Tuesday, March 16, 2010

It's been a crazy 2 months...

I have married my love.
Moved homes.

That doesn't sound too crazy, but you then again, are not me.

I will update this weekend. promise! I have about 5 recipes to add and lots of experience. heh. get ready my friends...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Creamy Leek and Potato Soup

I have never cooked with leeks, but I have always wanted to. It's not that they were intimidating like say, an artichoke or a souffle, but there is a certain amount of knowledge you need to cook certain things. I've always thought leeks fell into this category. It turns out they are very easy to cook with. I will be a lot doing more of it!

The look like giant spring onions (also called green onions or scallions). I found some leeks this weekend and went to town planning a dish around them. I settled on this recipe from Epicurious. I made some substitutions to the soup to fit what I had on hand. The soup was nice a creamy but not at all heavy. I will make this again, but I will also stick to the original proportions more. I loved the flavor, but it was very mild and subtle. I love a soup to grab you by the tounge and make out with you...

This soup was definitely better the next day. I highly recommend preparing this ahead of time, even up to a day or two before serving it, to allow the flavors to really meld together.

Below are my alterations.
4 medium leeks, trimmed, white and light green parts only, chopped
8-10 green onions/scallions, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 stick unsalted butter
4 small boiling potatoes
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 small bay leaves
1-1/2 cups fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 pint heavy cream

1. Wash chopped leeks in a bowl of cold water, agitating them, then lift out and drain well in a colander.

2. Cook leeks, scallions, carrot, celery, salt, pepper and butter in a 5-6 quart heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until tender. About 8 minutes. Peel potatoes and cut into 1/2 inch cubes, add to onion mixture along with wine, stock and bay leaves. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender. About 15 minutes.

3. Stir in parsley and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Discard bay leaves and keep soup at a bare simmer.

4. Melt remaining 4 Tablespoons butter in a 1 quart heavy saucepan, over moderate heat, then add flour and cook roux, whisking until golden, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add 2 cups of simmering stock from soup, whisking vigorously (mixture will be thick), then whisk mixture into remaining soup and whisk to a simmer. Add additional water if necessary. Add heavy cream.

5. Blend soup in several batches in a blender or using an immersion blender, process until smooth. Reheat if necessary. Season with salt and pepper.

*2nd photo from epicurious.com

Happy Birthday to me...

At times, I am a simple girl. My favorite cake always has been Classic Yellow Cake with Chocolate Icing. I have had it from the box, from scratch and even in ice cream form. (curses to Marble Slab Creamery...) Quite honestly, I will take it any way I can get it.
This year for my birthday, I decided to indulge my culinary senses and bake a gorgeous cake all for myself. And so I did. (ok, I shared a little...) The cakes were perfect. And I am no baker, so I say that with pride. The icing...well that is a different story entirely. See, I prefer the whipped buttercream type of chocolate icing. And unbeknownst to me, the icing I decided to make actually turned out to be more of a dark chocolate ganache. It was good, but quite strong. A little whipped cream even things out nicely.

Here are the recipes I used.
Yellow Butter Cake
makes two 9-inch round cakes.

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans.
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
1-1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1-3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9x2" round cake pans; *Line the bottoms with parchment paper. Butter parchment paper and dust with flour, tapping out excess. Set aside. Into a medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until combined after each addition.
3. **Divide the batter between the prepared pans and smooth with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating halfway through, until cakes are golden brown and a cake tester (or toothpick) inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes. Transfer pans to wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack, peel off the parchment. Re-invert cakes and let them cool completely top sides up.*I skipped the parchment paper and my cakes were fine.
**it might help to use large measuring spoons here to get an equal amount if you aren't used to "eyeballing it".

Chocolate Frosting
makes enough to frost and fill the recipe above.

24 ounces best quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into pieces
1/2 cup plus one Tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus one Tablespoon boiling water
3 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
pinch of salt
2 layers of Yellow Butter Cake
sprinkles are optional...

1. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl over, but not touching, simmering water. Turn off heat, stirring occasionally until chocolate has melted completely, about 15 minutes. Sit bowl on counter top and let chocolate cool to room temperature, 25 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine cocoa powder and boiling water together and stir until cocoa has dissolved.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, confectioner's sugar and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add melted chocolate, beat on low speed until combined, 102 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in cocoa mixture.
3. ***Using a serrated knife, cut off the tops of the cakes until even, brush off crumbs. Place 4 pieces of parchment paper around the base of a serving plate of lazy Susan. Place the 1st layer on the cake plate and spread with 1/3 of frosting, add the 2nd layer upside down and spread with remaining frosting.

***I didn't cut my cakes, I simply used as is. And the frosting part is kind of trial and error if you've never done that before. But just go for it. It all takes good in the end!