Archive for July, 2009

Tequila Lime Bars

July 31, 2009

Did you see that movie with Felicity where she’s a waitress at a diner? In fact it’s called Waitress. And she bakes delicious pies inspired by her mood. Like, “I Hate My Husband Pie.”

I liked that movie. Probably because it was about delicious pies.

But anyway, if I was Waitress-Felicity I would have to give these lime bars a name like “I Don’t Know Nothing Lime Bars.” Which is how I felt after a meeting I had today. And which is actually fitting if you swig on the tequila bottle a bit in between measuring your ingredients and separating your eggs. Just sayin.

Thanks, Dani, for baking with me. It was fun…

Drunky Drunk/I Don’t Know Nothing Lime Bars

This recipe is part Emeril, part Guy Fieri. The filling was a thicker consistency than the jelly-like filling I’m used to with traditional lemon bars–it’s the condensed milk. But I decided I liked them. A lot. But I have a ton of citrus still, so stayed tuned for Lime Bars Take II. More tequila. Maybe with a pretzel crust. Oooooo…

For crust:
3/4 cup butter, plus extra for greasing pan
1 3/4 cups flour
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon salt

For filling:
1/3 cup tequila
1/2 cup lime juice
5 large egg yolks, plus two egg whites
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon sugar
kosher salt, optional

Start by greasing your 9’x13′ pan. Line it with a piece of waxed paper, then grease that. Then layer another sheet of waxed paper crosswise in the pan. Make sure the waxed paper comes up over the edge of your pan. You’ll use this to pull the bars out to cool.

Combine flour, confectioners’ sugar, corn starch & salt in a large bowl. Divide the butter into small pieces, and cut into the flour mixture with two forks until blended and crumbly. Transfer the dough into your prepared pan, placing a piece of waxed paper over the dough. Press into a flat even layer. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Remove the waxed paper from the top of the crust.

Preheat oven to 350°F and bake the crust for 25 minutes or until light golden brown.

While the crust is baking, prepare your filling. Whisk together the tequila, lime juice, egg yolks, and sweetened condensed milk. In another bowl beat the egg whites and sugar to soft peaks. Carefully fold the egg whites into your tequila mixture. Pour filling over crust and sprinkle with a bit of salt if desired. Bake bars for an additional 25 minutes until filling sets.

To cool: Carefully grab the waxed paper edges, and pull the bars out of the pan. Transfer to wire rack. Cool and enjoy! Store in fridge.



July 31, 2009

Walking through the farmer’s market on my lunch yesterday, there was no way I couldn’t buy these babies. They smelled ammmazing.

And I wanted to bake. Bake with peaches. What I really wanted was peach cobbler. Hot out of the oven. With some vanilla ice cream. Doesn’t that sound lovely?

Well I didn’t make the cobbler. Disappointed? Yeah, me too a little. But I decided that since we celebrated four work birthdays in the past four days with things like CINNABON & coffee cake, I could stand to bake something healthy. ish. Healthyish! So I made these muffins…

Peachy Banana Muffins

This recipe makes about 18 muffins

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup white flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 small-medium ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup peaches, peeled & chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350°F and place liners in muffin tray.

Combine dry ingredients and set aside. Mix together mashed bananas, brown sugar, yogurt, eggs and vanilla until blended. Add dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in peaches.

Pour batter into prepared muffin trays. Bake for 15 minutes. Do the toothpick test. Muffins are done when inserted toothpick into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool for a bit before enjoying. Otherwise they tend to stick to the muffin liner.

Easy! Not exactly peach cobbler a la mode, but still pretty good. These could also benefit from some crumb topping.

Cooking with Gram

July 27, 2009

I have a great family. They’re pretty awesome. And quite a few of them are pretty awesome cooks/bakers. And way more awesome than me. Which works out, because they can teach me how to make all kinds of delicious things. Like Braciole, for instance. You can use a lot of things to add flavor to pasta sauce, but to me, my Grandma does it best with lots of meat. So vegetarians beware, today I learned how to make…

Flo’s Braciole with Pasta Sauce

I was surprised how easy this was to make. Almost all of the cooking time is unattended and the end result is so impressive and yummy. The ingredients are simple so the fresh herbs really add a lot here. Stay away from dried basil and parsley if you can.

1 pound country style ribs, with or without the bone (optional)
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound flank steak, ask your butcher to butterfly it–you want it thin
4 heaping teaspoons grated parmesan
4 teaspoons breadcrumbs
1/4 onion, sliced very thin & chopped into 1” long pieces
4 sprigs fresh parsley
2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 handful fresh basil
Round toothpicks

To make the Braciole, you need the flank steak to be very thin. So even after having the butcher butterfly it, pound the steak with a meat tenderizer to get it about a 1/4″ thick. You can also use round steak, but my Gram recommends the flank–more flavor.

Once you have the steak nice and thin, cut it into 3-4″ wide strips. You can get 3-4 pieces with 1 pound of meat.

In the middle of each piece, layer 1 heaping tsp of cheese, 1 tsp bread crumbs, a few slivers of onion, and a sprig of parsley. It will look something like this…

Pretty! Then, pushing the filling into the meat, begin tightly rolling the steak and secure with two toothpicks. Repeat with the other pieces of meat until they’re all rolled. Put aside.

If you’re using the ribs in your sauce, place in a large, heavy-bottomed pot with the olive oil and garlic. Brown over medium heat, turning once. Then remove from pot.

Place the rolled steak pieces in the hot pot and cook, turning occasionally, until brown, about 15-20 minutes.

Add the ribs back into the pot along with the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and basil. Bring to a boil, and then simmer, 3-4 hours. Make sure to stir the sauce every once in awhile, careful not to break your braciole. Spend that 3-4 hours watching a Cubs game with your family or listening to sweet stories about your Great Grandpa Ben.

Enjoy with your favorite pasta, sprinkled with more grated parm.

First Post!

July 25, 2009

The problem with wanting to start this little food blog is having to write a first entry. I couldn’t decide what deliciousness it would be about. And I worried what people reading it would think. Then I realized that “people” = my mom, roomie & boyfriend…

Hi Guys! Kisses!

So with first time blogging anxiety cured I started dreaming about Salted Caramels. Which has been happening a LOT lately. Especially since I found out about these…

Salted Caramel Cupcake

… the Salted Caramel Cupcakes from Phoebe’s in Lakeview. Seriously yum. The caramel cake was super moist with the perfect amount of sweetness and the buttercream frosting, also caramel, was delicious. Balanced with an occasional crunch of sea salt and I was in bakery heaven. So go to Phoebe’s Cupcakes. And if you don’t live in Chicago, don’t worry! City Tart‘s Quest for the Perfect Salted Caramel Cupcake Recipe is definitely on. Sounds epic, doesn’t it? I’ll keep you posted on all my adventures and ultimate triumph(?) with cake and caramel and fleur de sel, but until then, let’s try candy making…

Fleur de Sel Caramels

adapted from Gourmet

A few things about this recipe. The actual making of the caramels is quite simple, but the cutting and wrapping can be a bit time consuming. If you’re making them in warm or humid weather, you may need to refrigerate them as cooling to firm them up a bit. But it’s all worth it! These caramels are buttery and very rich in taste.

1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons fleur de sel
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water

Line an 8” x 8” pan with wax paper and lightly grease or oil.

In a saucepan, combine the heavy cream, butter, and fleur de sel. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and then remove from heat.

In a 3-4 quart saucepan (no smaller!) bring the sugar, corn syrup, and water to boil. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. At this point, stop stirring, but swirl the pan every once in awhile to decrease crystallization on the sides of the pan.

When the sugar becomes a light caramel color, CAREFULLY pour in the cream mixture. Do it slowly, as the the mixture will bubble up. Stir frequently as the mixture simmers. Monitor the temperature with a candy thermometer, and when the mixture reaches 248° F remove from heat. This took close to 15 minutes for me.

Pour caramel into prepared pan. Cool for two hours or overnight. Sprinkle with a bit more fleur de sel. Remove from pan, and cut into desired sized pieces. Wrap individually in wax paper.


Now I have to go de-caramelize my dining room table…