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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Strawberry-Pistachio Rolls

I'll start by saying sorry for the pictures as they were taken with my iPhone. But, the exciting part of that is that I FINALLY HAVE AN iPHONE! Yayyy! I made these rolls in Florida where I didn't have my amazing photographer there to help me out.

I love experimenting with different sweet rolls (like these Meyer Lemon Sweet Rolls), so when I saw these on Kaitlin's blog, Whisk Kid, I knew I had to give them a try. If you're wondering, they are just as good as they look. The sweet strawberry and pistachio fillings play off each other, creating an amazing harmony of salty/sweet-fresh/rich flavors that make it quite easy to down an entire roll (which are about the size of your entire hand) all by yourself (not to mention the fact that the red and green look beautiful together).

While these are still amazing cooled, I find them to be at their peak enjoyment state when they are nice and warm out of the oven. I mean a) who doesn't love warm bread in any situation? and b) the fillings are all gooey and oozing about in the most delicious way.

I think it would be a wonderful idea to add a whole vanilla bean in there somewhere, perhaps in the strawberry filling, just to really put these babies over the top. Someone try it and report back?

pre-bake obviously:

Strawberry-Pistachio Rolls
recipe slightly adapted from here

  • 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 66g (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 milk, warmed
  • 78g (1/3 cup) butter, unsalted, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature, beaten
  • 1 tsp salt
  • more or less 500g (4 cups) flour
  • extra sugar for sprinkling
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the yeast, water, and sugar. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes until the yeast is activated (the top should be foamy).
  2. Add in the milk, butter, egg, and salt, and mix to combine. Add in the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the bowl. Switch to the bread hook attachment and mix, on high, for 15 minutes.
  3. Dump the dough into a buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm area for about an hour, until doubled in size.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a 10 x 24 inch rectangle. Spread with the two fillings (recipes below), leaving a 1 inch border on each side. Tightly roll the rectangle up, and slice into 10+ rolls.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a pie dish (or individual ramekins, etc.) and place the rolls in, leaving a bit of space between each (DO NOT stuff your pan as the rolls will rise again and overflow the pan.... I'm speaking from experience here people).
  6. Allow to rise again for about an hour. Sprinkle the tops with sugar and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden-brown and baked through. (You can drizzle the tops with a simple glaze made from confectioners' sugar and milk if you desire, which you should, because it looks nice :).)
Strawberry Filling:
  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 50g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the berries have slightly broken down and the mixture is thickened.
  2. Cool and set aside.
Pistachio Filling:
  • 128g (1 cup) pistachios, roasted and salted
  • 50g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1/2-1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 28g (2 tbsp) butter, unsalted, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  1. Place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and process until the mixture is a thick paste.
  2. Set aside.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Orange Poppy-Seed Cake with Berries and Crème Fraîche

I just got back from a wonderful visit to Florida to see my family and friends and had a ton of fun :). I got to spend time sunning myself at the beach AND I finally made it to Harry Potter World in Universal Islands of Adventure-- something I've been wanting to do forever. You see, I am a Harry Potter freak and so my friends and I went to the park on the opening day. After waiting in line for 8 hours, me passing out with heat exhaustion and having to go to the medic room, and a long argument to get our refunds, we saw NOTHING. It was one of the most disappointing experiences of my life. But, I finally got to go and it was really quite fun! However, I do not recommend the Butter Beer. It's ultra weird and has a strange foamy, creamy layer on the top that I was told is a "non-dairy butterscotch flavoring." Ew.

Tomorrow I start my last quarter of college, EVER and I can't freakin' wait to get it over with :P!

So, about this cake... It's pretty amazing. It's fresh and unique and a perfect alternative to a rich, chocolate dessert. The orange syrup that is poured on the cake straight out of the oven gives it an extremely moist texture that can be described as almost pudding-like. The orange-Cointreau macerated berries are a nice counterpoint, and the creamy crème fraîche is a rich, zingy contrast.

Orange Poppy-Seed Cake with Berries and Crème Fraîche
recipe slightly adapted from here


for the cake:
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup poppy seeds
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2/3 cups sour cream
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
for the berries/syrup:
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp Cointreau
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cups strips of orange zest
  • 3 cups mixed raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries (strawberries should be halved or quartered)
  • confectioners' sugar, for dusting
  • crème fraîche, to serve
for the syrup:
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the orange juice, Cointreau, 3 tbsp sugar, and strips of orange zest over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5-10 minutes until the sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat.
  2. Fish out the zest strips with a fork and discard. Pour 1/3 cup of the syrup into a bowl and reserve the rest for the cake.
  3. Add the berries to the bowl with the 1/3 cup syrup and place in the fridge, covered, to macerate for at least 2 hours and up to 24.
for the cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9 or 10-inch springform pan and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and poppy seeds. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sour cream, and vanilla. Set aside.
  4. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, 1 cup of the sugar, and orange zest for about 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Alternately add in the flour mixture and yolk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, beating well after each addition.
  5. In another bowl, with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they are foamy. Add in the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks. Add in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, a little at a time, and beat until stiff peaks.
  6. Stir 1/3 of the meringue into the cake batter and then gently fold in the remainder.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. As soon as you remove the cake from the oven, poke the top all over and brush the top with 1/2 of the reserved syrup. Let stand for 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around the side of the pan and remove the cake. Invert it on a rack and poke the bottom all over. Brush the remaining syrup over it, re-invert the cake on another rack or plate, and let stand until entirely cool. (You can keep the cake like this wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for a day before serving.)
  9. Before serving, sift confectioners' sugar over the top and serve with the macerated berries and crème fraîche.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fennel Slaw with Pistachio-Parsley-Thyme Pesto, Prosciutto di Parama, and Parmigiana Reggiano

This recipe comes from Giada de Laurentiis, who happens to be one of only about three Food Network chefs that I trust anymore. I mean really, the channel seems to be less and less about good food, and more and more about over-the-top personalities (I'm looking at you Guy Fieri). 

This slaw/salad is the perfect addition to any summer cook-out or picnic. It couldn't be easier to make, and yet, it tastes seriously incredible! Also, it's really pretty to look at :)

The pesto brings a very bold flavor to the table that it balanced by the buttery prosciutto and sharp parmigiana reggiano. The crunchy, anise-flavored fennel makes the entire salad refreshing and light and will have you going back for thirds!

Fennel Slaw
recipe slightly adapted from here

  • 4-5 fennel bulbs (about 3 1/2 lbs), thinly sliced
  • Pistachio-Parsley-Thyme Pesto (recipe below)
  • 4 ounces prosciutto di parma
  • 2 ounces (or to taste) shaved parmigiana reggiano
  1. Toss the fennel with the pesto and transfer to a serving platter.
  2. Slice the prosciutto into 1/2 inch strips.
  3. Top the fennel with the shaved cheese and prosciutto.
Pistachio-Parsley-Thyme Pesto

  • 2 cups lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 3/4 cup shelled pistachios, toasted
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. In a food processor, combine the parsley, thyme, pistachios, and garlic. Process until very finely chopped.
  2. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and process until well blended.
  3. Season the pesto with salt and pepper, to taste.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Asparagus with Hazelnut Vinaigrette and Chopped Egg

*Phew*! I got my first of three papers finished this morning! The next is due on Monday, and my final paper (the longest at 10-12 pages) is due on Tuesday. I. CAN'T. WAIT. for this quarter to be over! It's totally been throwing a wrench in my cooking/baking time.

Anyways, on to the food! Last weekend, Mikey and I went to Pike's Place Market to shop for Memorial Day ingredients. Produce stands were completely stocked with gorgeous Spring veggies and the very first produce of Summer. I wanted to take everything home with me but I settled on a few select items--including a bunch a beautiful, local asparagus.

This dish turned out better than great! The asparagus keeps a nice, crisp bite thanks to only being cooked for a couple of minutes, and the creamy, thick, tart vinaigrette and chopped egg are nice counterpoints.

Asparagus with Hazelnut Vinaigrette and Chopped Egg
recipe slightly adapted from here

  • 2 lbs asparagus, washed and trimmed
  • 1 large hard-boiled egg, chopped
  • 1 large shallot
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
  1. In a food processor, combine the shallot, vinegar, mustard, and sugar. Process until the shallot is minced and everything is combined. Slowly, with the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl and stir in the hazelnuts.
  2. Bring a large saute pan filled with 2 1/2 inches of salted water to a boil. Add in the asparagus and cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain and transfer to a serving dish.
  3. Top the asparagus with the hazelnut vinaigrette, chopped egg, and more salt and pepper. Serve!
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