Thursday, March 31, 2011

1st Daring Bakers Challenge: Coffee Cake

Although I have been a member for a very, very long time and been kicked out twice, I was determined to make this membership to "The Daring Bakers" stick. If you don't know what the Daring Bakers is, you should check it out here. So, when I missed two months in a row and therefore was almost kicked out since this would have been month 3 of missing, I knew I had to make this month's challenge happen before March's close. 

Well. Here we go. One day left, hopefully none too late. This month's challenge was a yeast coffee cake which involved the fun processes of kneading and rising and staring at dough for long periods of time. And then making a meringue filling which was all this fabulous whipping and fun times. 

Look how lovely that meringue becomes all spread out. I sprinkled it with cinnamon and chocolate chips  for good measure. Some slivered almonds too.

That corner needs more chips...

Much better.

Once they baked, they became truly beautiful. Which is why I took so many photos of their beautiful, melt in your mouth, ohmygosh, glory. It seemed necessary. Something this divine needed a lot of documentation. Also, in case you were wondering, the reason the one is cut into is because my roommate and I had to eat it while it was hot from the oven. All molten and amazing. No regrets, whatsoever. 

Seriously. If every month yields such DELICIOUS results, I am never missing again. This blew me away and I now need to make as many variations imaginable. Best. Coffee. Cake. Ever. The recipe below is the one from the challenge, I didn't mess with it at all, and I challenge all of you to try it as well. Let me know what you think!

This is copied exactly from the DB challenge form. I am still a new member, hope that's allowed. I made a slightly changed "Jamie's Version". Loved it! All of you need to do this. Seriously. Now. GO bake now!

:) Enjoy kiddos.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Fancy Eggplant Surprise

OKAY! STOP! I know this looks kind of... weird. Maybe even gross. But I swear on my life, it is delicious!

And yes. It is involved. But, sometimes making a recipe with a lot of steps and processes is fun.

And okay... it's not really klutz friendly. I did burn my fingers making the egg plant and I may have cut myself chopping...

Forget it. I don't have to defend my recipe choices! This recipe is delicious! I don't care if you can't see it or if it doesn't keep up with the "simple" recipe theme I try and live by. I made it and I survived to tell the tale of yumminess! You probably can too.

It's from Giada's cookbook "Everyday Italian". Or "Giada's Kitchen"... one of her cookbooks. They are all kind of the same, right? She's on the cover, cooking. The book is full of awesome, can't miss recipes that make you drool as you flip through the pages...

Anyway, that's enough of this botched up post. You should just make it. And trust myself, and Giada, that this is a flavor party you will not regret making for yourself and your family.

Enjoy! :)

Giada's Eggplant Timbale:
-3 med eggplants, sliced lengthwise, 1/4 inch thick
-1/3 cup plus 2 tbls olive oil
-salt/pepper to taste
-1/2 lb penne pasta
-1 med onion, diced
-1/2 lb lean ground beef
-1/2 lb ground italian sausage
-1/4 c Marsala wine
-1 c frozen peas, thawed
-2 c marinara sauce (jarred works!)
-1 1/2 cups diced smoked mozzarella chese (approx 6oz)
-1 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
-1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Place a grill pan over med heat or preheat a grill. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the eggplant slices with 1/3 cup of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the eggplant on both sides- until tender and colored with the grill marks. About 4 mins per side. Set aside when done.

While the eggplant cooks, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta, cook til tender but firm to the bite. Drain.

Meanwhile, warm the remaining 2 tbls olive oil in a large skillet over med/high heat. Add the onion and saute' until tender. Add the ground beef and sausage to the pan, browning the meat and breaking into bite size pieces. Pour out the excess fat. Add the Marsala wine, cook until the liquid evaporates, about 3 mins. Turn off the heat. Add peas, marinara, and stir to combine. Add mozzarella, 3/4 c pecorino, the basil, and the cooked pasta. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a spring form pan with the grilled eggplant, making sure the slices overlap and hang over the edge of the pan. Fill the pan with pasta mixture, pressing down to make sure the filling is evenly distrubuted. Fold the eggplant over the top, creating an entirely enclosed timbale. Bake until the filling is warmed through and the cheese has melted, about 30 minutes. Allow it to set/cool for 10 mins.

Sprinkle with remaining cheese and serve.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Not Thursday

You know what today is? Not Thursday. Not Thursday at all. Today is not even kind of Thursday, it is in fact Friday, which means I am totally horrible at blogging.


Especially since this is STILL not a post. 

I am going on vacation this next week with my family. Because I am doing that plus had awesome house guests for the past weekend plus have this full time job that sometimes makes me do stuff- I have had no time. For anything. I think my brain therefore deluded itself into believing it had MORE time than it actually had. Yesterday, I walked around believing it was Wednesday with absolute, scary, certainty. 

Me: Okay, so Thursday night-
Co-worker: You mean tonight?
Me: What? No, tomorrow night.
Co-worker: Today's Thursday. So you mean tomorrow, Friday night.
Me: Yes, tomorrow night.

Notice how I didn't acknowledge the dates? Just when/how I wanted things to happen? "Tomorrow night" was all I was thinking. And that I needed more time this week. I seriously woke up this morning freaking out because I almost missed an appointment for Friday solely because I'd been convinced that it was Thursday morning. DESPITE KNOWING IT WAS NOT THURSDAY MORNING. My brain seemed to pick and choose when to know the date. It really wanted an extra day to write a post for you guys but, it didn't happen. And now, since as I said I am going on vacation, you won't get a post for two weeks.

I know. I'm a cotton headed-ninny-muggins. 

But you see,  scanners don't live at our house in California. So, next week will also not have a post because I won't have posting abilities. This will be me next week. 

I will clearly be in no place to post. I'm stranded in a pool. Look at those freckles sprouting on my face from the sun damage. I'm clearly going to be in crisis mode- not comic mode.

Look, none of you readers are real readers. You just claim to love me. You have to throw me a bone here and let me slip up these two weeks and just wait patiently for a post when I return.

Since you're being so very good and so very, very patient. Here is a comic to tide you over. 

Baseball season is officially upon us! Yay for today!!! Here you go:

My favorite cubs joke used to be "What do the Cubs and the Yankees have in common? They both haven't won a series in their new stadium!" ... but then 2009 happened. 

Such a bummer. Pesky Yankees. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Breakfast Pie

Lingering love from "pie day" has inspired me to post what is my all time favorite breakfast dish- breakfast pie.

This recipe is intensive. My mom and dad make it for us kids every year for Christmas morning, making the pie the day before, and every year on Christmas eve as they prepare the pie, there is some grumbling about how much effort goes into one pie dish.

However, once the morning comes and everyone takes a bite of said pie, everyone wonders why we don't make it more then once a year.

It is SO GOOD. I cannot begin to tell you how worth it this pie is to make. It's cheesy, potato, meats, eggs, all in a flaky shell with roasted garlic and carmelized onions.

...I mean... really.

Doesn't that just SOUND good? 

My Mom elegantly adding an egg layer. She is NOT clumsy in the kitchen and makes everything look beautiful...

I could keep repeating myself on the glories of this pie but, you should probably stop reading and start making it yourself. As I said, it takes some time. And you're going to want to have a slice as soon as possible :)

Breakfast Pie
- 17 1/4 oz pkg (2 sheets) frozen, pre-rolled sheets puff pastry (thawed)

-1/4 c butter
-3 c (6 med) sliced red potatoes
-1 c (1 med) sliced onion, separated into rings
-1/4 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp pepper

-OMELETS (make 2)
-2 tbsp butter
-6 eggs
-1 tbls parsley
-1/8 tsp salt
-1/8 tsp pepper
-2 tbsp water

-1/2 lb thinly sliced, cooked, ham (deli works)
-2 c (8oz) shredded cheddar cheese

*NEXT DAY* Brush with-
-1 egg slightly beaten
-1 tbsp water

Layer in the following order:
1 omelet, 1/4 lb ham, 1/2 of the fried potatoes, 1 cup shredded cheese, remaining potatoes, remaining ham, 2nd omelet. Top with remaining puff pastry. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Next morning, heat over to 375. Take pie out, allow to adjust to room temp for 30 mins prior to baking, brushing with egg/water. Bake for 30-35 mins or until golden and cooked through. Let stand for 5 mins before serving.

*If you are too anxious and make it that morning, you may simply put it in the oven without allowing it to set up over night or adjust back to room temperature. However, allowing the flavors to set up overnight is an even more amazing pie so, if you CAN be patient, it's well worth the wait!*

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Happy St. Patricks/GB Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I am sure a lot of you are celebrating today with copious amounts of drinking. I am not sure yet how I will be celebrating but, I did make Irish Soda bread! That is at least one small way I will proudly recall my Irish heritage.

Which, is funny anyway. In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is pretty tame. Here in America, the Irish immigrants and the “everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s day” mantra has made the whole endeavor a crazy drink a thon.

Speaking of, please allow me to introduce to those of you who do not know of this concept of drinking and green the holiday known as Green Beer day

My Alma Martyr is Miami University, a place of serious collegiate celebration. Picture every cliché you can imagine for a college and my old school probably fits the bill. This is the Miami University in Ohio, by the way, not the one in Florida. If you are interested, you can buy t-shirts from Miami’s bookstore that say “We were a University before Florida was a state!”

Which is true. Doesn’t make it cool, but it is true. Miami University is actually in OxfordOH too so, you could say “I studied in Oxford!” or “I went to Miami University!” and let people think you are cool and either went to school in Florida or England but… either way, it’s just Ohio.

A lot of nothing around Ohio, too. It’s essentially a small college town in the middle of corn fields in the middle of Ohio. Don’t try and book your trip there all at once, guys. They have limited hotels and spaces, and the entire town is really just one long street outside of the campus called High Street that looks kind of like this:

So, it’s your typical college town. Bars, takeout, and coffee shops. Oh, and a bookstore for good measure. In case this isn’t clear from my tone thus far, I actually really loved my school. Not at first when I had some homesickness as a freshman and hadn’t found my footing but, by the end of my time there, I was devastated to have to become a grown up. I am happy now with where I’ve landed, but every so once in a while, I miss the crazy lifestyle that was my undergrad experience.

And in terms of crazy undergrad experiences, Green Beer Day is first on the list. Green Beer Day, also known as GBD, is a day devoted to the drinking of Green Alcohol. I only celebrated it as a Senior (when I was both 21 and NOT studying abroad, which hadn’t been the case for my Freshman-Junior years at Miami), but even with just one Green Beer Day under my belt, I can pretty easily summarize the experience for you all. Once upon a time, Miami University had an outrageous St. Patrick’s Day celebration every year that caused the university to get upset every year about the turmoil the students caused. Thinking they would avoid the whole mess, the college administration moved Miami’s spring break over St. Patrick’s Day in order to prevent any celebrations from happening. Without missing a beat, the students dubbed the Thursday before spring break Green Beer Day. It became its own Oxford holiday and has been celebrated annually ever since. Obviously, beer is the favored drink. However, it’s an all encompassing, “pick your green poison”, kind of day. The day pretty much goes as follows:

1. Wake up at 5 AM, the bars open at 6AM, and the 16,000 other students on campus are going to be waking up and getting in line soon too.

2. You should already wearing your GBD t-shirt as PJ’s so as to make getting dressed at 5AM as easy as putting on jeans and tacky green jewelry. Speaking of which, you should have ordered that t-shirt months ahead of time, looking through all the designs by different students and groups carefully to find the GBD tee that most spoke to your personality. 

3. Stumble out of your apartment with your roommates. Wait in line in the freezing cold before the sun is up wondering if this is worth it. When you finally get inside (which takes about 15 mins if you are a girl, 45 mins to an hour if you are a guy), celebrate! This involves loud music, green lazers, and leprechaun liquor…

4. When slightly buzzed, you have a few options. You can continue in celebratory fashion (which means you can skip down to step 7), or you can do what my roommates and some of the other kids at Oxford who actually cared about their education did. This is when you stumble out of the bar and back into the sunlight at 9AM and go and get breakfast and drink lots of water. 

5. After breakfast, you go home and clean up for class. While getting ready, do not cut off the bar wrist band you got this morning. Instead, you should carefully tuck your wrist band into your jacket so your teachers won’t see but also so you can get into the bar later without having to wait in line. Don’t make a rookie mistake like green teeth either, that will ruin this entire effort of trying to appear 100% responsible when you’re really only 80% there.

6. From 10:30 until 4PM, you will be going to class and getting extra credit for      being such a good student. Try not to sway in your chair from exhaustion/any lingering alcohol affects that the pancakes didn’t absorb. Also, try not to snap at your teachers who made attendance mandatory just to be meanie jerk faces. You may even have to take a midterm. For these teachers, try not to sulk. You showed up, you have to listen to their lecture about making good decisions without telling them that you are college students and have your whole life to act your ages and now is the time in your life to think green food dye warrants a holiday. 
Any resemblance here to Professor Fisher from Miami’s English Department is entirely coincidental and not at all a reference of any kind to imply he was a stick in the mud on GBD when this author still went to his class and tried to learn about fiction and he ranted for 70 mins.
7. It’s now 4PM and, either from a full day of skipping class and drinking or because you spent your morning drinking and then had a full day of classes, you are now exhausted. Take an epic nap from now until 8PM. That’ll fix you right up!

8. It’s 8PM! Wake up and get some food in your body! Once that pesky chore is      done, clean up again and go back up town with your roommates to celebrate further. You will now be overjoyed that you kept your wrist band when you see the crazy lines forming all over High Street. 

9. After a green night in which you danced to a lot of Ke$ha, drank a lot of unnaturally green things, played fun games like “I spy the undercover cop”, and took a lot of amazing/embarrassing pictures, at 2AM when the bars close, it’s time to go home and know you celebrated GBD like a  Redhawk champion. 

For all of you still lucky enough to be Miami students, I hope you are having a great Spring Break right now and that your GBD last week was awesome. When you graduate, GBD is just a random Thursday in March where you say “ha, remember when…?” a lot. To all you fellow grown ups/non Redhawks out there, today is St. Patrick’s Day! You can probably find something green to go drink if you really feel the need to do so but, keep in mind, a lot of things that you did in college should really STAY in college. I was never very good at being a rebellious college kid though, always went to class and the like. However! Go have fun or at least wear green and wish someone a Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Long live Ireland and alcohol ;)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pi Day! Chocolate Pie

Happy Pi Day, all!

A perfect day, really. Geekiness, word play, and dessert.

Who doesn't love all of the above?

For pi day, I present to you all my recipe for chocolate pie. It's FANCY! For someone like me, this was an afternoon event. I tend to botch up my kitchen/myself when I make a recipe as involved as this one but, it actually turned out extremely well! And I didn't cut any corners!! Usually, I am all about taking a simple short cut.

This particular pie event, however, I felt like going all out. I even made my own whip! AND, get ready... because this was really awesome and exciting...

I made those chocolate curls! Those really pretty ones all over the really pretty pie! I made those! On my own!! I used this tutorial (God Bless Pioneer Woman) but, I did make those curls!

Don't even talk to me about how they are kinda falling apart. They are AWESOME! And don't mention that some of them are flaking. FINE! Do better then! Punk.

Also, please ignore my crust sagging a bit. I don't know how I did that... Oh and the sunbeam that made my shot too exposed... 

Remember how this blog is called "Clutzy Cooking"? No one ever said this was a place for beautiful food and photos! We're trying our best over here.

Anyway! Here you go. Make and enjoy! Despite it's clumsy appearance, this is delicious to the max :)

Hope your pi day was exceptional and filled with pie goodness.

Chocolate Pie Ingredients:
-Pie Crust (Your fav crust already baked into pie pan or a Graham/Oreo crust all pressed and ready to go)
-Chocolate Filling:
-3/4 cup sugar
-3 tablespoons cornstarch
-1/3 cup cocoa powder
-1/8 teaspoon salt
-2 1/2 cups milk
-1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
-4 large egg yolks
-4 ounces semisweet chocolate finely chopped
-1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
-1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature (cut into small pieces)

-1 cup heavy whipping cream
-2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
-Grated or shaved chocolate

Chocolate Filling: In a large heatproof bowl whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt. Then whisk in 1/2 cup (120 ml) milk until you have a thick paste. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, whisking to blend into the cocoa paste mixture. Set aside while you heat the milk and cream. 

Have a fine medium-sized strainer and bowl ready near the stove as you will need to strain the filling after it is cooked.

First, rinse a medium-sized heavy saucepan with cold water and then shake out the excess water. (This prevents the milk from scorching.) Then pour in the remaining 2 cups (480 ml) milk and the cream. Bring this mixture just to a boil and then remove from heat. (The milk will foam up to the top of pan when done, so watch carefully.) Gradually pour the milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly, until the mixture is smooth. Transfer the filling to a clean large, heavy bottomed saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of mayonnaise (about 3 - 5 minutes). Remove from heat and pour through the strainer to remove any lumps that may have formed during cooking.

Add the finely chopped chocolate, vanilla extract, and butter, stirring gently with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth. Cover with plastic wrap, to prevent a skin from forming, and let cool to room temperature. Pour into the graham cracker crust, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Topping: In a large bowl, beat the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Either pipe or place mounds of whipping cream on top of the filling. Garnish with grated chocolate if you like. Refrigerate, if not serving immediately. SO MUCH BETTER THEN COOL WHIP! But, I could've (as I said) done without making my own chocolate curls. Thank GOODNESS for that tutorial, ha.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Beef and Mushroom Stew

On a cold day, not many things are better then a hot meal.

This is one of those "throw everything handy into a pot" meals that I decided to make one freezing Sunday. My little cup that you see pictured makes me exceptionally happy, all green and looking like Mike Wazoski.

You know, from "Monsters Inc."

This stew turned out deliciously simple and satisfying. It wasn't too dense and, as you can see from the photo above, I put mine over pasta. Not usual for a stew, perhaps, but I had the bow tie noodles and couldn't resist. I'd imagine this stew would taste even better with some crusty bread to dip and slurp it with but, I didn't have anything better then Wonder bread on hand.

If anyone makes it with some really clutch bread, let me know if the pairing is as spectacular as I imagine :)

Make and enjoy!

Beef Stew:

  • 2 pounds Beef Stew Meat (or sirloin, cubed)
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 whole Shallots, Minced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms- I used various types
  • 1 cup Red Wine
  • 1 can Beef Consomme
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • Oregano/Basil/Spices to preference/amount (I just started tossing things in I liked)
  • 2 Tablespoons flour- to thicken
Sprinkle flour over meat. Toss to coat.
Melt butter with olive oil in heavy pot. Sear meat over high heat in batches; remove to a plate when brown.
Add shallots and garlic to pan (don't bother with any cleaning); saute over medium-low heat til soft/flavors are melding in the air and with the juices. Add mushrooms and cook until slightly softened/browned, perhaps 2 mins. Pour in wine and consomme, salt and pepper to taste, and stir. Bring to a boil, then add back into the mix the browned meat. Reduce heat to low.
Cover and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. This is when I began tasting and adding various spices/salt pepper to taste. After you have it seasoned to your liking, mix 2 tablespoons flour with a little water and pour into the stew. Allow to cook and thicken for ten more minutes. Turn off heat and allow stew to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
As I said, I put it over pasta but! I think a steaming cup with some bread would be even better. Let me know what you guys think once you make it, if you make it ;)

*Update* When I made this for a bunch of my friends, I added 2 cups of leftover white rice (leftover meaning, already cooked and sitting in the fridge) into the stew pot and let it simmer for an hour before serving. It was DIVINE. If you have leftover rice or want to cook up some rice, I suggest mixing it right in with your favorite stews or soups. The consistency becomes spectacular and the meal twice as hearty. This recipe was made even better by this addition! I am certain I will never make it plain again! I wish I had a photo of it but, it got inhaled by the group! Just know- delicious. And take my word for it.