Thursday, February 05, 2009

Your Recipes That I've Tried

French Toast Panettone from Food BloggaI have my own recipes I post every Sunday but lately I've been trying a lot of other people's recipes and putting them to the test. Rather than try to pass them off as my own I figured it would better to share our test kitchen results here with you.

My pictures are limited but each of these links has a picture. View them only if your keyboard is drool-proof.

1. Panettone. Or, more specifically, French Toast Panettone from Food Blogga.
In the interest of full disclosure here I've known Susan for about a year now and have had the pleasure of meeting her in person (she's about the nicest person you'd ever meet) and she happens to be my partner on an upcoming project. While on the phone one day with her I was commenting on her gorgeous post about panettone French toast and asking if she had a recipe for the Italian panettone.

She let me know that panettone is not something that mere mortals can make, it is spontaneously generated in authentic Italian bakeries from a mysterious life force and that I should just buy one there. "Don't even try this at home" was the clear message. So I hung my head in sadness, knowing that there is not even one Italian bakery to be found in the entire state of Alaska. No panetonne for me.

Well the next thing I know I've got a package on my front door overflowing with homemade almond biscotti, gorgeous blood oranges and an honest-to-goodness Italian panettone straight from San Diego's Little Italy.

And there was much rejoicing.

Anyway, I decided to put her recipe to the test and straightaway made a batch of French toast (with Italian bread? Kind of ironic but there it is) and asked my hungry crew what the verdict was. Basically it was this: if my regular French toast is a 5 this stuff is a 20.

So let it be written so let it be done. The only problem is now my friendly panettone dealer has got me hooked on the stuff and pretty soon I'm going to be knocking over convenience stores to finance my next fix of the airy, sweet, buttery, orange-infused goodness.

2. Buttermilk Syrup from Hanging out the Wash.
In conjunction with the aforesaid panettone ecstasy I decided that mere maple-flavored syrup wasn't good enough. If you remember a couple weeks ago I posted a simple recipe for homemade syrup that we use all the time here and some of the comments it got cracked me up.

I don't think that if I'd advocated drowning kittens that I would have got more indignation from readers--apparently REAL maple syrup goes deep with those who happen to live close enought to get the stuff. They spotted my weakness right away and went in for the kill.

"This is NOT maple syrup." "This is maple-FLAVORED syrup." "I wouldn't eat this if I was starving in the desert and was given the choice between a bowl of this stuff and gnawing off my own leg." Was the general tone.

Point taken. I humbly bow and ask forgiveness. I'm afraid you've caught me living a lie because I've only used maple-flavored syrup for most of my life. Why?? Because a bottle of the real stuff with enough syrup to feed this crew for one meal would cost over $5 and I'm too darn cheap to pay that. Even for pancakes.

But, to bring this long story to a close I came across this post from Hanging out the Wash who touted the wonders of her Buttermilk Syrup and it was enough to tempt. I made up a batch to go with my panettone and I have to say it was very, very good.

You might want to accompany your meal with a side order of Lipitor but I really can't complain about the flavor, it was wonderful. A little more involved than my regular recipe but much more flavorful and thick.

3. Peanut Butter Brownies from PieKnits.
I've had this recipe sitting around for ages but only got around to making it this past month. It uses 1/2 cup of peanut butter in the mix which made some of the best-textured brownies I've ever had from scratch. Brownies are rather tricky and you can easily overbeat them or over cook but these turned out terrific.

She suggests using Nutella as a substitute for either a part or all of the peanut butter, as it too is a nut butter and has the proper consistency but I haven't had the chance to try that theory out. I can only imagine they'd be even better.

4. Slashed Chicken from Thinking About.
Julie does the same thing I do and posts recipes every so often. Recipes and book reviews are some of her favorite things to write about and I've tried a few of her recipes over the last two years and this one was really tasty. I think she got it from Williams-Sonoma but it went wonderfully with the side order of Saffron Orzo that I made and posted about several months ago.

5. Key Lime Cheesecake from Chocolate on My Cranium.
Last summer I had a Godiva key lime truffle and I still dream about it. I wouldn't have thought the flavors would blend so perfectly but each bite was pure heaven and when I saw this recipe I decided right away I couldn't rest until I'd tried it out.

I made it during the Christmas holidays--Christmas Eve I think--and it was very good. Nice texture and easy to put together though I think I would have liked just a tad more of the lime flavor which wasn't as strong as the chocolate. If you haven't made cheesecake before this would be a great place to start, it's a good one, and in my opinion cheesecake is one of the things that is ALWAYS better homemade. You just can't get a better cheesecake in a deli, store or bakery than you can make at home. The texture is so much better and the flavor is richer. Sorry Cheesecake Factory but it's the truth.

Egg Muffins from Kaylyn's Kitchen6. Egg Muffins by Kaylyn's Kitchen.
I'm always looking for good breakfast ideas and I liked these because not only were they very easy to make up, they keep for a long time after baking and they're good for breakfast on the go or a nice little brunch affair.

Grace is my quiche lover and so these appealed to her quiche-lovin' palette while not killing those who prefer to consume their eggs without a crust.

The boys thought they were just fancy scrambled eggs and Grace thought they were fancy mini-quiches. Everyone's happy.

7. Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Squares by Smitten Kitchen. I went into this recipe with very high hopes--kind of like when you go into a movie with these really high expectations? Well you know what happens when that's the case. Things rarely live up to all the hype and that was the case with these guys.

They were alright, but given the extreme amount of work they required and the small amount of actual treats the energy produced I'd have to say I' ndever make these again. I didn't think the texture was that great either.

Though I should be fair and say that when I made these it was a very--no, make that HUGELY--odd afternoon. I was woke up on a Saturday morning with a phone call from a woman whose daughter was a friend of Lillian's and apparently my dear five year-old had arranged an impromptu play day for herself without telling me and this woman had the foresight to call to confirm the plans before showing up on my doorstep.

I apologized for the mix up (did I mention this was pretty early on a Saturday?) but that really didn't deter her and I wasn't really able to gracefully escape her suggestion that the children still get together. She came over with her two children and instead of dropping the daughter off she stayed. And stayed. And staaaaaayyyyed. It was hours and I had all these things to get done but suddenly I was playing hostess and being forced to listen to her quandry of whether to be married to her jet-setting Australian boyfriend in Ireland, Macedonia or Australia (they just couldn't decide) So consequently my baking efforts were a little scatterbrained. I may have made a mistake amid all the chatter but still . . . not again.

8. Healthy Chili by Food Blogga. Again with the Food Blogga--but when she says "children will love" she means it. I have my own chili recipe that works fine--nothing stellar--but I decided to break out of the mold and try something new and this one was really good. Grace said without shame that it was the best chili she'd had so you can take that as a glowing recommendation.

Devil Dog Cake by Smitten Kitchen9. Devil Dog Cake by Smitten Kitchen.
I love saying the name to this one over and over . . . "Devil Dog, Devil Dog, Devil Dog." Sounds like something you'd find at the ballpark at the concessions stand but no, it's a strange name for what is essentially a giant Hostess Ding Dong.

For those of you not acquainted with Hostess Ding Dongs I'm not sure what to say. I'll stay right here while you go quietly Google it because really, you just haven't lived.

Back? Good! Well, now that we're all on the same page again I have to say that I had very high hopes for this one. It intimidated me a bit so I put it off and put it off until finally I could stand it no longer and I gave it a try.

Devil Dog by Smitten KitchenFirst, there is more chocolate in this recipe than in the entire town of Hershey, Pennsylvania. You mix 3 ounces of chocolate in with 1 and 1/2 cups coffee (though I substituted hot chocolate instead). Milk would probably have been better. Then you use 1 and 1/2 cups of cocoa powder. ONE and ONE HALF CUPS people! That's like the equivalent of three cakes. Seriously.

And that doesn't even include the ganache frosting which is more chocolate. The bottom line? It's a marvelously rich cake, nearly more like a brownie in color and richness, and you'll want to cut the pieces small. Or maybe not? Who knows.

The "marshmallow" frosting really didn't taste like the stuff in the Ding Dongs which was a huge disappointment. I can't believe I just wrote that sentence. No one will ever call me "gourmet" again after that, I promise you. You see in the top picture where I'm ready to frost it on the outside. I mostly posted that picture to make Grace mad--she was goofing off and talking to me while I was baking and I told her I was going to post it just to tweak her and she dared me. I win.

All in all a lot of work for the richest, densest cake you'll ever eat and it was really good. Not exactly like a Ding Dong but probably close enough.

10. Grandma's Chocolate Pie from Homesick Texan.
Another Christmas recipe that I made for the big day--in our family you don't just make "a" pie for Christmas, you make one for each person. That way everyone has a fine selection and there are always leftovers for the next three months.

Well, maybe I'm exaggerating a little but I made four pies, this one being among them, and it was very good. Better than my original chocolate pie recipe I've used for years because this one cut more easily and neatly. I had thought that it was going to be more of a silk pie texture but it's really a custard, which I discovered very quickly when I actually got into baking the recipe, but that didn't stop us from snarfing it down.

I'm starting to wonder if we eat too many sweets, judging from the rather large representation of sweet stuff on this list. Where are the Brussel sprouts? I should eat more vegetables.

11. Raspberry Coffee Cake/Danish Braid from Kiddio. This one's a definite keeper. I made this for a breakfast a few weeks ago and it was very well received though I did substitute blueberries for raspberries. Nothing against raspberries you understand, it's just what I had on hand.

The thing that's nice about this is the pastry. If you're ever afraid of working with the stuff this one is easily rolled and prepared and shouldn't give you any trouble. And then it's fluffier and more substantial than a traditional pie crust style pastry, the cheese and leaven gives it some oomph.

12. Cornish Game Hens by Motherhood for Dummies. When I saw this post it shocked me that I'd never in my entire life eaten a Cornish game hen. Never. It's not as if it's an issue with me or anything it's just that coming from a huge family of eight it wasn't something you'd find on the menu and then I never, ever order meat when I'm in a restaurant. Never. It's always the same: soups, salads, sandwiches, pastas or pizza. Period. No meat as an entree.

So I was excited to surprise the kids with their "very own cute little chickens" as they were called. And let me tell you it was a big hit. The kids loved having a personalized fowl and were thrilled at the cuteness thereof. There really isn't anything to it, just as her recipe says you just get some bottled marinade if you want to be fast and follow the package directions on the bird.

Fancy schmancy and oh so tasty.

13. 5 Minute Chocolate Cake by Emily Rose. I have saved the very best for last. This is my new ultimate, favorite, go-to recipe that I can't believe I've lived without thus far. This is the deal: You put a few easy ingredients in a mug. Stir. Microwave three minutes. You've got cake.

And not just any cake--really really good cake that smells so fine cooking that your mailman stopping by sniffs and wants to know what you're baking.

The only thing is, the recipe makes quite a large mug o' cake. It's very dense, almost like a brownie, and I made the mistake--well not really a mistake now, nothing involving chocolate cake is ever a true mistake is it?--of making it for the kids for their after-school snack. They gobbled it up but once we'd finished we all realized that we'd never be hungry again. The meal was that big.

So we ended up skipping dinner and calling the whole chocolate cake thing good. Andrew was out of town so who was going to force us to do otherwise right?

Anyway, the recipe is so easy I've got it memorized though I won't list it here so you'll have to go to the source to find it. I promise it will be worth the click.

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MoziEsmé said...

You are making me sooo hungry.

Edi said...

The Devil Dog cake looked delicious! Problem is that if I were to make it - I'd eat a large portion of it myself!

Wild Squirrel said...

Recently, we tried the whole cake in a mug thing. I've decided it's only worthwhile when making one for me! I was in the kitchen for what seemed like F.O.R.E.V.E.R. making one for each kid and each adult. By the time I got to sit down and enjoy mine, I was wishing I had just mixed up a regular batch and thrown it in the oven so that we could all enjoy cake together! A word of warning (though I was using a different recipe than the one above), I mixed all of the ingredients in each mug, including the wet ingredients, and then put them in the microwave one after the other....not good! The last few cakes were a disaster (maybe the ingredients didn't like sitting all mixed together like that for so long while I was microwaving the others). Top that off with 3 TB of oil in EACH cake....yikes! I guess if we're throwing calories and inconvenience (ironically) out the's pretty cool. I think I'll try the above recipe for kicks (when I'm at home along of course...oh, wait...that could take years!). :)

Wild Squirrel said...

Oops! Pardon the typo...I meant when I'm at home "alone" not "along!"

Mom24 said...

I absolutely love getting 'references' on recipes. thanks. I've bookmarked several of these to try.

I was really interested to hear you say the devil dog filling wasn't quite like the original. I've seen a lot of recipes for that kind of cake, and that's always been my concern. I want the decidedly 'ungourmet' filling. :-) Still, the cake looks marvelous and I might try it.

Thanks again.

jacjewelry said...

These all sound so delicious! I am a huge fan of Nutella; I think the Peanut Butter Brownies with Nutella instead of the peanut butter are the ones I'm going to try next! Or will it be key lime cheesecake?! My husband makes the most delicious key lime pie; I'll have to post the recipe soon!

Kara said...

Am I the only one who noticed your foreshadowing of a special project with Susan (Foodblogga)?? Two of my favorite bloggers working together - I can't wait to hear more about that.

I digress... I had been wanting to make her pannettone french toast but couldn't find the bread here (though I see it all the time during the holidays). But her chili... yum - I have had a chance to make that, and will definitely be making it again.

JENNIFER said...

"airy, sweet, buttery, orange infused goodness?" All in one sentence? I am sold :)

Anonymous said...

I was also very surprised by how militant people were about the maple syrup recipe. Good NIGHT, people were riled up! Who knew that *that* would be one of your more controversial posts of late??? :)

I'm with you, I'm too cheap for real maple syrup.

I think I'm going to send my husband the link to this post right now and keep dropping not-so-subtle hints until my birthday about that Devil Dog Cake.

kadusey said...

I think I will make myself some cake in a mug for breakfast. A cup full of warm chocolate cake and a cup full of milk. Yum.

Neas Nuttiness said...

Oh My goodness. There are about 5 of these recipes that I'm going to try...bye bye diet!

Melissa said...

Yay! More recipes to try! Unfortunately, a lot of them also made me feel like I was gaining weight just reading the descriptions. Oh well, too bad I like food. ;)

Annette Lyon said...

You're killing me with those cakes. You do realize that, right?

Pamela said...

I had to stop reading after that Devil Dog Cake because I think I just had a heart attack and died. Hopefully someone will come along and resuscitate me so I can go make it and eat it and die for real. (Not really with the dying.)

Mimi said...

I used to live in Boston where there was an authentic bakery from some country or another on every street corner. But The North End, the Little Italy of Boston, has always been one of my favorite places to escape...and everywhere there is pantonne. They come in the funniest little a pyramid box yet more egg shaped...very hard to explain. I've never tried one and now I am going to have to! They come out in the grocery stores in Boston around easter time. It's on my shopping list the next time I head down there.

Anonymous said...

You can find authentic Italian pannetone at Costco here in Anchorage. My Northern Italian friend raved about it and was the one who told me to buy it. I think it's called 3 Sisters or something like that. It was there around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Delicious.

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

There are several here that I definitely want to try. Peanut Butter Brownies would be perfect for my brother. We're always looking for new coffee cake recipe and I can't wait to try the Raspberry Coffee Cake. Rapsberries are my favorite fruit! And of course the cake in a mug. Yum!

J at said...

I haven't made that chicken for awhile...all the butter involved kind of scares me...but boy, it's good stuff. :) Might be time soon.

That french toast sounds heavenly, but my family are heathens and hate dried fruit, so I don't think I'll get to make it. There's a cafe near us that makes theirs with cinnamon rolls, and it's just a bit over the top for me. TOO sweet.

Oh, and real maple syrup is too sweet for me. Don't shoot.

Gotta try that raspberry danish, though. Sounds like heaven.

Kathryn said...

Yum! Yum! Yum! Now I only have to wonder which one to try first.

I feel your pain with the Maple syrup issue. When 2oz costs $20, you use home-made "maple flovored" too. :-) It must be nice to live in the lower 48 where stuff is so cheap. I've only experienced it on vacations. Seriously, how can they say that they're having a recession down there when the most expensive gas is at least a dollar cheaper per gallon than it is up here. Maybe that's how they all afford the "real stuff." So there, you maple crazies!

Chrissy Johnson said...

Why are you doing this to me??? I haven't had breakfast yet and all that's here at work is POPCORN!??!?!

Angela Fehr said...

Thanks for linking to my buttermilk syrup recipe, Michelle! I confess when I am too lazy to make it I reach for the Aunt Jemima butter-flavoured syrup - we are too cheap for real maple syrup, even though we are Canadian!
I want to try that Raspberry Coffee Cake - I'm a sucker for pastry!

CountessLaurie said...

I laughed right out loud when you said, "I win."

HA! Never EVER dare your mother! Sheesh!

I can't believe I missed all the maple crazies... off to find a good comment controversy! See you later!

Such The Spot said...

I think numbers one and two sound great for a Saturday morning breakfast. And since Friday is my normal shopping day anyway, I can pick up everything I need then. Mmmmm, I can hardly wait!

dooleysinpng said...

I have the answer for your Devil Dog filling. My mom made a "twinkie" frosting with a yellow cake every year for my brother's birthday.

I just tried it with a chocolate (box-gasp!) cake and it was great. This is my favorite frosting/filling!

Should I post the recipe here in comments?

Scribbit said...

If anyone is interested, I just got back from the store where pure maple syrup was listed at $24.00 for a 16-ounce jug. On sale. :) Boy that ought to make you feel good if you live near the real stuff--I suppose it's the equivalent of having to buy your own salmon and halibut!

Scribbit said...

Oh, and Anonymous from Anchorage thanks so much! I will look for it--d'oh! I take that back, by the time the holidays come around my Costco membership will have expired so maybe I'll have to instead hunt down this bakery of which you speak.

It was so tasty I don't know that I can live without it.

The Source said...

There's lots of delicious-looking things to try here! I think I'll start with something chocolate!

By the way, I'm sorry you got trampled over your maple syrup, but I have to say we love it! My kids kicked Mrs. Butterworth to the curb after trying your homemade version. And it's so easy to make! Yummy!

An Ordinary Mom said...

Love the picture of Grace :) !!

dooleysinpng said...

Twinkie Cake filling

5 T flour
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
1 T vanilla

Boil flour and milk in a saucepan until thick, stirring constantly; cool. (I put the pan in the freezer)

Combine remaining ingredients and beat until fluffy. Add cooled milk mixture and beat until fluffy.

This is enough for between 3 layers of a 9 inch round cake. Best if cake is refrigerated for a day before eating.

SarahHub said...

I have to try that microwave chocolate cake. I've been reading about it for months!

~TAMY 3 Sides of Crazy~ said...

I'm going to have to try a few of these. YUMMY!

MzzMphz said...

Sounds delicious -all of them.
Finally got it work.

Laurel Nelson said...

You can find preflavored all natural chocolate peanut butter or white chocolate peanut butter at Fred Meyer - I buy it and eat it straight from the jar, man is it good. I could SOOO see that going in those peanut butter how good would that be?? And the cake in a mug??? Wow! I should make that for my 4 year old! She would love it!

Rekha said...

Devil dog cake is something special

Serena said...

For pity's sake, Mapleine is not that bad! I'm very happy for those who live where it's practically pouring out of your tap, but for those of us who have to pay for it as though it is liquid gold, Mapleine is a good substitute.


I've never been steered wrong by one of your recipes yet, so I'm greatly looking forward to trying some of these out!

Damselfly said...

I want that Devil Dog cake!

Bloggers will be lining up, saying, "Scribbit, cook me!"

perilloparodies said...

okay, first, that Devil Dog cake... YUMMY!!! and... have you ever made your own maple syrup... for all the work and how little you get you are almost better off buying the maple-Flavored stuff. And, you are right, for a large family, there is NO way it will be worth buying. I used to work at a Nature Watershed near us, and every February, I would participate in "tapping" the maple trees, wait for the drips to pile up in gallon jugs (which took a bit), and boil, boil, boil it until it all made just enough for a group of 20 or so kids to taste on some bread. That is going to last for a family of SEVEN, day in and day out?? I think not. But, it is definitely worth trying every once in a while. And, that includes trying to make it yourself. Check out your friendly Neighborhood Nature Center to see if that is possible to observe or participate in. It was always a highlight of my winter. :-)

Courtney from mommie blogs said...

I so need a piece of that cake right now. Doesn't cake make everything all better for, at least, a few minutes.

thanks for your kind words...

Daisy said...

Mmm. #6, the egg muffins, would suit me and my family to a tee. But the idea of a cake with more chocolate than the entire town of Hershey, PA -- that's tempting. Really, really tempting.

MelADramatic Mommy said...

The Godiva Lemon Chiffon is better (I used to work there).