Friday, April 18, 2014

Orange chocolate chip pound cake

One of the best holiday cookies I've had was an orange shortbread dipped in dark chocolate. Which is why, I suppose, it wasn't a stretch to add chocolate chips and orange zest to a pound cake.

I made three pound cakes last weekend, and this was the experimental one. I followed, more or less, the Lemon Poundcake recipe I've posted before, but did variations on the theme with lemon, lime and orange.

The process of doing three at once meant lots of zesting, measuring, sugaring and flouring at once. The kitchen went into processing mode pretty quickly.

The egg and butter levels in the counter area were staggering. There were also small bowls of freshly squeezed juice, waiting in the wings...

Then, finally, it was time to bake.

This goes together pretty quickly. It's the baking you have to allow time for. Normally, these cakes take about 90 minutes, and then need to cool for 20 to 30 minutes. The good news is, they freeze beautifully and thaw overnight in the fridge. 

Orange chocolate chip pound cake

You'll need:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. kosher salt
2 sticks salted butter
2 cups sugar
5 eggs
2 T. orange juice
1 T. orange zest
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

All you need to do:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9 in. by 5 in. loaf pan, and line with wax paper. Butter the wax paper, also.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a smaller bowl and set aside. In a standing mixer, mix butter until creamy, about 2 min. Then add sugar and mix to combine. Pause and scrape the sides of the bowl. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time. Then add the juice and zest.

With the mixer on low, add flour mixture 1/4 cup at a time. When all the flour is mixed in, stop the mixer. Stir in chips by hand.

Pour mixture into loaf pan, and bake at 325 degrees for 90 minutes, rotating halfway through. Let pan cool for about 20-30 minutes. De-pan to cool completely. Once cooled, wrap in plastic wrap, and store in a gallon-size ziptop bag. You can freeze this bread, well wrapped, for at least a week, and probably a month, I would guess.

If you like, mix powdered sugar with orange juice to create a glaze. Or, melt chocolate chips and a little canola oil in the microwave, then drizzle over cut slices of cake.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Pepper pasta

As it turns out, the most recent recipes I've made lately have come not from cookbooks, but from blogs, via Buzzfeed. One of my favorites so far has been an adaptation of a baked red pepper pasta dish from Half Baked Harvest.

I was casting around for something to make that wouldn't require a lot of time. I'm on my second bout of bronchitis this year, and have inexplicably given up my triple coffees per day habit in the midst of all this, which is to say, energy is not at the all-time high by any means. Thus, simplicity is necessary.

Anyway, I love that the original is called Dad's Friday Night Pasta Dish, and I won't attempt to top that. What I will do is share with you our favorite iteration of this dish so far.

Normally, by the way, I balk at the price of red peppers, but Aldi usually has a package including a red, orange and yellow bell pepper for about $3. While you're there, pick up a jar of the marinated artichokes and you'll be set.

And yes, this is an insane amount of cheese, but it is worth it! So good!

Pepper pasta, adapted from Half Baked Harvest

1 lb. bowtie pasta
1/3-1/2 cup olive oil
1 t. basil
1 t. oregano
2 t. Greek seasoning
cracked black pepper
1 jar marinated artichokes
1 chicken breast, cooked and cubed
2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
3 red, orange or yellow peppers, seeded and sliced thin
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
A 13x9 in. pan or similarly sized casserole pan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta and drain.

While the pasta is cooking, put in enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan and then some. Add seasonings to the pan. Add cooked pasta and toss to mix.

Add chicken and artichokes, and mix well. Sprinkle all the monterey jack cheese over the pasta, and top with all the peppers. Top the peppers with the Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes. Serve warm on a cold night!