Aged Gouda Orzo

I have become a huge fan of orzo. Thanks to Cutting Edge of Ordinary’s Everyday Orzo. This was just such an enlightening experience as I have mentioned many (many) times. But I liked the concept, so here is a version that I tried based on the cheese in the fridge. I expect I will try this multiple times with multiple cheeses. Not surprising really. I do love about all cheeses.  Well, I cannot think of any cheese I do not like, nope.

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2 Tbs unsalted butter
Small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 ozs orzo
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock, warmed (microwave works)
8 ozs aged Gouda shredded

Melt the butter in a saute pan and add the onion and let it soften, then add garlic and stir in for about a minute. Add the orzo and stir until coated in the butter mixture. Add the vegetable stock and bring the heat up to a boil. Then turn down the heat to a simmer and cover the pan – leave it covered for 25 minutes. If you lift the lid you will mess this up.  You are letting the orzo steam and then you shall add the cheese. And it will be a glorious mess of orzo, alliums, and cheese. Which to me is just breakfast on a work day.

I seasoned with a good bit of freshly ground black pepper, because I am me.

Really, stupidly, good orzo – redux

This will be breakfast tomorrow. I don’t have much experience with orzo, but this seemed pretty easy and thankfully for me, idiot proof. The biggest point is to be patient. That I can do, especially since I was trying something new. Well not really new to me to eat, just the first time I made it – more to come on that shortly, but butter was involved.

The fact that Gruyere is involved in this recipe made it a no brainier for me since I’ve had a nice bit of it in the fridge that I’d been wanting to do something with … besides just eat it. I still have nice big piece left so expect some kind of cheesy something. Maybe some kind of crackers. Gruyere has a similar dryness (not in a bad way) that cheddar does, but also has an amazing nuttiness as well. Oh, and this is the good stuff, the real stuff, imported from Switzerland. Yep – I’m thinking some kind of crackers.  Sounds like a plan.

D&D_0309My thanks to the cutting edge of ordinary for sharing. Great name by the way. Maybe there is some truth in that name for all of us.

I made a half recipe and here are the proportions and method.

Everyday Orzo
2 Tbs butter
1 small onion, diced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 cups chicken stock
8 ozs orzo
1/3 cup Gruyere, grated (no substitution per the original)

Melt butter in a sauce pan on medium heat, add onion and sauté until translucent. Don’t let it brown. Add garlic and sauté for a minute more. In a glass measuring cup, heat the chicken stock to boiling in the microwave.

Add orzo to onion mixture and stir to coat with butter. Add in hot chicken stock, cover and remove from heat. Let stand 25 minutes without lifting the lid – this is serious – do not uncover. While waiting patiently, grate Gruyere. After time, check orzo and make sure liquid is absorbed. Add cheese and stir to melt. Season with salt and pepper. Lemon zest just makes it, but lemon juice also does the job.

This is a creamy lovely thing. Sigh. And amazingly great for breakfast. It’s just a thing for me. I think next time some lemon will be involved.  Indeed.

This was first published on 6 August 2015.

08 May 2017

Sour Cream Cornbread Muffins

I finally decided to make my favorite cornbread recipe into muffins, and I’ll be damned if it did not work out amazingly. I just took my favorite cornbread recipe that I always make for chili and tried to make it in muffin form. I am happy to say it worked really really well. Super happy – yep. dd_1789

1 cup self-rising corn meal*
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 small can of creamed corn – Publix brand is great – like most Publix brands
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients well.  Line a 12-well muffin tin with foil liners and spray with cooking spray. Fill cups 3/4 full – or basically just make them all even so the baking time is the same. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes. Do the toothpick thing just in case you are wondering.

* 3/4 cup cornmeal + 3 Tbs
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt

So this past week I have eaten really moist cornbread muffins for breakfast**. Split in half and put in the toaster oven and heat up and make a little crunchy. And then just go all in with the ridiculously rich European butter – that is some serious good eats. Might be better than biscuits for breakfast but that is almost blasphemy for a good Southern girl to say. Well ….

**Before, I just cut pieces of cornbread and brought them in. But then there was the problem of running out of cornbread for leftover chili, so I went all in – a pan of cornbread and then cornbread muffins – pretty good solution. And more cornbread for me. I didn’t even share this with the office. I think I just might be terrible, no, just selfish.

Sausage, Cheddar, and Corn Muffins

I have a thing for breakfast muffins, especially when a pork product is involved. I just had to try these, although I did mess about with the recipe a bit. We are little bit past fresh corn season, even for us.* So I purchased frozen white shoepeg corn – one of my favorite things in the entire frozen world. I think I prefer the shoepeg because it is slightly less sweet. I have modifications to the originally recipe and know I will be making more adjustments to this recipe the next time I make it.**dd_1590

2 teaspoons olive oil
16 ounces hot breakfast sausage
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup corn meal
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup frozen sweet white corn kernels, let thaw while you make batter
1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese, plus more for sprinkling on muffins
1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 12 muffin tin cups with foil liners.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add sausage. Break the sausage into small pieces with a spatula as it cooks. Cook until the sausage is crumbly and cooked through. Remove skillet from heat. Blot up some of the fat with  paper towels leaving about 1 tablespoon. Let mixture cool.

Place flour, corn meal, and baking soda in a mixing bowl. Whisk until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and buttermilk together. Add egg/buttermilk mixture slowly to flour/cornmeal mixture. Add corn kernels, Cheddar cheese, and reserved sausage mixture. Stir in melted butter; mix just until flour is mixed in.***

Divide batter among muffin cups. Top with some extra Cheddar cheese.

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool to warm before serving.

Adapted from Allrecipies … once again.dd_1591

* We have a huge rural farming community around us, but it is October and I’ll just go with frozen corn and pass on the farming left-overs.

** I was missing a little salt in these muffins. I think next time I’ll add a 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan. I could add salt, but why not make it Parmesan. More cheese and some salty flavor to the mix.

*** I mixed everything up one night and put it in the fridge. Came home the next day and let it sit until room temperature and then baked the muffins and they were great. I am a huge fan of making a recipe to a certain point and then continuing on the next night.  I have to do that since I bake/cook after I get off work.

The original recipe had scallions in it. They might be nice, but I am thinking chives next time would be a great deal better, or maybe even a shallot. Now there’s a thought.

Can you tell I will be making these again pretty soon. One of our students had one and said anytime you add sausage to something, that was a good thing. I completely agree. Any pork is a good thing.

Banana Bread Challenge

So me and my friend Shelly had a banana bread challenge this weekend.  Zach was supposed to compete, but said all the bananas were too green. Seem suspicious to me since I went to one of the same stores. Ask the produce guy – they are always happy to get rid of what is perceived as “over ripe” fruit. And spotty brown bananas are required for banana bread – according to my mom and she is, without a doubt, an authority on the subject.

My mom made so many loafs of banana nut bread for Christmas it was ridiculous. I feel like I spent most of my Christmas breaks from DD_0206school chopping individual pecans into four pieces each. Yes. I did that. These days, as the baker myself, I’m more relaxed in my attitude. Rough chop – totally works.  Three bananas are needed for 1 1/2 cups of mashed bananas, and you need the full-sized loaf pan. a 1.5 pound, 10 x 5″ pan. My go-to one is a William-Sonoma Goldtouch. I’m a huge fan of the Goldtouch brand – the browning is pretty amazing –  not too much or too little. Thanks, once again, to America’s Test Kitchen.

I always say that this recipe is such a tradition that I don’t change, but that is not quite true. I add more pecans. Local pecans from Renfroe’s. 1 1/2 cups chopped, but everything else remains the same. It is so funny. I remember my mom sifting the dry ingredients together and putting them in bags for her assembly line baking between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We had to (and I still have to) have this for Christmas morning. Run it under the broiler until the edges are crunchy and smear with butter. When I was a kid it margarine – better living through weird stuff – ugh. But I have done my food snob thing for years and have never used margarine. It’s salted European butter. Yes, excellent. But any salted butter will do.

One of the best things about this bread is that it keeps really well in the fridge and also in the freezer. So I usually cut the loaf in half and double wrap one half in foil and put in the freezer. It can keep there for several months. Then over a couple of weeks, I eat the half thats’s in the fridge. Works really well.

Now’s here the thing that I thought was so cool. Shelly, for our competition, made banana nut muffins. How have I never thought about it? But in discussing with another friend, she had the best idea I heard this weekend. Make little mini-muffin banana nut muffins. Holy hell! Excellent idea! I will have to work on the temperature / timing to do this, but it sounds, to use an over-used word, awesome. And I just purchased a Goldtouch mini-muffin pan. Do I sound like a commercial for William-Sonoma? I don’t mean to, but I really like this brand. It makes baking so easy.

 

Lemon Lemon (Lemon) Loaf – or triple lemon cake, if you prefer

This recipe originally made two 9″ x 5″ loafs, but since I only have one 9″ x 5″ pan which is perfect for my mom’s banana nut bread and the other one is 8″ x something,  I decided to just half the recipe and deal with it. This, therefore, is for one loaf. I have to say I love my loaf pans – they are the Williams-Sonoma gold touch and pretty much amazing. I totally recommend them, no, really – I have no dog in this fight. They are far and away the best baking pans. Baking so evenly and made in the USA – that’s right – just like my Nordic Ware – which are bundt pan magic.* I just keep adding to my gold touch collection – 2 9″ round cake pans, 9″ x 13″ baking pan, and the list goes on. Hey W&S, please send me the 12 cup cupcake pan just because I’m kind of nice (sometimes), well not really. D&D_IMG_0825-Edit

This is one of the softest cakes I’ve ever made. The texture is so light that it seems etherial. It is great plain, but outstanding with syrup and glaze. It makes a great breakfast – hardly surprising, I know.

I like to bake for others, but sometimes, like this, I just want to make something I think I will like. And that usually means lemon-something. Can’t help it. But I did share this around and I think it was well received.

3/4 cup cake flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup + 2 Tbs sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
zest of two good sized lemons
1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

3 Tbs lemon juice
3 Tbs sugar

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 – 3 Tbs lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9 x 5″ loaf pan with cooking spray. Line with parchment and spray again.

Sift flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt over a piece of waxed paper.

Put eggs, sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse until combined. With food processor running, drizzle the butter through the feed tube. Add the sour cream and vanilla and pulse to combine. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Sprinkle the flour mixture, one third at a time, gently fold. Do not overmix. Add batter to loaf pan, and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate pan, reduce oven to 325 degrees and bake for 30 – 35 minutes more or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes.

In saucepan, heat lemon juice and sugar over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Heat for a few more minutes until it thickens just slightly. Remove from heat and cool slightly [saying slightly quite a bit].

Line a sheet pan with parchment and invert loaf onto pan. Using a skewer, poke holes into top of loaf. Brush top with lemon syrup. Let soak into the cake. Let cake cool completely, at least 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar and 2 Tbs lemon juice. Should be thick, but pourable. Pour the glaze over top and let it drip down the sides. Let lemon glaze harden, about 15 minutes.

D&D_IMG_0830-EditSoaked unglazed loaves will keep wrapped in two layers of plastic and frozen for up to 6 weeks.

Glazed loaves will keep for 3 days, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

I think they get better after the first day.

16 October 2015

This is a half recipe of the original from Epicurious from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. The food processor part of this really surprised me, but it did work.

*I will not even go into how many Nordic Ware bundt pans I have. I think it might be not natural. But I still love them!