Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Smitten Kitchen Part IV

The best cookbook investment that I have ever made is the Smitten Kitchen cookbook. Recently I have learned that a second cookbook is going to be released soon, which I am overjoyed about this news! This posting displays my continuation of trying to cook every recipe in the cookbook. There are so many reasons I utilize and enjoy this cookbook so much:
  • All the dry ingredients are measured in grams, which allows for precision. 
  • Overall, the recipes do not require too fancy of ingredients or kitchen gadgets.
  • If I follow the directions correctly, the recipes have come out as expected and delicious.
  • Not only is the author a great cook, she has a comical writing style that is prevalent in her cookbook.
  • Not only are her amazing recipes found in this cookbook, she has a blog she updates weekly. I also follow her Instagram account and the pictures are absolutely mouthwatering and where I learned that she is working on her second cookbook.
  • Every recipe in the Smitten Kitchen cookbook has at least a picture of the finished product, and most times there are more pictures.

Gingerbread Spice Dutch Baby
Breakfast has always been the most overlooked and skipped meal of the day for me, and yes, I know it’s considered “the most important meal of the day.” I consider the breakfast of champions to be multiple cups of coffee and either some dried fruit or a cereal bar. However, when I am home visiting my parents, I tend to try some breakfast recipes out since my parents are breakfast-dependent.  I tried the Gingerbread Dutch Baby recipe with a few changes because of the ingredients available at my parents’ house. I used light brown sugar (instead of dark), ground nutmeg (instead of fresh), and skim milk (instead of whole milk). In addition, I used leftover, homemade strawberry whipped cream (leftover from Strawberry Cheesecake Fools recipe, which is also below) as a topping instead of the other suggestions (confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup). I absolutely love cooking with cast iron skillets and they cooked this dutch baby very evenly.  From the picture in the cookbook, the dutch baby looked much lighter in weight and color; the one I cooked seemed to be more dense and darker, but it tasted delicious.

Finished product with strawberry whipped cream (top left), baked dutch babies (top right), and uncooked dutch babies ready for the oven (bottom)
Potato Frittata with Feta and Scallions
Before I began this recipe, I scanned the ingredients and wondered why this was a frittata and not a quiche; then I realized, I didn’t know the difference between the two egg dishes (frittata vs. quiche). I did some research and this is what I have concluded: both are egg dishes with additional ingredients ranging from herbs, cheeses, vegetables, and meats. A quiche, is made by adding ingredients to a dish with a crust, and it also contains heavy cream and/or milk. Whereas, a frittata, has no crust and a little (if any) milk/cream, and it is first cooked on a stovetop and then is broiled in the oven. I followed this recipe completely; however, I divided the recipe in half (one with bacon and one just vegetarian), and since I do not eat pork, I substituted bacon for turkey bacon. This frittata was very delicious fresh out of the oven. I had some as leftover, and the only thing affected the quality as a leftover was the potatoes; they were no longer crispy and were a little tough for me (I warmed up the leftover frittata in the microwave). Most likely if you were to make this recipe, there wouldn’t be leftovers, so no need to worry about “tough” potatoes.  I used Yukon Gold potatoes as the recipe indicated, but I also think fingerling potatoes would be appropriate for this dish and hold up well.
Baked potato bottom

Uncooked turkey bacon ingredients

Uncooked frittatas with egg mixture added

Puffy baked frittatas

The layers of the baked turkey bacon frittata
Broccoli Rabe Panini with Mozzarella
I have a bunch of small appliances that cannot fit into my kitchen and are put into a hallway closet, and a Panini Grill is one of them.  I do not use a Panini grill that often, but when a recipe recommends using one, I will definitely dust mine off. This was the first time that I used a grill in this Seattle apartment, and I learned that plugging the Panini Grill into the same socket as my microwave and toaster will cause it short-circuit, and so I ended up cooking it on the carpet of my living room, and yes I am sure it made me look ridiculous. However, the ridiculousness of the situation was well worth it because this combination of ingredients was beyond scrumptious! Although there are so few of ingredients, they merry so well, that I continued to make sandwiches throughout the week to finish off the leftover ingredients. I ended of making this recipe two ways, because my friend has a onion allergy.
Cooked and raw ingredients-ready to be assembled into a sandwich

Cooked sandwich with onions

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette
There are three baked items that I am usually too lazy to make, bread, pie crusts, and pizza dough.  However, I have been wanting to make this galette for a while, and finally got around to doing while home for Thanksgiving. My parents bought a bunch of butternut and spaghetti squash from the Amish; I think butternut squashes are one of the worst things to have to cut, and I almost lose my fingers about hundred times while trying to de-skin them. When I am in Seattle, I always buy the precut squash and am more than willing to pay more money for that service. My parents do not have a digital scale (all dry ingredients in the Smitten Kitchen cookbook are in grams), so I was nervous that the crust was going to be too dry or dense. The crust ended up being very crumbling and fell apart really easily; however, in the end it tasted absolutely fine. In small town America, there was not fontina in the grocery store, so mozzarella cheese was substituted. The finished product was beyond savory and was still delectable five days later. The crust exceeded my expectations. My parents asked me to make a few extra crusts for them to freeze and use at a later time; it was that big of a hit.
Imperfect flaky crust

Crust plus the cooked savory filling

Such "professional" crust folding technique

Golden brown perfection

Cheesey goodness

Look at all those onions...yum!
Tomato-Glazed Meatloaves
I have never liked meatloaf, never ever. I have never found a recipe that I liked or could finish eating. The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook has continuously delivered mouthwatering recipes, but I firmly believed that even the author couldn’t sway my abhorrence towards meatloaf. I waited to try this recipe when my family was together, so I could just try a small bite.  I had to split the recipe in half, with one half using halal meat and the other using ground beef from the store. The verdict: I still do not like meatloaf. Although this recipe had a different spice mixture than the typical meatloaf, I still did not care for it. Everyone else loved it. They thought the glaze was delicious and indicated that the recipe could have had a more sauce.
Raw meatloaf meatballs (some with and some without sauce)

Cooked meatloaf meatballs 
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
I have been called odd by friends because I really do not like chocolate; I can usually eat something with a little chocolate without cringing but I really try to avoid eating it.  Therefore, I had been putting off making this recipe until there could be others that could eat the cookies too. In addition, to my dislike of chocolate, I have a slight peanut sensitivity (it use to be a full-blown allergy); my sister is still highly allergic. Therefore,  this recipe was made at Christmas time with a huge sign advertising for my sister to NOT eat them. My niece and I chose to slice the cookies from the log instead of rolling out the cookies and using a cutter. Everyone liked the chocolate filling. I ended up eating up one cookie (chocolate filling and all), and that concluded my chocolate quota for the rest of the year.
Assembled baked cookies
Mom’s Apple Cake
The biggest hit last year from this cookbook was this recipe; I made it once at Thanksgiving and the other at Christmas. I followed the recipe exactly as written for Thanksgiving, but then for the Christmas cake, I substituted the cup of oil for a cup of applesauce. The verdict of the substitution: it was still amazingly delicious and it was still very moist. With nut allergies and sensitivities in the Hossein family, both times I did not put in walnuts. The first time I made the recipe at Thanksgiving, I put the batter in an Angel Food cake pan because that was the only “tube pan” my parents had at their house. It was an absolute nightmare, trying to get the cake out of the Angel Food Cake pan, but thankfully, it came out in one piece. For the second time I made the recipe, I divided the batter into two round cake pans, and it was definitely my preferred method when I make this cake again, and I am sure I will!
Baked apple cake using the Angel Food pan
Strawberry Cheesecake Fools
This was such a simple and delicious recipe that aesthetically looked great during the holidays.  For the cookie crumble, cinnamon and sugar graham crackers were used instead of whole wheat crackers; therefore, no additionally brown sugar or cinnamon were used. My niece was almost able to make this entire recipe by herself, with me supervising her when cutting the strawberries (had to make sure she would still have all ten fingers when she was done cutting).
Layered desserts are the best
Baked Potato Crisps with the Works
This was another recipe that was perfect for the holidays and my niece was almost able to complete independently. Who doesn’t love reinventing baked potatoes? We followed this recipe completely, except substituting turkey bacon for regular bacon since we do not eat pork. If you have the patience and time for this recipe, it is worth it, and you definitely will not have leftovers.  
Loaded with toasted cheese, sour cream, turkey bacon, and chives

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