Thursday, August 18, 2011

Baked Kale Chips

The other day my friend and co-worker, Kallie and I were talking about our equally mutual love for salty, crunchy, deliciously addictive potato chips. Hand me a bag of potato chips, of almost any flavor, and I'll eat it up before you even get a chance to dip your hand in the bag. Oops, my bad. It's quite dangerous, actually.
In high school when I didn't give the food I ate a second thought, I really would eat a bag of Tim's Cascade chips in one sitting. Don't judge.
I'm better now.
Especially since Kallie told me about a healthy (and yummy!) solution to curbing my cravings for regular chips. Baked KALE chips! At first I was like, ew, that sounds awful - I don't even really care much for kale. But she told me she thought they were wonderful baked to a crisp. Just pull them off of their stems, toss them in olive oil and give them a very light sprinkle of sea salt and wa-la! You have yourself a much healthier alternative to the fat-ridden potato chips.
Today while I was out and about in Ballard, I stopped by QFC and picked up a bunch of organic kale. I baked them just as she said, for about 20 minutes in a 300 degree preheated oven. And the result? I literally scarfed them in no time. Absolutely delightful. And what a cinch to make!

Baked Kale Chips

1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon seasoned salt

Bake in a 300 degree oven, until edges are brown but not burnt, about 20 minutes.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Donut Peaches and (Makeshift) Peach Cobbler

Peaches are in season, and I picked up some amazing looking donut and yellow peaches at the Ballard Farmer's market last Sunday. They might honestly be the best peaches I've ever eaten in my life. So sweet and perfect - one bite and the juices are running down my chin and fingers. This is love.

(photo cred. Cook Almost Anything)

Alright, about this so-called "makeshift peach cobbler" you're wondering what the heck I'm talking about. It's an unbelievably fast/deliciously sweet, juicy, crumbly, crispy super YUM-O peach dessert that I made twice in one week. Maybe two nights in a row. Who's keeping track, anyway? All I know for sure is that I could eat this every day for all three meals and I'd be fine.

"Peach Cobbler"
(Joy the Baker)

1 ripe peach
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon shredded coconut
1 tablespoon slivered almonds
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed

Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Slice a peach in half and remove the pit. With a small spoon, scoop out the the dark red pit center, creating just a bit more room for the crumble topping.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, salt, coconut, and almonds. Add butter and, with your fingers, work the butter into the dry ingredients. Quickly break up the butter until it is well combined. Some of the butter bits will be the size of oat flakes, others will be the size of small peas.

Place peach halves, cut side up, in a small, oven-safe dish. Top each peach half with a generous portion of crumble topping. Heap it on!

Bake for 20 minutes, until topping is golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve warm with vanilla ice cream or cold milk. Peaches are best served warm from the oven.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Stuffed Portabello Mushrooms

This stuffed mushroom recipe is one of my favorite go-to recipes for a mid-week dinner. I love finding hearty vegetarian recipes, and this is just that - full of flavor from the butter, garlic, sundried tomatoes, goat cheese feta..and of course the mushroom itself. These are flavors that stand out and do not get old. Simple and delicious.

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

2 large portobello mushrooms
1/2 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
8 oz baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped or torn
1/4 cup parm. cheese
goat cheese feta, for topping

Sauté 1 Tbsp of butter with onion and garlic in sauté pan on medium heat until onions begin to turn translucent.

Remove stems from portobellos and chop. Using a spoon, clean out gills from mushroom caps. Add tomatoes and diced mushrooms stems to onions and sauté for 5 minutes.

Add second Tbsp of butter to pan and add in spinach leaves. Sauté until completely cooked, remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese. Set aside.

Place portobello caps on baking tray and pile spinach mix into them equally. Top with crumbled goat feta and bake in a 375°F oven for 20-25 minutes.

Brown Butter Banana Strawberry Bread

I love baking bread. I adore bananas in desserts. Strawberries are in season, and completely irresistable. And who can say no to the insanely good smell of browned butter sizzling in a pan?
When I found this bread recipe on Joy the Baker's blog, there was no doubt in mind I had to make it, and as soon as possible. Who would've ever thought of adding strawberries to banana bread? Not me. Delicious. Genius. SO YUM.
Thank you, Joy. You are a goddess in my mind.

Brown Butter Banana Strawberry Bread
(inspired by The Amateur Gourmet)

6 ounces unsalted butter, melted and browned to just over 1/2 cup of butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup plain yogurt (any fat content) or buttermilk
1 1/4 cup mashed banana (from about 3 medium bananas)
1/2 cup diced strawberries plus 1 strawberry very thinly sliced, for topping

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan and set aside.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Butter will begin to foam and crackle as it melts. When the crackling subsides, the butter will begin to brown. Swirl the pan as the butter cooks. When the butter browns and begins to smell nutty, remove the pan from the flame and transfer the butter to a small bowl. Taking the butter out of the hot saucepan will stop the butter from overcooking and burning. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla extract, and yogurt or buttermilk. Whisk in the mashed bananas. When butter has cooled, whisk in the browned butter.

Add the wet ingredients, all at once to the dry ingredients. Fold together, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to reveal any hidden pockets of flour. Fold in the diced strawberries. Fold together ingredients, but try not to over stir.

Spoon batter into prepared pan and top with thinly sliced strawberries.

Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to rest in the pan for 15 minutes, before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Birthday Cake = French Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Raspberry Compote

This year was dad's 60th birthday, so we decided to do something extra fun and special. We rented a cabin by Mt. Baker and spent the weekend relaxing and having fun in a beautiful place. Because it was such a special birthday, I wanted an extra special cake that I knew dad would absolutely LOVE. Dark chocolate and raspberries immediately popped into my head as a must. I had just finished reading David Lebovitz's The Sweet Life in Paris, which included a mouth-watering french chocolate cake recipe. Made with dark chocolate, it's meant to be smaller, denser, and much richer in flavor. How could I resist? I thought it would look beautiful with an equally rich ganache and drizzled with a sweet/tart rasberry compote. The result was perfect - the cake was a hit and most important of all, dad LOVED IT! I love a success.

French Chocolate Cake
(courtesy of David Lebovitz)
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used Lindt)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
4 large eggs, at room temp, separated
2 tablespoons flour
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line loaf pan or cake pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl set over a pan of simmering water, heat the chocolate and butter together just until melted and smooth.
Remove from heat and stir in half the sugar, then the egg yolks, and flour.
Using an electric mixer or a whisk, begin whipping the egg whites with the salt. Keep whipping until they start to form soft, droopy peaks. Gradually whip in the remaining sugar until the whites are smooth and hold their shape when the whisk is lifted.
Use a rubber spatula to fold one-third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remaining egg whites just until the mixture is smooth and no visible white streaks remain.
Scrape the batter into pan, smooth on top, and bake for about 35 minutes, just until the cake feels slightly firm in the center. Do not overbake. Let cool in the pan before serving.

Chocolate Ganache
3/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips (I used chocolate chunks)
1/4 cup heavy cream

Put chocolate chips in a small bowl. Bring cream to a simmer in a small heavy saucepan. Pour cream evenly over chocolate. Let stand for one minute to soften, then stir until smooth. If frosting is too loose to spread, let it sit at room temperature for 10 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, frosting will continue to thicken as it stands.

Raspberry Compote
2 pints raspberries
1 -2 tablespoon water
Sugar to sweeten

Allow to boil in saucepan until desired thickness.

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