Saturday, March 31, 2012

Banana Pancakes

My absolute favorite thing to make on a Sunday morning is Banana pancakes.  It takes a few rounds to get your pan temperature just right and after years, I am still terrible at doing a clean flip.  If you don't have a true griddle, use the largest pan you have for maximum "flipping" space.  If you don't have a pastry brush, you can buy one at the supermarket or a local cooking shop for $5 or less.  Totally worth it, as you'll get even oil coverage and your pancakes will be brown and fluffy (not greasy).

Prep: 15 minutes  Cook: 4 minutes per batch

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups milk
3 tablespoons butter or margaine, melted
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 very ripe banana, mashed (about 1/2 cup)
vegetable oil for brushing

In bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add milk, butter, and egg and stir until flour is moistened.  Add banana, and stir lightly to combine.

Penzey's Baking Spice is my secret weapon for any pancake recipe.  Add a few dashes to your flower mixture for an added aroma of cinnamon and cloves.  You can also sub with a few dashes of plain cinnamon if it's a flavor you like.

Heat griddle or 12-inch skillet over medium heat until drop of water sizzles; brush lightly with oil.  Pour batter by scant 1/4 cups onto hot griddle (I do this with a large cooking spoon), making a few pancakes at a time.  Cook until tops are bubbly, some bubbles burtst, and edges look dry.  With wide spatula, turn and cook until underside is golden.  Transfer to platter; keep warm.

Repeat with remaining batter, brushing griddle with more oil if neccesary.  Makes 3 servings.

Dish up with a pat of butter and Maple Syrup!  Delish!!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Irish Coffee Cupcakes

Last weekend was Saint Patrick's day, a holiday that is second only to Christmas in my husband's family.  I wanted to celebrate with an especially appropriate sweet treat for him.  After much searching, we arrived on this recipe from Martha Stewart.  They are quite unique and true to the "Irish Coffee" flavor.  The cupcake is made with Espresso Powder (hard to find; we got ours at Vons in Manhattan Beach, but could not find it anywhere in Redondo) and is topped with whipped cream, flavored with whiskey.  The frosting is delicious, but the cake itself is more savory than sweet.  Were I to do this again, I'd increase the sugar for a sweeter cake.  Next year, I think I'll opt for the Guiness Brownies.  Try these yourself and let me know what you think.

(Makes 15 Cupcakes)
For the Cupcakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons instant-espresso powder
1/4 cup whole milk
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs

For the Frosting:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon whiskey
Instant-espresso powder, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Make the cupcakes: Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Pour water over espresso powder; let cool.  Combine espresso with milk. 

Beat butter and granulated and brown sugars with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with espresso-milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour (batter may look broken).

Fill 15 cups (of two 12-cup muffin tins) three-quarters full.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes.  Let cool; turn out cupcakes from tins.

Make the frosting: Whisk together cream and confectioners' sugar until medium peaks form.  Add whiskey; whisk until slightly stiff peaks form.

Top each cupcake with 2 tablespoons frosting; dust with espresso powder.

*I used a loose-leave tea infuser to dust my cupcakes

**I recommend doing this step immediately before serving.  Otherwise the coffee disolves into the whipped cream and you get a muddy brown looking frosting.  Yuck.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken and Broccoli with Sauce Maltaise

Last weekend I decided to make a quick and easy Sunday dinner using ingredients in the house.  This recipe comes from a 2005 Bon Appetit magazine.  I didn't have Panko Bread Crumbs, so I used traditional Bread Crumbs and the original recipe called for Asparagus, but I substituted with microwave broccoli florets to save time.  If you want to save time a little more time, you can ask your butcher to butterfly the chicken breast. This one is a definite 10.  Easy, and delicious!

For the Chicken:
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, divided
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons honey Dijon mustard
2 cups panko* (Japanese breadcrumbs; about 3 1/2 ounces)
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese (about 4 1/2 ounces)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 skinless boneless chicken breast halves, butterflied
1 large bunch watercress, thick stems trimmed

For the Sauce Maltaise:
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks butter), melted, very hot
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
Bird's Eye Steam-in-a-Bag Broccoli Florets

For the Chicken:
Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.  Butter large rimmed baking sheet with 2 tablespoons butter.  Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in small saucepan and set aside.

Whisk eggs and mustard in bowl to blend.  Mix panko, Parmesan, salt and pepper in large bowl.  Dip chicken into egg mixure, then panko mixture, coating generously.  Place on prepared baking sheet.  Drizzle reserved melted butter over chicken.  Bake chicken until browned and cooked through, turning once, about 10 minutes.

Garnish chicken with watercress, serve with Broccoli and Sauce Maltaise.

For the Sauce Maltaise:
Whisk egg yolks, 1/4 cup water, and lemon juice in medium metal bowl to blend.  Place bowl over large saucepan of barely simmering water.  Whisk constantly until instant-read thermometer inserted into mixture registers 160 degrees F, about 5 minutes.  Transfer yolk mixture to blender.  With blender running, gradually pour hot melted butter through opening in top of blender and blend until mixture is thick and creamy.  Stir in orange peel.  Season sauce with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, microwave broccli according to directions on bag.  Divide among plates.  Spoon sauce over.
(Serves 6)

If you like this recipe, check out Two Recipes for Healthy "Fried" Chicken.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Mocha Shortbread Wedges

The key item with this recipe is not to overbake.  Watch it closely, or risk a burned flavor.  Otherwise, this is simple, quick goody to easily whip up.  Mmmmmmm chocolate and coffee!

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 teaspoons good-quality instant espresso powder (I use 1 svg of Starbuck's Via Coffee)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room termperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line an 8-inch round cake or springform pan with parchment paper.

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, and salt.  Stir in espresso.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until pale and creamy. Add confectioners' sugar, and beat well.  Add flour mixture, and beat on low speed until well combined.

Pat dough evenly into pan.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until puffed at the edges and dark all over the top.  Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes; then cut into 8 wedges.  Let cool completely on a rack.

Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar just before serving.  Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.