Friday, August 31, 2012

Breakfast Danishes

Breakfast in my house is usually very rushed. I have to be at work, the kids have to go to school, and my wife has to referee any fights that occur during this time. Everyone is pulling in a different direction, which makes it difficult to have anything more for breakfast than a bowl of cereal or oatmeal on most days. On occasion, though, I like to make up a batch of danishes. These danishes are in no way the healthiest breakfast you can have, but they are a nice change of pace. They also freeze well, allowing me to make a dozen and freeze them in bags of four. Then all I have to do is lay them out the night before and we have some lovely pastries for breakfast.

The dough for these is a basic yeast dough that needs to rise, then is rolled out and topped with butter. It is then folded over and rolled out again several more times to create multiple flaky layers. This may seem like a lot of work, but it is necessary to create all the layers. The danishes are then shaped, topped with a little jam, and baked until golden brown and delicious. At that point, they can be served, but I like to finish them off with a drizzle of lemon flavored icing.

As far as the filling goes, my favorite is my homemade Triple Berry Jam, but you can also use any flavor of homemade or store bought jam you like. Some other favorites are strawberry, apricot, blackberry, and blueberry.

Breakfast Danishes

1 1/3 cup warm water (100-110 degrees F)
4 tsp yeast
6 1/2 oz cake flour
14 3/4 oz bread flour
1/2 Tbsp salt
4 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks), divided
3/4 cup fruit jam
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and stir to dissolve. Leave for 15 minutes or until foamy. Place the flour, salt, sugar, and 2 Tbsp of the butter in a large bowl. Add the foamed yeast and egg. Mix together to for a sticky dough, then turn out onto a floured work surface. With floured hands, knead for five minutes. Place in mixing bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm place (75-80 degrees F) for about 45 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Punch down dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Roll dough out into 12 x 18 inch rectangle. Slice remaining butter into very thin slices and arrange in single layer over 1/2 of the rolled out dough.

Fold dough over to cover butter. Fold dough in thirds and wrap in plastic. Return to refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out into a 12 x 18 inch rectangle. Fold in half, then in thirds again. Wrap and return to fridge and chill 30 minutes. Repeat this step two more times.

Roll dough out into 14 x 18 1/2 inch rectangle  Trim edges to make 13 1/2 x 18 inch rectangle. Cut into 12 4-1/2 squares. Fold edges up to form danish shape. Place danishes on baking sheet and cover with a towel. Let rise 40 minutes. While dough is rising, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Divide jam evenly among danishes. If desired, brush tops of pastry with melted butter. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown and delicious. Let cool at least one hour.

In small bowl, stir together powdered sugar and lemon juice. If needed, add up to one extra tablespoon of lemon juice to bring icing to a good drizzling consistency. Drizzle icing over top of cooled danishes. Serve with coffee, if desired.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Baked Ratatouille

Saturday mornings at the Omaha Farmer's Market mean fresh vegetables on my table on Saturday nights.  This week, I was able to find some excellent looking zucchini and yellow summer squash at one of the stalls.  Due to an overabundance of squash and the fact that the market was preparing to close, I was able to walk away with two zucchini and two yellow squash for a whopping $1.  With my good fortune, I decided to continue wandering around and see what other vegetables I could find in the waning moments before the market.

Two stalls down, I found the third vegetable which would feature in my side dish for that evening, a single eggplant.   I handed the farmer three quarters and I was on my way.  I only had a few minutes left before the market closed, so I hurried over to my favorite stalls for some fresh tomatoes and corn (I do live in Nebraska, after all), then grabbed a loaf of fresh bread and headed home.

At this point I was still a little unsure what I was going to do with my bounty, but already the thought forming in my mind was ratatouille.  I love the blending of the fresh vegetables in this classic dish, but I wanted to try a new take on it, so rather than stewing the vegetables, I decided to try baking them.  I wanted a simple preparation that could be put together quickly and then popped in the oven to finish while I prepared some Chicken with Mushrooms and Oven-Roasted Potatoes.  I put a little tomato sauce in the bottom of the pan, sliced up the zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplant and layered them on top of the sauce, and popped it in the oven.  Fifteen minutes later, I threw a little cheese on top of it and popped it back in the oven for a couple minutes to melt the cheese.  It was so simple, but so delicious.

Baked Ratatouille

1/3 cup tomato and basil sauce
1 large zucchini
1 large summer squash
1 medium eggplant
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Slice zucchini, summer squash, and eggplant into 1/8-inch slices (I like to use a mandolin slicer for this).  Spread tomato sauce into bottom of 2-quart baking pan.  Arrange eggplant, zucchini, and squash over top of sauce, overlapping them so only a sliver of each slice is visible.  Drizzle with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Bake for 15 minutes.  Sprinkle with cheese and return to oven for 5-7 minutes, or until cheese is melted, bubbly, and lightly browned.  Serve immediately.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Lobster Stuffed Mushrooms

My wife and I are huge fans of mushrooms, and over the last few years, our daughter has started to like them as well.  We like them on pizza, in salads, on steaks, and stuffed.  Our son still will not touch them, so he has no clue what he is missing.  Until then, that's more for us.

These mushrooms are a very simple appetizer that take just a couple of minutes to put together and can bake while you prepare the rest of the meal.  I like to use leftover lobster for this, but you can also use imitation lobster or even lump crab meat.  The key is chopping everything small enough to be able to mix and stuff into the mushroom caps.  I usually go with a chop for the lobster and mushroom stems that almost resembles coarsely ground meat.  This way I can ensure that I get a little bit of everything in each bite.

Lobster Stuffed Mushrooms

14 oz whole mushrooms, cleaned
1/2 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup dry bread crumbs
2 oz cooked lobster meat, chopped
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
Black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Remove stems from mushroom caps, reserving about half the stems.  Set mushroom caps aside.  Finely chop reserved stems.

In small skillet, melt butter over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and cook for 4 minutes, or until mushrooms are softened and lightly browned.  Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds.  Remove from heat and cool slightly.

In small mixing bowl, stir together bread crumbs, lobster meat, chopped parsley, and cooked mushrooms.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add oil and mix until all stuffing ingredients are moistened.  Spoon stuffing into mushroom caps and place in baking dish.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until mushrooms are softened and stuffing is golden brown.  Serve immediately.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Iron Skillet Peach Crisp

The months of July and August mean one thing to me...PEACH SEASON!!!  With a large farmer's market only about 15 minutes from my house, I am able to get good, fresh peaches every weekend.  A couple weekends ago, I picked up a few peaches that weren't quite ready to eat.  I stashed them in a paper bag on the counter, intending to ripen them so I could pack them in my lunch during the week.  Two days later, I checked the bag and found perfectly ripe peaches, too ripe in fact.  There was no way they were going to last all week without getting all soft and mushy.

I decided to make a dessert for the whole family to enjoy.  I thought about making a peach pie, then contemplated peach dumplings, before finally settling on peach crisp cooked in my new iron skillet (more to come from the iron skillet later).  Growing up, my grandmother made apple crisp quite often, and I loved the variety of textures in the dessert.  I decided to make basically the same thing, using peaches instead of the apples, and cooking the whole thing in a skillet instead of a baking dish.

Iron Skillet Peach Crisp

8 cups peeled and sliced peaches (about 7-8 small or 5 large)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 3 Tbsp flour, divided
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup old-fashioned oats
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together peaches, brown sugar, 3 Tbsp flour, and cinnamon.  Pour into 10 inch iron skillet.  Set aside while making topping.

In small mixing bowl, combine remaining 1/2 cup flour with oats, sugar, and salt.  Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles loose wet sand.  Spread topping mixture over peaches.  Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until peaches are bubbly and topping is golden brown.  Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Oven Roasted Baby Potatoes and Carrots

Last weekend I made my usual trip to the farmer's market and found something a bit purple potatoes.  I was a pretty excited because I had never seen these before, but I was a little nervous about how my family would react to seeing strangely colored potatoes on their plate.  Just to make sure they would have something to eat, not only did I pick up a pint of the violet spuds, but also a pint of Yukon gold baby potatoes.

When I got home, I decided to add some baby carrots that I had in the fridge and then roast them.  I had originally thought about making purple mashed potatoes, but that just seemed a little weird.  So I went to my old standby method of preparation that every seems to enjoy.  A little olive oil, a couple garlic cloves, and a small handful of parsley were all I needed to turn the purple potatoes into a hearty side dish.  Enjoy!

Oven Roasted Baby Potatoes and Carrots

2 pints baby potatoes
12 oz baby carrots
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp parsley, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Scrub potatoes well.  In large mixing bowl, toss all ingredients together until well coated.  Pour into 9x13 inch baking pan.  Roast vegetables in oven for 40-45 minutes, or until vegetables are soft and lightly browned.  Serve immediately.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...