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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Blueberry Buttermilk Cake



Seems I am always making something to use up something else. This a result of my upbringing to minimize waste I suppose and I totally see it as a good thing. It's like this grand cosmic linking of ingredients. The ricotta for the lasagna leads to ricotta pie with mini chips which were leftover from making Rice Krispie Treats. Overripe bananas leads to banana scones using the wheat pastry flour purchased for the triple ginger cookies. Buttermilk leftover from Irish Soda Bread leads to buttermilk pancakes and now a blueberry buttermilk cake....

Buttermilk is such a great ingredient. It's really versatile. It can be a great addition to cakes, cookies, biscuits, marinating meat, etc. After making buttermilk pancakes and waffles, non-buttermilk versions just seem to lack any flavor. So, I was looking for a cake or cupcake recipe utilizing some buttermilk and found no shortage of options! Although a buttermilk enhanced chocolate cake with buttercream icing sounds decadent, I was seeking something a little healthier. This recipe utilizes fruit to bring the sweetness rather than icing which appealed to me. The original recipe I found on Epicuious used raspberries but I wanted a more straightforward sweetness rather than the sweet/tart you get with raspberries. I was really excited about how great this cake turned out: light, fruity with a little bit of a crispy crust on top. Victor and I topped with a dollop of whipped cream but it is good on it's on as well.

Blueberry Buttermilk Cake (adapted from Raspberry Buttermilk Cake on Epicurious)
1 cup of flour (all purpose)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 stick butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk (shake to make sure it's combined)
2/3 cup sugar + about 2 tablespoons for dusting over the top of the cake
Approx 4-5 oz of fresh blueberries (rinsed and dried).

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 inch cake pan.

Combine dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in vanilla and egg.
Alternate adding dry ingredients and buttermilk in 3 separate batches mixing until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and scatter berries on top. Finally, sprinkle with reserved sugar.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until top of cake is golden brown and cake tester comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove and cool on wire rack.






Bananas for scones



I have been on a scone kick since the end of January...sampling them from various bakeries as well as whipping up my own at home. This latest batch was initiated by one lone overly rip banana. Sure, it's common to make banana bread with overripe bananas, but most recipes call for 2-3 bananas. My goal was to fine a recipe that only utilized 1 banana and perhaps some buttermilk which I am trying to use up before it goes bad. Using a few different recipes for inspiration (but mostly one on Food.com), I came with the below concoction. These were a little dense but had a nice nutty flavor. To be honest, the banana flavor was a little weak but I think the banana was being overpowered by all the walnuts. I put in 1/2 cup but would scale back to 1/4 cup in the future. I hesitate to suggest adding more bananas because that may make the dough too wet.

In a nutshell, these were just ok. Definitely a nutty, healthy taste to them but I don't think they would appeal to everyone.

Banana Walnut Buttermilk Scones
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons cold butter
4 tablespoon buttermilk (well shaken)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
1 small-medium overripe banana
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

In bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and ginger. Cut in the butter, rubbing it in with your fingerstips.

In a separate bowl, mix buttermilk and vanilla. Stir into flour mixture. Add mashed banana and chopped walnuts.

Form into a round 1/2 inch thick disc and then cut into 4 sections.

Bake on parchment paper lined cookie sheet for approximately 20 minutes. Cool on rack.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The 2011 Soda Bread


My husband loves when I make Irish Soda Bread...truth be told, he seems to take a liking to anything made with buttermilk. However, I only seem to think of making Soda Bread around St. Paddy's day. There is no good explanation for this (the ingredients are always available) except that I tend to forget how good it is! The recipe for the Bread pictured can be found here. I am going to try a new recipe in a day or two just to switch it up a bit...stay tuned!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Braised cabbage



My mom introduced me to this Braised Cabbage recipe back in January that she found on The Nourishing Gourmet (the above pics before and after cooking). She served it with some chicken made in white wine (I don't have that recipe yet). The cabbage, carrots and onions were so tender, slightly sweet and melted in your mouth. I bought a head of cabbage about a week ago in anticipation of making some corn beef and cabbage for St. Paddy's day....but alas, I could not find any corn beef! I saw some in the store the week before the 17th, but it was pretty expensive so I was waiting for it go on sale....seems that the sale must have come and gone without me knowing. No worries, there are a zillion things you can do with cabbage (one of my recent favorites being throwing it into a stir fry but I think Victor was getting tired of that).

I ended up serving this with some chicken and potatoes.

Braised Cabbage (adapted from The Nourishing Gourmet)
1 medium head of green cabbage
2 large carrots
1 large yellow onion
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Red pepper flakes

Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with some non-stick spray (I use Trader Joe's Olive Oil spray).

After rinsing and taking off some of the outer leaves, cut the cabbage into 8 wedges and arrange them in the baking dish. Cut up the carrots into rounds and sprinkle around the cabbage wedges. Cut up the onion and sprinkle over the cabbage and carrots (how large you leave the onions is really up to you but since they are going to be slow cooked, they will have a nice sweetness, so I would slice them rather than dice). Drizzle the chicken stock and olive oil over all of the ingredients. Add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste. Cover with foil and bake for 2 hours. After 2 hours, remove foil and let bake an additional 15 minutes to allow the veggies to brown a tiny bit.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A lil' Irish Treat!


Rather then make the old shamrock cutouts this year, I decided on Bailey's Irish Cream Chocolate Chip cookies. I found the recipe on Cooks.com. Note that the cookie uses cake flour instead of All Purpose. I too used cake flour...I know, I know, when do I typically follow a recipe completely, right? I had some on hand from a previous sponge cake recipe. Otherwise, I probably would have used All Purpose Flour. The cake flour gave the cookie a really fine crumb which worked well with the coconut and pecans.

I mixed the batter up after work one night with the intention of actually baking them the next day..but I did bake up a test batch of about 6 cookies immediately. Although the original recipe indicated that an ungreased cookie sheet would be fine, my test batch stuck a bit, so I used parchment paper when I baked the rest of the cookies.


Bailey's Irish Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from Cooks.com)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup Bailey's Irish Cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli)
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients in medium sized bowl and set aside. In a separate, larger bowl, cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in egg. Add in Bailey's and Vanilla. Blend the dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Stir in coconut, chocolate chips and pecans.

Drop cookies (about 1 tablespoon in size) onto parchment covered cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes (if you want them a bit browner, go for 12 minutes). When cookies are done, remove from oven and cool on wire rack.