Sunday, April 01, 2007

Weekend Extravaganza!

Hmm, that title might be a bit much, but I feel like being a bit over the top. I solved my baking dilemma. Or rather, the weather solved it for me. The torrential rains, lightening, and thunder made their way through Friday evening resulting in a cloudless bright Saturday morning. The sunny skies doubled my yearning to do some baking, but I didn't feel like doing anything big. Between Jane's strawberry post over at This Week For Dinner, and the grocery store circular advertising strawberries on sale, I figured it must be kismet that I try the strawberry shortcake recipe I've had my eye on. After a trip to the store I returned home with my supplies, and quite a bit more, ha. The recipe I'd had my eye on is from I Like You: Hospitality Under The Influence by Amy Sedaris. I loved this book, but I had yet to make any of the recipes. So, I set out to rectify that. I washed and quartered the strawberries, then tossed with a little over a tablespoon of sugar and popped them in the fridge.

Sweet Cream Biscuits
Recipe from I Like Amy Sedaris; I got 8 biscuits

2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream

  • Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and add heavy cream. Using a wooden spoon or spatula pull together unti lit tightens and transfer to a well-floured surface. Form into a large ball and press out with the hell of your hand to 1" thickness. Cut into 2"x2" squares and place on a sheet tray. Moisten the tops with some heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 450 degrees, 10-15 minutes or until golden brown on top.
My notes: Those instructions were a little confusing to me. I wasn't clear if I was suppose to reserve some of the heavy cream for the tops, or if it all went in the mix. After looking up another recipe online I decided that the 1/4 cup was for the tops. I'm pretty sure I was wrong on that. The biscuits turned out great, but I think they would be just a bit sweeter if that 1/4 cup cream had been in them. Also seems like you could add some more sugar, if you like your shortcakes a bit sweeter. The cream and sugar crusted top was awesome though.

While at the store I grabbed a lemon-pepper rotisserie chicken (also on sale) a bag of field greens and some cherry tomatoes. So, for dinner we had the chicken with a three cheese salad, comprised of the greens, quartered tomatoes, carrot coins, mozzarella, parmesan, and feta. And followed with the strawberry shortcake for dessert. To assemble the shortcake I cut the biscuits in half, spread a small amount of whipped cream I had made before dinner on the bottom biscuit, topped with strawberries, biscuit top, and big dollop of the whipped cream again. In the future I think I'll just poor the strawberries and whipped cream on a whole biscuit. Trying to cut through the biscuit top down to the bottom was a little messy with the berries in the middle.

On with the extravaganza! This morning I decided to take a stab at those Orange-Ricotta pancakes I saw on Everday Foods yesterday, thanks to the encouragement of Jenny. Well, I am notorious for having difficulty with pancakes, and these were no exception. It took me forever to perfect just my Labor Day pancake, which is my regular go-to recipe. I had difficulty with Ina Garten's Zucchini Pancakes, and I had difficulty with these damn things. While they tasted great I couldn't get the cooking temperature just right, which affected the cooking time, blah blah blah. I made them, they were edible, but they were no works of art. I baked up some bacon in the oven as an accompaniment. That was delicious, but a bit tepid by the time the darn pancakes were done. Overall, a nice breakfast, especially since it's a meal I rarely make. Could have been better, but not gonna beat myself up over it.

Orange-Ricotta Pancakes
Recipe from Everday Food; Serves 4

15 oz. part-skim ricotta cheese
1/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Appx. 2 teaspoons orange zest
2/3 cup all purpose flour

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together part-skim ricotta cheese, sugar, eggs, and grated orange zest (1 orange). Whisk in 2/3 cup all-purpose flour until just combined.
  • Heat 3 tablespoons canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Working in batches (and adding more oil to skillet as needed), add batter, using a scant ¼ cup for each pancake. Cook until browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer pancakes to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Serve hot, dusted with confectioners’ sugar or drizzled with maple syrup.
My notes: Uhhh, yeah, I kind of already typed it all up there, ha.

And last, I'm gonna backtrack to Thursday night when I made a Crustless Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche. It was so incredibly easy, and delicious. It's funny because this recipe has been on my to-make list since before Christmas, but for some reason I was really intimidated by it. I guess words like quiche can be a bit overwhelming for a novice cook. Now I'm so glad to have a nice, easy recipe that can be thrown together in a pinch.

Crustless Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche
Recipe from Everday Food; Serves 4
Butter, for ramekins or pie dish
Coarse salt
1 10 oz. package frozen broccoli florets
6 large eggs
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 4 8 oz. ramekins or a 9" pie dish; set aside. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add broccoli; cook for 1 minute. Drain well; transfer to a cutting board and blot dry with paper towels. Chop coarsely.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, 1/2 teaspoon salt, ground pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in broccoli and cheese.
  • Place dish(es) on a rimmed baking sheet. Ladle mixture into dish. Bake until golden brown, 35-40 minutes.
My notes: To make this recipe even easier I bought a 10 oz. package of chopped broccoli and used bagged shredded cheese. I cooked the broccoli in the water for 2 minutes and then set it in a strainer over the emptied water pot while I got everything else ready, allowing it to drain and dry very well. I generally use pre-shredded cheese in most recipes that call for it. I also went the pie plate route, because my ramekins weren't the right size. I definitely recomment this recipe. It was fast and delicious for dinner, but would also be a nice brunch recipe.


Jenny said...

So do you recommend the orange ricotta recipe? They look good to me.

I have been eyeballing that Amy Sedaris book for awhile now, I'm going to have to go read it. I really like William-Sonoma's shortcake recipe, it's a little sweeter than a normal biscuit, which is good for me since I grew up on the angel food cake style shortcakes. WS recommends sprinking Demerra sugar on the tops, after you brush them with cream, but I never have it and just use plain brown or white sugar.

It took me like 3 recipes and lots of begging from my husband to finally nail a good recipe tough- kindof lame. Holy long comment. Sorry.

Jessica said...

Yeah, I would definitely recommend the orange ricotta recipe. All the problems had to do with my pancake curse, not the recipe itself. And especially since you've already been successful with a ricotta pancake attempt.

I'm incredibly long-winded, so I would never complain about a long comment! :)

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