But Sugar is Sweeter

Archive for March, 2011

Panko Crusted Salmon

 
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Back on the homefront, I’m trying to make the best out of my last 3 days of my last spring break…ever!  Because THE BOARDS are looming over our heads, I’m not really sure if I’ll be able to make it home for a visit before July – so my Mom decided to make the trek here to visit! Unfortunately, the weather was really awful in Cleveland (so much for spring), but my Mom’s a brave lady, and she tackled the snow to make the drive to Toledo.  I’m really glad she did because we had a lovely day “fliting” around, and of course I wanted to make a special dinner for the evening.

This dinner exceeded my expectations.  I knew I wanted to make salmon – but salmon is such a hearty fish that I have trouble deciding what to do to make it special without overpowering its great flavor.  While visiting my favorite “club” – Costco – I was flipping through Ina Garten’s new book, and saw a recipe using Panko with Salmon.  Because I have also really been wanting to use Panko, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try it.  I didn’t buy the book, so this is my own adaptation.

It turned out to be really easy but it tasted, and looked gourmet (win-win!)  I loved the lemon zest in the crumb coating, and you definitely shouldn’t skimp on it. I also think that salmon is one of the fish that you need to be careful to buy “Wild Caught”.   It’s a little more expensive than the farm raised, but it’s a lot healthier and has a better flavor.  For some fish – it doesn’t really matter, but salmon is not one of those fish. Panko crumbs can be found in any local grocery store, usually near the Asian food.

Panko Crusted Salmon

Serves 4-5

  • 1 lb Wild Caught Salmon filets
  • 3/4 cup Panko
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parlsey
  • zest of 1 large lemon (or 2 small)
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Mayonaise
  • Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a small bowl combine the Panko, parsley, lemon zest and olive oil.  Stir until well blended and Panko is evenly coated with olive oil. In an even smaller bowl, mix together 1 T. each of Dijon mustard and mayonaise.

Place salmon filets on a baking sheet coated with aluminum foil.  Sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper.  Spread the Mayonaise and Dijon mixture evenly over the filet.  Sprinkle the Panko crumb mixture evenly over the fish.  The mustard mixture should help the coating to stick, but press to adhere.

Bake the salmon for 10-15 minutes (Using a 1 inch filet 15 minutes was good for me).

Serve with lemon wedges.  Also good with rice pilaf and roasted asparagus.

 

Inspired by How Easy Is That? by Ina Garten.


Pirouettes AKA Cigarettes Russes

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So I finished my test (yeah!) and  as it turns out, blogging actually helped my grade – so I think its safe to continue!  Almost immediately after the test, we left for Taos, New Mexico.  We had a great visit with my in-laws, ate and drank well, and even got some skiing and hiking in.  Apparently we brought the bad weather with us, but it was still better than the cloudy skys we came back to in Ohio.  I was planning on taking a break from cooking while on vacation – but of course I got the urge to bake after about 10 hours.  Actually I’ve had the urge to bake these particular cookies for several weeks.  I kept putting them off because they looked kind of complicated,   but spring break seemed like the perfect time to try these out!

The reason I have been wanting to make these cookies for so long, is that you really can’t buy them anywhere!  Sure, you can buy filled Pirouettes, but I like the plain and simple taste of just the wafer – without hazelnut, mint, or chocolate cream inside to ruin it.   Pepperidge Farm does actually make the simple “Cigarettes Russes” (without the filling), but the only place I have ever seen them is inside of the entertaining pack of assorted cookies, and even then you only get like 2! So while I really did enjoy making these cookies, there was also a utilitarian reason for making them.

I actually tried making these twice.  The first time they did not work out …at all.  I’m going to blame it on the 7,500 altitude in Taos, NM, but honestly I think there were a bunch of factors that caused the initial demise of these cookies.  The second time was much better, and now I know the specifics of how to make them perfect – and lucky for you, I’ll share that info with you :-)!

Cigarettes Russes

  • 6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) softened butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 egg whites at room temperature (the first time I took them straight from the fridge – which didn’t work)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp. salt.

1. Preheat an oven to 425°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with silicone liners. (Do NOT use Parchment.  If you don’t have silicon liners you could try a greased cookie sheet, but this didn’t work as well for me)

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until fluffy and pale yellow.
3. Gradually add powdered sugar and continue beating until well blended.
4. Add the egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

5. Add the vanilla and beat until blended.

6. Mix flour and salt together, and gradually add to buter mixture.  Stir to combine.

7. Using a small cookie cookie scoop, drop the batter  onto a prepared baking sheet, forming only 4 cookies.  You can only do 4 at time because the cookies must be rolled quickly before they cool.

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8. Moisten a spatula, and using a circular motion, spread batter into an oval/circle.  The cookies need to be even, but the thinner you can make them, the better they will turn out.  Mine ended up being about 4×4 inches.

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9. Bake the cookies until just golden at the edges – about 3 minutes.   If your batter is not spread evenly, the edges will brown too quickly.
10. While the first batch cooks, prepare a second batch on the remaining sheet.  I actually thought it worked well when the cookie sheet was still warm from the previous batch.
11. Remove the baked cookies from the oven, and quickly remove one cookie using a thin spatula. Wrap the cookie around the thin handle of a wooden spoon.  Slighly greasing the handle with cooking spray will help if the cookies are getting stuck to the spoon.

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12. Remove the cookie from the spoon handle and place on a wire rack.  Repeat with remaining 3 cookies.  If the cookies begin to harden before you can shape them, return to the oven for 30 seconds to soften.
13. If your cookies are not as crisp as you would like, place them on a wire rack in a 250 degree oven for 5-10 minutes.  This will help suck the remaining moisture out of the cookies.

Chocolate Dip

  • 3 oz semisweet chocolate
  • 1 tsp  butter
  • 1 tsp corn syrup (if you have it – I didn’t so I didn’t use it)
In a double boiler,  combine the chocolate, butter and corn syrup. Set over barely simmering water in the bottom pan and stir until melted and blended. Let cool slightly. Dip about 1 inch of each cookie into the chocolate. Place on waxed paper, on tope of a wire rack, until set.
Makes about 36 cookies.

Adapted from Williams Sonoma


Stuffed Green Pepper Soup

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If you start taking pictures of the food that you cook at home, it doesn’t take long to realize that a lot of homemade meals are just not that photogenic.  Unfortunately, we don’t eat cookies, cupcakes and sushi all the time .  But I don’t want to fall into the rut of only posting things that turn out pretty – because, well that would mean I’d be making (and eating) an awful lot of baked goods.  Plus, I wanted this blog to be a mix of everything that is good to eat.  Hopefully, if my photography skills improve, I’ll be able to make even “un-photogenic” foods look as delicious as they are.  But for now, you’ll just have to trust me.

This soup doesn’t look like much, but I really love it.  This week is “test week”, so I can pretty much assure you that If I get around to posting anything,   it will be easy to make.  I like to use cooking as a break from sitting, all alone, in the room that John and I like to call “The Dungeon”.  But during a really busy week, being away from my books for more than an hour starts to stress me out.  So sometimes, I just bring my books with me, to the kitchen, or the gym, or the couch… But seriously, this dinner takes about 15 minutes of prep and packs a lot of flavor.  It’s a lot less work than actually stuffing green peppers, but it’s very hearty and will warm you up on a cold winter night.   Really it’s not a “soup” in the sense that you could probably eat it with a fork if you’d like, but there was really not another word to use to describe it.

Stuffed Green Pepper Soup

Makes about 4 servings

  • 1/2 lb. lean ground beef
  • 2 green peppers, seeded and chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 a large onion)
  • A dash of crushed red pepper & a Pinch of black pepper
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (10.75 oz)condensed tomato soup, undiluted
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) of low sodium beef broth
  • Hot white rice (I usually make 3-4cups of rice – it’s cheap and I’d rather have more than enough)

In a dutch oven, over medium heat, cook the ground beef for 3-5 minutes, or until brown and crumbly.  Add the green pepper and chopped onion and cook for about 8 minutes or until slightly softened.  Add a dash of crushed red pepper (or more if you like spice) and a pinch of black pepper.  Pour in the can of tomatoes, tomato soup and beef broth.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes.  Serve over hot white rice.

Barely adapted from Cooking Light