Monday, June 25, 2012

Jell-O Orange Wedges

I love this! Great for a birthday party or potluck. It is usually done with orange flavored gelatin powder but it is so much more fun to mix up the flavors for a fun rainbow of colors. If you have kids, they could easily help.

Jell-O Orange Wedges
adapted from Pinterest

8-9 medium oranges
4 (85 g) boxes fruit flavored gelatin powder (various flavors)
2 1/2 cups boiling water

1. Slice the fruit cleanly in half lengthwise (through the axis). Carefully remove the pulp while keeping the half rind fully intact. Ensure that the rinds are fully dry.

2. Set each half rind upright in a muffin pan so you can fill it with Jell-o.

3. Mix the water with the gelatin. You'll want the Jello a little firmer than normal so it holds it shape in the orange wedges.

4. Make sure that the gelatin is well dissolved, and then pour it into the orange halves, filling as high as you can. The Jell-o will shrink a bit when cooling. Carefully transfer to the fridge and let set for about three hours (overnight is best).

5. When the Jello is set, place the fruit open-side down on a cutting board, hold it's shape with one hand and carefully slice in half lengthwise again to form quarters. Be careful not to crush the fruit. A serrated knife is helpful for this.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fannie Farmer's Macaroni and Cheese

This recipe is my go-to for homemade Mac n Cheese. It is so easy, so fast and my son's absolute favorite. It's his job to shred the cheese while I'm making the sauce. This recipe comes from the 1946 edition of "Fannie Farmer's Boston Cooking School Cookbook". With time on it's side - this recipe is hands down the best for traditional, homemade baked macaroni & cheese - comfort food.

Fannie Farmer (23 March 1857 - 15 January 1915) was an American culinary expert whose Boston Cooking-School Cook Book became a widely used culinary text. The original version on this book was published in 1896! I love scouring used bookstores for old cookbooks. They are often my first resource for comfort foods and classics.

Fannie Farmer's Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 6 | Fannie Farmer

1 (8 ounce) package macaroni
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded good quality
1/2 cup breadcrumbs, buttered

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook and drain macaroni according to package directions; set aside.

2. In a large saucepan melt butter. Add flour mixed with salt and pepper, using a whisk to stir until well blended. Pour milk and cream in gradually; stirring constantly.
Bring to boiling point and boil 2 minutes (stirring constantly). Reduce heat and cook (stirring constantly) 10 minutes.

3. Add shredded cheddar little by little and simmer an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese melts. Turn off flame. Add macaroni to the saucepan and toss to coat with the cheese sauce.

4. Transfer macaroni to a buttered baking dish. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake 20 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

100% Whole Wheat Cinnamon Ring

Only 5.5 months until the wedding! I miss blogging and the wonderful community of foodies I've found online, but sadly I have not been able to post very much lately because I've been so busy planning and organizing. I've still been baking, but the photos I've taken of the baked goods have not made it from my camera to my computer nor to this blog yet. Thanks to you all for continuing to follow me despite my erratic posting as of late.

If you know me, you know how much I love baking sweet yeast breads, but these are exactly the kinds of treats that I should be avoiding with only a few months until the wedding and 15 lbs to lose. That's why I'm thrilled that I found this recipe (adapted from Cooks Illustrated). It is 100% whole wheat and a great way to enjoy cinnamon buns with a little less guilt. There is not a trace of all purpose flour and yet they are surprisingly light, fluffy and moist. The honey in the dough gives the bread a light sweetness that marries perfectly with the cinnamon sugar filling.

I love this shaping method which makes for a lovely flower-like presentation. The method is very similar to cinnamon buns except that instead of cutting it into individual slices, you curve the log into a circle and join the ends. Then you make cuts every inch or so along the ring, cutting only three quarters of the way through, so they are still joined along the inner ring. It's even easier than traditional cinnamon buns, and so much prettier!

100% Whole Wheat Cinnamon Ring
adapted from Cooks Illustrated | Serves 16

1 1/3 cup milk
2 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup honey
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3-4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon
2/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts/pecans

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2-3 tbsp milk

1. Put the butter, honey and milk in a bowl and heat it for about 1 minute in microwave or until lukewarm. Add the yeast and let sit for 5 minutes or until slightly foamy. Add the beaten egg to the yeast mixture.

2. Mix 3 cups flour and the salt in a large bowl then add the yeast mixture to the flour. Using a rubber spatula, mix until everything is combined and comes together into a ball. You may have to adjust the flour or add some water -- the dough should be tacky, but not sticky. Use as little flour as possible so your dough is not tough.

3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead into a smooth ball. Put in a well oiled bowl and cover. Let rise for approx 1 1/2 hours (until almost doubled in size).

4. After dough has risen, gently punch it down then roll out into a large rectangle approximately 1/2" thick. Spread with softened butter then sprinkle evenly with brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins and nuts. Roll up into a log lengthwise. Holding both ends of the log, curve the log into a circle then pinch the ends together to seal. Place the ring on a baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, make slices around the outer edge of the ring approximately 1" apart but do not cut all the way through the ring (the slices should all still be joined). Turn each slice slightly to the side so the slices are fanned out evenly.

5. Cover with a tea towel and let rise for about an hour. Bake at 350ºF for approximately 20-30 minutes until golden brown.

6. Glaze: Combine the glaze ingredients until smooth and to the desired consistency. Drizzle over the cinnamon ring.