4.28.2013

Caramel Apple Pancakes



Last weekend Alex and I woke up craving two things, my sunday morning pancakes and my warm apple cinnamon french toast. With a few small adjustments, I managed to perfectly combine the two delicious dishes. Warm fluffy pancakes covered in a sticky sweet apple syrup, it's a killer combination.

Caramel Apple Pancakes

Ingredients:

Pancakes:
1 cup flour
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup 2% milk
1 egg
1 tbsp butter

Caramel Apple Syrup:
2 Gala apples, sliced
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 dashes cinnamon

Ingredients:
Start by combining the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a small bowl. Whisk them together until they are well combined. In a separate medium size bowl, combine the melted butter, vanilla, milk, and the egg. Whisk these together immediately (or the cold milk will harden the warm butter). Slowly combine the dry ingredients into the wet while whisking them gently.
Preheat a large skillet or griddle over medium-high heat and rub a little bit of butter onto it. Using a 1/3 measuring cup, fill the cup about 2/3 of the way full with batter and slowly add it to the pan. The pancake will cook for about two minutes per side. This recipe should yield about 8 perfect pancakes.
Meanwhile, place a medium sauté pan over medium heat for three minutes, then place the butter on the pan. Place the sliced apples into the butter once it is bubbling. Toss to coat, and let them sit for a couple of minutes. Place the sugar, vanilla and cinnamon over the apples. Stir this mixture occasionally for 6-8 minutes to create a perfect syrup.

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4.24.2013

Lobster Mac & Cheese


Last week, my sister and her husband came to Philly for the day. I loved playing tour guide, so naturally I planned their visit around my favorite places in the city. Before we began our shopping, we went to Continental Midtown for lunch. Continental is my go-to when people come to visit, it has such a fun vibe and they offer such a variety of dishes that even the pickiest eater will be satisfied. 
My heart was won over by this restaurant five years ago when I had my first bite of their lobster mac & cheese. It's made with orzo and lots of creamy fontina, it's wonderful. This recipe is my ode to that beautiful creation, and in my humble opinion it's a little better than the original.



Lobster Mac & Cheese
Yield: 2 Servings

Ingredients:
2 lobster tails
1/2 lb orzo
2 cups milk
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups fontina, grated
1 cup white cheddar, grated
1/4 cup parmesan, grated
1/2 cup panko
2 tbsp chives, chopped
kosher salt
black pepper

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Place the lobster tails on a baking sheet and place them into the oven for fifteen minutes. Once it's done cooking, remove the meat from the tails and coarsely chop it. 
Next, place a large pot 3/4 filled with water over high heat and bring it to a boil. Once it's boiling, place the orzo into the water along with a splash of oil for 8-9 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium size pot over medium heat, melt 3 tbsp of butter. When it's bubbling, add the flour and whisk it continuously for two minutes. Next, add the two cups of milk and continue to whisk it for about five minutes. Finally, turn off the heat and whisk in the fontina and white cheddar along with some salt and pepper.
Once the orzo is done cooking, strain the pasta. Add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce, as well as half of the lobster meat, and stir them until they're combined. Place this mixture into a buttered baking dish. Finally, in a small bowl melt the final tablespoon of butter and mix it with the panko and parmesan, as well as some salt and pepper. Crumble this mixture over the top of the mac and cheese in the baking dish. Place the baking dish into the oven for 20-25 minutes or until it's golden and bubbling.
Finally, place the other half of the chopped lobster meat over the top of the mac and cheese along with the chopped chives. Enjoy!
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4.19.2013

Strawberry Brie en Croute | Baby Shower Menu


So I have to admit that if I can find a reason to make brie, I will. I'm obsessed. Brie en croute is one of the few appetizers that Alex and I can agree on when we're out for dinner. It usually consists of a big piece of brie that's been wrapped in puff pastry and baked to perfection. 

I decided to take it a step further for my sister's baby shower and add this delicious strawberry rhubarb conserve from Tait Farm. Our initial idea was to wrap it in puff pastry, but we accidentally used all of it for the Pesto Palmiers... whoops. My mom ended up having some pie crust on hand so we figured that would work just as well, and it definitely did! The textures and flavors worked wonderfully together, especially with slices of Bosc pear. Yum!

Strawberry Brie en Croute

Ingredients:
1 wheel of brie
1 sheet of puff pastry/ pie crust
1/2 cup strawberry jam
2 Bosc pears, thinly sliced
1 baguette, sliced

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Meanwhile on a floured surface, roll out your puff pastry/ pie crust until it's large enough to wrap the entire wheel of brie. Place the brie in the center of the crust and cover the top of the brie with the jam. Next, wrap the crust over the brie until it looks like the photo above. Place it onto a baking sheet and bake it for 20 minutes. Finally place the brie on a board surrounded by the pear slices, and serve it alongside the sliced baguette.
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4.17.2013

Berry Vanilla Cake | Baby Shower Menu


This past weekend, all of my menu planning finally came to fruition for my sister’s baby shower. The shower was held on Sunday afternoon, so I made some of my favorite savory lunch dishes as well as some great desserts (with the help of my wonderful mom). The menu consisted of:

Roasted Chicken Salad & Croissants
Greek Orzo
Baked Macaroni & Cheese
Baguette with Herbed Butter & Cinnamon Honey Butter
Berry Vanilla Cake
Mini Lemon Yogurt Cakes
Strawberry Shortcake Bites

Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing the recipes from the shower. I’m going to start with the recipe for the Berry Vanilla Cake, it came out beautifully and is definitely worth sharing. The buttercream frosting is to die for, let’s just say that there weren’t any leftovers!



Berry Vanilla Cake

Ingredients:

Cake:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

Frosting:
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp half and half

Topping:
1 cup strawberries, sliced in half
1 cup raspberries

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and butter two round cake pans. Meanwhile in a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and kosher salt. In a stand mixer on medium speed, mix together the softened butter and sugar for 3-4 minutes. Then add the eggs and vanilla, and continue to mix it for another couple of minutes. Next add the flour mixture 1/2 at a time, along with half of the milk each time. Place this batter into your cake pans and bake them for about 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow them to cool once finished baking. 
Now for the frosting, combine the softened butter as well as the powdered sugar and mix them on low speed until they’re perfectly fluffy (about three minutes). Finally, add the vanilla and the half and half and continue to mix them for another minute.
When the cakes are completely cooled, place the first cake on a cake stand, and cover the top with a layer of frosting. Next, place the second cake on top. cover the entire second cake’s top, as well as the sides of the two cakes with the frosting. Finally, decorate the top of the cake with the strawberries and raspberries.


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4.07.2013

Crispy Calamari & Cherry Tomato Sauce


This week I was in State College with my team for the annual Architectural Engineering conference, where we presented our thesis on a sustainable elementary school. Our first 24 hours there were spent practicing our presentation non-stop, so it's needless to say that we racked up a healthy room service bill. 

I love when I have great options on a room service menu, so this got me thinking about what was missing from ours this week. Relentless practicing calls for great bar food, in particular one of my favorite things in the world: fried calamari. So I came up with this delicious recipe for lightly coated and shallow fried calamari, along with a yummy cherry tomato sauce. 

Crispy Calamari & Cherry Tomato Sauce
Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients:
1 lb squid (caps and legs)
1 cup flour
1/2 lemon
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp olive oil
1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp thyme leaves
kosher salt
black pepper

Directions:
Preheat a small pan over medium heat and add the olive oil to it. Then place the sliced cherry tomatoes, the minced garlic, the thyme leaves, as well as some salt and pepper into the pan. Stirring this every so often, allow it to cook for about twenty minutes. Then using an immersion blender, blend it to a smooth consistency.
Start by preheating a large pan with the vegetable oil in it, over medium heat. Meanwhile, slice the caps of the squid into 1/2" rings. Dry all of the squid with a paper towel, then squeeze the lemon juice over it and toss them. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, as well as some salt and pepper. Place the calamari into the flour in small batches, until it is all well coated in flour. Then place the coated calamari into the hot oil in small batches, until it's perfectly golden. When it's cooked, place it onto a paper towel to drain the excess oil and sprinkle it with a bit more salt. Finally, plate the calamari with the gorgeous tomato sauce and enjoy!

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4.01.2013

Lemon Yogurt Cake


This was one of the first years that I didn't go home for Easter. So a few of my friends and I got together to have an Easter dinner of our own. I had the guys head out to the grocery store (by themselves, scary!) to pick up the ingredients for the dinner. It was what I assumed a private chef would feel like, with a nice big kitchen and all of your ingredients waiting for you. To say the least we had a great dinner; ribeye roast with malbec-garlic reduction, parmesan mashed potatoes, and bacon roasted brussels sprouts. 


Had I had an extra hour, I would have prepared this beautiful lemon yogurt cake as the ending to our perfect meal. It's reminiscent of the overly indulgent lemon loaf that Starbucks offers, but much lighter. I made this beautiful cake for Alex to share with his co-workers on the first day of spring. It's perfect.

Lemon Yogurt Cake
Yield: 8 Servings

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup greek yogurt
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 lemons, zest and juice separated
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp heavy cream

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a loaf pan. 
Place the flour, baking powder, and salt into a small bowl, whisk them together. In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.
When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in.
For the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, 2 tbsp lemon juice, and heavy cream. When the cake is completely cooled, pour the glaze over the top.

*This recipe is adapted from Ina Garten's "Barefoot Contessa at Home"

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