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    Entries in artificial colors scare me (11)

    Friday
    Jun292012

    Berry Patriotic

    Since the 4th of July is next week, I decided to be a good little patriotic American and make red, white, and blue food, and chant 'USA' a few times.  In reality it would probably be much more American if it was loaded with high fructose corn syrup and artificial dyes, but believe it or not, they’re not necessary.  This little tasty bite is colorful, delicious, and actually quite healthy.  It’s the perfect little nibble to add to your barbeque menu. 

    Here’s what you need:

    • Large strawberries
    • Blueberries
    • 1 15oz. container of full fat ricotta
    • ½ cup powdered sugar
    • 1 orange

    Dump the ricotta into a mixing bowl.  I know, it looks like a big pile of paste, which you haven’t been interested in eating since you were 5.  It gets better, though.  I promise. 

    Add about a teaspoon of orange zest. 

    Squeeze in about a Tablespoon of the juice from the orange.  (no I didn’t measure these things, but you can if you want to go to the effort)

    Whip that together for a good minute or two.  The ricotta should become nice and fluffy. 

    Sift the powdered sugar over the top and mix until it’s completely incorporated.  Make sure you scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl at some point. 

    Now, put that into the fridge to chill while you prep your strawberries.  After you’ve washed them, run a knife around the top to remove the hull, leaving an empty cavity. 

    Then turn the strawberry over and slice off the tip. 

    You want to remove enough that it has a nice flat base to stand on. 

    There should be enough filling for around 30 strawberries or so, depending on their size.  When I’m in need of large ones, I can usually count on Costco to have some in stock.  Go ahead and prep as many strawberries as you want and line them up on a sheet pan.  (Feel free to line it with parchment.)

    Scoop the ricotta mixture into a pastry bag with a medium star tip.  You can just use a plastic bag with the corner cut off if you don’t have a pastry bag.  It just won’t be star shaped.  You could probably even just use a spoon and dollop it if you want.  Otherwise, pipe the mixture into the cavity of the strawberry, filling it, and making a spiral on top. 

    Then place a blueberry on top of that.  Isn’t that cute? 

    Repeat with the rest of your strawberries, filling, and blueberries.

    These really are the perfect little patriotic snack.  They’d make a fabulous snack or dessert for any summer evening, though.  Juicy strawberries, filled with lightly sweet, orange, ricotta cream, and topped with a fresh blueberry.  Seriously divine, and best of all, no oven required so you can keep your house cool. 

    What are your plans for the 4th of July?

     

    Tuesday
    Jun122012

    cookie d'oh!

    It's round, pink, has a hole in the middle, and is covered with sprinkles.

    Apparently to my coworkers, that means something dirty. And telling them it was Homer's doughnut didn't help.

    A little while ago one of my coworkers offered to bring me some sprinkles that were taking up space in her cupboard.  I'm never one to turn down offers of ingredients, even sprinkles, so I accepted. I had no idea exactly how much space was being taken up by sprinkles. 

    The next day I found one of those large "gallon" sized zip bags on my desk.

    A large zip bag can hold a lot of sprinkles.

    And since I was still kinda feeling like making other desserts into cookies, I decided to do doughnuts. Homer's doughnuts. Round, pink, with a hole in the middle, covered in sprinkles.

    Also, it just so happens that "National Doughnut Day" just passed. Once again, we at Authors Kitchen are totally on top of all the important holidays.

    Plain old sugar cookies are perfect for doing silly things to. (perv)

    Sugar Cookies

    What you need:

    • 1 c butter
    • 1 c sugar
    • 2 tsp vanilla
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 tsp milk
    • 3 c flour
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt

    (this is a double batch which makes about 4 dozen cookies, and easily cut in half if you are looking to eat them all in one night)

    What you gotta do:

    In a large bowl, cream the room temperature butter with the sugar until it's all soft and fluffy. You'll start to lose the gritty feeling from the sugar if you do it long enough.

    Add the eggs, vanilla, and milk.

    Beat this again with your Popeye arms, or your fancy schmancy mixer that has its own speshul place on the counter, until it's shiney and kinda looks like cake frosting. (Really, it kinda is cake frosting).

    Normally, I'd just dump the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl and stir, but I had a minion with me, and so I employed him to sift the dry ingredients together in a small bowl.

    I also had him crack the eggs into the creamed butter. No shells this time!

    Add the sifted flour to the creamed butter and egg mixture in two batches.

    After the second one, you'll have a soft, but not quite sticky dough. In order to handle it and roll it, you'll need to chill it a bit first.

    Divide it in half, wrap it in plastic, and let is sit around in the fridge for at least half an hour. I don't like to leave dough in the fridge too long because it becomes too stiff to handle. It should be pliable, and not too cold to the touch.

    Liberally flour your counter, your rolling pin, and the dough. At first, you're going to want to move it around and reflour everything regularly so it doesn't stick to the counter. If your dough is stuck to the counter, there will be no saving the shapes you cut, and you'll have to do it all over again.

    Roll the dough to just under a quarter inch thick.

    If you don't have cookie cutters, a wine glass works nicely to make round cookies.

    I'd finally found a doughnut cutter so I cut doughnuts and holes. Either save up and reroll the holes to make more doughnuts, or bake them all separately so they don't get overdone.

    You want the cookies to lose their gloss, and be just barely golden on the bottom.

    7-8 minutes at 350 will do that. I know you already preheated your oven. You're smart like that. Just like me.

    "I am so smart. S-M-R-T."

    To make the pink glaze you need:

    • Icing (powdered) sugar
    • Milk
    • Red Dye
    • Some kind of flavourant (vanilla is best, but I'd managed to run out, so I used peppermint)

    One of these days I'll actually measure how much icing sugar and milk I use to do this kind of thing. Really, just dump a bunch of sugar in a bowl. Add milk a tiny splash at a time, a few drops of flavourant, and keep stirring until you have something the consistency of really thick laundry detergent.

    It should blob off the end of a spoon at first, but then turn into something ribbon like.

    Two bloody drops was all I needed

    to make Pepto-Bismol Pink!

    Lay the cookies out on parchment paper as close together as you can. Dribble and blob the glaze all over the cookies. Then add sprinkles by the handful.

    If you don't have a gallon of sprinkles, you might want to work on accuracy in your application. It also might help your cookies not look like they were made by a five year old.

    I'm okay with my cookies looking like they were made by a five year old.

    Let these set on the counter for about 20 minutes. The glaze will harden just enough that it holds onto the sprinkles and looks solid, but it will still be soft and gooey when you bite it.

     Did you know there was a National Doughnut Day??