Saturday, March 28, 2009

Foodbuzz 24 24 24: 24 hours eating cookies

I love cookies so much that I often think I could spend a whole day just eating them. What about you? Ever wonder if you could spend 24 hours eating just cookies?

And why not? You just have to get a meal and "cookie-it"! Just get everything you would eat for breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack or dinner and transform it into a cookie! You can think of it as portable meals!

Ok, let's start with Breakfast! You're having a bowl of cereal with milk and banana slices? Yes, it does look good, but let's "cookie-it"!

Bowl of milk + cereals + banana = Breakfast Bowl Cookie

BREAKFAST BOWL COOKIES

  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • 1 cup powdered milk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 ripe banana (mashed)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup wheat cereal (crushed)

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Cream the butter with the sugar. Add the powdered milk, egg, banana and vanilla and mix well. Incorporate the rest of the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt). At last add in the crushed cereal. Scoop portions of the dough into a baking sheet and bake until golden brown (about 10-12 minutes).

Serving them in a bowl is obviosly optional, but it does add a bit of charm!

Now say good morning to my mom! She really approved the breakfast cookie! Again, eating with a spoon is optional!

The morning goes by so fast it's already time for lunch! What do you think if we have Pizza? Or, even better, pizza cookies?

Bacon & Mushroom Pizza = Pizza Shortbread Cookies

PIZZA SHORTBREAD COOKIES

  • 250 gr (9 oz) flour
  • 125 gr (4.5 oz) butter
  • ¼ cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp oreganos
  • 1/8 tsp ground pepper
  • ¼ cup small chunks of fried bacon (cooled)
  • ¼ cup small chunks of cooked mushrooms (cooled)
  • 1/8 cup grated cheese (plus more for topping)

In a food processor place all dry ingredients (flour, salt, garlic, oreganos and pepper) with the cold butter cut into medium chunks. Pulse a few times until it has a course consistency. Mix the tomato sauce with the water and add to the flour-butter mixture and pulse a few more times until the dough forms a ball. Transfer the ball of dough to a lightly floured table and incorporate the cheese, bacon and mushrooms. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Roll the dough and cut into shapes. Bake in a 180ºC (350ºF) preheated oven until golden brown. On the last minute of baking put a little bit of grated cheese on top and let it melt before taking out the cookies from the oven.

You can make them round...

... or in the shape of pizza slices! For that cut big circles of dough (use a plate over the dough and cut arround it with a knife). Score the slices slightly before baking and finishing cutting them with a serrated knife after they've cooled down.

You're hungry again? Ah, you feel like having an afternoon snack, don't you? Ok, let's be healthy and have a cup of tea and an apple. You want a bit of chocolate as well? Sure. Not satisfied yet? Maybe some nuts will help. Ok, just give me all that, I'll transform it in a cookie for you!

Tea + Apple + Chocolate + Hazelnuts = "I feel like a snack" Cookie

“I FEEL LIKE A SNACK" COOKIE

  • 115 gr (1/2 cup) butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 apple (grated)
  • 60 gr (2 oz) melted dark chocolate
  • 2 black tea bags*
  • ½ cup toasted (and skinned) chopped hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Cream the butter with the sugar. Add the egg and mix well. Add the melted dark chocolate and then incorporate the rest of the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt). Open the tea bags and add the tea as well. At last add in the hazelnuts and the grated apple. Scoop portions of the dough into a baking sheet and bake for about 10-12 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies, making sure you don’t over bake them. They should come out of the oven when they still look slightly under baked. * The tea bags I’ve used had almost pulverized tea, but if you have only leafs, you should grind them to a powder before adding to the dough.

And here they are!

And a look at the moist interior. They were delicious!

Just ask my neighbour Mónica! Or do you think that's a fake smile on her face?

This is being a lot of fun, but the day is finishing! It's time for the last meal for today! I think we should have a nice dinner: Chicken breasts with mustard, white rice and steamed broccoli. I bet you want to see the cookie version of it!

Chicken with mustard + Rice + Broccoli = Chicken & Broccoli Biscotti

CHICKEN & BROCCOLI BISCOTTI

  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp mustard
  • ½ chicken breast (cooked and cooled)
  • 2 small pieces of broccoli (cooked and cooled)

Mix olive oil, egg and mustard. In another bowl mix all dry ingredients (flours, salt, baking soda and baking powder). Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix with your hands. Dice in small chunks the chicken and broccoli and incorporate them into the dough, carefully, because the broccoli is very delicate. Shape the dough into a log and bake in a preheated 180ºC (350ºF) oven until it starts to appear baked but it’s not golden brown yet. Remove from oven and let it rest for 15 minutes and lower the oven to 150ºC (300ºF). Then slice into diagonal pieces and put the pieces cut side down into the baking sheet. Bake for until golden, the time will depend on the thickness of your biscotti.

They're great plain...

... or to dunk in your soup, as you would dunk your sweet biscotti into your coffee or tea!

Ok, we're done, you can have a cookie for dessert!

Cookies make people happy! Eat cookies!...

... And go from a) to b) in just a few bites!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Daring Bakers Green Lasagna

Who doesn't love Lasagna? Really, do you know anybody who doesn't love it? I know I don't!

I think I'll call mine Lasagna Burger...

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

I love to make Lasagna at home, but this was my first green one! And I'm now a green believer!

Only 3 ingredients.

Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna (Lasagne Verdi al Forno)

  • 10 quarts (9 litres) salted water
  • 1 recipe Spinach Pasta cut for lasagna (recipe follows)#1
  • 1 recipe Bechamel Sauce
  • 1 recipe Country Style Ragu
  • 1 cup (4 ounces/125g) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

I've used my own bechamel and ragu sauces, they're made without recipes. I like to eyeball them as a true Italian Mama! But if you want to check the original sauces, you can find the recipes at the blogs of the hosts.

I love a hands-on job! Even if it's messy!

Spinach Egg Pasta (Pasta Verde)

  • 2 jumbo eggs (2 ounces/60g or more)
  • 10 ounces (300g) fresh spinach, rinsed dry, and finely chopped; or 6 ounces (170g) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
  • 3&1/2 cups (14 ounces/400g) all purpose unbleached (plain) flour (organic stone ground preferred)

Mound the flour in the center of your work surface and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs and spinach. Use a wooden spoon to beat together the eggs and spinach. Then gradually start incorporating shallow scrapings of flour from the sides of the well into the liquid. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes. Its consistency should be elastic and a little sticky. If it is too sticky to move easily, knead in a few more tablespoons of flour. Continue kneading about 10 minutes, or until the dough has become satiny, smooth, and very elastic. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and let it relax at room temperature 30 minutes to 3 hours. (I’ve used a pasta machine to roll it out). Dry the pasta at room temperature and store in a sealed container or bag. Cooking the Pasta: Bring the salted water to a boil. Drop about four pieces of pasta in the water at a time. Cook about 2 minutes. If you are using dried pasta, cook about 4 minutes, taste, and cook longer if necessary. The pasta will continue cooking during baking, so make sure it is only barely tender. Lift the lasagna from the water with a skimmer, drain, and then slip into the bowl of cold water to stop cooking. When cool, lift out and dry on the paper towels. Repeat until all the pasta is cooked.

Roll it baby, roll it!

Assembling the Lasagne: Spread a thin layer of béchamel over the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange a layer of about four overlapping sheets of pasta over the béchamel. Spread a thin layer of béchamel (about 3 or 4 spoonfuls) over the pasta, and then an equally thin layer of the ragu. Sprinkle with about 1&1/2 tablespoons of the béchamel and about 1/3 cup of the cheese. Repeat the layers until all ingredients are used, finishing with béchamel sauce and topping with a generous dusting of cheese.

Layers and more layers. Yummy and more yummy!

Baking the Lasagne: Cover the baking dish lightly with foil, taking care not to let it touch the top of the lasagne. Bake 40 minutes, or until almost heated through. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes.

Gotta love a cheesy topping!

After baking my lasagna I cut round portions of it ( they looked like lasagna burgers) and served them on a grilled portobello mushroom (the bun?). It was a delicious meal!

Aren't you a tiny bit green with envy? So go to the awesome new site of the Daring Bakers and check all the other lasagnas!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

PBRWCC COOKIES

WTH is PBRWCC?

Well, that's very easy. Pbrwcc stands for Peanut Butter Rosemary White Chocolate Chunks, how come you didn't guess that?

When I was at Pastry School I was presented to strange combo flavours that I had never tried before. Combos like white chocolate and black olives (very good by the way) became normal to me. Not only I've became very open minded to new flavours but I can imagine them in my head before I actually taste them.

I knew (or I hoped) before tasting these cookies that they would be good. When searching for a flavour to add to the leftover rosemary powder in a cookie, somehow peanut butter just seamed so right. And white chocolate too. Problem solved, I've used both.

To create these cookies I've started with my go-to peanut butter cookie recipe (found months ago at Cookiemadness), but I'm sure you can use your own favourite pb cookie recipe.

PBRWCC COOKIES

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups (170 gr/ 6oz) flour
  • 1 cup white chocolate chunks
  • 3 1/2 tsp rosemary powder
  • sugar, for rolling

Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Cream the butter and both sugars. Beat in the peanut butter and egg. Scrape sides of bowl and beat in the salt, baking soda, rosemary powder and vanilla. When well blended, add flour and stir until it is blended. Finally stir in the chocolate chunks. Shape dough into 1-inch balls, roll each ball into sugar and place on cookie sheets about 5 cm (2 inchs) apart. Flatten balls with the bottom of a flat glass and bake for 10-12 minutes or until slightly browned around the edges.

Would you look at those crunchy sugary edges?! Everybody loved them and I'm sure you will too!

And don't worry, I'm not going to use rosemary for a while!

Mango & Rosemary Ice-Cream

So I've kept you waiting for a long time to see what I had done with my Rosemary Powder. But here it is, and it's not a cake, shortbread, a pasta dish or focaccia, as some of you guessed. It's an Ice-cream!

I don't know what's happening in your side of the world, but here we're enjoying some extremely hot winter days, that make me crave refreshing ice-cream. Well to be honest, I crave ice-cream all the time, but you get the idea...

This is a very easy recipe and if you have everything on hand, it will take less than 2 minutes to make (plus churning time). And did I mention it's delicious? Well, it is! And refreshing!

MANGO & ROSEMARY ICE CREAM

  • 1 cup mango puree*
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp milk powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp rosemary powder

Combine all ingredients mixing very well (I´ve used an immersion blender) and churn in an ice-cream maker. Yes, it's that easy!

*Mango Puree: I've used store-bought puree that has 10% sugar.

Have you ever used herbs in ice-creams?

What a great way to use my rosemary! Oh but wait, I still have some left...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Rosemary powder

I love rosemary, it's one of my favourite herbs.

Today I'm going to share with you a very quick and easy way of drying and making a rosemary powder using the microwave and a small strainer. Yep, that's right!

Wash the rosemary and discard the sticks. Spread the leaves in a plate and take to the microwave.

For about 1/4 cup of rosemary it should take arround 2-3 minutes total, but check it every 20-30 seconds, moving the leafs arround. If the leaves can still be bent like in the picture, give it a bit more time...

... Until they break up easily like that and feel very "crunchy".

If doing a large quantity of course you can use a food processor, but for a small amount like I did, a strainer is what it works better. Just put some "crunchy" leafs into the strainer and break them with your fingers, working back and forward, pushing the powder out.

In a little while you'll have fresh rosemary powder ready to use and also your fingers will be slightly green and smell very "rosemary-y"!

Smells divine! Where would you use it? What about me? Where am I going to use it?...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A short Shortbread story

Once upon a time there was a girl that loved shortbread...

...she also loved caramel...

... and brown butter.

One day this girl decided to make shortbread cookies with caramelized sugar and browned butter.

CARAMEL BROWN BUTTER SHORTBREAD

  • 120 gr (4.3 oz) sugar
  • 200 gr (7.1 oz) salted butter*
  • 300 gr (10.7 oz) flour

* Or if you only have unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt.

Star by doing a dry caramel: Take a dry pan to the stove and heat it for 1 minute. Add the sugar and it will star caramelizing on the edges, move gently with a spoon until all sugar is melted and with a nice caramel color. At this point add the butter cut into very small chunks. The caramel will bubble so be careful. Keep mixing until all the butter is melted and the mixture starts to get a darker color, don't get carried away or you might burn it. We want brown butter, not burnt butter ;)!

Let it cool slightly and add the flour mixing well, either by hand (carefull if it's still hot) or in a mixer. Take to the fridge until the dough is completely cool. Roll between 2 pieces of cling film or in a floured surface and cut as you like. Bake in a preheated 170ºC (325ºF) oven, until they are golden brown and delicious.

The girl was so happy with her cookies! They had a subtle caramel flavour and were extra crunchy, still beeing buttery. In fact she liked them so much she had to freeze most of the cookies so she wouldn't eat them...

... and then she ate them frozen.

The end.