Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cranberry Huguenot

In a burst of enthusiasm last December, I purchased multiple bags of cranberries. Weeks later, I'm still finding them in the back of the freezer. So it is time to use 'em up.

Some of my cranberry stockpile was used last January for an apple-cranberry pie. It was good, but not postworthy. The pie's biggest problem was that it was too, too runny. I used the berries frozen, as was recommended by numerous web sites. However, this may have contributed to the slosh. For the Cranberry Huguenot, a new strategy was warranted.

Here is the technique. To begin, measure out the required amount of frozen berries, 2 cups for this recipe, place them into a colander and rinse under cold water. Discard any smooshed cranberries. As the berries drain in the colander, line a small baking sheet with paper towel. Spread the berries out on the baking sheet, blot them a bit with more paper towel, and put the pan into the refrigerator overnight. The next day, the cranberries are clean, dry, and still have a nice firmness. Why didn't the paper towel stick to the berries? I have no idea. I was concerned that would happen, but it did not.

The other twist in this recipe is the substitution of olive oil for butter. I've become obsessed with using olive oil in baking. When making this substitution, I follow the rules set forth by Lisa Sheldon at this web site. The Huguenot recipe calls for 1/2 cup butter. Accordingly, I used olive oil equal to two-thirds of that amount of butter. A 1/2 cup is 4 ounces. Two-thirds of 4 ounces is 75.6 grams. Using my kitchen scale, I pour 75 grams of extra virgin olive oil into my measuring cup.
NOTE: Every baker needs a kitchen scale. It is not an expensive item, but it is an essential tool. I use a My Weigh i5000 bowl scale, which was recommended at Cooking for Engineers. Baking is much easier, faster and more consistent when you need only weigh the ingredients in the mixing bowl, rather than messing around with measuring countless cups and partial cups.
Finally, I baked this in a 9-inch Pyrex pie plate as that is the size pan called for in the original recipe, and I was too lazy to calculate what size rectangular pan would serve as an adequate substitute.

Cranberry Huguenot

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar (hold back 1 tablespoon)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
75 grams extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray baking pan with nonstick spray

In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Gently stir cranberries and nuts into the flour mixture. In a small bowl, lightly beat the 2 eggs, and then combine the eggs with the vanilla and oil. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture. Stir gently until combined. It will be relatively thick. Pour into the 9-inch Pyrex pie plate. Sprinkle the tablespoon of reserved sugar over the top of the cake.

Bake until set. Start checking at 40 minutes. In my oven, which is slow, the Huguenot needed 60 minutes. Insert a wooden toothpick into the middle of the cake; if it comes out clean, it is done.

Serve plain or with ice cream or whip cream. Enjoy!

Adapted from All Recipies.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Recommended Eating: Chicken Milanese ala Martha Stewart.

-->Martha Stewart rescued dinner again last night when I prepared a version of her recipe for Chicken Milanese with Arugula Salad.
The Chicken Milanese recipe is simple: Dredge chicken in flour, egg, and bread crumbs. Then bake on a rack in the oven for about 20 minutes (depends a bit on the thickness of your chicken and the performance of your oven.) That's it.

Since I was cooking dinner for two, I purchased 3/4 pound of boneless, skinless, organic chicken breast for this meal. After washing the chicken, cutting off any excess fat, and pounding it out into a uniform 1/2 -inch in thickness, this piece of chicken looked huge! In fact, we couldn't eat it all and enjoyed the leftovers for lunch today.

Additionally, there was a box of of Mrs. Cubbison's Cesar Salad Restaurant Style Croutons in the pantry and I substituted these for making the bread crumbs set forth in Martha's recipe. It saved a step in cooking time and used an item that was already on hand. I pounded a cup-and-a-half of these croutons into breading-sized crumbs - I wanted crunch. The seasoning from the croutons added a nice zing to the flavor of the chicken.

With potatoes and a salad, this is a delicious, easy meal that I will definitely make again.

  • Place the chicken between wax paper when pounding it out.
  • Spray the rack with cooking spray to keep the chicken from sticking while baking.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Curried Lentil Soup

-->A cup of this soup for lunch is perfect: Filling. Energizing. Delicious. I divide the soup into containers of various sizes and freeze, and thus always have an answer to the question, 'what is there to eat.'

Curried Lentil Soup

2 C lentils, sorted and rinsed.
1 quart vegetable broth
1 tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 red pepper, seeds removed and diced
2 cloves garlic minced
4 cups water

1 Tbs. curry powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 and 1/2 to 2 tsp. salt

In a large sauce pan, combine lentils, vegetable broth and 2 cups of the water. Bring to a simmer and skim off any foam. Simmer for five minutes.

In your largest pan for making soup, heat the olive oil and then add the onion, celery, and red pepper. Gently saute on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 3 minutes more.

Carefully pour the lentil/stock/water into the pan with the vegetables. Add another 2 cups of water. Bring to a simmer and cook 20 minutes.

Add curry powder and cumin. Gently simmer another 20 minutes.

Add salt to taste. Simmer a minute or so longer to allow the flavor to come together.