Category Archives: Baking

TYCMiaR, part IV: personal spoonbread

My dear friend Sai has been telling me how much she loves my “things you can make in a ramekin” posts, and I must admit, it’s been a while. So, I got to thinking: what did I want to do for the next post? There are so many things! Sai and I have been going over the possibilities all morning. Finally, though, I hit on this: we’re having the last of my mother’s (amazing, stupendous, best-ever) fried chicken for lunch today. Why not keep it Southern and go with a little spoonbread? Little, being the operative word here.

So, I scoured the internet for ideas, tweaked a recipe, and came up with these beautiful, tiny, lovely corn cakes. They’re soft, sweet, and oh, so tasty. Studded with corn kernels and bursting with silky, sweet Southern flavor, this cake is a must-have for all those “supper for two” nights. It also works well as a cold breakfast cake the next morning, with a little cream and brown sugar on top!

Pheasant’s corn spoonbread

Makes two ramekins’ worth

1/4 c plus 1 tsp yellow cornmeal

1/3 c creamed corn

2 tbsp sour cream or mayo

1 tsp sugar or honey

1 1/4 tbsp water

1/8 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp baking soda

scant 1/8 tsp cayenne

scant 1/16 tsp salt

Preheat your oven to 350°F (176°C.)

Spray two 6 to 8 oz ramekins with Pam. In a small bowl, mix together the dry goods, stirring thoroughly. Add in the corn, sour cream or mayo, and honey if you’re using it. Mix it all together, divide between the ramekins, and place in the oven for 20 minutes.

When the timer goes off, check the cakes. Insert a toothpick. If it comes out clean, they’re done. If not, give them another four or five minutes.

As soon as the ramekins have cooled, you can dig in! Drizzle them with honey or chipotle compound butter. They’re even tasty just as they are, of course! 

On a related note, what are your favorite types of Southern food? I love cornbread, mashed potatoes, and fried chicken! Fried chicken is definitely my favorite…on a related note, am I the only girl north of Dixie who enjoys her fried chicken doused in hot sauce?

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Filed under Baking, Ethnic

Best-ever roasted potatoes

Now, if you don’t like spicy things, I suppose you should just skip this recipe. But oh jeez, it’s amazing! Especially paired with my tomato garlic bisque. These potatoes are fragrant, creamy and a delight to add to any meal. Also, they couldn’t be easier to make! 

 

Best-ever roasted potatoes

2-3 potatoes, washed and scrubbed

cayenne, paprika, garlic powder, ground rosemary and pepper to taste

1-2 tbsp oil

Preheat the oven to 350°F(176°C). Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil. Cut the potatoes into chunks, about two-bite sized. Place them on the cookie sheet, then drizzle with oil (don’t overdo it) and sprinkle on the spices. Using your hands, toss them to coat in the oil and spices.

When the oven is preheated, pop them in and set your timer for 35 minutes. About halfway through, toss them with a spatula to get the other side nice and cooked as well.

When the timer goes off, check with a fork for tenderness (doneness) and, if they aren’t, put them back in for 5-10 minutes. If they are, take them out to cool, and do your best not to eat them until they’re ready to handle.

Enjoy!

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Filed under Baking, Miscellaneous

Swiss buttercream chocolate bombs

*Names changed to protect the fabulous

For the past two months or so, I’ve been trying to conquer what I considered to be nigh unconquerable: the evasive Swiss buttercream. A simple enough concoction that’s essentially a meringue with a Paula Deen-approved serving of butter whipped into it, it’s notoriously difficult to master. I’ve seen professional bloggers finally post with glee about it. And pheasants, today, I have done just this: I am Mistress of the Buttercream! I’ve requested M call me this at least once a day for the next week.

From what I’ve seen (and tasted,) the big draw for real meringue-based buttercreams is not only the light and fluffy texture, but the high-gloss shine you get from it, and the fact that it doesn’t crust over the way normal frostings can. It tastes almost deceptively good for you in a light, airy sort of way.

On that note, I can tell you a little somethin’-somethin’ about these mini cupcakes and chocolate frosting: they’re rather addictive. The recipe I made creates two dozen of these little guys, and I’d been planning on a dessert night with our roommate Kamal* tonight. They may not last so long.

I was still making the buttercream when M came home today. As per usual, she immediately dipped a finger in and pronounced it edible. Edible?! I screeched, waving my hand mixer around like a child on speed. I’ve been working for twenty minutes on this! It’d better be tastier than “edible.” She then took one of the little cooling cupcakes from the plate beside me, dipped it in, and popped the entire thing in her mouth. This, she liked. I could see why; the evidence was smeared all over her face!

When it comes to the chocolate bombs, the chipotle puree and Nutella aren’t necessary, but they do bump up the flavor. The mini chocolate chips are also technically unnecessary, but they make the bomb itself very moist and smooth.

The bombs themselves can be made with any cake batter, but the chocolate-chocolate combination was a winner in this apartment.

About the buttercream, I have several tips:

  • Check the egg whites every minute or so while they’re on the double boiler. They should never get hot enough to burn your fingers, or anywhere near, but they will end up an opaque, very meringue white at the end.
  • Once you’ve added the butter to the frosting, it WILL look like you’ve messed up when it falls, and it may turn to soup. Keep whipping. As you add the butter, it will solidify and become the fluffy, gorgeously silky frosting you were looking for.
  • Try out your favorite flavorings, food colorings and additions to it! Experiment, experiment, experiment. There’s really not such a thing as bad frosting, and as long as you aren’t adding heavy items to it, it should hold up just fine.

Pheasant’s chocolate bombs and Swiss buttercream

Yields two dozen chocolate bombs

For the bombs:

3/4 c flour (AP or whole wheat)

1/3 c cocoa powder

1 tsp coffee powder

1/2 c sugar

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 c mini chocolate chips

2/3 c milk minus 2 tbsp

1/8 c vegetable oil (I used soybean)

2 tbsp fat free sour cream

1/8 tsp chipotle puree (optional)

2 tbsp Nutella spread

1 tsp vanilla

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350°F (171°C.) Spray a 24-cup (or two 12-cup) mini cupcake tin(s) with Pam.

In a medium mixing bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together. Make a well in the center and add in the wet, mixing until combined. It should be a rather thick, almost cookie-like batter. Drop by the tablespoonful into the muffin cups. When the batter is all gone, stick the muffin tins in the oven and set your timer for 11 minutes.

Once the cupcakes are done, allow them to cool completely before popping them out of their tins and frosting.

For the buttercream:

2 large egg whites (reserve the yolks for Hollandaise!)

1/3 c sugar

10 tbsp butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp cocoa powder (or other favorite flavoring)

In a large, heat-proof mixing bowl (I used our Pyrex bowls) mix the egg whites and sugar together. Set a medium sauce pot, half-filled with water to simmer on the stove. Once it’s hot and simmering, place the bowl of egg whites over the water and whisk gently until you can dip (very clean!) finger in and not feel the sugar granules when you test it between your fingers.

Once this is done, using a hand mixer, mix on medium-high until it’s doubled in volume, white, and glossy.

Once you've whipped it well, it should look thick, glossy and beautiful!

At this point, add the vanilla and half the cocoa, as well as one or two tablespoons of butter. Continue to mix until the butter is completely incorporated, then add in the second. The frosting will fall a little as you mix, but don’t despair! It will set up nicely as you beat it. Before adding the last few tablespoons of butter, taste the frosting. If you want it more cocoa-y, add the rest of the powder. If not, don’t!

Once all your butter is incorporated and you’ve got thick frosting, spoon it into a piping bag (or in my case, a zip lock with the tip cut off) and pipe it on! 

Try not to eat them all in one sitting ;D

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Spinach and cheddar quiche with roasted garlic

Note on my changes: After a little deliberation, M and I have decided that neither of us liked the crust enough to want to make the quiche with it again, so I’m omitting it. It still creates an amazing, crustless quiche 🙂 

Eggs are really popular in our household. M generally only cooks when eggs (or easy mac) are involved, our roommate loves to boil them and leave them out on the counter for us to find, and I think they’re pretty swell, too. Eggs, sunny-side up, served with toast and some sharp cheddar are by far one of my favorite ways to start off the day.

When it comes to egg suppers, though, M loves nothing more than quiche. She’s mad for eggs. And yet, as much as I love quiche, I don’t make it very often. The sheer amount of cholesterol in the number of eggs it takes to make quiche are generally enough to scare me off, not to mention the glut of butter and cream the recipes call for. So, when M requested quiche for tonight’s supper, I was a little hesitant. Quiche is quick, and since we’ve got an engagement tonight, that is a great thing. I did balk at the idea of it, until Pheasant stood up and said to me, “No! You will make the best quiche ever. And you know what? You’ll enjoy every. Last. Bite.”

To the internet!

I’ve sifted through countless recipes looking for the perfect quiche recipe. And, finding none, I decided to improvise. I took pieces of quiche recipes from two or three different ones, and ended up with this one.

I love herbs, and so I decided to play with the herbs in this quiche…generally, I feel like quiche is really bland unless there is a ton of cheese (read: fat) in it. I love the idea of flavoring the eggs themselves so that no only the cheese and vegetables have flavor, but the eggs as well.

So, I set out with this lovely recipe in mind. Because we don’t have a pie pan, I used an 8×8 inch brownie pan, and just cut the quiche into nine pieces for easy eating.

Quiche, squared

4 eggs

1 c 1% milk

1 tbsp sour cream

1/2 onion, sliced thinly

10 oz fresh spinach

1 tbsp garlic mash

1 c grated cheddar

1 tsp freshly ground pepper

parsley, paprika and rosemary to taste

First, preheat your oven to 350°F (171°C.) In a large skillet, place the onions and some oil to sauté. When they’ve become golden-brown, add in the spinach until it all wilts down.

Combine the eggs, milk, and spices together, whisking to form a thin scramble. Spread the spinach and onion across the bottom of the crust. Cover in cheese, pour the eggs in, and replace the pan in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the eggs are set and a knife inserted comes out clean.

Let cool, then cut into squares and enjoy!

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Filed under All things eggs, Baking

Pumpkin-oat Breakfast Brûlée (ramekins, part III)

Last night was full of nice things, pheasants, but it was also full of Thai food. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Thai food. I love it a little too much, if you know what I mean. And after nights of indulging like that, I enjoy nothing more than waking up and preparing a breakfast that is filling, light in calories, and simple, both in flavor and preparation.

With that in mind, I woke up and stared at the surplus of baked pumpkin we have sitting around and decided to whip up some pumpkin oat cakes, with a little touch of brûlée. It’s tasty, good for you, and fun to make! Little kids will love this recipe, I’m sure, topped with a little maple syrup and cream. Served as a dessert with some of my special hot cocoa (recipe to come) it would also make for a great dessert!

Pheasant’s Pumpkin-Oat Breakfast Brûlée

1 c pumpkin puree

4 tbsp oats, divided

butter to coat

1/2 tsp sugar

In a food processor or spice grinder, grind the dried oats until they form a flour. Lightly butter two ramekins and, using about 1/4 of the oat flour, dust them to coat. Move the remaining flour to a bowl and mix in the pumpkin puree. Divide the mixture bewteen the ramekins to bake, at 350°F (177°C) for 10 minutes.

Once the cakes are done, sprinkle sugar over the cakes and, using a brûlée torch or your broiler, melt the sugar until a thin crust forms. Let cool, and enjoy!

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Filed under Autumn, Baking, Pastas, grains and oatmeal, Seasonal

Midnight Cowboy Muffins

Mmm...can you see those huge, beautiful bits of pepper?

Pheasants, you’re in for a treat tonight!

You see, I’ve got a mad craving. This morning’s spicy shirred eggs didn’t take the edge off it, either…I’m still mad about all things spicy. And so, in honor of that, I’ve decided to make some Midnight Cowboy spicy chipotle muffins.

I also made some sweet honey ones, but mostly, these are just what they sound like: sweet corn muffins with a spicy, smoky kick from the chipotle. I added a roasted red pepper for sweetness, and mixed in some cheddar for ooey, gooey pleasure, and they made these muffins beautiful, savory, and absolutely out of this world.

I served them all (sweet and spicy alike) with my quick chipotle compound butter. Pair them with barbecued meats, beans, or rotisserie chicken. Or,  you can do what I did, and just eat them warm from the oven, with a smile on your face. This, pheasants, is truly what dreams are made of.

Midnight Cowboy Muffins

1/2 c whole wheat flour

1/2 c sweet cornmeal

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

1 egg

3 tbsp reduced fat sour cream

3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 chipotle pepper, minced or pureed

1/2 tsp adobo sauce

1/3 large roasted bell pepper, seeded and minced

3 tbsp finely diced cheddar

So, I split my muffin recipe to make two sweet and four spicy. You don’t have to, but if you want an entire batch of sweet muffins, just mix in 3 tbsp or more of honey after the second paragraph.

Butter and line with cornmeal six average-sized muffin tins. Preheat your oven to 375°F (191°C.)

Mix all your dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, sour cream and vegetable oil. Mix wet into dry and stir to combine.

Add in the chiles, pepper and cheddar, stir to mix well, and place into 6 muffin tins. If you like, drizzle them with honey and pop them in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until done. Let cool, and enjoy with my Chipotle Compound Butter!

See how warm they were? Mmm. These didn't last long at all!

Chipotle Compound Butter

1 1/2 tsp adobo sauce

1/2 tsp honey

1/2 stick softened butter

Mix them together. Roll up into a piece of saran wrap and refrigerate until firm, or just use as is!

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