Posts Tagged 'Martha Stewart'

S’More Squares

What the heck happened to summer?  I realize that by the calendar, we still have almost seven weeks (and I will continue to blog as such!), but I can feel it fading.  The neighborhood kids are going back to school tomorrow, and I was mildly freaked out to see racks and racks of fall clothes at the mall yesterday.  (At least that means football is coming, right?)

In my mind, this means we’d better enjoy as much summer fare as we can before it’s back to roasted squash and simmering stews.  And what’s the quintessential summer dessert?  S’mores, of course!  Today’s recipe is a dressed-up version you can use as a fun ending to the most adult dinner party, but kids love it as well (and I have the evidence!).

S’More Squares
Makes 9

Ingredients:
Vegetable oil, for brushing
4 packages unflavored gelatin (or 3 tablespoons)
3 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 6 tablespoons room temperature, plus more for pan
14 graham crackers, crushed to yield 1 1/2 cups crumbs
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

Method:
Brush a 9-x-13-inch glass baking dish with vegetable oil.  Cut a piece of parchment or wax paper large enough to cover the bottom of the dish and to overhang the longer sides.  Place the parchment in the dish, brush with oil, and set dish aside.

Pour 3/4 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer, and sprinkle gelatin on top.  Let stand 5 minutes.

Place 3 cups granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 3/4 cup water in a medium saucepan.  Set saucepan over high heat, and bring to a boil.  Insert a candy thermometer, and cook until mixture reaches soft-ball stage (238 degrees, about 9 minutes).

Using the whisk attachment, beat hot syrup into gelatin on low speed.  Gradually increasing speed to high, beat until mixture is very stiff, about 12 minutes.  Beat in vanilla.  Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish, and smooth the surface with an offset spatula.  Set dish aside, uncovered, until marshmallow becomes firm, at least 3 hours or overnight.

Place 1 cup confectioners’ sugar in a fine strainer, and sift onto a clean work surface. Invert large marshmallow onto the sugar-coated surface, and peel off the parchment paper.  Lightly brush a sharp knife with vegetable oil, and cut marshmallow into 2-inch squares.  Sift remaining 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl, and roll marshmallows in sugar to coat.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Brush a 9-inch square baking pan with melted butter.  In a large bowl, combine graham-cracker crumbs, 7 tablespoons melted butter, and remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar.  Using your hands, press mixture firmly into prepared pan.  Transfer pan to oven, and bake until the crust has set, 15 to 18 minutes.  Remove pan from oven, and transfer to wire rack to cool.

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a simmer.  In a medium heat-proof bowl, combine chocolate with remaining 6 tablespoons butter.  Set the bowl over the simmering water, and stir until chocolate and butter have melted.  Pour chocolate mixture over cooled graham-cracker crust.  Using an offset spatula, spread chocolate mixture into an even layer.  Transfer to refrigerator, and chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the broiler.  Cut chocolate crust into nine 3-inch squares.  Top each square with a marshmallow, and place assembled s’mores under the broiler just until marshmallows turn golden brown, about 20 seconds.  Serve immediately.

Source: Martha Stewart Living, May 1998

Time for S'Mores!Time for S'Mores!

Time for S'Mores!

S'Mores Square

Talk about a decadent dessert.  WOW.  The end result was really delicious but super rich; my group of tasters concluded that the chocolate was the culprit.  I used Baker’s semisweet for this batch, but I’m going to use Hershey’s milk chocolate (the classic!) next time around.  I might also play with the amount of chocolate in my next batch, though I’m not sure that half would be quite enough.  Additionally, I’ll probably cut the graham cracker base into a dozen squares instead of nine to make it easier to finish one off (though the size does make this a visually impressive dessert!).

This marshmallow recipe is pure perfection, everybody.  These were the most gorgeous, fluffy marshmallows I’ve ever made (and I’ve made lots), AND they taste exactly like Jet-Puffed marshmallows (a plus in my book).  Whenever I have a recipe that calls for marshmallow from here on out, I’m going to use these.  Also, this recipe makes more than double the amount of marshmallow you’ll actually need for the s’mores, so you’ll have plenty around for snacks.

So what else do I love about this recipe?  The same thing I love about so many things I post on this blog, which is “make-ahead-ability.”  The marshmallows will keep in an airtight container for about two weeks, and the chocolate-covered graham cracker squares can be kept in the refrigerator for at least two or three days.  If you have the components made, all you have to do is preheat the broiler, put the squares on a baking sheet, put marshmallows on the squares, and put the treats under the broiler for 20 seconds.  That’s about as easy as it gets.

A note about browning the marshmallows: I thought it might be OK to use a kitchen torch instead of the broiler, but that quite literally just browns the marshmallows. You totally miss out on the ooey-gooeyness that the oven time creates.  Also, if you make too many s’mores, I discovered that they’re quite good reheated the next day. Just let them cool completely, put them in an airtight container, and then pop them in the microwave for 15 – 20 seconds when you’re ready to enjoy.

TIP:  Since I live at 5900 feet, I had to adjust the temperature of my sugar and corn syrup mixture to make the marshmallow.  Water boils at 202°F at my house (instead of 212°F at sea level), so I took the mixture off of the stove at 228°F instead of 238°F.  Also, I had an incredible amount of powdered sugar waste after I cut and rolled my marshmallows; I think you could get away with sifting only 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar onto the work surface, rather than a full cup.

Update 4/23/12: I made these last night for friends with two modifications.  First, I used 9 ounces of Hershey’s milk chocolate instead of 12 ounces of semisweet chocolate.  I liked the flavor of the Hershey’s better, and the chocolate layer was a perfect thickness.  Also, one of my dinner guests from last night can’t have gluten, so I made the crust with Kinnikinnick S’moreables (and made sure to get 1.55-ounce Hershey bars, which apparently is the only size Hershey guarantees as gluten free).  Using the alternative graham cracker changed the texture of the crust a bit, but the dessert was still delicious.

Recipe link: S’More Squares

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Dueling Veggie Burgers

I’m having a vegetarian dinner guest again this weekend, and my tried-and-true options (a) have been done before, and (b) aren’t seeming super appropriate at this moment with this gorgeous weather.  What does seem appropriate?  Grilling! Burgers and side salads make an easy entertaining menu, so I decided to try two very different vegetarian burger recipes: Greek-Style Quinoa Burgers and Balsamic Portobello Burgers with Red Pepper and Goat Cheese.

My use of the word “dueling” in the title might suggest that there was actually some hot competition between the recipes.  There wasn’t.  One recipe was leaps and bounds (truly!) above the other.  I wanted to include both, though, to help anyone who might be having their own veggie burger debate.

I’ll start with the Greek-Style Quinoa Burgers since I made them first.  The patties were made of quinoa, carrots, scallions, beans, breadcrumbs, and egg; they were seasoned with cumin, salt, and pepper.  The patties came together easily and without too much mess, and I liked that they could be assembled a day ahead and held (uncooked) in the refrigerator.  The recipe called for the patties to be cooked on the stove, but I decided to use my outdoor grill since it would create less mess when I was entertaining my guests.  They cooked up easily (I did 8 minutes per side over medium heat) and didn’t stick to the grill at all.

The problem?  Despite all those delicious ingredients, they didn’t have a lot of flavor.  They were also super dry when we reheated the leftovers the next day.  The yogurt-lemon-scallion sauce helped quite a bit, but the experience really should be about the burger, right?  Carnivores would never trade a beef or turkey burger for one of these, but I figured the quinoa burger would be a not-amazing-but-good-enough backyard barbecue option for vegetarians.

Greek Style Quinoa Burgers

That was, until I tasted the Balsamic Portobello Burgers with Red Pepper and Goat Cheese.  Oh.  Mah.  Gawd.  They were just as easy to make as the quinoa burgers (maybe easier) and still had make-ahead convenience factor, but I would actually choose this over meat from time to time.  Portobellos are a meaty mushroom to begin with, and they soaked up the marinade so beautifully.  You know that wonderfully messy, juicy dribble you get when you bite into a fantastic burger? You get it here.  With roasted red peppers and goat cheese (two of my favorite ingredients!) on a grill-toasted bun, this was absolute heaven.

Balsamic Portobello Burger with Red Pepper and Goat Cheese

My only note is that you’ll use either one or two mushrooms per burger depending on the size of your portobellos.  Just make sure you get at least the weight recommended by the recipe (1 pound).  Consider making extras…  You won’t regret it!

Recipe links: Greek-Style Quinoa Burgers and Balsamic Portobello Burgers with Red Pepper and Goat Cheese

Chocolate-Ginger Cookies

I make an awful lot of sugar cookies.  (I swear, I could make them in my sleep!)  I make so many, in fact, that I rarely even think about making any other kind of cut-out cookie.  When the recipe for these Chocolate-Ginger Cookies came through my inbox the other day, though, I just had to make them.  The chocolate-ginger flavor combination really feels like fall, and I already had the adorable fall cookie cutters used in the photo on the Martha Stewart Web site.

I went into this thinking that I’d be able to mimic my sugar cookie routine with a different dough, but I had to change plans quickly; the dough is pretty soft.  The downside of this is that I had to flour the heck out of my counter, the surface of the dough, and the rolling pin to make cutting and transferring the cookies possible.  The upside, though (and it’s a big one!), is that the dough produces a very tender cookie.  Here’s the recipe if you’d like to give it a try:

Chocolate-Ginger Cookies
Makes 4 dozen

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (I left this out)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (I left this out)
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup dark unsulfured molasses
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
Sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Method:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Whisk together flour, cocoa, spices, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

Cream butter and brown sugar on medium speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add egg, molasses, and grated ginger; mix until combined. Add flour mixture; mix on low speed until just combined.

Halve dough; flatten into two disks. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 hour. Transfer disks, one at a time, to a lightly floured surface; roll out to 1/4 inch thick. (If dough gets soft, freeze until firm.) Use 3-inch acorn or leaf cookie cutters to make shapes; place 1 inch apart on sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.

Score designs with a knife; sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are firm, 11 to 13 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

Source: Martha Stewart Living, November 2004

My notes:

  • As you can see from the ingredient list, I left out the leavening agents.  I find that cutout cookies tend to hold their shape better (especially at altitude) when I omit them.
  • I was tempted to squeeze the moisture out of my grated ginger because it was pretty wet, but I didn’t.  Baked goods usually benefit from a little extra moisture at altitude anyway.
  • The recipe said to refrigerate the cookies for 20 minutes before baking, but I froze them for 20 minutes instead.
  • I tried scoring the cookies with the designs both before and after freezing (I’m a rebel like that!).  Scoring them after freezing definitely resulted in cleaner lines.
  • My cookies were done in about 11 1/2 minutes per batch.

Chocolate-Ginger Cookies

I still love sugar cookies the best, but these were pretty tasty.  I liked the balance of ginger and chocolate, and I really enjoyed the light crunch of the sanding sugar. I’m not sure if the cookies were supposed to be tender (the Martha Stewart site indicated they’d be crisp), but mine certainly were.  They weren’t soft in a flexible way – they held their shape perfectly – but they had such a delicate crumb.  I’ll try this one again in December as gingerbread men.

Recipe link: Chocolate-Ginger Cookies

How to Make Pumpkin Puree (the Easy Way)

Sometimes I hate to admit it, but as many concluded in the much-discussed Martha Stewart vs. Rachael Ray dustup last week, nobody does it like Martha.

When I first made pumpkin puree a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I had originally intended to use Martha Stewart’s method but decided to go with the instructions on the pumpkin sticker instead.  I got great results, but I really struggled to cut open my pumpkins.  (At this point, I’m not sure if the sweat was from pure exertion or the completely rational fear of losing a finger.)

Since I’m making the Chocolate-Pumpkin Tart again for Thanksgiving, I needed to whip up some more puree.  For comparison’s sake, I decided to use Martha’s method today and (of course) it totally trumped the pie sticker method.  Martha says to peel and seed the pumpkin (I used a really sharp Y peeler), cut it into 2-inch pieces, and then steam it (covered) on the stove for 15 minutes.  As I had hoped, cutting through the pumpkin was easy peasy once the skin had been removed.  I actually skipped the step of cutting off the top and bottom of the pumpkin (I didn’t want to struggle!) and then sliced the flesh off in quarters after I finished peeling the pumpkin.  All I had left was this little pumpkin “sandwich.”

Pumpkin Remnants

The results were identical to the other method once I pureed the steamed pumpkin in the food processor – smooth, creamy pumpkin puree with no difference in flavor.  For me (and for the sake of safety and energy conservation), Martha’s way is now the right way to make pumpkin puree.

Recipe link: Sugar-Pumpkin Puree

Wild Rice Salad

I’m going to put some more “Thanksgiving potential” out there for the diligent menu planners.  (I’m one of those, except “diligent” might not be the right word.  “Obsessive,” maybe?)

I’m certainly not obsessed with Martha Stewart the person, but I really do enjoy the special holiday issues of some of her magazines.  There are always plenty of fun, crafty ideas, and I’d hate to miss out on the holiday recipe collection.  Today’s recipe – Wild Rice Salad – is from the 2008 Season’s Eatings issue.  I was drawn to this one for two main reasons.  One, the magazine said this dish is actually better when it’s made a day ahead, which makes it perfect for company.  Two, it’s gluten-free, and I’ll be having a dinner guest in a few weeks who doesn’t eat wheat.

Yet again, I made a half recipe (4 servings) since I was just cooking for two.  Double the ingredients to follow the original recipe, which serves eight.

First, I cooked 1 cup of wild rice according to package directions.  I completely forgot that wild rice is like brown rice (it takes *forever* (50 – 60 minutes) to cook), so be sure to plan accordingly.  One positive aspect of the eternal rice cooking time is that I had plenty of time to prep the other salad ingredients.  I cut half of a small red onion, half of a celery stalk, and half of a small carrot into 1/4-inch dice.  Next, I toasted 1/4 cup of slivered almonds on a rimmed baking sheet in a 350F oven.  (Toasting took about 7 – 8 minutes; just watch them carefully.  When they’re fragrant, they’re pretty much done.)  I waited until the last minute to core half of a red apple and cut it into 1/4-inch dice since I didn’t want it to turn brown.  (Toss the diced apple with a bit of lemon juice to prevent discoloration if you really want to prep it early.)

When the rice was ready, I drained it and rinsed it under cold water and then placed it in a medium bowl.  In a medium skillet, I melted 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter over medium heat.  I sauteed the diced apple with a pinch of ground cloves, stirring, until the pieces were slightly golden (4 minutes).  I added the apple mixture to the cooked rice.

In the same skillet, I heated 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.  I added the diced red onion, celery, and carrot, along with 1 minced garlic clove.  I sauteed the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the onion was translucent and just beginning to brown (6 minutes).  I transferred the veggies to the bowl with the rice-apple mixture, added 2 tablespoons of dried currants, and seasoned with salt and pepper.

To make the dressing, I added 1 tablespoon of apple-cider vinegar, 1 1/2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of water to the hot skillet, still over medium heat.  (I pre-mixed the liquids in a small bowl and dumped everything in at once to make things easier.)  I cooked the mixture, whisking, until it was reduced by half (1 – 2 minutes).  I whisked in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, drizzled it over the salad, and tossed it to combine.  I let the salad sit for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld, and then I served it garnished with the toasted almonds.

Wild Rice Salad

This salad is so, SO good.  I did taste it immediately after I finished it, and I was concerned that it was going to be a bit too vinegar-y.  Those 30 minutes of resting time were like magic, though.  I absolutely loved the texture – slightly chewy wild rice and currants, tender-crisp fruit and vegetables – and the toasted almonds really put things over the top.  Mmm, mmm, mmm.

Definitely make this one ahead, even if you only let it sit for 30 – 60 minutes.  If you’re going to serve it the next day, cover it, refrigerate it, bring it to room temperature and add the toasted almonds just before serving.  I enjoyed some of our leftovers the next day for lunch, and the flavor and texture were still amazing.

TIP: Grocery stores like Whole Foods (and even some of the nicer locations of standard chains) have foods like wild rice, slivered almonds, and dried currants available in the bulk foods section of the grocery store.  Save pantry space and money by just buying what you need.

Recipe link: Wild Rice Salad




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