Vanilla Sugar Shortbread Wedges

Last year, I took part in the LA Food Bloggers Bake Sale for No Kid Hungry!  I met so many wonderful bloggers and had a great time.  Plus, I had BLD‘s life-changing Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes.  So really, it was a win-win day!

This year, my wonderful husband spotted a newspaper article asking for volunteer bakers for a No Kid Hungry Bake Sale closer to home!  The Redlands Bake Sale for No Kid Hungry sponsored by a Team called the IE Cookie Monsters.  It had to be fate!  You know how I feel about cookies!!

After sending an Email to Team IE Cookie Monsters, I started planning what I wanted to bake. Of course, I had to make brownies. That seems to be a tradition now.  I knew I wanted to do something different, but what?   After a bit of recipe searching, I settled on these easy and delicious Vanilla Sugar Shortbread Wedges.  They are thick, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth, have with a cup of tea on a rainy day, cookies.
Scored Shortbread Wedges

I’m planning on making these again for Mothers Day.  That is, if I can wait that long for another batch.

Vanilla Sugar Shortbread

Vanilla Sugar Shortbread

Ingredients:

2 Sticks Unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

1/4 cup Vanilla Sugar (or regular sugar, with one tsp vanilla bean paste), plus extra for dusting

1/2 cup Powdered Sugar

2 cups Flour

1 tsp salt

Directions:

In a bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter until it turns a pale yellow.  On a sheet of parchment paper, sift sugars together using a fine mesh sieve. Pick up the parchment paper and use it to gently add sugar mix to the butter. Continue to beat until thick and creamy (about 5 minutes).  If you are using regular sugar, add the vanilla paste after you’ve creamed the sugar and butter together.

Sift flour and salt together over the same sheet of parchment paper.  Add to butter/sugar mix, mix until just incorporated.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

After dough has chilled, press gently in an 8″ round cake pan.  No need to grease the pan, there is plenty of butter in the dough!  Score the dough into wedges, so it will be easier to cut when it’s done baking.

Bake for 1 hour, or until the top of the shortbread has barely browned.

Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.  Cut the shortbread along the score marks, forming eight large wedges.  Dust lightly with 1 tsp granulated sugar.

Share these with a friend and a cup of hot tea or coffee.

Vanilla Shortbread Wedges

NOTE:  These make very thick cookies.  You can split the dough in half and use two cake pans.  Shorten your cooking time to 35-40 minutes (watch carefully).  You can also roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and use cookie cutters.  If you use cookie cutters, place the dough back in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking.  Baking cold cookies will help them maintain their shape.

ENJOY!!

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Follow That Chef – Cat Braithwaite

I’m so excited to share a fellow home-chef with you today! Meet Cat Braithwaite! Doesn’t she have the greatest smile?
Cat Braithwaite

Cat was our hostess for “Follow That Chef” at The Santa Monica Farmers Market with The Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I LOVE doing these events! This is a great concept from Gourmandise! They offer the opportunity to follow Chefs, Cookbook Authors, and other Fun Foodie People around the Farmers Market and then return to the school for a demo and tasting!

Here we are wandering the Market on Wednesday:
At the Market
Market Veggies
Choosing seafood!

Cat’s menu for us consisted of a variety of different things, including mussels, salmon, avocados and a lot of fresh vegetables! She had fun showing us different ways to use spring roll wrappers, plus she deep-fried mushrooms for us. How can you not love that?
Food prep
Veggie Rolls
Demo Time!
Mussels
samples
Cat Cooking
Sliders w/fried mushrooms

Cat has a cookbook called “Farmers Market Frugal” that shows you how to eat fresh food on a budget. She gives you four weeks of recipes and some great tips and tricks on eating healthy.
Cat's Cookbook

We thoroughly enjoyed our morning with Cat. She works right there at The Market at Santa Monica Place, so I’m sure we’ll be seeing her often! Thanks Cat!! You did a great job!

To see all the pictures of our time with Cat, check out my Facebook Page Album titled “FTC-Cat Braithwaite”

Feeling Lucky? A Nikon Giveaway!

This Guy!

I wish the shirt said “This Girl” instead of “This Guy”, because THIS GIRL feels lucky, and blessed, to have such wonderful Foodie Friends! I’m not saying that because it’s St. Patricks Day and I’m hoping for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I really mean it. You all make me feel like the luckiest girl in the world. I get to cook for you, I’ve been blessed to attend a few foodie events, take awesome classes, go on walking tours and share my passion with you every single day! My life is full and I am deeply thankful for all you who are sharing this adventure with me!

In fact, I’m so thankful, I want to give YOU an opportunity to feel lucky too! I’ve teamed up with 9 other bloggers for a “Lucky Day Giveaway” and a chance for YOU to win a Nikon D3100 SLR Camera and a Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX Lens!!

I have this camera myself and I love it!

Lucky Day Giveaway

The Specs:
Nikon D3100 SLR Camera {Body Only}
14.2 megapixel DX-format CMOS image sensor
Active D-Lighting
3.0 inch Color LCD Monitor
Picture Control System expands creativity
Nikon Integrated Dust Reduction System
Full HD 1080p movies with sound and full-time autofocus
ISO range of 100 to 3200 (expandable to 12800-Hi2)
6 Automatic Exposure Scene Modes- Portrait, Landscape, Child, Sports, Close-up or Night Portrait

Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras
Fast, f/1.8 prime lens is perfect for low-light conditions, travel, environmental portrait and general photography
Engineered for Nikon DX-format D-SLRS, the AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G lens renders a picture angle approximating the classic normal angle of view of a 50mm lens on a Nikon FXformat digital SLR or 35mm film camera
Aspherical lens element minimizes coma and other types of lens aberrations, further improving image integrity
Nikon Super Integrated Coating (SIC) enhances light transmission efficiency and offers color consistency and reduced flare
Exclusive Nikon Silent Wave Motor (SWM) enables fast, accurate and quiet autofocus
Close focusing to 1 foot for creative perspectives and versatility
Rounded 7-blade diaphragm opening makes out-of-focus elements appear more natural
Accepts 52mm filter attachments

Pretty awesome, right? I think so!! So, here is how you enter… my blog is a little weird, so you’ll need to click on the link below in order to get to the Rafflecopter widget. Once you’re there, follow the directions to leave a comment about what picture you’d take with your new camera! (I can’t wait to see your responses!) There are plenty of other options for extra chances too, so don’t be shy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck Foodie Friends! I hope my good fortune rubs off on one of you and we will be sharing camera tips and tricks together very soon!

Quiche with a Hash Brown Crust

Quiché w/hash brown crust

Sometimes an idea hits you and you think “I am a genius!” Then you google it and discover a lot of people have done it before. So maybe I’m not a genius, but it doesn’t matter! This simple Quiché with a crispy hash brown crust is delicious. It looks stunning, is super versatile and my family thinks I’m a genius for making it! So really, that’s all that matters, right? 😉

Quiché

The only drawback to this recipe is the length of time it takes to prepare. You don’t want to do this for a quick weekday dinner (like I did! We ended up eating very late!) but it’s perfect for a weekend brunch with your favorite people.

Quiché With Hash Brown Crust

4 tablespoons butter, melted, divided in half
1 package (1 pound) frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
8 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup diced red onion
4 oz diced Pancetta
1 clove garlic, minced
1 TBLS minced, fresh oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp coarse ground Pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush a 9-by-2 1/2-inch springform pan with 2 TBLS melted butter. Line the sides of the pan with strips of waxed paper, brush paper with butter too. Be generous on the bottom of the pan so the potatoes don’t stick. If you don’t have a springform pan, don’t worry, it works just as well in a 9″ pie pan and then you don’t need the wax paper.

Squeeze as much excess moisture from hash browns as you can. The hash browns should be as dry as possible so the crust will get crispy. In a large bowl, mix thawed, drained hash browns with remaining butter, 1 egg, salt and pepper. Press hash brown mixture onto bottom and up the sides of your prepared pan. Press firmly to mold the potatoes against the edges. Place on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until set and the edges of the hash browns are lightly browned, about 20 to 25 minutes.

While the crust is baking, in a small skillet, sauté the pancetta until it’s crispy. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels. Do not discard the bacon fat! Put red onions and garlic in the same skillet and sauté in the bacon fat until the onion is soft and the garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk the remaining eggs and milk, then add the rest of the ingredients. Pour into prepared crust. Bake until set, 45 to 50 minutes. When it’s done, let it sit for 5 minutes, unmold Quiché, and peel off waxed paper before serving.

Quiché

I love dishes that are flexible and this one has endless possibilities. Anything you put into an omelette, can be used in this Quiché. Next time, I want to try crumbled italian sausage, sautéed bell peppers with onions and sharp cheddar. You could use Spinach and Gruyère! Get creative! Fill it with your favorite vegetables for a meatless version. I think asparagus and leeks would be fabulous. Use different cheeses. Add your favorite spices to the crust. Whatever you’d like!

Quiche
I’d love to see what you come up with, so when you make it, please share! I’m looking forward to reading all about it!

Enjoy Foodie Friends! XOXO

Dutch Baby Pancakes

I’ve been sick for nearly three weeks and haven’t felt like cooking, eating or frankly doing anything other than napping. Over the weekend I finally turned the corner on this cold. This morning, I made breakfast. Not just breakfast, but a new recipe and a new dish – Dutch Baby Pancakes! I’m so excited! I’ve never made a Dutch Baby! Wait, let me rephrase that… I’ve helped make three Dutch babies. They are now 25, 24 and 18 respectively. Dutch Baby Pancakes in a cast iron skillet however, are new to me. 🙂

IMG_9526

Simple to assemble, this delightful breakfast is whisked together in a blender, then poured into a hot skillet and baked in the oven. Talk about your no-brainer breakfast! Not only is it simple to put together, you don’t need many ingredients and the resulting pancake is spectacular to see coming out of the oven. It does deflate after you take it from the oven, but that doesn’t change the flavor!

Dutch Baby Pancake

This was supposed to be a “Sundays With Joy” recipe, but her recipe calls for Coconut, Pineapple and Banana. My darling Dutch husband doesn’t like coconut or pineapple so I improvised and found a recipe we could try. This is Alton Brown’s version from Good Eats!

DUTCH BABY PANCAKE

Ingredients
3 tablespoons butter, melted and divided
2 3/8 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 1/2 cup
3 tablespoons vanilla sugar, plus extra for serving
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
Lemon wedges

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place 2 tablespoons of the melted butter into a 10-inch cast iron skillet and place in the oven as it is preheating. Set the remaining tablespoon of melted butter aside to cool slightly. Wait 10 minutes before assembling the other ingredients.

Place the flour, vanilla sugar, salt, milk, eggs and remaining tablespoon of melted butter into the bowl of a food processor or blender and process for 30 seconds. Carefully pour the batter into the preheated skillet. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the edges are puffed and brown. Sprinkle with additional vanilla sugar and serve with lemon wedges.

I wasn’t sure about the lemon wedges, but let me tell you, after trying it, I wouldn’t ever serve them without it! It brightens the flavor of the pancake and makes the sprinkle of powdered sugar actually taste sweeter.

Dutch Baby Pancake with Lemon Slices

This is a versatile recipe too! You can add fresh berries, apples or do a tropical version with toasted coconut in the pancake and top it with bananas and pineapple. My favorite Dutch Boy drizzled maple syrup on his.

Dutch Baby Pancake

Simple, delicious and yummy! This recipe will be part of our regular weekend breakfast lineup from now on!
Empty skillet
Yep, I think they liked it… 😉 Enjoy my Foodie Friends!

Best of the West – Chowderfest!

“Southern California Seafood goes ROGUE in the Ultimate Seafood Challenge” Local taste and local talent showcased the “Best of the West – Chowderfest” at the Aquarium of the Pacific this last weekend.

Aquarium of the Pacific

I can’t imagine a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon, than hanging out with my favorite foodie friends at the beach and eating chowder made by great local chefs, using fresh local ingredients!

We had such a good time! Sometimes I think I should pinch myself. It’s hard to believe my life is so richly blessed with these opportunities. Many thanks to The Aquarium Of The Pacific, Seafood for the Future, Edible Westside, The Sustainable Kitchen, Weiser Farms, Savor Magazine and all the other sponsors for a fun event. Here was the lineup for the day!

Chowderfest lineup!

When we arrived, things were just getting started. The Chefs were putting out there samples and the tables were finishing getting decorated. Each Chef was required to use fresh LOCAL ingredients in their dish. Not only were the Chefs and their creations displayed on the boards at each station, but so were the fishermen/farms involved in supplying the seafood and the seafood was highlighted as well!

Chowder Fest Chef Display

There was a Judges Choice Winner and the Peoples Choice winners. There were cooking demonstrations by Savor Magazine and of course, the samples!

Roe's Chowder

BlueWaterGrill

Chowder Samples

Gladstone's

My Favorite!

Tuna

Samples

Our little group was evenly between the Mussel Chowdah from Gladstones Long Beach and Kellet’s Whelk Chowder with smoked Potatoes from SIP Lounge at the Renaissance in Long Beach. My personal favorite was Chef Michael’s Kellet’s Whelk. It has so many layers of flavor and the fried leeks on top were outstanding!

Visitors

So who won? “Mussel Chowdah” created by Chef Pete Lehmar from Gladstones in Long Beach, using Mussels from Carlsbad Aquafarms won BOTH the Judges Choice AND Peoples Choice Award! It was tasty chowder, or should I say “Chowdah!”

Mussel Chowdah

Here was their display!

Gladstones

“Scott Breneman’s Sablefish Curry” created by Chef Paul Buchanan of Primal Alchemy Events and Catering Kitchen, using Sablefish from West Caught Fish Company won Second Place in the Peoples Choice. They had pumpkin in their Curry! It was an interesting twist.

Primal Alchemy

IMG_9433

And finally, tied for Third Place, was “California Dungeness Crab Chowder” by Chef Robin Higas from Market Broiler and (my favorite) “Kellets Whelk with Smoked Potatoes” by Chef Michael Poompan from SIP Lounge in Long Beach, with the Whelk provided by Fisherman Stephanie Mutz!

It was a delicious day! This is what our table looked like when we were done…
All gone!

I hope Aquarium of the Pacific does this next year. It was a great event and a great way to highlight local and sustainable seafood!

Thanks everyone! On to the next adventure! 😉

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