Cookies, Recipes

Alfajores

Today Robert and I made Alfajores, a soft, Spanish cookie that is usually sandwiched with dulce de leche or a fruit jam. I took a recipe that I’ve previously used from Martha Stewart and made my own adjustments because I wanted it to be more cake-like, almost like whoopie pies, and with some minor adjustments I think I was pretty successful! After all, I am a sucker for whoopie pies…

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Ingredients.

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Creaming the butter and sugar for several minutes. Not a step to be missed!

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Scooping out the dough. My scoop was pretty big, and since they spread pretty well I ended up with  some pretty big cookies. Definitely NOT a problem to me!

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Sandwiched with some gooey dulce de leche, possibly the best part of this cookie. The end result was really soft and tender, with a good crumb. Definitely would recommend eating it with a glass of milk or juice!

Alfajores, adapted from Martha Stewart Recipes

makes 30 sandwiches, or 60 cookies

3 cups All Purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, soft

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 cup milk

3/4 cup orange juice (I used guava juice, it’s your choice!)

1 tsp vanilla extract

dulce de leche, or fruit jam

In a bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder, set aside.

In a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar on medium speed for 4-5 minutes, until light and fluffy (you want it to look almost white), then scrape bottom and sides of bowl with a rubber spatula. With mixer running, add eggs one at a time, until thoroughly incorporated. Scrape bowl again.

In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, juice, and vanilla extract. Do NOT do this ahead of time!** With mixer running, add 1/2 of flour mixture to batter, let mix until incorporated. Add 1/2 of milk mixture to batter, mix until incorporated. Scrape bowl, then add the rest of the flour mixture and milk mixture in the same manner. Scrape the bowl, and let mix until well combined.

Scoop out dough onto a lined sheet pan, keeping cookies 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart. Bake at 350F for 14-16 minutes, or until slightly golden and firm to the touch.

When cookies have cooled, spread a layer of dulce de leche or your favorite jam between two, and make a delicious cookie sandwich!

** As it turns out, mixing milk and citric acid and letting it sit makes some lumpy milk! Guess I must have forgotten that part from the cheese-making class I took…

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Packed and ready to take to the office tomorrow! Happy eats!

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Breakfast, Dinner, lunch, Recipes

Epic (Udon) Breakfast of the Week

Today for breakfast Robert and I made spicy udon noodles with ground pork, tossed in a garlicky, spicy, and creamy sauce.

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Mixing the sauce.

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Mixing the pork in with the sauteed vegetables.

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Tossing in the noodles and the sauce.

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Breakfast is ready! The creaminess off the sauce balanced out with some of the spice, so it’s not too intense. Overall I would say this was a pretty good (and quick!) breakfast. I got the idea for this from Benihana’s Seafood Diablo, but this is definitely toned down a bit in the heat department; next time I make this I’ll remember to add some Sriracha to the sauce for an extra kick! With this recipe you can adjust any of the spices used to your taste.

Spicy Udon Noodles

makes 2 large servings

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 lb ground pork

1 Tablespoon grated ginger

1/4 large yellow onion, julienne

1 large red bell pepper, julienne

2 (7oz) packages of udon noodles

2 scallions, cut into 1″ pieces

for sauce:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

4-5 cloves garlic, pureed or chopped finely

1tsp paprika

2tsp cayenne powder

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard

3-4 Tablespoon Soy Sauce

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

1tsp hot sauce of your choice

salt and pepper to taste

For sauce: combine mayo, garlic, paprika, cayenne, ginger, mustard, soy sauce, vinegar, hot sauce, and salt and pepper. Taste and add more heat as you like, and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil, add onions, cook until soft. Season pork with salt and pepper, and brown in skillet. While meat is cooking, bring a pot of water to a boil, and cook noodles for 2-3 minutes, or as package directs, drain, and set aside. Add red pepper, grated ginger, and 1/3 of  sauce mixture to skillet, saute until red pepper softens. Add drained noodles, scallions, and the rest of your sauce to the skillet, and toss to combine. Cook until scallions have wilted.

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Cookies, fruit, Recipes

Goji Berry and Vanilla Sugar Cookies

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Despite the fact that yesterday was a full workday for me, it happened to be one of the nicest days (weather-wise) that we’d had in a while. Between my two shifts Robert and I sometimes like to spend a little time at the local park, so I decided to make some simple sugar cookies that we could snack on.

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Aside from all the nutritional benefits of goji berries, I tossed in a handful of it into this recipe because it added a nice chewy texture and tartness to the cookie. I also decided to top them off with a little bit of orange sugar, which added a faint twist of flavor when you finish eating the cookie.

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Goji Berry and Vanilla Sugar Cookies

Makes about 25 small cookies

1 stick (4oz) Butter, room temp.

3/4 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla paste

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup dried goji berries

For Orange Sugar:

4 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon Orange zest

For cookies: In a mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, paddle butter and sugar together until fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add eggs in one at a time, until completely emulsified, then add vanilla paste. Scrape bottom of bowl with rubber spatula, let mixture mix until uniform. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder. Slowly mix in with batter until completely uniform, remembering to scrape bottom of bowl when necessary. Toss in dried goji berries and mix until fully incorporated.

On a sheet pan lined with a silpat or parchment paper, scoop out dough (I used a small 3/4″ scoop), keeping scoops 1 1/2″ apart. Bake at 350F for 7 minutes, or until golden brown along edges.

For Orange Sugar: Combine orange zest and granulated sugar, let sit until slightly dry (the oils in the zest will moisten the sugar). While cookies are still hot, top each cookie with a pinch of orange sugar.

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Candy, fruit

Poire Williams and Vanilla Bean Pâte de Fruit

Yesterday Robert and I made a pear and vanilla bean pâte de fruit, which is basically a fruit candy that is cooked and thickened with pectin, a gelling agent derived from citrus fruits and typically used in jams and jellies.

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Heating up the pear puree. I used the recipe from www.capfruit.com and divided it in half, thinking it was a large recipe. Turns out my understanding of grams was way off, haha.

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Reducing and thickening. This was the longest part. The mixture had to reach 220 degrees, and we were probably stirring that pot for around 30 minutes just for it to reach that last 10 degrees! Another thing that I should note is that it’s important to move the thermometer so that you can stir underneath it! Otherwise it will result in some heavy burning on the bottom of the pot, which is no bueno.

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After pouring the mixture on a sheet pan and letting it firm up for 24 hours, we finally got to cut it into little squares.

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After a nice toss in some sugar.

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The results. The vanilla bean gave it a good amount of warmth which cut down the tartness of the fruit well and gave it a nice rounded flavor. Overall I enjoyed this recipe, and would definitely try it again, maybe even in a bigger batch!

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Breakfast, Dinner, lunch

Epic (Creole) Breakfast

Yesterday for breakfast Robert and I made a shrimp and sausage jambalaya. We put this recipe to the test, and it didn’t disappoint!

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Southern trinity of aromatics, minus the celery because I forgot to put it in the picture, hahha. Also, a ton of garlic, because I love me some garlic.

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Toasting the rice after adding the tomato paste. I love the orange/gold color that it turned when the tomato started cooking.

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After adding the liquids and the sausage.

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The results. So I’ll admit that I did take a couple shortcuts here, mainly because I wanted to use what I had on hand. Also, instead of the traditional Andouille sausage I used chicken sausage, which is probably blasphemy down in Louisiana but I’m trying to save money here! Regardless of the minor substitutions, the jambalaya still tasted amazing, and I even added a few dashes of jabanero powder to kick the spice up a notch.

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Cookies, fruit, Petit Four

Mixed Berry and Basil Macarons and Some Very Good News

So I know I haven’t been the best blogstress out there and I haven’t updated this thing in a while, but I have a good reason, I promise!!

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Robert proposed to me on Thursday! That was a pretty good reason, right? I think I can safely say that we’re both really excited and have a million thoughts running through our minds at the moment. It’s an amazing feeling knowing that the person you want to spend the rest of your life with feels the exact same way about you.

And so, because of the lack of posts last week, I’ll definitely try to make up for that this week! Yesterday I made some mixed berry and basil macarons, which turned out better than I expected.

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This would be my fourth (!!) attempt at making the tiny confections, and so far this is the only time that it has actually worked! Needless to say I was giddy when the little pink discs puffed up and showed their feet in the oven!

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I know that Valentine’s Day is such a cheesy, money-driven holiday, but given the circumstances, I couldn’t help myself this year and I decided I pretty much had to make something pink and cute! They ended up being pretty damn delicious if I do say so myself, and the basil oil in the filling just lingers on your tongue for the next hour, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 
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Anyway, whether you celebrate St. Valentine’s or not, I hope you have an amazing day (:
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Breakfast

Epic (Caramelized) Breakfast

For breakfast today Robert and I made Parmesan polenta and topped it with a mushroom, caramelized shallot, and sausage ragu.

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Some of the ingredients. I opted for chicken sausage this time just because it was a little leaner than the pork variety.

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Caramelizing me some shallots.

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Busy at work

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After we tossed in the mushroom, garlic, sausage, and then added some tomato paste and red pepper flakes.

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The delicious results. The Parmigiano added a subtle nutty flavor to the polenta, and the ragu came out both sweet and savory at the same time. Definitely an easy recipe I’d use again in the future.

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