Friday, March 13, 2009

Mid-day Pancake Play

When I take Sabbath time, I like to make myself something special for breakfast or lunch. Yesterday, I decided to try my hand at Norwegian pancakes, which I'd never even eaten, much less made. The recipe looked kind off crazy to me, way too much liquid to dry ingredients. Then, my friend Jess explained that Norwegian pancakes make crepes look thick and advised me to make sure to do them on a griddle because they're really difficult to flip. I'm glad for her input because she was exactly right! I think if I were more of a pancake person, I would really have loved these. The first one was a dismal failure & went right in the trash, but after that, I got the hang of them and they turned out nicely.

2 eggs
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. boiling water
1/2 c. sour cream or buttermilk (I used sweet milk soured with vinegar)
1 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tbsp. melted butter
2 c. milk
Beat eggs. Add sugar, salt, cinnamon & vanilla. Dissolve soda in water. Add to eggs. Gradually add flour & baking soda. Gradually add melted butter and milk, mixing well to ensure smoothness. Bake on heavy griddle or electric skillet, lightly greased, preheated to 400 degrees. Use about 1/4 c. batter per pancake and tip pan so that bottom is completely covered with batter. Brown on both sides, making sure not to attempt flipping too soon. Sprinkle with sugar and roll up, keeping warm until all are cooked. Serve with butter or the topping of your choice. I suspect lingonberries would be my favorite.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Purim Yummies

Monday, J called me from work and asked what I was planning to do to celebrate Purim. I was astonished because she doesn't usually take note of my affection for holiday celebration. Then, she astonished me further by suggesting I make some hamantaschen! This turn of events so surprised me that I nearly fell out of my chair. How did my wife know about these traditional Purim cookies? She is no expert on Jewish holidays or recipes. Turns out she'd notcied Purim on her calendar & taken it upon herself to educate herself about the holiday, since I love all holidays. Since she'd done that, I simply had to try my hand at making them. I mixed up the dough Monday night & baked the cookies Tuesday. Being a hamantaschen novice, I overfilled some so much that they burst their seams and spread into rounds. The dough got crumbly and hard to work with. The bottom pan of cookies got a little dark underneath. Nonetheless, the end result was yummy and the process was fun. The recipe came from Epicurious:

J had picked up some baking fillings for me that I never expected to use (date and prune) but they turned out to be perfect for this recipe. I also did some with strawberry preserves and some with my friend Dieter's homemade cherry jam. They were all quite nice. Next year, I'll be trying poppyseed filling, I think. My friend Janelle was quite enthusiastic about that and she has good taste.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Gentlemen, Start Your Asparagus

Okay, so it's not officially spring yet. The asparagus is starting to look like spring asparagus already, though, and I am starting to cook with it again. Last night, I made a dinner that J rated a 10 out of 10. We had my adaptation of Paula Deen's chicken and asparagus bake (with lots of extra cheddar to suit J's cheese tooth), lush egg noodles and baby spinach with citrus poppyseed vinaigrette.

Chicken and Asparagus Bake
3/4 lb. asparagus, trimmed and halved
1 tbsp. oil
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 can 98% FF cream of chicken soup concentrate
1/2 c. light mayo
Juice of half a lemon
2 c. shredded cheddar (yes, it's decadent-I think you could easily do with a cup, half a cup or even no cheese and it would still be great, but I had J egging me on to "add more, add more!")
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. If asparagus is thick or seems tough, cook in boiling water 2 minutes and drain. Put in 8x8 baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Brown the chicken well on each side, making sure to salt and pepper it to your liking. Place on top of the asparagus in the pan. Mix soup, mayo and lemon juice. Pour over chicken. Sprinkle top with half the cheese. Bake 40 minutes. Turn off oven. Add rest of cheese and return to oven for about 5 minutes to melt the cheese. Serves 2.
(The original can be found in Paula's The Lady and Sons, Too cookbook, if you want to try it as she intended it. Lots of other great recipes there, too)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Let Them Eat Panini

When I got home from teaching confirmation class last night, I was happy I'd planned a fairly simple dinner. It turned out to be delicious, as well. I made chicken, bacon and blue cheese panini using leftover chicken breast from a dinner earlier in the week. I served it with chips and salad, then we had pineapple angel food cake for dessert. The cake is my adaptation of a WW recipe, while the panini recipe was originally, I think, Rachael Ray's.

Chicken, Bacon & Blue Cheese Panini
Tear up some cooked chicken breast and put it on a bun. Top with cooked bacon. Mix some blue cheese with a little ranch dressing and smear on the top bun. Put the sandwiches together and cook in a preheated panini press or (as I did) pressed between two preheated cast iron skillets, pressing down as you cook, for four or five minutes per side. Cut in half before serving.
Pineapple Angel Food Cake
Since the recipe didn't work so hot as I had it, here is what I think would work better, with the caveat that I haven't yet tried it. The original recipe didn't get the cake cooked all the way through.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare an angel food cake mix according to the directions on the package, omitting 6 tablespoons of the water and subbing pineapple juice, instead, from an 8 oz. can of pineapple. If the pineapple is crushed, simply press out the excess juice and fold it into the cake mix. If it's diced, cut it into small chunks before adding. Also fold in a few tablespoons of shredded coconut (I would probably omit it next time, though, as I am not a huge fan of coconut). Place in a loaf pan and bake according to package directions. Cool on one side on a rack for an hour. Remove from pan. Mix 3/4 c. raspberry jam with a couple teaspoons of Grand Marnier or Chambord. Microwave 40 seconds, stir smooth and serve with cake.