Blood Orange and Ricotta Pancakes with Minted Strawberries

Blood Orange and Ricotta Pancakes

 

On the weekends, my tummy and daughter begs me to make pancakes.  It’s something I have done for, let’s see, 15 years.  That is a lot of pancakes my friends.  Needless to say, I need to vary the ingredients because regular pancakes, as good as they are, get a little boring.  Now, I’ve seen multiple recipes for Lemon Ricotta pancakes, but I have a stash of blood oranges, and decided to switch it up and see what came out.

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I didn’t use this many for the recipe, the juice from one was enough.  The rest were just juiced to go with our breakfast.  I was pleasantly surprised, the times I have made the lemon ricotta, I really didn’t taste that much lemon.  The blood orange juice gave it a sweeter, and slightly tart flavor.  Adding ricotta made them super creamy and just a little bit denser.  We all loved them, and as soon as blood orange season rolls around again, I know that I’ll be making this on Saturday morning!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

Juice from one Blood Orange

1/2 cup ricotta

1 cup sliced strawberries

1 tbsp mint, in chiffonade

1 tsp sugar

Butter

Maple Syrup

In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Set aside.  In another bowl, mix the egg, milk, orange juice and ricotta until combined.  Add to the flour mixture, and whisk just until combined.  Do not overmix, it’s ok if there are still some lumps.

In a small bowl, mix the strawberries, mint and sugar well.  Let them sit until you are ready to serve.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat.  Add a tsp of oil or butter, and wipe the pan with a paper towel so there is just a film of the oil or butter.

Using a 1/4 cup measurement, or a small ladle, place the batter and cook until it bubbles, then flip over.  Repeat with remaining batter.  You should be able to make 6-7 pancakes.

Top the pancakes with the strawberries, butter and syrup.  Serve immediately.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

“Kitchen Sink” – Power Breakfast Muffins

Breakfast Muffins

These days I have exercising like a fiend.  I am extremely proud of myself because I usually train when I have a race coming up, and then take a more relaxed attitude to working out.  But, since this year I wanted to not only lose weight, but get healthier and feel better, I have stuck to a rigorous gym workout for the last 4 months.  (Patting myself on the back now.)

The only problem, is mid through my workout, I get ravenously hungry.  I have done the fruit and yogurt with granola, the eggs with toast, smoothies, you name it.  I needed something filling and portable to take to the gym with me, that is healthy, but also feels like I am indulging.  So, I went into my pantry, I love having a pantry after all these years, by the way, and basically took out a basket full of ingredients that could possibly go into a muffin.  I edited quite a few, but I did end up using most of them.  The result was perfect.

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Made with whole wheat flour, oat bran, chia seeds, walnuts, fruit and some cinnamon and chocolate for that splurge factor, these are fantastic little nutrient power houses, with no added fats!  Ridiculously delicious and easy to make, and super healthy, these will be a staple to carry in my gym bag when my belly starts a rumbling!!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 cup oat bran

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped semi sweet chocolate

1 ripe banana, mashed

1 cup oat milk (you can substitute soy, almond or real milk if you want)

1/2 cup apple juice or sauce

1/2 cup molasses

1 egg

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).  Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray, set aside.

In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together.  Sprinkle in the walnuts, raisins and chocolate.  Mix well.  In another bowl, mix the banana, oat milk, apple juice, molasses and egg.  Fold into the dry ingredients.

Use a 1/4 cup measurement to fill the muffin tin 3/4 full.  Cook for 16-18 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before serving.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Blackberry and Cornmeal Muffins

Blackberry and Cornmeal Muffins

 

It’s been one of those weeks.  A pipe burst in our apartment, and we have had severe damage to our floors and walls.  Nothing like inept handymen sent by your landlord to further make a mess of the situation.  Apart from that, it’s been rainy, cold, and I’m kind of homesick.

That means it’s time for me to get baking, and make some feel good treats for breakfast so I can get my butt to the gym, whenever these lovely men think they’ll finish making holes in our floor!

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This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes cookbook.  I love the taste of blackberries, but don’t really enjoy eating them raw.  They are way too grainy and seedy for me, and store-bought always seem to be incredibly tart!  I always dream of walking through some field, and picking them off their bush, and taste the sweet ripeness that only the sun can provide.  Alas, the only time I have had contact with any wild blackberries is when my daughter brought back silk worms from school as a project.  I had no idea that they only ate blackberry leaves, so I had to hunt out a tree and pick the leaves so they wouldn’t die.  Even though I ABHOR any type of worm.  But, I just can’t let a living thing die, disgusting or not.

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Today we found an array of berries at the market, and I love me some blueberries for breakfast, but picked these up thinking I would make the muffins I saw in Martha’s book.  Brought them home, picked up the book, read the recipe and then realized I don’t have any cornmeal.  I only had Arepa flour.  (Arepas are Colombian cornmeal patties- delicious!)  Even though in Martha’s book it stated for cornmeal, I swapped it in, lessening the amount of sugar that the recipe originally called for.  The Arepa flour that I have has some sugar already in the mix.  I didn’t want them to be overly sweet, either, and I wanted to be able to taste the tartness I find unappealing in the raw berries.  It worked perfectly.  Nice and cornbread like, soft, fluffy, and moist, berries bursting when you take a bite.  Definite “picker upper” on a cold rainy day!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Adapted from Martha Stewart Cupcakes

Makes 12-16 muffins

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup fine ground yellow cornmeal

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature

2 large eggs, room temperature

7 tbsp butter, melted and cooled

1 -2 containers (6 oz each) fresh blackberries

1. Preheat oven to 375 F (190C).  Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.  Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and 1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar.  In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs and melted butter, pour over flour mixture, whisking to combine.

2.  Fill each lined cup with a scant 1/4 cup batter.  Top batter with blackberries (3-4 berries per cup), then sprinkle evenly with remaining sugar.

3.  Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until evenly browned on top, 20- to 25 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before removing muffins.  They are best eaten the day they are baked, but will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Pane Siciliano – Sicilian Bread

Rustic Bread

There is something utterly rewarding about making bread at home.  Whenever I pass by a bread bakery, I swoon at the smells wafting from inside, just wanting to dive into the dough, and lie in a puddle of happiness.

Unfortunately, making good bread isn’t easy.  It is alchemy, turning base ingredients into something worth raving about.  I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like bread, but I completely understand that it isn’t something you want to tackle unless you have plenty of time and patience.  This recipe isn’t easy, but if you are up to the challenge, you will not be disappointed.

It is three days work, you can cheat a little bit by omitting one of the steps, yet you would be cheating yourself out of an opportunity to taste something utterly delicious.  I think the most important step is preparation, considering you have to bake the bread emulating a steam hearth.  So, I suggest you read through the recipe once or twice, and make sure you have all the tools necessary.  Don’t worry, they are not some confounding instruments you’ve never heard of, but it does make a difference to have everything on hand once you begin to cook.

bread

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Courtesy of “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice”

Makes 3 loaves

3 cups pâté fermentee (recipe follows)

1 3/4 cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour

1 3/4 cups semolina flour

1 1/4 tsp salt

1 1/4 tsp instant yeast

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp honey

1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups water, lukewarm

Natural brown or black sesame seeds for topping (optional)

1. Remove the pâté fermentee from the refrigerator 1 hour before making the dough to take off the chill.  Cut it into about 10 small pieces with a pastry scraper or serrated knife.  Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour to take off the chill.

2. Stir together the bread flour, semolina flour, salt, and yeast in a 4 qt bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer).  Add the pâté fermentee pieces, the oil, the honey, and 1 1/4 cups water.  Stir with a large spoon until the dough forms a ball (or mix on medium-low speed with the paddle attachment).  If the dough seems too stiff, dribble in water 1 tsp at a time until all the flour is gathered and the dough feels soft and pliable.  If the dough seems sticky, don’t worry; you can adjust the flour while kneading or mixing.

3.  Sprinkle bread flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and knead (or mix on medium – low speed with the dough hook).  Add flour as needed, sprinkling in a small amount at a time to make a smooth dough that is tacky but not sticky and has the same pliability and suppleness as French bread dough.  Knead for about 10 minutes ( or for 6 to 8 minutes by machine).  The dough should pass the windowpane test.  (Grabbing a piece of the dough, stretch it out, and if it forms a “pane” and doesn’t break, that is slightly translucent, then it is done) It should register 77 – 81 degrees F.  Form the dough into a ball, lightly oil a large bowl, and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat it with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

4.  Ferment at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

5.  Gently divide the dough into 3 equal pieces.  Shape as for baguette into long cylinders, extending each piece to about 24 inches in length and taking care to degas the dough as little as possible.  Then, working from each end simultaneously, coil the dough toward the center, forming an S shape.  Line a sheet pan with baking parchment and sprinkle some semolina flour on the parchment.  Place each loaf on the pan, mist the loaves with water and sprinkle sesame seeds on the top of each loaf.  Then mist the tops with vegetable spray oil and place the pan in a food-grade plastic bag or loosely cover with plastic wrap.

6.  Place the pan in the refrigerator overnight. (This is a step you can omit, but don’t, it is totally worth it.  If you do, let rise for at least 2 hours before baking.)

7.  The next day, remove the pan from the refrigerator and determine whether the loaves have risen enough to bake or if they need additional proofing time.  Gently poke the dough.  If it springs back quickly, leave the pans out, still covered, for a couple of hours, or until it wakes up and rises more.  The dough should stay dimpled when poked, and the loaves should be nearly twice as large as when first baked.

8.  Prepare the oven for hearth baking, making sure to place an empty steam pan in place.  You do not need a baking stone.  Preheat the oven to 500F with the oven rack on the middle shelf.

9.  Uncover the bread dough and place the pan in the oven.  Pour 1 cup hot water into the steam pan and close the door.  After 30 seconds, spray the oven walls using a plant mister with water and close the door.  Repeat twice more at 30 second intervals.  After the final spray, lower the oven setting to 450F and bake for about 15 minutes.  Rotate the pans 180 degrees for even baking and continue baking for 10-15 minutes more, or until the loaves are a rich golden brown all over.  If there are still light or white segments of the dough extend the baking time for a few extra minutes to maximize color and flavor.  The internal temperature of the bread should register 200-205 F.

10.  Remove the pan from the oven and transfer loaves to a baking rack.  Cool for at least 45 minutes before serving.

Pate Fermentee Recipe

(enough for one batch of this bread)

1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/8 cups bread flour

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp instant yeast

3/4 cup to 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp water, at room temperature

1.  Stir together the flours, salt, and yeast in a 4 qt. bowl (or the bowl of an electric mixer).  Add 3/4 cups water, stirring until everything comes together and makes a coarse ball (or mix on low-speed for 1 minute with the paddle attachment).  Adjust the flour or water, according to need, so that the dough is neither too sticky nor too stiff.

2.  Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter.  Knead for 4 to 6 minutes ( or mix on medium speed with the dough hook for 4 minutes), or until the dough is soft and pliable, tacky but not sticky.

3.  Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment at room temperature for 1 hour, or until it swells to about 1.5 times its size.

4.  Remove the dough from the bowl, knead it lightly to degas, and return it to the bowl, covering the bowl with plastic wrap.  Place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight.  You can keep this in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze it in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Strawberry Jam Tea-Cakes

cupcakes

 

On Monday it was Paolo’s birthday, and as custom here in Spain, when it’s your birthday, you bring the treats.  So, a couple of years ago I had prepared these for Paolo to take into work, and he asked for them again this year.  I love these cupcakes, as they are really cakey, and nothing is better than biting into this luscious strawberry filling!  My favorite part has to be the glaze, though.

I remember as I was making them that there was something that I needed to do with the glaze, and after making them this time, I now realize that you have to make double the amount of glaze for them to truly be covered in it.  If not, it just seems to pool messily on the bottom, leaving much to be desired on top!  But, that said, next time I am sure I will remember.  (Or will I?)

This is a recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart, whose cupcake book I pore over time and time again.  I love looking at the glossy pictures of these beautiful cupcakes.  Unfortunately, not all the recipes work out.  I am constantly confounded by this, as I have had many issues with Martha’s recipes.  You’d think such a monstrous sized company would have a recipe-proofer, but alas, even Martha has her imperfections!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Martha Stewart Cupcakes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for tins

3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for tins

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 tsp finely grated orange zest

4 large eggs, separated, room temperature

1/2 cup milk

1 cup strawberry jam or preserves

Citrus Glaze (Recipe Follows)

1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Brush standard muffin tins with butter, dust with flour, tapping out excess.  Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

2. With and electric mixer on medium high speed, cream butter, sugar, and zest until pale and fluffy.  Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.  Reduce speed to low.  Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating just until combined after each.

3.  In another bowl, with an electic mixer on medium speed, whisk egg whites to soft peaks; gently fold into batter.  Spoon 2 tbsp of batter into each prepared cup.  Make an indentation in the middle of each; fill with one tbsp jam.  Top with an additional 2 tbsp batter, covering jam completely.

4. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cake tester inserted in centers of top layers comes out clean, about 30 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Run a small offset spatula around the edges, and turn out cakes onto wire racks and let cool completely.

Makes 12 cupcakes

5.  To finish, drizzle cakes evenly with glaze, and let set, about 30 minutes.  Glazed cupcakes can be stored up to 2 days in a single layer at room temperature in airtight containers.

For the Citrus Glaze:

1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar, more if needed

1/4 tsp finely grated citrus zest

3 tbsp fresh citrus juice, more if needed

Whisk together all ingredients until smooth.  If necessary add more juice to thicken or more juice to thin the glaze.  Use immediately.

Makes about 1 cup

 

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Saveur Magazine Classic Recipe No. 24 – Rosti

Rosti

 

For years now I have always loved Saveur Magazine.  Along with Martha Stewart Living I remember way before I became a chef I would read every single article and recreate all the recipes at home, or almost all.  Some of them I really couldn’t because of time or not being able to find the right ingredients.  But, I have every single copy still and they rest proudly on my shelf.  I love revisiting them and re-reading the articles.

Saveur is on a league of its own, though.  More than just a food magazine, I absolutely adore the stories that go along with the recipes.  It’s almost like a travel AND food magazine at once.  Just a week ago, I received my October 2012 copy and tucked into it immediately.  I love that they showcase 101 Classic Recipes, and the fantastic part is that they aren’t 101 American Classic recipes, they are classics from around the world.  I was so intrigued by the amount of things that I hadn’t tried yet, that last Sunday over lunch, I announced to my family I wanted to recreate every single one.  The look on Paolo and Cassia’s (my daughter’s) face was priceless.  They picked up the copy and started leafing through it, and they decided that ok, I could, but they would have 4 vetoes each.  That didn’t mean I wasn’t going to make them, just that they weren’t going to try them.  After much discussion, I agreed.  I mean, I am the foodie, but I can’t force them to eat something that they really don’t like, even though I told them unless you try it you won’t know.  But hey, that’s still 97 recipes that they WILL try!

So, obviously I am not going to make all of them consecutively, but you will know which ones come from the magazine because in the title I will always mention the magazine and the number of the recipe.

I decided to begin with this one because I have a lot of potatoes at home.  Also, I love Rosti.  I first tried it when I was 10 years old when we traveled to Switzerland to look for schools.  Obviously, this is something super easy to like, it’s potatoes.  But all the incarnations available are simply astounding.  Cheese, mushrooms, onion, bacon, the list is endless.  I think I have tried most variations throughout my six years in Switzerland, and it was always a cheap and tasty way to feed a teenager.

This recipe is the classic version, just potatoes.  It really is kind of like a large hash brown, but thicker.  It is crispy and crunchy on the outside, moist and dense on the inside.  Perfect on its own, or as a side, for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

I hope you enjoy this voyage with me, as I will be recreating exactly as much as I possibly can all the recipes, even if they differ from how I make them ( a lot of my family classics in it).  But that is how you learn, right?  Also, I will give you my family’s reaction to it.  We’ve decided to rate them on how much we like it, and I will rate it on difficulty and if the ingredients are readily available (mind you I realize that we don’t all live in the same place, so I will take that into account too).  3 voices are better than one, I think?  Except for today’s, since my sweetie is in Madrid.

So, without further ado, the super easy and delicious recipe for Rosti!

Taste: 2 out of 3  said excellent

Difficulty: Easy, beginner level

Ingredients readily available: Definitely

2 1/4 lb russet potatoes (about 3 large)

2 tbsp lard or unsalted butter

2 tbsp canola oil

1 tbsp kosher salt, plus more to taste

1.  Place potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cook until tender, about 30 minutes.  Drain potatoes, and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.  Peel potatoes, then refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.  Grate potatoes using the large holes on a cheese grater; set aside.

2. Heat lard and oil in and 8″ nonstick skillet over medium-low heat.  When lard has melted, add potatoes, sprinkle with salt, and mix well, coating potatoes with fat.  Using a metal spatula, gently press potatoes, molding them to fit the skillet.  Cook, shaking skillet occasionally, until edges are golden brown, about 20 minutes.

3. Cover skillet with a large inverted plate, invert the rosti over onto plate, then slide it back into the skillet, cooked side up; cook until golden brown on the bottom, about 20 minutes.  Transfer to a cutting board, sprinkle with salt, and cut into wedges to serve.  Serves 4.

Verdict:  It came out perfectly cooked, really easy to make.  The time was spot on for the cooking on each side.  The only gripe we both had is that 1 tbsp of salt is way to much.  I would reduce the amount to half a tablespoon.  But everything else was perfect!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

Raspberry Banana Breakfast Muffins

I love bananas.  I really do.  But somehow, always, there are two left over from the bunch that I buy that go overly ripe.  And then I don’t want to eat them raw anymore.  But you know what?  That suits me fine.  I always end up putting them to good use.
Saturday morning, I was flipping through my Williams Sonoma Breakfast and Brunch cookbook, and came across this great recipe for Raspberry Lemon Muffins.  And I figured, I could sneak the bananas in there as well.  They turned out wonderful.  The bananas make these muffins really soft and luscious, and I was able to cut out a heap of sugar from the original recipe.  I am only hoping they last more than two days.  We’ve already eaten 4.  I made them last night.  *Sigh*.  So much for the diet!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Adapted from William Sonoma’s “Essentials of Breakfast and Brunch”

2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

2 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

2/3 cup canola or corn oil

2 very ripe bananas, mashed

2/3 cup brown sugar (as opposed to 1 1/3 cup)

2 tsp grated lemon juice

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp almond extract

1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 375 F (190 C).  Line 12 standard muffin pan with paper liners.

In a bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand up mixer, whisk together the eggs and milk until blended.  Ad the oil, brown sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla and almond extract and whisk until just blended.  Add the bananas, and blend well.  Add the dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until just moistened.  Do not overmix.  Fold in the berries.

Spoon the batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each to within 1/4 inch of the rim.  Bake until toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 25 minutes if using fresh raspberries, or 25-30 minutes if using frozen raspberries.  Transfer to a rack and let cool in pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto the rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Makes 12 muffins

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla