Roasted Garlic Pot Roast

As the autumn progresses and the weather begins to cool down, there are certain foods that I start getting crazy cravings for. I’ve already mentioned this with regards to baking which is why for the past few weeks I’ve been sharing a bunch of sweets that have appeased my fall sweet tooth. However my seasonal needs definitely apply to savory foods too. The colder it gets, the more you want ‘stick to your ribs’ kind of food that warms you up on the inside and just makes you want to curl up and take a nap after dinner.

Pot roast is one of those dishes for me and I think it’s pretty safe to say it is for most people. It’s red meat that’s roasted in gravy, usually served with some kind of starch like mashed potatoes and rice. What’s not to love about it? Not only is it delicious, it’s easy to throw together, then allow to cook in the oven or the slow cooker.

With comfort food, there’s usually not a lot of bells and whistles to the preparation, and that’s really how it ought to be. Simple, minimal ingredients. Not too much effort. Maximum taste and satisfaction.

And wouldn’t you know it? I happen to have just the dish for y’all to make for autumn that really does deliver on all three.

Before I’d made this dish, I had never even tried roasted garlic before. I’d certainly never roasted it myself. After having changed both of those circumstances, I’m now resolved to never eat it any other way *but* roasted. You just wouldn’t believe how easy it is to make, and how much of a difference it makes in flavor.

Because the garlic is the main ‘star’ of the dish, this recipe does call for quite a bit to be roasted at one time. Four to six heads, actually. Yes–whole heads. It sounds like overkill, but it isn’t. You’re using it in both the marinade AND in the dish itself, which will result in a gravy you want packed with flavor. Also keep in mind, if you absolutely insist on dialing back the garlic flavor you can always use a smaller amount and stash the leftover in your fridge for another use.

Roasting the garlic is fool-proof. You drizzle the garlic heads with olive oil and wrap them in a foil package. You place that foil package in a baking dish, then throw the baking dish into the oven for about an hour. After letting them cool off, you’ll be able to easily pluck the cloves off the head and give them a good squeeze; they’ll come out of the skins like a smooth pulp. That kids, is roasted garlic. Next to bacon fat it’s pretty much nectar of the Gods.

After letting the meat marinade overnight (something I really must insist that you do), you can get to the business of searing, then roasting. We have to have a discussion about the gravy because apart from the tenderness of the meat, the gravy of a pot roast is the most important thing. It’s just gotta be ‘right’. This one is more than right. It’s friggin fantastic.

Roasted Garlic. Beer. Crushed Ginger Snaps. Tomato Paste. All of that (and a bit more) is included in the gravy that’s made with this roast and it all works together. The taste is (of course) garlicky, but it’s also tangy, sweet and a bit spicy. I didn’t even have to thicken it over the stove after the roast was cooked through–the consistency is perfect straight out of the Dutch oven.

A few things are needless to say, but I’ll say them anyhow: first, we gobbled this up. Second, I’m probably not going to wait until autumn every year to cook this roast. It’s the year-round good eats variety. Third, I now look for excuses to put roasted garlic in *all* of my savory dishes. I’m currently searching for a way to incorporate it into my bread-making routine. Fourth, you all should be planning on trying this for yourselves. Sharing this post at the Fiesta Friday #194, co-hosted this week by  Petra @ Food Eat Love and Vanitha @ Curry and Vanilla.

Have a good weekend, all.

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Roasted Garlic Pot Roast

Recipe Adapted from Laura Frankel

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Ingredients

For Roasted Garlic

  • 4-6 heads of garlic
  • About 1 tablespoon of oil (olive, canola, vegetable are all fine)
  • Salt & pepper

For Marinade

  • 1 head of roasted garlic (see above)
  • 1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • About 1-2 tablespoons Soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Seasoned salt, pepper, onion powder

For Roast/Sauce

  • About 5-6 lb chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat and preferably tied
  • 2 large yellow sweet onions, thickly sliced
  • 3 heads of the roasted garlic (you can use less if you want less garlic flavor)
  • 2 14.5 oz cans of low-sodium beef broth
  • 1-2 cups of Guinness beer (or another stout; just as long as it’s something you’d be fine with drinking)
  • 1 1/2 cups finely crushed ginger snaps (I used Trader Joe’s gingersnaps)
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • A few dashes of fish sauce (soy sauce works fine too)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Salt & pepper to taste

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Peel the loose skin away from the garlic and cut the tops off of the heads, but make sure the cloves stay attached to each other. Place them on a long strip of aluminum foil. Drizzle them with the oil and sprinkle evenly with salt & pepper.

Draw up the ends of the foil and tightly seal it into a package. Place the foil package in a shallow dish. Roast in the oven for about 50 minutes. Allow to cool completely, then remove the roasted garlic to a small bowl by pressing the cloves out of the remaining skins and into a small bowl with your fingers (they should come out easily).

Place the beef in a sealable plastic container or a Ziploc bag. Rub the soy sauce over the surface of the meat, then sprinkle evenly with salt/pepper/onion powder. In a small bowl, combine the 1 head of roasted garlic, brown sugar, vinegar and tomato paste. Mash and stir together into a paste with a fork. Pour this over the meat. Seal and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°. Heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven or pot over high heat.  Sear the meat on both sides until a crust forms, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove to a platter and cover with foil (don’t wipe out the bottom of the pot). Add the onions and stir together. Add the beer and deglaze the pot, scraping up the bottom bits. Place the onions with the meat. Add the crushed ginger snaps, tomato paste, fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, cinnamon, coriander to the pot and stir together. Add salt & pepper to taste. (If the sauce is too thick you can add additional broth, beer or water to thin it out).

Place the beef and onions back into the pot. Cover with lid or tightly with aluminum foil and roast in the oven, about 1 1/2-2 hours, until a fork can pierce through the thickest part of the meat easily. Allow to stand for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving with the sauce given off in the pot.

Coffee Pound Cake

Coffee and I have a long, complicated history with each other. I’ll swear it off for a while, feel like I’ve finally kicked the habit once and for all…then have just the right kind of bad day to where I’ll say “Screw it” and just throw myself back into the java river with no regrets. Until the time comes when I’m ready to swear it off again.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat. It’s a cycle that never ends. I should just stop trying to pretend like it will. Coffee and me may have a turbulent history, but we’ll always end up going back to each other. We break up to make up. And boy, do we know how to make up.

I’ve now reached the point in my fixation with coffee where I look for ways to use it for more than just a beverage. Because as it turns out, coffee is a great ingredient for use in both savory cooking and sweet baking.

Did y’all know that? No? Well, you do now. Even if you don’t like it all on its own, I think you’d still be hard pressed not to like the way it’s used in today’s recipe. It’s a real keeper.

When a special occasion comes around, I like to commemorate it by making a cake. My 28th birthday was the last week in September AND, this week will mark the fourth anniversary of Cooking is My Sport. I’d say those were kind of special occasions. Special enough to celebrate with a great cake, anyway.

I don’t feel twenty eight (two years from thirty, yikes) and it certainly doesn’t feel like I’ve been blogging for four years. I’m grateful that I’m one year older, and (hopefully) one year wiser. It’s been a HUGE year of change–the good kind. I’ve been able to continue cooking, baking and blogging through that change in location and routine, which has been a relief and an outlet for me. Y’all have been great. Thank you to everyone who follows, likes and comments on CIMS. It’s very, VERY much appreciated. I mean that.

Pound cake is the best cake there is. This isn’t just because it’s got a lot of butter and sugar in it (though that’s certainly a good enough reason). It’s also because pound cake is a blank cake canvas on which you have the option of either eating plain, or testing out MANY different flavor profiles most of which will turn out great. You can make a cake that’s already delicious on its own taste even better by adding your flavor of choice. A moist vanilla pound cake is unquestionably perfect, but in my own experimenting, I’ve found that almond, lemon, orange or marble flavored ones are equally scrumptious.

I can now also add coffee flavored pound cake to that list. After you try this recipe I’m pretty sure you’ll be ready to add it to yours too. A few notes for those who are ready to break out their mixers and have already preheated their ovens:

As you can see, this cake is big. VERY big. Any cake with seven eggs is going to rise high and I’m glad I followed my instincts and went ahead with my 16 cup tube pan rather than the 10 cup bundt pan. I’d have been left with a huge mess in my oven otherwise. If you don’t have a pan that big, I recommend you splitting the batter up between two loaf pans or two 8 or 9 inch round pans.

So far as the star ingredient here goes, I’ll say the same thing I do when using booze as an ingredient: don’t use something you wouldn’t be okay with drinking all on its own. If you buy and use a generic coffee with a flavor that you’re not fond of, chances are you’re going to end up with a cake flavor you’re not fond of either. Don’t use dark roast if you don’t like dark roast coffee. Don’t you light roast if light isn’t your fave. I do also recommend you use a coffee with its own unique taste; I used one that was a medium roast Creme Brulee flavor that I LOVE to drink.

Get the point? Good.

I used a mixture of brown and white sugar in the batter to give it a richer sweetness. The cinnamon works well with the bitterness of the coffee; you’re going to taste it but you likely won’t be able to place just what ‘it’ is. You’ll just know that you like it.

The cake bakes up so moist and rich. You could eat it totally plain and be satisfied, but I decided to go a step further and add a drizzle of icing flavored with some of the leftover coffee, and then a layer of melted semi-sweet chocolate drizzle. This bumped up both the look and taste. This really is one of the best cakes I’ve had in a good long while. I hope some of you fellow coffee lovers choose to give it a try.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #193 co-hosted by Suzanne @ apuginthekitchen and Ginger @ Ginger and Bread.

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Coffee Pound Cake

Recipe Adapted from Kraft.com

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Ingredients

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamom
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar (light or dark, it’s up to you)
  • 1 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 7 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup freshly brewed coffee, divided and cooled (use something you would drink with its own distinctive flavor)

For Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cooled coffee
  • 1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, melted

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 °, Grease and flour a 16 cup tube pan or 2 loaf pans.

In a medium size bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together with a fork and set aside.

Using the paddle attachment of a standing mixer or a handheld mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light & creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and 1 cup of the coffee to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour.

Pour the batter into the tube pan, spreading the top with a spatula. Lift the pan up a little and let it tap down onto a countertop a few times to eliminate air bubbles. Place the pan on a half sheet pan and bake for 55-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted deep into the cake comes out clean. (Pound cakes are done at an inner temp of 195-200 degrees Fahrenheit)

Allow to cool in pan for about 25 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

In a small bowl mix the powdered sugar with about 1 tablespoon of coffee at a time, mixing thoroughly until it forms a smooth but thick icing. (You probably won’t need to use all the coffee, it all depends on how thick or thin you like your icing to be.) Use a fork to drizzle the coffee icing over the cake and alternate between drizzling with the melted chocolate. Allow to harden/set for about one hour before serving.

Brown Sugar and Spice Shortbread

My interest in experimenting with stamped cookies began about two years ago when I saw a recipe in a Christmas magazine for a particular kind of German cookie called Springerle. The design came from intricately hand-carved wood molds that are only sold on select websites & sparse authorized retail dealers. As such, and because they are hand carved, they’re not cheap. I found this out pretty quick and this is the reason why my Springerle mold collection is currently at a grand total of…two. It’ll probably stay that way for a while.

For a while I accepted this.

Then after a little while longer, I…didn’t want accept it anymore. I’m just that stubborn (and cheap) So, I started looking up alternatives to wood molds and found that there are a number of options. They may not be as intricate or elaborate as some of the springerle wood molds, but they still can create a pretty nice product. You just have to know where to look and what to look for.

I had success in just looking up rubber cookie stamp sets, like the one I bought (very cheaply at that) and then used for these Vanilla Sugar Cookies.I also started looking outside of cookie cutters and stamps and into other baking gadgets & gizmos. Turns out that quite a few of the plunger fondant and pie crust cutters you can both online and in stores can double as cookie cutters & stamps. What’s more, since fondant is a decorative element to cakes, the designs that you can find the cutters in are virtually limitless.

Perhaps most importantly, as the majority of them are plastic, they are very inexpensive.

I found a set of four small plunger fondant crust cutters on Amazon. They were in the shape of leaves. They set me back $3.93. I decided to see if they could and work the same way as my springerle molds did. I was pretty sure they would, but if they didn’t, well…it was only a $4 risk.

Here’s a pro-tip I’ve come to notice/learn when wanting to make cookies that won’t spread or lose the intricacy of their design: cookies with very few, (if any) leavening in their dough turn out the best. The more leavening agents that are in them (like baking powder, baking soda, eggs) the more likely they are to puff up & rise which is bad news for cookies that you want to have a noticeable design.

Shortbread is a great choice for just about any printed cookie you’d want to make. It has no baking powder, baking soda or eggs in it and has a very tight crumb which will help to preserve the design as it bakes. Shortbread was the way I knew I wanted to go to test out my new leaf cutters and should you guys get some for yourselves, it’s where I suggest you start.

I think the warm, rich spices of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves work nicely for a cookie to eat in autumn. They’re certainly good for dunking in coffee, I can attest to that personally. Plus, how about the results of the fondant cutters; turned out pretty nice didn’t it? I think I may have started something here. Stay tuned for more.

Sharing at the Fiesta Friday #192, co-hosted this week by Zeba @ Food For The Soul and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

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Brown Sugar & Spice Shortbread

Recipe Adapted from Sweet Paul Magazine

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter
  • 1/2 packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Directions

In a small bowl combine the flour and the dry spices together and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla.

Slowly add the flour to the butter mixture, about 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and shape into a disc. Wrap tightly and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°. Sprinkle a clean work surface (like a cutting board, wax paper you tape down to the counter, or a pastry mat) with flour. Separate the disc into quarters. Flour a rolling pin and roll/pat each quarter out to about 1/2  inch thick. Use whatever desired shape cookie cutter you wish (I used leaf fondant cutters) to cut out shapes. Immediately place the shapes on a half sheet pan you line with parchment paper, and place the half sheet in the freezer as you cut out the remaining dough. If the dough becomes too soft to work/cut out, just place it in the freezer and let firm up until easily rolled again, about 10 minutes.

Let the finished, cut shape dough firm up in the freezer, about 10 minutes. (This will keep them from spreading.) Take out the tray.

Bake in the oven on the middle rack for about 10-12 minutes, until they are just turning golden brown at the edges. Allow to cool for about 3 minutes on the pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

(Note: You don’t HAVE to use cookie stamps for this recipe. I think it would work just as well without it. Use whatever cookie cutters you have, or shape the dough into a log, freeze for about 30 minutes, then cut into slices and bake as directed. Also,  no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

Corn and Scallion Tart

In our house, brinner is something we’ve made a part of our weekly routine. I’m sure most of you are familiar with it, but for those that aren’t, “brinner” is a meal where food that is normally eaten at breakfast time is eaten instead at dinner time. I don’t know why or how, but breakfast food just tastes better to me later in the day. Not only that, regardless of what you want, just about everything is extremely easy and quick to put together. If you haven’t ever tried it before, I really do think you should.

Sausage, bacon and eggs are always on our brinner menu, with some kind of carb to eat with them. The carb varies. Sometimes we just have toast from store bought bread. Sometimes I’ll make a batch of biscuits. Sometimes I make a loaf of bread. We might grab some bagels from Panera. My favorite will always be my one true love (pancakes).

And other times, I like to try something a little bit…different.

Today’s recipe was something different not just for our brinner menu but for my baking repertoire in general, so I thought it would be nice to share with you guys.

I don’t make a lot of tarts. Not really sure why. I love tarts of just about any kind. I bought two tart pans–one circle and one rectangle. I have no excuse to not make them. And still, I just…don’t.

Except for now. I made one. It turned out pretty good.

One of the plus sides of the summer winding down (outside of cooler temperatures) is that fresh corn becomes in season in grocery stores and farmer’s markets. And yes. You can taste the different between corn from a cob and corn from a can. If there isn’t any fresh in your area, I’d try to shoot for frozen corn instead. Now to get into the tart itself.

I’ve told you guys several times before that I love to find ways to sneak cornmeal into anything. There’s 1/4 cup of it in the crust, which gives it a grainy, but pleasant contrast of texture. I added a half teaspoon of black pepper as well to give it an extra bite. The filling is very much like a quiche. Corn and scallions make up most of the solids, while eggs and milk make up the custard that bakes up very fluffy and light on the inside. The fresh taste of of the vegetables and the seasoning inside make this a side dish that I was very satisfied with. It’s filling and still somehow manages to taste light.

Corn and Scallion Tart3

This made an excellent addition to our brinner, but I think it would be a great dish to make for breakfast or lunch as well. On its own I think it’s a side dish but if you wanted to mix in a bit of protein like sausage or bacon to make it a main dish I think it would be great as well.

Linking this up to Fiesta Friday #189. Everyone have a great weekend.

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Corn and Scallion Tart

Recipe Adapted from Bon Appetit

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Ingredients

For Crust

  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 teaspoon seasoned salt (Like Lawry’s)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, preferably frozen or very cold

For Filling

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 2 cups fresh corn (cut from cob or frozen and thawed)
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups diced scallions
  • 1 heaping teaspoon onion powder
  • Seasoned salt and pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup milk

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9 inch springform pan with cooking spray and set aside.

For Crust: combine all the dry ingredients together in a bowl with a fork. Either use a box grate to grate frozen butter directly into dry ingredients, or cut butter into very small cubes and toss/press into the dry ingredients with a fork until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Drizzle in enough ice water and stir together until dough just holds together. Shape into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour or up to overnight.

Using a rolling pin, flour a surface like a pastry mat cutting board, or wax paper, then roll the dough out to an 11 inch round. Transfer the round to the springform pan and press the dough into the bottom and sides. Place in the fridge while you prepare the filling.

Melt the butter in a skillet, then add the corn and shallot. Saute until the corn has just started to brown and the shallot is translucent, about 7-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a minute more before removing from the heat. Stir in the scallions, then set aside. In a small bowl combine the eggs, milk, seasoned salt and pepper and onion powder.

Spread the veggies into the tart shell and use a spatula to press down evenly. Pour the milk mixture over the veggies. Fold the edges of the dough down over the filling, letting some overlap. Place springform pan on a sheet pan, then bake tart in the oven until filling is set and crust is golden brown 60-70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for about 10-15 minutes before unmolding and serving.

Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake

First, let me just wish prayers, well wishes and safety to everyone in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and everywhere else that are being affected by these terrible hurricanes.

Second, today’s post is about doing things that I haven’t done for a while.

I haven’t traveled very far for a long time. The last time I was on a plane was when we made the cross-country move to California, almost exactly a year ago. Since then I’ve pretty much stayed on the west side. But that’s about to change.

By the time you guys read this post, I’ll have already hopped a Red Eye flight and arrived back in the Mitten for a visit, for the first time in a full year.

Apart from the fact that I cannot believe a full year has passed so quickly since the move, it’s going to be good to get back in my hometown to see my family again. We’re fortunate to live in a time where technology like Hangouts, Facetime and Messenger exists and I can video chat with them, but it’s not the same as in-person contact. The huge distance factor creates this feeling where you it’s like you’re out there in a kind of ‘bubble’ where you’re apart from other things that are going on.

I’m looking forward to taking a brief pause in the everyday routine and get back to something that I’ve been away from for a while. Sometimes it takes actually revisiting a memory, place or person to make you realize how much you missed them. That’s certainly the case with my going back to the hometown, and it’s also the case with today’s recipe.

Cause y’know, I can find a way to make just about anything link back to my food. It’s kinda what I ‘do’.

Before I baked the recipe and wrote this post I really can’t remember the last time I ate coffee cake. And I did try to remember. It’s not likely that I can forget food that I ate and really enjoyed so the chances are, I either haven’t had coffee cake in close to a decade, or if I did, it was so Godawful that I’ve subconsciously blocked it out of my memory.

(And if it was awful, I’m choosing to just not count it as something I actually ate. Therefore, the calories I wasted by eating it don’t exist. Cause, I do what I want,)

One thing I can promise is that I’m not going to be able to forget eating this cake. Nor do I want to.

The sour cream inside the batter makes the cake soft, with a moist crumb that (unlike a lot of run-the-mill coffee cakes) isn’t overly dry and crumbly. A ribbon of brown sugary goodness runs through the middle. Then on top is my personal favorite: the buttery cinnamon sugar streusel topping that when baked, forms an almost crunchy texture contrast to the softness of the cake. And because I just don’t ever know when to quit, I topped all of it off with a smooth powdered sugar icing drizzle.

If you’re like me and it’s been a long time since you had coffee cake, do yourself a favor and let this be the recipe that makes you go back to it and remember why you love it so much in the first place.

Linking this up to this week’s Fiesta Friday #188, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Nimmi @ Adorable Life.

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Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

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Ingredients

For Cake

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick)
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

 

For Filling

  • 1 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

For Streusel Topping

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk

 

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9 or 10 inch tube pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the filling. Set aside. In another small bowl, set aside the ingredients for the streusel topping. Set aside.

In a large bowl of a standing mixer (or using a handheld one) cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Add the sour cream and vanilla extract.

In a medium size bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder with a fork. Slowly fold in the dry ingredients into the wet. Place half of the batter into the bottom of the tube pan, using a spatula to spread it out.

Sprinkle the filling over the batter, then pour the rest of the batter on top of it. Use a butter knife to gently swirl the filling throughout the batter. Sprinkle the topping over the batter until completely covered.

Bake for 40-45 minutes in the oven, until a toothpick/tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove cake from oven, allow to cool in pan for about 20 minutes, then turn out and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Caramelized Chicken

One of my very worst peeves is when I make kitchen plans and for whatever reason, they fall through.

When I get an idea in my head to cook something, I am determined to be able to follow through with it. If I can’t, it just makes me straight grumpy. As Tim Gunn would say, I just try to “Make it work.”

I mean, there was that one time that the pretzel dough I made dissipated into gelatinous goo in the boiling solution and was beyond all repair. Sometimes I still stop and have a moment of silence for that loaf of banana bread that was raw and for whatever reason, stayed raw even after I nuked it in the oven for hours And, who could ever forget that time I set my oven on fire the first time I made naan?)

But we’re not gonna focus on those tiny missteps, guys. The main takeaway here is that usually, I can fix it. Usually I can think quick on my feet, adapt and still get what I want out of a dish. Case in point would be today’s recipe.

Alright so, boom. It’s summer time, and I really wanted to make chicken skewers. I didn’t have any wooden skewers in the house and I still haven’t gotten around to buying the metal set I have bookmarked on my Amazon wishlist. But I didn’t figure that was too big of a deal. Since it is summer, and people tend to enjoy grilling kebabs during the summer, I thought that I’d most likely be able to find a pack of wooden skewers just about anywhere, right?

Right?

Heh.

Yeah, no store I went to had wooden skewers. I mean, none. How rude.

The real gag was, I had already started the prep work for this recipe. I was so confident I was going to find the skewers, that my marinade was already done and put together, AND the chicken was already cut into the cubes for the skewers and soaking in it, ready to be skewed.

And I had…no skewers.

Were my initial plans foiled? Yeah. Was I annoyed? Most definitely. Did I give up?

Tuh. You guys know who this is.

I wanted chicken skewers. True, I wasn’t going to get the skewers part of that equation…but there was no way I wasn’t still going to have chicken. This was one of those times where I knew that I could make it work.

So right off rip, I’ll let you guys know that this is a dish with primarily Asian flavors. The marinade itself has that pungent, salty flavor from the fish & soy sauce, but ti’s well balanced out with the OJ and brown sugar that lend sweetness, and the ginger that gives it a bite. Once that flavor is given time to develop in the protein, you can move onto the really good part, which is the sauce. The sauce is where the ‘caramelization’ in the recipe title comes in; it’s tangy, sweet, and slightly thick. When it’s brushed onto the chicken in the final stages of cooking at a high temp, the sugars in it form a thin crisp, slightly blackened layer on top of the chicken that deepens the flavor and makes the sauce sticky.

I didn’t have my wooden skewers. My plans were thrown off. And I still walked away with this dish, which by the time all was said and done made me forget that I was upset about it in the first place. It was easy to ‘make it work’. In the recipe below I do give instructions for how to cook the chicken with and without skewers just in case the grocery stores in your area want to be rude like mine were and act like this isn’t prime grilling season. Whether you choose to make it over a grill, under a broiler or in a skillet or wok, I think you should try this dish. It’s quite good and has become another addition to my collection of Happy Accidents.

Linking this up to Fiesta Friday #187, co-hosted this week by Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju.com and Sadhna @ Herbs, Spices and Tradition.

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Caramelized Chicken

Recipe Adapted from Serious Eats

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For Marinade

  • 2 1/2 to 3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into large cubes (as close to the same size as possible)
  • 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce

For Sauce

  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh ginger root
  • Sesame seeds and scallions, for garnish, optional
  • Wooden skewers, soaked overnight if broiling

 

Directions

Place the cubed chicken in a resealable gallon size bag. Combine all the remaining ingredients In a small bowl, then pour over the chicken. Seal the bag and turn over a few times to make chicken evenly coated.

Refrigerate for at least one hour or up to overnight.

Combine all 8 ingredients for the sauce together in a saucepan. Bring to boil, then lower heat and allow to simmer until thickened, about 10-15. minutes. Remove from heat. Divide the sauce in half in two separate containers.

For Cooking: If you’re using a broiler/skewers, place the marinated chicken onto the skewers. Heat the broiler, then spray your pan well with cooking spray. Broil the chicken until just nearly done. Towards the end (when the outside is no longer raw) brush one half of the sauce on top of the chicken. Allow to broil further until the outer coating becomes caramelized.

You can also cook the chicken in a skillet or wok; heat canola/peanut oil in skillet, cook the chicken over medium high-high heat then towards the end, pour the sauce in and toss to combine.

Serve the chicken sprinkled with sesame seeds and scallions and the other half of the sauce.

Checkerboard Cookies

I’d be lying to you guys if I said I wasn’t kinda ready for the summer to end. In the first place, I don’t much care for extreme heat and as I’ve said in a couple of recent posts, the heat here has been unnecessarily extreme to the point where I’ve retreated to whole different cities for the day because this desert valley we’re in feels too much like a…desert valley. In the second place, the sooner the summer ends, the sooner we can get to the autumn which is my favorite season. The sooner autumn comes around, the sooner we can get to December and my favorite holiday of Christmas.

Because yes, my thoughts are definitely already drifting towards Christmas.

To be honest, I usually start getting the ‘itch’ for Christmas in July. It’s like a Christmas in July effect takes over and suddenly I’m listening to my holiday playlist again and planning what new stuff I’m gonna try to cook and bake for my family and the blog. As some of my followers know, I do a yearly Christmas series of recipes and although it’s a heavy undertaking, it is one that I still look forward to doing. I’ve already got a few pegged in my mind for the series, but one of them in particular was one that I thought would be a good idea to practice with first, as it is one I’ve never done before and would require a little bit more effort.

When I was little, I loved checkerboard cookies. I thought they just had to be some kind of food wizardry that could only be done in a huge Keebler-Elf style factory with a fancy machine.How else could they arrange those two different colors/flavors in such perfect patterns? I also may as well as admit that until only recently I had no idea how it was done or that it COULD be done by a home cook/baker in their own kitchen.

But I learned. And then after studying the technique a bit, thought “Well, might as well try it out. What’s the worst that can happen?”

(Waste of dough and ingredients was the answer, but that’s kind of obvious.)

I knew going into it that it wouldn’t be necessarily easy and I will keep it one hundred with you guys: I wouldn’t recommend trying this recipe if you don’t genuinely like to bake, have some experience with working with cookie dough and are willing to be patient with yourself and the process. I’m a decent baker with quite a bit of experience working with cookie dough, I love doing it and (as you can see) my first try at checkerboard cookies still wasn’t exactly perfect.  Nevertheless, I’m still pleased with how these turned out and that I decided to do a test run before trying to make a ‘Christmas-themed’ version for the 12 Days of Christmas series.

I tried to make the directions for these as clear and detailed as possible. So, should you want to make these for yourself (and I do think you should), a few pointers: a ruler is a must here. You’re making two different cookies doughs and when you cut them, you want the portions to be as straight as possible so that when you arrange the strips, they actually look like squares. It doesn’t have to be fancy invested in a regular old blue plastic ruler that measures inches/centimeters that I bought from Target and use strictly for baking; it does the job just fine. Also, when you’re putting the doughs together to create the pattern, don’t beat yourself up if your squares don’t line up perfectly in a row. Mine don’t and I still think the integrity of the ‘checkerboard’ is preserved in the overall aesthetic of the cookie. I plan to get better the more I practice this and I’m sure you will too.

You don’t have to make the two outer ‘wrappings’ for the cookies. I just thought it looked prettier so I decided to go ahead and make some. All you’ll need to do after making the cookie recipe is halve the base recipe and use the two different doughs from the halved recipe to wrap the cookies. It sounds complicated, but it’s not. Just read the recipe closely ahead of time and you’ll do fine.

Finally, don’t you dare throw out those scraps after you trim your dough logs! Cut them into mini pieces like I did and bake them off so that you get ‘bite sized checkerboards’ like the ones you see in the picture above. Aren’t they just as cute?

The labor alone involved in making these cookies make the finished product worth it–but I gotta say, the taste wasn’t a letdown either. Checkerboards have a close texture that’s slightly crisp on the outside, then buttery melt-in-the-mouth tender on the inside. The real dilemma here is going to be deciding which flavor you like better: the one where the vanilla dough is dominant or the one where the chocolate one is. I think I’m partial to vanilla, but that could very well change by Christmas time. We’ll have to see.

Linking this post up to Fiesta Friday #186, co-hosted this week by Colleen @ Faith, Hope, Love & Luck and Alex @ Turks Who Eat.

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Checkerboard Cookies

Recipe Adapted from “Classic German Baking” by Luisa Weiss

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Ingredients

  • 20 plus 1 tablespoons (300g) unsalted butter, softened to room temp
  • 18 tablespoons (150g) powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/3 cups, minus 2 tablespoons (400g) all purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Directions

In the bowl of a standing mixer or a large bowl using a handheld mixer, beat butter until it is light and creamy. Add the powdered sugar and salt and continue to beat about 1 minute more until creamy again. Add the vanilla extract and beat until just combined. Add the flour in 1/2 cup increments, until just combined. (Use a rubber spatula throughout mixing, scraping down the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing)
Scrape out half of the dough, form into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Add the cocoa powder to the remaining dough in the bowl and mix until combined. Form the dough into another flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place both in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

Remove dough from the fridge. Unwrap one of the discs, then place in between two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap. Use a rolling pin to roll out into a rectangle, about 8 x 5 inches long. Repeat with the second dough. In a small bowl, beat together the egg yolk and milk. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg wash over the bottom rectangle of dough. Place one rectangle on top of the other. Press to adhere them to each other. Trim the edges with a sharp knife and save the striped strips in the fridge. Divide the rectangle lengthwise in half. Refrigerate the halves for about 15-30 minutes to allow to get firm.
Divide each of the halves into fourths, lengthwise. (A ruler or bench scraper works GREAT for ensuring straight lines) Use the four layers to make TWO checkerboard logs: Brush the tops of two of the layers with the egg wash, then place the other two on top of them. Make sure that you flip the top layers upside down before adhering so as to create the checkerboard pattern. Use your fingers or a spatula to press the logs together and smooth out the edges/corners, try to make them as square as possible. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 350°.

(If you would like to create the ‘outer wrapping’ for the cookies: halve the original cookie recipe and follow the same instructions, dividing the two colors, wrapping them in plastic wrap and placing in the refrigerator. After you’ve finished creating the two checkerboard logs, roll one of the reserved dough discs out between two pieces of plastic wrap or wax paper into a long rectangle. Place one of the chilled logs on the rectangle, on the edge closest to you. Wrap the dough around the log, press lightly on the bottom to seal and trim any excess. Repeat with the other color and log. Refrigerate both for about another 30 minutes to allow to firm up.)

Use a sharp knife or bench scraper to cut the log cross-wise into slices. Place sliced cookies on prepared baking sheets lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Bake in the preheated oven on the middle rack for 12-15 minutes, until just light golden brown. Allow to sit on baking sheet for about 60 seconds removing to wire racks to cool completely. Cut the reserved trimmings into bite sized nuggets and bake for about 13 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

(No one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)