Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Kinda Magic Custard Cake

Oh Pinterest.  Why must you show me so many tempting foods and recipes?!  I stumbled across this recipe for magic custard cake and became super obsessed.  Simple ingredients mixed together that when baked form three separate layers - a fluffy top, a creamy custard in the middle, and a flaky crust.  Magic!  I knew I had to try this out!  I did not have a square pan so I used a regular 9-inch cake pan.  It worked out pretty well, but I had problems with my egg whites and so it's not as fluffy on top as it could be.  But despite the flatness of my cake, it was super yummy!  At first I wasn't that impressed and thought it tasted a bit eggy and not that sweet, but this stuff is seriously addicting!  It got better and better until soon I found myself stuffing my face with slices of this case, powdered sugar everywhere.

Servings: I used a 9-inch round cake pan and it all fit in there perfectly.


1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 cups milk
4 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar (plus extra sugar for dusting the cake at the end) or 3/4 cup granualted sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Preheat oven to 325°F.  Lightly butter the cake pan (I used a 9-inch round pan but most versions of this recipe call for a 8x8 baking dish).
  • Melt 1/2 cup butter and set aside to cool.
  • Gently warm 2 cups milk and set aside to cool.
  • Whip 4 egg whites to stiff peaks.  Stiff peaks means that when you turn the whisk over the peaks should stay up.  Using a copper bowl or adding a couple drops of vinegar midway through the whisking helps.
  • Beat 4 egg yolks and 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar (or 3/4 granulated sugar) until combined. 
  • Mix in 1/2 cup melted butter and 1 tbsp water for about 2 minutes or until evenly incorporated.
  • Mix in 1 cup flour.
  • Slowly beat in 2 cups milk and 1 tsp vanilla extract until everything is well mixed.
  • Fold in the 4 egg whites slowly.  
  • Pour batter into pan and bake for 45-60 minutes, until the top is golden.
  • Allow cake to completely cool before cutting into it.  Cutting into it too soon will yield a liquidy center.  You can place the cake into the fridge to cool it faster.
  • Finish with a dusting of powdered sugar on top.
Mmm mmm good!

My cake was not as fluffy as it should've been but it was still delicious!
Recipe from White on Rice Couple.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Lemony Orzo Veggie Salad with Chicken, Dill, and Goat Cheese

Something about the warmer sunnier weather made me want to use my stove and oven as little as possible this week.  This orzo salad is wonderfully light, zesty, and flavorful.  A perfect dish for the spring!  I really love orzo but I find it's not that satisfying in an entree.  Luckily here the pile of veggies and chicken help bulk up this dish.  Jeez it seems like just yesterday I was eating only soup and bacon.  But with flavors and textures like this I don't even miss them...too much.

Servings: Original recipe says 4 but come on!  It's 4 if you're using this as a side dish maybe.  This was an easy 2 meals for me.

3/4 cup uncooked orzo
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 lemons, juiced/squeezed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup shredded chicken
1/2 cup cucumbers, chopped
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup green onions, chopped
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/2 cup red onions, chopped (optional)


  • Cook 3/4 cup orzo according to package directions but omit the salt and fat.  When done, rinse with cold water and drain.  Either return to cooled pot or in a large bowl.
  • In a small bowl combine 1/4 tsp grated lemon rind, juice from 2 lemons, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp garlic, 1/2 tsp honey, and 1/8 tsp black pepper.  
  • Drizzle lemon mixture over the orzo and toss until well coated. 
  • Add 1 cup chicken, 1/2 cup chopped cucumbers, 1/2 cup chopped red bell peppers, 1/3 cup chopped green onions, 1 cup halved grape tomatoes, 1 tbsp fresh dill, and 1/2 cup chopped red onions (optional - I had leftover chopped red onion from a previous recipe and I love onions so I added it in but of course keep in mind that adding raw onions in addition to the green onions, garlic and goat cheese will make your breath afterwards very, um, interesting).  Toss until well mixed.  
  • Add 1/2 cup goat cheese (I enjoy the cheese of a goat (as does Rosy I discovered tonight when I dropped a crumb) but for those who don't like it I think feta would make a great substitute) and gently stir in.  
  • This is already flavorful but I like to top each bowl with a little bit of extra black pepper.  
Prepare to be guilt tripped by pathetic pugs, especially if one managed to sneak a taste of the goat cheese and loved it so much she proceeded to lick the spot where the cheese was for a solid minute.
The girls are lucky that I'm so good to them!  I put away a couple tiny bites of chicken for them before adding it to the orzo.  Look at their faces!  They're not even excited, they're just focused.  Eye on the prize!
Nom nom nom!
Adapted from My Recipes.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tuna Nicoise Sandwich

With the weather warming up a bit I've been stuck in a food rut now that soup/stew season is over.  I don't want anything too heavy and yet it's too early for light and fresh summer meals.  In the meantime I've become obsessed with sandwiches.  I love a good sandwich, one that is savory, salty and tasty!  This tuna nicoise sandwich hits a lot of flavor notes and is so delicious. These are best enjoyed by making them the night before, squashing it under a heavy pot/pan, and then refrigerating overnight so all the flavors can meld together.  So if you don't want to turn on the oven/stove but want a satisfying meal, then definitely try this sandwich!

Servings: 4

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (I only had rice wine vinegar and used that instead)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 5-ounce cans of tuna, drained (I used tuna packed in water)
4 Persian cucumbers, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
4 ciabatta rolls (or 1 8-inch round country-style bread)
4 tablespoons olive tapenade (Trader Joe's makes a great one)
1 cup baby spinach leaves
4 large eggs, hard-boiled, cooled and then sliced
Salt and pepper to taste


  • In a medium bowl, combine 2 tbsps olive oil, 2 tbsps white wine vinegar, and 1 tbsp Dijon mustard (original recipe calls for 3 tbsps olive oil but I cut this to 2 to save on fat and calories).  Season with salt and pepper.
  • Transfer 2 tbsps of this mixture to another bowl and toss with 2 5-ounce drained cans of tuna (original recipe calls for oil-packed but I used water-packed).
  • Add 4 chopped Persian cucumbers and 1/2 red onion, chopped, to the remainder of the oil-vinegar mixture.  Toss until well mixed and coated.
  • Cut bread(s) in half and remove most of the soft interior.  
  • Spread 4 tbsps olive tapenade on the bottom half of the bread(s) and layer 1 cup baby spinach leaves on top, and then the 4 sliced hard-boiled eggs on top of the spinach.  Sprinkle salt and pepper.
  • Layer the tuna on top of the eggs and then top with the cucumber-onion mixture.  
  • Close sandwich and wrap tightly in plastic.  Smush it all together with a heavy pot or pan (I used my Dutch oven).  
  • Let sandwich stand for a bit or better yet refrigerate it overnight to let the flavors all meld together.  Next day slice open these bad boys and enjoy!

If you have dogs, especially if they eat a fish-based diet, then prepare to be completely harassed the entire time you make and eat this sandwich.
Stay away you can't eat this Rosy!  There are onions in this!
Poor lurking pugs.  Sorry this delicious sandwich is all for me!

Adapted from Martha Stewart.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

No Knead Bread - So Easy, So Tasty!

I have always thought of baking bread as something too complicated and long for my amateur efforts.  Yeast, kneading, what?  Too intimidating!  But thanks to the magic of Pinterest, I stumbled across the famous no-knead bread recipe that has been much written about.  Seriously, this bread is so easy and yet it's also incredibly tasty!  It yields a flavorful bread with a thick crispy crust and a soft bready interior.  While the original recipe only calls for four ingredients (just four - so easy!), it also opens itself up for lots of delicious modifications.  Trust me, if I can do this, you can do this!  

Servings: Not sure what to say here.  It's about 10 inches in diameter, but that's really based on the size of my Dutch oven.  And when I make this, it doesn't last long so this is the first time that I simply don't know what to say for serving size.  It's a loaf and it's good.  

3 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon instant/rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 cups water

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 cups flour, 1 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp of yeast.  
  • Add 1 1/2 cups water and mix until just combined.  This will be a sticky and "shaggy" mess but don't worry that's how it's supposed to look.  
  • Cover bowl with plastic wrap or towel and let rise for 12-18 hours.  (I usually mix this the night before I plan to bake the bread.  This requires some planning in advance!)
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Make sure that your Dutch oven can withstand such high heat.  Some enamel ones don't have knobs that can handle such high heat.  I use a Lodge Dutch oven.  The earlier models had plastic knobs but the more recent ones have metal knobs.
  • After oven has heated, place Dutch oven with lid in oven and heat for 30 minutes.  The Lodge Dutch oven says to never heat while empty but I've done so without any problems.  I know some people will heat it with water inside and then when ready will dump the water and then place the dough.  
  • While your Dutch oven is heating, place the dough onto a heavily floured surface and tuck the ends to shape the dough into a cute, tight ball.  
  • Cover dough ball with the plastic wrap or towel from before and let rise again.  The dough should rise to almost double it's size.
  • When Dutch oven and dough are ready, drop the dough into the Dutch oven.  This can be a bit tricky because the dough is so sticky and messy.  Either heavily flour your hands or wet them completely with water.  I like flouring because the flour transfers onto the dough and yields that pretty floury finished look.  Some of my messiest drops have ended up with the prettiest loafs! I've also used parchment paper when forming the dough into a ball and then using the parchment paper to transfer the loaf.  This makes it much easier, but my loaves look prettier when I just drop them into the Dutch oven.
(See the loaf is all neat and cute when using the parchment paper technique but it's a bit too perfect and smooth for my taste)
  • Cover and place back in the oven for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes remove lid and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Remove bread from Dutch oven and place on cooling rack to cool.  Don't cut into the bread until it's fully cooled!  Cutting into it too soon will result in a gummy interior.  Just try to distract yourself from the heavenly smells.  The bread is cooled once it stops making that enticing crackly sound.  
  • Enjoy!

Here are a few photos of the first loaf I made using the parchment paper technique:
This is a bit too neat and perfect for me.  Much as I prefer in all aspects of my life, I like a bit of messy and unique.  

One of the great things about this recipe is that you can customize it however you want.  I've added cheese to this recipe (I like to add after the first rise so the cheese isn't sitting out overnight, but it's harder to add in. And some people add the cheese in the initial mixture and haven't had any problems with that), done a cranberry and almond version, and a cheese and rosemary version.  The most popular ones among my family are the regular version and the cheese and rosemary version.

(Plain on the left and cheesy one on the right)
Last snowstorm we had here (Snowquester) I had the day off from work and so I made a loaf of bread.  I dumped the dough into the Dutch oven real sloppily and yet surprisingly this one was my favorite one!  Love the heavily floured surface with the cracks and ridges.

Nothing better on a cold and dreary day than freshly baked bread.  My apartment smelled amazing!
Even Rosy was entranced!
What to do with all this bread?  Well other than slowly gnawing on the entire loaf you can also slice it up to use for sandwiches!
That same snowy day I made a delicious breakfast sandwich using the bread, a couple fried eggs (with runny yolk of course), turkey bacon, baby spinach and a nice dose of salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce.
Sunny was passed out in a deep sleep, but Rosy was begging for some crumbs.  I may or may not have given her some bacon crumbs.
This bread is so easy and so awesome.  It just involves some advance planning to allow adequate rising time.  Afterwards I like to keep the bread by either wrapping it in a dish towel, keeping it in the Dutch oven, or just placing it cut side down on the cutting board.  If you wrap it up in plastic it'll keep but the crust will lose that wonderful crunchiness.  To keep the crust crisp, I recommend keeping it out on the cutting board, in the Dutch oven, or wrapped in a dish towel.  If you wrap it in the dish towel the cut end will get a bit crispy and stale though.

Please try this and experiment with delicious flavors and tell me all about it!  This bread is so easy and yet so yummy!

Recipe from Simply So Good (and originally from Sullivan Street Bakery).