Posts Tagged ‘brown sugar’

Pineapple Upside-Down Pancakes

April 28, 2012

Breakfast is most likely the meal I make the least. Five days a week I am running out the door with a coffee and a granola bar, then on the other two we are generally headed to our local spots for something a bit more substantial like a quiche or some eggs.

So, it is rare that we stay in and I make something more than a bagel. But, when I saw this recipe it looked intriguing and simple enough that I wouldn’t have to spend my Friday night buying the relevant ingredients. The basics we all have (flour, etc.), and hopefully rum falls within that list for most of us as well. The only “special” ingredient was sliced pineapples, which fortunately can be bought in an can at anytime and stored in your pantry for this special occasion.

The result is not only incredibly tasty (and not too sweet as I had feared) but also beautiful. The pineapple soaked in rum, cinnamon and brown sugar has such a comforting quality, and the texture is the perfect contrast to the fluffy pancakes. And, if you have little ones around (like I did the week following this recipe’s debut), you can add some cherries for eyes and cut the pineapple in half for a mouth. My nephews thought they were the coolest pancakes they had ever seen.

So, stock your pantry with a few cans of pineapples and stay in one Saturday and Sunday to make this crowd pleaser. You will look like a star with little effort, and your belly will thank you. Thanks to Bon Appetit for this recipe!

PINEAPPLE UPSIDE-DOWN CAKES

Makes 8 pancakes
Pineapple:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
1 large pineapple, peeled, cut into eight 1/2″ rounds, cored
3/4 cup dark rum
1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar

Pancakes:

1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Nonstick vegetable oil spray

PREPARATION
Pineapple:

Melt butter with cinnamon stick in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook until butter begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Add pineapple slices; cook until light golden brown, 4–5 minutes per side. Remove skillet from heat; add rum and brown sugar. Cook over medium-high heat until juices are thick and syrupy. Transfer pineapple to a plate; let cool. Reserve syrup.

Pancakes:

Preheat oven to 325°. Set a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Whisk first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Add buttermilk and next 3 ingredients; whisk until smooth.
Heat a griddle or large heavy skillet over medium heat. Lightly coat with nonstick spray. Working in batches, pour batter by 1/4-cupfuls onto griddle. Cook each pan- cake until golden brown and bubbles form on top, about 2 minutes. Top each pancake with a pineapple ring. Flip; cook until pancake is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Place pancakes on prepared rack and bake in oven until cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Rewarm reserved pineapple syrup. Divide pancakes among plates; drizzle with pineapple syrup.

Chili-Baked Ribs

January 3, 2012

For years, my husband has continuously asked me to make “saucy ribs.” But for some reason, every recipe I have tried, although good, never really gave me that sweet, spicy, sticky, lick-your-fingers ribs. Until last night.

Thanks to my parents, a bottle of liquid smoke was in my stocking this year (which is apparently available in many specialty food stores or online and can be used in many dishes!). I had heard of the ingredient and was curious about the depth of flavor it would add to items made in the kitchen vs. the grill. So when I found a saucy rib recipe that required liquid smoke, I knew I had to try it.

You need a weekend day for this one, but it is WELL worth it. I will never make another rib recipe again. The sauce is AMAZING and has such complex flavors – layering the liquid smoke, molasses, coffee and cinnamon. Then, it combines that sauciness with a great dry rub along with slow roasting the ribs until they fall off the bone.

The recipe is from Bon Appetit, but I made a few changes based on user reviews. I changed the recipe for a slower roast, and reduced the sugar for the right balance of sweet and spicy/smoky.

As someone who has tried many rib recipes, take my word that this one will be your favorite. And, if you have any doubts, just ask my rib-requesting husband!

CHILI-BAKED RIBS
Serves 8

Sauce (might want to make extra!)
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup minced onion
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup ketchup
2/3 cup packed golden brown sugar
2/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup unsulfured (light) molasses (although I used dark and it tasted great!)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons instant coffee powder
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Ribs
6 baby back pork rib racks (about 9 pounds total weight)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
4 teaspoons liquid smoke flavoring
6 tablespoons chili powder
3 tablespoons ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar

For Sauce:
Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Whisk in remaining ingredients. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until reduced to 3 cups, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. (Can be prepared 1 week ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

For Ribs:
Score white membrane on underside of ribs. Place ribs in large roasting pan. Mix vinegar and liquid smoke in small bowl; brush over both sides of ribs. Refrigerate 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 300°F. Mix chili powder, cumin, sugar, onion powder and cayenne. Rub over both sides of ribs. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange ribs, meat side up, in single layer on 2 large baking sheets. Roast 3 hours, covering loosely with foil if browning too quickly.

Remove ribs from oven. Brush both sides of ribs with 3/4 cup sauce. Roast 10 minutes. Brush both sides of ribs with additional 3/4 cup sauce. Roast 15 minutes longer. Remove ribs from oven. Cover with foil; let stand 15 minutes.

Cut ribs between bones into 3- to 4- rib sections. Serve with remaining sauce.

Coconut Bars

February 13, 2011

This past January, I spent 10 nights away from home on a business trip. My husband can certainly fend for himself – he was single for years before he met me after all. He is perfectly capable of dialing for takeout or making a simple meal for one. But, when you get married, you settle into roles. I make dinner, he takes out the trash. I scoop the kitty litter and he gets our cars cleaned. And, when I go out of town, I feel bad for putting my chores into his court.

So, I knew if I could at least make some sweets before leaving town, he would have something to nibble on that was made for him with love.

I had just bought The Gourmet Cookie Book which has the best cookie recipe from Gourmet magazine from the 1940s on. What I love about the book is not only the timeless classics, but the amazing photos of every recipe in the book. I made the coconut bars from 1953 because I had all the ingredients on hand – and it seemed a bit different.

These are sweet, so cut your pieces smaller than I did. But, they are simply amazing, and really require little ingredients. With some powdered sugar on top, they are beautiful as well.

So, if you are leaving town and want your family to have an always satisfied sweet tooth, these are great treats to leave behind!

COCONUT BARS
Makes 2 dozen

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup brown sugar, divided
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour, divided
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup shredded coconut
pinch of salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375.

Cream 1/2 cup butter. Add gradually 1/2 cup brown sugar and beat until smooth. Stir in 1 cup sifted flour and spread the batter in the bottom of an 8-inch square cake pan, buttered. Bake for 20 minutes.

Beat 2 eggs and 1 cup light brown sugar until smooth. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 cup chopped walnuts, and 1/2 cup shredded coconut tosses with 2 tablespoons flour and a pinch of salt. Spread this batter over the baked crust and continue to bake for 20 minutes longer. Cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and cut into squares or bars.

Toffee Squares

December 12, 2010

The problem with making cookies for the holidays is that everyone has a different favorite. I can’t go through a holiday season without making jam thumbprints for my husband (his favorite) or brownies for my co-worker (her favorite) and so on and so forth. Every year I make 3 or 4 of the old favorites that without, whining would certainly commence. Then, I always try some new ones to be added to the rotation.

And, before my designated “Christmas Baking Day” (yes, I actually take a day off of work to do it), I had to bake a bit early since our holiday parties seemed to span a 2-week time frame. So, when I saw this recipe on epicurious.com, I thought it sounded like the perfect missing puzzle piece to my cookie line-up.

The original recipe comes from a booked called Very Merry Cookie Party by Virginia Van Vynckt and Barbara Grunes. I made the recipe in the second way suggested – with the inclusion of toffee bits.

I am actually a bit embarrassed to show how easy this recipe is, since only about 30 minutes total gives you an entire 9 x 13 of these sweet morsels. They are so good that only within about 4 days from my first batch, I will be making another for yet more holiday occasions.

Thanks to Very Merry Cookie Party for this amazing recipe – and the newest member of my holiday cookie favorites.

TOFFEE SQUARES
Makes about 48 squares (on 9×13 pan)

Crust:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour

Topping:
7 to 8 ounces milk chocolate, broken into pieces, or 1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped almonds, toasted
1/2 cup toffee bits

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment. (or spray a nonstick pan with baking spray)

Prepare the crust. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg yolk, vanilla, and salt. On low speed, gradually beat in the flour just until mixed. The dough will be stiff. Pat the dough evenly over the bottom of the baking pan.

Bake in the center of the oven until pale gold on top, about 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and scatter the chocolate pieces evenly over the crust. Return the pan to the oven for 1 minute. Remove the pan again and, using a knife, spread the chocolate evenly over the crust. Sprinkle evenly with the almonds.

Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Using a sharp knife, cut into small squares, then carefully remove from the pan with a small offset spatula or an icing spatula.

Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with Sugared Walnuts

November 24, 2010

There are certain foods out there that scare me. The thought that I could prepare those ingredients, master that technique or turn out a complicated dish will sometimes prohibit me from even trying. My mantra as of late is “we can always get take out,” so I have been trying to go outside my comfort zone a bit more than usual.

I am actually embarrassed to say I have never made risotto. Me. Italian my marriage. A love of Italian food. A carbaholic. It is remarkable, really, that a rice could scare me so much. Until, that is, I saw Moreno in Perledo, Italy make it (still working on the Lake Como cooking class blog post, I promise!).

He made it look easy. Truly, the main ingredient you need is a bit of patience. He said you want to “mantecare,” which apparently means to “make creamy.” Add broth. Stir. Add broth. Stir. Seemed simple enough, as long as I could hold off waiting to eat it until it reached perfection.

So, in my seasonal cooking spirit, I tried a roasted butternut squash risotto with sugared walnuts from Cooking Light. Now that I have mastered how to butcher a butternut squash (if you need help, go here! It sure helped me! http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_peel_and_cut_a_butternut_squash/), I thought I would try this, and was anxious to taste the soft, rich risotto paired with sweet and crunchy nuts.

Oh. My. Goodness. This recipe alone is a reason to get over my resistance to risotto. Yes, it takes long, well over an hour, but the wait was worth it. It is so rich and creamy, and the nuts cut the richness with a perfect sweet crunch. I almost felt myself transported back to Italy where I truly fell in love with risotto. I could hear Moreno telling us to “mantecare” while we sipped our wine and watched in awe, all the while breathing in the sweet and salty smells of a strawberry balsamic risotto. Nothing could compare to Moreno’s technique and end result, but this risotto came as close as I have ever been since.

So, be brave, carve out some time, eat a snack to tide you over, then stir away. You will be glad you did!

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH RISOTTO WITH SUGARED WALNUTS
Serves 8

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1 ounce pancetta, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/4 cups uncooked Arborio rice
1/2 cup chardonnay
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh lemon thyme or 1 1/2 tablespoons thyme plus 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat oven to 400°.

Arrange nuts in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan. Bake at 400° for 5 minutes or until toasted, stirring twice. Place nuts in a bowl. Drizzle butter over warm nuts; sprinkle with sugar and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Toss well to coat.

Combine squash and 1 tablespoon oil, tossing to coat. Arrange squash in a single layer on jelly-roll pan. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until squash is just tender. Remove from pan; stir in garlic. Set aside.

Bring broth and 1/2 cup water to a simmer in a saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add pancetta to saucepan; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently. Add onion; cook 3 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add rice; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add wine; cook 1 minute or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next. Continue until the risotto is cooked (hint, you may need more chicken broth like I did!). Stir in squash, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Top with cheese and nuts.

Upside-Down Butterscotch Apple Sour Cream Cake

October 31, 2010

This recipe might have been the turning point where my love for my cast iron skillet turned into a slight obsession. My particular skillet came from a woman named Lois who lives near Hocking Hills, Ohio – she wears a bonnet and swears by Wagner cast iron (and she claims to be able to spot impostors). She sold me on the antique item, and ever since I bought my Wagner (no impostors here!), I am finding more ways of using it. The obvious would be steaks, and other meats that will get a fantastic sear from the hot metal. But cornbread was a new discovery, and now I realize I can make cakes in my antique cooking device.

This upside-down cake is a perfect fall dessert. The sour cream makes the cake incredibly moist and the apples with butterscotch give it an irresistible sweetness.

Only tip I have for those recreating this (and I give this tip because it has happened to me), make sure not to burn the center of the skillet with the apples prior to adding the batter (which means you might have to turn down the heat a bit more than the recipe says). Reason is, the apples can start to burn and will caramelize them in a way that they will stick to the skillet and not “flop out” with the rest of the cake.

Thanks to Bon Appetit for this fall favorite!

UPSIDE-DOWN BUTTERSCOTCH APPLE SOUR CREAM CAKE
Makes 8 Servings

Cake:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup baker’s sugar (superfine sugar) or regular sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 Golden Delicious apple (or other baking apple), peeled, cored, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)

Butterscotch-caramel apples:
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/3 cup butterscotch morsels
2 8-ounce Golden Delicious apples, peeled, halved, cored, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (or other baking apple)

For cake:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Gradually add sugar and beat until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until blended. Beat in flour mixture, then sour cream. Stir in chopped apple. Set aside while preparing butterscotch-caramel apples.

For butterscotch-caramel apples:
Melt butter in 10-inch-diameter nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add brown sugar and butterscotch morsels; stir until melted and smooth and mixture is bubbling, about 2 minutes. Add apple slices to skillet and cook until golden brown, using tongs to turn slices, about 3 minutes per side (there will be a lot of liquid in skillet). Remove skillet from heat and let cool 3 minutes. Using tongs, arrange apple slices in skillet in concentric circles or other pattern.

Carefully spoon cake batter in small dollops atop apples in skillet. Using offset spatula, gently spread batter evenly to edges of skillet (batter will seem to float on top of apples and pan juices). Bake until cake is golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in skillet 10 minutes. Run knife around edges of cake to loosen. Place large platter atop skillet. Using oven mitts or pot holders, hold platter and skillet firmly together and invert, allowing cake to settle onto platter. Serve cake warm (with whipped cream of ice cream if desired).

Overnight Baked French Toast

September 2, 2010

I will admit, I don’t make breakfast much. It isn’t that I don’t like it, or don’t have time – it just always seems on the weekends after sleeping in, we would rather just relax with a bagel and coffee in our sunroom or go to our favorite local coffee shop or diner.

But, last weekend my husband biked 150 miles for MS over two days, and after day 2, I wanted to feed him a huge feast for brunch. I have always wanted to try an overnight french toast, especially because if it was good, it would be the perfect recipe for company (since it doesn’t include spending time in the kitchen making to order).

This particular recipe came from the cookbook Blend It! from Good Housekeeping. It is a great book of dips, smoothies, baked goods and drinks all using your handy blender.

Not only did this taste fantastic (almost like dessert!) but it looked beautiful, especially with fresh fruit on top. Word of advice, don’t panic when you look at the bread in the oven and it looks like it is going to pop out of your glass dish and take over your kitchen – when you take it out and it starts to cool, the whole things puffs back down.

Thanks again to Good Housekeeping for this great brunch recipe!

OVERNIGHT BAKED FRENCH TOAST
Serves 8

12 slices firm white bread
6 large eggs
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon maple syrup

Arrange bread slices in four stacks in 8-inch square baking dish. In blender, combine eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and blend until mixture is smooth. Slowly pour egg mixture over bread slices; press bread down to absorb egg mixture over any uncoated bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In small bowl, stir brown sugar, butter and maple syrup until combined. Spread evenly over each stack of bread. Bake until knife inserted 1 inch from center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let stand 15 minutes before serving. Serve with fresh fruit and additional syrup (if desired). Sift with powdered sugar.

Mexican Feast: Grilled Ancho-Rubbed Pork with Smoky Tomato Salsa, Grilled Corn with Cheese and Lime, and Tangy Cabbage Slaw

July 21, 2010

Sometimes I find myself cooking and grilling in one-offs – I find a great steak recipe then think of a good potato recipe to go with it. I see a kabob recipe that looks good then think of some orzo or rice to go with it. Rarely, I have a cookbook or magazine article that gives me a full menu. And, what I have found is the more I try to cook from full menus, the easier it is to create my own.

This one came from Real Simple on an article about BBQing Beyond the Burger. I like it because it is an unexpected grilling menu, but is a great “theme” dinner and makes a good excuse to have a margarita! It seems like a lot of components, but take the effort to make them all if you can. They all meld together on your plate and complement each other perfectly.

If you haven’t used ancho chile powder, use this as your excuse to buy some. I like to think of it as a milder chili powder that has a bit of smokiness. It is traditional in Mexican cooking, and once you try it you will see why.

I recommend trying this menu on a Sunday night like we did – grill it all outside and enjoy a nice, cold margarita!

GRILLED ANCHO-RUBBED PORK WITH SMOKY TOMATO SALSA
Serves 8

2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground ancho chili pepper or regular chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
4 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
3 pork tenderloins (about 3 1⁄2 pounds total)
2 pints grape tomatoes
6 cloves garlic, sliced
2 to 4 jalapeño peppers, seeded and sliced
16 8-inch flour tortillas

Heat grill to medium-high. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, chili pepper, cumin, 2 tablespoons of the oil, and 1½ teaspoons salt. Rub the mixture all over the pork.

Divide the tomatoes, garlic, and jalapeño peppers between 2 large pieces of heavy-duty foil. Dividing evenly, drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and season with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Fold and seal to form 2 pouches.

Divide the tortillas between 2 pieces of heavy-duty foil and wrap.

Grill the pork, turning occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer registers 145º F, 18 to 22 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile, grill the tomato pouches, shaking occasionally, for 10 minutes; transfer the contents to a bowl. Grill the foil-wrapped tortillas until heated through, turning once, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve the pork with the tomato salsa and tortillas.

GRILLED CORN WITH CHEESE AND LIME
Serves 8

8 ears corn, shucked
1 tablespoon olive oil
kosher salt
1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco (fresh Mexican cheese) or Feta
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 limes, cut into wedges

Heat grill to medium-high. Brush the corn with the oil and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Grill, turning often, until tender and charred, 5 to 7 minutes.

Sprinkle the corn with the cheese and cayenne. Serve with the lime wedges.

TANGY CABBAGE SLAW
Serves 8

1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 medium red cabbage (about 1 1⁄2 pounds), cored and shredded – one one bag of pre-shredded cabbage
2 large carrots (about 1⁄2 pound), grated
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a large bowl, whisk together the orange and lime juices, oil, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper.

Add the cabbage and carrots and toss to combine. Let sit, tossing occasionally, for at least 45 minutes. Fold in the cilantro before serving.

Sweet Potato Casserole

April 5, 2010

Although I normally make this dish for Thanksgiving, I made it for Easter this year to take to a friend’s house for a big family Easter Dinner (thanks Tim and Julie!). It travels well, is easy to make, and is always a crowd favorite. And – it transforms people’s views of sweet potato casserole if they are used to the super sweet versions with marshmallow topping.

I first tried this one a while ago to bring up to Michigan for Thanksgiving, and have been making it ever since. The recipe originally came from Food Network, but was adapted from reviews from others and my own additions. The result is a tried and true favorite that is made frequently in our house.

And, a testament to how easy it was – I made the dish during a 5-day stint of watching my adorable nephews (18 month old and 6 year old). I actually cooked and mashed the potatoes the night before during a break in the action, then put the rest together during the little one’s nap the next day. The whole dish takes time (an hour or so to cook the potatoes then another hour to put it together and bake) but not much hands-on time, which I love.

And, to those at Easter Dinner who asked for the recipe – here it is! Sorry for the sad looking picture, but it conveys how people were digging into it before I had gotten my camera out! My 18-month old nephew/godson even ate a few monster helpings (although a photo of him with orange mush all over his face and hands wouldn’t have been as appealing).

Bon Appetit!

SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE
Serves 6 (easily doubled for a crowd using a 9×12)
Casserole:
2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 3 large), scrubbed
2 large eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted plus more for the preparing the pan
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper

Pecan Topping:
1 stick melted butter
1/3 cup flour
1 cup pecans
1 cup brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and pierce each one 2 or 3 times with a fork. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until tender. Set aside to cool. (you can also peel and boil if you prefer)

Turn the oven down to 350 degrees F. Scoop the sweet potato out of their skins and into a medium bowl. Discard the skins. Mash the potatoes until smooth. Add the eggs, butter, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and pepper to taste. Whisk the mixture until smooth.

Butter an 8 by 8-inch casserole. Pour the sweet potato mixture into the pan and sprinkle the top with the pecan topping mixture. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until a bit puffy. Serve immediately.

Easter Dinner – Ham with Gingersnap Glaze, Yukon Gold and Fennel Puree with Rosemary Butter and Roasted Asparagus

April 17, 2009

table-with-foodOne of my favorite things is cooking for others. Although I do love cooking for myself and my husband every night, there is nothing like friends and family around the table enjoying a great meal.

I was lucky enough to have my parents come down from Michigan for Easter. Although they had to make the long drive back on Sunday, I couldn’t send them off without a large Easter brunch.

I have to preface this post by saying never will I ever have amazing photos like I do today. My father, lawyer by day and photographer by night (www.robertstonephotography.com) took photos of the food. And, it made me realize that I really need to take some food photography classes!

This meal is so much simpler than it might look. I have prepared this ham two years in a row (based off of Alton Brown’s City Ham with Gingersnaps), but I omit the bourbon. I have no clue if the ham would be better with it, but it sure is great without it. It is easy to cook and requires so little prep time. TIP: If you don’t have an instant thermometer that you can put in the oven with the meat hooked to a temperature timer you set on your counter, get one! It is essential. For just $20 or so, you can say goodbye to the days of opening the oven, poking the meat, closing the oven, repeat!full-ham-cutting10

The potatoes are a bit more work, but it can all be done the day before. I love the rosemary and fennel combination – very earthy and rustic. This time I made my potatoes, I actually used the small Yukon Golds and didn’t even peel them. This recipe, from Bon Appetit, is a great go to for Thanksgiving as well.

The asparagus is so simple, it really needs no recipe. I always take asparagus and coat it with olive oil, salt and pepper (and sometimes herbs and cheese) and roast it. There is something about the roasting of the asparagus that gives it a unique flavor.

As for prep the day before, I made the potatoes. The day of , I put the ham in the oven, then did a quick coating (took about 5 minutes) halfway through, then about 15 minutes before we ate (while the ham was resting) I put in the asparagus. It is a great meal with company because there really is so little time in the kitchen needed.

close-up-hamHAM WITH GINGERSNAPS
1/2 city-style ham
1/8 cup brown mustard
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup crushed gingersnap cookies.

Cook ham according to directions (tented with foil). When ham reaches 350, brush a liberal coat of mustard using a basting brush. Then, sprinkle on brown sugar, packing loosely as you go, until the ham is coated. Then, loosely pack on as much of the crushed cookies as you can. Return to the oven and cook until interior temperature reaches 140. Let the ham rest, then carve and serve.

full-ham2

YUKON GOLD AND FENNEL PUREE WITH ROSEMARY BUTTER

plate-with-food1
8 to 10 servings
2 large fresh fennel bulbs (about 2.5 pounds, trimmed, quartered through core, center core trimmed and discarded, cut into 3/4-inch pieces)
1 medium onion, cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 1 3/4 cups)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons sea salt, divided (or kosher salt)
3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled (optional), cut into 1.5-inch pieces
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1.5 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup creme fraiche

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line large rimed baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine fennel, onion, oil and 1 teaspoon salt in large bow; toss. Spread in single layer on prepared baking sheet; sprinkle with pepper. Roast until fennel and onion are very tender, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool slightly. Transfer fennel mixture to processor and puree until almost smooth.

Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until very tender, about 25 minutes. Drain well. Cool slightly. Place in large bowl and mash with potato masher until smooth. Mix in fennel puree.

Melt butter with rosemary and 1 teaspoon salt in small saucepan over medium heat (or in micr0wave). Stir butter mixture into fennel, potato puree. Mix in creme fraiche. Season to taste with more pepper and salt.

ROASTED ASPARAGUSasparagus-on-plate1
1 bunch asparagus
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degree. Snap ends off of asparagus and place on baking sheet lined with tin foil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix with your hands to coat every piece. Place into oven for about 13 or so minutes, or until tender.

asparagus1pepper-on-asparagus1


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