Monday, September 30, 2013

Fettuccine with Figs, Prosciutto and Goat Cheese

It’s the end of September and I feel like I am still in survival mode.  Exactly when will I get my rhythm and multitasking-mom-mojo back?  For this reason, I have reverted back to my old meal staples and TBM postings have decreased.  I find comfort that I am not the only one with a lack of creativity and time.  At Elizabeth’s soccer game, some moms were discussing the diminished spark for making exciting and innovative lunches for their kids.  They put it all in perspective with this comment: “it already feels like May.”

Yesterday I dug deep and tried a recipe that I have been holding since this summer.  I saw the recipe on a Giada cooking show while I was exercising (yep, that’s how long it has been – “when I was exercising.”).  This dish is rich with all the cheeses; consider it as a side and it has a definite fig flavor (reminds me of a Fig Newton – the only time I actually eat figs); crispy prosciutto and goat cheese enticed me to try; of course Giada makes the pasta from scratch – read paragraph 1 above to know why I substituted some fresh fettuccine courtesy of Central Market.
Fettuccine with Figs, Prosciutto and Goat Cheese
1.      Vegetable oil cooking spray
2.      Four 1/4-inch-thick slices prosciutto (about ¼ lb)
3.      1 package (about 12 oz) fresh fettuccine (for the purists, yes, that is linguine in the picture - you do what you can)
4.      1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1.      Dried Mission figs, stemmed and quartered (calls for 1 1/2 c or 7oz - I used 1/4 lb)
2.      1/2 c chicken broth
3.      1/2 c orange juice
4.      1 T fresh thyme leaves
5.      2 t kosher salt
6.      1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
7.      1/2 c (4 oz) goat cheese, at room temperature, crumbled
8.      1/2 c (4 oz ) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
9.      Zest of 1 large lemon (I used 1 capful of lemon juice)

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a heavy baking sheet with vegetable oil cooking spray.

Arrange the prosciutto in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes until crispy. Drain on paper towels. When cool enough to handle, crumble the prosciutto into 1/2-inch pieces.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the olive oil and pasta. Cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes. Place the pasta in a large serving bowl.

For the sauce: In a medium saucepan, combine the figs, broth, orange juice, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the goat cheese, mascarpone cheese and lemon juice until the sauce is creamy.

Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta and toss until all the ingredients are coated. Top with the crumbled prosciutto and serve.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Reese's Peanut Butter Cookies

What memories do you have from childhood?  The kids are fascinated by the fact that we rode in a “station wagon.”  There are not many on the road today so it is hard for them to imagine how easy it was to cram 9 kids in for carpool. No car seats; no seat belts.  Another memory from childhood is peanut butter cookies with a Reese’s center.  My mom made these any time there was a reception or gathering.  They are insanely addictive and so inappropriate for unknown company given the prevalence of peanut allergies these days. 

I wonder what my kids will carry forward with them.  Time will tell and they will have a lot of fun teasing me (like my brother and I do to our mom today).

Reese's Peanut Butter Cookies
1.      Packaged peanut butter cookies 16.5 oz, like Pillsbury, in the refrigerated section of the grocery store
2.      Reese’s miniature peanut butter cups
3.      Non-stick cooking spray, like Pam

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly spray a mini-muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Slice cookie dough about 3/4 inch thick and then cut each round into quarters.  Place the quartered dough into each muffin tin.  Bake cookies for 9-14 minutes (mine took 11).  While baking, unwrap the Reese’s peanut butter cups. 
Remove baked cookies from the oven and press a Reese’s peanut butter cup in the middle.  Allow to cool for a few minutes so the cookie retains its shape.  Carefully remove and place on cooling rack for additional cooling.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Happy New Year!

In honor of those celebrating Yom Kippur and partaking in the fast,
The Baker's Mann submits this recipe:

To support those who fast, however not by choice, please consider making a donation
to organizations such as Vickery Meadow Neighborhood Alliance Food Pantry, North Dallas Food Bank, North Dallas Shared Ministries or the food bank of your choice.

May you have an easy fast.
L'shanah tovah and a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Maple Bacon

Life is like a patchwork quilt with people and experiences creating the unique design of our lives.  Some are bold and bright; others are warm and rich; big squares, small squares.  Some squares would be obvious.  Others are understood best by the owner of the quilt and cherished by their significance.  What would your quilt look like?

Nothing says love like a little bacon.  Rather than the basic frying it up in a pan, try baking it and then glazing with some real maple syrup.

Happy birthday Amy Mc!

Maple Bacon
1.      3/4 pound thick-cut smoked bacon (16 slices)
2.      1-2 tablespoons good maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with a layer of aluminum foil for easier clean up.  Place a baking rack on a sheet pan.  Arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon begins to brown. Careful when removing pan from the oven as there will be grease in the pan. Brush the bacon slices with maple syrup and bake for another 3 to 5 minutes, until the bacon is a warm golden brown. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and serve warm.

Alternate to the maple syrup: before baking, toss or dredge the bacon in about 1/3 c light brown sugar and then bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until done. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Apple Walnut Cake

Happy New Year to those of you celebrating Rosh Hashanah!  A traditional ritual for this holiday is to dip apple slices in honey to signify the hope for a sweet new year.  Try this apple walnut cake (courtesy of my Uncle Willy) as a tasty variation on the apple theme. 

Happy new year!  Happy fall! 

Apple Walnut Cake
1.      3 cups sugar
2.      2 t baking soda
3.      1 ½ t cinnamon
4.      1 ¼ teaspoons salt
5.      ¾ cup vegetable oil
6.      3 large eggs
7.      1 ½ t vanilla
8.      4 large Granny Smith apples
9.      1 ½ cups walnuts
10.  3 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and butter a 13x9x2 inch glass baking dish.

Into a large bowl, sift together sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt and whisk in oil, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.

Peel and core apples and slice about ¼ inch thick (makes about 6 cups).  Coarsely chop walnuts.  Add apples and walnuts to batter and stir until coasted well.  Stir in flour just until combined well and spread batter evenly in baking dish.

Bake cake in middle of oven for 1 hour and 40 – 50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.  Cool completely in baking dish on a rack.

Cut cake into squares and serve at room temperature with ice cream or whipped cream.
Cake keeps, wrapped in plastic wrap and chilled, one week.