Saturday, February 18, 2017

Welcome to the Weekend


It's the beginning of February vacation in these parts. We have no plans to decamp to warmer climes, not for a weekend, not for a week. So instead I baked up a little sunshine: lemon poppyseed cake. I was way too lazy to whip up the glaze so I just dusted the top with confectioner's sugar. 

Recipe from Cooking Light





Friday, February 17, 2017

We Now Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Ranting...


I'm on Twitter these days a lot. In theory because of my book blog, but bookish twitter doesn't talk books much anymore because well, the world is burning. So my Twitter feed is largely news articles and calls to action and when it is talking about books, it's talking about which of the latest bestselling authors is defending their latest racist book rather than apologizing and taking notes. So it's awfully nice when something wonderful pops up there. This time it was a Guardian article by The Little Library Cafe* with a beautiful picture of these breakfast rolls which are filled with jam. And in an instant I knew exactly what I would be baking next. They are soft and delicious, like a challah or sweet bread and inside is whatever sweet jam your heart desires. 

*OMG HAVE YOU SEEN THIS COOKING BLOG? She is amazing! It's like the perfect intersection of book loving and delicious food and [insert more gushing here]!






BUCHTELN
adapted from Food in Books: breakfast rolls from the School at the Chalet
I strongly recommend you follow her recipe, but as it's written using metric measurement,  I've written the substitutions and equivalencies I used below, just in case it helps you.


INGREDIENTS:
~2/3 C of whole milk (150 mL)
~ 7 T total of butter  - split into a teensy bit over 5 T for the recipe and 2 for brushing the tops of the buns ( Recipe calls for 110g total, weighing of 8 sticks revealed most sticks were between 114/115 g)
scant 1/4 C of white sugar
7 g active dry yeast (this is 3 tsp, which is easier to measure if you are using a jar as it's more than just one packet but less than 2)
1 egg
1 egg yolk
175 g white flour
150 g bread flour (I tried to measure the flour out for you in cups, but honestly, it's really hard, because it's so variable based on how tightly packed the cups are. It would take a lot of recipe testing to be absolutely sure what the best cup measurement is.) If at all possible weigh your flour. My entirely unscientific measurement yielded 1.5 C of loosely packed white flour and somewhere between 3/4 C and 1 C bread flour (tightly packed) but yeah, just weigh your flour.
8 t jam (I couldn't find the plum she calls for so I used Four Fruits instead)
1 T confectioner's sugar.

DIRECTIONS: Please see her recipe - but OVEN TEMP should be 355 F.

Believe me. Making and eating these may only take your mind of politics for a few minutes, but it will certainly give you something sweet to look forward to.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Stress Baking the Presidency

In times of trouble, we all have our coping mechanisms.  As it would turn out, mine is baking.  And also, eating the things I bake. Most of my days are spent watching my two adorable boys.  But it's also spent calling Senators and my Representative, trying to refresh my knowledge of how the US Government is supposed to work, and basically doing what I can to #Resist.  I don't know if I would have guessed that I'd be a political person, but here we are.

As many of you know, I am also an anxious person. The kind of person who lies awake in the middle of the night turning over worst case scenarios and wondering if one day my completely teensy-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things social media rabble-rousing will bring jackboots to my door. So like many others I've been trying to balance my craving for information with some self care. Self-care in the form of deliciousness.

I can't promise new recipes or even high quality photos, but I am going to try to document how I'm using flour, chocolate, nuts, sugar, WHATEVER to get through this.*


*Please note, I am incredibly privileged that the current presidency has marked an uptick in my concerns about my immediate family. I am aware that many have been struggling for much longer (um, centuries?) to try to achieve the rights and comforts that my family is able to enjoy even with the country in crisis.

Just to bring you up to date, in the past 16 days:


SNICKERDOODLES - such a comfort food cookie


RASPBERRY WALNUT BARS - these are IDEAL for making with kids, they can grease the pan, pat the shortbread down, spread the jam on (incidentally, I used up the ends of about 3 different jams by mixing strawberry, cherry and raspberry) and whisk together the final topping.

CHALLAH -  That's my 3 year old helper finishing up the braid and painting on the egg wash.



POPOVERS - Yum.

What about you? Any stress related baking going on in your kitchen?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Chive Talkin'



These are not my actual chives. Mine were flattened in the last driving rain.  I got the pic off Wikimedia Commons.
 It's by Jerzy Opiola.

You need to get some chives.  Don't buy them from the grocery store.  Go to a nursery or farmer's market or farm stand that sells that sort of thing and buy an actual chive plant.  They're listed as zones 3-9 which basically means you've got a shot at growing them pretty much anywhere in the continental US.  Also they're annuals which means basically, you ignore them when they unceremoniously die in winter, because come spring, they will come right back up and you will have fresh new chives. 

But this is not a plant blog.  I most definitely do not have the gardening skills for that.  This is a food blog.  Which means the main reason I am urging to go out and get some chives is because they are delicious.  I have been eating them nonstop for the past week and I have no intention of stopping anytime soon.

So far I have made:
Scrambled eggs with cheddar and chives (also a cheddar and chive omelette) - Amazing
A salad dressing with chives, chervil and dill - So fresh and delicious
Mashed potatoes with cheddar and chives - MMMMMPHGRRR GIVE ME ALL OF THEM
Egg salad with chives - chives+eggs 4eva

Next on the agenda:
Chive biscuits - Ina Garten's got a recipe I'm eyeing
Chive butter  - when the season starts to wrap up, I'm going to make sure I make a ton of chive butter and freeze it.  Making an herb butter is actually pretty simple. You just soften the butter (in this heat that can't be too hard), fold in your snipped herbs, roll the whole thing into a log (basically, put the blob on plastic wrap and use the plastic wrap to roll it), pop it in the fridge.  Here, Martha will explain: Compound Butter

What do you do with chives?  


Friday, June 12, 2015

What to Make for EVERY BBQ This Summer


If you have a grill, there is a very good likelihood that at some point this summer, you will be called upon to cook things on it.  For other people.  Now, you can go with hot dogs, or your standard pre-formed burger patties or maybe even some soon to be dried out sausages.  Or you could make these incredible wings.  They are spicy, crispy and will have people quite literally licking their fingers.  The rub is easy and versatile, you can use it on thighs or a whole cut up chicken if you prefer.  It hasn't failed me yet and I've been making these nonstop for the past year.

BEST CHICKEN RUB EVER
enough for 40 wings

INGREDIENTS:
40 wings
1 T +  t kosher salt
1.5 T paprika
1 T brown sugar

1 T cayenne

DIRECTIONS:
I have a gas grill, so I preheat it and make sure the grate is clear.  I like the temp to be between 400 and 450, but I keep an eye on it.

Inspect your wings.  Make sure they are cut up as it will only be messier once you add the spices.  Wings will either have one or two joints.  If they have two joints, the scrawny little end is a wing tip and can be thrown in a plastic bag and tossed in your freezer for later use making chicken stock. If there is only one joint, just cut there.  Many wings are sold already cut, so that makes life easier.  If they're cut, just trim off any weird ook or feathers and you're good to go.  Pop them in a large bowl (give yourself enough room to toss them).

In a small bowl, mix together the kosher salt, paprika, brown sugar and cayenne.  Sprinkle this over the wings while tossing them to coat completely.  Pop the wings on the grill and leave them there for 7 minutes.  Flip them and leave them there for about 5.  Do a quick temperature check, I look for around 165, but you can check poultry standards elsewhere if you like.  When they are done (juices run clear, temp is correct), pull them off the grill and serve.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Nana turns 90

Only a few days after Christmas, my grandmother celebrated her 90th birthday.  It was lovely having her for the holidays and for her special day.  You would never ever guess she is 90; she spent the visit watching and playing with the little one and hopefully, eating well.

My mother was kind enough to cook the main course, steak, since I have such limited experience with it.  I'm pretty sure we had mashed potatoes (there you go, it's been less than a month and already I have no memory) with it.  And I provided the brussels sprouts.


BRUSSELS SPROUTS
altered only slightly from the amazing Balaboosta cookbook - I can't wait to use more recipes from it!

INGREDIENTS:
1 lb Brussels sprouts
1/4 C honey
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 gala apple, peeled cored and grated
2 T olive oil
sprinkle of kosher salt

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat your oven to 425.  The original recipe calls for 400 but my oven needed to be hotter.
Cut the bottoms off the brussels sprouts and then peel off the outer leaves.  This takes a reasonable amount of time and also reduces the amount of brussels sprouts you have by a lot.  I gave them a good rinse too.  Then I patted them dry, laid them on a sheet pan and tossed with the garlic, honey, olive oil and then sprinkled them with salt.  I added the apple last because you really don't want the fruit on the pan, if you do it that way, it will just burn on the pan.  If it's on the sprouts, it drips down its juices which is much better.

Pop the tray in the oven and roast until tender.  The outside will get a nice crisp on it, but they shouldn't be super crunchy throughout.  I tossed them a few times to get more of a crisp on the outside and to make sure the apple-y parts were okay.  The recipe called for a shorter cooking time than I used. Mine needed at least 40-45 minutes to be finished, so watch yours and taste test frequently.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Christmas Dinner (belatedly)

I very much meant to keep up with my posting but I'm afraid I got buried under and avalanche of hosting and cooking duties.  And toys, never forget the toys. I even neglected my photography, so you're getting recycled everything here.

Our menu was:

Duck Breasts
Scalloped Potatoes 
Roasted Carrots, Turnips and Fennel (with Bonus Parsnips)

It sounds fancy.  It tastes fancy.  But it was actually very simple to make.  The potatoes and roast veggies tend to themselves in the oven while you make the duck breasts so you really don't have to
split your focus.

Recipe Alterations:
I added an extra potato to the scalloped potatoes and therefore it needed to cook longer.
I didn't check the carrot and turnip recipe before going to the store and remember it as carrots and parsnips instead.  So I had to go back out for turnips and fennel and then just added the parsnips anyway.  It was still delicious.

What did you serve on Christmas (or eat, if you're not the chef)?  Also, do you have a traditional menu that you have every year or do you change things up?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Morning Coffee Cake


 Given the collective cooking skills of my mother's side of the family, it should not be terribly surprising that our "family recipe" for our traditional Christmas morning sour cream coffee cake came from one of my mother's neighbors, Mrs. Krantz.  My mother made this coffee cake every year until I was 16.  I have made it every year since.  But it just isn't Christmas without our coffee cake.

MRS. KRANTZ'S COFFEE CAKE

INGREDIENTS
for the cake 
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
2 C sugar
1 1/2 C sour cream
4 eggs
pinch salt
1 T baking powder
2 t baking soda
1 t vanilla extract
3 C flour
for the streusel
3 T butter
1/2 C packed brown sugar
2 t cinnamon
1 C chopped nuts (we usually use walnuts, but sometimes use pecans)

DIRECTIONS
I often make the streusel ahead since I make the cake on Christmas Eve, so I'll do the streusel that morning and then do the cake at night, just to save a bit of work.  So basically you just put it in a bowl and mix it together (I use my fingers) until everything is evenly distributed throughout.  Then I set it aside.

Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer) until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs mixing after each one, then add the vanilla.

Sift together the dry ingredients; the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder.

Add the dry ingredients to the creamed sugar mixture alternately with the sour cream and mix to make it a batter.

Spray or butter a bundt pan thoroughly.  Sprinkle the bottom of the bundt pan with some of the streusel (maybe a third of it?).  Then add half the batter, sprinkle the rest of the streusel to create an even layer over the batter in the bundt.  Add the rest of the batter.  Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a skewer or toothpick comes back clean and the cake springs back a bit at the touch.  When you cut into it, the streusel should make a nice sugar swirl through the cake.


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!


Dinner last night came off beautifully. I'm afraid the pictures will have to wait though...

5pm
  • Heated the empanaditas at 400 for 25 minutes and then transferred them to the toaster oven to keep warm.  They hold up very well.
  • Took the puff pastry for the chorizo puffs out of the freezer to thaw.
  • Rounded up serving dishes, covered baking sheets with foil to ease clean up afterwards and made sure the table was set.
  • Started to layer the strata for Christmas morning.

5:30ish
  • Transferred the empanaditas to the toaster oven.
  • Put the pork pie and the cheese and spinach pie in the oven at 3:25 to heat for about an hour.
  • Spooned the hummus into a serving bowl, took the green beans out of the fridge and prepare a saucepan for boiling them in.  
  • Finished making the strata and popped it back in the fridge so it only needs to bake tomorrow.
6:00ish

  • Began making chorizo puffs (recipe below).
  • Took the grape leaves out and put them in a serving dish
  • Took the plastic wrap off the eggplant
6:30ish

  • Kept making chorizo puffs
  • Set out the deviled eggs
  • Warmed the flour tortillas and corn tortillas by putting them in the toaster oven (at 140F) 
  • Put the hoisin sauce into a bowl
  • Set out serving spoons
6:45ish

  • Took the pork pie and cheese and spinach pie out of the oven
  • Heated up the asian chicken
  • Set out the dipping sauce for the empanaditas
  • Put the chorizo puffs in the oven
7pm - DINNER AT LAST!!

We serve buffet style, with platters all around my kitchen/dining room counters.  Everything turned out wonderfully.  The best part was knowing that I can do it faster and better next time.  Honestly the chorizo puffs were the most work of the evening and I was supposed to make them on the weekend and freeze them but I'd had a bad cold so I had to do them last minute.  But everything else was simply warming up or cooked quickly. 

CHORIZO PUFFS

INGREDIENTS:
1 package chourico or linguica, if you can get the Portuguese kind, that's what we use
1 package puff pastry
1 egg, well-beaten (egg substitute would be fine here)

DIRECTIONS:
Take the puff pastry out to thaw according to the package directions.  Mine (Pepperidge Farms) needed 40 minutes to thaw.  Prepare a rolling area with a decent amount of flour, the puff pastry tends to release some water as it thaws so you'll want to make sure it doesn't stick.

We are usually using frozen chourico because you can't get the Portuguese kind locally, and it's what we prefer.  If you are doing it from frozen too, you'll need to have thawed it earlier.  The puffs are a little bit better if you remove the sausage casing and this is very hard to do with fresh sausage, but with cold/thawed, you can usually slit it with a knife and just peel back.  If you can do it, it keeps you from needing to eat the puffs in one bite.  If you can't, consider chopping up the chourico into bits rather than in rounds.  Anyway, once you've removed the casing, slice rounds of the chourico, probably 1/4" thick.  Roll out your puff pastry till quite thin.  Lay out a single row of chourico along one edge.  You want to fold the puff pastry over that row, so guess how much you'll need to cover the chourico and then slice down the puff pastry so you have one big piece set aside for use later and then a narrow strip that's just twice as wide as the chourico.  Paint the half of the narrow strip that doesn't have the chourico on it with eggwash.  Then fold over the pastry and using a knife, cut in between each round of chourico to make a square packet.  I then use an extra dab of egg and fold down the corners so it is round and pop it on a waiting sheet pan.  Once you've done one strip of chourico filled pastry, go back to your big piece of pastry and then repeat the process until you are done.  It is not particularly fast work and your fingers get gross, so wipe and wash when needed.

When all your puffs are done, put them in a 450 oven for 8 minutes or until puffed and golden.  

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Halftime?

Can you call it that on Christmas Eve?  We're halfway through!

This morning after my post, I finished making the eggplant and it's marinating on the counter until dinner.

We took a break to eat some sandwiches with sweet soppressata, tavern ham, hot capicola, prosciutto and provolone.


We had some turkey on hand for Ryan as well.


Then after lunch I finished layering the streusel and the batter in the coffee cake (for tomorrow morning) and then popped it in the oven.



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