Monday, September 20, 2010

Homemade Samoas bars

Girl scout cookie season is long past by now but their delicious siren song still sings. When looking for recipes to make while my foodie friend was out visiting we remembered this one and put it on our list. For those of you who don't know what a Samosa is, its a shortbread cookie covered in caramel and toasted coconut, dipped and drizzled with chocolate. They are delicious in this Witches' opinion.

After making this the results are mixed. The taste is pretty good, very much like a Samosa cookie. Its fairly simple to make, up to a point. The dipping it in chocolate is where things went horribly wrong for me. Actually a few things went wrong...

First, the recipe from Baking Bites says that the crust will be crumbly and you'll have to press it together in the pan. This was NOT the case for me, my crust batter was almost runny and very sticky. It was pressed into the pan, but not in a crumbly form.

Second, happened after baking the crust and putting the yummy caramel and coconut topping on. Oh yeah, I forgot the salt in the caramel too, that kinda bites. Anyway. So its topped, they're cooled down, I slice them into bars as instructed. Seems like it went OK, until I went to take a bar out to dip into my melted chocolate.

The crust fell apart and crumbled away! Ok, maybe its just the first bar, keep going. D'oh! Nope the 2nd bar is a cookie crumb coated piece of caramel. Um, ok. Maybe I should have lined my pan with parchment, but damn, you'd think with 1 1/2 sticks of butter there'd be enough grease that nothing stick! Guess I'd be wrong!

Ok so maybe I can dip it anyway...

Ahh...well great now I have a big old chunk of cookie floating in my chocolate. Oh screw this: I'm just gonna dump the chocolate on top of the bars. Yeah it'll be ugly, sue me! I don't care, I just want some yummy girlscout cookie tastin' bars! Sheesh!

Wow. You weren't lyin' they are ugly. Oh well at least they taste good, right? Yeah, well...they're ok. Not horrible but really not that great either. The cookie is incredibly dry and falls apart. The caramel and coconut part is good. The chocolate is only as good as the chocolate you start with, and in this case it was chocolate chips. They weren't that good. Chocolate chips have their place, like in cookies, but as a chocolate coating I'm just not sold. The flavor isn't rich enough and doesn't blend with the other ingredients like higher quality chocolate would. And it tends to bloom after you spread & cool it, meaning the butterfat solids come to the surface causing a white haze to cover the chocolate. This is from the heating & cooling, the chocolate looses its temper (so does the cook from time to time) and it gets ugly.

Would I make these again? Yes, but with some changes in the recipe. I'd change the cookie part entirely and use better chocolate. I'd also probably make my own caramel, homemade is SO much better! I'd give this recipe 6.5 out of 10 stars.

Samoas bars
from Baking Bites
makes about 30 bars

Cookie Base:
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

First, make the crust.
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan, or line with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter, until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly, like wet sand. The dough does not need to come together. Pour crumbly dough into prepapred pan and press into an even layer.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until base is set and edges are lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack before topping.

3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
12-oz good-quality chewy caramels
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp milk
10 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips are ok)

Preheat oven to 300. Spread coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet (preferably one with sides) and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk and salt. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula.
Put dollops of the topping all over the shortbread base. Using the spatula, spread topping into an even layer. Let topping set until cooled.
When cooled, cut into 30 bars with a large knife or a pizza cutter (it’s easy to get it through the topping).
Once bars are cut, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Heat on high in the microwave in 45 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching. Dip the base of each bar into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment or wax paper. Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt a bit of additional chocolate, if necessary) into a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle bars with chocolate to finish.
Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Baked Kale

I won't go so far as to say that this was an out & out disaster, rather a failed experiment. I've seen a lot of bloggers lately making kale chips, kale leaves that have been tossed in oil and then baked until crispy. I've never tried kale but ever other leafy green that I've tried hasn't been to my liking. They taste too green for me, too bitter and just plain yucky. Even some lettuces don't jive to me. I'm strange, what can I say.

So baked kale. I see it, people are raving about it, things like "I don't like kale but these are amazing! Like healthy potato chips!" Well, hell, thinks the Witch, healthy potato chips, sign me up! So I buy the kale. Thankfully it was in season & only cost $1.29 a bunch, if it blows I won't be out a lot of cash at least! There's fewer frustrating things than dropping a shit load of money on ingredients to have the end result suck. Piss me off!

Anyway this is about baked kale, not my own bitching! The kale! It did get nice and crispy, this is true. It was chip like in texture as well. I liked that. So far its doing good, easy to prepare and crispy. Then I tasted it. First bite was shockingly bitter. Ok, take another bite, nope not getting much tastier. What if I eat it with other food, that might help...yeah not so much. The taste is like burnt grass, green and smokey, not exactly what I'd consider a chip replacement.

So in review I'd have to give it a thumbs down for taste but thumbs up for ease and creativity. If you actually like kale this might be good. But if you don't, well don't be fooled into thinking that somehow an oven and some salt will change a yucky veggie into a snackers paradise. It isn't gonna happen. Sorry kale lovers, I tried to like it.

Baked Kale

makes: too much
1 bunch kale
drizzle olive oil
sprinkle of kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350

Wash kale well and spin dry.

Stem kale by breaking leafy portion off the woody stem. Discard stem in a manor you see fit. (compost is preferable)

Spread stemmed kale leaves out on a sheet pan. You'll probably have to work in 2 batches, I did. Drizzle leaves with oil and toss to coat well.

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until kale is crispy.

Sprinkle with salt immediately after removing from oven.

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving
Calories 57.3
Total Fat 3.9 g
Saturated Fat 0.6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.7 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.5 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 167.8 mg
Potassium 222.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate 5.5 g
Dietary Fiber 2.0 g
Sugars 1.2 g
Protein 1.9 g

Sloppy Joes

While feasting on some delicious sloppy joes a friend of mine prepared I asked for her recipe. Imagine my surprise when it was good ol' manwich and ground turkey. Ground turkey, are you sure? This is GOOD and I hate ground turkey! She assured me that it indeed was ground turkey, Jenny O in the 1 lb 'chub' roll, green label in the frozen section. She also informed me that she's tried homemade sloppy joes & they weren't as good as manwich.

I decided that I would make these Joes. I'd even use ground turkey, after all hers were delish, why not save a calorie or 2? Chub of ground turkey in cart, check! Manwich has HFCS in it so I put it back on the shelf. The Witch scoured the internet looking for a copy cat manwich recipe. They all seemed to be similar, ketchup, celery seed (strange I would not have added that otherwise), bell peppers, onions, light seasoning & sugar. So I made it.

It was REVOLTING!!! Oh My God. The smell of this turkey cooking made me gag, honestly. I have a strong stomach. I can handle butchering my own meats, I grind my own beef & chicken. I am not squeamish in the kitchen at all. Until I opened this chub of turkey. Why did it smell like dead bird and poo? Is this normal?? What horrible kitchen disaster have I embarked upon?

I added the sauce once the turkey was browned. This did NOT help the aromas in the house. Somehow the turkey brought out the vinegar in the mustard, and there was only 1 t of mustard for crying out loud! Great. Now it smells like dead bird, poo and vinegar in here. Dinner is bound to be stupendous.

Given the horrific aromas emanating from my kitchen I decided to forgo the toasting of the buns, after all why waste butter and time when no one will eat this slop. And I was right, mostly. I bravely took one bite - I gagged and decided that one bite was enough and heated up a hot dog for myself. The little Witch wouldn't even take a bite, she declared it Gross Mommy! and requested a hot dog as well. The husband, well he'll eat anything. He ate 2 of these gems for dinner and took 2 more for his lunches. God bless that man and his cast iron stomach!

So in review my dear readers I give this a big thumbs down. Buy manwich and deal with the HFCS if you need a sloppy joe that badly. Or maybe try it with ground beef instead. I don't know, but I can tell you this: the Witch has been scarred by ground turkey more than once, so don't expect to see it again anytime soon.

Sloppy Joes
Makes 5 sandwiches
1 lb ground turkey (can use beef)
1 c ketchup
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T A-1 steak sauce
1 t yellow mustard
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c tomato juice
1 t kosher salt
few grinds pepper
1/2 t chili powder
1/4 t celery seeds
1/2 c fine diced bell pepper, red & green
1/2 c onion diced fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
hamburger buns

Mix everything BUT the turkey, onions & garlic together to make your sauce.

Brown the turkey, onions and garlic together. Once browned add the sauce. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until sauce has thickened and flavors meld.

Spoon into hamburger buns and enjoy.

Nutrition Facts
provided by Spark People Recipe Calculator
5 Servings
Amount Per Serving
Calories 301.9
Total Fat 6.6 g
Saturated Fat 0.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 1,167.9 mg
Potassium 196.7 mg
Total Carbohydrate 49.6 g
Dietary Fiber 0.8 g
Sugars 43.3 g
Protein 17.5 g