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Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

68 Days of Gourmet: Day 12

I came across this recipe while flipping through the Breakfast/Brunch section of The Gourmet Cookbook. I thought it would be perfect to have on hand during the holidays, as a breakfast treat or an afternoon snack. Brandon and I decided that this bread is definitely less coffee cake and more pound cake. The flavor of the cake itself was extremely reminiscent of pound cake. The fresh cranberry ripple added a nice touch of fruit flavor. This would be perfect to have around the house for guests to snack on or as part of a holiday breakfast or brunch. I sliced and wrapped the bread in individual slices and put them in the freezer for a quick (and indulgent) snack on the go.

Fresh Cranberry Coffee Cake
(Recipe source The Gourmet Cookbook)
Printable Recipe: Fresh Cranberry Coffee Cake

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
1 3/4 cup sugar, divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
Optional: confectioners’ sugar for garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 9 x 5 loaf pan.

Place cranberries and 1/2 cup of sugar in food processor and pulse until cranberries are finely chopped and sugar is incorporated, careful not to puree. Place in a sieve and let drain while you prepare the cake batter.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand held mixer, cream together butter and remaining 1 1/3 cup sugar for about 3 minutes on high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed to medium and add in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and alternately add flour mixture and milk in three parts, beginning and ending with flour.

Spread 1/3 of the batter in bottom of prepared loaf pan. Spoon 1/2 of the cranberries over the batter, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edges (see picture below). Top with another 1/3 of batter and remaining cranberries and finally, top with last 1/3 of batter.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Yield: 8 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 10

I just finished sampling a slice of this cheesecake. I love cheesecake and I love pumpkin and this combination didn’t disappoint. Brandon’s first comment was, “I can’t believe how much it tastes like pumpkin pie.” I think what I like best about it is that it’s not too sweet. The balance of flavors is perfect and the texture is nice.

This cheesecake was published in Gourmet in November 2000. It’s received over 300 reviews and maintains a 4-fork rating. It’s definitely a winner if you’re looking for a holiday dessert. This cheesecake is a nice change from the traditional pumpkin pie. But don’t save it only for Thanksgiving, it’s a great dessert to serve throughout the fall and holiday season.

I substituted ginger snaps for the graham crackers in the crust because I love holiday cheesecakes with ginger snap crust. Also, you can omit the bourbon if you’d like but the bourbon flavor is not very strong.

If you’re a cheesecake and pumpkin lover this dessert is for you!

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon Sour Cream Topping
(Recipe source Gourmet, November 1990)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CRUST
3/4 cup graham cracker or ginger snap crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

FOR THE FILLING
1 1/2 cups solid pack pumpkin
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)

FOR THE TOPPING
2 cups sour cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)

Directions:

FOR THE CRUST
Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Combine the crumbs, pecans and sugars in a bowl. Stir in melted butter and press mixture into the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of springform pan. Chill crust for 1 hour.

FOR THE FILLING
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together pumpkin, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt and brown sugar in a large bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together cream cheese and granulated sugar for about 3 minutes. Add in cream, cornstarch, vanilla and bourbon and mix until incorporated. Add in pumpkin mixture and beat until smooth.

Pour filling into chilled crust and bake the cheesecake for 50 to 55 minutes, until the center is just set. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 5 minutes (leaving the oven on).

MAKE THE TOPPING
Whisk together sour cream, sugar and bourbon in a bowl.

Spread sour cream mixture evenly over top of the cheesecake. Bake for 5 more minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan on a rack for at least an hour. Place in refrigerator and chill covered overnight.

Release cheesecake from pan and serve.

Yield: 8-10 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 9

I don’t even know where to start. I don’t want to gush so much that you think I’m crazy but this macaroni and cheese recipe is pretty life changing as far as mac and cheese recipes go. If you think you’ve already found the perfect recipe you still have to try this one. I found it in The Gourmet Cookbook. They had me at, “this is arguably the best macaroni and cheese on the planet.”

Macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite comfort food dinners. I just serve it with a green salad and call it a meal. (Who needs meat anyway when you can just eat more mac and cheese!?) The method in this recipe is pretty basic for mac and cheese: make a roux, stir in milk, cream and cheese, mix in macaroni, sprinkle on topping and bake. The results are a creamy, cheesy mac and cheese with a crunchy topping – heaven!

I’m already planning the next time that I’ll make this…and that will be this weekend. My sister-in-law just brought home a new baby and I know they will love this mac and cheese. This recipe makes a full 11 x 17 pan so it’s perfect for leftovers or entertaining.

Please try this and let me know how it compares to other mac and cheese recipes! This has definitely been one of the highlight recipes of 68 Days of Gourmet so far and I know I’ll be making this for years to come.

Macaroni and Cheese
(Recipe source The Gourmet Cookbook)

Ingredients:

FOR TOPPING
1/4 stick (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
2 cups panko or coarse dry breadcrumbs
1 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese

FOR CHEESE SAUCE AND MACARONI
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 cups grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese (about 1 pound)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound elbow macaroni

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 3-4 quart baking dish or 13 x 9 pan with butter or cooking spray.

FOR THE TOPPING
Mix together panko, butter and cheese in a medium bowl. Set aside.

FOR THE SAUCE
Melt butter in a heavy pot over low heat. Whisk in flour and red pepper flakes and cook, whisking constantly, for about 3 minutes to make a roux. Whisk in milk in a slow steady stream. Increase heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Simmer for another 3 minutes, stirring frequently until mixture is thickened a bit. Stir in cream, cheese, mustard, salt and pepper until cheese is melted. Remove from heat and set aside.

COOK THE MACARONI AND ASSEMBLE THE DISH
Cook macaroni according to package directions, making sure to add plenty of the salt to the cooking water. (At least 1 tablespoon for every 4 quarts.) Undercook macaroni about 3-4 minutes so that it still has quite a bite to it. This ensures the pasta won’t get mushy when cooking. Reserve 1 cup pasta water and then drain noodles.

Stir together macaroni, reserved cooking water and sauce in a large bowl or in your sauce pot if it’s big enough. Transfer to prepared baking dish, mixture will be loose.

Sprinkle topping evenly over mixture and bake for about 25-35 minutes. Top should be golden and bubbling.

Yield: 8 main course servings or 12-14 side dish servings

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altonturkey

Two posts in one day? I can honestly say I never thought this would happen but this turkey is just too beautiful not to share with my readers while everyone is planning Thanksgiving menus. I can’t take any credit for this bird – it’s my dad’s practice turkey for Thanksgiving. He made this last weekend on the Big Green Egg using Alton Brown’s Good Eats Roast Turkey recipe. If you’re looking for a turkey recipe I think you should give Alton’s a try. I was shocked to see it has received 2,289 reviews and still has 5-stars. Pretty impressive! My dad was very pleased with how this turkey turned out and will be using this recipe on Thanksgiving day.

One of the benefits of cooking your turkey on the Egg is having your oven space available for all your sides and desserts. Also, the smoke flavor and crisp skin is delicious! If you don’t have an Egg, no worries. Alton’s recipe provides step-by-step instructions for the oven.

The only thing my dad did differently was let the turkey air-dry in the fridge for 12 hours before cooking. This dries the skin to help it become golden and crisp while cooking.

Can’t wait to try this turkey on Thanksgiving day!

Good Eats Roast Turkey on the Big Green Egg
(Recipe adapted from Alton Brown)
Printable Recipe: Good Eats Roast Turkey on the Big Green Egg

Cook Time:

BRINE
14-16 hours (1 hour per pound)

AIR CHILL
12 hours

COOK TIME
2 hours 30 min (max)

Ingredients:

1 (14-16  pound) fresh turkey

FOR THE BRINE
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries (my dad substituted 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon)
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
1 gallon heavily iced water

FOR THE AROMATICS
1 red apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 rosemary sprigs
6 sage leaves
Canola oil

Directions:

TO MAKE THE BRINE
Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Remove the brine from heat, cool to room temperature and refrigerate.

TO BRINE THE TURKEY
The day before you’re roasting your turkey, combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed. Cover and refrigerate or set in cool area for one hour per pound. Turn the bird once halfway through brining if your turkey is not fully submersed.

After brining time is up, remove the bird from the brine, rinse and pat dry. Place in refrigerator and allow to air chill overnight, about 12 hours.

TO ROAST THE TURKEY
If using the Egg, set it up with a plate setter or pizza stone. Place a cast iron grate (feet side up) on top of that and finally you’ll place the turkey in a roasting pan on top of that (after Egg is preheated). Preheat the oven or Big Green Egg to 500 degrees.

Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey’s cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

Roast the turkey in the Big Green Egg with lid down or on lowest level of the oven for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees (or bring the grill temperature down). Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees and remove the turkey to rest when it reaches this temperature. (After 2 hours my dad’s turkey was 163 degrees in the breast and 171 degrees in the thigh).

Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil for at least 15 minutes before carving.

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 5

jeweledrice

I was tasked with bringing a starch side dish to a family dinner last weekend. Brandon was cooking a turkey breast on the Big Green Egg as our meat. I decided not to make anything potato based since Thanksgiving is coming up so soon. I found this rice recipe when I was researching recipes for 68 Days of Gourmet and thought it sounded different. Brandon isn’t the biggest fan of rice but I love it. He also isn’t the biggest fan of dried fruit but I love that too. I thought our family dinner was the perfect time to try this since I would have a larger audience who would appreciate my rice and dried fruit side dish!

The method for preparing this rice is really different. Read the recipe directions below and you’ll see what I mean. I was pretty nervous about the final product turning out but I trusted the recipe and it turned out exactly right. I was scared the crust would be a burned mess but it was perfectly golden. The butter drenched toasted almonds on top were the perfect finish.

This rice is a great side dish for richly spiced pork and chicken and complemented our turkey breast well too. The leftovers were great with the Spiced Chicken I made for dinner on Tuesday night. A note, this recipe makes a ton of rice so you may want to half it if you’re feeding a smaller crowd.

Jeweled Rice with Dried Fruit
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, November 2004)

Ingredients:

3 cups basmati rice
4 quarts water
3 tablespoons salt
1/2 cup dried apricots (3 1/2 oz), quartered (I omitted these)
1/2 cup golden raisins (3 oz)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (2 oz)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup slivered unsalted roasted almonds

Directions:

Rinse rice in several changes of cold water in a large bowl until water runs clear. Drain in a large sieve.

Bring water and salt to a boil in a 6-quart heavy pot. Add rice and boil, uncovered for about 5 minutes – starting from the time the rice starts to boil. Stir occasionally. Drain in sieve.

Mix together dried fruit in a bowl. Melt 6 tablespoons butter in a cleaned and dried pot. Stir in cardamom and pepper and combine. Alternate layers of rice and dried fruit over the butter mixture, beginning and ending with rice. Mound loosely, don’t pack it in. Make 5 or 6 holes in rice to bottom of pot with round handle of a wooden spoon. Wrap lid of pot in a kitchen towel, folding edges of towel up and over the lid (keeping towel away from burner). Cook rice over low heat, undisturbed, until tender and a crust forms on bottom, about 30 to 35 minutes. Do not lift the lid while the rice is cooking. Remove from heat and let rice stand, tightly covered and undisturbed, at least 30 minutes.

While rice is resting, heat remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small skillet over medium heat and cook almonds, stirring, until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes.

Spoon loose rice onto a platter, then break crust into 1-inch pieces and scatter over rice. Sprinkle with almonds.

Yield: 10-12 side dish servings

Notes:
*Rice can stand off heat up to 1 hour. Just keep covered and undisturbed
* If you’re short on time, you can skip letting the rice stand after cooking. Spoon loose rice onto a platter and then dip bottom of pot into a large bowl of cold water for 30 seconds to loosen crust.

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 3

acornsquash2

I love roasted winter squash. While it is time intensive to cook, the preparation is easy and pretty hands-off.  If you’ve never worked with winter squash it can look a little intimidating in the store. I will admit that it’s a bit of a challenge to cut into (I usually make Brandon supervise me when I’m using the really big knife!) but the end result is hearty and full of flavor.

I usually keep the squash simple and roast it with a bit of butter and brown sugar or maple syrup. But last Friday night we decided to stay in and grill steaks and I wanted to kick it up a bit. I found this recipe for Maple Glazed Acorn Squash with Currants on Gourmet and decided to give it a try. I didn’t have currants but I did have dried cranberries and golden raisins so I substituted those.

This squash is a great side dish with winter meals and goes especially well with pork and poultry. It would even be a nice addition to a holiday meal.

acornsquash

Maple Glazed Acorn Squash with Dried Fruit
(Recipe source Gourmet, October 1992)

Ingredients:

3 acorn squash (each about 1 1/2 pounds), halved crosswise and the seeds and strings discarded
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice, or to taste
3 tablespoons dried fruit
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spread 1/2 teaspoon of butter over the cavity of each squash half. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and arrange cut side down in a large baking pan. Add enough water to reach about 1/4 inch up the sides of squash halves.  Bake for about 30 minutes.

While the squash is baking, combine remaining butter, maple syrup, allspice, dried fruit and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat until butter is melted and dried fruit is plump, stirring often.

Remove squash from the oven and flip so cut sides face up. Brush generously with some of the maple mixture and return to the oven. Bake for another 20-30 minutes more, basting frequently with maple mixture and adding more water to the pan if necessary.  Squash should be very tender when done. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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applecake1

One of my all-time favorite cakes is Apple Spice Cake. I loved when my mom baked them growing up. My favorite two desserts that she made were apple cake and banana pudding. I always requested them and my chances that she’d make them got a lot better when I moved away from home :).

Now that the weather is getting cooler and apples are coming into season I found myself craving an apple cake. The recipe my mom uses calls for a lot of vegetable oil and I decided to try a new recipe that featured butter instead. I researched recipes for a while and found this recipe from Cooking Light that sounded great and had received awesome reviews since it was originally printed in 1997. Now, I kind of disagree that this is a light recipe but if they say so…I guess I’ll let myself feel better about it. But how can a cake be light when the recipe includes a stick of butter and cream cheese?

All that matters is that this cake is so good I ended up baking it three times last week. Once for us, once for my sister-in-law (who is expecting her second soon!) and once for my mom. The cake received outstanding reviews from everyone. My sister-in-law texted me the day after it was dropped off and said she’d already had two pieces for dessert and one for breakfast. And she used it as a bargaining tool to get our niece to eat her meals. She said that Emerson loved it so much she would tell her she could have one bite of cake if she ate a bite of her dinner. And I’m very happy to report that my mom approved of the new recipe and even asked for it. So it was a success all around.

The directions call for baking this cake in a springform pan and it gives it a great height that you can’t get from a standard cake pan. I changed the recipe up a bit by changing the mixing method and adding extra cream cheese, nutmeg and chopped pecans. I think the pecans are a must in this cake.

This Apple Cinnamon Cake stays moist for days and is definitely a fall crowd pleaser.I admit that I ate it for breakfast and dessert! It’s delicious served warm with ice cream!

Apple Cinnamon Cake
(Recipe adapted from Cooking Light)

Ingredients:

1 1/2  cups  sugar, plus extra for cinnamon sugar mixture for pan
8 ounces (1 block) 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
1/2  cup  butter (1 stick), softened
1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
2  large eggs
1 1/2 cups  all-purpose flour
1 1/2  teaspoons ground cinnamon, plus extra for cinnamon sugar mixture for pan
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons  baking powder
1/2 teaspoon  salt
1  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
3  cups chopped peeled Fuji apples (about 2 large)
1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
Cooking spray

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together a little bit of cinnamon and sugar (about 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 3 tablespoons sugar). Grease a 9-inch springform pan with butter wrapper or cooking spray. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture and tap sides to evenly distribute. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and salt. Whisk together well to incorporate. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, place 1 1/2 cups sugar, cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Mix on medium high speed until lightened in color and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low and add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture to cream cheese mixture a little at a time, beating at low speed until well blended.

Mix in apples and pecans. Pour batter prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until cake pulls away from the sides of the pan. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Yield: 12 servings

applecake

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