Friday, October 14, 2011

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today was my mom's 50th birthday. Being hispanic, I'm very close to my mom and we do pretty much everything together. I've had her birthday menu planned for weeks! I made her a roasted chicken with lemon, pepper, garlic, and herbs; potatoes au gratin; ratatouille (the way they made it in the movie!) and guava filled mini cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. I love to cook almost as much as I love to shop. I find it therapeutic.
I used this recipe, without potatoes; and I used chervil, thyme, and parsley. I also brined it for three days in chicken broth, lemon zest, garlic, and peppercorns.

Scroll down for this recipe!

Potatoes au Gratin

Hello Kitty inspired Guava Cream Cheese Mini Cupcakes!

Ratatouille
For the Piperade/sauce:
12oz crushed, strained tomatoes (canned) (1 1/2 cups)
2 carrots, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 red peppers,roasted, skinned,chopped
1 yellow pepper roasted, skinned,chopped
1 orange pepper roasted, skinned,chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely diced,
1 tbsp oil
Kosher salt
1 tsp sugar
Red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
1 bunch thyme
1 bunch basil
1 bunch parsley
1 bunch chervil

Vegetables
2 zucchini, thinly sliced
2 yellow squash, thinly sliced
5 roma tomatoes, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 270F. Soften the onion in a medium size pot. Once it's translucent, add the carrot and garlic. Stir in the crushed tomato. Add bay leaves. Tie all the herbs together in one big bundle with butcher's twine (this makes it easier to fish out later) Add salt, sugar, and red pepper flake to taste. Cook for about 20-30 minutes. Fish out herbs and let it cool down a bit, then put it in the blender to make it smooth. Cover the bottom of your baking dish in the sauce. You may not need all of it. Arrange slices of your veggies over the sauce in one layer so it cooks evenly. Put another bay leaf on top and some thyme sprigs. Carefully cut out a piece of parchment that fits over your dish. Place it on top and bake until the vegetables are tender. 20-30 minutes. They shouldn't be soggy. This dish is best served (hot or cold) the next day when the flavors have had a chance to marry. 

Mini Guava Cream Cheese Cupcakes
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cups sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
Guava Paste (as needed)

Mix flour,baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat egg, egg yolk, and sugar until thick and cream colored, about 2 minutes. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl.  On low speed, add oil and vanilla until blended. Scrape the bowl again. Mix in sour cream until no streaks remain. Mix in the flour until well incorporated and the batter is smooth. Spoon the batter into your lined mini cupcake pan and only fill them a quarter of the way. Spoon a little guava paste in after that then fill the liners with more batter until they are 3/4 full.  Bake at 350F for about 9-12 minutes. Test them with a toothpick. If you put it in the center of a cupcake and crumbs appear, they're done! LET THEM COOL. That's very important. Otherwise, your lovely frosting will melt right off.

Cream Cheese Frosting (by Elinor Klivans)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (room temp)
6oz cream cheese (room temp)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar

Beat butter, cream cheese, and vanilla on low speed until thoroughly blended, about one minute. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth for about one minute, then beat on medium speed to lighten it further. This frosting is ready!

*If you want to make bows like mine, I used Fondarific buttercream fondant in red and I bought hello kitty bow molds to make them. Roll the fondant well in your hands first, then push it into the mold, pop the mold in the freezer for a few seconds to get it out and put the finished bow in the fridge so you can use it later. If not, it'll be a sticky mess.

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