Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ringing in the New Year with a fluffy favorite.

Stollen is a traditional German bread and the grandfather of fruitcake. Now, this isn't some dried out, booze-flavored, candied fruit monstrosity. No, no. This, my friends, is a coveted delicacy. A lightly sweet, fluffy yet dense, glistening jewel of a treat.

The recipe below makes 2 loaves...I dare you not to eat them both. I made this yesterday and I will be giving one away tomorrow. I don't want to. I want to hoard this magical delight and eat it all in one sitting. You will get it once you try it.

A few helpful tips:
Don't use skim milk. Your bread needs the protein in fatty milk to make itself grow.
Don't use margarine. In fact, that rule goes for everything - always.
Let your eggs, butter and milk come to room temperature before you use them. Don't skip this step.

Best Stollen Ever. Ever.

4 to 4 1/2 cups of unbleached flour
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/4 cups milk (1% or higher)
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar plus one tbsp granulated sugar, divided
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup purple raisins
1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsps hot water
1 teaspoon butter

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of flour, yeast and nutmeg.

In a saucepan, heat milk, 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 cup granulated sugar and salt until warm and butter melts. Add to flour mixture along with egg.

Beat with an electric mixer on low for 30 seconds. Scrape sides and beat on high for 3 minutes.

Mix in as much remaining flour as you can. Be careful not to over work the dough here.

In a separate bowl, combine raisins, apricots and 1 tablespoon sugar. Toss to coat. Stir fruit into dough.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead for 4 minutes. Shape into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and cut dough in half. Reshape loaves and place on separate greased cookie sheets. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise again for about an hour.

Bake, one at a time, at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Place the second in the fridge while the first is baking to stop the dough from rising too much.

Allow baked bread to cool on a wire rack.

In a saucepan, heat powdered sugar, butter and water until well combined. Allow to cool slightly and them brush mixture over cooled loaves. Sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Potato Leek Soup FOR THE WIN!

Richard and I had Christmas early. It was one of those "When I grow up I'm going to have ice cream for dinner" moments. One of my stocking stuffers was knitting needles.

Those of you that know me are starting to understand why this week's post is late. I have been knitting away the hours all weekend. But I did stop long enough to make some potato leek soup. Friends....this is where you have to really pay attention....leeks are divine. Not "Oh, how yummy" divine. Like, fall to your knees and pray divine.

They look beautiful in the pan, they are naturally extremely flavorful and they are so easy to prepare. SO EASY!

If you don't know, leeks are related to onions and garlic. I love both of those things! I'm going to go ahead and apologize for the terrible photos. It was dark. I was hungry. And maybe a little tipsy. Definitely tipsy. But this recipe was easy enough to navigate after a few drinks. And it is relatively light. No heavy cream! Enjoy!

Potato Leek Soup


3 tablespoons butter, unsalted
4 cups chopped leeks
3 large scallions, chopped
3 yukon gold potatoes, diced
3 cups chicken broth
greek yogurt and scallions for garnish

In a large saute pan, melt butter and saute leeks and scallions until leeks are wilted. Do not brown them.

Add potatoes and stir to coat. Add broth and bring to a boil. Don't use crappy broth here, kids. Go for the good stuff. It makes all the difference.

Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender. Transfer 1/3 of soup to blender and blend for 3-5 seconds. Pour into a pot and repeat with another 1/3 of the soup. Pour the remaining 1/3 of soup into the blended soup and mix well. Gently reheat and serve with a garnish of greek yogurt or sour cream and scallions.

That's it! Easy, fast and SO good. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Goat cheese goes with everything!

This week I had a serious craving for goat cheese. I think I tried putting it in everything. And everything was delicious! Goat cheese and honey on toast? Yes please! Goat cheese omelet? Oooooh yeah! It is one of the world's most perfect foods.
On a side note, I very gently forced Richard to try beets this week. It didn't go well for the beets. More beets for me!
In an ode to this creamy, smooth creation, today's recipe is asparagus and goat cheese stuffed chicken.
Asparagus and Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken

2 chicken breasts, butterflied and pounded thin
2 tbsps goat cheese
10 asparagus spears
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1. Spread goat cheese across inside of chicken.
2. Lay 5 asparagus spears across the spreaded goat cheese.
3. Roll breast so both ends overlap.
4. Stick wooden toothpicks along the seam of the chicken.
5. Using a pair of sharp scissors, cut the toothpicks to fit. (Don't forget to remove these before serving!)
6. Combine all spices and sprinkle over all sides of rolled up chicken.
7. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a very hot skillet.
8. Sear chicken, seam down, for 3-5 minutes.
9. Turn chicken and cook another 3-5 minutes. Sear on all 4 sides.
10. Let chicken rest for 3-5 minutes.
11. Cut in half and serve.