Thursday, December 30, 2010

Lemon Mushroom and Mozzarella Toasts with Oregano Oil Drizzle

Lemon Mushroom and Mozzarella Toasts with Oregano Oil Drizzle
As Shared from the Kitchen of Once Upon a Plate

Serves 2 (but easy to multiply for more servings)

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 portobello mushrooms
coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 white or brown mushrooms, halved
2 slices sourdough bread, grilled (or toasted)
4 1/2 ounce fresh mozzarella, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

oregano oil
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves

First make the oregano oil:
Pour oil into a small frying pan over high heat. Add the oregano and cook for 30 seconds or until crispy. Set aside.

Please the plain olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the portobello mushrooms, sprinkle with salt and pepper ~ cook for about 3 minutes on one side. Turn over, add the white or brown mushrooms and cook for addition 3 minutes or so, until golden.

Top the toasts with the mozzarella and mushrooms, generously drizzle the oregano oil and lemon juice over and serve.

Note: Oregano oil is also delicious drizzled over potatoes, chicken, fish, and egg dishes.

Recipe adapted from Donna Hay

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cranberry Bliss Bars ~ Similar to Starbucks

Cranberry Bliss Bars (similar to Starbucks)
As shared by Once Upon a Plate
Makes about 16 servings

My changes to the original recipe are noted in italics below.

For the bar batter:
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla or 1 1/2 teaspoons orange extract (I used 3/4 teaspoons EACH)
1 teaspoon ground ginger (I omitted and added 1/3 cup finely diced candied crystallized ginger)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup diced dried cranberries (I used 1/2 cup)
6 ounces white chocolate, cut into chunks (or 6 ounces white chocolate morsels)

4 ounces cream cheese, softened (I used 8 ounces & 1 tablespoon butter)
3 cups powdered sugar (I used a little over 1 1/2 cups)
4 teaspoons lemon juice (I used 2 teaspoons orange extract, and scant 1 teaspoon almond extract)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I used 1 teaspoon)
1/4 cup diced dried cranberries (If cranberries are small, leave whole)

Drizzled Icing **  (I substituted white chocolate)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
2 teaspoons vegetable shortening
orange zest, garnish (optional)

**I omitted, and used about 2 to 4 ounces (your choice) of white chocolate with with 1/2 teaspoon canola oil, melted & stirred together, then drizzled over.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Position rack in center of oven.

Beat butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs, vanilla, ginger, and salt; beat well.
Gradually mix in flour until smooth.
Mix diced dried cranberries and white chocolate into the batter by hand.
Pour batter into a well-greased 9x13-inch baking pan and spread evenly.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until cake is light brown on the edges.
Allow to cool.

Frosting: combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon juice and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth.

When the cake has cooled, spread frosting over the top of cake.
Sprinkle top with diced cranberries.

Icing: Whisk powdered sugar, milk, and shortening.

Drizzle icing over cranberries in a sweeping motion or use a pastry bag with a fine tip.
Allow cake to sit for several hours, then slice the cake lengthwise (the long way) through the middle.
Slice the cake across the width three times making a total of eight rectangular slices.
Slice each of those rectangles diagonally creating 16 triangular slices.

Original recipe from  ~ my changes are as noted in italics.

I hope you enjoy!

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Savory Bite-Size Polenta Cakes

Savory Bite-Size Polenta Cakes
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate
Recipe yields about 14  (1 1/2-inch diameter) cakes

3 cups water
1 cup instant polenta
4 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
sea salt and cracked black pepper
7 cherry tomatoes, halved
7 thin strips of any of the following:  anchovy filets, procuitto, or cooked bacon
7 Ciliegini, halved  (small--cherry size, fresh mozzarella balls)
14 small basil leaves, for serving

In a saucepan bring water to a boil over medium heat, gradually whisk in the polenta and cook for two to 3 minutes while stirring, until thickened.  Remove pan from heat, stir in butter, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Pour mixture into a lightly greased 8x8-inch square pan which has been lined with parchment baking paper. Use a slightly smaller pan if you want taller cakes.) Spread the cooked polenta to cover the base of the pan and smooth top. Chill in refrigerator for 45 minutes, or until set.

Use a 1 1/2 (or 2-inch) round cutter to cut 14 cakes from the polenta.  Place each cake on a lightly greased baking tray, top each with a tomato half, salty strip (see choices above) that you prefer, and Ciliegini half.  Broil under a hot broiler for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden and cheese has melted.  Top each with a basil leaf to serve.

Recipe adapted from Donna Hay

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Cranberry Crumb Cake ~ Tate's Bake Shop

Cranberry Crumb Cake ~ Tate's Bake Shop
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate
Yields One 9-inch square pan

This is delicious, warm from the oven, but I thought it was even better the following day as the flavors had a chance to mingle and the cake seemed to be more moist the second day. (Cover tightly if you will be storing it overnight so it doesn't dry out.)

1/2 cup firmly packed dark or light brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon5 tablespoons salted butter, cut into tablespoons
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking pwder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1/4 cup walnut oil * (you can use vegetable oil if you prefer)
1 teaspoon grated zest, from one orange
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 and 1/2 cups cranberries, coarsely chopped (frozen is fine)

Preheat oven to 350* F
Grease a 9-inch square baking pan with pan spray or butter

To make the topping:  Combine all topping ingredients --except walnuts-- in a medium bowl. Mix with your fingertips or pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add walnuts and toss all together. Set mixture asie in the refrigerator (this step may be done the night before.)

To make the batter:

In a small bowl, toss the cranberries with 2 tablespoons of sugar and set the mixture aside. 

In a medium bowl, combine the flour 1/2 cup of the sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

In a large bowl beat the sour cream, eggs, oil, orange zest and vanilla until combined. Add flour mixture to the sour cream mixture and stir until combined. Fold in the cranberries.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the batter.  Bake cake for 45 minutes or until a cake tester/toothpick comes out clean.

*Note: I used a good quality walnut oil, but honestly the flavor was not easily discernable because of the the other flavorings in the cake. 


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Friday, December 10, 2010

Crazy-Good Spiced Mixed Nuts

Spiced Mixed Nuts from David Lebovitz
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate
Makes about 4 cups of spiced nut mix

An Excellent party mix for nibbling, and a jar of these adorned with a pretty ribbon makes a nice gift from your kitchen.

2 cups raw nuts* of any combination; Pecans, Walnuts, Almonds, Peanuts, Cashews, Hazelnuts.  I used Almonds, Cashews and Pecans this time.
1 tablespoon salted or unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar (I use light brown, because that's what I usually have in my pantry.)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon chili powder, or smoked paprika
2 tablespoons maple syrup (the real thing, not imitation maple syrup)
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened natural or Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 cups small pretzel twists

Position oven rack in center of oven, preheat oven to 350* (F) 
Line a baking sheet with parchment, foil, or silicone baking mat (for easier clean up)

Spread the nuts evenly on the lined baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes, stirring once midway through bake time for even toasting.

In a large bowl, mix melted butter with all the seasonings (except the salt), stir in the warm nuts, tossing gently to coat them completely and as evenly as possible.  A silicone spatula works well for this step.

Sprinkle on the salt, mix again.  Mix in the pretzels then spread the mixture on the baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes, stirring once or twice until the nuts are nicely glazed and browned.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.  Once cooled break into clusters and enjoy!

Note:  The spiced nuts can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

*If your grocery store does not stock raw nuts, try a health food store.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Clementine (or Orange) Flavored Vodka and Liqueur

Clementine (or Orange) Flavored Vodka and Liqueur As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate
Makes about 1 quart

This recipe is based on one from the cookbook  Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It: And Other Cooking Projects by Karen Solomon.

Karen's recipe uses oranges, but I used Clementines ~ and I also suggest a couple of optional  ingredients for the liqueur recipe. 

You may enjoy the flavored vodka, or take it a step further by adding a simple syrup and allowing it to age into a delightful liqueur.

Clementine (or Orange)-Flavored Vodka

1 quart inexpensive vodka
5 or 6 sweet Clementines, or 4 sweet oranges (Navel or Valencia) Organic if possible
1 large jar with tight fitting lid

Wash and dry jar and lid.  Wash fruit and cut each into 4 to 6 slices. Place fruit in the jar and pour vodka over. Tighten lid and store in a cool, dark place for two weeks, shaking the jar once a day. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve or a cheesecloth.  Return the vodka to a jar, and put it back in it’s cool, dark place to age for 3 weeks to mature the flavor.

Clementine (or Orange) Liqueur

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
4 cups clementine (or orange)-flavored vodka  from recipe above.
Optional:  1/4 cup Mandarin flavored Vodka,  1/4 cup Grand Marnier or other Orange liqueur

To make simple syrup :  In a saucepan combine sugar and water, place over medium heat, until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat, set aside to cool completely.

Pour the flavored vodka into a jar, add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the simple syrup (and optional ingredients if using), taste.  If you prefer a sweeter liqueur add more of the simple syrup to taste. Secure lid tightly, label jar and store in a cool, dark place for 4 to 6 weeks.

(If you can wait that long!) 

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