Archive for May, 2010

Blackening Seasoning

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Blackening Seasoning

I like to do things myself rather than just buy what I want or need.  It is usually cheaper and better, and a lot of the time easier than you might expect. The more I get into cooking, the more I see things in the kitchen (pizza dough, candied ginger) that I have bought, but I really can just make my own.  And I wonder why I never thought of that before, then change my ways.

Blackening Seasoning

I have an issue with buying spice blends that have inconsistent flavor.  I see recipes that call for ingredients like  blackening seasoning, but I have had some bottles of the spice that are a lot less potent than others.  It is just a blend of spices, there is no formula that everybody uses, so you really never know what you’re going to get.  Well, this bugs me.  So I decided to take control, and after a little trial and error, I found a blackening seasoning recipe that I love.   I always know exactly how it tastes and how spicy it is, so I don’t get unexpected results when using it. It is also really easy to make–just combine a few ingredients that are already in the spice cabinet into a jar, and shake it up.  Then, blacken some fish or chicken and enjoy.

Blackening Seasoning Recipe

1 tablespoon ground red pepper
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon onion powder

  1. Add all ingredients to an empty spice bottle, and shake well.

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

Perhaps you heard that Nashville flooded.  No?  News to you?  Well, that’s because the city didn’t get the media attention it rightly deserved, but it was a real disaster.  We’ve been in a state of emergency, people lost their homes, some people lost their lives, and infrastructure was destroyed, not to mention the devastation to the country music scene in loss of instruments and gear.  Nashvillians don’t have flood insurance, and a lot of people are desperate for help, so please consider contributing what you can.

That is exactly why I’ve been absent for a couple of weeks.  I’ve been dealing with my own flood damage and cleanup, which I can assure you is something you’d be happy never to have to do.  One of the water treatment plants was flooded, so Nashville has been on restricted water use, which means no fun cooking for me, not that I’ve had time for it.

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

It’s been a long, wet couple of weeks, and I have really wanted to make a nice treat to take our minds off the water.  Something refreshing and spring-y.  This lemon poppy seed bread did the trick.  I started with a recipe from The Joy of Baking and kicked it up a bit, using extra lemon zest for more intense flavor, adding almond extract for more complex flavor, and substituting buttermilk for regular milk for a lighter texture.  I also changed up the lemon syrup a bit, adding some almond there, too, and using powdered sugar instead of granulated.  I was more than happy with the results.  I think you will be, too.

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread Recipe  Makes 1 loaf.

adapted from The Joy of Baking

Bread
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon almond extract
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
lemon zest of 2 lemons
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
13 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons almond extract

Lemon Syrup
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon almond extract
1/3 cup powdered sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Spray the bottom and sides of a loaf pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract, almond extract, and buttermilk.
  3. With a mixer, beat the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, lemon zest, and poppy seeds until combined. Add the softened butter and half the egg mixture and mix on low speed until moistened. Increase the speed to medium and beat for about one minute. (This aerates and develops the cake’s structure.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the remaining egg mixture in two batches, beating about 30 seconds after each addition. (This will strengthen the structure of the batter.)
  4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. You may have to cover the bread with foil after about 30 minutes if you find the bread over-browning.

Meanwhile, make lemon syrup.

  1. Combine sugar, lemon juice, and almond extract.

Add syrup to warm bread.

  1. When the bread is done, remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Pierce the hot loaf all over with a wooden skewer or toothpick and then brush the top of the loaf with about half the hot lemon syrup.
  2. Cool the loaf in the pan for about 10 minutes then invert onto a greased wire rack. Brush the remaining syrup onto the bottom and the sides of the loaf.
  3. Re-invert the bread so it is right side up and then cool the bread completely before wrapping.

Spinach Burritos

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

Spinach Burritos

I have eaten spinach burritos at various Mexican restaurants and always felt disappointed with the results.  They are always so creamy and so not spinachy and have such little flavor.  I eventually learned my lesson and stopped ordering them, but the temptation never left.  I mean really, spinach and cheese stuffed in a tortilla continued to sound yummy and call my name.  So what’s a girl to do?  Make her own, and do it right, so that is what I did.

Spinach Burritos

My version is still plenty creamy.  I mean,  I love creamy, I just love for my creamy to have flavor, too.  So I increased the ratio of spinach to creamy ingredients and added a little cumin and hot chili sauce for bite. Really, it was that easy.  I’ve made these burritos a few times now, with both fresh spinach and frozen.  Both are good, but the fresh spinach is unbelievable, so that is how I wrote the recipe.  In a bind, I’ll still use frozen.  This is one of those  dinners that takes almost no time, but is still delicious.  Serve them with some Spanish rice and black beans on the side, and you have yourself a complete vegetarian meal, but you won’t miss the meat with this one.

Spinach Burritos Recipe  Makes about 4 large burritos

1 pound fresh baby spinach
2 tablespoons cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
1 tablespoon hot chili sauce
1 teaspoon cumin
tortillas

  1. Melt butter, cream cheese, and Monterey jack cheese in large skillet over low heat.
  2. Once cheese is melted, add spinach and let wilt.
  3. Add hot chili sauce and cumin.  Stir together.
  4. Put 2-3 tablespoons of spinach mixture in tortilla and roll up.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.
  5. Place rolled tortillas in large skillet on medium heat until crisp and golden, turning to cook both sides.
  6. Serve with salsa, guacamole, and/or sour cream.