Monday, February 25, 2008

Sick at home and feeling creative

Ok, y'all I've been sick at home for the last two days.  I ventured out to a framesi event in NJ, but only because every time they have one, I am away or sick or otherwise occupied.

This means that I've spent about 72 hours in my house.  I love my house.  Really.  But, there is a limit to how long I can stay on the couch catching up on my TiVo'd materials.  

I love the View too, but I can't watch more than two episodes in a row.  Sadly, I've tried to watch three in a sitting, but even I have to get up and do something before another episode of Hot Topics.

So, as is usual for us here on Washington St., we had date night.  This means that one of us cooks and we sit at the table and act all civilized until the bottle of Diet Pepsi comes out and I have a bit too much wine and then we really get to talking.  

There is a German word for it, that moment when you find yourself surrounded by your dirty dishes, drinking wine, smoking (if you do that sort of thing), and talking to your dinner companions.  I remember Ingrid talking about it in college -- I used to have a picture of her.  I can't find it anywhere.  She was a roommate in college, from Germany, duh!

For the life of me, I can't come up with the word., and neither can google.  If you know it, I'll make you the cupcakes described in this blog!

Like a lot of people out there, I love Food Network. I can't get enough of the food porn aspect. It sort of influences us here at Bake Through -- if you make a pretty picture of it, they'll want to bake it.

(True Confession: I love Everyday Italian and Giada DiLaurentiis' recipes. And, her cookbooks rock. I have to admit that I TiVo her show and speed through it. Yet, I've NEVER had a problem with any of her recipes. Easy to follow, fresh and full of flavor and each and every time they look like the picture or as I've pictured them in my head.)

Last night, Michael made dinner as I was preparing to go to that NJ thing.  Today, was my turn. I made a recipe I found in the magazine, Everyday with Rachel Ray.  For the record, Salon Topaz, where I work, gets a subscription.  I read it over the shoulder of one of my clients, and I had to try it.  I has gnocchi in it.  I love gnocchi.  Michael is sorta on the fence about it.

From Everyday with Rachel Ray

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
3 leeks, white and tender green parts split lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
5 ribs celery from the heart with leafy tops, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
One 32-ounce container (4 cups) chicken broth
2 cups heavy cream
1 pound chicken tenders, cut into small chunks
2 packages fresh gnocchi (about 24 ounces)
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons dry sherry (optional)
1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika

1. In a Dutch oven or soup pot, heat the EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over medium heat. Add the leeks, celery, bay leaf and salt and pepper to taste and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cream, lower the heat and simmer until the soup bubbles at the edges. Add the chicken and gnocchi and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Stir in the parsley, sherry, if using, and paprika; serve hot.

This came together quite quickly and has a deep flavor that I wasn't expecting from only simmering 5 minutes or so.  Really, Michael wanted me to make it again.  HE even said that he liked the gnocchi.  Score one for me.

I ended up not having sherry, so I used marsala.  It worked quite nicely.  I'm always amazed at the benefit of alcohol in cooking.  Sadly, I didn't take pictures of it.  I was too busy trying to get dishes done from Michael's dinner last night. (It's our rule, he who cooks, doesn't clean.)  

But here is a picture of our dessert option:

I can't tell you how lovely this cupcake was.  I was expecting it to be so much tougher, heavier than it should be. (I divided the batter between the 12 cupcake tins and realized I'd forgotten the butter.  Really, how silly is that.  All the while I'm mixing it saying, "Well, that doesn't seem like enough liquid.  But I caught it, and that counts, right?)

It was light and airy and Michael and I both said, "Ohhh." When we tasted it.  I have to admit that it is from Everyday Food.  

I also have to admit that, after Gourmet, it is my favorite subscription.  

I don't know if Janet knows that.  This could be the end of our blogging relationship.  I hope she can forgive me.

When I'm reading cooking magazines, I turn down the pages on recipes that I like.  Michael said he'd seen this recipe turned down and wanted me to make it.  As I said before, it was devine.  

Here is the recipe:

Everyday Food
Makes 12

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 ripe bananas), plus 1 whole banana, for garnish (optional)
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Honey-Cinnamon Frosting (follows)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Make a well in center of flour mixture. In well, mix together butter, mashed bananas, eggs, and vanilla. Stir to incorporate flour mixture (do not overmix). Dividing evenly, spoon batter into muffin cups.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan; cool completely on a wire rack. Spread tops with Honey-Cinnamon Frosting. Just before serving, peel and slice banana into rounds, and place one on each cupcake, if desired.

Honey Cinnamon Frosting
1 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon honey
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat confectioners' sugar, unsalted butter, honey, and ground cinnamon until smooth, 4 to 5 minutes

The frosting took a bit more honey to come together than originally suggested.  But it was so good and luscious that I'd forgive an even more heinous sin.

Try these two recipes.  They made a sick guy feel productive.

And, I think I'll have another before bedtime.


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