 small zucchini cubed and sauted

How it's made
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and butter a 9x13-inch pan.
Tear 6 tortillas into bite sized pieces and layer on the bottom of the pan. Distribute half the chiles and half the cheese on top (and any additional ingredients).
Tear the rest of the tortillas and sprinkle on top, then follow with the remaining cheese and chiles, etc.
Beat the eggs and buttermilk with the salt and pepper and pour on top of the casserole.
Bake for 35 minutes uncovered. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

April 25, 2010

Honey Madeleines

I tried my first madeleine while working at a coffee shop in college. They looked sorta plain, but once I took a bite and the buttery, vanilla cake-iness melted in my mouth, I was a convert. There is something about slightly dense fluffiness of the crumb that I love. Friends at another cafe made me try madeleines topped with whipped cream, which I highly recommend--if you don't mind an approximately 1,000 calorie snack.

I don't make a habit of eating madeleines all the time, mind you. But, ever since I saw a recipe for them in Martha Stewart's Cookies cookbook, I've been itching to make them. Of course, you need a special madeleine pan to make madeleines, so I've been eying those madeleine molds enviously every time I enter a cooking store fancy enough to carry them. It just seemed a little beyond my budget to fork out major dough for something that would be used on such a limited basis. Still, I couldn't help day dreaming a bit when I came across one.

Recently, I cut out a madeleine recipe from Bon Appetit that called for lavender honey. I don't have fancy honey and I don't have a fancy pan, but I decided to make them anyway. I figured a cupcake pan was similar enough that it just might work...

And, lo and behold--they turned out just fine, minus the pretty fluting and scalloped shape that typically defines a madeleine. But, you know what, they taste damn good regardless. Now, where's the whipped cream...

Honey Madeleines
  • 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter)
  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup almond flour or almond meal
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter each mold or the cupcake pan and dust with flour, tapping out the excess. 
  2. Melt 9 tablespoons butter in a medium (light colored) skillet or a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until butter turns golden brown, stirring often. (It's harder to see the color of the butter in a dark pan.) Set browned butter aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites, sugar, all purpose flour and almond flour in a medium bowl until smooth. 
  4. Place honey in a small, microwave safe bowl and heat until just warm, 5-10 seconds. Beat honey into batter. Beat in browned butter.
  5. Spoon two tablespoons of batter into each cupcake mold. Bake until the tops are just dry and a tester comes out clean, about 14-16 minutes. Cool 5 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Tap madeleines out of mold onto the rack and cool slightly. Serve warm.
Yield: 12 madeleines

April 22, 2010

Chocolate Chip Coconut Macaroons

I hear that macarons are the new cupcakes, but I've never actually tried a macaron. Anyway, they don't look as good as one of my all time favorite cookies (if they even should be called cookies---these dense, sticky, sweet stacks of shredded coconut): macaroons. I don't know exactly what the difference is, but I think maracons are more meringue-y, French and have no coconut (boo). Someone out there should try one and let me know. Or I'll just wait to try one myself when some hip young entrepreneur opens up a macaron food cart here in Portland, which will probably happen any moment now.

But let's focus on the moral of the story here---COCONUT MACAROONS are the best--- if you like coconut, of course, which everyone in their right mind absolutely must; although I am sad to report that I personally know at least a few coconut haters. I do feel very sorry for them and their missed dessert opportunities. But, you know, their loss really.

My favorite way to enjoy a macaroon is covered in chocolate. (See The Upper Crust Bakery in Chico, CA or The French Corner Bakery in Cambria, CA for particularly fantastic specimens.) To save time when making these at home, I made a batch with chocolate chips mixed in--not the same, but close. It is exceedingly important to use the best sweetened coconut you can get your hands on here. I used the regular supermarket sweetened flaked coconut and it tastes good, but not as coocnut-y as it should. I would consider adding a drop of coconut extract in addition to the vanilla next time if I had to use that generic coconut again.( I'd happily take suggestions on which brands to buy/where to get extra delicious coconut. No, really, do tell.)

Even so, these coconut macaroons are pretty tasty. Toasted coconut crunch and chewy, chocolate-y center! And, really truly EASY. Thanks---yet again---Martha.

Chocolate Chip Coconut Macaroons
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (2 Tbsp if you like them sweeter)
  • 2 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips or chunks
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
  • pinch of salt
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well, using your hands to fully incorporate the ingredients.
  3. Form 1 1/2 tablespoon mounds on prepared baking sheet, spacing 1 inch apart.
  4. Bake until golden brown, 15-20 minutes, rotating halfway through. Cool on a wire rack.

April 11, 2010

Nancy's Carmelitas

Other than brownies, I don't have a whole lot of experience in the 'bar cookie' world. We have a lovely lady at work who makes tasty baked goods and occasionally leaves some treats on the break room table. This recipe comes from Nancy, who opened up the world of bar cookies to me - the easiest cookies to make! I can guarantee if you make these, they will have a very short life.

What's in it
1 jar caramel topping
2 C chocolate chips (or butterscotch)
1 C nuts
2 C flour
2 C old fashioned oats
1 1/2 C brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 C melted butter

How it's made
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 9x13" baking pan.
In a large bowl, butter (melted), flour, oats, sugar, baking soda and salt. Press 1/2 the mixture into the pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle with chocolate, nuts and caramel (make sure caramel is soft enough to drizzle - I put my jar in the oven for a couple minutes to soften). Press on remaining mixture and bake 15-20 more minutes or until golden brown. Cut into small bars to serve.

April 7, 2010

Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake with Vanilla Glaze and Strawberries

I made this for Easter Dinner, it's from Bon Appetite Magazine, and it was so delicious. A beautiful hybrid between Angel Food Cake, Meringue, and Bundt Cake all mixed in one. The key is to use real vanilla bean, and use an actual bundt pan. It's the first bundt cake I've ever made, and it was super fun! Keep it in mind for Mother's Day coming up in May.

What's in it
1 vanilla bean
1 tsp bourbon

1 1/2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1/2 C + 6 Tbl butter, room temperature
3/4 C sugar
1/4 C brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk

1/2 C buttermilk

How it's made
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour standard bundt pan, and spray with nonstick spray.
Pour bourbon into a small bowl, and scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into it. Keep the vanilla pod for another use. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream with mixer butter and sugars. Add eggs and yolk one at a time (mixing in between). Mix in vanilla/bourbon mixture.
Add one at a time, mixing in between until just blended: 1/2 of flour mixture, buttermilk, rest of flour mixture.
Transfer the batter to the pan, smoothing out the top. Bake 55 minutes until tester comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack 15 minutes, then invert onto wire rack to cool completely.

For the glaze
Whisk together 2/3 C powdered sugar, 4 tsp or more whole milk, 1 tsp vanilla extract. When cake is cool, drizzle over cake in zigzag pattern using a spoon. Let set 15 minutes.

For strawberries
Wash and slice 1 1/2 lbs fresh strawberries. Mix 3 Tbl or more sugar in and let set 40 minutes until juices form. Toss occasionally.

Serve slices of cake with strawberries on the side.