Archive for June, 2014

June 4, 2014

Grape Cakes

Have you ever baked grapes?

It’s weird and funny. But kinda tasty.

Especially when you bake them into mini cakes.

Made out of pancake batter.

I started this blog as a record of my adventures in the kitchen, and this was sure a quirky little jaunt, if not a full out adventure.

These grapes were staring me in the face. Taunting me really. Bake me bake me, they shouted as I took out milk for my cereal or veggies for a salad.

But grapes are not a super common item in baked goods, at least not in their full fresh glory. So, I figured I would need something a little funky.

I adapted my favorite pancake recipe and plunked a grape in each. As any good kitchen scientist would do, I also made some control groups: halved grapes, strawberry slices, brown sugar, and plain.

The cakes themselves were delish! The grape was a little surprise tart burst in the middle. The sliced grapes probably work a little better than the whole ones. As far as my other control groups – the brown sugar topped cakes may have a future home in my breakfast repertoire. They were GOOD.

The downsides of this adventure? I should have used muffin tin liners – these guys stuck to the sides of the pan like it was their JOB. Also, the ones with fruit are really best when warm. The next day, they were a little less quirky and a little more funky.

As all adventures go, I learned some lessons, saw some sights, and got some stories to take back to the campfire. Plus I made something called grape cakes. That’s enough for me!

Grape Cakes
makes about 20-24 mini muffins

Ingredients

4T butter, melted and cooled
1/4 c plain greek yogurt
1/2 c skim milk
1 egg
1 cup flour
2 T sugar
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
grapes, cut in half

Line a mini-muffin tin with liners and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk together yogurt, milk, and egg, and then slowly whisk in butter. In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Fold wet ingredients into dry ones, being careful not to overmix.

Fill the mini-muffin tins about 1/2-3/4 full. Plop a grape, cut side up, into the center of each muffin. Do not press down – it will sink on its own. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden and set. Let cool about 5 minutes in the pan. These treats are best enjoyed warm!

 

 

 

June 2, 2014

Make-It-Work Monday: Spinach Artichoke Pizza

My grown-up self has a secret for my child self.

Spinach is actually really good. Artichokes will not make you choke to death in disgust.

See, child self, the trick to making these seemingly icky and impossibly horrible vegetables actually super delicious is to hide them inside a creamy cheesy blanket called “Spinach Artichoke Dip” and then eat it on lots of carby things like crackers and chips.

Now, child self, if you really want to disguise your veggies, take those precise ingredients and turn them into…. PIZZA.

This is a super easy, quick, versatile recipe – perfect for a week night supper.

If you feel fancy you can make your own dough. I have been advised by my husband to not try this at home. Again. (However, I have had other successful attempts at disguising veggies as pizza).

Luckily my supermarket sells pizza dough from a local bakery which is rad. So while my oven was preheating to a very hot 500 degrees F, I just stretched that baby out like I was born to do it.

Actually I didn’t stretch it out thin enough (Make it work…)

I also cooked a little garlic in some oil and tossed in some chopped baby spinach. Squeezed a little lemon in to the mixture, too.

The pizza gets topped with the spinach and oil mixture, then sprinkled with mozzarella (fresh mozz would be nice, but I just had shredded on hand), artichoke hearts, and then, for the finishing touch, tuck some little nuggets of goat cheese in there.

The trick is transferring this baby into the hot oven. I don’t have a proper pizza stone – just a few small tiles that I put together. When I slid the pizza as quickly as I could onto the stones, of course they separated a bit and then my oven started smoking like crazy and I thought all might be lost.

 

But, it was a make it work moment and it turned out just fine! The key is making sure the bottom of your crust is VERY floured (or cornmeal works great too) and that you have  the pizza on a nice thin, flat, slide-able surface to get it in the oven.

So, grown-up me to child me. Eat your veggies. (Just disguise them first with cheese and bread and oil.)

Spinach Artichoke Pizza
adapted from Half-Baked Harvest
makes 2 pizzas

1 lb pizza dough, split into two balls (room temp)
1/4 cup oil
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
big handful of baby spinach, chopped small
half a small lemon’s juice (this is a precise technical term, yes)
about a cup of mozzarella cheese, fresh or shredded (more or less to your taste)
about 4 oz goat cheese (I used garlic soft goat cheese, but you could also try feta for a different spin)
14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped roughly
pepper and salt to taste
dried basil for garnish

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F. If that scares you, 450 will work too, but the hotter you can go, the crispier the crust! If you are using a pizza stone, let it preheat with the oven. Otherwise you can use a flat baking sheet.

While the oven preheats, heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the garlic gently (i.e. don’t burn it. this can happen very quickly). Remove the pan from heat (or turn down very low) and toss in the spinach to wilt.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add some salt and pepper to taste and lemon juice. Stir it up.

On a well-floured cutting board or baking sheet, stretch one of  your pizza dough balls to about 12 inches, trying to keep it to a pretty even thickness. Don’t worry too much about the roundness – it will still taste the same, I promise! This is a bit easier if the dough is room temp vs. straight out of the fridge.

Brush/spread half the oil and spinach mixture on the dough. Top with half the cheese, artichoke, and goat cheese. Sprinkle lightly with dried basil.

When the oven is heated fully, quickly open the door and slide the pizza with a large spatula (or two if you have a helper to hold the pan) onto the pizza stone. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until crust is golden and hollow sounding when tapped. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving. Repeat with other half of ingredients.