Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Lemon Ricotta Muffins

A Delicious Spring Treat

In the aftermath of Ohio's long, harsh winter, something light, lemony and delicious is in order for our favorite foodies! The Cooking School at Jungle Jim's International Market is always looking for and developing new recipes that feature seasonal ingredients available in the store. There are times however, when we have some quality ingredients left over from a class and we are not above searching the internet for a recipe that uses that particular ingredient. Today we wanted to use up a cup of whole milk ricotta and found a recipe we just had to try - Lemon Ricotta Muffins. Not really a biscuit, not necessarily a cupcake, but very definitely a treat we'll make again!



These lemony cupcakes are surprisingly moist. The lemon and almond flavors are wonderfully balanced and the crunch of slivered almonds and coarse sugar complete the experience! We put one in a deli container to see how they tasted the next day. They were still very good, but a little bit dryer. The consensus among staff is that they are best the day they are made.


Add the butter, lemon zest and sugar in a bowl and mix until light and fluffy. A hand mixer worked well for the batter. You could use your stand mixer with the paddle attachment if you wanted to.


Beat in the whole milk ricotta.


Add the egg, lemon juice and almond extract.


The dough is thick and fluffy, not runny like a cupcake batter. 


Add the dry ingredients.


Combine until just blended


You'll smell the aroma of lemon and almond!


Fill the 12 regular muffin tins with liners. We found a great product by Reynolds - a heavier paper cupcake liner with a foil inner layer. This is a sturdy liner and makes for a non-stick surface. The batter is stiff enough to use a large cookie scoop to fill each liner.


Top with slivered almonds and sprinkle with coarse white decorator's sugar.


Bake the muffins about 20 minutes. The tops will be just golden on top. Insert a toothpick to test for doneness - it will come out clean. Allow to cool on in the pan 15-20 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on a rack. Resisting the temptation to eat a warm one will be hard to do!
Lemon Ricotta Muffins
adapted slightly from Giada De Laurentiis' recipe on Food Network
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar or more as needed for sprinkling
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced almonds
  • coarse white decorator's sugar for the tops
Directions
Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup sugar, butter, and lemon zest in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the ricotta. Beat in the egg, lemon juice, and almond extract. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until blended (the batter will be thick and fluffy).

Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle the almonds and then the remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar over the muffins. Bake until the muffins just become pale golden on top, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.












Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Leftovers, Part 2

Ham and Broccoli Quiche

A fragrant quiche is an "eggs"-cellent way to transform Easter leftovers into a delicious quiche that is hearty enough for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The kitchen at The Cooking School at Jungle Jim's International Market was filled with the aroma of this Ham and Broccoli Quiche.
We used ham, but you can use sausage or bacon, too. The fresh broccoli was steamed and then chopped. You can use any vegetables left over from your Easter dinner. To make preparation easy, feel free to use a refrigerated pie crust; however, Leigh made a rustic, butter crust that resulted in a rich, buttery brown crust. 


Our pie crust recipe can be found in the August 20, 2013 Pie Crust blog post. Please note that you should take out the sugar and lemon zest to make a crust for a savory filling. This recipe will make a crust for one deep dish pie pan.


Spread 2 tablespoons of Dijon or whole-grain mustard on the bottom of the crust. If you're not a fan of mustard, try using onion jam. Stonewall Kitchens make an excellent product.


Leigh tucked the edges of the crust under for a rustic look. You can crimp the edges for a more decorative look.


Layer the diced ham over the mustard-covered crust. 


Layer half the shredded cheese. Use whatever cheese you have on hand. We had odds and ends of several chunks of cheese - Jarlsberg, white cheddar and a yellow aged cheddar. Swiss would be good, too.


Add the chopped broccoli.


Finish with the rest of the shredded cheese.


The egg/custard mixture should be well whisked. 


Pour the egg mixture over the ingredients in the deep dish pie pan.



Now it's ready for the 375 degree oven. Bake 50-55 minutes or until the custard is set and the top is nicely browned. Allow the quiche to cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving. 



Ham and Broccoli Quiche

One pastry for a 9½ -inch deep pie plate
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1½ to 2 cups diced ham
8 ounces shredded cheese, Jarlsberg, cheddar or a combination
1½ cups coarsely chopped steamed broccoli, patted very dry
6 large eggs
1½ cups half-and-half or cream, or a combination
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Preheat oven to 375°. Have ready a 9½ -inch deep pie plate.

Roll pastry on a floured surface into a 13-inch round and line pie plate.

Spread Dijon mustard evenly over bottom of the pastry. Top Dijon with the diced ham, spreading evenly. Sprinkle half of cheese over ham. Arrange broccoli over the top and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Whisk together eggs, cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne until smooth. Pour evenly over ingredients in pie shell. Bake until custard is just set, 50-55 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes before cutting. Serve quiche warm or at room temperature.


Makes 8 slices

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Easter Leftovers

Split Pea Soup

If a beautifully glazed ham is the centerpiece of your upcoming Easter meal, you will inevitably have a meaty ham bone left over. Students at The Cooking School at Jungle Jim's enjoyed an impressive Easter menu and wine pairing this past Saturday with Carol Tabone and Dave Schmerr. The ham bone from the tangerine-glazed ham made the perfect base for the Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup recipe featured in this post. The Cincinnati area woke up to snow-draped trees and shrubs, so even in mid-April a bowl of soup is in order!

This soup recipe is really, really easy to make and very delicious. For very little effort the result is huge. If you are a fan of split pea soup, you will enjoy this with gusto! 



Once your ingredients are prepared, you will simply layer the ingredients in your slow cooker. We used a 6-quart slow cooker, but a smaller one will work, too.



The rinsed, dry split peas are the first layer.


Layer in the chopped vegetables and garlic.


Add the fresh thyme and bay leaf.


Nestle the ham bone on top.



Add the liquids - low-sodium chicken broth and water. Season very lightly with salt and pepper. We recommend waiting until the soup is done until you add more salt. Depending on the ham bone, you may not need to add any additional salt. It took 5 hours on high in our slow cooker.

Once the soup is done and the meat is falling off the bone, remove the ham bone from the soup. When it is cool enough to handle, remove the meat and add it back to the soup. Stir it well and then taste for seasonings.


Pea soup freezes well for up to 2 months. As the soup cools over night in the refrigerator, it will thicken considerably, so when gently reheating, you may want to add a little chicken broth or water until it is the consistency you like.

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

(recipe adapted from CHOW website)

1 pound dried green split peas, rinsed
2 medium carrots, small dice
2 medium celery stalks, small dice
½ medium yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 bushy fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 meaty smoked ham bone or 2 ham hocks
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1½ cups water
Salt and pepper


Arrange the split peas in the slow cooker in an even layer. Arrange the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf over the peas in one even layer. Place the ham bone or hocks on top of the vegetables.

Pour the chicken broth and water into the slow cooker and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the peas are very soft and the meat is falling off the bone, on high for 5 to 6 hours or low for 8 to 10 hours.

Remove the ham bone or hocks to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, place the meat back in the soup (discard the skin and bones), and stir to combine. Taste and season with more salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 8 cups


Friday, April 4, 2014

DIY Crackers

Herb Crackers

Hosting a basketball party this weekend? The snack madness continues and The Cooking School at Jungle Jim's International Market presents an easy cracker recipe that is the ideal vehicle for scooping up and piling on dips and other dunk-ables. These fragrant Herb Crackers complement the many fine cheeses and meats you will find in the Charcuterie Department at both store locations. 


Homemade crackers are simple to make - follow the steps below!


Prepare all your ingredients and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. A food processor makes the dough come together quickly. Add the dry ingredients in the food processor bowl.


Add the butter and pulse several times to combine.



When pulsing in the butter, the finished product should be evenly combined with no chunks of butter. You can see the result in the photo above.


With the machine running, add enough hot water (1/2 cup hot tap water) to form a smooth, soft ball. Stop to check the texture before you add all of the water; you may not need all of it.


The dough will feel soft and warm.


Turn the dough out onto the work surface and knead it quickly and lightly several times. 


Divide into fourths and wrap in plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes.



Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough out as thinly as possible on a piece of lightly floured parchment paper. You can re-flour as needed. Feel free to pick up the parchment paper and rotate it if that helps with rolling. Do not pick up and turn the dough over.


Using a pastry wheel or sharp knife, slice the dough into approximately 1 1/2-inch squares, cutting the whole sheet in one direction first, then the other. Leigh trimmed the edges to make nice, straight edges. You can make a more free-form cracker if you don't feel like trimming the dough. Tip - don't reuse the trimmings as they will be very tough.


Use the tines of a fork to prick each cracker several times. Top the crackers with Kosher salt (optional).



Bake for 6-10 minutes or until the crackers are crisp and light brown around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat to use all the dough. Feel free to substitute your favorite dry herb blend.  Enjoy homemade crunchy crackers with your favorite party dip!


Herb Crackers
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1½ teaspoons dried herbes de Provence seasoning
¾ teaspoon sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, at a cool room temperature
½ cup hot tap water, or as needed


Preheat the oven to 450°. Lightly flour your work surface and a piece of parchment paper. Have ready a rolling pin and a baking sheet.

Combine the flour, herbes de Provence seasoning, sugar, salt and baking powder in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add the butter and pulse several times to combine. With the machine running, add enough hot water to form a smooth, soft ball, stopping to check the texture before you add all of the water; you might not need all of it.

Turn the dough out onto the work surface and knead it quickly and lightly. Divide into fourths and wrap in plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough out as thinly as possible on the parchment paper (re-flour as needed). You can pick up the parchment and rotate it as needed in between rollings, but don't turn the dough over.

Use a pastry wheel or sharp knife to slice the dough into approximately 1½-inch squares, cutting the whole sheet in one direction first, then the other. Use the tines of a fork to prick each cracker several times. You can remove any trimmed-off pieces at the edges and re-roll them later, though they will be a little tougher in texture and may shrink a bit when baking. Transfer crackers on the parchment paper to the baking sheet.

Bake for 6-10 minutes or until the crackers are crisp and light brown around the edges. (You might need to bake the crackers on the inside of the sheet a little longer, because they will not brown as readily.) Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat to use all of the dough. Cool completely before serving or storing.

Makes approximately 100 small crackers


Make Ahead: The crackers can be stored in an airtight container (not plastic) at room temperature for about 1 week.