Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Tomato, Spinach, and Goat Cheese Baguette

Just for a change, I thought I would do a savoury post.  I couldn't decide what to make for dinner tonight, but I was craving tomatoes and goat cheese.....which is not unusual for me...and all we had in the house was soup and a frozen baguette.  Soup and bread is very appealing in the winter months, but I felt like something fresh tonight.  So this is what I came up with - and it was DELICIOUS. I have said it before, and I will say it again, nothing beats tomato, cheese, and bread.  Fact.  Note to self: wouldn't this be fantastic with asparagus and maybe gruyere.....hmmm, might have to stock up on baguettes....

Tomato, Spinach, and Goat Cheese Baguette

  • baguette
  • pesto
  • tomato sauce
  • goat cheese
  • large handful of spinach leaves, washed and dried
  • 8 grape tomatoes
  • balsamic vinegar

Slice a baguette lengthwise and place on a baking sheet.  Spoon teaspoonfuls of pesto onto baguette at regular intervals, alternating with teaspoonfuls of tomato sauce.  Pile spinach leaves on, and top with globs of goat cheese, the more the merrier.  Slice grape tomatoes into halves or thirds and place on top.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and bake for 7-10 minutes in a 375 degree oven, followed by a few minutes of broiling.

 What are your favourite summer flavours?  I can't wait for rhubarb and strawberry pie....!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Chocolate Chip and Popcorn Cookies

The instant I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it.  Popcorn in a chocolate chip cookie?
Say whaaaat!? OK, let's do it!  I learned a few things, which I will pass on to you.... I used sweet and salty store-bought popcorn and semi-sweet chocolate chips - I think buttered popcorn would be better, and use dark chocolate like Joy suggests.  While mine were definitely interesting and tasty, I think the combination of those two flavours would bump this cookie up a couple more notches.

Chocolate Chip and Popcorn Cookies
originally from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
4 cups popped popcorn

Cream butter and both sugars.  Beat in egg and vanilla.
Add in flour, baking soda, and salt, and beat until incorporated.
Fold in popcorn, 2 cups at a time - at first it will look ridiculous, but don't worry, the popcorn breaks down into smaller pieces, making it easier to blend.  Mix in chocolate chips.

Spoon dough onto baking sheet - balls should be about a tablespoon and a half each.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.  9 minutes if you prefer softer, almost doughy cookies.
Makes about 24 cookies.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Darlena's Banana Bread

Okay, so I had every intention of trying this new banana bread recipe given to me by a friend.   Every intention. The recipe was translated into English for me, so the measurements were in grams, but I thought, no big deal, I will just google it.  Well, as it turns out, it really isn't that simple.   I don't have a scale, so I have no idea how much flour 200g is!  

I was really looking forward to this recipe, because it was interesting.  The instructions were to basically cook the mashed banana with sugar and butter (and something called packets of vanilla sugar?). 

After googling, sighing, and more sighing, I decided to use the base of a recipe I have tried before, but to simmer the banana with butter and sugar as directed. 

It turned out well actually, although a little crumbly ( I was thinking 3 tsp of baking powder was a bit on the high side).  Maybe next time I will substitute the baking powder for 1 tsp of baking soda and see if that works better, and change the white sugar to 3/4 cup brown sugar.

Darlena's Banana Bread

4-5 well-ripe bananas  (I used 3 large)
2 cups all purpose flour

3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs

Cut bananas into pieces and put in a saucepan on medium heat along with butter and sugar.  Let it simmer for about ten minutes. When the liquid boils you will get similar to jam mixture, remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Mix the dry ingredients - flour, baking powder and salt.
In the chilled banana mixture add the eggs, stir gently and add the dry ingredients. 

Stir gently again by hand, and pour the mixture into a greased loaf pan sprinkled with flour.Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, until toothpick or cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Peanut Butter Cupcakes

What is with my recent obsession with peanut butter?  Only that now that I actually have (or had) a jar in the cupboard, I have been busy trying all the recipes I have been waiting for months to try!  I know that sounds silly, but peanut butter is just one of those items that I constantly forget to buy.

I have been eyeing this particular recipe since last year - it is actually called peanut butter birthday cake, and makes a two layer 8 or 9 inch cake.  But I was anxious to try it out, since it is pretty much mandatory for birthday cakes to be delicious, they are BIRTHDAY cakes after all.  So cupcakes on a spring night that feels like winter - why not?

 To make it even more of an adventure (I know, crazy life I lead) I was recently reading a blog that suggested the key to the most amazing cake was the addition of whipped cream , and I just so happened to have whipped cream on hand (chocolate truffle fail).

These were delicious - really peanut butter-y taste, and soooo light and fluffy - probably the whipped cream!
They were not too sweet, more like

muffins, so next time I might add a little more sugar.  I iced them with my leftover Chocolate Guinness icing.

Peanut Butter Cupcakes 
adapted from Joy the Baker's Peanut Butter Birthday Cake

1 1/8 cup sifted all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 plus 1/8 cup smooth all natural peanut butter
3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp buttermilk
1/2 cup whipped cream

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, cream peanut butter, butter, and sugars.  Add egg.
Add half the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Pour in buttermilk.
Stir until batter begins to come together, then add the rest of the flour mixture.
Whip cream, add slowly, and finish mixing with a spatula.

Batter will be very thick.  Spoon into paper liners in cupcake tin  - should make about 12.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until cake tester or toothpick inserted in a middle cupcake comes out clean.