Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Easy Sticky Buns

I was a bit apprehensive to make these sticky buns. A "bit" is an understatement. I've never used puff pastry before since it is hard to come by in my neck of the woods. I thought I'd make my own puff pastry but that would be taking the "EASY" out of "Easy Sticky Buns" as I would have to make the pastry dough by hand (no food processor). It was a good thing that my mom found a pack of puff pastry at Santis when she went to Manila.
Armed with Ina's recipe, I headed into the kitchen, cleared my 24" x 24" baking space, took out the butter from the fridge and measured brown sugar and cinnamon. When the butter was already at room temperature, I placed it in the mixing bowl along with 1/3 cup brown sugar and let the mixer do its thing while I grabbed the puff pastry from the freezer.
I carefully pried two pastry sheets from the stack then let them rest on the counter while I scooped the butter-sugar mixture onto the muffin pan. I omitted the pecans because of two reasons. First reason: my dad doesn't like nuts. Second reason: I didn't have any pecans on hand anyway. Also, I still had about 1/3 cup of the butter-sugar mixture left so I decided to do away with the extra two tablespoons of butter. Waste not, want not.
Ina's recipe says to "Unfold one sheet of puff pastry with the folds going left to right. Brush the whole sheet with half of the melted butter." I stared at my two sheets of pastry. There was nothing to unfold! As in nothing. They were two thin 12"x12" squares. After a minute or two of being perplexed, I decided to go ahead with the recipe even if it meant having to do some downsizing by cutting the pastry half an inch smaller than what was called for in the recipe.
After brushing the pastry with butter and giving it a generous sprinkling of cinnamon and brown sugar, I rolled it into a log and placed it seam side down. I proceeded to do the same with the other sheet of pastry but I made a boo boo and forgot to remove the thin sheet of paper under the pastry . I had to unroll the pastry and repeat the procedure. I ended up with a very messy baking space!
I baked the buns for exactly thirty minutes and I watched as the pastry puffed up and the butter and sugar bubbled and spilled over the sides of the muffin pan. Now I know why the muffin pan must be place on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper.
After thirty minutes of baking, I took them out of the oven and let them cool for five minutes Then I transferred them onto a lined tray and topped them with the sticky goo.

Ending up with a smaller puff pastry is a blessing in disguise after all! These sticky buns are so rich. It's a good idea to make them smaller than what was called for in the recipe. But that's my opinion. You are entitled to yours. If you love them in bigger portions, I guess that's fine too. On that note we can agree to disagree but I'm sure you're with me when I say that these are sticky, gooey, sweet and delicious.

[ i did a lousy job rolling the pastry :( ]

My dad loved them. He ate four sticky buns which is a no-no because he's a diabetic. Ditto my mom and I. Still, I'll be making small batches of these gooey yummy pastry for our cheat days.
As always, thanks to Tanya for the photos. I can't take a decent photo even if my life depended on it.

Easy Sticky Buns
(recipe courtesy of Ina Garten, BB)
Makes 12

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup pecans, chopped in very large pieces
1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted for the filling
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a 12-cup standard muffin tin on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the 12 tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Place 1 rounded tablespoon of the mixture in each of the 12 muffin cups. Distribute the pecans evenly among the 12 muffin cups on top of the butter and sugar mixture.

Lightly flour a wooden board or stone surface. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry with the folds going left to right. Brush the whole sheet with half of the melted butter. Leaving a 1-inch border on the puff pastry, sprinkle each sheet with 1/3 cup of the brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of the raisins. Starting with the end nearest you, roll the pastry up snugly like a jelly roll around the filling, finishing the roll with the seam side down.

Trim the ends of the roll about 1/2 inch and discard. Slice the roll in 6 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2 inches wide. Place each piece, spiral side up, in 6 of the muffin cups. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry to make 12 sticky buns.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden to dark brown on top and firm to the touch. Allow to cool for 5 minutes only, invert the buns onto the parchment paper (ease the filling and pecans out onto the buns with a spoon), and cool completely.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Banoffee Pie

So far my cupcakes and muffins have been well received by my family and friends. Vanilla, orange chocolate and banana. Pies, on the other hand, are my Waterloo. I suck at making pie crusts. So when Gelli, our youngest sister asked me to make her a Banoffee Pie, I did everything to delay making it. But I didn't want to disappoint her, so off to the kitchen I went.

Banoffee Pie was created in an East Sussex restaurant called "The Hungry Monk" and was named after two of its ingredients, "banana" and "toffee". The recipe for this pie has evolved through the years.

I used a Pâte Brisée crust which I blind baked for about thirty minutes or so until the crust turned golden brown. I let it cool for a bit before brushing it with melted white chocolate. Then I spooned some dulce de leche (where have you been all my life?) that I made onto the crust before topping it with sliced bananas. I then drizzled some homemade caramel then blanketed everything with whipped cream. Finally, I topped it with chocolate shavings and then let it set in the fridge.

Although there is much to be desired when it comes to my pie making skills, I thought I did good.
The dulce de leche was sublime! (It took me four hours to make it. by the way.) It married well with the caramel and the bananas. The whipped cream cut through the sweetness of the dulce de leche and the caramel. As for the chocolate shavings, well since when do we have to explain the use of chocolate in dessert making?

Curry Me Away

Two week ago my parents went to this Indian Grocery along UN Avenue in Manila and bought a lot dried herbs, spices, lentils, curry mixes, tandoori mixes, fiery dried peppers and all things Indian. When they arrived from their trip, I placed everything in a huge utility box where they stayed waiting to be opened.
Three days ago my dad opened his loot and made a delicious, super spicy fish curry for dinner which I immensely enjoyed with a generous serving of hot jasmine rice and a dollop of mango chutney on the side.
Inspired by my dad's delicious curry dish, I decided to make my very first curry dish using shrimps fresh from the market. And since we ran out of mango chutney, I decided to add ripe mangoes to the dish instead. I guess you can say that I was "curried" away.

Shrimp and Mango Curry

1/2 kilo shrimps, shells removed
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 tbsp curry mix
1 tsp turmeric
1 small onion, chopped
1 small ginger, sliced thinly
1 cup potatoes, cubed
1 cup squash, cubed
1 cup ripe mango, cubed
1 bell pepper, sliced
salt and pepper to taste

Remove shrimp heads, tails and shell and devein. Place shrimps in a bowl of water and add salt. Set aside. Remember to wash the shrimps in running water before using to remove excess salt.
Dissolve curry mix and turmeric in about 1/4 cup of hot water. Set aside.
In a pan, saute onions and ginger. Add chicken stock, coconut milk and the curry-turmeric mixture. Let it simmer a bit before adding the potatoes and squash. Simmer until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.
When the potatoes and squash are fork tender, add the bellpepper shrimps and mango. Simmer until the shrimps are cooked. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with rice and mango chutney, if desired.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Birthday Cupcakes

For my 32nd birthday,

I made 32 chocolate cupcakes at the last minute.

Tanya, Gelli and Beth helped frost and decorate them.

I think they are lovely and festive.

What do you think?

My First Ever Barefoot Bloggers Challenge - Ina Garten's Banana Sour Cream Pancakes

I finally mustered the courage to join a group of food bloggers and I've decided to join the Barefoot Bloggers. They are " an [extra]ordinary group of cookers and bakers with a love of all things Ina."
I will join them in testing and (hopefully) retesting recipes of the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten.
Karen of Something Sweet By Karen chose Banana Sour Cream Pancakes as our first challenge.

Ina Garten's Banana Sour Cream Pancakes
(recipe courtesy of Ina Garten, FN)

1 ½ c all-purpose flour
3 tbsp sugar (i used 4 tbsp of sugar)
2 tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp kosher salt (i used 1 tsp salt)
½ c sour cream
¾ c plus 1 tbsp milk
2 extra-large eggs (i used 2 large eggs)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp grated lemon zest
Unsalted butter
2 ripe bananas, diced, plus extra for serving

Pure maple syrup

For the directions:

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, mixing only until combined.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat until it bubbles. Ladle the pancake batter into the pan to make 3 or 4 pancakes. Distribute a rounded tablespoon of bananas on each pancake. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until bubbles appear on top and the underside is nicely browned. Flip the pancakes and then cook for another minute until browned. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, add more butter to the pan, and continue cooking pancakes until all the batter is used. Serve with sliced bananas, butter and maple syrup.

Now I've never made pancakes from scratch. I always use pancake mixes that tend to be flat, flavorless (which was why I had to drown them in pancake syrup) and oftentimes dry. Ina Garten's recipe produced pancakes that were tender and moist. I could not believe how easy it was to make them. I did however make some minor adjustments. I added an extra tablespoon of sugar because I like my pancakes sweet (but not too sweet), reduced the salt to 1 teaspoon, used 2 large eggs instead of extra large eggs and sliced the bananas instead of dicing them. I also had some bananas leftover so I sliced some and tossed them in the pan along with some cinnamon and brown sugar and used it as toppings for my pancakes.
Having said that, I think that this recipe is a keeper and hey if you don't care for bananas, you can use other fruits in season.