Thursday, November 28, 2013

Candied Ginger Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce
I think I've only had fresh cranberry sauce maybe once before. I LOVE cranberries. I went through a big cranberry phase last autumn, so they sort of remind me of this time last year, which was (it turns out) a sort of new chapter in my life. But don't get me started on that! I think the holidays have me overly emotional today. Thinking about everything I have to be thankful for. 
Let's focus on the cranberry sauce. Here's something I learned this year: Cranberry sauce is uh-mazing on turkey. I think that's sort of it's purpose. Or at least it is for me now. Plus it take about 3 minutes to make. It's even easier than gravy.
Candied Ginger Cranberry Sauce
1 bag (12 oz.) fresh cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup triple sec
3-4 pieces candied ginger
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until you achieved your desired texture. You can leave it more rustic and chunky, or you can pulse into a puree. Choose your own destiny. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Holiday Appetizers

Holiday entertaining is both exciting and daunting, since making a strong first-food impression often sets the tone for the rest of the party. I've had my over-the-top moments where I've tried to create complicated appetizers (one resulted in a small fire), but I've found that keeping things simple is often best. Savory foods are such a winter staple and these three dishes require little effort and make a big impact.

Bacon Wrapped Dates with Goat Cheese and Balsamic Syrup
The sweetness of the dates pairs perfectly with the saltiness of the bacon, and the cheese enhances both flavors. The syrup provides a special, extra tang. For a more complex flavor, try using blue cheese.

Beet-Pickled Deviled Eggs 
These are one of my favorite appetizers and the color alone makes these worthy of a holiday spread. While they take a couple of hours to finish, the process is very simple and the results outshine regular deviled eggs. I like mine to be a little spicy, but you can omit the Siracha if you prefer a mellower flavor.

Crostini with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto and Salami

The easiest of the three appetizers, crostini are so customizable that it was hard to choose just one version. The pesto in this recipe uses sun-dried tomatoes and Marcona almonds in place of traditional pine nuts, so you get a slightly different, smokey flavor. While the salami is not really necessary, I like how it pairs with the pesto. You could swap it for burratta, or simply eat it plain.

Happy Holidays!xx, J

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Homemade Marshmallows

How to make marshmallows at home
It's the week before Thanksgiving (btw, yummy recipes to come!) and I honestly am looking forward to just have a week to spend with family! Since I'm going to be in New York until Thanksgiving Eve, I made some homemade marshmallows that I could store away until Thanksgiving. This easy to replicate recipe takes little effort and taste delicious toasted over dark chocolate or peanut butter cups. Trust me, it's literally the best thing in the entire world. 

How to make marshmallowsHomemade marshmallows
Homemade Marshmallows, makes one 8x8 pan (or two if you like them thin like me).
Needed: 1/3 cup powdered sugar, 1/3 cup corn starch, 1 cup water, 3 packets of gelatin (each is 1/4 ounce), 1 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup light corn syrup, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon extract (I used vanilla and mint). 
In a bowl combine the powdered sugar and corn starch. Spray a 8x8 pan with non-stick cooking spray and lightly dust with some of the powdered sugar and corn starch mixture. Set the rest aside.

Set up your stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Pour 1/2 cup water and the 3 packages of gelatin into the bowl and allow that to sit for 10 minutes (don't mix it). In the meantime, in a pot over high heat stir together 1/2 cup water, the sugar, the corn syrup and salt. Attach your candy thermometer and allow mixture to reach 240 F. Remove from heat. Start your mixture on low and pour the hot sugar water into the mixer as it is running. Be careful! I always use my splash guard for this step. Once you've poured in all the sugar water turn the mixer on high and beat until white and fluffy (7-10 minutes). During the last minute of mixing is when I add my extract of choice. For the mint marshmallows I usually add a drop or two of green food coloring too, but that's totally optional. Pour marshmallow batter into your prepared dish, sprinkle with the powder sugar/corn starch mixture, cover and allow to set overnight.
Diy marshmallows
Go around the edge of the pan with a knife and plop the marshmallows out onto a cutting board. Cut with a pizza cutter, or you can use cookie cutters to create shapes. Then dip the marshmallows in a little more powdered sugar to prevent them from sticking to each other if you plan to store some for later.
Marshmallow recipe
I love how you can control the shape of homemade marshmallows; creating the perfect s'more size! If you don't use all your marshmallows that day store them in an airtight container (otherwise they will dry out) for up to a week. 

Enjoy and don't fear the candy thermometer. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Flaky Butter & Greek Yogurt Pie Crust

After I posted my Nutella Pear Tart recipe here on The Pink Teaspoon, I wanted to make my own pie crust as a healthier alternative to the store-bought crust (which has sooo many ingredients that I simply can't pronounce). However, I just couldn't find the perfect crust after hours of trying. So, in an attempt to be uber creative, I decided to make my own with greek yogurt. 

This super easy pie recipe takes around 15 minutes to prep and 20 minutes to make. 

- 1-1/4 cup All-purpose Flour
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 cups cold butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 whole egg yolk
- 4 tablespoons Greek yogurt

Inside the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, add the flour, sugar and salt. Turn the mixer on low for a few seconds, to combine. Incorporate the butter. Turn the mixer on low speed, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 45 seconds.

In a small bowl, mix together the egg yolk and the Greek yogurt until combined and smooth. Add the mixture to the mixing bowl. Mix on low speed again, for about 15 seconds (being careful not to over-mix at this stage), or until the mixture is moist and forms into a ball, kind of like dough!

Shape the mixture into a ball gingerly with your hands and turn it out onto a floured work surface. Shape the dough into a round disc, then roll the dough out into a circle with a rolling pin until it is 1 1/2 inches larger than your pie plate. Carefully place the dough into the pie plate, trim the edges, and crimp the edges as desired all the way around. Freeze the dough for at least 30 minutes before baking. Use the pie dough as desired for your favorite pie recipes. 

To bake without filling:
Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Either prick the dough with a fork, or line the inside of the dough with foil and weigh it down with beans or pie weights. Bake 18-20 minutes or until golden brown (remove the foil and weights, if using, at the 10-minute mark, then return to the oven for another 8-10 minutes).
Note: If your Greek yogurt is exceptionally thick, use 5 tablespoons. If not, use 4 tablespoons.
Have fun baking!
xx, J

Monday, November 18, 2013

Nutella Pear Tart

Good morning readers! This is what heaven on a Saturday morning looks like. I was out of town in San Francisco to visit family, and my aunt is an uber experienced baker. So, we spent Saturday baking and watching Grey's Anatomy (someone please tell me that we're not the only ones who can go through an entire season in just one day). It took about 30 minutes to make and literally had us dancing around the kitchen and making slightly inappropriate sounds while eating it. 
Not only is this delightful little tart so rich, but it's hard to goof and totally mess-proof. All you need are 6 ingredients, the most important being Nutella. (Just a jar of this and a spoon is a dessert in itself.)
I used a frozen pie crust, but it would obviously taste even better with homemade crust. If you're this ambitious, I'm jealous. Touche.
1. Start by pressing your dough into an oven safe dish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spread a huge generous layer of Nutella across the crust.
3. Thinly slice and layer pears on top.
4. Melt about 1/3 cup of marmalade. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Brush over the pears.
5. Lastly, chop and sprinkle hazelnuts over the top. (These could easily be substituted for chopped pecans or walnuts.)
6. Bake about 20 minutes until crust is golden brown.
It' really hard to post this without my mouth watering all over again...Man that tart won my heart. We shared a special moment together on Saturday. No one can take that away from us. When it comes to dessert, I get a little love sick. 
xx, J