Fall Vegetable Salad with Dill Vinaigrette

Last week I had lunch with a good friend at a place called Local Foods in Houston.  They have 2 locations now and we visited the newer one on Kirby for the first time.  This location has more seating and boasts a lovely outdoor space.  The weather cooperated perfectly making for a lunch I’d gladly repeat every day if I could.  We split a pork sandwich and their fall harvest salad.  The salad was so delicious that I knew I’d be trying to recreate it at home.

Fall Vegetable Salad with Dill Vinaigrette | Hottie Biscotti

While I am sure there was more in this salad that I couldn’t quite pinpoint or remember when I made a grocery list, I knew that is had broccoli, cauliflower, roasted brussels sprouts, pomegranate seeds, sunflower seeds and goat cheese.  We chose to add chicken to ours at the restaurant, but it would’ve been just as incredible without it.  You could leave out the chicken for a vegetarian salad or if you’re serving this as a side salad, or add it if you’re serving as a main course.

Fall Vegetable Salad with Dill Vinaigrette | Hottie Biscotti

One of my favorite parts about this salad was the dressing.  Again, I know mine isn’t the same as Local Foods, but the dill in the dressing stood out to me and really brought out all the delicious flavors of the salad.  So I made a dill vinaigrette to dress this salad.  And it’s pretty special.  I’ll be making it again.

Make sure to use fresh dill and parsley in the dressing and chop them very fine.  As with all homemade salad dressings, you can adjust the flavors to your liking.  Add more or less honey (I found this to be on the sweet side) add more salt, some cracked pepper, or more garlic if you’d like.  Shaking dressing up in a small mason jar is an easy way to make and store the dressing.

Dill Vinaigrette | Hottie Biscotti Dill Vinaigrette | Hottie Biscotti

The amounts below are enough for 2 to 4 salads, depending on how big you make them and who’s eating.  After prepping all the vegetables they can be refrigerated for use later on, so you can easily enjoy this salad for lunches during the week by simply tossing the ingredients together when you’re ready.

Fall Vegetable Salad with Dill Vinaigrette | Hottie Biscotti Fall Vegetable Salad with Dill Vinaigrette | Hottie Biscotti

Salads at our house are almost always greens, carrots, celery, tomatoes, dried cranberries and nuts if I have them around.  I love that this salad has so much stuff in it that I’ve never thought of putting in to a salad!  It’s delicious.  You can make it for one or for a large group.  And it’s a great fall salad with the roasted brussels and sweet pops from the pomegranate seeds.  And of course there is goat cheese.  Thank God for goat cheese!  I hope you try this salad.

Fall Vegetable Salad with Dill Vinaigrette | Hottie Biscotti

Fall Vegetable Salad with Dill Vinaigrette

Inspired by Fall Harvest Salad from Local Foods

Ingredients

For the Salad

  • Spring mix
  • 3/4 cup broccoli florets
  • 3/4 cup cauliflower florets
  • 8-10 brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, outer leaves removed and cut into quarters
  • pomegranate seeds
  • roasted, salted sunflower seeds
  • 2 ounces plain goat cheese
  • cooked chicken (optional)

For the Dill Vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped dill
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 2-3 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • pinch of salt

Directions

For dressing

  1. Shake all ingredients together in a jar or whisk together in a bowl.  Set aside or store in the fridge.

For Salad

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.  Toss brussels in a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Roast, shaking the pan once or twice, for 20 minutes until brussels sprouts are tender and browned.  Set aside to cool.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil and prepare a large bowl of ice water.  Boil broccoli and cauliflower for 2 minutes, then drain and put vegetables in the ice water, swish around a few times, then remove from the water to drain.
  3. Prepare the salad by either tossing salad greens, broccoli and cauliflower, brussels sprouts in a large bowl with your desired amount of dressing, then plating and topping with pomegranate seeds, sunflower seeds and goat cheese OR plate everything together and drizzle on the dressing.

Daring Bakers: Sachertorte Fail

The making of this month’s Daring Bakers challenge was a comedy of errors.  I can truthfully say that I laughed more than I cried through this process and I couldn’t wait to share my Sachertorte tale.  So here’s how it all went down.

The October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Korena of Korena in the Kitchen. She took us to Austria and introduced us to the wonders of the Sachertorte.

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It sure is nice that to kids cake is cake no matter how it looks!  Mine enjoyed having some chocolate cake in the middle of the afternoon for no reason.

I’ve never wanted to make or eat Sachertorte.  Sorry.  But I typically don’t like fruit with my chocolate.  I do like raspberry, maybe strawberry, but other fruit and chocolate pairings are not hard for me to turn down.  A Sachertorte is chocolate cake glazed with apricot and then dark chocolate.  I wasn’t thrilled at this month’s challenge, but I’m only 3 challenges away from completing a full year of The Daring Bakers, so I couldn’t turn it down.  Also, this was an opportunity to broaden my baking horizons, and that’s always a good thing.

I had everything I needed and planned to whip this up on a Friday.  Since the cake can be made ahead I had what I thought was a good plan of getting that done in the morning, letting it cool, and then tackling both the apricot and chocolate glazes and the assembly during afternoon naps.  My kids typically have about an hour of nap time that overlaps.  And it’s not like I’m not used to juggling kitchen and kid duties.  I thought I had this thing under control.  That’s when you know you don’t.

My youngest had a couple of vaccines given at his 4 month well check the day before and while I’m not confident that his fussiness was due to the shots I am confident that something was not right with him.  He is a happy baby who can deal with being put in the bouncer in the kitchen and being content while I cook.  Typically.  Today was not typical.  He hardly napped all day.  I’d just get him to sleep, get back downstairs to try to bake and he’d start crying again.  Did I mention we also had a Halloween event that night?  I needed to get the kids fed early and in their costumes by the time my husband got home.  I felt like a crazy person going from the kitchen to the crying baby upstairs, to the kids, to the kitchen, to the crying baby in the bouncer, to the sink full of dirty dishes, to the pirate costumes, to the crying baby on his exercise mat to the Sachertorte.

You don’t need me to tell you that the opportunities for disaster were countless.  While whipping egg whites with my hand mixer (something that seemed to take forever) my two boys were crying because they didn’t like the noise.  Take a moment now and try to imagine a 4 year old crying and tugging at you, a 4 month old screaming, and the metal beaters hitting the sides of your glass bowl as the little motor on your mixer whirs.  I should’ve given up right then.  But I soldiered on.  And amazingly the cake itself was fine.

Cake got baked, cooled and sliced ready for glaze.

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Glaze got made and right when I got ready to use it my sweet baby woke up from his 30 minute nap and I had to feed him.  But the apricot glazing went well.  (Note: put parchment or wax paper under your rack when glazing.)  Right about then my older son woke up.

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The baby seemed ok after eating and I really needed to get this cake done.  I’d read the directions for the glaze, knowing it to be both temperature and time sensitive.  I decided I’d go for it.  Curious George Halloween special on the TV and kids on the couch with snacks and drinks.  Baby on the mat playing with toys.  This would be fine…

Once you start the glaze you have to finish.  No stopping points.  You have to cook the sugar to 234°F, mix in the chocolate, pour it on the cake and smooth it all without taking a second to neglect your duties.  My sugar was at about 215°F when sweet baby boy started to scream.  I tried putting him in the bouncer in the kitchen and making silly faces and noises at him while I tended to the boiling sugar.  He wasn’t fooled.  He knew he wasn’t number 1 in my book at that moment.  But I had to keep going.  He screamed for about 5 minutes, then discovered one of the toys in front of him and settled down.  I whisked in the chocolate and my glaze was thick and clumpy.  The recipe says that you can return the pan to the heat and add “a few drops” of water to get it to a pour-able consistency.  I did that and then proceeded to glaze the cake.  I went on nice at first.  I had my offset spatula at the ready and was spreading as I poured.  I got to the other side of the cake and it basically hardened up and became not only not spreadable but clumpy and when I tried to fix it it started pulling up cake with it.  So this is what I had on my hands.

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I was watching the temp of the sugar carefully and turned it off right at 234°F, but I guess that could’ve been the problem.  Or maybe I didn’t add enough water, although it did seem pourable enough.  Regardless of what went wrong, this chocolate glaze was a bust.

My baby had started to cry again and my oldest son was now in the kitchen asking for more snacks and milk because he’d spilled his on the rug.  At this point everything just had to be funny.  No point in getting upset about it.  Thankfully I wasn’t planning to serve this at a dinner party.  I had told a friend I’d bring dessert to a casual lunch on Saturday, but thankfully she’s the kind of friend who doesn’t love you any less for bringing ugly cake!

I completed the cake with the required “Sacher” but didn’t spend too much time worrying about how well that turned out.  Obviously.  I’m pretty sure I was snickering about this whole debacle when I took this picture.

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Now, the cake itself wasn’t bad.  I liked it, actually.  The chocolate glaze also tasted fine, but I will never make it again.  I’ll look for a different chocolate glaze or ganache recipe the next time I want to try to glaze a cake.  Now the apricot.  I just can’t get on board with the apricot and chocolate together.  If I am ever in Austria I will definitely order myself a slice of Sachertorte, but I won’t be making it again.  I might try the cake with a caramel glaze and chocolate ganache.  Or maybe just keep it all chocolate.  But there will be no traditional Sachertortes coming out of this kitchen.  The end.

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 Sachertorte

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup (4 1/2 ounces) good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • pinch fine grain salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F with a rack in the center of the oven. Butter and flower the sides of a 9-inch springform pan, then line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.
  2. Place the bittersweet chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and heat over a small saucepan of barely simmering water or you can melt it in the microwave, heating in 30 second increments, stirring in between each, until just melted. Set aside to cool completely, stirring often.
  3. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer or electric mixer on medium speed until very light and creamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar on low speed, then increase to medium speed and beat again until light and creamy.
  4. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  5. Add the cooled chocolate and vanilla and beat until well-mixed and very light and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  6. In a clean bowl using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with about one tablespoon of the granulated sugar on high speed until foamy. Gradually add in the rest of the granulated sugar and continue beating the whites until they form soft, shiny peaks – they should hold their shape but flop over on themselves.
  7. Vigorously stir about 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then gently fold the remaining egg whites into the chocolate mixture with a spatula until just a few wisps of egg white remain. Do this carefully so as not to deflate the egg whites.
  8. Stir together the flour and salt and sift half of it over the chocolate mixture. Fold in with a spatula until almost incorporated. Sift over the remaining flour and fold to combine completely.
  9. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared springform pan.  Bake in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. The cake will crack and dome in the middle as it bakes but will flatten out as it cools.
  10. Cool completely, then slice in half.  Glaze middle, top and sides with warm apricot glaze (recipe below).  Let glaze set, then finish with your favorite chocolate ganache.

Apricot Glaze

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups apricot jam or preserves
  • 2 tablespoons water

Directions

  1. Boil the jam and water in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Cook, stirring often, until the mixture thickens and drips slowly from the spoon, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Strain through a wire mesh sieve, pressing firmly on the solids. You should have about 1 cup of glaze. Use warm.

Here are some recipes for chocolate ganache that you could use.

Pourable Ganache

Sachertorte Chocolate Glaze

 

Cauliflower Coconut Curry | Hottie Biscotti

Cauliflower Coconut Curry

The Fine Cooking magazine from October/November has a nice feature on cauliflower.  It includes ways to prep and prepare it along with a few recipes.  This tart is one of those recipes.  This curry is another.  I have a thing for coconut and curry, and so I was drawn to this recipe immediately.  I also love to find satisfying vegetarian dishes that we can work in to our meal schedule.  My husband didn’t miss the meat at all.  This one is a keeper.

Cauliflower Coconut Curry | Hottie Biscotti

There is quite a bit of chopping to be done, but it can all be done in advance and refrigerated until you’re ready to cook.  Once that is taken care of, this dish comes together easily.  You’re looking at 45 minutes cooking time in all, but more than half of that is simply simmering time.  Thanks to that simmering time your house will smell amazing.  The only downside there is that it will smell that way for hours, and waking up to the smells of curry you ate the night before isn’t amazing.  But it is worth it!

Cauliflower Coconut Curry | Hottie Biscotti

This reheats really well, so it’s a good choice for those of you cooking for one or two.  This will feed you for a couple of meals, and that’s definitely something I look for in a recipe these days.  I love leftover night.

The spices are warm and subtle.  The first taste is sweet and then the heat hits you at the end but is still more warm than spicy.  I didn’t have black mustard seed, so I didn’t use them and I thought this was still wonderful.  The coconut milk tones down the heat and adds sweetness as well as welcomed creaminess.  I used a whole jalapeno with a few seeds and it wasn’t overwhelming at all.  If you want it spicy make sure to use more of the seeds and membrane or even add a second jalapeno.

Cauliflower Coconut Curry | Hottie Biscotti Cauliflower Coconut Curry | Hottie Biscotti

The garnishes are necessary, in my opinion.  The yogurt is a nice cool contrast to the warm curry, the cilantro is the perfect herb to compliment the spices and the cashews add richness and crunch.  We ate this with warm naan which is perfect for soaking up the sauce.  Serving this on top of rice would also be delicious (and stretch it a bit).  I hope you try this dish!  My mouth is watering right now as I think about it and I’m considering getting some out of the fridge…and it’s 8 in the morning.  So you know it’s good.

Cauliflower Coconut Curry | Hottie Biscotti

Cauliflower Coconut Curry

From Fine Cooking

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of butter + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (use ghee if you have it)
  • 1 onion, cut into large dice
  • 2 red bell peppers (you could also use orange or yellow)
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped fine (as many or as few seeds as you’d like)
  • 1 2-inch piece of ginger, chopped fine (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seed
  • 1 cinnamon stick (2 inches)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into 1-2 inch florets
  • plain yogurt
  • chopped cashews
  • fresh chopped cilantro
  • naan or rice for serving

Directions

  1. Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onions, peppers, jalapeno, ginger, curry, cumin, cinnamon stick and salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften and brown a bit.
  2. Add in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes, water and raisins.  Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the coconut milk and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice.  Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and cook until thickened, 10-15 minutes.
  4. Add in the cauliflower and mix together.  Cover. keep the heat on low and cook until cauliflower is tender, about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the cinnamon stick.  Season with salt and lemon juice.  Serve with yogurt, cashews and cilantro.

Mini Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecakes with Oreo Crust

It was bound to happen.  I jumped aboard the pumpkin train!  I did manage to hold out until mid October.  Things get a little crazy this time of year on food blogs with an abundance of recipes containing pumpkin and pumpkin spices.  But I truly do love this time of year, and the smells and tastes associated with it.  And these pumpkin cheesecakes are truly delicious.  So here’s my obligatory fall pumpkin submission.  Enjoy!

Mini Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecakes with Oreo Crust | Hottie Biscotti

One of the great things about these mini cheesecakes is that they are significantly easier than making a big cheesecake.  They are also easier to serve.  No water bath, no wrapping your spring-form in foil so it doesn’t leak or let water in, no worried anticipation when you take the spring-form off wondering if it’s going to remain beautiful, no cracked top or slicing pieces for guests.  Just mix, fill, bake, chill and enjoy.  Guests serve themselves little cheesecake cupcakes, there’s less clean up and everyone is happy.

Mini Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecakes with Oreo Crust | Hottie Biscotti Mini Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecakes with Oreo Crust | Hottie Biscotti Mini Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecakes with Oreo Crust | Hottie Biscotti

I really like the chocolate Oreo crust, but you could stick with graham crackers or use gingersnaps for some extra fall spice.  Another variation would be to make these all pumpkin and add about 3/4 to 1 cup of pumpkin to the filling.  Keep the spices the same.

This filling is going to make more than enough for a dozen cheesecakes by about 2 or 3, with more pumpkin than plain filling.  I suggest either adding a couple extra Oreos and a tad more butter initially and baking up a few more cheesecakes OR put an entire whole Oreo in the extra baking cups and fill those with the remaining filling.  Bake these after you bake the full tin and keep an eye on them, they will probably bake up a little quicker.  Or you could do as this lazy woman does and just toss the extra.  I’m sorry if wasting food appalls you.  I typically don’t do it.  But I had a crying baby on my hands and needed to finish as soon as possible!

Mini Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecakes with Oreo Crust | Hottie Biscotti pumpkin9 pumpkin18 pumpkin19 pumpkin8

These would make a great addition to a fall dessert table, the orange and black qualify them for Halloween and they would also be perfect for Thanksgiving.  Since they have to be chilled you can make them ahead of time, up to but not more than 48 hours.  After the initial chilling make sure to cover them if they will be kept more than a day in the fridge.

Mini Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecakes with Oreo Crust | Hottie Biscotti

Mini Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecakes with Oreo Crust

Adapted from Bru Crew and Tasty Kitchen

Ingredients

Crust

  • 16 whole Oreo  cookies
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter

Filling

  • 2 packages cream cheese, room temperature (full or low fat)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

Crust

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Place cupcake liners in cupcake tin and spray lightly with cooking spray.
  3. Crush Oreos (either in a food processor or in a plastic bag using a rolling pin and some muscle) to fine crumbs.
  4. Combine Oreo crumbs with butter and mix to combine evenly.
  5. Divide crumb mixture equally between muffin cups (about 2 rounded teaspoons per cup).
  6. Press down firmly and bake for about 6 minutes.  Make filling while these bake.

Filling

  1. Beat cream cheese, sugar and sour cream together until fully combined.  Add in eggs, vanilla and salt,  then beat well.  Scrape the bowl and beat for another 30 seconds or so.
  2. Remove a little less than half (about 1 1/4 cups) of this mixture to another bowl.  Add in the pumpkin and spices and mix well.
  3. On top of each cooked crust spoon one spoonful of plain and one spoonful of pumpkin filling.  Repeat with another spoonful of each, pumpkin on top of plain and plain on top of pumpkin, then swirl them together without mixing too much.
  4. Repeat with the rest of the cups. Each cup should be almost full, but you will probably have a little more filling left over.  See above for how to deal with the excess.
  5. Reduce oven to 325°F and bake for 20 minutes, then increase oven to 350°F and bake 5 minutes more. When the centers of the cheesecakes jiggle just a bit when you shake the pan they’re done.  If they seem really jiggly, bake a few minutes more.  Remove from the oven, let cool for 30 minutes, then transfer entire pan to the fridge for a few hours.  Serve up!

 

 

 

 

Homemade Crescent Rolls

If your childhood was anything like mine you have fond memories of eating Pillsbury crescent rolls.  You’ve likely watched someone experience, or you’ve experienced for yourself, the frustration of getting the tube open after not peeling the paper enough and then banging it on the counter to get it to pop open.  Maybe your mom let you help roll them up and put them on the baking sheet.  And then you got to enjoy their warm, melt-in-your-mouth goodness with dinner.  Pillsbury will always have a special place in my heart, but these homemade crescent rolls might be what my kids remember enjoying.

Crescent Rolls | Hottie Biscotti

This recipe comes from my America’s Best Lost Recipes cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen.

These were surprisingly simple to put together and bake.  You do have to let them rise twice, once after making the dough and once after forming the rolls.

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So you’re looking at a minimum of 2 1/2 hours from start to finish.  If you want to serve them to your kids for dinner start them with enough time.  I didn’t, so my kids ate them for dessert!

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Be sure not to over bake these.  They get a tad dry when cooked too long.  Nothing that a little extra butter can’t cure, though!  If you’re planning to make these and then reheat them for later (think make-ahead Thanksgiving bread) bake them until just slightly golden so you can reheat them without fear of them drying out.

You will probably need to make three sheets of rolls, 8 per sheet, unless you have large cookie sheets and a large oven.  It’s perfectly fine to bake the first two sheets and bake the other right after the first ons come out.  Just be sure to keep them covered.

These do rise during baking, so don’t place them too close together.  Also, try to cook similar sized rolls on the same baking sheet.  Unless you can roll a perfect circle of dough, some wedges will be bigger than others.  They’ll take longer to bake, and the smaller ones will take less time.  If you have different sized rolls on the same sheet some will be over baked while others will be under baked.  I emphasize this point only because I had one sheet that had some quite small and some quite large rolls and I had this problem.  Aren’t you glad you have someone to make mistakes for you?!

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The only thing I might do differently would be to brush these with more melted butter right after baking.  Because there isn’t much better than that.

Crescent Rolls

From America’s Best Lost Recipe

Makes 24 rolls

Ingredients

  • 1 stick plus 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup warm milk (about 110°F)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups flour
  • 1 package instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Directions

  1. Melt 1 stick of butter and let cool slightly.  Mix with warm milk, sugar and eggs.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (or a large bowl) mix 4 1/2 cups flour, salt and yeast.
  3. Add in the milk mixture and mix on low until dough comes together, then increase the speed to medium and mix for about 5 minutes.  If dough seems sticky add in a couple tablespoons of flour.
  4. Turn dough out onto a well floured surface and knead a bit and shape into a ball.  Place dough into a greased bowl, cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours, until doubled in size.
  5. Melt the 1/2 stick of butter and set aside.
  6. Prepare baking sheets (you’ll need 2 large or 3 regular) by lining them with parchment.
  7. Turn dough out onto floured surface and divide into 3 equal sized pieces.  Working with one piece, roll into a 10-inch circle.  Brush with butter, then use a pizza cutter to slice dough into 8 wedges.
  8. Take a sliced piece and roll, starting from the wide end, up to the pointed end and place pointed side down on the baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining dough.
  9. Cover rolls with clean towels or plastic wrap sprayed with non-stick spray and let rise for 45 minutes.
  10. Preheat oven to 325°F and adjust racks to the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
  11. Bake rolls for 20-25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, until rolls are golden.  Do not let them get too dark.
  12. Bake third sheet of rolls if necessary.
  13. Serve warm or let cool completely before packing up to serve later or freeze.

Pâte a Choux Funnel Cakes

It’s fair season!  Unfortunately it’s looking more and more likely that we won’t be able to make it to the State Fair of Texas up in Dallas this year.  But that isn’t going to stop me from bringing the fair home!

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Let’s be honest, everyone looks forward to going to the fair to enjoy some fried food.  Corn dogs, fried oreos, fried maragritas, and of course funnel cakes.  My fondest memories of funnel cakes are not actually enjoying them at the fair but at Schlitterbahn after a day in the water and sun with my summer league swim team.  I’d go get one just as the sun was beginning to dip down and they were about to close down for the day.  Something about the hot crunchy dough pieces covered in a thick layer of powdered sugar still makes me smile.

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I’ve never made funnel cakes before.  I don’t have a deep fryer and don’t really like to fry food in my kitchen.  It makes a mess and then there’s the issue of dealing with all that oil when you’re done.  Surprisingly these didn’t spatter and create a mess and I found these great tips for how to dispose of or save your cooking oil.  There might just be more frying in my future.

The dough is pate a choux, the same dough used to make cream puffs and eclairs.  It is an eggy dough that bakes up nice and puffy.  It sounds fancy, but isn’t at all complicated.

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Instead of a funnel a plastic bag is used to pipe the dough into the oil.  Cut a smaller hole than you think you need from the bag.  You can always cut a bit more if you need, but if you cut it too big you’ll have to transfer the dough to a new bag and start over.  That happened to me.

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While I had grand plans to make all of these the same size I wound up with a wide variety of sizes and shapes.  But they all tasted equally as delicious!  These are best eaten immediately so be sure to have some hungry folks (toddlers are good funnel cake eaters!) to help you enjoy these tasty treats.

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Pâte a Choux Funnel Cakes

From Alton Brown

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 stick butter (6 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup eggs, about 4 large eggs and 2 whites
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Powdered sugar, for topping

Directions

  1. In a medium sized saucepan bring water, butter, sugar and salt to a boil over high heat.
  2. Once it boils add the flour and lower the heat to medium low.  Stir with a wooden spoon until dough forms a ball and a film forms on the bottom of the pan.  Remove from the heat and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer.  Let cool for about 5 minutes.
  3. With mixer on low speed add the eggs, one at a time, making sure to wait until the egg is incorporated before adding the next.
  4. Once all the eggs have been added transfer dough to a large plastic bag.
  5. Heat oil in a saucepan, about 1 1/2 inches deep, to 350-375°F.
  6. Cut a small corner from the bag and pipe dough out in a circular/swirling pattern, making the cake as big or as small as you like.  Let cook for a minute or two, depending on the amount of dough used, then flip and cook until desired doneness.  I like mine a little darker, but you may prefer them lighter.
  7. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels before dusting with powdered sugar.
  8. Repeat with the rest of the dough, making sure your oil is kept between 350 and 375°F.  Too cool and the dough absorbs too much oil, too hot and it burns.  Increase and lower the heat as needed to keep it in the sweet spot.

Fall Vegetable Tart with Goat Cheese and Prosciutto

Fall is coming! Here in Southeast Texas we enjoyed a “cold front” this past weekend.  The mornings were slightly chilly and the days incredibly pleasant.  This week it’s humid and hot again.  But the promise of cooler weather is near.  And cooler weather means comfort food and cute coats and sweaters for my kids.

This fall tart recipe comes from the latest issue of Fine Cooking which I received last week and I’ve already made this twice.  I can see it appearing in our dinner rotation many more times in the coming months.  I love roasted vegetables.  I love goat cheese.  I love savory pie crust.  And so naturally, I love this tart.  It is incredible.

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You can make this from start to finish in a couple of hours, or you can make the vegetables ahead of time and simply assemble and bake the tart when you’re ready.  I’ve done it both ways now.

The combination of vegetables (butternut squash, carrot, cauliflower and red bell pepper) is great.  The recipe calls for leeks, but I decided to use a yellow onion instead.  I didn’t make a great grocery list and ended up using my only onion in another dish so I left out the onion entirely.  The tart didn’t suffer a bit.  The measurements in the recipe below are from the magazine, but I didn’t really measure.  I’m sure I used a bit more, maybe heaping amounts of those listed here.

After roasting the vegetables you mix in a bunch of chopped proscuitto.  That’s magic right there.  Magic.

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The dough is simply flour, butter, cream cheese and a pinch of salt.  It comes together in a food processor in no time and doesn’t need to be chilled before being rolled out.  However, this means you absolutely must roll it out onto parchment paper.  I made the mistake of rolling it out on the counter the first time and won’t do that again.  Since this is a rustic tart you don’t need to worry too much about how neat the edges of your dough are.

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After you roll out your dough you spread some softened goat cheese on it.  Again, there’s magic happening in your kitchen right about now.  Be sure the goat cheese is room temperature or it will pull too much on the dough and rip it.  I know from experience.

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On top of the cheese goes the vegetables.

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Fold up the edges, brush with a beaten egg and bake.  I baked mine on a pizza stone the second time with great results, but a cookie sheet works well, too.

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After cooling for a few minutes, slice and serve and enjoy.  It’s so amazing warm, but I ate a slice cold from the fridge as I was running out the door at lunchtime and it was still delicious.  As far as reheating goes you need to be prepared for a slightly soggy bottom crust.  But again, still delicious.  If you’re serving this to at least 4 people you probably won’t need to worry about leftovers, though.

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Fall Vegetable Tart with Goat Cheese and Prosciuttio

From Fine Cooking

Ingredients

Dough

  • 6 ounces (1 1/3 cups) flour
  • 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter cut into chunks
  • 6 ounces cold cream cheese (low fat is fine) cut into chunks
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 beaten egg for egg wash

Filling

  • olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups butternut squash cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup sliced carrots (1/2 inch thick half moons)
  • 3/4 cup sliced leek (optional)
  • 3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 3/4 cup chopped cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut in to bite sized pieces
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, room temperature

Directions

Filling

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Toss the vegetables together with rosemary, thyme 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
  3. Transfer to a 9×13 pan, cover tightly with foil and roast for 30-40 minutes until just fork tender.
  4. Let cool for 10-15 minutes then add in the prosciutto.

Dough

  1. Put flour, butter, cream cheese and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the dough just begins to come together.
  2. Place a large piece of parchment on the counter and sprinkle with a little flour.  Turn dough out onto the parchment and bring together with your hands, sprinkling with more flour if needed.
  3. Roll dough out onto the parchment into a roughly 16-inch round.

Assemble

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Transfer parchment to a cookie sheet or pizza stone and trim any excess parchment that hangs off the sheet or stone.
  3. Spread goat cheese onto the dough leaving a 1 1/2 inch border.
  4. Pile vegetable evenly on top of the goat cheese.
  5. Fold edges of the dough over the vegetables, then brush with beaten egg.
  6. Bake for 35-45 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

 

Daring Bakers: Raspberry and Cream Cheese Kolache

I’m not sure about other parts of the country, but anyone from central Texas isn’t wondering what a kolache is.  As a kid I have fond memories of stopping in West, Texas , a Czech community on I-35 in between Austin and Dallas, for kolaches.  I made them once in college, right when I was beginning to really enjoy baking, but I haven’t made them since, which is a shame!  I was really excited to have the opportunity to try them again this month.

Raspberry and Cream Cheese Kolaches | Hottie Biscotti

The September Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Lucie from ChezLucie. She challenged us to make a true Czech treat –Kolaches!

We were given the option of making 3 different types of kolaches.  I’d never heard of the first two types, Prague Kolach and Kolache from Chodsko.  Both looked so beautiful but were larger scale, more like a cake or tart, and would be better for a group breakfast.  The Moravian kolaches are the type I am more familiar with and they lend themselves better to sharing and enjoying over a few days since they are individual servings.

Raspberry and Cream Cheese Kolaches | Hottie Biscotti

My favorite kind of kolache are cream cheese and fruit filled.  The recipe we were given for this month used a quark filling, something I’d never heard of.  After looking in to it I found that it’s a cheese spread, somewhat similar to cream cheese.  Instead of searching it out I opted to follow the same instructions and use the dough recipe provided but make a cream cheese filling.  I took another short cut and bought a can of raspberry filling instead of making my own.

The dough recipe seemed weird to me, powdered sugar instead of granulated.  I looked up quite a few other recipes before finally deciding to just go with the one we were given.  It turned out really well!  It rose nicely, was a breeze to roll out and cut and tasted just like kolache bread should.

When I made kolaches 10 years ago I rolled them into balls, made a little hole in the center and filled it with the fruit.  These kolaches are interesting in their assembly.  You divide the dough into discs, flatten it out, dollop on some cream cheese filling, wrap the dough around it and then make an indentation for the fruit.  It creates more of a layer of cream cheese that melds with the bread instead of a mass of cream cheese filling.  Since this was my first time making these I went easy on the filling and had quite a bit left.  I’d definitely use more cream cheese filling next time.

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I loved the raspberry filling, nice and tart and it paired well with the cream cheese and the bread.  Poppy seed is traditional and I have seen many recipes with prune/plum filling.  I had grand plans to make another batch with pumpkin filling, but my grand plans rarely come to fruition.  Maybe next time.

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The streusel topping, posypka, is beautiful and delicious.  Don’t skip it and don’t skimp on it!  You won’t use all of the recipe below, but it freezes well.  So save it for later or make another batch of kolache.

Raspberry and Cream Cheese Kolaches | Hottie Biscotti

These are best the day they’re made, but are still quite good for a couple days, especially warmed just slightly in the microwave.  Just watch out for the fruit filling.  It gets really hot and your mouth will not forgive you for days.

Raspberry and Cream Cheese Kolaches | Hottie Biscotti

If you haven’t tried kolache before, I encourage you to!  They’re fun to make and will yield tasty rewards.  Enjoy!

Raspberry and Cream Cheese Moravian Kolache

Makes 10 large kolaches

Ingredients

Dough

  • 3-2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup milk, warm
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 4 teaspoons yeast
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 egg for egg wash

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg yolk

Fruit Filling

  • 1 can fruit or poppy seed filling

Posypka (Streusel)

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter, chilled

 Directions

Dough

  1. In a small bowl mix together yeast and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar.  Add 4 tablespoons (¼ cup) warm milk, mix well and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon flour.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 – 15 minutes.
  2. In a bowl of your electric mixer (or in a large bowl) mix flour, sugar, salt, egg yolks, butter, milk and leavened yeast.  Knead with dough hook (or with wooden spoon) on low speed for about 10 minutes.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for one to two hours until doubled in volume.

Cream Cheese Filling

  1. Beat together all ingredients until smooth and creamy.

Posypka

  1. Using a pastry blender combine all ingredients and store in the fridge until ready to use.

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 340°F.  Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Turn dough out onto a floured surface.  Roll gently to a thickness of about 1 cm.  Using a 3-inch cutter make as many rounds as you can.  Re roll the scraps and cut as many more as you can.
  3. Take a dough round and flatten it a bit more.  Scoop on some of the cream cheese mixture, about 1 tablespoon.  Gather the dough around the cream cheese and pinch it together.  Place seam side down on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining dough.  Place 5-6 on each cookie sheet, well spaced.
  4. Brush the tops of each with egg wash and using the back of a spoon make an indentation in each.  Fill with raspberry filling and sprinkle with posypka.
  5. Bake one sheet at a time, 15-20 minutes until tops are beginning to become golden.
  6. Let cool briefly and then eat up!

Weikel’s House Special Cookie Copy Cat

There is a place right off of highway 71 in La Grange, Texas, between Houston and Austin, called Weikel’s where you can stop for gas and get a snack.  If you ever make this drive you have definitely driven by and likely stopped at a similar spot called Hruska’s.  It’s right on the highway in Ellinger and impossible to miss.  But Hruska’s has nothing on Weikel’s, in my opinion.  They’re both gas stations with bakeries serving cookies, kolaches, etc.  Hruska’s, which also offers sausages and lunch/dinner items, had been my go-to stop until my in-laws brought some cookies and shortbread bars to us from Weikel’s.  I haven’t gone back since.

Weikel's House Special Cookies Copy Cat | Hottie Biscotti

Every time I stop here I get cookies for the kids, usually whatever Carson wants and plain sugar for Betsy to keep the mess to a minimum.  I also get a box of house special cookies and a cherry shortbread.  The house special cookies are indeed special and I’ve been wanting to duplicate them for some time.  I might be on my way to doing that with these!

Weikel's House Special Cookies Copy Cat | Hottie Biscotti

The house special is a crispy, crunchy cookie that has cornflakes, oats, pecans and coconut.  There is no butter on the ingredient list, only shortening.  So that could account for the difference in texture between mine and theirs.  I also left out the oats.  But the flavor is very similar and I am real excited that I won’t have to drive to La Grange to get my cookie fix!

However, if I had to choose between mine and Weikel’s I’d still choose Weikel’s.  There’s just something really special about them, and something about the experience of stopping with my kids that makes them better somehow.  And maybe it’s about having someone else make them, like how a sandwich is almost always better when someone else makes it for you than if you make it yourself.  Anyway, be sure to grab one (or a box of 6) if you ever stop by.  Then try this recipe and give me some feedback!  I’d love to truly duplicate these tasty cookies.

Weikel's House Special Cookies Copy Cat | Hottie Biscotti

Weikel’s House Special Cookie Copy Cat

Makes 18-20 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 stick of butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cornflakes
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut

Directions

  1. Beat butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add in the oil, granulated sugar, powdered sugar and egg, beating between each addition.  Scrape the bottom of the bowl, add the vanilla and mix again.
  3. Add in the flour, baking soda and salt and mix just to combine.
  4. Fold in the cornflakes, pecans and coconut making sure that it is evenly mixed.
  5. Refrigerate for an hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Scoop into large balls (about 2 tablespoons) and place on cookie sheet (6-8 cookies per sheet) and bake for 10-12 minutes until edges are golden.  Remove from the oven and let cool for a couple minutes on the sheet then move to a wire rack.

Kitty Cat Cake

For my daughter’s 2nd birthday I wanted to make a cake that she’d appreciate not only for its sugar content but for its appearance.  This kitty cat cake was perfect for my animal loving girl!

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All you need for this cake are 2 8-inch round cakes, no need for a uni-tasking cat shaped pan.  And you don’t have to do much cake shaping, either.  Leave one cake whole and cut the other in to a head, ears and tail.

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This next step is the hardest.  Using your favorite frosting recipe, this is mine, stick the pieces together and then frost the cake, being careful around the cut edges.  This first coating of frosting is your crumb coat, so a few crumbs are ok and it doesn’t need to be totally covered.  You’ll do that next.

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Put the cake in the fridge for an hour or two, then frost another time to get a pretty, smooth and crumb-free layer.

Now you can decorate!  I colored some of my vanilla frosting pink and then I just bought a tube of black icing (this one from Wilton) because making your own black icing can be tough.

She was so excited when we put this cake in front of her.  Thankfully at 2 she didn’t care that it wasn’t perfectly frosted or that it kinda looked like a rabbit :)  Happy Birthday, sweet Betsy!

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