Thursday, April 29, 2010

P90X Plum Bran Muffins

This post is dedicated to Kai and Hill, for inspiring me to order the P90X Program!  They've made it through the first 90 days, look and feel great, and are now continuing on with another round.  I'm in my third week, and enjoy the flexibility of being able to work out at home. The program is kicking my butt, but I'm taking it slow and feel it gets a little easier each day.  I really like the Kenpo and Yoga portions, and really hate the push ups and sit ups!  It's a fair trade, since I'm not about to give up eating, drinking and blogging about good food!

I recently tried the P90X Plum Bran Muffins, which were easy to make and quite tasty for something so healthy.  Each muffin has 133 calories, 3.3 g protein, 4.1 g fiber, 32.6 g carbohydrates, and .5 g fat.

The basic ingredients: Oat bran, baking powder, baking soda, egg whites,prunes, plums, apple butter, yogurt, and vanilla extract.

P90X Plum Bran Muffins
Adapted from P90X Newsletter #025
Makes about 9 muffins, but I made a double batch


1-1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup oat bran (or wheat bran)
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 teas. vanilla extract
3/4 cup apple butter
2 egg whites
1/2 cup nonfat plain nonfat yogurt (or buttermilk)
1 cup fresh plums, skinned and chopped (about 2 medium-sized plums)*
1/2 cup prunes, chopped*
Muffin tins/liners

*you could easily substitute apples or peaches for the plums, and another dried fruit for the prunes, if desired


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, mix apple butter, egg whites, vanilla extract, and yogurt until thoroughly combined. In a separate bowl, combine flour, oat bran, baking powder, and baking soda and whisk together. With mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients, mixing just until moistened and incorporated. Add in plums and prunes and mix on low speed until distributed evenly. Spoon batter into muffin liners (if not using liners, spray muffin pan with non-stick spray).

Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Store in a covered container.  I liked them reheated a little before eating.  I also think they would freeze well.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Strawberry-Rhubarb British Pudding with Ginger Creme Anglaise

The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen.  She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.

Esther educated us on how the British use the word pudding. It can refer to: black pudding, or blood pudding, a type of sausage; a generic word for dessert; any dish cooked in a pudding bowl or pudding cloth, traditionally steamed or boiled; or an endearment (i.e., "How are you today, my pudding?") What Americans call pudding is banana custard in England.

I had to gen up on suet.  Suet is raw beef or mutton fat, especially the hard fat around the loins and kidneys. It must be rendered and strained, resembling melted butter at that point, and then allowed to harden again, resembling solid shortening, like Crisco. Butter or Crisco can be substituted; however, because suet has a higher melting point, it supposedly gives the pudding a lighter texture and richer flavor. The substitution of butter or shortening creates a pudding that is heavy and greasy.

We had the option of choosing from two forms of suet pudding: 1) Suet crust pudding with a filling (i.e., Steak and Kidney Pudding, Sussex Pond Pudding) or 2) Suet sponge pudding (i.e., Spotted Dick, Christmas Pudding). Both types of pudding are traditionally steamed in a pudding basin for at least an hour.

After reading about all of the puddings, and reviewing various recipes, I found Spotted Dick, and its history, most interesting.  "Would you care for a spot of tea with your Spotted Dick?"

Spotted Dick is a steamed suet pudding containing raisins or currants, and commonly served with custard. Spotted refers to the dried fruit (which resemble spots) and dick may be a contraction/corruption of the word pudding (from the last syllable) or possibly a corruption of the word dough or dog, as "spotted dog" is another name for the same dish. Another explanation offered for the latter half of the name is that it comes from the German word for "thick," in reference to the thickened suet mixture.

The recipe I found actually called for butter, not suet. However, being a Daring Baker, and wanting to accept the challenge by using an ingredient I had never heard of, I sought out some suet. I went to Bristol Farms, grabbed a shopping trolley, and got jammy. Thank you, Mr. Butcher at Bristol Farms! Free fat!

Trust me, it took a little convincing for me to accept the fact that suet, once rendered, would not impart any "beefy" flavor into a sweet dessert. I'll spare you the photo of the clumps of raw fat, but this is what it looks like after rendering and straining...

And how it looks after it hardened (I did use about 2 tablespoons of butter, because I only ended up with 8 tablespoons of suet)

I adapted a couple different recipes to create my version of Spotted Dick. I omitted the raisins because I've really been wanting to use some of the luvvly-jubbly rhubarb and strawberries in season, and I made a ginger-infused creme anglaise to go over the top of the pudding. I also chose to use mini ramekins rather than one large pudding basin. And Bob's your uncle!

Ok, Chaps, let's get started!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Spotless Dick, with Ginger Creme Anglaise
Adapted from Spotted Dick
Epicurious, December 2008
by Chef Lou Jones, The Culinary Institute of America
(Video of Chef Jones preparing Spotted Dick, here - ignore the immature comments, it really is a good video demonstration on the preparation)


9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter (or 10 tablespoons suet)
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups self-rising flour
3 tablespoons whole milk

Strawberry-Rhubarb compote (recipe below)
Ginger Creme Anglaise (recipe below)

Special equipment: 6-8 (6-ounce) ramekins, parchment paper


Prepare the Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote and Ginger Creme Anglaise, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Butter ramekins, then dust with flour, knocking out excess. On parchment paper, trace 8 circles slightly larger than ramekins. Cut out.

Fill large, shallow, wide saucepan with 1 inch water. Add flat steamer or equally sized cookie cutters to create steaming platform just above water level.

In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat together butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar until pale and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl periodically. Beat in vanilla.

Sift flour into medium bowl. Gradually beat flour into egg mixture just until combined. Add 3 tablespoons milk and beat until smooth, about 30 seconds.

Spoon some of the Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote into the bottom of each ramekin.

Transfer batter to pastry bag and fill prepared ramekins (the puddings will rise during steaming, so don't fill the ramekins all the way to the top).

Top ramekins with parchment paper circles, gently pressing on paper to make contact with batter.

Over moderately high heat, bring water in steamer to simmer. Transfer ramekins to steamer, cover pan tightly, lower heat to moderate, and steam, adding more boiling water to pan if necessary, until pudding is set, about 1 hour for ramekins.  Transfer ramekins to rack and cool 5 minutes.

As you can see, my puddings puffed up like souffles and were a tad skew-whiff.  I trimmed them with a bread knife first, and then ran a paring knife around inside rim of the ramekins before inverting the puddings onto plates. Dish up! Serve warm with Ginger Creme Anglaise and a few sliced strawberries. Excellent with a cuppa!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote
Adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques, Suzanne Coin

1/2 pound fresh Strawberries
1/2 pound Rhubarb
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup white wine or Champagne
3/4 teaspoons cornstarch

Remove stems from strawberries and slice.  Cut the rhubarb stalks in half lengthwise, and slice crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces.

Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, and scrape the seeds and pulp into a medium pan.  Add the vanilla pod, sugar, and 2 tablespoons of water. Without stirring, bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Continue cooking for about 8 minutes, swirling the pan once in a while, until you have a deep golden brown caramel.  Add the rhubarb and the wine.  The caramel will seize up and harden slightly.  Turn the heat down to medium and stir constantly with a wooden spoon, breaking up the rhubarb and softening the caramel again.  Add the strawberries and 1/2 cup of water, and cook for about 2 more minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and strain the strawberry-rhubarb mixture over a bowl.  Return the juices to the pan, and bring to a bowl over medium-high heat.

In the meantime, stir 1 tablespoon water in the cornstarch to make a slurry. Whisk the slurry into the juices in the pan, and let it come back to a boil, stirring continuously. Cook over medium heat a few minutes, until the liquid is shiny and thickened.  Pour the liquid back into the bowl, and stir in the strawberries and rhubarb. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Ginger Creme Anglaise
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse
(Makes 2 cups; can be made up to 2 days in advance)

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 tablespoon minced ginger
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar

Heat the heavy cream, milk, vanilla bean and minced ginger in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Place the egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof mixing bowl and beat until pale yellow in color and all of the sugar has dissolved. Add about 1/2 a cup of the hot cream mixture to the egg mixture and whisk vigorously to combine. Add the egg mixture to the saucepan with the hot cream mixture and cook, stirring constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon. Be sure to stir in the corners of the pot and lower the heat slightly. Stir the mixture for 4 to 5 minutes or until the custard has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the stove and strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Place the bowl in another bowl half-filled with ice and water and stir occasionally until thoroughly chilled. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Would I make these again? Actually, I was chuffed to bits. The puddings tasted like a cross between sponge and pound cake, and were very moist and light. Quite frankly, I think butter would work fine in this form of English sponge pudding. Suet may be preferred when making the suet crust puddings. Horses for courses. I absolutely loved the Strawberry-Rhubarb compote, which could be spooned over ice cream, pound cake, or used in an upside side cake. It took the biscuit and was over the moon. The original recipe calls for only rhubarb, and the rhubarb compote is served over Vanilla Semfreddo. The Ginger Creme Anglaise was also the mutt's nuts, with the ginger complementing the strawberries and rhubarb quite nicely.

Please visit The Daring Kitchen Recipe Archive, here, for the recipes and links Esther provided for our challenge. Please also stop by the Daring Bakers' blogroll, here, to see some of the bloody marvelous puddings the other Daring Bakers created this month.

Although Diver appears to be feeling right knackered, he thought the suet cracklings were the dog's bollocks!

Cheerio! Toodle pip! TTFN!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Coronado Flower and Car Shows, and Slow-Roasted Halibut with Shaved Asparagus and Fennel Salad

This past weekend, Coronado hosted this year's Petals 'n' Prose-themed Flower Show and MotorCars on Main Street Car Show.  We made our rounds through the flower tents in Spreckels Park on Saturday, and up and down the rows of cars around Star Park, on Sunday.   Lunch both days, at local restaurants, was below average.  Coronado's Orange Avenue would surely benefit from a few charming, sidewalk cafes that offer some creativity and freshness on their menus, and a few street vendors selling gourmet hot dogs, fish tacos, or paninis.  Don't get me started...

It was an active, but relaxing weekend, walking around and taking a few photographs.  On Monday night,  I tried a recipe from the new issue of Bon Appetit: Slow-Roasted Halibut with Shaved Asparagus and Fennel Salad.

This dish would be wonderful on a Coronado restaurant menu - local halibut, fresh Spring vegetables, a glass of Chardonnay or White Burgundy.

Home Front Judging, a division of the Coronado Flower Show, inspires everyone to spruce up their gardens and beautify the island.  This Star Park Circle cottage was honored as one of the top ten...

This 1st Street home was also in the top ten, but we particularly enjoyed the unique collection of lobster buoys hanging from all sides of the rear cottage

Flowers at the flower show...

Hood ornaments at the car show...  

And a copper Orca weathervane, by West Coast Weathervanes, proudly perched atop our friends' newly built, custom home

Slow-Roasted Halibut with Shaved Asparagus and Fennel Salad
Adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2010
(The following recipe serves 6)*
*For the two of us, I halved the ingredients, served a larger portion of salad, and used a 3/4 lb. halibut fillet.  There was  a little leftover dressing and bread crumb topping.

Ingredients for the Salad

4 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons drained capers, chopped
3/4 pound asparagus spears (about 1 bunch), trimmed
1/2 cup thinly sliced fennel bulb (preferably shaved with V-slicer)

For the Fish

Olive oil to coat halibut fillets
2 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs made from crustless French bread
3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
3 tablespoons butter, melted
6 6-ounce halibut fillets

Preparation for the Salad
(Dressing can be made 1 day ahead; cover and chill; bring to room temperature and whisk again before serving. Vegetables can be prepared 4 hours prior to serving; cover and chill)

In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice and mustard.  Gradually whisk in oil, then add capers.  Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

Place one asparagus spear flat on work surface. Using vegetable peeler, shave asparagus into long thin strips. Place asparagus strips in medium bowl with shaved fennel.

Preparation for the Fish

Mix breadcrumbs, cheese, herbs, and lemon peel in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add melted butter and toss with fork to incorporate evenly.

Rinse halibut fillets with cold water and pat dry with paper towels.  Rub fillets with olive oil and place on a baking sheet.  Season with salt and pepper.  Take small handfuls of breadcrumb topping and gently press evenly over the top of the fillets (Can be made 1 hour ahead; cover and chill).

Preheat oven to 300°F. Bake halibut until opaque in center, about 20 minutes. Turn on broiler. Broil halibut just until breadcrumbs start to brown, about 1 minute.

Just before halibut is done baking, pour dressing over over asparagus and fennel salad and toss gently to coat.  Season salad to taste with salt and pepper.  

Fresh, healthy, light, and will want to make this more than once this Spring and Summer...  

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dark Cherry Mocha Cream Cookies, with a Little Inspiration from Starbucks and Momofuku Milk Bar

These cookies were inspired by Starbucks' new "Springtime" coffee, Dark Cherry Mocha, and Momofuku Milk Bar's Blueberry Cream Cookie.

Starbucks claims "the very embodiment of springtime bloomed in their coffee mugs" when they combined freshly brewed espresso, bittersweet chocolate sauce, the flavor of dark sweet cherries, and steamed milk, topped with sweetened whipped cream and chocolate curls.

I'm not sure how a steamy mug of Dark Cherry Mocha embodies Spring, since the peak season for cherries is summer, but I love the flavor combination of dark chocolate and cherries.

After our recent, addictive batch of Momofuku's Compost Cookies, we have been contemplating a batch of Momofuku's Blueberry Cream Cookies. Blueberries and cream sounded good, but cherries, dark chocolate, espresso, and cream, sounded better.

Dark Cherry Mocha Cream Cookies
Inspired by Starbucks' Dark Cherry Mocha and Momofuku Milk Bar’s Blueberry Cream Cookies (modified from recipe, here)
(Makes about 18 cookies)

First, make the Milk Crumbs:

Milk Crumbs

Preheat oven to 225ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon nonfat milk powder
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon espresso powder
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, espresso powder, cornstarch, sugar, salt and 2 Tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons milk powder. Stir in melted butter until well combined.

Spread mixture on prepared baking sheet and transfer to oven. Bake until dried and crumbly, 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove milk crumble from oven and let cool completely.

Transfer milk crumble to a large bowl and fold in remaining milk powder and melted bittersweet chocolate.  Set aside.

Cookie Dough

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup 2 Tablespoons light-brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 large egg
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup
Milk Crumbs (from recipe below)

In a large bowl, mix together flour, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together butter, sugars, and corn syrup until well combined. Add egg and mix until well combined.

Add flour mixture and mix until well combined. Add cherries and Milk Crumbs and mix until well combined.

Using an ice cream scoop about 2 1/8 inches in diameter, scoop dough into balls and place about 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Transfer baking sheets to refrigerator until dough is chilled, about 15 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to oven and bake, rotating pans halfway through baking, until cookies are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.

I made these cookies for Pammy, for her birthday this week.  They didn't all fit in this pretty, blue, serving dish (which I hope will go nicely in her darling beach cottage), so I was forced to eat a few of the extras.

Unfortunately, I also had to eat the one garnished with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

I think Starbucks should hire me to create cookies inspired by their coffee drinks.

My Diver-dog also celebrated his birthday this week! Pammy is Diver's Fairy-Dog-Mother...

Our Diver boy has grown a little over the past three years...

Three days old, and only a few pounds...

And now, three years old, at 150 lbs!

Happy Birthday, Pammy, and Diver-dog!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Step Aside, Coronado Brigantine...Make Way for Tyler's Ultimate Fish Tacos!

We typically hit the Coronado Brigantine every few weeks, on Taco Tuesday, for world-famous fish tacos.  It's nice to come home from work, discard the lawyer attire in favor of jeans, and head down to the bar for Margarita Shakers and tacos.  No menus required.  Kevin knows John loves one calamari taco and one fish taco.  I love the classic fish taco, but the calamari taco comes with decadent, Miguel's Jalapeno White Sauce.  I try to limit myself to one taco and a small spinach salad.  I'm usually unsuccessful.

Well, we didn't make it to the Brig on Tuesday, and my fish taco craving came calling.  I did a quick search on the Food Network and discovered Tyler's Ultimate Fish Tacos.  It's a bit non-productive to cook fish tacos for two, but the Panko-crusted Mahi Mahi, Napa Cabbage, Pink Chile Mayonnaise, and Mango-Radish Salsa sounded so delicious.  Boney's even had Mahi Mahi!

I halved the recipe, but there was still enough to feed four.  These tacos would be wonderful for a party because you can prepare the sauces and condiments ahead of time, toast the tortillas and keep them warm in the oven, fry the fish just before serving, and serve it all family-style.

Ultimate Fish Tacos
Slightly modified, from Tyler Florence, Tyler's Ultimate
Makes 8 Tacos

1 pound mahi mahi (skinned, boned and cleaned) cut into 2-ounce strips
1 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons water
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
1/4 head savoy cabbage, finely shredded
1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves picked (optional, for garnish)
1/2 bunch chives, chopped (optional, for garnish)
1 lime, cut into wedges
8 Corn Tortillas

Pink Chipotle Sauce:

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 chipotles in adobo, plus 1 tablespoons of adobo sauce
1/4 lemon, juiced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mango-Radish Salsa:

1 lime
1 mango, diced
2 red radishes, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1-2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, leaves chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Prepare the Chipotle Sauce and Mango Salsa first. Pour into small serving bowls, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the Chipotle Sauce, put the sour cream, mayonnaise, chipotles, adobo sauce and lemon juice in a blender or small food processor and puree until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper.

For the Mango Salsa, remove the peel and pith from the lime and cut between the membranes to remove the segments. Put the lime supremes into a bowl and squeeze over the juice from the membranes. Add the remaining ingredients and mix. Season with salt and pepper.

Just before you are ready to fry the fish, lightly toast the corn tortillas over an open flame, on your stove top. Wrap in foil, or place in a covered tortilla dish, and keep warm in the oven.

To Prepare the Fish: Cut the fish into 2-ounce strips, about 1-inch wide and 4 inches long. Prepare a breading station of flour, lightly beaten eggs with water, and seasoned panko bread crumbs. Season all with salt and pepper. Dredge the pieces of fish in flour, egg, and then bread crumbs. Deep-fry in small batches (375 degrees F) until golden, about 4-6 minutes. Drain on paper towels and season with salt. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Serve the tacos family style. Place one piece of fish in each tortilla and line up on a plate. Place bowls of the chipotle sauce, mango salsa, shredded cabbage, cilantro leaves, chopped chives and lime wedges next to the fish.

This is my new fish platter ;-)

These tacos were light and flaky, with a nice crunch from the panko, and the smokey, hot chipotle sauce was so tasty with the mango salsa.  The only thing that would make them better would be homemade tortillas.  I'm not sure, but I believe these may be right up there with the Brig's tacos!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Spring Version of Brunswick Stew, for The Daring Cooks' Challenge

The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club.

Brunswick stew is a traditional dish from the southeastern United States. Debate exists as to the origin of the dish. Brunswick County, Virginia, claims to be the home of the original, created in 1928.  A plaque on a pot in Brunswick, Georgia, states the first Brunswick stew was cooked in that pot in 1898, on nearby St. Simons Island.

Recipes vary, but it is usually a tomato-based stew, containing lima beans, corn, onions, potatoes, and one or more types of meat. Most authentic recipes call for squirrel or rabbit, but chicken, pork, and beef are also used.

I've prepared Mario Batali's Braised Stuffed Rabbit Legs with Walnuts, Prosecco, Dried Cherries and Apricots, and it was quite delicious.  I have not yet prepared any recipes calling for Squirrel, and don't think I will anytime in the foreseeable future.

For this Daring Cooks' Challenge, I chose to adapt the recipe from the Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook, into a lighter, Italian-inspired, Spring version, using chicken and a few different varieties of vegetables.

We are enjoying beautiful Spring weather, and I wasn't in the mood for a thick, hearty, bowl of stew.  Can you blame me, when these beauties were calling out to me during our Saturday morning stroll through the Little Italy Farmers' Market??  I also found some fresh, white corn and sweet, baby Roma tomatoes.

Spring Brunswick Stew, for two...

Spring Brunswick Stew
Serves 4


4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
6 bone-in, skinned, chicken thighs  (rinsed and patted dry)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, for seasoning
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup Italian white wine
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlics, peeled and crushed
2 cups fresh corn kernels, cut from 2 ears of corn
1 cup fresh shelled favas
10-12 small Cipollini onions, outer skin peeled and hard roots cut off
1 package, about 2 cups, fresh baby Roma tomatoes
8-10 assorted small fingerling and baby potatoes
A few drizzles of olive oil
1 Tablespoon Sherry or red wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Dash of Chipotle Tabasco, to taste
2 Tbsp. Chopped Italian parsley for garnish


In a Dutch Oven, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until it just starts to crisp. Transfer to a paper towel to drain.

Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper.  Brown chicken in rendered bacon fat, over medium-high heat, about 5 minutes per side.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Add pinch of red pepper, carrots and celery to the pan, and cook over medium-high for about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.  Add chicken broth and wine, scraping up any brown bits from the pan, and simmer for about 5 minutes, allowing to reduce slightly.  Return chicken thighs to the pan, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 45 minutes.

This is before covering and braising (meaty side down)

While the chicken is cooking, preheat oven to 375 F.  Place cipollini onions and tomatoes on one side of a baking sheet, and place the potatoes on the other side.  Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss gently to coat.

Roast for 30 minutes, keeping the potatoes separated from the onions and tomatoes.

In a saute pan, add another drizzle of olive oil and saute the favas and corn together for about 5 minutes.  When the tomatoes and onions are roasted, add them to the fava and corn mixture and gently combine.

These are the favas beans after removing from the pods and blanching.  You then must shell them again to pop out the bright green, sweet, inner bean.  Here's a link on how to shell fresh favas, here.

When chicken is done braising, remove it from the Dutch Oven and tent with foil to keep warm.

To the braising liquid, add Sherry vinegar, a squeeze of lemon, and a dash of Chipotle Tabasco, and simmer for another few minutes.  Carefully pour liquid into a blender and blend until smooth.  Pass through a fine mesh sieve, discarding the solids, and reserving the sauce.

To plate, spoon the fava, corn, tomato and onion "succotash" into shallow serving bowls, top with 1-2 chicken thighs, arrange a few potatoes around the edge, spoon sauce over the top of the chicken, and garnish with bacon and chopped Italian parsley.


You can find the original Challenge recipes in The Daring Kitchen Recipe Archives, here.

Thank you, Wolf, for hosting this month's Daring Cooks' Challenge!  The flavor combinations in this dish were wonderful, and I hope you find my Spring version an interesting variation of the Lee Bros.' recipe.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Belly up to the Momofuku Milk Bar for Compost Cookies

We celebrated Easter with a gourmet picnic in the park, with close friends and family.  As usual, all of our dishes rocked... especially during the 7.2 magnitude earthquake!

Mom offered to bring dessert and jumped on the Momofuku Milk Bar bandwagon, taking me along for the ride assisting in the preparation and baking, and eating.  Momofuku Milk Bar is located in New York, and is home to pastry chef Christina Tosi's $44 Crack Pie and Compost Cookies.  I became addicted to the Crack Pie when Carmen made two for her Time Change Party.  Now, I'm having a heck of time hiding the last of our Compost Cookies from John, which I promised to Pammy.

What's not to like about sweet, salty, chewy, crunchy, and gooey cookies, overloaded with all your favorite baking ingredients and snack foods?  You can mix up your favorites, experiment with new combinations, and never end up with the same batch of cookies.

It appears the Compost Cookie recipe first appeared on the Live with Regis and Kelly web site, and has now made its way to various blogs, including The Amateur Gourmet, Momofuku for 2, and  La Fuji Mama.  I was too busy Easter morning to photograph step by step shots, but these bloggers did an outstanding job.

Incidentally, Compost Cookie is a registered trademark for "bakery products, namely, sweet bakery goods."  Try to keep that in your head when you eat these, rather than envisioning "a mixture of decaying organic matter, as from leaves and manure, used to improve soil structure and provide nutrients."  Just a little tidbit from your favorite trademark attorney!

Here are the raw cookies after the requisite refrigeration.  You MUST allow much more space between the cookies when baking or you will end up with one gigantic mess!  Each of the "compost" balls pictured below weighed 1 3/4 oz.  They manured matured into 5-inch cookies during baking.  I don't recommend making these any larger.


Momofuku Milk Bar Compost Cookies
Makes about 21 2-ounce cookies

8 ounces (1 cup) butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups Your favorite baking ingredients! (chopped chocolate, mini chocolate chips, Raisinettes, Rolos, Cocoa Krispies, etc.)
1 1/2 cups Your favorite snack foods (potato chips, pretzels, goldfish crackers, etc.)

*Momofuku Milk Bar uses pretzels, potato chips, coffee, oats, butterscotch chips and chocolate chips.  We used yogurt-covered pretzels, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, espresso powder, Cadbury Caramel Eggs, Reese's Peanut Butter cups, and graham cracker crumbs.

1. In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and corn syrup on medium high speed for 2 – 3 minutes until the mixture is fluffy and pale yellow in color. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl.

2. On low speed, add the eggs and vanilla and mix until they are incorporated. then increase the speed to medium-high and start a timer for 10 minutes. During the 10 minutes, the sugar granules will fully dissolve and the mixture will become a pale cream color and double in size.

3. After the 10 minutes, lower the speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix for 45 – 6o seconds—just until your dough comes together and the dry ingredients have become incorporated. DO NOT overmix the dough. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula.

4. Continuing on the low speed, add the mix of your favorite baking ingredients and mix for 30 – 45 seconds until they are evenly mixed into the dough. Then finally, add your favorite snack foods last, mixing on low until they are just incorporated.

5. Use a 6-ounce ice cream scoop to scoop out balls of dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. When you have scooped out all of the dough, wrap the baking sheet tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour (or up to 1 week). DO NOT bake your cookies from room temperature or they will not hold their shape.

6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahreneheit. When the oven has come to temperature, arrange the chilled cookie dough balls on a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet 4-inches apart. Bake the cookies for 9 – 11 minutes. Check the cookies at 9 minutes. They should be browned on the edges and just beginning to brown towards the center. If not (if they seem pale and dough on the surface), leave them in the oven for the additional 2 minutes. Cool the cookies completely on the baking sheet before transferring them to a plate or airtight container for storage.

* The cookies will keep fresh at room temperature for 5 days, or in the freezer for 1 month.


As you can see, there are only 7 cookies on this baking sheet and they still spread out and touched.  They also flattened quite a bit.  Most pictured in various blogs are flat.  Some say it depends on the amount of flour and weighing the flour to make sure the quantity is accurate, but it also must depend on the ingredients you choose, and how much you chop them.  Be sure to chill the dough and make sure your oven is at the correct temperature.

Our batch yielded about 21 large cookies.

Better hurry over, Pammy, for that last one!  But if you don't make it in time, we also have a few of mom's Superfudge Brownies with Reese's Peanut-Butter Cups.  Mom definitely had a sweet-tooth this weekend!

You can find this recipe from Ellie at Almost Boudain

ATTENTION:  There's a Newf in My Soup! is attending CampBlogAway next month and I'm trying to win a private room and REAL full-size bed at camp, rather than sleeping in bunk in a bunkroom!  There's a few more days left for you to visit my post to read about my gourmet take on camp food, and why I really NEED that private room.  All you need to do is click on the link to CampBlogAway.  That's it!  Thank you for helping me win.  Click here to go to gourmet camp food post!  There are still a few spaces available at Camp, if you're so inclined.