Peperonata – new uses for old things

Peperonata with Cajun Shrimp and Cornbread
I love learning new ways to use vegetables.  I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know much to do with most vegetables except roast them or turn them into soups.  Granted, those are two very easy and tasty options, but it lacks…creativity.  And in order to keep eating my vegetables, I need variety!  I have a new friend who is vegetarian and gave me the suggestion to purchase the Moosewood Restaurant cookbook, a book based off the recipes served at Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, NY.  She said it was one of the best books for vegetarianism and had so much variety and the recipes were so easy, it was always her go-to for what to cook.

Matt dog-eared the recipe for Peperonata, a bell pepper and onion saute that can be used on just about any meal as a garnish or side dish.  Much like the Romesco sauce I posted about a few weeks ago, this dish is full of flavor and extremely versatile.  The night I cooked it, I made our favorite cornbread recipe and served the pepronata on top of a cut and buttered piece of cornbread and added some cajun broiled shrimp as more of the side dish and let the vegetable be the main course!  I like to flip-flop proportions every now and then to get more into the habit of seeing vegetables as the star of the show instead of the 30 second commercial.

First recipe from Moosewood: win!  I am excited to dig through and learn more as I go!

Peperonata with Cornbread and Cajun Shrimp

Peperonata*
makes about 6 cups

3 red bell peppers
3 green bell peppers
2 large white or red onions (about 3 cups sliced)
2 TBS olive oil
1 cup canned plum tomatoes, or 2 fresh tomatoes (don’t drain the can)
2 TBS red wine vinegar
salt and ground pepper to taste
1 tsp sugar

Slice the peppers and onions lengthwise into strips.  Heat the oil in a large (LARGE) skillet over medium heat.  Add the peppers and onions and saute, stirring frequently, until tender and slightly browned.  This took me about 20 minutes.
Stir the tomatoes and vinegar into the peppers and cook for about 5-10 minutes more, until the liquid evaporates.  Add the salt and pepper to your liking and sugar.
Serve over buttered cornbread, in pasta, tucked in an omelet, as a garnish on a hamburger, a topping for hotdogs – it’s really endless!

*recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home

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Blackberry Lime Cinnamon Rolls with Lime Vanilla Bean Icing

Blackberry Lime Cinnamon Roll - cross section
Good Sunday morning to you all!  This week has been a tough one for me.  I got sick on Tuesday and as anyone who has ever been pregnant knows, you can’t take the good meds when you’re sick.  So I had the usual, insulting cold in the middle of summer, had two weddings and one family shoot to edit, made a ginormous birthday cake for a friend which took up all of Tuesday AND my wonderful redhead decided to cut her usual nap time in half, so I had only one good hour during the day to get my photo work done (still got the wedding done in my two-week time frame – bragging, I don’t care, gotta throw that out there).

Blackberry Lime Morning Rolls
In the midst of my feeling like my head was stuck in a cloud and everything else, I felt it was the right time to make cinnamon rolls.  I don’t know – it was just therapeutic.  A few weeks ago, Matt made Joy the Baker’s first Baking Bootcamp recipe – a triple berry cinnamon swirl bread – and it was just outstanding.  Wonderful recipe and the flavors were so perfect.
Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread
The day he made it, I knew I wanted to turn it into cinnamon rolls with some kind of citrus glaze.  I finally got around to it and…score.  They were so bright and comforting at the same time.  I will definitely make these again when I’m not afflicted with Taste Blindness (I’ll expound on that, later).  And you should make them, too!  They take about an hour less than typical from-scratch cinnamon rolls and can be used with most any fruit – so get creative!

Morning Rolls - Blackberry Lime

 

Blackberry Lime Cinnamon Rolls with Lime Vanilla Bean Icing*

For the Dough:
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3/4 cup whole milk, warmed to a warm lukewarm
1 large egg yolk 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 1/4 cups King Arthur All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt a bit of olive oil for greasing the bowl

For the Filling: 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups fresh blackberries
Zest from two limes
1 large egg, beaten for egg wash

In a medium bowl stir yeast with sugar. Stir in  the lukewarm milk and then add the egg yolk and melted butter.  Whisk together until thoroughly combined.  Allow mixture to rest for 5 minutes.  It should foam and froth. In a large bowl whisk together the flour and salt. Pour the milk mixture over the dry ingredients and start kneading it until it pulls away from the edges of the bowl. Place dough on a lightly floured counter and knead by hand for about 10 minutes more.  Dough ball should be smooth and damp, without being too sticky.  Shape dough into a ball. Grease a large bowl with olive oil.  Place the dough in the bowl and cover.  Allow to rest at warm room temperature for about 1 hours, or until doubled in size.

While the dough rises, whisk together the butter with sugar and cinnamon for the filling.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9 inch cake pan.  Set aside. After the dough has doubled in size, place it on a lightly floured counter and knead twice.  Using a rolling pin to roll the dough to a rectangle of about 18×12 inches. Spoon the cinnamon filling over top, spreading evenly, leaving a clean 1-inch border around the edges. Sprinkle the fresh blackberries over the cinnamon filling and grate the lime zest over everything.
Blackberry Cinnamon Rolls
(My blackberries were apparently from the Land of Canaan, so I had to cut them up). Start by rolling the longest side of the dough.  The roll will be a bit lumpy because of all the berries. Using a sharp knife, cut the log into 1 1/2 inch rolls and place cut-side down.  Brush the rolls with the beaten egg. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  Allow to cool for about 30 minutes before icing.

For the Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
juice from one lime
3 tbs heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
a good pinch of kosher salt

Mix everything together in a medium bowl and thin out the icing with more lime juice, or thicken it up with more sugar.  Easy as that!

Have a happy rest of your weekend 🙂

*I adapted Joy’s recipe for the Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread a bit, but you can see her original and wonderful recipe HERE.

Blackberry Lime Cinnamon Rolls

Lemon Panna Cotta and Gingerbread with Blueberries and Thyme

Lemon Panna Cotta with Gingerbread and Thyme
When we were in Nashville last week, we had the joy of eating at Catbird Seat – an intimate restaurant with a unique seating that allows its guests to watch the chefs prepare each plate.  This restaurant combines the nuttiness of molecular gastronomy and the comfort of Southern cuisine.  It’s impressive without being too fussy.  The food was amazing and we left very satisfied!  We were served things like grilled morel mushrooms stuffed with chicken liver pate (my favorite),
photo 1
a yeast soup filled with smoked croutons and potatoes (tasted exactly like a loaded baked potato),
photo 2
and the dish that inspired today’s post: a lemon cornmeal cake with goat’s milk panna cotta and blueberries with thyme and marjoram.  Here’s a pic of the dish from the restaurant:

This was one dish that I knew I could conceivably recreate at home without any fancy equipment.  Watching them assemble this was mezmerizing and I took a few guesses as to what each component was before the chef handed me the plate.  Perks of being able to talk to the chef while they’re plating 🙂  When I got home, I dreamed up my own version.  I love lemon and thyme together, so I knew I’d keep that aspect of the dish.  Instead of putting lemon in the cake like they did, I infused the panna cotta with lemon and then made a gingerbread for the base because I love the flavors of gingerbread and figured it’d go well with everything.  And it did!  I happened upon some really great blueberries that actually TASTE like blueberries and the combination of all the flavors is delicate but powerful and the panna cotta is so smooth, it risks falling completely apart if moved too much.  I loved how this turned out and it really wasn’t that hard to make the components and assemble.  Next time you’re at a restaurant and love a dish – try to recreate it at home!  It’s a good way to learn to be creative in the kitchen!

Lemon Panna Cotta with Gingerbread

Lemon Panna Cotta with Gingerbread

For the panna cotta (to be done a day ahead)*:

1 cup whole milk, divided
2 tsp. unflavored gelatin
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
Zest from two lemons, plus a wedge of the lemon
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or one vanilla bean, scraped)

Pour 1/2 cup milk into a medium bowl; sprinkle gelatin over. Let sit until gelatin softens, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine cream, sugar, lemon zest and wedge, and remaining 1/2 cup milk in a large saucepan. Scrape vanilla seeds from bean into saucepan; add bean (or add your vanilla bean paste). Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; cover and let steep for 10 minutes.
Bring cream mixture back to a simmer. Add gelatin mixture and stir until dissolved. Strain. Divide among eight 3/4-cup ramekins. Chill uncovered until panna cotta is set, at least 6 hours.  *adapted from Bon Appetit

For the gingerbread (to make a thin version like mine):

2¼ cups sifted (9 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon Dutch-processed cocoa
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
¾ cup mild or light molasses
¾ cup (5¼ ounces) sugar
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup milk
1 large egg

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large, rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray.

Whisk together the flour, baking, soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice and coca in a medium bowl.

Beat butter, molasses, sugar, buttermilk, milk , and egg in a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed. Add the dry ingredients and beat on medium speed until the batter is smooth and thick, about 1 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Do not overmix. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.

Bake until the top springs back when lightly touched and the edges have pulled away from the pan sides, about 20 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack and cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Gingerbread can be wrapped in plastic, then foil, and refrigerated up to 5 days.

*if you want to make a regular pan of this, simply bake in a 9×13″ pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.   Adapted from The New Best Recipe.

Banana Chiffon Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Icing

Banana Chiffon Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Icing
I have a wonderful friend named Katrina.  She is the mother of two, wild at heart, loves all things done from scratch and enjoys nothing more than giving things away for free that she worked hard to produce and for which she should be charging good money.  I try my best to pay her for her amazing pasture-raised, organic eggs, but occasionally she’ll leave a dozen on my porch because “she had too many to use that week.”  Look at these beauties!

free range eggs

free range and all that jazz
So a few weeks ago when I was blessed with an extra dozen eggs on my porch, I decided to sacrifice them to the baking gods and make a chiffon cake.  NOTHING whips up faster than a fresh, room temp egg white.  And when you have fresh eggs (we’re talking hours from the chicken) you do NOT have to keep them in the fridge.  And for baked goods, nearly all recipes will call for a room temp egg.  I was completely shocked the first time I used Katrina’s eggs when making a chocolate mousse and the egg whites beat into stiff peaks in about a MINUTE.  I’m not exaggerating.  Amazing.  This post is really just me bragging that I have a super cool friend who raises really great chickens who lay really amazing eggs.

For the recipe today, I give you a banana chiffon cake with salted caramel icing.  A chiffon cake is kinda like an angel food cake except not so angelic.  It uses both the yolks and whipped egg whites AND has oil.  But the texture is similar to an angel food cake except this cake is super moist.  When I was little, the only cake my grandmother would ever make (to my recollection) was an angel food cake, and I can only imagine that was because it has no added fat.  She was missing out 🙂

Banana Chiffon Cake

 

Banana Chiffon Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Icing*

For the cake:

10 1/2 oz sugar
5 1/3 oz plain cake flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
7 large eggs; 2 whole, 5 separated, at room temp
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium)

For the icing:

1 recipe salted caramel sauce
1 – 8 oz. package cream cheese at room temp

 

Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Whisk the sugar, flour, baking powder, soda and salt together in a large bowl.  Whisk in the 2 whole eggs, 5 egg yolks (reserve the whites), water, oil and extract until the batter is just smooth.

Pour the reserved egg whites into the bowl of a sand mixer; beat at low speed until foamy, about 1 minute.  Add the cream of tartar, gradually increase the speed to medium-high, and beat the whites until very thick and stiff, just short of dry (as little as 7 minutes in a stand mixer and as little as 2 minutes if you’re using eggs that are only 5 hours old) 🙂 With a large rubber spatula, fold the banana mush into the batter, then fold the whites into the batter, making sure to not over mix, but being sure you get all the way down to the bottom of the bowl to incorporate whites into all the batter.

Pour the batter into an ungreased large tube pan (9-inch diameter, 16-cup capacity).  Rap the pan against the counter a few times to rupture any large air pockets.  If using a pan with a removable bottom, grasp both sides with your hands while firmly pressing down on the tube with your thumbs to keep the batter from seeping from the pan during this process. Wipe off any bbatter that may have dripped or splashed onto the inside walls of the pan with a paper towel.

Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 65 to 75 minutes.  Immediately turn the cake upside down to cool (I’ll admit, this is scary, but have faith).  If the pan does not have prongs around the rim for elevating the cake, invert the pan onto the neck of a wine bottle or funnel.  Let the cake cool COMPLETELY before inverting.

To unmold, run a thin knife around the pan between the cake and pan wall.  Use a skewer to loosen the cake from the tube.  Loosen the cake from the bottom of the pan with a knife and invert it onto a serving pan.  Hope for the best.  Half of my cake was hollow because I didn’t incorporate the egg whites sufficiently.  This is life.

Spread the icing over the top of the cake and let it drip down the sides.

To make the icing:

After making the salted caramel sauce, leave it in the pan and with a mixer or by hand with a whisk, whip the softened cream cheese until fully incorporated and no tiny lumps remain.  Let it come up to room temp and then beat again before pouring over the cake.

*cake recipe adapted from The New Best Recipe cookbook.  This book is endlessly tested and will never steer you wrong.

 

Brown Butter Honey Ice Cream in Milk Toast Bowls

Japenese Milk Bread Bowl with Brown Butter Ice Cream
This recipe is insane.  What’s more insane than each component is the sum of its parts.  Matt saw a recipe for Japanese Brick Toast a few weeks ago and I had seen a similar recipe on Pinterest that looked downright heavenly.  He said in Japan they put ice cream with buttery toasted sweet bread as a dessert (…which is doubtful – I’ve seen Japanese people.  They don’t look like they eat ice cream in bread bowls).  Why has no one thought of doing a bread bowl for ICE CREAM?!  It’s genius.  The bread soaks up the melted ice cream and you’re left with this spongy cake-like texture when you get to eating the bread part.  This dessert demands to be shared.  Because if you don’t share it, you’ll feel like a dadgum glutton.  I mean, LOOK at that thing!

For the ice cream, we look no further than Jenni’s Splendid Ice Creams.  I posted about her Brown Butter Almond Brittle ice cream last year.  I’m a broken record when it comes to browned butter.  I can’t help it.  We began making ice cream out of her book about four years ago and haven’t even wasted our time with a different method.  She’s perfected the texture of homemade ice cream, in my opinion.  So for this recipe, I used her browned butter ice cream base and added honey and vanilla bean paste.  It was perfect in our little ice cream bowl.  The bread deserves a post of its own and don’t you worry – we’ll blog about it, soon.  Matt loves it too much and loved the process too much to only make it once.  He can’t wait to try it, again.  For now, enjoy a truly amazing bowl of browned butter ice cream:

Milk Toast with Brown Butter Ice Cream, Bananas and Honey

Browned Butter and Honey Ice Cream

for the base:
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1.5 oz (3 tbs) softened cream cheese
1/8 tsp fine sea salt (I use kosher)
3/4 lb unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbs light corn syrup
1 tbs vanilla bean paste

Raw honey to fold into the ice cream

 

Mix about 2 tbs of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.  Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a large bowl until smooth.  Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Melt the butter over medium heat in a 4 quart saucepan.  Bring to a boil and let bubble until the foam starts to subside and the butter is a rich dark brown (not black!).  Remove from the heat and let stand until the butter solids settle to the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes.

Pour the clear butter oil into a storage container (once it solidifies you can use it as you normally would for cooking so it’s not a waste!) As you get closer to the butter solids in the bottom of the pan, use a teaspoon to remove as much liquid butter as you can.  You should have about 1 tablespoon of brown butter solids and a little bit of melted fat in the bottom of the pan (it’s impossible to remove all the fat).

Add the remaining milk, cream, sugar, vanilla bean paste and corn syrup to the butter solids, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat and boil for 4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry (you’ll need to stir it up again as it will settle and solidify some).  Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula or whisk, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.  Remove from the heat.

Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth.  Pour the mixture into a 1 gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath.  Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.

Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister of your ice cream maker and spin until thick and creamy.  Pack the ice cream into a storage container, folding in drizzles of raw honey as you go.  Press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface of the ice cream (this is important to avoid freezer burn and maintain a good consistency) and seal with an airtight lid.  Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

Layer ice cream with sliced bananas and serve in boring porcelain bowls, or sweet bread bowls.  It’s up to you.  🙂  (recipe for bread bowls coming soon!)