Saturday, November 13, 2010

Crustless Quiche Florraine = ([(Quiche Florentine + Lorraine)/2] - Crust)

Sometimes I just can't make up my mind.  Did I feel like making Quiche Lorraine? or Quiche Florentine?  Quiche Lorraine commonly calls for bacon, cheese, and onions.  Quiche Florentine on the other hand, usually calls for spinach and cheese.  Hmmm.  Why not combine them and use all those ingredients together?  I call the compound of these two quiches "Quiche Florraine".  This time, I decided to make it crust-less... but the same combination of ingredients could work nicely for a typical quiche with crust.

Mika's Quiche Florraine:
3 eggs
1 1/2 c. milk
3/4 c. Bisquick
1 c. grated Cheddar cheese
1/2 c. cooked bacon
9 oz. package baby spinach
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 c. french fried onions (French's)

1.  Microwave the baby spinach for 3 minutes in a bowl covered with plastic wrap.  Remove and allow to cool.

2.  Squeeze the spinach of all moisture, and chop.

3.  Chop the cooked bacon.

4.  Spray a 9 inch pie dish with cooking spray.  Sprinkle in the bacon, then spinach, the cheddar cheese.

5.  Beat the eggs, milk, Bisquick, salt, and pepper in a bowl.  Pour over the ingredients in the pie dish.

6.  Top with the french fried onions, and bake at 400 degrees for 23 minutes.

7.  Serve hot.  Refrigerate any leftovers immediately.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pumpkin-Walnut Cinnamon Rolls

The real story behind this recipe was a pumpkin fudge disaster.  With all the extra pumpkin puree leftover from Halloween, I decided to try some new recipes... and a "pumpkin fudge" recipe from the internet looked promising.  The only thing, is that fudge is on the more difficult side to make, and I really screwed this one up.  I was using two different thermometers - one of those high tech infrared ones, and an old school candy thermometer.  The candy thermometer registered about 225 degrees, meanwhile the infrared thermometer registered about 255 degrees.  Which one was right?  In addition to an inaccurate temperature, I made the rookie mistake of stirring frequently, and did not allow all the sugar crystals to dissolve off the sides of the pan.  My bad.  The end result was a delicious and tasty pile of crumble... definitely NOT slice-able fudge. 

I thought about using the non-fudge as a topping for coffee cake... but then cinnamon rolls came to mind, as I was interested in trying Pioneer Woman's popular cinnamon roll dough recipe.  I substituted my failed fudge for the cinnamon-sugar filling.  I'm also not a fan of sugar glaze on cinnamon rolls - I like a nice sweet cream cheese frosting... so I substituted that too.  Now, I don't know if I should call these "cinnamon rolls", since technically, there is only 1 tsp. of cinnamon in the entire recipe.  However, these look like cinnamon rolls (structurally)... and if I were to call them "pumpkin rolls", that brings to mind instead the rolled cake recipe of the same name (which was not at all what I made).   This turned out sooooooooo good.  I will be ruining all my fudge on purpose from now on, just so I have an excuse to make these...

Pumpkin-Walnut Cinnamon Rolls:
2 c. milk
1/2 c. canola oil
1/2 c. sugar
2 1/4. tsp. (1 pkg.) yeast
4 c. + 1/2 c. flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. table salt
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. pumpkin puree
1/2 c. evaporated milk
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
4 T. butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. walnuts, chopped
1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted
Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz. package cream cheese
1 stick (1/2 c.) unsalted butter
2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla

1.  First, make the filling.  Set a saucepan over medium heat, and add sugar, pumpkin, milk, and spices. 

2.  Simmer until the mixture reaches 236 degrees, or the soft ball stage.  Stir frequently to promote crystallization, and to make sure the mixture is not burning on the bottom.
3.  When the mixture begins to pull away from the sides, remove from heat, and stir in the butter, vanilla, and chopped walnuts.

4.  Dump the mixture into a plastic wrap lined baking dish, and press into place with a spatula.

5.  Leave overnight or several hours (covered with foil) to cool.  In the morning, lift the plastic wrap to remove the mixture, and you will have a crumbly filling for the cinnamon rolls.

6.  The night before, or 4 hours before you plan on serving the cinnamon rolls, make the dough.  Mix the milk, oil, and sugar in a large pot (or wok), and heat over medium until scalded (just before boiling).  Turn off the heat, and allow to cool for 1 hour.

7. Test and make sure the temperature is lukewarm to warm, but not hot.  Sprinkle the yeast over the top, and let sit for 1 minute.

8.  Add 4 cups of flour, and stir to form a smooth paste.  Cover loosely, and allow to rise for 1 hour.

9.  Add 1/2 c. remaining flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

10.  Knead into a smooth dough ball.  Cover, and allow to rise for 1 more hour.  (Or, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  In the morning, allow to come to room temperature, and allow to rise for 1 hour before proceeding).

11.  Grease two 9" round cake pans.  Generously sprinkle the clean counter top with flour.  Form a rough rectangle with the dough, and roll out into a 12" X 24" rectangle.

12.  Spread the melted butter all over the surface of the dough.

13.  Then top the butter with the crumbly pumpkin mixture.  (Break up pieces with your fingers as you sprinkle it on.)

14.  Roll the long edge inward to form a log.  Pinch the seams, and roll over so that the seams are facing downward.

15.  Using a serrated bread knife, cut the log into 1 inch slices.  This will give you approximately 16 good pieces, and the 2 end pieces that you can discard.

16.  Place 8 slices into each round cake pan, cover, and allow to rise for 20 more minutes. 

17.  Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 15 - 17 minutes.

18.  While still warm, smother with cream cheese frosting.

19.  (To make the cream cheese frosting, beat the room temperature butter, cream cheese, salt, and vanilla until smooth with a hand mixer.  Gradually add in the powdered sugar on low speed, beat until fluffy.)
Serve the rolls warm, with a cold glass of milk.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Leftover Jack-O'-Lantern: Field Pumpkin Puree for baking

Last year, our neighborhood didn't do much for Halloween - with the exception of this one house down the street that went nuts with the lights and spooky decor.  This year, (not to be outdone by that one house again) every house in the neighborhood stepped it up, and landscaped with tombstones, orange string lights, blow up ghosts, spider webs, and all kinds of scary decorations in their yard.  We finally succumbed to "neighborhood peer pressure" and put up a couple of gravestones, and set out 3 Jack-O'-Lanterns just before the Trick-or-treaters showed up. 

Now, I'm not the kind of person to look at these Jack-O'-Lanterns for a couple hours and just throw them away at the end of the night!  That's 15 pounds of pumpkin there!  I saved the cut out eyes and mouth pieces of the pumpkins to use in Japanese Cream Stew.  And on Halloween night, 9:30pm, I washed the Jack-O'-Lanterns thoroughly and baked them up to make pumpkin puree.  Don't use Jack-O'-Lanterns that have been sitting out in hot weather, or sitting outdoors for more than a few hours.  Make sure you wash them well in the sink (inside and outside) before using.

Normally, the best pumpkins to use for pumpkin puree are the smaller sugar pumpkins, as field pumpkins (the big Jack-O'-Lantern pumpkins) tend to be very watery.  My method of making field pumpkin puree works pretty well (and is not watery), and I've had good results using field pumpkin puree in recipes instead of canned pumpkin.  If you have a choice, and are specifically buying a pumpkin just to make a pie, buy a sugar pumpkin.  But don't listen to those people that tell you a field pumpkin doesn't make good pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread - because it's not true!

Pumpkin Puree:
3 field pumpkins
3 baking sheets
mesh colander
large bowl

1.  Split your cleaned field pumpkins (or leftover jack-o'-lanterns) in half with a sharp knife.  Put them cut side down on a foil lined baking sheet, and bake for 1 - 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees until soft.  (You should be able to pierce the pumpkin easily with a fork).

2.  With a large spoon, scrape the top most fibrous/stringy layer off of the pumpkin meat and discard.

3.  Now that you have removed all they goopy stringy fibers, scoop the pumpkin flesh into a large bowl.  Discard the leftover pumpkin skin.  Let the pumpkin cool for awhile.

4.  Working in batches, process the pumpkin in the work bowl of a food processor until smooth.

5.  Set a colander over a large bowl.  Pour the puree into the colander.  (I used 2 wire mesh colanders over 2 bowls for the puree from 3 pumpkins).

6.  Allow the pumpkin to drain at room temperature for 1 hour.  Dump the watery contents from the collecting bowl, and replace the colander of pumpkin in the bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to drain in the refrigerator overnight.

7.  Transfer the drained pumpkin puree into plastic containers and refrigerate.  Freeze the containers for later use, or refrigerate and use within 1 week.  This drained pumpkin puree can be used in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin puree (pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cheesecake, etc.).  Three medium sized field pumpkins will yield about 12 cups of puree.