Friday, May 13, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

I've been on a bit of a kick recently making pies (with the start of pie season), which had led me to try and create some pie themed cupcakes. Recently, I baked an apple pie and a strawberry rhubarb pie, followed by some fabulous key lime pie cupcakes, complete with a graham cracker crust. The key lime pie cupcakes were just like a bite of the real thing, packed into a cute cupcake. So I decided that I could also recreate a Boston Cream Pie in cupcake form. These were just as good too! There are four components - a shortbread crust, a vanilla cupcake, a basic pastry cream filling and a fabulous light whipped chocolate frosting. Its really hard to say, but these are pretty high up there on my list of cupcakes I've made in terms of taste. Another trick - when most people fill cupcakes, they cut off the top, add the filling and reattach the top. Yet, this often makes the cupcake a bit messier to eat. Instead, I used a fairly thin fitted pastry tip and poked it into the top of the cupcake and "injected" the pastry cream into the cupcake. This works just fun and as you can see from the cross section photo, distributed the filling well inside the cupcake.

Sasha's Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

3/4 cup pulverized shortbread cookies
2 T sugar
3 T melted butter

Vanilla Cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 stick of butter
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup of  milk

Pastry Cream Filling:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 egg yolks
1/3 cups sugar
pinch salt
4 tsp cornstarch

Chocolate Fudge Frosting: (adopted from this recipe as inspiration only to do it with melted chocolate rather than cocoa powder)
6 T butter
4 cups confectioner's sugar
1/3 cup to 1/2 cup milk
3 oz melted semisweet chocolate

First make the crusts. Melt the butter and combine with the sugar and pulverized shortbread cookies. Line paper liners for cupcakes with about a teaspoon and press to form a crust. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes until it sets only.

To make the cupcake batter, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Beat the butter and sugar in a mixer until fairly smooth, for about two minutes. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Then alternate beating in the milk and the dry ingredients until smooth and well combined. Fill the cupcakes 3/4 of the way to the top, and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes (the time depends on your oven) until a toothpick comes out clean, but take out before you see any browning action on the cupcake tops, as you don't want to burn them.

Allow the cupcakes to cool while preparing the pastry cream filling. Warm the heavy cream in a sauce pan. Combine the sugar, egg yolks, salt and cornstarch in a separate bowl. Combine over heat until it thickens into a custard, and stir in the vanilla towards the end. Chill for about 30 minutes before using.

Using a fairly thin tip (but not a micro thin tip) pastry tip attached to a pastry bag, pierce the top of each cupcake and squeeze the filling into the center of the cupcakes, using my "injection" technique. Don't worry if some oozes out the top as you will be covering that with frosting.

Now, the best part of these cupcakes is the frosting. I have made rich chocolate frostings with cocoa powder in the past, which are great, but a bit too intense for my taste. This is just the perfect, light chocolate whipped frosting! Beat the butter with the confectioner's sugar for several minutes on high speed in your mixer. Add 3 oz of the melted chocolate and the milk and beat until a nice frosting forms. Add the milk 1/4 cup at a time until the frosting reaches your desired consistency. I added between 1/3 and 1/2 of a cup of skim milk. Frost the cupcakes using a frosting bag with a fluted tip and devour immediately!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Hawaiian Style Ahi Poke

Ahi Poke was one of my favorite dishes from the time I spend in Hawaii several years ago on our honeymoon. I've occasionally gotten it outside of Hawaii since but it's never really the same as it was in Maui but if the ahi tuna quality is good, it can still be delicious. This is my husband's favorite Hawaiian dish, and although I have made plenty of sushi, I've never given Ahi Poke a try. But, I came across this recipe in one of my favorite Jamie Oliver books. The result was fresh and delicious since I used high quality sushi grade bluefin tuna. Not quite the same as locally caught Hawaiian ahi during my honeymoon, but still healthy and delicious. The tuna for this recipe is basically raw, but it does cook slightly (or at least change chemically) due to the lime juice in the recipe. Now that I know how delicious this recipe was, I plan to try some Hawaiian poke recipes in the future until I can get back to the lovely 51st state.

Jamie Oliver's Asian Infused Tuna (Ahi Poke) (adapted from the original recipe in The Naked Chef Takes Off)
1 lb tuna (bluefin if possible) - sushi grade
1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
juice of 4 limes, to taste
1/2 diced jalapeno (Jamie uses a bit more)
3 T sesame oil
4 T coconut milk
handfull of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
2 T sesame seeds
pinch of freshly chopped ginger
soy sauce to taste (I added about 1/2 tsp)

Finely dice the tuna and mix with the res of the ingredients. You should serve immediately, on either toasted french bread (like Jamie suggests) or on crackers, which is how I served it.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Rib Eye Cheesesteaks

I know I have written about cheesesteak before, but I could not help myself. I made this a couple of weeks ago and it was just too good not to share on A Kitchen In Brooklyn. Sure, I love the Philly style cheesesteak with thinly slice steak, onions and liquid cheese, but this at home "dressed up" style cheese steak made with rib eye is pretty good as well. There's plenty of ways to make a great cheesesteak or steak sandwich, but this one incorporates my preferences - grass fed rib eye, caramelized onions, provolone cheese and roasted red pepper, on a delicious long sandwich roll. My love for this sandwich comes from my college days at Haverford College and some great steaks at Genos and Pats.

Sasha's Rib Eye Cheesesteak

3/4 lb rib eye, thinly sliced
two onions, sliced
2 T of sugar
canola oil  or olive oil
2 long Italian rolls or hoagie rolls
1 roasted red pepper, sliced
provolone cheese (1/4 lb)

To prepare the meat, we chose to season and cook the steak on a grill pan, about medium. A the end of the grilling process, my husband sliced the rib eye thinly using an electric meat knife. It is worth noting that I used grass fed rib eye for this recipe, which is the healthiest type of red meat to be eating if, like me, you care about your body and your planet. You could also slice the meat before cooking if you prefer and it might cook much faster. But I found my method to work just fine.

Then I prepared the onions by sautéing them with the sugar and canola oil to caramelize the onions. I prepared the sandwiches with the hoagie rolls, onions, roasted red pepper slices and cheese and put both sandwiches in the oven to toast until the cheese was fully melted.  The result was mouthwateringly good! I like mine plain, but feel free to douse with hot sauce or steak sauce if you prefer.

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