Monday, May 31, 2010

Home Fries

The Ale81 and Diet Coke perfectly accompany an American summer!

Okay, okay.  We already know I love potatoes.  But fun fact, other people love potatoes too!  This is the last thing I made for the boys at the Deathstar - Jake was leaving soon for Seattle and I was moving back home to Brighton for the summer.  That day we grilled, and my we I mean the boys grilled and I made home fries in the oven, the perfect accompaniment to burgers.  These are crispy on the outside, but soft and sturdy on the inside.  I ate a few of these, but Jake and Ron ate most of them with rave reviews. Also, thank you to Jake for recommending that I put a little crazy salt in the salt/black pepper mixture.

Home Fries
  • 4 russet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into wedges
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Crazy Salt
  1. Preheat over to 425 degrees.
  2. Wash and scrub the potatoes and cut into wedges.
  3. Arrange the potatoes on the bottom of a baking pan with the skin side down (so that no part of the inside of the potato is touching the bottom of the pan).
  4. Drizzle on olive oil and sprinkle on the desired amount of salt, pepper and crazy salt.
  5. Place in the oven for about 30 minutes, but it may take longer.  The potatoes are ready when the outsides are crispy and a fork is easily inserted into the thickest part of the potato wedge.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Crispy Hash Browns

This is the fourth and final installment of the foods served at Mother's Day brunch - Hash Browns!  I have been asked many time what my favorite food is... and no matter what I am craving at the moment I always answer with "hash browns."  I could eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner, maybe even a mid-afternoon snack.  I'll eat them with hot sauce, with peppers or onions, cheese or with eggs (now doesn't that sound like the beginning to an awesome Dr. Seuss book!).  While these don't look so beautiful (I grated them too early) they sure do taste good!  And make sure to use butter, while your arteries may plead you not to, the potatoes just don't crisp right with olive or vegetable oil!

On a more personal, and positive, note: Rachel and I found, and signed a lease, for a condo in the Magnolia district of Seattle!  Come early August, it will be my new home.  But for now, I will soak in all the beauty that my family and Michigan has to offer!

Classic Hash Browns
adapted from Cook's Illustrated

To prevent potatoes from turning brown, grate them just before cooking (this is advice I forgot to follow.  While the potatoes don’t look so pretty, they sure do taste good!)

  • 1 pound high-starch potatoes such as russets or Idahos, peeled, washed, dried, grated coarse, and squeezed dry in a dish towel (1 1/2 cups loosely packed grated potatoes)
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 medium sized red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon butter

  1. Saute onions and peppers until soft and set aside.
  2. Toss fully dried grated potatoes with salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, heat half the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until it just starts to brown, then scatter potatoes with the onion and pepper evenly over entire pan bottom. Using a wide spatula, firmly press potatoes to flatten; reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until dark golden brown and crisp, 7 to 8 minutes.
  4. Invert hash browns, browned side up, onto a large plate; add remaining butter to pan. Once butter has melted, slide hash browns back into pan. Continue to cook over medium heat until remaining side is dark golden brown and crisp, 5 to 6 minutes longer.
  5. Fold the potato round in half; cook about 1 minute longer. Slide hash browns onto plate, and serve immediately.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Eyeopener Cocktail

I have never posted a drink recipe on here before, but let's see how it goes.  My blog is officially one-year old now, so I think she can handle it!

This is the drink, along with mimosas for people who don't like pomegranate juice, that was served at Mother's Day brunch.  I first had one of these right after I turned 21 and Zanzibar restaurant was still open in Ann Arbor.  Whenever Kirk, a good friend a past co-worker at the Bivouac, or I needed a sub we would "sponsor a field trip to Zanzibar."  He would always order a mint julep and I an eye opener.  I love the tart taste of pomegranate mixing with the dry champagne while the sweetness of sugar just lightly pierced through.  While we didn't serve the drink over a sugar cube (last minute we realized we didn't have any) the drink is still amazing.  Another thing to note: Zanzibar served this on the rocks while we served it neat. Either is good, it's just a preference thing.

Eyeopener Cocktail
  • 3 oz. dry champagne
  • 1 oz. 100% pomegranate juice
  • 1 sugar cube (optional)
  • A few whole ice cubes (Optional)
Place sugar cube and ice at bottom of the desired glass.  Mix pomegranate and champagne together and pour over sugar cube into glass.  Enjoy!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fruit Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Every brunch needs a light fruit side.  Well, maybe it doesn't need it, but I sure want it!  I made a pretty big batch of fruit salad, but half of what was left over when home with my grandma and the other half stayed with us.  And what happened to that half that stayed back in my fridge?  It was a nice afternoon snack for the next couple of days!  The dressing still tasted fresh and the fruit was still crisp.  For me, that is the definition of a pretty good fruit salad!  I had hoped to have starfruit, but sadly Meijer didn't have any.  I was lucky enough to find kiwi!  But seriously, why is starfruit so amazing?  I first had starfruit in Nashville in August on 2008, a few more times after that… and I haven't had it in about a year.  I really miss it!  It is crispy while still being juicy and it looks very nice on a fruit platter!

I wanted this fruit salad to primarily focus on berries, but I feel like you could use any "summery" fruit; I wouldn't use apples.

PS - This post is "part two, of three," for Mother's Day Brunch.

  • Organic Strawberries (even if you don't buy organic, you really should buy organic strawberries, they absorb so many pesticides)
  • Half a Honeydew
  • ¼ a large watermelon
  • Blackberries
  • 6 Kiwi

  • 1 tsp poppyseeds
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 T canola oil
Add pineapple juice, sugar and salt to a blender and blend until combined. Slowly stream in oil with blender running until emulsified. Add poppyseeds and pour over fruit. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Skinny Swedish Pancakes (Guest Blog Post)

This is such an amazing post for so many reasons!  First, this is my 100th blog post!  And on May 20th, this will be my blogs one year anniversary!  Yet there are other reasons why this blog post is so amazing, it's my first guest blog post!  And who could the honorary blogger be?  No one other than my mom!  I grew up watching her cook and even though she never taught me how to cook, she supplied me with my first cookbooks and is part of my inspiration.  With no further ado, here she is in her first blog post on The Ginger Cook:

Hi!  I am honored to be The Ginger Cooks first guest cook.   I want my 15 minutes (or in this case 15 seconds of fame too).

As part of Katherine’s college graduation weekend we attended the Les Voyageur Sunday brunch celebration. There is where I was introduced to Swedish Skinny Pancakes and it was love at first sight.

I went home and search the Internet for a recipe.  I found a perfect one that I adapted slightly to my taste.  I tried the recipe the following Saturday while Katherine slept and surprised her with breakfast in bed.

Swedish "Skinny" Pancakes

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of skim milk
  • 3/4  cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½  teaspoon salt
  1. Beat eggs.  Then add milk, flour, sugar and salt, mix together.  
  2. Put oil on griddle and warm before pouring batter on. 
  3.  Flip once, pancake is done when batter has set and top is brown.  
  4. Top warm pancakes with butter and cinnamon-sugar mixture.

  • At the brunch the pancakes were served with homemade strawberry preserves and whipped cream.  The pancakes are so thin the preserves and whipped cream can be folded right into the prepared pancakes.
  • At the brunch the pancakes were made ahead and kept warm in a Crockpot.   

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Asparagus Frittata

Happy Mother's Day to my beautiful Mom, Ann, and my always glamorous Grandma, Betty!!  All our plans for going out for brunch fell through, so we ended up having brunch at my parents house, but I am so glad we did!  It was honestly one of the best Mother's Day I have witnessed - I got four new recipes for my blog, it was a casual morning sitting around and chatting, the food was pipping hot and we never felt rushed to eat!  And right at the center of the dining room table were flowers my dad and I bought my mom - sunflowers, her favorite.

First up in the list of Mother's Day foods is an asparagus frittata.  I should let you know I despise quiche, but I love this frittata!  I have never made a frittata before, nor had I eaten one, but I had seen them in restaurants in Europe and all over TasteSpotting.  And what's even cooler is that they really aren't that hard to make but so amazing!  The texture is dense while having a nice bite to it and the crunchy cheese crust on top makes it even more delectable!  For your next lazy Sunday or breakfast in bed, I recommend you whip up one of these, it's sure to impress!

Asparagus Frittata
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, peeled and blanched for 2 minutes,
  • cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 eggs, slightly beaten
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Dash of hot sauce to taste
  • 4 ounces fresh Dubliner cheese, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Chinese chives (harvested them fresh from my Mom's new chive plant!)

  1. Preheat the broiler. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick 10-inch skillet. 
  2. Add the onion and garlic. Sauté until the onion is starting to brown. 
  3. In a medium bowl break the eggs and whisk. Season with the salt, pepper, and hot sauce and pour into the pan. 
  4. Scatter the asparagus into the pan. Lift the edges to allow the liquid egg to run into the bottom. Cover and cook for 5-6 minutes until the eggs are setting and the bottom is starting to brown. 
  5. Drop the cheese over the top in small mounds and place under the broiler until the top is set and crusty brown. Sprinkle the chives over the top (at this point, because I was still making hash browns, the frittata was warming in an oven set at 170 degrees). 
  6. Let cool for a couple minutes, slide out of the pan, and cut into 6-8 wedges.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Whole Wheat Pizza

I'm back living at my parents house until I move out to Seattle in August.  I graduated a week ago, two of my housemates are in Greece/Dubai, the other is in New Mexico for the summer and I didn't want to be all by myself in Ann Arbor.  It's also really nice to be home, I'm spending some very nice quality time with my parents until I leave "forever."  I've been helping my mom around the house… and cooking dinner.  While their house may be a little bit messier when I come home (sorry Mom!), they can't complain because I cook dinner a fair amount.  Case in point, Whole Wheat Pizza.  My best friend, Katherine (Crutcher, she lives in Texas) sent me a similar recipe about a month back.  I added sugar (fun fact: yeast love sugar, it's their superfood.  The more they eat, the faster and better they grow), spices and decreased the all-purpose flour by a ½ cup.  I also adapted the cooking time.  The two pizzas I made were quite different but equally delicious.  The one pictured on top has a pesto base with sun dried tomatoes, basil chiffonade, pine nuts, onions (diced), mozzarella and parmesan.

This one has a tomato sauce base with onions (diced), red & yellow peppers (diced), broccoli, blue cheese, pine nuts, mozzarella and parmesan.

It's an easy and healthy dinner, and even if you haven't had much experience making bread, this is a fairly smooth dough so the kneading isn't hard at all!

Whole Wheat Pizza
  • 2/3 + 4 TBSP warm water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 packets of yeast
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Cornmeal for pan
  1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water.
  2. Mix in spices, salt and olive oil.  Add in flour one cup at a time.  Depending on the weather and the humidity, you made need ½ cup more of all-purpose flour.  Knead for 5 minutes.
  3. Form dough into a tight ball and let rise in an oiled bowl covered with a damp and clean dish towel for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
  4. Preheat ove to 450 degrees.
  5. When dough has doubled in size, punch down and divide into two equal sections.  With either your hands or a rolling pin, make into two thin 12-inch pizzas, dusting the pans with cornmeal.
  6. Pre-bake crusts in oven for about 6 to 7 minutes.  Top pizza with desired toppings and cook for about 7 more minutes, or until all the cheese is melted.
  7. Let cool for a minute (if you can!), cut and enjoy!

Jake Trithart's 22nd Birthday Cake - White Cake with Fresh Raspberry Buttercream

Happy Birthday…about a month ago… Jake Trithart!  He did get this cake on his birthday, but I have been relatively busy and haven't been able to update as much as I'd like to.  When asking the Jake's what they wanted for their cakes, Mr. Trithart said "A white cake."  I said that's great and all, but I doubt you want just a white cake with no frosting.  He said I know my way around a kitchen and gave me the freedom to come up with something.  I was, and still am, very into experimenting with fresh fruit buttercream's and thought the taste of raspberries would compliment the white cake.  I also added some dark chocolate ganache just to make it even prettier.  Too bad I'm not always good at judging space - I wrote "Happy" in the middle of the cake thinking I'd have enough room to write "Happy Birthday Jake!"  Instead, I had to write "Jake, Happy Birthday"… not as aesthetically pleasing but it tastes just the same! 

It was so adorable when I went over to have Jake blow out his candles and eat some cake.  All the boys in the house rushed down to the living room as soon as I yelled "BOYS!  I HAVE CAKE!"  Jake was quite appropriately dressed in wolf pajama bottoms and a Zoltan Mesko shirt.  And good news - Jake was still able to blow ALL his candles out in one blow!  After cutting the cake and inhaling a slice, we popped in the always amazing Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

White Cake
Adapted from Culinary Concoctions 

  • 1 ½ cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 9 egg whites
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 ⅜ cups cake flour
  • 2 ⅝ cups granulated sugar
  • 6 tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ⅛ cup unsalted butter (9 oz), softened

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Grease three 9 inch cake pans, line the bottom with parchment paper, grease the parchment paper and flour the pans.
  3. Combine milk, eggs whites and extract in a small bowl with a fork. Set aside.
  4. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in an electric mixer and mix at slow speed with a paddle attachment. Add butter. Continue beating at slow speed until mixture looks like wet sand (If you’re doing this by hand, sift the dry ingredients together and rub in butter).
  5. Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat at medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining milk mixture and beat for an additional 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl if necessary. Do not overmix.
  6. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and gently shake to smooth batter. Bake 30-35 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Let cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes then invert onto racks to cool completely before frosting (I froze mine overnight, wrapped in Saran wrap and placed in a freezer lock ziplock bag).

Fresh Raspberry Buttercream
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 cups (may need more or less) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup raspberries, purred in a food processor
  • ½ cup seedless raspberry preserves
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt

  1. Puree raspberries in food processor with raspberry preserves, set aside.
  2. Beat butter and 1 cup powdered sugar on medium speed for 1 minute.
  3. Add vanilla and raspberry puree and beat for 1 minute.
  4. Adding 1 cup at a time, add the remaining powdered sugar. You may find that you need less than 4 cups or more than 4 cups depending on the consistency of the frosting you are going for. I wanted a stiff buttercream so I added more like 5 cups.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Jake's 22nd Birthday Cake - Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream

It has been forever since I last posted.  You know, just some small things were happening.  I had my senior finals, I finished college, I graduated yesterday (Obama spoke at my graduation!) and I feel like I could sleep forever.  Also the amount of inventive and interesting cooking and baking I have been doing in the past few weeks has been dwindling, I have been holding on to three recipes for almost three weeks - Jake Hoernschmeyer's 22nd birthday cake, Jake Trithart's 22nd birthday cake and a few batches of cake balls (most of which ended up at the former Jake's house or in my roommates stomachs).  The first recipe I will be posting is for the first Jake's birthday - a chocolate cake with a vanilla bean buttercream.  With a special request for sprinkles.

I baked for about three days straight, continuously wore my apron and always had a light dusting of flour covering my hair and face.  Seeing how happy Jake was when we brought out the cake singing "Happy Birthday" and being able to give all his friends cake made it all worth it.  Yet it also didn't hurt that I had a chance to try out my new cake leveler and two new piping tips!

I asked him in March what kind of cake he wanted - he specifically requested a chocolate cake with a vanilla frosting and there had to be sprinkles.  Of course I had to make it a little fancier.  I used my "stand-by" chocolate cake recipe - I have been using this recipe for about four years.  It's a slightly dense, but moist, cake with a nice crumb.  I froze the three layers overnight wrapped in saran wrap placed in freezer safe bags - it makes leveling and decorating immensely easier.  For the frosting, I had been wanting to use vanilla beans for a quite some time and I felt like a vanilla bean buttercream would be the best way to foray.  I'm glad I made the buttercream, but who knew just TWO vanilla beans were so expensive?  Once again, it was worth it.

Regardless, I really do recommend making this cake for your next birthday, celebration… or any day you think you want a cake.

Stand-By Chocolate Cake
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 3 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 1/3 cups sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups hot coffee

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 3 (9-inch) cake pans. Cut 3 circles of waxed paper or parchment paper to fit the bottoms of the pans, then press them in.
  2. In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or using a hand mixer), cream the butter until smooth. 
  3. Add the sugar and eggs and mix until fluffy, about 3 minutes. 
  4. Add the vanilla, cocoa, baking soda and salt and mix. Add 1/2 of the flour, then 1/2 of the sour cream and mix. Repeat with the remaining flour and sour cream. 
  5. Drizzle in the hot coffee and mix until smooth. The batter will be thin. Pour into the prepared pans and bake until the tops are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (a few crumbs are okay), about 35 minutes. Halfway through the baking, quickly rotate the pans in the oven to ensure even baking, but otherwise try not to open the oven. Let cool in the pan 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks and let cool completely before frosting.

Vanilla Bean Buttercream
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated 
  • 2½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise
  • 4+ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. In a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Using a paring knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean into butter and beat mixture at medium-high speed to combine, about 15 seconds.
  2. Add confectioners’ sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 1 minute. 
  3. Scrape down the bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully incorporated, about 30 seconds; scrape bowl, add vanilla, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 20 seconds, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.


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