May 2012

double-layer-fruit-pizza
 Fruit Pizza is the only item I will eat that I allow the merging of fruit dessert. Typically I view fruit and dessert as two separate categories that should never cross into each others’ territory. But this dessert is sooo good…so good that I added a second layer to maximize the frosting-to-cookie ratio.
I made my own sugar cookie crust here, but if I were you I would probably just buy the refrigerated cookie dough. It is just as good and is far easier…I was looking to waste a few hours in the kitchen, however, so the pre-made stuff just wasn’t going to cut it. If you’re feeling ambitious, the recipe below is soft and chewy and delicious. The frosting is so easy that this makes for a pretty low-maintenance but high-impact dessert.
 
Recipe
Sugar Cookie Crust
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 2 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
Frosting
  • 1 8 oz package cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • Couple spoonfuls of cool whip (or a dash of milk will work also)
  • Variety of fruit – blueberries, raspberries, bananas, kiwi, anything pretty
Glaze
  • 1/3 cup apricot, peach, or apple preserves
  • 1 T. water
Start by preheating the oven to 350.  Prepare the sugar cookie dough by creaming the sugar and butter/shortening, then adding the vanilla, egg, and remaining ingredients. Chill the dough for at least an hour. Flour a working surface, and divide the dough in half. Roll each piece out to a circle about 1/4 inch thick. Bake each circle separately, on a baking sheet lined with greased parchment paper,  about 12-14 minutes (take out when the edges are just barely golden….a chewier cookie is taken out when slightly underdone).  Or, if using refrigerated cookie dough, bake as directed – either in one layer or two. I don’t want to force two layers on anyone.
Prepare the frosting by mixing all ingredients. I placed my first cookie layer on one of my cake stands, frosted, then topped with bananas.
Because bananas turn brown, you have to glaze them with some type of preservative. To form a glaze out of whatever jelly you have on hand, place a few spoonfuls in a saucepan with a tablespoon of water, and heat on medium-low for about 5 min. Brush the bananas with the glaze (and any other fruit you are using that could turn brown).
Place the second layer on top of the first, frost it, and then top it with plenty of fruit. Brush more glaze on the top, then chill for an hour or two before serving.
honey-hoisin-baby-back-ribs
My husband and I have this longstanding joke about Howard Wang’s, an amazing upscale chinese restaurant that recently moved to the uptown area of Dallas. I use the term ‘upscale’ because it is not located in a strip mall and it is not called ‘Lover’s Egg Roll.’ Howard Wang’s was previously only located in the North Dallas area, and John used to go there with friends before I existed. When we met, he used to tell me about how good it was and how he loved the Honey and 5 Spice Ribs. Being the avid foodie that I am, I started checking out the menu on a regular basis and decided that I would probably love it too. And then I decided that I did love it. I’m not sure exactly when fantasy merged with reality, but somewhere along the way I started acting like it was one of my favorite restaurants and that I loved going there…even though I had never been. It started to spiral out of control, until I hit rock bottom when John caught me saying to friends ‘Oh you HAVE to take them to Howard Wang’s! You would love it – get the corn flower soup.’
I think my husband’s response was something like ‘WTF..’ ..or something similar…but we decided then and there that we needed a date night ASAP to Howard Wang’s so that my actions could back up my words. Luckily, a second restaurant recently opened up in uptown so we didn’t have to trek all the way up to Addison or wherever.
But, the ribs. The RIBS. They are so so good, the sweetness from the honey and a bit of a kick from the dry rub – they are a wonderful diversion from the standard BBQ baby backs. So, I was craving them last Sunday and I made a version of them. But I added Hoisin Sauce, because I like the sound of ‘Honey Hoisin Ribs.’ And I love the flavor, too.
Recipe
  • Chinese 5 Spice Seasoning
  • 5 tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 2/3 cup Honey
  • 2/3 cup Hoisin Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Soy Sauce
  • 2 slabs Pork Baby Back Ribs
Start by marinating the ribs in the 5 spice seasoning. Sprinkle the season generously over both sides of the ribs, along with a couple tablespoons of the brown sugar.  Put them back in the refrigerator for about an hour, then remove them and let rest to room temperature.  Prepare the sauce by mixing the honey, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and remaining brown sugar in a bowl.
Preheat the grill to high, and preheat the oven to 300. Brown both sides of the ribs on the hot grill – a few minutes on each side.  Place each slab of rib in its own foil, and brush with a little of the sauce. Wrap the ribs up (may want to double foil), and place in the oven.
After one hour, take the ribs out and generously slather the ribs with more of the sauce. Slather, slather, slather. Don’t use it all though – you want to reserve some for serving and dipping. Return the ribs to the oven, and cook for one hour more. After two hours of total cooking time, turn on the broiler and prop the door open. Open the foil to expose the ribs, and let the sauce brown and caramelize – about 4-5 minutes. Remove the ribs from the oven, wrap up the foil, and let them rest for a good 30 minutes. Do not skip this step, I warn you. This is when the meat gets really tender and delicious.
This sauce is good, good, good.  Howard Wang actually came over to our house and ate these with us.
caramel-oatmeal-chip-cookies
I love to experiment with cookies, based on the ingredients I have available. On Sunday the caramel sauce was staring me in the face, shouting ‘USE ME.’ So, I stuffed it in my cookies.
Recipe
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup bread flour (or use all all-purpose if that’s what you have)
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • Chocolate Chips

Filling

  • Caramel topping
Preheat the oven to 375.  Cream the butter and sugars in the bowl of a standing mixer for about 30 seconds. Add the baking powder, soda, salt, eggs, and vanilla. Add the remaining ingredients and mix just until combined. Drop the cookie dough in rounded spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and create a little hole, a ‘caramel nest,’ if you will. Fill ’em up with caramel.
Next, cover the caramel with more cookie dough.
Bake at 375 for 9 minutes.
 Isn’t that picture awfully artistic of me? I saw something like that on pinterest.
veal-piccata-with-dijon-caper-crea

Last Saturday night, John and I were out for our usual date night at Terilli’s – a neighborhood favorite of ours that is a perfect walk in the beautiful Dallas Spring weather. We took our spot at the bar, and both of us were immediately drawn to the woman next to us. What ensued next is sort of embarrassing, in a ‘we are too obsessed with food’ sort of way, but we got the information we needed: the lady was eating Veal Piccata. I have to admit I’ve never been particularly interested in Veal Piccata, but I don’t know why. Oh wait – I do know why. Because when I was in grade school my parents went through a phase where they ordered so much veal from the meat man that it filled up our entire freezer and refrigerator, and even when we ate it every night for months it seemed we always had more. In fact, I think I need to revisit the veal situation with my parents. It seems even weirder the older I get. Why mom and dad, why so much veal?

Anyway, the lady at Terilli’s was eating an extraordinarily good-looking meal, so good that it inspired us to eat it for our Sunday night dinner. Conveniently, my co-worker Andy Papp – who seems to share my same appreciation for food (and gum…thanks Andy) – had been buttering me up with this caper sauce recipe he had. We talked about it in depth several times, and he was so passionate about it that I was sure I needed to make it at some point. “You can put it on anything,” was his claim.

Well, Veal Piccata, you are a perfect candidate.  And actually, Veal Piccata might technically include the standard caper-lemon-butter sauce….but just consider this an amped up version, better and heartier than the original.

Recipe

Veal Piccata

  • 4 Veal Cutlets (~3/4lb)
  • 1 cup Breadcrumbs
  • 1 Egg White (because this is such a healthy dish…)
  • Flour
  • Angel Hair Pasta

Dijon Caper Butter Sauce

  • 6 tablespoons Butter
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
  • 1 jar Capers, drained
  • 3/4 cup Dry White Wine
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 2 tablespoons Sour Cream
  • Fresh  Lemon Juice (from about 1/2 lemon)

Start by making the veal. Heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet. Place the flour, egg, and breadcrumbs in three separate bowls. Pound the veal to about 1/2-inch thickness, sprinkle with S&P, then dip first in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs to coat.  Place the veal in the heated skillet, and pan fry for about 2-3 minutes on each side. The veal is thin and it won’t take long to cook through. Transfer it to a plate.

Without cleaning the pan (the meat drippings are crucial, according to Andy!), add in the butter for the sauce. Let it melt, then add the mustard and capers. Bring the mixture to a low boil, then add the wine. Let it reduce for about 5-10 minutes over medium heat. Add the remaining ingredients, and whisk to combine. Continue stirring over medium heat until the desired thickness is reached….I think I did about 10 minutes. While you are doing this, it would be a good idea to cook the pasta. Angel hair is very fast, so you can always do it at the end.

Top the pasta with the veal, then pour the sauce (generously!) over it. If you have vegetables as a side, keep going – Andy’s right – this sauce is good on EVERYTHING.
I’m officially back on the veal bandwagon, and also the caper sauce bandwagon if one exists. Whatever happened as a child, it’s time to let it go. And I have the random lady at Terilli’s to thank for it. And Andy, for this amazing and versatile sauce. Plus, it looks sort of fancy. I like fancy.