Thursday, December 30, 2010

Morroco? Nope Portland!


Who ever knew airport food could be so beautiful & yummy?

Good job Caper's Cafe (Portland OR airport)!

This is my Morrocan Chicken dish from last night! Chicken, chickpeas, onions/peppers and raisins on a bed of couscous - served with toasted pita. The raisins I could have done without but yummy all the same. Perfect fuel for the three hour plane delay I was facing. So if you're ever in the Portland airport skip the pizza slice, be a little daring and go for the Morrocan chicken!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Recipe: Peanut Butter Temptations

The other day I signed up for "Recipe A Day" on Facebook - which is the page for a blog called The Stir (a blog with everything from recipes to movie reviews to thoughts on the latest news break).

On December 16th Recipe A Day posted a cookie recipe that I'm sure I've seen before but just haven't made - until now. We're talking Peanut Butter Cup Cookies (i.e. Peanut Butter Temptations).

Next to Mint and Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Chocolate is my favorite flavor combination and, really, anything mini just wins my heart over. So seeing as this was both PB & Chocolate AND made in mini-muffin tins - there was NOTHING stopping me.

Can't wait for Wednesday and the office Potluck when I can bring these in to share.

Peanut Butter Temptations  

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter

1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
*40 miniature peanut butter cups, unwrapped (great job for kids!)

*Note: The bag I got from the store only had 35 cups inside, so I bought 2 bags figuring the rest would go in Christmas stockings. I'm glad I did because the batter produced 51 cookies not 40. Just get extra peanut butter cups to be safe.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda; set aside.
3. Cream together the butter, sugar, peanut butter, and brown sugar until fluffy. 

4. Beat in the egg, vanilla, and milk.

 5. Add the flour mixture; mix well.

6. Shape into 40 balls and place each into an ungreased mini muffin pan.
7. Bake at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes.

8. Remove from oven and immediately press a mini peanut butter cup into each ball. (Don't wait or they won't work.)

9. Let cool a few minutes and the cookies should just slide right out of the tin (be careful though the chocolate will be very gooey and melted. I used a spoon to help get the cookies out without chocolate going everywhere)


These are super yummy and fun to make - easy too so the kiddos can help with (just be careful of the hot muffin tin)

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Recipe: Turtle Graham Bars

A few weeks ago this was the FoodNetwork's 12 Days of Christmas cookie and I don't know about you but I don't know what's NOT to like about this recipe. Graham crackers, butter, sugar pecans and chocolate. That's all it is. 

Super easy and fast. These are easily going to be my new "go-to" cookie when cookie exchanges come around.

Ingredients

  • Approximately 14 graham crackers
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • Pinch of salt
  • 12 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone mat. Arrange the graham crackers in a single layer on the lined baking sheet.

Put the butter, brown sugar, pecans, and a pinch of salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. 

Boil for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly. 

Pour the butter mixture evenly over the graham crackers and bake for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a glass bowl placed over simmering water. 

Pour the chocolate over the toffee-covered graham crackers and spread evenly. 

Chill completely in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Cut into bars. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Review: PING!

On Tuesday my staff went to Ping - located in Old Town China Town - to celebrate being a staff, the upcoming holidays and my boss's 5 year anniversary with the company.





Ping has a happy hour that starts at 2:00PM! As well as great lunch and dinner menus.
Ping was created and conceived by the same people as
Pok Pok and Whiskey Soda Lounge

We decided to eat family style so that way we were able to try a little bit of everything.
First things first. We ordered cocktails.
I had a Singapore Sling!
(Didn't have a picture of it so I found one online).
It was SUPER strong!
From there we had a few little starters
while we looked at the menu
A basket of Shrimp Chips, Deep Fried Little Fish
and a spicy lime/chili peanut mix
Thai style Pork Meatballs
Shrimp skewers with lime, salt and pepper

Chicken skewers and baby octopus

Beef skewers (with my favorite cucumber chili salad on the side)
Lamb skewers and the special of the day Boar skewers.
(The boar was so tender and yummy)

The skewers were accompanied by slightly sweet (and slightly greasy) flatbread.
And really how could we have skipped over the sticky rice?
(I told you we had a little bit of everything)
My FAVORITE was the Salapao (steamed pork bun).
I could have eaten a dozen of these.
However, I settled with taking two home with me.
Of course, as all good foodies do, we finished with dessert. This was the Pandan ice cream (not at all my favorite - rice, pistacio ice cream, chocolate sauce and peanuts) - we also had a vanilla custard/cream with graham crackers on top that was Delicious!

I had never been to Ping before but it's a destination I can see going back to a few more times. After all I have to try the many other items on the menu!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Recipe: Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze

Every year I subscribe to the Foodnetwork's 12 Days of Cookies. Some I've fallen in love with and plan to make again and again while others I don't even bother testing out.

This one however is one that, while it doesn't scream 'CHRISTMAS' to me is certainly worth making again.


Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze
Ingredients

Cookies:

* 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
* 2 cups sugar
* 2 eggs
* 1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
* 3 tablespoons lemon juice
* 1 lemon, zested

Glaze:

* 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
* 3 tablespoons lemon juice
* 1 lemon, zested

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cookies:

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the large bowl combine the butter and the sugar. Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.

Glaze: Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours. Pack the cookies into a decorative container.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Recipe: Florentines (Almond Lace Cookies)

Some part of me deep down feels like my Italian Grandmother used to make these cookies. My aunt has all of her recipes so when I found this one I emailed her right away asking her to let me know if Grandma did make these?

Even if these aren't a cookie of my childhood they certainly are going to be one of my adulthood. Delicate crisp almond wafers with chocolate - what could make these better?

"These Tuscan cookies are a Christmas classic. They're nutty, lacy and crisp, as well as deceptively simple to make. Drizzling them with chocolate turns them into the perfect holiday indulgence."


Ingredients

* 1 3/4 cups sliced, blanched almonds (about 5 ounces)
* 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* Finely grated zest of 1 orange (about 2 tablespoons)
* 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 2 tablespoons heavy cream
* 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
* 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Topping, optional:

* 2 to 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

Directions

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

Pulse the almonds in a food processor until finely chopped, but not pasty. Stir together the nuts, flour, zest and salt in a large bowl.

Put the sugar, cream, corn syrup and butter in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a rolling boil and sugar is completely dissolved. Continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, then pour mixture into almond mixture and stir just to combine. Set aside until cool enough to handle, 30 minutes.

Scoop rounded teaspoons (for 3-inch cookies) or rounded tablespoons (for 6-inch cookies) of batter and roll into balls. Place on prepared baking sheet, leaving about 3 to 4 inches between each cookie since they spread.

Bake 1 pan at a time, until the cookies are thin and an even golden brown color throughout, rotating pans halfway through baking time, about 10 to 11 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve.

Optional chocolate topping:

Put the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with 1 inch or so of water to a very low simmer; set the bowl over, but not touching, the water. Stir the chocolate occasionally until melted and smooth. (Alternatively, put the chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Melt at 50 percent power in the microwave until soft, about 1 minute. Stir, and continue heat until completely melted, about 1 to 2 minutes more.)

For sandwiches: Drop about 1/2 teaspoon chocolate onto on the flat side of half of the cookies and press together with remaining halves. Return to rack and let chocolate set.

For chocolate decor: Drizzle melted chocolate over Florentines as desired. Set aside at room temperature until chocolate is set.

Busy baker's tips: Store baked cookies carefully, separated by parchment or waxed paper, in an air-tight container for up to 3 days. Florentines are best stored separated from moist cookies and cakes.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Review: Swagat

I love living in a city where a variety of food is available to me. Where a multitude of cultures sits outside my door beckoning me with a myriad of aromas and flavors. 

Yesterday, with a bone chilling 45* outside, a coworker and I decided to adventure out and find something that would not only silence our crumbling stomachs but would satisfy our need for a warm comfort-food. 

We headed three miles north to Swagat, an All-You-Can-Eat Indian Buffet (apparently they also have locations in Beaverton and Hillsboro). Nestled on NW 21st I'm sure it can be easily overlooked if you don't know it's there, tucked away under trees and behind another cafe.

Swagat serves mostly North Indian food but has their fair share of other regional foods - a place for both meat eaters and vegetarians to enjoy. (My coworker has a number of allergies and food sensitives, including wheat/corn/nuts/etc, and she has no problem eating here)

The atmosphere warm and inviting. The hostess is a little intimidating. An older woman with a slightly stern expression on her face, but with her regulars lightens up some and jokes openly about who is paying the bill. It's a sight to watch her balance and juggle the busy lunch crowd as they pour through the door (All-You-Can-Eat Indian Buffet for only $9.00). She escorted us to our seats, letting us sit anywhere we wanted within the section (yes, at this point my staff are regulars), we left our coats and headed to the buffet. 

I don't remember the first time I had Indian food, but I do remember the first time I had Indian-style prepared GOAT. It was here at Swagat in a rich goat masala. It was not nearly as gamey or stringy as I expected. It was delicate and full of flavor. However, there was no goat to be had this trip. Instead I filled my plate with chicken masala, cabbage pakora, rita, chicken tikka and of course hot fresh naan. 

Thank goodness Swagat is only a short drive away and so affordable. Now if only they were on my side of the river so I could enjoy them on the weekends too.






Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Recipe: Mexican Hot Cocoa Cookies


I'm a huge fan of Mexican Hot Chocolate so when I found this recipe last year I flipped!! These are just so delicious - a slight spice mixed in with the sweetness of the sugars. I have to say dunk these in a glass of liquid hot chocolate and it's even better. 


Yum Yum

Mexican Hot Cocoa Cookies:


Heat oven to 350*

Whisk together:
1C flour
1/2C cocoa powder
3/4t cinnamon
1/4t baking soda
1/4t salt

In a separate bowl press together, to form clumps, 1/2C plus 1T Brown Sugar and 1/2C plus 1T granulated white sugar

Beat the following on high for 1 minute with the sugar mixture:
3T butter, softened to room temperature
3T margarine
1/2t (additional) cinnamon
Generous pinch of black pepper
Generous pinch of cayenne pepper
1t vanilla

Beat in 1 egg white until smooth.
Add flour mix.
Make into a 9 to 10 inch log - wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45 minutes.

Slice into 1/4 inch cookies and put on ungreased cookie sheet (they do not spread far).
Bake 12-14 minutes.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Recipe: Cream Cheese Cookies

Cream Cheese Cookies


Preheat oven to 350*

Cream together:
1/2 C butter, softened to room temperature
8oz cream cheese, softened

Add:
1/2 C granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp salt
1 C flour


Mix well, drop small teaspoons of dough on cookies sheets (cookies do not spread much at all).
Bake 10-12 minutes.

Recipe: Frosted Date Creams

Frosted Date Creams


Heat oven to 375*

Sift together:
2 1/4 C Flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt

Cream together:
1/2 C butter, softened to room temp
1 1/4 C packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 C sour cream
1 t vanilla

Blend in the dry mix.

Stir in 1 C chopped dates and 1 C chopped nuts (pecans and/or walnuts).
Drop teaspoons onto cookie sheet and bake 10-14 minutes.
Frost warm (Brown Butter Frosting below)

Makes 4 dozen

Brown Butter Frosting:


Brown 1/2 C butter, remove from heat.
Add 1 1/2 C powdered sugar
Add 3 to 4 Tablespoons hot water.
Mix (reheat if needed) until smooth