; Supermarket Serenade: February 2009

Friday, February 27, 2009

I Just Want to Quiche You...

Favorite Food Find Friday is here and to be perfectly honest the find for today falls under the "not so exciting" heading; not because it's not delicious (it is) and not because it's not convenient (it is) but just because unless you've been living under a rock your whole life you've probably used it a hundred times or more. Of course if you are a pastry purist and think refrigerator crusts are...well...baking blasphemy then take this as gentle encouragement to come with me over to the dark side. As you may have guessed already today's favorite food find is:
Pillsbury Refrigerator Pie Crust!

While I will admit I often do make pie crust from scratch, there is just no getting around the fact that in a pinch the doughboy is my main man. I will further admit that I am knee high right now in Pillsbury products as I am trying ever so hard to create "the" million dollar Pillsbury Bake off Recipe. Wish me luck because so far I've come up with nothing that screams "million dollar recipe". (In Who Wants To Be A Millionaire terms I'm about at the $16,000 level...maybe.)

The recipe I'm sharing with you today is my go-to quiche; it's delicately fluffy, and painlessly simple. My family prefers quiche without unnecessary accoutrements...no spinach, no ham, definitely no onions...just cheese. But feel free to throw in whatever you would like at the same time as the cheese and please accept my apologies for being so boring.

Two Cheese Sour Cream Quiche

1 refrigerator pie crust (or your favorite homemade single pie crust)
6 eggs
1 cup 1% or skim milk
1 cup sour cream
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup diced Swiss cheese
1/2 shredded Cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Unroll pie crust and arrange in a 10-inch ceramic quiche dish or glass pie plate. Crimp the edges of the crust as desired. Place a sheet of foil over the crust then top with pie weights or uncooked rice. Arrange dish in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove foil and weights and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until bottom is lightly browned. Remove crust from the oven and set aside.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, sour cream, cayenne pepper and kosher salt until well combined. Scatter the cheeses evenly over the crust. Slowly pour the egg mixture over the cheeses. Carefully transfer dish to the oven (for easy carrying you may want to put the quiche pan on a baking pan). Bake the quiche for 25-30 minutes or until slightly puffed and golden brown.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Doesn't that look incredibly fluffy? The texture is so delicate!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Heavenly Treat

I have always had a sweet tooth. In fact, I am hard pressed to think of a sweet I don't like. And guess what? This week's Barefoot Blogger recipe is no exception. I loved it!!! I can't wait to make it again.

First and foremost I would like to extend a thank you to BMK of Reservations Not Required for selecting this week's recipe: Meringues Chantilly from Ina Garten's Barefoot in Paris (page 176). Twice a month food bloggers across the blog-o-sphere prepare a tasty delight created by the Barefoot Contessa herself Ina Garten...why don't you join us?

February was my month to host my book group (lovingly called The Women Not In Need of Botox Book Group). We are a group of 10 ladies who have been reading, discussing (and eating) together for 11 years now. This month's selection was 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper-a book based on the true story of a man who after a horrible car accident spends 90 minutes in heaven before coming back to life. Now tell me that this was not the perfect dessert to pair with that book?? Heavenly cloud metaphors aside...eating this treat was truly 5 minutes in heaven.
I only made a few small changes to my version of Ina's recipe: I changed some of the fruit...replacing the raspberries with a combination of blackberries and strawberries which were on sale at Whole Foods...the raspberries were just astronomical so I thought a substitution was necessary. I suppose I could have used frozen berries, but I really wanted to use fresh. I also substituted Chambord for the Framboise because I had that in the house.

The group gave ten thumbs up for the dessert...and the book? Well, it was definitely met with mixed reviews. From a personal standpoint I wanted to love it. I lost my (very young) mother last year after a brief battle with cancer and I wanted to feel some sort of comfort from the book. While in some ways I did feel that comfort, I suppose that greedily I wanted more heaven in the book...I wanted to hear more about heaven and to be reassured that she is safely surrounded by those who love her. While briefly that reassurance is there in the book...I just wish there had been more. I am left to simply return to my faith and belief that she is in a blessed peaceful place. Come to think of it, perhaps that's just what Don Piper intended.
Meringues Chantilly
6 extra - large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Whipped Cream with Orange Liqueur, recipe follows
Stewed berries, recipe follows
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a small glass and a pencil, draw 6 (3 1/2-inch) circles on each piece of paper. Turn the paper face-down on the baking sheets.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and a large pinch of salt on medium speed until frothy. Add 1 cup of the sugar and raise the speed to high until the egg whites form very stiff peaks. Whisk in the vanilla. Carefully fold the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar into the meringue. With a large star - shaped pastry tip, pipe a disc of meringue inside each circle. Pipe another layer around the edge to form the sides of the shells.

Bake for 2 hours, or until the meringues are dry and crisp but not browned. Turn off the heat and allow the meringues to sit in the oven for 4 hours or overnight.

Spread some of the sauce from the stewed berries on each plate. Place a meringue on top and fill with whipped cream. Top with berries and serve.

Whipped Cream with Orange Liqueur:
2 cups (1 pint) cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange liqueur

Whip the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar, vanilla and orange liqueur and continue to whip until the cream forms stiff peaks. Don't overbeat, or you'll end up with butter!
Yield: 4 cups

Stewed berries:
1 half-pint fresh blueberries
3 half-pints fresh raspberries, divided
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon orange zest
2 teaspoons framboise (raspberry brandy)

Combine the blueberries, one-half pint of raspberries, 1/3 cup water, the sugar and zest in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook uncovered over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes. The juice will become a syrup and the berries will be slightly cooked. Off the heat, stir in the remaining raspberries and the framboise. Set aside.
Yield: 8 servings

Friday, February 13, 2009

My Cherry Amore

Favorite Food Find Friday on the day before Valentine's Day of course must include a sweet treat and I promise you that this find will not disappoint.

Today's favorite food find is....

Hershey's Cherry Cordial Kisses!

I would like to plant a wet one on the food scientist at Hershey's who came up with the idea of soft-centered, filled kisses...they are confectionery genius in a foil wrapper. By far my favorite of these creamy filled delights is the Cherry Cordial variety; they are rich milk chocolate with a pink, creamy cherry flavored center.

I love putting these kisses in the freezer...it slows down my eating pace and provides a mini, cool ice cream-like treat. Frozen or right out of the bag, the caramel variety comes in a close second to the cherry flavored and today I saw a cheesecake variety but I exhibited a rare moment of self control and did not purchase them (can you hear the regret?).

While these treats are wonderful on their own, I've used them today to create rich, cherry flavored fudge truffles sure to please all your little sweethearts and your special someone.

Cherry Cordial Fudge Truffles

1 can sweetened condensed milk
4 tablespoons butter
1 (10 ounce) package Hershey's Cherry Cordial Kisses (wrappers removed!)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

(Try to resist stealing kisses as you unwrap them...just remember you can lick the pan!)

Line a 9 inch square baking dish with aluminum foil.

Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a large pan, add the butter and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the butter is melted.
Stir in the Kisses and the chocolate chips, cooking and stirring just until melted.
Pour the chocolate mixture into the square pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Pour the cocoa powder into a shallow dish. Using a spoon, scoop the fudge into rounded teaspoons and drop into the cocoa powder.
Roll the fudge into cocoa covered balls using your hands. Place into mini baking cups.
Yield: about 48 truffles

I was lucky enough to stumble upon these Reynolds heart shaped foil pans at the dollar store (I'm pretty sure they're discontinued). Three truffles fit perfectly into the hearts and I was able to package them up for the ladies at the shelter I cook for...don't they look cute?!!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Real Meatballs and Spaghetti

Valentine's Day is just around the corner so I'm sure many of you are trying to think of the perfect romantic meal to prepare for your special someone. Look no further. Spaghetti and meatballs is the perfect dish for lovers everywhere.

Spaghetti and meatballs immediately brings to mind for me the most romantic scene from an animated feature film...you know, "The Spaghetti Scene" from Lady and the Tramp. Lady and Tramp sharing that single strand of spaghetti eating, slurping gently, just until their lips meet...ah Bella Notte.

It's Barefoot Thursday-that day twice a month when bloggers everywhere prepare a recipe created by the Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten. Today's romantic selection was the choice of Rebecca from Ezra Poundcake.

While I love spaghetti (probably too much), I have never been a fan of meatballs-I don't like my beef mixed with eggs and bread...I suppose it's a texture thing. That being said, I still made the meatballs because my family have long been meatball lovers and sadly (because I don't like meatballs) they rarely have the homemade ones so this was a true treat. The meatballs were a hit-flavorful and moist. I made them smaller so I had about 30 meatballs-not to worry I froze some of them so my family will not have to wait so long for homemade meatballs again. The sauce however was a different story. While flavorful, the sauce came out too chunky and watery...probably because I mistakenly bought whole canned tomatoes instead of crushed.

Overall you can't really go wrong with spaghetti and meatballs...I ended up stirring in a little bit of jarred sauce to thicken up the sauce and that helped. This recipe like most of Ina Garten's recipes was solid and genuine...a keeper.

Real Meatballs and Spaghetti
Recipe by Ina Garten from The Barefoot Contessa Family Style

1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
1 cup fresh white bread crumbs (4 slices, crusts removed)
1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 extra large egg, beaten
Vegetable oil
Olive oil
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
1 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup good red wine, such as Chianti
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes, or plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For serving:
1 1/2 pounds spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
Freshly grated Parmesan
Place the ground meats, both bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg and 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl. Combine very lightly with a fork. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. You will have 14 to 16 meatballs.

Pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large skillet to a depth of 1/4 inch. Heat the oil. Very carefully, in batches, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully with a spatula or a fork. This should take about 10 minutes for each batch. Don't crowd the meatballs. Remove the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels. Discard the oil but don't clean the pan.
For the sauce, heat the olive oil in the same pan. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the wine and cook on high heat scraping up all the brown bite in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Return he meatballs to the sauce, cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.
Serve hot on cooked spaghetti and pass the grated Parmesan.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Twinkie-like Cupcake Sweetheart Treats

I am pretty sure I've mentioned this before...but...I have an embarrassing weakness for Twinkies. I'm not proud of this-I am well aware of the nutritional shortcomings of my secret love (I know, I know "shortcomings" is probably an understatement-I probably should say that I am well aware of the fact that my secret love contains absolutely no nutritional value). But deficits and all I love them.
When I saw this bargain in the supermarket: Duncan Hines Cupcake Mixes 2 for $1.00 I couldn't resist tossing a few boxes into my cart.

After baking, I immediately thought of filling them with Twinkie-like filling to create a little Valentine's Day treat. I love these cupcake mixes; they are the perfect size for a family dessert. Making cupcakes with an ordinary cake mix yields way too many cupcakes for a weeknight family dessert but using the cupcake mix will leave you with 12 full size cupcakes or 24 minis-plenty for dessert and plenty for some lunchbox leftovers. I went with the minis.

I found a recipe at Cooks.com for Twinkie-like filling and adapted it for this recipe...it was a delicious, beater licking treat. For frosting I improvised a frosting with butter and sour cream.

Twinkie-like Cupcake Sweetheart Treats

Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Cupcake Mix prepared according to package directions
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup Crisco
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup butter
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon milk
pink food coloring (I used Wilton Rose Petal)
Cinnamon flavored sprinkles
Prepare the cupcakes according to package directions baking them at 350 degrees in a mini muffin tin lined with paper liners for 10-12 minutes. Cool completely.
For the filling, in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer combine the butter, Crisco, sugar, vanilla and evaporated milk; beat on high for 20 minutes. (It will initially look like a nasty scrambled egg in a mixing bowl, but don't worry it will come together!)

Transfer the filling to a pastry bag fitted with a small tip; pipe the filling into the centers of each of the cupcakes. (I left the cupcakes in the muffin tin to make it easier to keep them still while filling.)

At this point you can either leave the cupcakes as is or you can frost them. Beat together the butter, sugar, sour cream, milk and food coloring; mix together until smooth and well combined. Spread or pipe frosting onto cupcakes then top with the cinnamon sprinkles.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Good Things Come In Small Packages

I know you've heard the proverb: "Good things come in small packages."

Favorite Food Find Friday brings you two such packages:

1. Purdue Chicken's Perfect Portions boneless chicken breasts

2. Emeril's 1 cup sized chicken stock

I have to be honest with you, I hate handling raw chicken. I don't like how it feels in my hand. When I do handle raw chicken, I always have visions of my entire kitchen being shown under that special black light like they use on Dateline NBC or 20/20 when they do those "Germs are all around you" shows-where they show how your entire kitchen has been contaminated with germs from raw chicken. In fact that was probably part of their marketing plan...I can just see them now sitting around the conference table laughing:

"...yeah this would be great for those germaphobic housewives who get freaked out by germ exposure news magazine shows...".
Thanks, I appreciate it.

So why do I love Purdue's Perfect Portions? They are neatly packaged and nicely trimmed. They are just right when I only need 1 or 2 chicken breasts for a recipe-I don't have to cook more than I need and/or I don't have to wrap and package any slippery raw chicken I'm not using right away. You can freeze and thaw only what you need. What's not to love?

Now on to my friend Emeril...I love his stock-it has wonderful flavor He's not actually my friend, but I would like to compliment him (or his food company). I think it was complete genius to create 1-cup sized containers for his stock. It's still available in the larger containers, but when you are making a recipe that only uses a small amount of stock these containers (to steal Purdue's tag) are perfect portions.

Using my two favorite food finds for this week I've made a tasty pasta dish I think your whole family will love...mine does. Have a great weekend!

Pasta with Chicken, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Herbs

1 lemon
2 boneless chicken breast halves
1 pound pasta
2/3 cup of the water used to cook the pasta
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup coarsely chopped sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil, drained)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary (1 teaspoon dried)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil (1 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cut the lemon in half and set one half aside. Place the chicken in a small bowl and squeeze the remaining lemon half over the chicken; let sit for 20 minutes.

Cook the pasta al dente according to package directions; drain, reserving 2/3 cup of the pasta water.

Melt the butter in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken to the pan and cook for 4 minutes, turn and cook chicken an additional 4 minutes. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, rosemary, basil, salt and pepper to the pan, cover and cook an additional 3-4 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and cut into strips.

Stir 1/2 cup of the chicken broth into the pan with the sun-dried tomatoes and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the cooked pasta to the pan along with the remaining chicken broth and the pasta water; stir to combine well. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Carve the remaining lemon half into thin slices and stir into the pasta.