Thursday, February 22, 2018

Hamburger-Vegetable Soup with Tortellini

Today is a second day of snow day so there's no school for my son and myself.  Yesterday I did housework that included laundry, vacuuming, mopping, and dusting!  It's very rare that I got to do dusting when I do my weekly cleaning--ooppsss--as that chore is very tedious and I do not like it at all.  If I can do dusting at least once a month, it is already a triumph for me.  Hey, I am not perfect, are you? :)

I also did some baking which I will probably post the recipe in here.  I do like having snow day because I get to catch up with my chores and to play around in the kitchen.  And yes, I am the kind of person who can't sit still because I will end up eating snacks all day long.  Plus, being at home always makes me hungry; I think it's the comfort of the home that brings calm, stability, or equilibrium to my mind that the immediate response--at least for me--is hunger.

Speaking of being hungry, this past weekend I made this soup which was soo good and easy.  It defines comfort food with rich tomato broth and the pillow-like texture of cheese tortellini.   The flavor is very similar to having hamburgers; that's a plus!

 Wouldn't this be great to have on snow days?

Hamburger-Vegetable Soup with Tortellini

Serves 6 to 8

1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 teaspoon vegetable oil, if needed
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) petite diced tomatoes, no-salt added
6 cups beef stock or broth
2 cups tomato juice
1/4 teaspoon dry Italian seasonings
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 to 3 drops Tabasco sauce
1 package (10 ounces) frozen mixed vegetables, rinsed
1 package (9 ounces) cheese-filled tortellini
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for topping

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, brown meat with onion until meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Add oil if needed to keep meat from sticking.  Add tomatoes, stock, tomato juice, dry Italian seasonings, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco sauce.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Increase heat to medium-high.  Add vegetables and tortellini and cook, uncovered, until vegetables and tortellini are tender, about 10 minutes.  Ladle into a bowl and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Source:  adapted from The Big Book of Soups and Stews by Maryana Vollstedt

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Banana Bundt Cake with Toffee Sauce

I'm not kidding when I said I'm going to put this recipe on the blog but boy, did it take a long time for me to do it!

This cake was a hit in my family that I made it twice in a month.  I do love it as well, I thought the cake was very tender, not too sweet, and it allows you add a variety of ingredients to it; for example, dried fruits, chocolate chips, or nuts.  I keep the add-ons less than a cup because I fear that if it's too much, the batter will get too heavy and dense.

The original recipe didn't have anything on it but I added dried currants because they're my number one choice for dried fruits.  These were soaked in a bit of rum for a few hours.   Plus since I had that leftover toffee sauce from making sticky toffee pudding tart, I decided to use it up on this cake.  Everything worked well together and flavor profile was sublime.

I hope you'll enjoy it as well as my family did!

Banana Bundt Cake with Toffee Sauce

Makes one 10- or 12-inch Bundt cake

3/4 cup dried currants
1/4 cup rum or apple juice
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
4 very ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups)
1 cup sour cream

About 1-1 1/4 cup Toffee Sauce

Place a rack in the center of the oven; preheat oven to 350F degrees.  Generously butter and flour or coat with baker's spray a 10- or 12-inch Bundt cake pan.

Combine dried currants with rum or apple juice and let macerate for a few hours.  Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

Use a paddle attachment on a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy and pale in color.  Beat in vanilla, then add eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each.  Turn the speed to low, add bananas.  Slowly add dry ingredients and then all of the sour cream.  Fold the macerated currants with juice with a spatula until just combined.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Smooth the top and bang the pan gently against the counter a few times.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.  If the top starts to brown quickly, cover it lightly with a piece of foil.  Transfer the cake onto a rack and let cool for 10 minutes.  Unmold the cake to a rack and let it cool to room temperature.  If desired, the cake can be covered with plastic wrap and left overnight to develop more flavor.

When the cake is cool, drizzle the toffee sauce over the cake, letting it drips down the sides.

Source:  adapted from Baking with Dorie, Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications, 2017

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Sticky Toffee Pudding Tart

Happy New Year!!  I don't think that I would make it to the new year with a new post but here I am, making an effort to sit down and write the recipe to share :D

This dessert was actually made last year but I made the toffee sauce twice within two weeks time because it went nicely with another baked item that I created with leftover bananas.  Now I've let out a little hint of what will be the next post ;)

We all loved this tart; it had amazing flavor and the right crispness of the crust.  The toffee sauce was as lovely as the tart, I would think that it would be good with ice cream as well.

So here is the recipe!

Sticky Toffee Pudding Tart

Makes one 9-inch tart

For the crust:
1 batch simple tart dough, recipe follows

For the filling:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup pitted dates
1 cup hot brewed coffee
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the sauce:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
Pinch of salt or more, to taste

Make the crust:  Preheat the oven to 350 degree F.  Roll the dough into a rough 11-inch round.  Line a 9-inch round tart pan with the dough and dock.  Freeze the dough for 20 minutes.  Line the dough with parchment, fill it with pie weights or dried beans, and blind bake it for 20 minutes.  Remove the weights and parchment and bake the crust for 10 to 15 minutes more, until the bottom no longer looks raw and wet.

Make the filling:  In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

Chop the dates into very small pieces.  Place them in a small bowl and add the hot coffee and baking soda and stir.  Set aside until cooled.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time and then the lemon zest and vanilla; beat until blended.  Gradually add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.

Remove the mixing bowl from the machine and fold in the date mixture by hand, using a rubber spatula.  Pour the filling into the prepared shell.  Bake until the pudding is set, 30 to 35 minutes.

Make the sauce:  Combine the butter, cream, brown sugar, and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat.  Stir constantly until the sugar has completely melted, then raise the heat to medium and simmer gently until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.

How to serve:  Spread 1 cup of the sauce over the top of the tart.  Serve it immediately, drizzling a little more toffee sauce over each piece.

Simple Tart Dough

Makes 2 1/2 pounds dough, enough for 3 to 4 (8- to 9-inch) tarts or 12 to 16 mini tarts

4 cups all purpose flour, cold
2 cups unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 egg, at room temperature, lightly beaten

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pulse together the flour, butter, and salt until the mixture resembles cornmeal.

In a small bowl, whisk together the condensed milk and egg.  While pulsing, slowly pour this into the flour until the dough just comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently turn over a few times until it is smooth, the dry ingredients have been completely integrated, and the dough holds together.  Take care not to overwork it.

Shape the dough into a loose circle, cover it with plastic wrap, and allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.

For this recipe, I divide the dough into 4 portions.  Each portions will weigh about .625 pounds or 5/8 of a pound.  Then I flatten each portion and double wrap it with plastic.  These will freeze for about a month.

Source:  adapted from Pie It Forward by Gesine Bullock-Prado

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Orange-Cranberry-Nut Fruit Cake

Are you all ready for Christmas?  I am!  We always have a mellow Christmas celebration and my husband and I always emphasize the importance of the birth of Jesus instead of having lots of gifts under the tree.  It helps with all the craziness that's going on around the season.  It really doesn't matter if we have many gifts or only one.  We tell our son that the important things is to be with family and enjoy the season by doing something good.  I digress.

Every Christmas I try to bake a fruitcake.  I have a couple of favorite recipes but this year I wanted to try something new.  This recipe is a keeper.  As it stated in the original King Arthur Flour website, this is more of a cake than a traditional fruitcake.  I do like the light version of fruitcake but I don't mind the dark one if it's being offered to me :)

My family likes fruitcake as well so they're looking forward to it every year.  And even my son commented that this was a good one!

Orange-Cranberry-Nut Fruit Cake

2 cups dried cranberries
2 cups dried fruits (I chose a combination of golden raisins, dried currants, dried apricots, and candied citron)
1/2 cup orange liqueur
1 3/4 cups candied red cherries

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon orange oil
4 large eggs
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup orange juice
2 cups diced pecans

1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup suagr

3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
Enough milk to make a thick but pourable icing

Prepare the fruit:  Combine dried fruits with orange liqueur in a bowl.  Cover and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, stir, then set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 325 degree F.

Prepare the cake:  In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light-colored and fluffy.  Beat in the baking powder, salt, and flavors.

Beat in the eggs one at a time.  Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and beat again briefly, to incorporate any sticky residue.

Stir in the flour alternately with the orange juice.

Stir in the undrained fruit, the candied cherries, and pecans.

Lightly grease two 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pans.

Spoon batter into the lightly greased baking pans, filling them about three-quarters full.

Bake the cakes for 50 to 70 minutes.  When done, the cakes will be a light golden brown all over, and a long skewer inserted into the center will come out clean.  If cakes brown too quickly during baking, cover lightly with aluminum foil.

Make the glaze:  Stir together the orange juice and sugar while the cakes are baking.  Warm briefly in the microwave; about 45 seconds.  Stir to help dissolve the sugar.  Set aside to rest at room temperature, stirring occasionally to continue dissolving the sugar.

Remove the cakes from the oven, place on the cooling rack.  Let cool for 10 minutes then turn them out onto the rack.  Brush the warm cakes all over with the glaze, continuing to brush until you've used it all.

When completely cooled, wrap well and let "age" at least 24 hours; the cake improves with a 24-hour rest.

Drizzle with icing just before serving.

Store cake, well wrapped, at room temperature; it should keep for a couple of weeks.  Freeze for longer storage.

Source:  adapted from King Arthur Flour website

Monday, December 11, 2017

Pumpkin Walnut Cake

I made this cake when I had a break, that is over Thanksgiving break :)  I know I'm way behind posting related recipe according to the season; but I've given up trying to follow the trend because it's just not enough time in my life to do that anymore.

I thought this cake is delicious all around; it was a moist and has tender crumbs.  It reminded me of my mom's pumpkin roll cake--flavor-wise--but hers uses no eggs while this has.  This year I'm in love with pumpkin spice all over again.  My favorite beverage right now is chai tea latte with lots of pumpkin spice; it's a nice drink to have when the weather is dropping down to the 30's.

The caramel whipped cream is equally good, I actually have never made it before and thought, why didn't I try this sooner?  Combining caramel and whipped cream is simply divine.  The original recipe doesn't use salt but I did put in a generous pinch of it because I really thought it needed it.

The recipe came from my favorite book in my book shelves, The Cake Book by Tish Boyle.  There are numerous recipes that I haven't even tried and all sounds very yummy.

Here is the recipe:

Pumpkin Walnut Cake

Makes one 9-inch square cake

1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup safflower oil or other neutral vegetable oil
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degree F.  Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt into a medium bowl.  Whisk to combine well, and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the eggs with both sugars at medium speed until pale, about 2 minutes.  Add the oil, pumpkin puree, milk, and vanilla extract and mix until blended.  Add the flour mixture at low speed in three additions, mixing just until blended.  Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and stir in the walnuts.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool the cake completely in the pan on a wire rack.

To serve, cut the cake into squares, and top each with a large dollop of the cream.

Caramel Cream

Makes about 3 cups

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided
Generous pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extra

In a small heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and lemon juice and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves.  Increase the heat to high and cook without stirring, occasionally brushing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush, until the syrup caramelizes and turns a golden amber color, about 4 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add 1/2 cup of the heavy cream (the mixture will bubble up) and sea salt, stirring until smooth.  Carefully pour the hot caramel into a heatproof glass measure and loosely cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate the caramel until chilled, about 2 hours.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the remaining 3/4 cup cream with the mascarpone cheese and vanilla at medium speed until blended.  Add the chilled caramel and beat at a high speed until the mixture forms soft peaks.  Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate.

Source:  The Cake Book by Tish Boyle