Sunday, December 25, 2011

Baked Brie in Puff Pastry Crust with an Apricot Brown Sugar Filling

I only make baked brie once a year because it is so rich and.....definitely not heart healthy, but when I do make it it is always for Christmas and it is always a family favorite. Creamy brie baked with jam and brown sugar inside of puff pastry dough. In previous years I've usually made it with raspberry jam, but I heard on twitter that it tastes really great with apricot preserves, too, so that's what I tried this year and sweet Lord, were they right. The apricot goes great with the melted brie, and the brown sugar melts and finds its way to the bottom puff pastry crust and kind of caramelizes into it. Altogether a great appetizer, plus it's really simple to make too, but looks pretty fancy! Also, last week I hosted a giveaway of the Foti's Greek Deli Cookbook, and today I am announcing the winner. Drumroll please.... 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Melomakarona (Syruped Pudding Cookies) & A Cookbook Giveaway

Melomakarona are dry shortbread cookies that are soaked in syrup until they become bread pudding-like in texture when bitten into. They're traditional Greek cookies and they are always made around Christmas time. Having melomakarona is something that I always looked forward to as a kid and still do till this day. My mom usually makes them, but I won't be home until Christmas Eve this year and wanted to be able to enjoy them the whole week before Christmas, so this year I tried making them on my own for the very first time. The first batch didn't come out quite right because I put the cookies too close to each other so they all kind of baked into rectangles rather than ovals from touching each other. The second and third batches came out fine since I knew to give them at least 3 inches of space around each cookie. The taste was just how I remembered, sweet and honeyed, with a hint of cinnamon. But my favorite part about Melomakarona has always been the texture, soft and pudding-y. The cookie holds its form right up until you bite into it, and then it just falls to pieces and melts in your mouth. Absolutely wonderful. And in the holiday spirit, I'm giving away one copy of The Foti's Greek Deli Cookbook. The Foti's Greek Deli Cookbook is a collection of recipes my family has used over the years both at home and in their Southeast Portland restaurant. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below about your favorite holiday treat with your email address. For an extra entry, like Adventures in Cooking on Facebook. The winner will be announced on December 25th and contacted via email. I hope you all enjoy the cookies and have wonderful holidays!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Duck a l'Orange with Pomegranate and Persimmon

The first time I had duck, it was love at first bite. I was having lunch at a Thai restaurant near my college campus and they had a duck curry on their specials menu. Wanting to try something new, I ordered it, and was completely blown away by what I had been missing for nineteen years. So tender and comforting, the wonderfully rich flavor of duck meat cannot be matched within the world of poultry, at least in my opinion! My family usually prepares turkey around the holidays, but we've all kind of gotten bored with the taste of it, and so I decided that this holiday season would be a good time to change our traditional Holiday meal to a bird I find much more rich and flavorful.  I reached out to the great folks at D'Artagnan about making Duck a l'Orange, because I had never made it before and had no idea which breed of duck would be best for it. D'Artagnan was incredibly helpful and recommended the Pekin duck for this particular recipe as that breed retains moisture best when roasted. D'Artagnan was founded by Ariane Daguin, whose dad, Andre Daguin, is famous throughout France for his foie gras (duck liver). She followed her father's foosteps, but brought the duck industry over to the U.S. to provide this side of the globe with ecologically sound and humanely raised ducks, poultry, and other meats. I feel like meat tastes better when you know that it was raised in a kind and caring manner, maybe it's because my meat-eater's guilt complex is significantly reduced by the image of happy, flapping ducks quacking about in a lovely green field.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Nutty Peanut Cranberry Truffles

Two weeks ago I went to a Paleta event at founder Chef Kelly Boyer's home in Venice Beach. Paleta is an organic, sustainable, and gourmet meal delivery service that can make you food that's all-around healthy, or that meets specific dietary restrictions like gluten, dairy or nut allergies. There was beautiful food all over the place, so of course I tried a little of everything. And it was all completely fantastic. The dishes tasted great and were incredibly creative (black cod cooked with a red grape and shallot salsa, omg!!), but the best part was that I knew that what I was eating was healthy so I didn't feel guilty about over indulging a little, and I definitely over indlulged when it came to these little peanut butter-y truffles they had on the coffee table in the living room. They were just simple-looking little peanut-butter balls, but they had bits of other things mixed into them, which I think were little pieces of other types of nuts and dried fruits. They were much so that I couldn't stop thinking about them for days afterwards. Alas, in an attempt to solve this mental hurdle, I decided I had to try and make them myself since my Paleta meal delivery wouldn't start for another week and I was getting desperate. Not even good ol' pb & j's were resolving this maddening craving. It had become a serious problem. So, I put together the ingredients that I thought would be healthy and tasty enough to recreate the magic of the truffles and voila! Here they are, tasty and adorable and much better for you than a regular truffle. They're not quite the same as I remember Paleta's, but I will just have to go back to the source for those! Thank you Paleta and Chef Kelly for the inspiration!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Blackberry Cream Cheese Pie

This year I stayed in Southern California for Thanksgiving because plane tickets were just too darn expensive. $400 round trip to Portland and back? I can only afford to pay that fare once a year, and that's for Christmas. So, instead I went to my friend Ryan's family's Thanksgiving at his grandparents house. Jeremy has been going there for the past four years, and it was nice that I was able to come this year, too. We had a great time, the food was delicious and the company was wonderful. I decided to make a pie to contribute to the dessert table, and finally settled on blackberry cream cheese. I know cream cheese mixtures baked are usually referred to as cheesecake, but this is in a pie crust with pie filling, so to me it pretty much shouts "PIE!". I used the crust from my Buttermilk Blueberry Pie recipe because I loved that crust so much, but cut it down by about 1/4 because I made a lattice top instead of a full top, but if you want to make a full top for the pie you can feel free to use the larger recipe in that post. Also of note, this recipe is for a pie that is to be made in a springform cake pan, not a regular pie pan. If you want to make it in a regular pie pan, I would suggest cutting the entire recipe in half.