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Archive for May 4, 2014

RECIPE: Almond Pancakes

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Marzipan-like almond pancakes. Photo
courtesy Target.

 

Does Mom like marzipan? Whip up some of Giada De Laurentiis’ mouth-watering almond pancakes for Mother’s Day. There’s no marzipan in the recipe, but the almond extract evokes the flavor. And you can garnish the stack with a small piece of marzipan.

Light and fluffy, sweet and nutty, this is a stack for special celebrations.

The recipe comes from Target’s website, A Bulls Eye View. You can see step-by-step photos here.

RECIPE: GIADA DE LAURENTIIS’ ALMOND
PANCAKES

Ingredients For 16 Pancakes

  • ½ cup (4 ounces) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups buttermilk pancake mix (Giada uses Kruteaz)
  • 4 ounces almost paste, cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Optional garnish: maple syrup
  • Optional garnish: fresh raspberries
  • Optional garnish: whole almonds
  • Optional garnish: a small piece of marzipan
  •  

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the mascarpone, water, sugar, almond extract and vanilla extract in a food processor. Process until mixture is smooth.

    2. ADD the pancake mix and pulse until just combined. Add the almond paste and pulse once to incorporate.

    3. PREHEAT a griddle or large, non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Grease griddle or skillet with 1 tablespoon butter.

    4. WORKING in batches, pour ¼ cup of batter per pancake onto griddle. Cook for about 1½ minutes each side, or until golden. Repeat with remaining butter and batter.

    5. ARRANGE pancakes on a platter. Serve with maple syrup and fresh raspberries.

     

    marzipan-stack-neuhaus-230

    Marzipan is a popular confection in Europe. Photo courtesy Neuhaus.

     

    WHAT IS MARZIPAN?

    A paste of sugar and ground almonds, marzipan originated in Asia some 1,000 years ago. It is believed to have reached Europe via Spain, brought by Arab traders.

    Marzipan grew quickly in popularity with royalty and the wealthy. It was only at the beginning of the 19th century that sugar became affordable and many more people could enjoy marzipan (as well as other sweet treats).

    Marzipan is used as a pastry filling and was traditionally popular in wedding cakes as a layer on top of the cake and under the fondant. Marzipan is sweeter than almond paste, another ground almond-sugar product: It has more sugar and can be eaten directly as a confection, while almond paste is not be eaten directly but is used as an ingredient.

    Marzipan is also molded and tinted to resemble fruits, animals, and other fanciful shapes.

    It’s not only about almonds: Pistachio marzipan is another popular form, most often used to fill chocolates.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Tex-Mex Queso Dip

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    A classic queso dip. Photo courtesy Kraft
    Foods.

     

    Unlike turkey for Thanksgiving or ham and lamb for Easter, there are no “traditional” Cinco de Mayo foods. Anything Mexican or Tex-Mex goes.

    What is a regional holiday in Mexico commemorates the 1862 victory of a small and poorly-equipped Mexican militia led by General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin over the much larger French army at The Battle Of Puebla. It temporarily stopped the French invasion of the country.

    Cinco de Mayo is actually a bigger event in the U.S., thanks to promotions from Mexican restaurants and Americans’ love of Mexican food.

    If you don’t want to go all-out, you can have salsa, chips and a Margarita or a Mexican beer at home. Or, make a warm, creamy queso dip (queso is the Mexican word for cheese), also known as chile con queso.

     
    According to Bobby McGee of Jardine’s, our favorite fine salsa producer, queso dip is a Tex-Mex invention of the 20th century. It can take the form of a spread or a warm dip with tortilla chips.

    Cheese has always been a costly ingredient. To stretch the cheese, some clever cook added chopped vegetables.

    In the best recipes, a semisoft cheese is melted into a smooth mixture with, for example, sour cream and/or butter for a smooth texture and cornstarch for body. Chopped vegetables or salsa are added for “stretch” and flavor.

    Shortcut recipes mix a block of Velveeta or American cheese with a can of Ro-Tel Tomatoes & Diced Green Chilies. Instead of processed cheeses like these—or buying supermarket brands made with them—whip up your own, more flavorful, queso dip with asadero, Cheddar or Jack cheese.

    Asadero is a semisoft cheese often used for melting: a smooth, yellow cheese reminiscent of Provolone, with a bit of zest and tang. It’s often sliced or shredded to use for quesadillas or other sandwiches, and it’s a favorite for nachos and queso dips.

    Check out the different types of Mexican cheeses.

    Here’s a recipe adapted from The Homesick Texan Cookbook by Michelle of BrownEyedBaker.com:

     

    RECIPE: QUESO DIP

    Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 serrano chiles, seeds and stems removed, diced
  • 1 jalapeño chile, seeds and stems removed, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk or half-and-half
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained (about 1 cup)
  • 12 ounces cheddar cheese, grated (about 3 cups)
  • 12 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated (about 3 cups)
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon ground cumin
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    Plus

  • Tortilla chips, raw vegetables or hot flour tortillas for dipping
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    chile-con-queso-browneyedbaker-230

    A delicious, from-scratch queso dip. Photo courtesy BrownEyedBaker.com.

     
    Preparation

    1. MELT the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion, serrano chiles and jalapeño; cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.

    2. WHISK the flour into the pan and cook for about 30 seconds. Slowly pour the milk into the pan while whisking, and continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce has thickens, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and tomatoes.

    3. REDUCE the heat to low, and add the grated cheeses a ¼ cup at a time, stirring after each addition, until it is completely melted. Repeat until all of the cheese has been added. Stir in the sour cream until completely combined. Serve immediately with tortilla chips. Leftover queso can be refrigerated for up to 5 days, and reheated when you’re ready to serve.

      

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