Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cooking Club - Brunch Edition

Tonight is a rarity in our household - I'm home by myself for the evening, and have the following girly activities on tap:
- Sipping a glass of white wine (currently in process)
- Making and eating a delicious grilled cheese sandwich with balsamic onion jam
- Devouring a (rather LARGE) chocolate chip brownie (baking in the oven right now)
- Watching a chick flick (It's Complicated, if you must know)

And as I'm sitting here, having the epitome of girl-time, I'm thinking back to the brunch my ladies cooking club put on last weekend.

It was delicious, entertaining, educational (I flipped my first crepe!) and most importantly, really, really fun. This is an amazing group of girls, and I have so much fun getting together and cooking with these women, and sharing a meal.

So, it's only natural that we wanted to share our recipes too.

On last weeks brunch menu:

Liz's Layered Fruit Salad:

1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 cinnamon stick
2 cups fresh or drained canned unsweetened pineapple chunks
1 cup seedless red grapes
2 medium bananas, sliced
2 medium oranges, sectioned
1 medium grapefruit, sectioned
1 pkg. strawberries, sliced
2 kiwifruit, peeled and sliced
1 pkg. blueberries

In a medium saucepan, combine the first six ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered for five minutes. Remove from the heat; cool completely.
Meanwhile, layer fruit in a glass-serving bowl. Remove cinnamon stick from the sauce; pour sauce over fruit.
Cover and chill for several hours or over night.

Recipe yields 8 servings.

Kate's Chocolate Filled Buns:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (about 7 ounces)
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 packages quick-rise yeast (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
3/4 cup fat-free milk
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large egg
2 1/4 cups bread flour (about 10 1/2 ounces)
Cooking spray
3 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 large egg white, lightly beaten

Lightly spoon whole wheat flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine whole wheat flour, sugar, salt, and quick-rise yeast in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk.

Combine milk, 1/2 cup water, butter, and canola oil in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until mixture is warm (100° to 110°). Add milk mixture to flour mixture; stir 1 minute. Add egg; stir 1 minute. Lightly spoon bread flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add bread flour to yeast mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn mixture out onto a lightly floured surface; knead 2 minutes.

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray; lightly coat top of dough with cooking spray. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and punch down. Divide dough into 16 equal portions; shape each portion into a ball. Working with one ball at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), roll dough into a 5-inch circle. Place about 1 1/2 teaspoons chocolate in the center of circle. Roll up dough tightly, jelly-roll fashion; pinch seams to seal. Place buns, seam side down, on a baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray. Tuck ends under; cover. Repeat procedure with remaining dough and chocolate.

Lightly coat dough with cooking spray; cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 40 minutes or until doubled in size. Lightly brush tops of buns with egg white.

Bake at 375° for 17 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Jami's Crepe's:
To make the strawberry cream cheese filling:
1/2 of an 8-ounce package of cream cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1 cup cut-up strawberries
In a food processor, a blender, or with an electric mixer, blend the cream cheese, ricotta cheese, sugar, egg yolks, vanilla, and orange zest together until just smooth. Place the filling and the strawberries in the refrigerator until ready to use.

To make the strawberry topping:
3 cups strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice

Mix the strawberries, sugar, and juice together in a food processor or blender until the sugar is dissolved and the strawberries are mashed. Some chunks should remain. Set aside in the refrigerator.

To make the crepes:
(You’ll need a good nonstick pan to cook your crepes.)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs

1. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.
2. In a small bowl, whisk the milk, extract and two eggs together. Add the liquids to the flour mixture and whisk together until smooth.
3. Heat a small skillet or crepe pan until medium hot. Melt some butter in the pan. Pour about a quarter cup of the batter into the preheated pan. Immediately tip and rotate the skillet so that there is a thin coating of batter over the bottom of the pan. Cook until it is light-colored on one side and turn and cook on the second side. Remove the cooked crepe to a plate. Repeat, stacking the crepes between sheets of waxed paper. Cover them to keep warm. This recipe should make 10-12 eight-inch crepes.
(The secret to cooking crepes is to rotate the pan to spread the batter as soon as it hits the hot pan.)

Jami's (crazy delicious) grapefruit sorbet:
3 cups fresh pink grapefruit juice (about 4 grapefruits), divided
3/4 cup sugar

1. Combine 1/2 cup grapefruit juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until sugar dissolves, stirring frequently.
2. Combine the sugar mixture and the remaining 2 1/2 cups grapefruit juice in a medium bowl; cover and refrigerate until chilled.
3. Pour mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer, and freeze the mixture according to the manufacturer's instructions. Spoon the sorbet into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze for 1 hour or until the sorbet is firm. Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 2/3 cup)

Kristin's Fritatta:

(AKA, "the frittata that thinks it's a souffle" puffed up a good 3-4 inches above the pan when we took it out of the oven! And then settled back into something that rather resembled a frittata)

8 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 tbs flour
1 bunch asparagus
2 spring onions
Goat cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Beat eggs, milk and flour. Saute asparagus and onion until soft. Pour eggs into greased glass pie dish. Add asparagus mixture and crumbled goat cheese. Bake @ 350 for 30-40 minutes or until eggs are fully cooked through.

Elizabeth's Granola:
Cooking Spray
3 cups regular oats or Trader Joe's multigrain cereal
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped nuts (I used almonds)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup agave
3 Tbs vegetable oil
1 Tbs unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried fruit(I used cranberries)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Cover a jelly-roll pan with parchment paper.

Combine oats, brown sugar, nuts, and salt in a large bowl.

Combine agave, vegetable oil, and butter in a small saucepan over low heat; cook 2 minutes until warm. Remove from heat. Add vanilla. Stir together. Pour over oat mixture. Lightly coat hands with cooking spray. Gently mix until combined.

Spread onto prepared jelly-roll pan. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes or so, stirring every 10 minutes. Cook until golden brown. Cool completely on pan; stir in fruit.

Variation: For chocolate granola, only use 2 tbs oil and omit butter. Add 2 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate at the same time as the vanilla extract.

Second Variation: Ginger Snap Granola: Add 1 tsp each ground cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg to dry ingredients. Add 2 tbs dark molasses, zest of 1 lemon to wet ingredients. In place of dried fruit, add candied or crystallized ginger, diced

Serve with greek yogurt.

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