Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pumpkin Apple Phyllocine Sandwhich

When cleaning out my pantry the other day, I discovered an unused can of Libby's Pumpkin filling. I thought about making mini pumpkin pies or even pumpkin cheesecake. But just thinking about heavy dessert made me feel like I had just eaten Thankgiving dinner!

So I thought I'd use the pumpkin in a simple, light dessert!
Pumpkin Filling:
1 can of pumpkin filling
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of sweetened condensed milk
Mix all the ingredients for the filling into a bowl. Set aside.

Cook some granny smith apple slices in butter and cinnamon for about 6 minutes until they are nice and tender. I left the skin on because I liked the green contrast with the orange pumpkin... yum.
The phyllo dough I had in my freezer was just enough to make a few squares for my crispy sandwhich. Cut the phyllo into 3' by 3' sqaures and sprayed each layer with cooking spray. Layer them so they would just get crispy and not burnt and bake them at 350 degrees for about 7 minutes.
Chocolate Drizzle:
1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup of milk
1 cup of confectioners sugar
In a double boiler, heat the choclate until it is melted. Heat the milk until it boils and mix chocolate and hot milk into a seperate bowl. After it is mixed, add the confectioners sugar and the choclate drizzle should be, well, drizzly.
Making the sandwhich is easy! Spead a thin layer of the pumpkin mix onto the bottum layer of the phyllo crisp. Layer some cooked apples onto it and then place a big dallop of the pumpkin mix on top of the apples. Then place the top crisp on the pumpkin. Drizzle your chocolate and enjoy!
This sandwhich is simple and seasonal. When the boyfriend and myself sat down to have a taste, it was better than I expected! It had everything that makes dessert delicious. It was crisp, sweet, savory, and the tartness of the apples added just the right amount of complexity to it. It was plate-licking good. If your looking for a light but seasonal dessert for thanksgiving, try this! You won't be dissapointed.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Petits Fours

This week has been so busy between school and my baking internship that I hardly had time to bake! But I was determined to challenge myself when I eventually found the time! I decided that petits fours would be a proper challenge and they would be fun to blog about! I knew the undertaking would be difficult, but that has never stopped me before....
The recipe started out perfect: vanilla cake, raspberry jam for the filling, melted white chocolate and cream frosting; perfect. The cake turned out moist and tasty!

I even painstakingly strained the raspberry seeds out of a whole jar of raspberry jam with my tiny strainer... everything was going well! I magically was able to cut the top of the cake off, smear the filling in, and put the top back on without any sort of breakage. The trouble came when I started cutting the petits fours themselves. My knife wasn't that great and the cake kept sticking! Everytime I cut a square, it just looked sloppy. "No worries! I have frosting!"

Yea, I had frosting alright, but my eagerness got the best of me. The frosting was simple: 1/3 cup of heated cream into a bowl of 12 OZ of white chocolate chips. But the one big mistake I made was slopping on the frosting way before it cooled! When I started putting the frosting on I was dissapointed because it literally soaked into my beautiful cake that I worked so hard on!!
(sigh) But the petits fours still turned out delicious and my brother (who usually hates cake) requested I make him more for his birthday which is coming up soon. Even though they were really delicious, I was still dissapointed!

Have you ever worked REALLY hard to make something awesome and it didn't turn out? Where you as dissapointed as me?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Adventures in: Phyllo Dough

I dunno about any of you, but I rarely think about buying phyllo dough at the store. I recently saw this recipe with salmon and pesto wrapped in puff pastry. I wanted to try it but I opted for phyllo dough instead because it's so much lighter and it gets intensely crispy! This was REALLY easy to do. I cut the phyllo into 2' by 2' squares and sprayed about 2 layers of phyllo with baking spray.

Then I placed a cube of salmon and alittle bit of pesto on top. I folded the corners upward and tied the whole cube together to create a bite size salmon purse! The hardest part about this recipe is tying the string on but seriously, it's worth it because they turned out so pretty and yummy. I baked the little bites for about 10 minutes at 375 degrees. The salmon was buttery and the phyllo was crispy. Oh, it was heaven.
Since I had a ton of phyllo left over, I started thinking about sweet things I could make with it. I contemplated chocolate or something creamy but I didn't want to compromise that crisp that is just so delicious. So, I peeked into my freezer.....
ALMONDS! Yummy, slivered almonds, already chopped! Almonds have great flavor and bake well, so I decided to make mini almond pies. I just mixed together half a bag of silvered almonds, 1 egg, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoon granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. I used the mini cupcake tins that I am still borrowing from my mom. :) I stuffed two sheets of 2' by 2' squares into the tins, loaded the almond mixture in and baked at 350 degree's for about 15 minutes.
Oh my, they turned out so light and crispy and yet they were delicious and satisfying. My parents requested I make these for the Christmas party! Not only are they light and yummy, but they are also really pretty and elegant! I mean you can pretty much stuff anything into phyllo (okay not anything but you get the idea) and it will turn out light, crispy, and beautiful!
Using this box of phyllo has given me so many other ideas too. You can make those phyllo purses with just about anything. It's so versatile, I'm glad I tried it!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mini Corn Bread Muffins

As many of you know, I have a soft spot for corn bread! When my mom let me borrow her mini cupcake tins ( - Just like this one), I knew I had to make these cute little corn muffins....

The very first post I had on my blog was about a boxed mix for corn bread. Don't get me wrong, Jiffy corn bread is delicious but when you make it all yourself, it somehow tastes better! Making the corn bread myself was literally just as easy as using the box mix!
S&S Mini Corn Bread Muffins:
-1 cup corn meal
-1 cup sifted flour
-1/4 cup sugar
-3 teaspoons baking powder
-1 teaspoon salt
-1/4 cup oil
-1 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees. Mix together the dry ingredients and mix the wet ingredients in a seperate bowl. When the wet ingredients are mixed, add to the dry ingredients. Wisk together. Grease your cupcake tin, jelly roll pan, or any pan you're using. Pop them in the oven until the corn bread is browned around the edges! And enjoy :)
Update: My internship at Annie B's Confections is going well! Yesterday, a company in New York order 7,000 little pie crusts, so I spet the day cutting out buiscut-sized pie dough rounds! I loved every minute of it and I love seeing the way the bakery works from the inside out. It's very exciting....
Do you work in a bakery or pastry shop? What is your favorite or least favorite part?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kitchen Gossip

So, Obviously if you're reading this, you've realized that I changed the name of the blog and the colors! I'm very excited. I thought Kitchen Kitten poorly relfected what I was trying to do on my blog, which is bake! As many of you know, someday I'd like to have a career in baking and pastry so I think "Sift & Savor" is a perfect name! I adore it and I hope you will too!
Also, I have big news! Recently I recieved great advice to get an internship or an unpaid position to get experience in a bakery setting. Well ,last week I had an interview with Annie B's Confections, which is located in Newtown, PA. They gave me an internship! Yesterday was my first day and I was thrilled to be there. I've learned alot already and I love it! I'll keep you updated on the whole experience.
Next Post: Home-made corn bread with a twist!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Butter Nut Cookies

When shopping at my local grocery store yesterday, I spotted a package of ready-made peanut butter cookies. "Pfft", I thought. "I could make peanut butter cookies that would taste so much better than those!" So, this morning I decided to take on the challenge....
Kitchen Kitten's Butter Nut Cookies:
-1 cup shortening
-1 cup sugar
-1 cup brown sugar
-2 eggs
-1 cup chunky peanut butter
-2 cups flour
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-2 teaspoons baking soda
-1 cup of oats
-1/2 cup of slivered almonds
-1/2 cup of dark chocolate(optional)
First, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Then, cream together the shortening, sugar, and brown sugar. Add eggs, beat well, then mix in the peanut butter. In a seperate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt and add to the creamed sugar mixture. Stir in the oats, almonds, and choclate if your heart desires. My heart desired chocolate, so I mixed it in :)
When your cookie dough is mixed, grease a pan. Using a spoon, place about 2 tablespoons worth of dough onto the baking sheet and place them about an inch apart. The cookies won't spread out too much but give them room so they don't touch. Bake them for about 10-12 minutes or until the bottom of the cookies are browned.

These cookies are really delicious and are the yummy-est when eaten right out of the oven-nice and warm! Mmmmm. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

From Flowers To Cupcakes

I was in a very girly mood when I woke up this morning and decided that I HAD to have some flowers. When I walked into my local flower shop, they just happened to be having a sale on just about everything(don't you love when that happens)! I stumbled upon these gorgeous pink roses for three bucks and decided they were a must! Then I happened to spot some colorful carnations to the left of me that had swirls of pink and white.
As soon as I saw the swirl carnations, I immediatly thought of swirl cupcakes-no joke. So I got in my car and bought food coloring!

I made a basic vanilla cupcake recipe and filled cupcake tins. Then I put one drop of red food coloring onto the tops of the cupcake batter and swirled in the color. It came out so adorable!

This is so easy to do and you can do it in many different colors too. Blue, green, red, orange, pink, purple-you can mix the food coloring to make colors like "teal" and "sunset". That's what the box said anyway. But I stuck with pink!

The swirl of coloring even goes down into the cupcakes, not just on top. It looked so cute and they tasted really delicious. I never appreciate an un-iced cupcake until today and to tell you the truth, I much prefer cupcakes without the icing! Especially if they are moist. I decided to dust mine with sugar.

And then I went so far as to make a cupcake tower. I added my flowers and some baby's breath on top just to make it extra pretty. So cute! Next time I have people over and I'm cooking dinner, I am definitely making this simple cupcake tower. It's easy but it looks so elegant with the flowers. Never has cupcake baking been so fun!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Pieces of Napoli

My family is from Napoli; better known as Naples, Italy. One thing Napoli is famous for is the pizza!! Oh, you have not lived until you've had the pizza from Napoli. It's fresh and delicous!!

I was on a sweet overload and found myself searching for savory recipes. I decided to make pizza because, to be honest, I've never made my own pizza dough before(I know I'm so ashamed)!! But being Italian proved to be a very big advantage. I don't think I've ever had pizza dough quite like the one I made(okay I'm alittle biased but the boyfriend loved it too). The recipe I found was simple and the techniques for punching the dough were easy enough! If you've never made your own pizza dough, you're in for a treat with this recipe.
Pizza Dough:
3/4 cups warm water (105-115 degrees)
4 teaspoons of sugar
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 whole packet of active dry yeast
2 cups of flour
Heat the water in a small bowl until it is exactly 105-115 degrees. Mix in the yeast, the sugar and 1 teaspoon of flour into the water and wait for the yeast to start bubbling. When yeast comes alive (this was literally my favorite part of this process! I was so excited when my yeast bubbled) mix it together with the rest of the ingredients. Knead it together until your dough forms.
Using a fresh bowl, cover the bottom with good olive oil and place the dough into the bowl. Make sure the top of the dough has a coating of olive oil so it doesn't dry out. Cover the bowl with a damp warm dish towel and let the dough rise for 60-90 minutes in a place where there won't be any sort of draft.
After the dough has risen, grease a pan (I used a pan because I enjoy thin, crispy crust but by all means if you have a pizza stone or any other pizza pans, use them!) and spinkle ground corn meal on the pan. The corn meal makes the bottom nice and crispy! Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees while you make your pizza. First, put your dough on a floured surface and punch it a few times(stress reliever!) until all the air bubbles are gone. Don't roll out your dough, it should be able to stretch onto your pan when its rested long enough. After you've stretch your dough onto a pan, put your toppings on! I decided on spicy sausage, fresh spinach, and sweet, roasted tomatoes for my pizza.
This recipe turned out delicious, I'll never order pizza again! It's so good when its crispy and warm made with ingredients you KNOW are fresh. Homemade pizza dough = my new obsession.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween Treats!

I don't know about any of you out there, but my kitchen is starting to look like a bakery. Between chocolate cookies and Halloween brownie bites (with drizzled frosting! yum) for a party on Saturday, my kitchen has been crazy! I love baking for special occassions and holidays but I think I've absolutly had my fill of orange frosting.....
What kind of spooky treats has everyone been making this week??

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Easy Biscuits

Today I wanted to bake something savory and easy, so I decided on biscuits! This recipe has minimal ingredients and is easy to make. It took me exactly 60 minutes to make the dough, roll it out, cut out biscuits, AND bake them! You should try this recipe!
Easy Biscuits:
2 cups of flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup of solid vegetable shortening, room temperature
1 cup milk

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Then, mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. Rub together the room temperaure shortening and the flour until little balls form. It's okay if you have larger balls of shortening. Pour in the milk and mix together until sticky dough forms.

It's really important not to over work the dough because you want the biscuits flaky. On a well floured surface, knead the dough only 10 times and no more! If you think you need to knead it more, don't! The less you mess with it, the better the biscuits. I think I might have over worked mine just a bit because they didn't puff the way I thought they would. After you've kneaded the dough, roll it out into a 10 by 10 circle and with a biscuit cutter or a round cookie cutter, cut your biscuits!

Put your biscuits onto a greased pan and brush the top with butter. Yum. Stick them in the oven for 12-15 minutes and you'll have flaky biscuits! They are easy to make and the ingredients are very accessible! You can find vegetable shortening right next to the butter in your local grocery store. When you try these easy biscuits, you'll wonder why you didn't make them sooner!

Happy baking :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cinnamon Swirls

From one of my previous posts I had left over frozen pastry dough. I wanted to try a swirl cookie and I think it came out really delicous. My family ate the whole batch!
Pastry Dough:
1/2 cup butter; room temperature
2 & 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
First combine flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. Then take the room temperature butter and cut it into the flour mixture until it looks like big bread crumbs. Then make a well and add the beaten egg and the milk. Fold the milk and egg into the flour and butter until a dough forms. Chill the dough for 30 minutes. Pre-heart the oven at 375 degrees.

When the dough is chilled, make sure you have a floured surface to roll the dough out on. Take a rolling pin to the dough until it is 1/8th of an inch thick. It's very thin! But it's worth the work...
For the filling I mixed together sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and walnuts that I chopped very finely. ( I didn't measure out these ingredients because its basically all sugar but I put about a half a cup of chopped walnuts). When your dough is all rolled out, sprinkle your sugar filling evenly all over the dough. Then, very carefully, start rolling the dough back up. This may be difficult at first but take your time. After the dough is rolled up in a long roll, put it back in the fridge to chill again for 15 minutes.
After the roll is chilled you can cut cookies off of the end of the roll. I made the cookies about 1/2 inch thick but you could make them smaller or larger. After the cookies are cut, put them on a greased baking sheet in the oven until the dough is golden brown(about 15-20 minutes).
These cookies turned out really yummy. And you can evn interchange the ingredients in the filling too! Next time I will probably add chocolate. Yum!

Kitchen Kitten Gossip

So a few weeks have gone by since I last posted anything and there are a few reasons why!

First of all, I was terribly sick. Cooking + coughing/sneezing/headache = not a whole lot of fun. (BUT I did manage to make some Cinnamon Swirl Cookies and that post will come right after this one! Yum...)

Second, as most of you know, I'm still in school! I just finished midterms (thank god) and now I am back to my kitchen :)

I do have very exciting news though! For Christmas my mom is getting me a pink KitchenAid mixer and I am extatic!!!!!!!! Instead of sugar plums dancing in my head, it's the pink KitchenAid mixer.....
Wanna see? --->

It's beautiful and I won't have to mix everything by hand-what a luxury!

So, I apologize to any readers who have been dissapointed with my non-posting. But stay tuned because I have some delicious cookie posts coming up!!!

Happy Cooking

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Kitten Patissierie

The other day I found this great cookware store near my apartment. It has everything that any cook/chef/baker could ever dream of! I was in heaven...
Seeing all the baking materials really inspired me to bake something classic and delicious with something seasonal. Apple are perfect for fall, especially warm apple tart! So that is exactly what I decided to make.
Flaky Pie Dough:
5 & 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 & 1/2 sticks of butter
1 & 3/4 cups solid vegetable shortening, chilled
1 cup ice water
First, mix together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Then with your hands or a mixer, cut the butter first into the flour until it looks like course corn meal. Then cut in the shortening until it has clumps. This may take a while if your using your hands but be patient. Make sure the butter and shortening are really cold too.
Then after the butter and shortening are mixed in, pour in the water and mix together until a dough forms. Wrap it in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 2 hours.

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled
1/2 cup of fresh bread crumbs
pinch of cinnamon
3/4 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon flour
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Slice the apples thinly and mix with the lemon juice. Then, in a bowl, mix the other ingredients together with the apples. Bake in the oven in a jelly roll pan until the apples give up some of their juices and they are tender.
When the dough is done chilling, roll it out on a floured suface till about 1/4 inch thick. Fold and place very gently into tart pan. Make the sides real pretty making slices into the dough. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Dont forget to poke holes on the bottom with a fork!
When the pie crust is cooked, take it out and let it cool. Prepare the topping.
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 & 1/2 teaspoons sugar
When the pie crust is cooled, fill the crust almost to the top with filling. The assemble the topping. Slice the apples thinly and toss in lemon juice to prevent browning. Then cover the top, anyway your heart desires. I decided to do it classically by fanning them. Brush melted butter over top of the whole tart and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 375 degrees until the top apples are browned.
This French Apple Tart turned out so well! I worked so hard to make the crust flaky and it really was delicious. The filling was sweet and soft while the top was crusted with sugar.
:) I'm so glad I tried this recipe because it has opened me up to many other classics in baking!

Friday, October 9, 2009

France Flashback

When I was 16, I took part in my high school's French exchange program. A student (named Aurelie) from Southern France who was learning English, came to stay with me for 2 weeks and I, learning French, went and stayed with her family for 2 weeks. I was really excited about going to Southern France and I didn't even consider the kind of food that I would be eating when I was there. Some of the fondest memories I have of my stay almost always involved food.

One night, my exchange student's mother had made this delicious whole chicken. She baked and basted it slowly for hours and the smells that filled the house, quite frankly, reminded me of home. I always considered chicken a really boring protein until I tasted the chicken that Aurelie's mom had placed in front of me.

I was startled at first because it didn't taste like chicken! It was moist and it melted in my mouth. The herbs that it was cooked with had permeated the meat in such a way that every bite was a small sample of France. This meal changed the way I looked at chicken forever. I had a new found respect for it.

I had a craving for this same melt-in-your-mouth, herb chicken this week and decided to take a stab at it. I wanted those flavors that reminded me of home so I stuffed the chicken with garlic, onions, celery, and carrots. I seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper and garlic powder. I didn't want to mess with flavors too much. I like to keep it simple!

I wasn't sure how I could make it really tender but I remembered watching Emeril Lagasse one morning on The Foodnetwork and he was making a whole chicken. He seperated the skin from the breast meat and stuffed butter in between. I thought I'd try it because I really wanted that nice tender, moist chicken!

I pre-heated the oven to 350 degrees and after the chicken was all stuffed, I place a loose piece of aluminum foil over top and slid it into the oven. I baked it for about 2 hours, basting it every 1/2 hour or so. Then I took the foil off the top and placed a few pads of butter on top just for browning purposes and baked for another 30 minutes Yum!

Needless to say, the chicken turned out really tender and flavorful! It was so moist and delicous. AND the best thing about making a whole chicken are the leftovers!

Of course it doesn't top the chicken I had in France, but I suspect it was the chicken itself, how it was raised or what it ate, that made it so tasty. I think factors like that really do make a difference in food!

Has there ever been something you've eaten that was so devine that you've tried to re-make it yourself? If so, how did it turn out?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Lessons in Pastry

For a few days I've had boxes of fresh berries sitting in my fridge waiting to be used. I couldn't decide what to make with them until this morning. I woke up with an intense itch to make pastry!
I didn't want to mess with the berries too much (they are just so yummy and pretty by themselves), so I decided to make little pastry pockets! Yum... They turned out so delicious, I even surprised myself! :)
1/2 cup butter
2 & 3/4 cups flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup of milk
2 eggs beaten
I cut the straberries to match the size of the raspberries and blue berries. I let them sit in 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 tablespoon brown sugar.
First, for the pastry dough, I mixed together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Then, using my hands and room temperature butter, I worked the butter into the flour mixture until it looked like course corn meal. This is really important because the butter is what makes your pastry flaky and yummy.

After the butter is mixed in, make a well at the bottum of your bowl and pour in the milk and already beaten eggs. Fold in the milk and eggs very carfully and softy. Over working the pastry dough will make the pastry tough. Flaky, soft pastry is delicious so take your time! Go slow, be gentle!

After everything is mixed in, place your dough in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for an hour. While the dough is chilling, mix up your berries and get some counter space ready because you'll need it when you roll the dough out.
When your dough is ready, flour your counter space generously because the dough is sticky. Roll out the pastry 1/8th of an inch thick and cut into whatever shapre your heart desires.
I decided to put a few sugary berries in between two layers of flower-shaped pastry. I thought it was pretty and since I have no formal training in pastry arts I wasn't about to ruin the dough by trying something outlandish (Trust me, I've learned my lesson!).

Right before I put them into the oven, I brushed egg onto the pastries and sprinkled sugar on top to give them a pretty color. I baked my little flower pastry pockets for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees. They turned out beautifully and most importantly, they taste really delicious and fresh!
This time on Lessons in Pastry, I learned that the more love you put into your pastry, the more it will love you back when you put it into your mouth!
Comments, questions, advice, criticisms? I'd love to hear from all of you!