Monday, March 26, 2012

Double Aix

I’m on my own this week; my heathen is on a business trip. That means I have to either a) cook normally, and eat the same thing for days (like roast chicken); or b) make single person meals. As anyone who has cooked for one can attest—it’s not always that easy to eat healthfully. To compound things, I’ve a cold. That means all I want is to have comforting classics made magically, that I didn’t have to cook or work hard at. Normally that means Matzo ball, Udon, Chicken Noodle, or Miso soups. For my Mom, it would mean tomato soup. From the can. Made only with water. Um yeah, I’m wanting more than that.

Aix-en- Provence duo

My Mom went to Aix recently (yes, I’m jealous). It is with her in mind that I made this meal—perfect for sicky me or anyone who wants a yummy soup/sammich combo. First, take

1 can of your favorite condensed tomato soup (it doesn’t really matter what brand)
1 can of your favorite chicken broth
1 tomato

Dump the soup and half the can of broth into a saucepan, over medium-low heat. Chop the tomato and toss it in. While this is working on the stove, rummage through your really messy spice cabinet (that you wish you could re-organize) and find

Saffron (a hefty pinch)
Basil (1/2- 1 tsp, depending on how much you like basil)
Oregano (1/4-1/2 tsp) OPTIONAL
Black Pepper and kosher salt (to taste)

Toss it all in the pot, stir, and turn your attention to your sandwich. Locate

Camembert or Brie
Dijon (or you favorite Deli style mustard)
Your favorite deli style thin-cut turkey (or if you like ham, get a mandrange or Bayonne)
Sourdough bread

Stir the soup, and taste. Correct seasonings as necessary. Take the sliced sourdough and spread the mustard on one side (both if you’re really a mustard fan). Add a wad of your turkey. On the other bread slice, place a couple slices of cheese and 2-3 sliced of thinly cut tomato. In a skillet, warm over medium-high heat

½ tsp (or slightly less) olive oil

Place the cheese covered slice on the olive oil and turn it in the pan once to thoroughly coat the bottom of the slice.  Stir the soup, and find a plate and bowl. When the cheese looks slightly melty, add the turkey covered slice.  Go find a clean spoon in the dishwasher, since there’s none in the drawer. Sigh as you realize that you need to do some dishes, even if all you want to do is curl into a ball with a blanket, some tea, and the remote control. Using a spatula, or spoon, or whatever, lift the sandwich and pour in another

½ tsp olive oil

Flip the sandwich so that the turkey covered slice is on the bottom, and cook another 1-2 minutes (depending on heat), until both sides are lovely, grilled, brown yumminess. Stir the soup again, and cut the heat. Find your tray (you’re eating this on the couch with that tea and remote, right?) Pour the soup into a bowl, pull apart the grilled sandwich and tuck in some lettuce or cabbage leaf (to pretend you’re getting veggies), plate, and enjoy.

This dish has 3 Weight Watchers points for the soup, and 12 for the sandwich. It’s a little high for a meal, but it includes your healthy fat. And you’re sick, so you’re not eating much else anyway.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

The heathen and I went out for breakfast with friends Saint Patrick's morning at a local pub. We had a lovely time; free food, good drinks, lots of laughs, and best of all, cupcakes. A dear friend of mine created these delicious little monsters. We're thankful they're minis, they're bursting with big flavor.

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes
Yield: 24 cupcakes

Prep Time: 40 minutes | Bake Time: 17 minutes

For the Cupcakes:
1 cup Guinness stout
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoons salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

For the Whiskey Ganache Filling:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons Irish whiskey

For the Baileys Frosting:
2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups powdered sugar
6 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream

1. To Make the Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring the Guinness and butter to a simmer in a heavy, medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

2. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl to combine. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream on medium speed until combined. Add the Guinness-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat just to combine. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture and beat briefly.
Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter until completely combined. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners. Bake until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on a rack.

3. To Make the Whiskey Ganache Filling: Finely chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then, using a rubber spatula, stir it from the center outward until smooth. Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined. Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped.

4. To Fill the Cupcakes: Using a 1-inch round cookie cutter (or the bottom of a large decorating tip), cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes, going about two-thirds of the way down. Transfer the ganache to a piping back with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

5. To Make the Baileys Frosting: Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the powdered sugar until all of it is incorporated. Add the Baileys, increase the speed to medium-high and whip for another 2 to 3 minutes, until it is light and fluffy.

6. Using your favorite decorating tip, or an offset spatula, frost the cupcakes and decorate with (green ) sprinkles. Store the cupcakes in an airtight container.

**Please note: I did not really measure the Jamesons & the Bailey's. I used more of um... a "free pour" method until I thought it tasted right. 
Thanks again to my friend for these yummy flavor bombs =)