Wednesday, May 18, 2011

INA'S GARDEN - Grown Up Macaroni and Cheese

In our new Barefoot Contessa group, the choose your own recipe linky theme of "Pasta with Pizazz" was chosen this week by Chaya of Bizzy B. Bakes and Comfy Cook’s Kosher Kitchen. 

We could choose any pasta recipe from the Barefoot Contessa's collection of recipes.  I chose the grown up macaroni and cheese because it is comfort food to me.  I might even jump out there and proclaim that it is my favorite food of all foods!

The one thing that did not delight me about the recipe was that it contained bleu cheese. Neither I nor my DH enjoy bleu cheese. I only used half what the recipe called for.  I did use the gruyere (which I love) and a sharp cheddar. I put some Italian herbs in my bread crumbs instead of the fresh basil.  My DH said it was the best macaroni and cheese he had ever tasted in his life. I thought it might be a bit better if my bread crumbs had been larger. I guess I got a bit carried away with the food processor.  Gadgets make me happy so sometimes I tend to go too far.  My photo of this mac and cheese does not do it justice.  You should try it!  You can find the recipe for the macaroni and cheese here.

Louanne of Louanne's Kitchen has chosen Tabbouleh for our June 2nd recipe.
Also, check out our new blogsite

Leave your linky below if you have a favorite pasta dish of the Barefoot Contessa you want to share with us this week. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

CEiMB - Muesli Parfaits

Sarah of Sarah's Kitchen Adventures chose the muesli parfaits for this week's group recipe.  Since I am allergic to oatmeal, I substituted bran cereal.  It was delicious.  I enjoyed it for breakfast this morning. 

As you all are in the same boat, you will understand when I say I have been trying to post this for two days!  Blogger has been down for maintenance or something.  Glad it is back!!  Check out Sarah's blog for the recipe.

Monday, May 9, 2011

TWD - Brown Sugar Bundt Cake

It is my turn to host!

Almost three years ago I had no idea what a food blog was, much less that there were ladies and gentlemen all across the world baking and writing about such things, and sharing and growing with each other over recipes.  I'm not a chef or a great baker, but I do love to cook for my family so I decided to join in.  Since we are just two days past Mother's Day, I want to thank my sweet mother (who passed away three years ago) for sharing her love of cooking with me.

My first Dorie recipe was a fruit galette.  I remember still how delicious it was.  I even remember the first comment I received on my blog.  It was like an award to me!  I still love reading all your comments, so thank you to those of you who regularly stop by to leave encouragement and stop for a second to say hello.

Now about Dorie.  I love the way Dorie explains her recipes step by step.  While some of the recipes in her book "appear" complicated, I think any novice could follow along and easily manage most of them.  I have to say thank you to Dorie Greenspan for enriching my life with these wonderful recipes!  My husband thanks her too.  I have learned so much being in this group not only about baking, but also about online friendships. 

Also, it is a great book to gift to a friend or family member.  Baking From My Home to Yours - Dorie Greenspan.

Love bundt cake and love brown sugar so my pick was a no-brainer.  Thank all of you in the group for baking along with me this week and I hope you enjoyed the cake.  You can go to to see what variations on this cake the other bakers used.  I made this the first time several months ago and used pears, walnuts, and craisens.  This time around I used toasted almonds, almond flavoring, pears and the craisens (instead of prunes). 

Ready for the oven!

I think it is a very versatile cake and would accommodate ingredient change easily.   It would be delicious for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.  Or, even a bedtime snack!

The end result is a beautiful cake with a dense yet moist texture and a wonderful aroma of brown sugar. 

Next week in our group, our host is Lindsay from A Little Something… Sweet and she chose Maple Cornmeal Biscuits.  I cannot wait to try those.

Brown Sugar Bundt Cake
Dorie Greenspan

2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. ground hazelnuts or walnuts (or 1/4 c. more all-purpose flour)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 c. (packed) light brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. pure almond extract (only if you're using the ground nuts)
1 c. buttermilk, at room temperature
2 medium pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 c. moist, plump prunes, snipped into 1/4-inch pieces, or 1/2 c. moist, plump raisins (dark or golden)

Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Getting Ready:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350ยบ F. Butter a 9- to 10-inch (12 cup) Bundt pan, dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess. If your pan is not nonstick, dust the interior of the pan with flour, then tap out the excess. (If you've got a silicone Bundt pan, there's no need to butter or flour it.) Don't place the pan on a baking sheet - you want the oven's heat to circulate through the Bundt's inner tube.

Whisk together the flour, nuts, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and the almond extract, if you're using it. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately - add the flour in 3 additions and the buttermilk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients). Mix only until the ingredients are incorporated and scrape down the bowl as needed. With a rubber spatula, stir in the pears and prunes. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with the spatula.

Bake for 60 to 65 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. (If the cake looks as if it's browning too fast, cover the top loosely with a foil tent.) Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding, then cool to room temperature on the rack.

When you are ready to serve, dust the top of the cake with confectioners' sugar.

*Dorie's Note 1: Dorie suggests, if you have the time, to wrap the cake well and leave it on the counter to ripen the flavors for a day before serving.

Monday, May 2, 2011

TWD - Basic Marbled Loaf Cake

Hostess this week is Carol of The Bake More

I have to thank thank thank Carol for choosing this basic marbled loaf cake.  I might have passed right by this in the book and never made it had she not chosen it this week.  I have to say this was delicious!!  One of the best loaf cakes I have tasted or baked.  Such a simple cake, easy to make, and such flavor.  And the smell. .. .just amazing.

I used Dorie's white chocolate and peppermint version and we just loved it.  I'm not the best marbler but I had a great time making this and trying my best to make the marble work just right.  I used Dorie's method of putting alternating rows of cake batter and then using the knife to slightly zigzag through them.  I did cook mine about ten minutes less than Dorie suggested and it was perfect.  Very moist.

I think I cut it a tiny bit before it was cool enough because I had trouble with crumbs while I was trying to photograph it.  But what's a few crumbs on the side, right?

We loved it and I highly recommend you hop over to Carol's webpage (on the link above) and get the recipe and try it for yourself.  There are so many variations you could use with this cake.  I want to try butterscotch next time.  Grab a fork and a glass of milk and join me while I eat another slice of this!!!!