Archive for the ‘Bon Appetit’ Category

Over the years, I have acquired some great kitchen appliances, pans and other gear from my Mom. And by acquired, I mean stolen. OK, not exactly. But she loans them to me and then I “store” them for her. My parents’ house is only five miles away from mine, so if she wants something back (or needs to “borrow” it from me) it isn’t a big deal. The bonus is that I have access to items I wouldn’t necessarily buy and am able to put them to good use if the mood strikes me.

This week, I was in the mood for bundt cake. OK – I was craving it. I must have spotted the bundt pan in the basement recently. Or maybe I was tempted by a piece of bundt cake at the coffee shop. Either way, I couldn’t stop thinking about bundt cake. After a quick inventory of my fridge, I realized I had some excess blueberries that needed to be used up. Blueberry bundt cake was in the cards.

I found an easy recipe by just doing a quick search on Epicurious. Side note: I have the Epicurious app on the iPad the Mister gave me for my birthday in May. This has become my constant cooking companion. I prop up my iPad on its little stand in the kitchen whenever I am cooking and have access to all the recipes I have bookmarked online or on the Epicurious app.)

I modified the recipe below only slightly. They called or orange zest, but I only had lemons. Blueberries and lemons seem like a better match to my palette anyways. I just used a little less than they called for, as noted below. I also glazed the cake with a simple icing rather than dusting it with powdered sugar like they suggested. I think it made a prettier cake in the end.

Blueberry Bundt Cake
Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon lemon zest, or 1 tablespoon orange zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups fresh blueberries

½ cup powdered sugar
½-2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 10-inch-diameter Bundt pan. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat 1 2/3 cups sugar and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in orange peel and vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions. Fold in blueberries. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted near center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour.

Make the glaze: Whisk ½ teaspoon of lemon juice into the powdered sugar. Add more lemon juice drop by drop until it is the consistency of thick syrup.

Cool cake in pan on rack 10 minutes. Turn cake out onto rack and cool completely. Place a plan under the rack and the glaze over the top. Once it is done dripping and the glaze has hardened a little, transfer the cake to a plate and serve.

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Cooking Club – January

One of my New Year’s resolutions involved my friend Rachel. We resolved to cook more, but more specifically to cook more together. Once a month, we’ll take turns hosting and choosing a menu then shop for, prep and cook the meal together.
January 13th was our first “Cooking Club.”

Rachel chose the menu from the newly designed Bon Appétit, February edition.

Earth-Friendly Dinner Party

We started the day with a list and a trip to Central Market. This store is great – lots of unusual produce, imported food, cheese and organics you can’t get at your normal mega-mart. We each contributed some ingredients from our own pantries, so our bill was only $80.

Off to Rachel’s house to begin the prep. We decided to start with bread. It was already 2pm (Splendid Table was playing on the radio), so we needed a quick bread. Thankfully, the NY Times has provided some great short-cut bread recipes the last couple of years. I love the No-Knead bread, but that requires 18 hours to rise. Thankfully, this 5-minute bread needs only 2-3 hours.

Next we turned to the crudite platter. When I think of crudite, I imagine the usual carrots-broccoli-celery-ranch spread. Bon Appétit suggested turnips & fennel, which were much better than I expected. The turnips were kind of like bland radishes. We didn’t need to make our own fennel salt, since I picked some up last time I dined at Volterra. The fennel salt on the veggies was great – who needs ranch?!

As the bread continued to bake, we continued our prep: brine the chicken (5 1/2 # chicken in 4 qts of water with 1/2 cup each of salt & sugar); chop the squash, onions, garlic, kale, potatoes and sunchokes.

When I cook, I always clean as I go. I learned this from my mom and I like cutting down on the end-of-night massive clean-up. Rachel is from a different school of thought. She was fascinated by this concept though and interested in learning more. She wasn’t always enthusiastic at embracing this philosophy however. When I asked her, “We have 20 minutes until the chicken is done brining, what would be a good thing to get done during that time?,” she replied, “Play Wii!” Wrong answer.

The butternut squash soup was pretty simple – once you peel and chop the squash that is (hint: a rubber mallet is a must). For any pureed soup, I strongly recommend an immersion blender. Forget pouring scalding hot soup into a blender and pureeing in batches. That has disaster written all over it. Drama – the new cat at the Unck household – was curious about the soup, but was probably more interested in a warm lap.

The soup recipe called for toasted breadcrumbs. We had to make them twice (don’t ask), so that gave us plenty of time to practice our pan-flipping (pan-tossing?) skills. Rachel had an ingenious idea – practice tossing using beans (not food you plan on eating). We spilled a lot of beans but also got the flipping technique down.

Kale was on the menu and since one of Rachel’s resolutions, we had to give it a go. This recipe called for onions and smoked paprika, which made it very flavorful. The smoky paprika almost gave it a meaty taste (bacon would have probably done this better, of course). Rachel was skeptical about kale; her comment, “I thought it was only used as a garnish, like to decorate salad bars. What are we gonna eat next, holly?”

The starch for the menu was mashed russet potatoes and sunchokes. Sunchokes are also known as Jerusalem artichokes. I can’t say that I am a huge fan. They had a really pungent flavor that I didn’t find appealing. Maybe in a different dish I’d like them better.

The star of the show (besides Drama the cat?) was the chicken. We brined that bird for about an hour, then butterflied it, rubbed it with the herb spread (under the skin too!) and roasted it on a bed of rosemary springs. The recipe called for 90 minutes, but we checked after 60 minutes and the thigh meat was edging towards 160 degrees. About 10-15 minutes later and it was done. It was SO juicy and butterflying it really crisped up the skin nicely. We ate about 1/2 the bird between the 3 of us, but had lots leftovers. Rachel and I cleaned the carcass and made a quick chicken salad we could have for lunches this week (chicken, celery, scallions, mayo, Dijon mustard, salt & pepper).
Dessert was light and tasty. Poached pears with Point Reyes blue cheese and pine nuts – yum. It would have been yummier if the recipes caramel sauce had turned out, but was good nonetheless.
The verdict: the menu was good, but not every dish was a winner. I will do the soup, the kale and the chicken again. I will also try to incorporate turnips into a future veggie platter.

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