Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Strawberry Mousse

Prep Time: 8 minutes
Wait Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Chill Time: 4 hours

Grade: A-

Make Again: Maybe 

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (May 2014)

This was a very nice and refreshing dessert that doesn't need perfect strawberries. I did have Farmer's Market berries to use, but they were actually not any better than grocery store berries this time. (Usually they are much better!)

The end result still had a very nice strawberry flavor, but I'm not sure I would make again, just because it was a little more work than I wanted for a nice but not amazing dessert.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Strawberry Shortcake

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 20 minutes
Cool Time: 20 minutes
Assemble: 5 minutes

Grade: A+

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Everyday Food (June 2003)

(I'm a bit behind, and strawberry season is pretty much over in the midwest, but this is great for next June!)

I recently did a run-off between Everyday Food and Cook's Illustrated blueberry cake recipes.  I can't really do that with Strawberry shortcake, because I don't have a recent recipe from CI or ATK. However, I don't feel like I need another recipe, because this recipe is a winner. It was even declared a "top recipe" from the picky eater in my life, so that is good.

This is a more rustic dessert with craggy biscuits. The biscuits are pretty big. I think you could make them smaller and still have a very filling dessert. It did help to have perfectly ripe June strawberries to make this with of course. I would not make this with grocery store strawberries (but maybe frozen would work.)

Friday, August 08, 2014

Potato Buns

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Rise Time: 30 minutes
Rest Time: 15 minutes
2nd Rise: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 18 minutes

Grade: A+

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (July 2012)
Recipe Source: America's Test Kitchen (Season 13)

Note: the recipe is available on the ATK TV website and should be available to registered users for the rest of 2014 I think

I love this recipe. Don't be put off by the 45 prep time. That involves down-time while the potatoes are cooking, and the kneading time. The hardest part of this recipe is ricing the potatoes, but it only takes a few extra minutes. A ricer is quite helpful for that step, I'm not sure how well the recipe would work with just mashing the potatoes.

The dough is a dream to work with – seriously, it is the easiest shaping of dough I have ever experienced. The dough rolls into balls quite easily and after the rest is super easy to pat them into correct size. I have made these twice so far and I'm not sure I will buy store bought rolls again unless I am seriously strapped for time. These freeze well so can be made ahead.

My second time with the recipe I saved enough of the potato and potato cooking water to make a second batch the next day. That reduced the prep time to 15 minutes. So I ended up with 18 rolls total. I will be making this recipe again soon this way.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Blueberry Bundt Cake

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 - 70 minutes
Cool Time: 60 minutes

Grade: B-

Make Again: No

Recipe Source: Everyday Food (September 2003)

As I mentioned in my last post, this was part of an experiment to try to similar recipes (one from Cook's Illustrated and one from Everyday Food) and pick the best one. I made these two cakes within one week of each other and was able to really compare.

This was a perfectly fine cake and easier to make. But the CI version of this recipe was truly much better and special. I even added a lemon glaze to the top to try to make sure the playing field was level, but it didn't make up for the difference in the cakes.

If I wanted a simpler blueberry cake recipe, I would go with this Coffee Cake instead which doesn't have lemon, but it very good.

But for a truly great Blueberry Lemon go with the ATK/Cook's Illustrated version. It is worth the extra 20 minutes of work.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Marbled Blueberry Bundt Cake

Prep Time: 38 minutes
Cook Time: 45 - 70 minutes
Cool Time: 3 hours

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (May 2013)
Recipe Source: America's Test Kitchen TV (Season 14)

Note: The recipe will be available on TV website for free for the next year or so. The episode with the actual video hasn't aired yet, but probably will soon.

I did something I always want to do, but almost never do, and that was try two different recipes for the same thing. I have had in my list a blueberry lemon bundt cake from Everyday Food for years that I've never tried. Recently I found this recipe and I decided to try them both within a week of each other.

This cake was the definite winner. It is definitely more work because you need to make the a jam like filling, and you also need to buy some Sure-Jel. But it is really delicious and the better cake. The lemon flavor is more pronounced and the leftovers kept in the freezer have still been great.

It is also prettier with the marble filling instead of just regular blueberries floating inside.

I made a half recipe which is why I have a large range of cook times. A half bundt cake is usually plenty unless you are serving a huge crowd.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Caramel Cake

Prep Time: 13 minutes
Bake Time: 25 minutes
Cool Time: 60+ minutes
Frosting: 22 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Country (December 2009)

I am not a big cake fan, but this was very, very delicious. The cake was very moist, and the frosting was amazing. Very, very sweet, as frosting often is, but different because it a caramel frosting.

I actually only make a half cake. I did one circle, cut it in half but still make it a layer cake. I ended up frosting the cut half which was hard. And not a good idea, because eating the 2 pieces that were on the end which were frosted on top, middle AND the side was just too much frosting! (Delicious as it was.)

This cake was so rich, even with my half cake, I still gave 2 pieces to my neighbors so I didn't get sick of it. We had it two nights in a row though. I will make this again to serve to a larger group.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Lentil Soup

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes

Grade: A-

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (January 2004)

I made this months ago but forgot to put it in the blog. So this is not very timely. Who wants to make soup as summer is just getting started!

This is a pretty simple recipe for Cook's Illustrated standards. It tastes very nice and went over well with my picky eater. I have made this before and I will make it again.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Glazed Meatloaf

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Rest Time:  20 minutes

Grade: B+

Make Again: Maybe

Recipe Source: Cook's Country (February 2009)

This meatloaf is good, but I think I like this version of meatloaf better. They both take a similar amount of time to prep and cook, so I'd probably choose the All Beef version. I still always feel like a meatloaf should take very little time to prep, but it always takes at least some time. The beauty of a meatloaf though is that the cooking part is easy and the kitchen is always clean by the time you serve dinner (other than the pan the loaf is on.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Apple Pie Cake

Prep Time: 22 minutes
Bake Time: 70 minutes
Cool Time: 2 hours

Grade: B+

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Everyday Food (January 2003)

Note, my prep time is based on making a half recipe and only using 2 pounds of apples. Making a full recipe would take longer since there are more apples to peel and cut.

The half recipe should have used 2.5 lbs of apples, but 2 pounds was plenty. I could barely fit them in my tall 7" springform pan. And the end result still felt heavy on the apples.

This is one of the very first recipes I tried from the first issue of Everyday Food and it made me a fan. It is a fun recipe using the same mixture for the crust and topping and it was very tasty. The only complaint is the apple to crust ratio is a little high.

It is more pie like than a cake, even though it ends up looking like a cake. I will probably make again sometime in the Fall.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

Prep Time: 10
Cook Time: 2 hours on low

Grade: B+

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Slow Cooker Revolution

This recipe is super simple, and good. The one thing I don't love about the recipe is that it uses Condensed Cheese soup. But they claim it was very helpful in making a recipe that works in the slow cooker. And I can't deny that the end result was creamy and tasted, and overall worked.

Usually when I make a homemade macaroni and cheese, I double the pasta (or halve the sauce recipe) because I usually find the recipes too saucy for me. I didn't want to do that here, because the pasta cooking in the sauce, means it needs all the moisture it can get.

I did however, reduce the amount of cheese just a bit in this recipe. I used 5 oz of montery jack (instead of 8) and 6 oz of Cheddar (instead of 8). That worked perfectly find and things were still quite cheesy. I do think I could increase the pasta a few ounces and it would still work. I would get an extra serving out of it, and cut the heavyness of the recipe just a bit.

This is not quite as wonderful as Classic Macaroni and Cheese but it is still pretty good and easy to make. If you want to have a dish that is prepped earlier and finished 2 hours later, this is a good choice.