Saturday, March 28, 2015

Lemon and Ginger Shortbread

I've one more day to enjoy my spring break; after that I'll go back to work.  It's quite sad because this break has been very enjoyable.  My in-laws are visiting from California and even though I'm quite busy tending their needs, I enjoy their company.  We all do, especially my son.  My in-laws haven't seen him for almost 2 years and it's a quite a change really.  Earlier this week we went to Leavenworth for a quick visit; that was pretty nice short road trip.  The weather has also been warm and sunny around here, so yeah, no complain from me.

I've been meaning to post this recipe that I tried before the break.  A lot of what I make nowadays has been some simple recipes.  I feel that I need to go back to basic and learn to make some things right.  So here's a shortbread recipe.  I quite enjoy shortbread because of the crumbly and buttery taste it imparts.  The lemon and ginger combo is very nice indeed, add a cup of tea or coffee and I'm set to enjoy my morning.

Lemon and Ginger Shortbread

Serves 12

100 g unsalted butter, softened, plus a little extra for greasing
1/4 teaspoon salt
50 superfine sugar, plus extra for dusting
Zest of 1 large lemon
8 pieces of crystallized ginger, finely copped
175 g unbleached all-purpose flour

Heat oven to 300F and grease an 8-inch loose bottomed fluted tart pan.  Put the butter and salt in a bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until soft.  Beat in the sugar, then stir in the lemon zest and ginger.

Stir in the flour and work with your hands to form a soft dough.  Tip into the pan and press into an even, flat layer with your fingers.  Prick all over with a fork and bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until pale gold.  Cut into wedges and leave to cool completely in the pan.  Remove from pan and dust with sugar to serve.

Source:  adapted from Good Food magazine, October 2014

Friday, March 13, 2015

New Orleans Shrimp Creole

This is a quick dinner that I made this week.  What I like about it was that the flavor of this dish is really fantastic; it was tangy and assertive especially when I added a touch more of Tabasco in my plate, it surely can kick the tastebud.  I really go for a bold flavor of a food and thankfully my family has a similar taste so if I had to cook something tasty and fast, I wouldn't go wrong with this dish.  

New Orleans Shrimp Creole

Serves 4 to 6

8 slices bacon, diced
½ cup chopped yellow onion
½ cup chopped green onion, including some tender green tops
1 ½ cups chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped celery
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cans (14 ½ ounces each) whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped, with juice
3 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup chicken stock or broth
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon dry mustard
4 drops Tabasco sauce, or to taste
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
½ cup dry red wine
1 pound large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, fry bacon until crisp, about 6 minutes.  With a slotted spoon, remove bacon to a plate, leaving 2 tablespoons bacon drippings in skillet.

Reduce heat to medium.  Add onions, bell pepper, celery, and garlic, and sauté until tender, about 6 to 7 minutes.  Add tomatoes, tomato paste, stock, vinegar, mustard, Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper.  Return bacon to pan.  Simmer over medium-low heat, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add wine and shrimp and cook until shrimp turn pink, about 5 minutes.

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

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Pecan Sour Cream Muffins

Today's weather is just glorious.  Spring comes a little early to Oregon because it's been warm and dry lately.  I don't complain much, rain or sun is fine with me, but it's actually nice to not to put on layer upon layer of clothing.  Although the rain will come towards the end of the week, I'm planning to enjoy this warmth as much as I can.

For my weekend baking--this has become my thing, bake only on the weekends--I made pecan sour cream muffins.  The recipe comes from Maida Heatter's book, Cake.  I borrowed it from the library and has started to read it back and forth, and I decided to try this for breakfast today.  There's a lot recipes to try from the book and hopefully I can make as many as I can and blog it.  Sometimes weekend baking is just too short of a time for me, but it's the only time I have during the week to bake.  My family loves it when I bake though, they always have snacks for lunch boxes and after dinner treats.

This muffin batch is easy to make and make wonderful moist and rich muffins.  Yes, they look a little plain but they taste pretty special to me!

Pecan Sour Cream Muffins

Yields 12 large muffins

1 1/3 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
Generous pinch of nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
5 1/2 ounces (1 1/3 cups) toasted pecans broken into large pieces, plus 12 large toasted pecan halves

Adjust an oven rack to the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 400F.  Either butter 12 2 3/4-inch muffin tin or line them with cupcake liners.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg, and set aside.

In the small bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft.  Beat in the sugar to mix, then add the eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition.  On low speed, add half of the sifted dry ingredients, then all of the sour cream, and then the remaining sifted dry ingredients.  Beat only until smoothly incorporated.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the 5 1/2 ounces of pecan pieces.

Spoon into the prepared muffin tins.  It is not necessary to smooth the tops; the muffins will do it themselves during baking.  Place a pecan half, flat side down, on each muffin; press them only slightly into the muffins.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the muffins spring back when pressed lightly with a fingertip.  During baking the muffins will rise with high, nicely rounded, golden-brown tops.

Remove from the pans immediately and place on a rack.  These may be served warm or cooled.

Source:  adapted from Maida Heatter's Cakes