Saturday, June 30, 2012

Honeyed Figs with Goat Cheese and Toasted Almonds

Just like sands through an hour glass....

Cliche I know, but my goodness how true!

I'm sure you can relate to the feeling that you consistently have more to do than you do time and that somehow a year goes by without barely blinking.  I will not pretend that my life is any more hectic than yours or bore you with a rant of how busy I am that I can barely eat. However, since this is a food blog, I will share with you my little bits of heaven, my little moments of wonderful, my little morsels of goodness that happen across my hourglass every now and then.  Figs are one of these little sweet spots in my timeline and let me tell you, you should fit them into yours.  They are anciently good. I'm talking a Greek goddess snacking on a plate similar to this, as the cool Mediterannean breeze brushes over her skin good! You can be that goddess.  Don't laugh, you can! No breeze you say? Well get your kids or your hubby or handsome neighbor to gently fan you (one of those mist/fan spray bottle things would be superb for this!) and close your eyes and tada! Greece! No need to spend a couple grand on a plane ticket, $5 and cooperative assistant and you have yourself a mini vacation in the middle of your crazy little life.

Still laughing?

Didn't think so.

Honeyed Figs with Goat Cheese and Toasted Almonds
Creative genius: ME =)

1 basket Mission Figs
1 T honey
1 T goat cheese
1 handful slivered almonds, toasted

Trim the stems off the figs adn cut them in half. Scatter on a plate.

Drizzle the honey over the figs and crumble the goat cheese over as well. 

Toast the almonds in a cast iron skillet until you can smell them (3-5 minutes) shaking the pan often. Sprinkle the almonds over the figs and prepare to go to Greece.

Skeptial of this combination, I was too until I popped that first bite in my mouth.  Delicious! This snack feels sophisticated and grown up and sometimes you need that in your life when you are surrounded by bottles or sticky hands or nagging husbands even. And if you happen to have a glass of wine (Moscato is nice with this) I won't tell.  After all, you are a sophisticated, elegant goddess!


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Strawberries and Cream Biscuits

       One of the greatest things about summer is that strawberries are finally in season! They're definitely on my top-five favorite fruit list. So when Smitten Kitchen posted these biscuits I knew I had to try them immediately. And I did. Well, technically I tried them the next day but that's close enough. Once they came out of the oven, the strawberries dripping with gooey warmth, I knew I'd come across a winner. My picture doesn't do them justice. The dough part was creamy and moist, yet still had just the right amount of crumbling. The strawberries seriously tasted like bursts of strawberry syrup or jam throughout the biscuit! Swoon. I'll definitely keep these in my permanent recipe box and experiment with other berries and fruits along the way. Next stop, bluberries or raspberries. =)

Strawberries and Cream Biscuits
recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Makes about a dozen biscuits. (I got ten.)
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold), cubed
  • 1 cup ripe strawberries, chopped (preferably very ripe)
  • 1 cup heavy cream

--Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. (You may only need one depending on how large your pan is.)

--In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.

--Cut in the butter chunks with a pastry blender until most of the chunks are pea-sized or smaller.

--Stir in the strawberries gently so you don't crush them too much. Make sure they're completely coated in the flour mixture.

--Stir in the heavy cream with a spatula, gently, as though you were folding the dough.

--Once your spatula isn't helping you anymore, take your hands and squeeze the rest of it together.

--On a generously floured surface, roll out (or pat with your hands) the dough until its thickness reaches about 3/4  inch.

--Using a biscuit cutter, cut out as many circles as possible from the dough as it is. You can re-roll the dough (don't worry about the wet strawberries) but it's best to try and not have to re-roll more than necessary.

--Place the biscuits on the parchment-lined pans about 2 inches apart.

--Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

--Let the biscuits rest on the pan for a minute or two before transfering them to a wire rack.

--They're best eaten warm, but still taste great the next day!

Happy Baking!

*Smitten Kitchen gives do-ahead advice: "Biscuits are generally best the day they are baked. However, if you wish to get a lead on them, you can make them, arrange them on your parchment-lined sheet and freeze them. If you’re prepping just one day in advance, cover the tray with plastic wrap and bake them the day you need them. If you’re preparing them more than one day in advance, once they are frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag or container. Bring them back to a parchment-lined sheet when you’re ready to bake them. No need to defrost the froze, unbaked scones, just add 2 to 3 minutes to your baking time."

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lime Sugar Cookies

         I enjoy trying new things, especially when they seem a bit odd. For example, on the last road trip I took I tried eel sushi and it was amazing! So when I was looking for recipes including limes to use up extra limes I bought for my Top-Shelf Margarita Cheesecake, I came across this recipe which sounded rather peculiar. I would never think of making a lime-flavored cookie. Granted, it's not a different concept than putting lemon or orange in cookies, but for some reason limes just sounded weird to me. But I tell you what, after I made them they no longer sounded so weird--they're so stinkin' good! And cute too. I like the little green flecks of lime zest. The lime provided a surprisingly refreshing quality to the cookies, something I've definitely never experienced in sugar cookies. I took most of the batch to work and they were devoured. I was quite proud. =) Next time, in place of the lime I'll use either lemons or oranges just for fun. Maybe I'll even do a lemon-lime cookie. Or maybe I'll be adventurous and use grapefruit juice . . . we'll see . . .

Lime Sugar Cookies
Slightly adapted from My Baking Addiction

Makes about 3 dozen cookies
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • Zest of one lime
  • Extra sugar for rolling cookies

--Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Also, pour some sugar (1/2 to 1 cup) into a bowl and set that aside for now. This will be used to roll the cookie dough balls in.

--Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and the salt in a bowl and set aside for later.

--In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat until it's really fluffy.

--Add the egg, vanilla, lime juice, and lime zest. Mix until thoroughly combined.

--Stir in the flour mixture a little bit at a time. Combine thoroughly.

--Roll cookie dough into 1in balls, then roll the dough balls in the bowl of sugar. Coat 'em up!

--Place the sugary dough balls on the parchment-lined cookie sheets, about 1 1/2 - 2 inches apart.

--Bake for 8-10 minutes.

--Let cool on the cookie sheet for a couple minutes before moving them to a wire rack.


Happy Baking!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Top-Shelf Margarita Cheesecake

       Well, I've done it again. Two things, actually. First, I haven't posted in 2 weeks! Oops. But that's okay because I've made up for it by making this Margarita Cheesecake. (This being the second thing--another boozy recipe!) My birthday present from my brother is sure getting its money's worth, huh? Anyway, this is a really tasty recipe and I think you'll like it. The cheesecake itself is super creamy and has just enough of a margarita flavor to make it unique, it's not overpowering at all. The whipped cream on the other hand packs quite the punch. If you're looking for a strong margarita hit, this is where you'll get it. Furthermore, because the liquor strength is ultimately in the whipped cream, your guests (or yourself) can add or reduce the amount of "kick" per piece, depending on tastes or moods. So, whether you're planning a fiesta or simply want a refreshing summer treat, I'd recommend giving this guy a go.
Top-Shelf Margarita Cheesecake
recipe barely adapted from Booze Cakes


For the crust:
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the cheesecake:
  • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons tequila
  • 2 tablespoons triple sec
  • Zest of a lime (half of a lime if it's a really big lime)

For the whipped cream:
  • 1 cup heavy cream (cold)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons tequila
  • 2 tablespoons triple sec

*If you don't want a very strong whipped cream, half the tequila and triple sec.

--Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

--Grease the inside of a 9-inch spring form pan.

For the crust:
--Cream together the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Then add the salt, mix thoroughly, and then add the graham cracker crumbs and mix until completely combined. Press the crust into the bottom of the prepared spring form pan.  

*Important* Set the pan on top of a cookie sheet that has edges or cover the bottom of the pan with tin foil. Some spring form pans will potentially leak butter from the bottom, causing a gigantic mess in the bottom of your oven.

--Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and bubbling.

--Let cool completely.

--Once cooled, wrap tin foil (or fresh tin foil if used previously) around the outide of the spring form pan. It should come up at least half way. Set the foil covered pan on a cookie sheet with sides/jelly roll pan (if covered in butter from crust-baking be sure to clean it). Don't add water to the jelly roll pan yet. Set pans aside for later.

For the cheesecake:
--In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the blocks of cream cheese until they're broken up a bit. Then add the sugar. Beat for 5-10 minutes. (The longer you beat it, the smoother it will become as the sugar crystals break down the cream cheese chunks. This helps to reduce the chance of the final product cracking.) Scrape the sides down occasionally.

--Beat in the eggs. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl again.

--Add the lime juice, lime zest, tequila, and the triple sec.

--Pour the mixture onto the cooled crust and place the spring form pan (which is sitting on a jelly roll pan) in the oven. Now add water to the jelly roll pan, creating a water bath for the cheesecake. Fill the pan about 2/3 full. Don't get any water in the cheesecake itself! 

--Reset your oven temperature to make sure it's at 350 degrees or is on its way back to it.  Bake for 45-50 minutes. The cheesecake will be firm but slightly jiggly in the middle.

--Remove the cheesecake from the oven (take the cheesecake first then the water bath, not both at once, especially if you're clumsy) and let it cool at room temperature for an hour. Then transfer it to a refrigerator and let it cool for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.

For the whipped cream:
--In the bowl of your (cleaned) stand mixer and using the whisk attachment, combine the heavy cream, powdered sugar, lime juice, tequila, and triple sec.

--Start the power on low until it's all combined, then gradually increase the spead to start whipping.  Whip at least until soft peaks form.

--On your chilled cheesecake, either spread the whipped cream all over the top or pipe it on with a piping bag.

--Garnish the cheesecake with lime zest curls of lime slices if desired.

Happy Baking!