March 17, 2013

Baileys Pound Cake


I don't have a drop of Irish blood in my body. I'm perfectly happy to skip the corned beef and cabbage. Colcannon? No thank you. Guinness? Pass. And Jameson's Irish whiskey? Let's just say there's a story there that I wish I could forget.

the star of this show
But Baileys Irish Cream. Now that's another story. Back in college, my friends and I drank B-52s, that insanely delicious combination of Baileys, Kahlua and Amaretto. These days, I sip Baileys over ice. I stir it into hot chocolate. I pour some in the blender when I'm making a milkshake. And on Friday nights, when I want something simple but satisfying, I drizzle it over vanilla ice cream. 

This weekend, in honor of Saint Patrick's Day (to which, I think you've gathered, I have no allegiance other than my love of Baileys), I baked it into a pound cake. Yes, I did. And yes, it was delicious.

This cake is great with a dusting of powdered sugar. Top it with some chocolate whipped cream if you'd like.

Or heck, just drizzle some more Baileys on top.

Cream together butter, salt and sugar.

Add the eggs and vanilla extract. Mix until combined.

Add the Baileys and mix again. At this point, the batter might look a little curdled. Don't worry. It's fine.

Combine the flour and baking powder.

Add it to the Baileys and egg mixture and beat until beautifully smooth.

Transfer batter to a the loaf pan and bake.

For the whipped cream, beat heavy cream at low speed until small bubbles form.

Add vanilla, cocoa powder and confectioner's sugar. 

Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form.

When the cake is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, remove it from the oven. Let it sit in the pan for 10 minutes.

Then remove it from the pan and it let it continue to cool on a baking rack.


And serve with a dusting of powdered sugar.

Or topped with some chocolate whipped cream.

Baileys Pound Cake

Recipe from MomFoodie

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup Baileys Irish Cream
2¼ cups flour
2½ tsp baking powder
Chocolate whipped cream, to serve (recipe, below)

1.    Preheat oven to 350 degree. Grease and flour a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.
2.    Cream butter, sugar and salt together.
3.    Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined. Add the vanilla.
4.    Pour in the Bailey’s and mix well.
5.    Combine flour and baking powder. Add to the egg mixture, a little at a time. Beat until batter is silky smooth.
6.    Pour batter into prepared pan.
7.    Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Makes one 9 x 5 inch loaf.

Chocolate Whipped Cream

2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp confectioner's sugar

1.    Beat heavy cream at low speed until small bubbles begin to form.
2.    Add vanilla, cocoa powder and confectioner's sugar. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until stiff peaks form.

March 14, 2013

Fresh Mozzarella. Or Not.

Sawsan from chef in disguise was our March 2013 Daring Cooks hostess! Sawsan challenges us to make our own homemade cheeses! She gave us a variety of choices to make, all of them easily accomplished and delicious!

Do you see any mozzarella in that photo up there? No? Look closer. Still no? That’s because there isn’t any. And that’s because I failed, utterly and completely, to make fresh mozzarella for this month’s Daring Cook’s challenge.

It’s ironic. The recipe I used was precise. Very precise. It gave me specific times for cooking and resting the ingredients. It provided exact temperatures to which to heat the ingredients before moving on to the next step. But what it didn't give — and what I guess I really needed — was a description of how the ingredients should have looked, smelled, tasted, and felt at each step along the way. 

I think the milk was also partly to blame. The recipe called for milk that was not ultra pasteurized. It was, in fact, written in bold. Not ultra pasteurized. But sure enough, I bought ultra pasteurized milk. Which, apparently, loses its ability to set into curds. Which is essential if you want the milk to turn into mozzarella.

In any case, I ended up with this.

It tasted like mozzarella. But in terms of texture, it was all ricotta. 

It was fine, crumbled on top of ravioli. 

But it wasn't mozzarella.

I started to get bummed. But then I reminded myself that this is why I joined the Daring Cooks. For the challenge. Not the sure thing.

March 8, 2013

Mattar Paneer

Kosha was my first friend. Our mothers met as recent immigrants from India, living in the same apartment complex. I still remember holding Kosha's hand at Peach Tree preschool, as we played together in the pretend house. We consulted each other on all major decisions like whether she should ask for Lite Brite or dress up high heels for her birthday. We started kindergarten together, best friends. And then her family moved to the other side of town. For a seven year old, it felt like the other side of the planet.

Years later, we ended up at the same middle school. It was as if no time had passed. We jumped right back into our friendship, spending entire afternoons on the phone, doors locked against intruders (or little sisters). There were important things to discuss. How we were going to pass chemistry, who was dating who, what we were going to wear to the semiformal. And, the times when we were feeling particularly thoughtful, we talked about what our futures might hold.

Like most childhood friends, we were over at each other's houses all the time. When my mom came to pick me up, she and Kosha's mom would catch up over a hot cup of masala chai. My mom relished the chance to sit down and chat with an old friend.

Nearly three four decades later, Kosha and I are still the best of friends. We're close to the age now that our mothers were back when we were in middle school.

Looking back, I'm amazed at how much they accomplished, with so little help and so far from home. Kosha's mom worked full time, just like mine. My mom cooked dinner in the evenings, after work. So it always intrigued me that Kosha's mom finished all of her cooking early in the morning, before work.

you can find pre-fried frozen paneer
at any Indian grocery store
Kosha's family is strict vegetarian. When I stayed over for dinner, I always hoped for (and often requested) mattar paneer, a tasty dish of peas in a fragrant and flavorful curry, strewn with pieces of mild Indian cheese. I've tried to recreate it here. It's good. But not as good the mattar paneer I grew up eating at my best friend's house.

Cook paneer until golden brown. If using pre-fried, frozen paneer, as I did, then just defrost.

Gather your whole spices.

And ground spices.

Stir fry bay leaf, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon stick in hot oil.

Add ground cumin, chili powder, turmeric, coriander and garam masala.

Add a bit of water, and stir fry for a couple of minutes.

Add ginger and let it cook for a minute.

Then add peas and paneer.

Give everything a good stir until the peas and paneer are coated in the spices.

Then add water.

Cover and simmer until the peas are cooked, the paneer is heated through, and the gravy thickens a bit.

Serve hot with chapatti or over rice.

Mattar Paneer

2/3 cup canola oil (reduce the amount if using pre-fried paneer, as I did)
1 lb paneer, cut into cubes
1 bay leaf
4 cloves
2 black cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick, about 1 inch long
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped or grated
1 2/3 cup peas (I used frozen)
salt, to taste

1.    Heat the oil in deep skillet over medium heat. Add the paneer and fry for about 5 minutes, until golden brown all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. (I used pre-fried frozen paneer, so I skipped this step.)

2.    Reheat the oil in the same pan, add the bay leaf and whole spices and fry for about 1 minute, or until they are fragrant and change color.

3.    Add the ground spices. Season with salt and pour in 4 tablespoons of water. Stir-fry over medium heat for 2 minutes.

4.    Add the ginger. Stir for a minute. Then add paneer, peas, and 2 1/4 cups water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, then simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the peas are cooked. Adjust the seasoning, if needed.

Serves 4 to 6