Saturday, June 28, 2008

Applesauce Spice Bars

Our first recipe from Dorie's Baking book is the Applesauce Spice Bars recipe mostly because it didn't take much time and they looked scrumptious in the picture. The recipe was simple because the batter comes together in one saucepan. Plus, I love raisins, and this recipe definitely calls for it's fair share of raisins. In my opinion the bars didn't need the glaze, they were pretty sweet on their own. But if you're a fan of the extra sugary kick, then by all means pour it on. Also, the recipe seemed to be more of an apple spice cake than a bar, but they were tasty nonetheless.

1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 apple (chopped)
1/2 cup or more raisins
Glaze: 2 1/2 Tbs heavy cream
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 Tbs unsalted butter
1 tsp corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine the dry ingredients together. Melt butter in medium saucepan and then combine brown sugar until smooth. Add the 2 eggs stirring quickly. Add applesauce and wisk till smooth. Slowly add dry ingredients until no lumps are present. Mix in chopped apple and raisins and put in 9X13 in pan at 350 degrees F for 23-25 minutes. For the glaze, whisk cream, sugar, butter and corn syrup. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Stir in vanilla and pour over cooked bars.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Pasteis de Nata

We just got back from Lisbon Portugal last week. After a visit to Belem and sampling their famous pasteis de Belem, we decided that we must try to recreate these small tarts of custard goodness. After making a cake with chocolate meringue (which will be posted soon), we had lots of egg yolks to use and the perfect recipe to use them. These custard tarts are simply decadent. They remind me of our trip to Belem, crossing under Lisbon's own Golden Gate Bridge, and entering the pasteleria crowded with hungry tourists waiting to indulge in the famous pastries. I got the recipe here. A light dusting of powdered sugar and cinnamon is an absolute must. Enjoy!

Maryland Crabcakes

I've been craving true Maryland style crabcakes for a LONG time. After going to school in Berkeley for 4 years, I've discovered that the Bay Area does not know how to make those lovely crab filled lumps of luscious goodness. All I get in San Francisco are highly breaded discs that taste like fried cornmeal. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Even the Maryland style recipes from Gourmet and Bon Appetit didn't impress me. I made my own Maryland style recipe and they turned out perfectly. I can't stress enough the minimalist approach when it comes to crabcakes. I also never put mayonnaise in my cake. It loads the cake down too much. Here is my recipe and I highly recommend it, especially for you bay area folk who have never had a truly divine crabcake.

Maryland Crabcakes

16 oz jumbo lump crabmeat
juice of a lemon
four scallions
1 egg
bunch of parsley
a lot of shakes of Old Bay
salt and pepper to taste
Tbs olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Make sure there is no shell in the crabmeat. Put olive oil in a non-stick pan. I used a stainless steel pan and they stuck, so I highly recommend non-stick. Form the crabmeat into a ball, place on the pan and press down with a spatula. Use the spatula to keep the shape of the cake. Cook the cake until brown on the bottom, about 5-7 minutes. Flip over and brown on other side. Serve with lemon. Other people like to serve the cakes with garlic aioli but I really like just lemon.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Grilled Pizza

I've been reading about pizza a lot these days. I flew back from Spain into JFK and took the Vamoose bus which takes me back to the fam in Bethesda. I was looking for a quick bite to eat before I boarded the bus for my four hour ride down the New Jersey Turnpike. I dashed into this small pizza place near Penn Station and ordered a piece of veggie pizza. I've got to say, all those rumors about New York Pizza are true. Now, I swear by Cheeseboard pizza in Berkeley and am a huge fan of the California Gourmet style, but New York pizza is outta control good! So after my new discovery, I've had pizza on the mind. The crust is key, I don't have to tell you that, so my sis and I decided to take it to the grill and see what we got. It turns out we got something REALLY tasty. It was so good that we made it for lunch and dinner today. So here is the recipe and how we did it. The beauty of pizza is that you can add whatever you want on top, so we went to town.

1 cup bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup water
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
2 tsp sugar


any combo of cheeses
delicious veggies
whatever your heart desires

In a mixing bowl or food processor with dough blade combine flours, salt, sugar and yeast. Add olive oil to measuring cup of water. Pour water slowly into dry ingredients while stirring or while food processor is on. Stir until dough forms and it comes away from the sides of the bowl. If it doesn't, add more flour or water accordingly. Flatten the dough ball a little on the bottom of the bowl, and cover with plastic wrap closely over the dough. Let is sit for 2 hours (or overnight). When it has doubled in size, punch it, remove it from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and form four small balls. Flatten into 5 in diameter disks, cover, and let sit for 15 minutes. Then flatten into desired thickness for the pizza. Heat up the grill (we have a gas grill so we cooked it at 450 degrees F). Make sure the disks are floured enough so they can slide off the surface and onto the grill (we used a small cutting board). Slide the dough onto the grill, close the grill, and cook for about 3 minutes checking to see if brown grill marks are forming. Remove from grill and turn over. Brush the grilled side with garlic olive oil (olive oil and garlic powder for those of us less sophisticated). Then put on any toppings you chose. I suggest: first layer of sliced tomatoes, second layer combo of cheese (i used fontina, gruyere, and goat cheese), next grilled onions, mushrooms, spinach, and sun dried tomatoes). Then cover and cook for about 2 more minutes, until cheese has melted. It's best to use tongs to maneuver the pizzas. Take off the grill and enjoy!

Vegetable Gratin

I was inspired to make this dish because it used summer vegetables and looked yummy. It was the featured recipe on cooks and there was a pretty good video on how to make it. I'd never made a vegetable gratin, or any gratin (the most famous is the potato gratin) but I thought I'd try it out. For a seemingly simple recipe, it's actually pretty laborious so I would suggest this only if you have the time to make it. The recipe is rather lengthy only because the water has to be removed from the vegetables and replaced with herbed oil. The recipe is from Cooks Illustrated. I would post the recipe but I'm not sure about the copyright laws so here is a link: Vegetable Gratin. The cooks website has a free video that is short and sweet that takes you step by step. It's worth the two minutes to check it out. Happy cooking!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Chorizo, Sundried Tomato, and Spinach Penne

This is a trial dish for the summer menu being offered on West Howell Road as a pre-made dinner. After a thorough taste test during dinner tonight, the family has unanimously decided to pass the dish (with flying colors.) This dish turned out to be very flavorful both because of the chorizo sausage (adding a nice zip to the dish) and the use of milk and broth instead of ordinary water to cook the pasta. The milk makes the whole mix a bit creamier without making the dish heavy. With spinach, tomatoes, sausage, and pasta, the dish covers all important food groups creating a healthy one dish meal.

- Tbs olive oil
- onion
- couple cloves garlic
- 1/2 sundried tomatoes
- 4 sausages (chorizo works well but whichever you prefer)
- 1/2 penne pasta
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 bag spinach
- 1/2 parmesan cheese

Heat the oil in the pan and sautee the onion for several minutes. Next add the tomatoes, garlic, and sausage (out of the casing) and brown the meat completely. Put the raw pasta over the meat and add the liquids (milk and broth) cover and simmer until pasta is tender. Toss in spinach and cheese and cook until spinach wilts and cheese melts. Wala!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Blueberry Pancakes

These pancakes marked the first McFadden family breakfast gathering in half a year. With Katie just back from Spain, and me recovered enough from my wisdom teeth extraction to chew, we set out for antioxidant heaven. We chose a recipe adapted from Milk and Cookies Hotcakes but used whole wheat flour and cottage cheese instead of yogurt for no better reason other than our lack of yogurt and my love of cottage cheese. Katie whipped the egg whites to soft peak perfection and we all gobbled them down. I had just enough time to sneak in a picture of the finished product right before is was consumed .

Friday, June 20, 2008

Blueberry Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

It's our first post and we wanted to kick it off with a bang. We found the best deal on blueberries at the store and we wanted to make something that would showcase our talent, use fresh ingredients, and taste delicious. This cake proved to be the perfect match. Cooking in the kitchen together, Katie and I are beginning to realize how my cooking skills and her baking skills are going to match up. There are going to be fights, brawls, messes, and making up (and lots of cleaning up). But we are going to learn a lot from each other and most importantly eat yummy food.

As it turned out, this cake came out beautifully and tasted equally as decadent. We got the recipe here.