Friday, December 30, 2011

Apple turnovers

When I saw a picture of extremely tall, extremely flaky "blitz biscuits" in my new copy of Crust & Crumb, I immediately thought of making turnovers with them instead. Having now made the dough into both biscuits and turnovers, I can report that it is a splendid turnover dough, but actually too flaky for optimal biscuits. If you want to try the biscuits though, the procedure is all the same, but cut your preferred size and shape of biscuit out of 1/2"-tall dough instead.

Also, the bread book is excellent, as anticipated. I've been working on the baguette recipe and I'll post it when I've gotten the crumb to be a bit less gummy, which will hopefully be soon!

2 + 1/3 c flour (12 oz)
1.5 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
2 sticks cold salted butter (or increase the salt if using unsalted)
1 c cold buttermilk

2 tart baking apples (1 lb total)
3/4 c sugar
1.5 t lemon juice
1/4 t salt
cinnamon sugar for topping

Combine the dry ingredients (flour through salt) in a bowl. Cut each stick of butter in half length-wise, then slice into thin-ish slices. Toss the butter into the flour and rub the butter and flour together with your fingertips to break down the butter into small but not too small pieces (the book says "dime-size"). Stir in the buttermilk until a dough forms. Turn out onto a floured surface and roll into a 1/2"-tall rectangle. Fold in thirds like a letter, roll out again, and fold in thirds the other direction. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

While the dough is chilling, make the filling. Peel the apples and grate them in the food processor, then combine the apple with the rest of the ingredients (sugar, lemon, salt). Place in a colander and squeeze out all the excess juice. (I didn't save the juice but I'm sure there's something good you could do with it.) Set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.

Take the dough out of the fridge and place it back on the floured surface. Roll out to 1/2" and fold in thirds as before. Roll out into a rectangle again, but thin this time, about as thin as pie dough (maybe 1/8" high?). Cut into ~18 ~4"x4" squares with a sharp knife. Place a spoonful of dry apple filling in the center of each square; don't overfill the turnovers even if you have extra filling. With each pastry, fold one corner over to the opposite corner to make a triangle, and press the seams together with your fingertips. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

Position one rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 500F. When the oven is very hot, quickly put one pan of turnovers on the rack and turn the heat down to 450F. You want it to be very hot both above and below the pan so the butter goes into making flaky pastry layers instead of melting out into a little sizzling pool around each turnover, but some meltiness is probably unavoidable. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown on all sides. (If you have two pans, let the oven get back up to temperature before putting the second one in.) Transfer the turnovers to cooling racks and eat while warm.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


This is very similar to Indian restaurant chai: not too spicy, not too creamy, just flavorful and balanced. Also great with a shot of espresso, a la Trabant's chai coffee drinks (which I suddenly started craving when it got cold this fall). (Although, looking at their website, maybe it's a good thing I haven't been able to go there in ages, it looks disgustingly hipster now. Sad.)

3" piece ginger, peeled and sliced
3 cinnamon sticks
at least 10 each of whole cloves, allspice, peppercorns, and cardamom pods
4 c boiling water
6 bags black tea (eg PG tips)
4 c dairy (I did 3 c 1% milk + 1 c cream, but less fat would work too)
brown sugar to taste

Put the spices and water in a large pot, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the tea bags and simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Remove the tea bags but leave in the spices, and add the dairy and sugar (or let people sweeten their own). Keep warm and covered during brunch.


It's a lot of borscht! It's quick and easy and made of vegetables!

2 large carrots
3 large beets
1/2 onion
4 cloves garlic
8 crimini mushrooms
1/2 head cabbage
3 small potatoes
1 T oil
1.5 not-chicken cubes in 6 c water
1/2 c parsley
yogurt and bread for serving

Peel the carrots and beets, then put all of the veggies (carrots through potatoes) through the grater blade on the food processor. Heat the oil in a large (really large) pot, then dump in all of the grated veggies and saute for 10 minutes. Add the stock and simmer for half an hour. Turn off the heat, stir in the parley, and serve with a dollop of yogurt.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Irish coffee ice cream

Inspired by Laura's new Irish coffee making skillz. Pretty much like my other coffee ice cream, but with more booze and less chocolate—a fair trade-off in this case. The brown sugar is key here for darkening the flavor and color.

3/4 c 1% milk
3/4 c coffee beans
3 egg yolks
2/3 c brown sugar
2 t flour
1/2 t salt
2 c cream
1/2 t vanilla
1/4 c Jamesons

Put the milk and coffee in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then cover, turn off the heat, and let steep for 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, flour, and salt together. Strain the coffee-milk into another bowl, then slowly stir it into the egg-sugar mixture. Pour it all back into the saucepan and cook over medium-low, stirring continuously until thickened. Strain into a bowl, stir in the cream and vanilla, and put in the fridge for a while. When it's cool, stir in the whiskey, then churn until done.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Beet and pomegranate salad

Much more exciting and meal-like than my previous pomegranate bulgar salad. This makes a fair bit of food—about 6 side or lunch servings.

2 medium-size purple beets
2 medium-size golden beets
1 pomegranate
6-8 oz spinach
1 T olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 c bulgar
1 c slivered almonds
2 c broth
3 oz (at least) crumbled chevre
juice of 1/2 Meyer lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Roast the beets (wrapped in foil at 375F until tender), peel (by rubbing the skins off under warm water), and cut into large dice. Meanwhile, get all of the tasty seeds out of the pomegranate. Also meanwhile, saute the shallot in the oil, then add the bulgar and almonds and toast for a few minutes, then add the broth and simmer/steam until the bulgar is tender (10-20 minutes). Put the beets and pomegranate seeds in a large bowl, and put the spinach on top. Top with the warm bulgar and toss to combine until everything is nice and pink. Cover the mixing bowl and let sit until the mixture has cooled to room temperature. At serving time, toss with the chevre, lemon, and salt and pepper.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Pumpkin coffee cake

When I got my coffee at Elmwood Cafe yesterday morning, they had these huge thick slices of delicious-looking pumpkin bread. I managed to resist getting one by deciding that I'd make pumpkin bread today. This is nice and moist too, just a bit spicy, and the streusel is great. Equally good for brunch before showing Jara around Baker Beach, Land's End, and inner Richmond; or after dinner at Jaime and Alan's new place.

3 T melted butter
1/4 c chopped pecans
1/2 c flour
1/3 c sugar
1/2 t cinnamon

Mix together and set aside.

pumpkin bread:
3 1/3 c flour
1/2 t baking powder
2 t baking soda
1/2 heaping t each: cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger
1.5 t salt
1 c canola oil
2.5 c sugar
4 eggs
1 (15-oz) can pumpkin
2/3 c water
1 t vanilla
1/2 c chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350F, and butter a 9" round (cake or springform) pan and a loaf pan.

Mix together dry ingredients (flour through salt) in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together oil and sugar, then whisk in the rest of the wet ingredients (eggs through vanilla) until smooth. Gently but thoroughly stir in the dry ingredients until smooth (mine still had a few little lumps when I gave up).

Pour half the batter into the round pan, and sprinkle the streusel topping to evenly cover the surface of the batter. Stir the pecans into the other half of the batter, and pour that into the loaf pan. Bake until a tester comes out clean: 55 minutes for the round pan, xx minutes for the loaf.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Vegan mushroom gravy for a crowd

My main contribution to friend Thanksgiving (Thanksgiving part I!) this year. Actually Lester did all of the chopping for this, and it's a considerable amount of chopping, so he should get most of the credit. A food processor would help with that. Substitute whatever mushrooms you like, of course. Makes 4-6 c gravy, enough to comfortably feed about 15 wonderful friends.

2 heads roasted garlic
several T earth balance
2 shallots, minced
5 large portabellas, minced
several cups (maybe 8oz?) shitakes, minced
1 t no-chicken bouillon
pepper, thyme, and paprika to taste
2 t cornstarch
2 t flour
wine and water
salt to taste

Start the garlic roasting (drizzled with oil and wrapped in foil) at whatever temperature the oven is at, and get all the ingredients chopped and ready to go. Saute the shallots in the earth balance in a large frying pan, then add the mushrooms and cook (may need to add the mushrooms in batches, letting each batch cook down a bit to make room for more). Stir in the bouillon, spices, and starches. Splash in some liquid and let simmer and thicken to your desired consistency. I wasn't measuring this part at all, but I probably used about 1/3 c red wine and 1-2 c water over the course of several additions; you may want more flour and/or cornstarch too. Whenever the garlic is done, scoop out the cloves into a little bowl, mush them up a bit, then stir them into the gravy. Adjust the spices at the end, adding more salt only if there wasn't enough from the bouillon. Serve hot over Michelle's turkey, Lindsay's biscuits, Elise's taters, and many different stuffings.


This recipe from the Scandinavian Baking Book is one of my family's few holiday traditions. This year I made them for family Thanksgiving (Thanksgiving part II!) at Sarah's house. They have a lot of butter in the dough, but it's not a croissant recipe--they end up soft and puffy rather than flaky.

1 c scalded milk
1/2 c warm water
1/4 c sugar
2 t yeast
1/4 t salt
3 eggs
1 stick butter, softened
5+ c all-purpose flour
couple T milk and/or cream and/or egg, beaten together to make a glaze

Make sure the scalded milk isn't too hot, then stir in the water, yeast, and sugar, and let sit for a few minutes until foamy. (If it doesn't get foamy, add some more yeast, and if it still doesn't get foamy keep going anyway.) Stir in the salt, eggs, and butter, then stir/knead in 5 c flour one cup at a time. Turn onto a floured board and knead for a few minutes, incorporating about half a cup of flour to make a dough that doesn't stick to everything but is still quite soft and pliable. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.

Prepare a work surface by oiling it lightly (yes, oil not flour), getting out the rolling pin and a sharp knife, and buttering 2 or 3 baking sheets. Punch down the risen dough and divide into 3 equal-sized pieces. Roll the first piece of dough into a ~12" circle, and cut into 8 wedges. Roll up each wedge, starting with the wide end. Transfer to a baking sheet, making sure the tip of the wedge ends up underneath the roll, and arranging the wide ends into a slightly curved elongated horn shape. Repeat with the rest of the dough, then let rise until puffy.

Preheat the oven to 375F and brush the rolls with the glaze. Bake for 15-18 minutes until light golden. Serve warm with a holiday dinner (possibly with even more butter).

Monday, October 31, 2011

Spinach phyllo borekas

I don't claim to understand what counts as a boreka—the internet makes it look like almost any hand-held veggie- and/or cheese-filled flaky pastry with a vague connection to the Balkans or the Mediterranean could fall under that heading (although the spelling may vary). This one is pretty much like spanikopita, although I feel less comfortable claiming that name without Candace or Manos's approval. Regardless of what it's called, it's tasty and filling and not as heavy-feeling as you might expect. (At least with the amount of fat I used on the phyllo, i.e., the bare minimum.) Now, what to do with the rest of the phyllo?

1 medium zucchini (3/4 lb)
few dashes of salt
1 T olive oil
1/2 onion
5 cloves garlic
12 oz spinach
2 T pesto
1 T sherry
1 egg
1/2 c pinenuts
4 oz feta (1 c crumbled)
pepper and paprika to taste
9 13"x17" sheets phyllo dough (defrosted if needed) (half a Safeway pack)
2 T melted butter + several T olive oil

Grate the zucchini, toss it with some salt in a colander, and let sit until you need it. Give the spinach a rinse, and let it sit in another colander. Mince the onion and start sauteing it in the olive oil in a large pan. Mince the garlic, squeeze any liquid out of the zucchini, and add both to the pan. Continue to saute while you chop the spinach. When the zucchini liquid has cooked off, add the spinach, pesto, and sherry to the pan, and cook over medium heat until most of the liquid has cooked off (about 20 minutes). Turn off the heat and let sit at room temperature to cool down and dry off a bit more, about half an hour.

When you're ready to start forming the pastries, mix the rest of the filling ingredients (egg through paprika) into the veggies. Prepare a large ungreased baking sheet, two damp dishtowels, a large work surface, melted butter mixed with olive oil, and a pastry brush. Lay the stack of phyllo sheets on the surface and cut into 3"x17" strips by cutting through the whole stack with a sharp knife. Cover whatever phyllo you're not actively using with one of the damp dishtowels. Take one strip of phyllo from the top of the stack, brush it lightly with butter+oil, lay a second strip on top of the first, and brush that one with butter+oil too. Put 1-2 T of filling at one end of the phyllo and fold up in triangles like you're a patriotic American folding a flag or like you're Brandi making samosas (steps 3 and 4 here). Place on the baking sheet and cover with the second dishtowel. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling, making 18 triangles total. Bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes until golden. Roast some padrons and pumpkin seeds at the same time, and serve to Lester and Pat between carving pumpkins.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Mocha rads

To those people who think it's a good idea to buy one of those silly all-corners brownie pans: just make these rad cookies instead. Happy non-fail birthday John!

3/4 lb TJs Pound Plus dark chocolate, chopped
3 T butter
1.25 c sugar
3 eggs
2 t vanilla
1.5 t instant espresso
6 T cake flour
3/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1.5 c Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate chips

Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler (or today's approximation thereof, a metal bowl in a metal colander in a pot of simmering water). Set aside.

Melt the butter in a large mixing bowl, and let cool slightly. Add the sugar and butter, and beat with the electric mixer for several minutes until thick and glossy. Add the melted chocolate, vanilla, and espresso powder, and beat well. Fold in the dry ingredients until just mixed, then fold in the chocolate chips. Put in the fridge for 20-30 minutes while you eat dinner.

Preheat the oven to 350F and line three baking sheets with parchment. Scoop out 32 cookies with a 1.5T spoon, leaving plenty of space between the cookies. (More smaller cookies would be good too, this is almost prohibitively large given the cookies' intensity. Almost, but not quite.) Press the cookies with moist fingertips to flatten slightly. Bake two sheets for 13 minutes until the tops are starting to look crackly, switching the racks halfway through. Transfer the cookies on the parchment to cooling racks, then bake the last pan. Cool all the cookies completely then store in a tupperware.

Gingerbread porter ice cream

Why are birthday desserts the only ones I mess up? And why have I messed them up with very disappointing regularity since I moved to CA? At least I was able to recover this one. If you follow the recipe as written, you should be fine.

2 c cream
2 c half-and-half
1/2 c porter
4 cinnamon sticks
3 cardamom pods
dozen whole allspice
6 pieces crystallized ginger
2 large slices whole wheat bread, crusts removed
3 T butter
1.5 T molasses
1.5 T + 3/4 c brown sugar
4 egg yolks (do not use whole eggs)
1 t vanilla

Combine 1 c cream, 1 c half-and-half, beer, and whole spices in a saucepan. Bring to a very low simmer, and heat uncovered for half an hour or until richly fragrant and tasty. The beer may curdle the cream a bit, but that's ok. Strain to remove the spices and any cream solids.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment. Grind the bread into coarse crumbs in the food processor. Melt the butter and molasses together, then mix the butter, molasses, and 1.5 T brown sugar into the bread crumbs in a couple food processor pulses. Spread the mixture in a thin even layer on the baking sheet, and bake for 13 minutes until toasty but not burnt. Let cool on the counter while you finish making the ice cream. Break into small pieces before putting in the ice cream.

Beat the eggs and 3/4 c brown sugar together until thick. Gradually stir in some of the spiced cream, then pour the eggs back into the saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, to make a custard. Strain into a clean bowl, stir in the vanilla plus enough cream and half-and-half to bring the volume up to 3.5 c (about another cup of each), and chill in the fridge overnight. In the morning, churn, adding the brown bread when the ice cream is almost done.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Eggplant pizza

2 pizza crusts

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 c olive oil
5 long skinny eggplants, or enough when sliced thin to cover your pizzas
4 medium heirloom tomatoes, or enough when sliced thin to cover your pizzas
grated Parrano to taste
2 t spicy Italian mix
1-2 T thinly sliced basil (several sprigs)

A few hours before dinnertime (eg when you're making the pizza dough) combine the garlic and olive oil in a small bowl, and let it sit and steep on the counter.

Get out two baking sheets, line them with foil, and brush the foil with some of the garlic oil. Slice the eggplant thinly and evenly into ~1/4" slices, and lay them in a single layer on the baking sheets. Brush the tops of the eggplant slices with more garlic oil, and sprinkle with some salt. Broil until done: I did 5 minutes on the first side, 12 on the other side, then another 3 minutes on the first side again (brushing with more oil after each flip). Let the eggplant slices and baking sheets both cool down for a bit.

While you're waiting, slice the tomatoes and grate the cheese. Transfer the garlic out of any remaining oil and onto a cutting board, and mince it up a bit. Fry the garlic and the spice mix in the remaining oil, plus a drizzle if needed. Return the garlic and spices to the garlic-oil bowl, toss with the basil to wilt it, and set aside.

When the baking sheets are ready again, line them with parchment and dust with semolina, and preheat the oven to 450F. Form the pizzas and lay them on the baking sheets. Place on a layer of tomatoes, then a layer of eggplant, then sprinkle on the cheese, then sprinkle on the garlic-basil-spice mix. Bake until done, about 15 minutes.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Persimmon whoopie pies

You can't ask for a better cookie for whoopie pies, at least texture-wise. These guys are soft with a tight crumb, more like muffin-tops than like a typical cake or cookie, and held their shape beautifully. The taste overall is more sweet than spicy or zingy, although it has elements of both—up the spices or lemon as you wish.

1 c persimmon pulp from 4 hachiya persimmons
1 t baking soda
3/4 c walnuts
6 pieces crystallized ginger
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 c white sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1 egg
2 T limoncello
1/2 t vanilla
1 3/4 c flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t cloves
1/2 t allspice

Preheat the oven to 350F and grease three baking sheets. Blend the persimmon pulp with the baking soda until smooth and gelling, and set aside. Grind the nuts and ginger together in the food processor, and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Beat in the persimmon gel, egg, limoncello, and vanilla until well blended, breaking up any last persimmon chunks if you can but not worrying about it too much. Beat in the dry ingredients until just combined, then stir in the walnuts and ginger. Scoop by tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets to make ~3 dozen cookies and bake for 20 minutes, rotating the sheets half-way through. Transfer immediately to cooling racks and let cool completely (overnight).

1/3 c old dry currants
1 T liqueur (eg 1/2 T maraschino + 1/2 T amaretto)
boiling water
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 stick butter (4 T)
1 T lemon zest
2 c powdered sugar

Let the currants soak in the liqueur overnight. This didn't do much, so in the morning cover them with boiling water and let them plump up while you pop to the shops to get cream cheese. With an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, butter, and lemon zest, then beat in the powdered sugar. Drain the currants and beat them in. Spread a generous blob of frosting on the flat side of half of the cookies, and sandwich another cookie of the same size on top. Store in the fridge, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Okra and red bean gumbo

You may notice I haven't been posting much in the way of full balanced meal type recipes lately. That's largely because TAing takes a lot of evening time away from cooking dinner, but it's also because I was getting bored of taking badly-lit photos of mushy-looking piles of veggies. But that's silly: the main point of this endeavor is for me (and maybe you) to remember what went into those ugly but delicious piles of veggies, and making them look nice for you (and maybe me) is just a bonus.

For instance, I made the Persian eggplant from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest on Saturday night. It was really really good, exactly as written (although with a bit more mushrooms and a bit less eggplant), and I would definitely make it again. But no photo, so no post. Boo.

Thus, some gumbo! With beans cooked from "scratch," which is something I want to try more of this winter. And with file powder, which somehow I didn't realize was vegetarian but it totally is, and without roux.

1 c dry kidney beans
lots of water

Soak the beans overnight in more than enough water to cover. Drain and rinse. Put in a large pot with lots of water (about 3:1 water:beans) and simmer until fully cooked (45 min-1 hr for me). Drain, reserving the liquid.

3 T butter
1 large onion, minced
3 fresh bay leaves
2 t thyme
1 t paprika
6 ribs celery, minced
5 shishitos and 2 poblanos, minced (or some other combination of sweet flavorful peppers)
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, chopped
6 c chopped okra
4 medium momotaro tomatoes, diced (1.5 c)
2 T file powder
2 t salt
ground pepper
4 c cooking water from beans
2 c cooked kidney beans
2 T chopped parsley (several sprigs)

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and spices, and saute for a few minutes. Add the celery, peppers, garlic, and carrot, and saute until softening. Add the okra and cook for several minutes, then add the tomato and cook for a bit more. Stir in the file powder, salt, and pepper, then pour in the bean broth. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and let cook covered for 20 minutes. Add the beans and parsley, adjust the seasonings, and simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Serve with rice and cornbread.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Turtle ice cream

Turtle candies are made of caramel, pecans, and chocolate, just like this ice cream. (Salted caramel ice cream with a pecan-fudge swirl, that is what we have here.) And wikipedia says that Turtles used to be made just down the street in that weird pink house-looking shop in Temescal! Who knew. I'm not one of those folks who gets all excited about over-salting their desserts, but turns out salted caramel does work extremely well as a base for a fudge-nut sauce. Not pictured: dark-chocolate-covered pretzels for scooping it up.

salted caramel ice cream:
1.5 c sugar
4 T salted butter
1/4 t kosher sea salt (or taste)
1 c heavy cream
5 egg yolks
2 c whole milk (I used 1/2 c half-and-half + 1.5 c 1% milk)
1/2 t vanilla

Just click on the link and follow David Lebovitz's recipe. I was apprehensive because 1.5 c sugar is about twice as much as I normally use for a batch of ice cream this size, but it doesn't turn out too sweet. (It's sweet, of course, but not too sweet.) The amount of dairy fat works well too. If you have fancy salt, you can probably get away with using more, but this amount was quite enough for the fanciest salt we have around.

pecan-fudge swirl:
1/2 c sugar
1/3 c dark corn syrup
1/2 c water
6 T cocoa powder
1/2 t vanilla
1/2 c pecans, chopped

Heat the sugar, corn syrup, water, and cocoa powder together in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve everything. Cook for 1 minute after it starts to simmer, then pour into a tupperware and stir in the vanilla. Store in the fridge until ready to use. When it's time to churn the ice cream, stir the chopped pecans into 1/2 c fudge sauce, and put the rest of the chocolate sauce in the fridge for another occasion.

to assemble:
Churn the ice cream until done (or for half an hour until it's time to go see Mean Streets with Chris and Lester, whichever comes first). In a flattish tupperware, layer 1/3 of the ice cream, then 1/2 of the pecan-fudge sauce, then 1/3 ice cream, then 1/2 sauce, then the rest of the ice cream. My ice cream was soupy enough after churning that just glopping the next layer of ice cream on top essentially swirled the lower layers together, but if yours is firmer then it might be nice to quickly run a knife through it to give it a bit of swirl. Freeze for 4 hr or overnight, and eat with dark-chocolate-covered pretzels.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Braided fig and cream cheese danish

Oh wow, I am really pleased with this one. It's just as pretty as the other braided danish/bread I made. But whereas the dough of that one was somewhere between a bread and a cake (as befitted a banana bread), this dough is somewhere between a bread and a pastry (as befits an actual danish). I've never made a real laminated dough, but this was easy enough that there may be croissants in the future.

1 T yeast
1/4 c warm water
4 T white sugar
2 T brown sugar
1/2 c milk
1/2 t vanilla
1 egg
at least 3.5 c all-purpose flour
1 stick salted butter, softened
4 oz spreadable cream cheese

Combine yeast and water in the Kitchenaid bowl, and let sit for a minute until the yeast is visibly active. Add the sugars and wet ingredients and stir to combine. Dump in 2.5 c of the flour, put on the dough hook, and knead for 4 minutes. Dump in that whole stick of softened butter, and knead with the dough hook for another 6 minutes, scraping down the sides occasionally. Scrape the dough (which will be barely firmer than muffin batter, although definitely more elastic) onto a surface that has been covered with a layer of some of that remaining cup of flour. Knead by hand as best you can, incorporating up to 1/2 c flour. Place the dough in a large greased bowl, cover with a plastic bag, and let rise until doubled (this will take longer than usual, eg more than 2 hours on a fairly warm day, because the yeast has to be pushing around so much fat). You'll notice we haven't used the cream cheese yet; don't worry, we're getting there.

3 oz cream cheese
2 T white flour
1 T white sugar
2 T greek yogurt
1 T honey
zest and half the juice from 1 large Meyer lemon
~1/3 c mulled fig jam

Stir together everything except the fig jam until smooth, and set aside until ready to spread on the dough.

to assemble:
Flour your surface again, and get out the rolling pin and some parchment paper. Turn the dough onto the floured surface, and roll or press it into a 1 foot square. Now's the time for that 4oz of cream cheese—spread it evenly over the whole surface of the dough. Fold the dough in thirds like a letter, then fold it in thirds the other way, to make a square 1/9 as large and 9 times as tall as your original square of dough. (The thin cream cheese layers between the layers of dough will make the final pastry flakier than your average bread, but not as flaky as more traditional laminated doughs like croissants.) Roll this square into a large rectangle ~10" wide and as long as it gets. (If your rectangle is larger than you want your loaf to be, cut off some of the dough and make it into a second loaf afterward.)

Transfer the dough onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Spread the cream cheese filling in the long strip down the middle third of the dough, then spread and/or dollop the fig jam over the cream cheese. Form into a "braid" as described previously.
Let rise for an hour or so, then bake at 375F for 25 minutes.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fig newtons

Happy birthday Lester (last weekend)! Alternate names for these include boozy newtons and fig Leibnitzes, depending on which friend you ask.

cookie dough:
3/4 c whole wheat flour
1 c all-purpose flour
1/3 c sugar
2 T brown sugar
1/2 t salt
6 oz cold butter, cut into cubes (1.5 sticks)
1/4 c half-and-half

Put the dry ingredients (flours through salt) in the food processor and pulse to combine. Add the cubed butter and pulse until the mixture is uniformly sandy. Add the half-and-half and pulse to make a dough. Scoop the dough onto plastic wrap, form into a rectangle, wrap the plastic wrap tightly around the dough, and stick in the fridge for at least an hour.

to assemble:

~1 c jam (I used ~1/3 c each of mulled fig, Drambuie fig, and blackberry)
floured pastry cloth and rolling pin
parchment-lined baking sheet
room for the baking sheet in the fridge

Cut the dough into three strips. Put two of the pieces back in the fridge, and start working with the other one. Roll it on the floured pastry cloth into a ~12"x5" rectangle, carefully flipping it over from time to time and re-flouring the other side *before* it starts sticking. Carefully transfer onto the parchment-lined baking sheet, and put in the fridge. Roll out the other two strips the same way, always keeping the dough you aren't working with in the fridge. When all three strips are rolled out, return to the first one and spread one kind of jam down the middle third of the dough. Carefully fold the two jamless sides over the jammed center, then press together the folded sides where it split and the seam in the middle, but don't worry if it doesn't seal back up perfectly. Repeat with the other dough strips and jams, slice each roll into 10 ~1" cookies, then put all the assembled cookies in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400F while you're waiting. Put the cookies in the oven, immediately turn down the temperature to 350F, and bake for 25 min until nicely golden.

Two boozy fig jams

Serving suggestions: stir into mostly-churned vanilla ice cream; fill fig newtons; spread in sandwiches with sliced roasted beets, cheddar or chevre, and a grind of pepper.

Drambuie fig jam:
1 lb black mission figs
1/4 c honey
1/4 c Drambuie
1 t Meyer lemon juice

mulled fig jam:
1 lb black mission figs
3 T honey
3 T port
1/2 stick cinnamon
2 cardamom pods
3 pieces preserved lemon peel
1 t Meyer lemon juice
pinch salt

for either:
Trim off the fig stems, and cut the fruit into 8ths. Put everything in a saucepan and cook over low heat for at least half an hour, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 1.5 cups or less. Remove the cinnamon stick and cardamom pods, if using (but not the lemon peels). Grind in the food processor until the fig skins are chopped up, then put in the fridge until you want to use it.

Savory bread pudding

Bread pudding for brunch! The yogurt makes it tangy and light, while the leek and bread cubes makes it smell like it's Thanksgiving in your oven. Other veggies or greens would work great instead of the kale, of course.

1/2 baguette (about 1 foot long), almost but not quite too stale to slice
6 eggs
1/2 c plain greek yogurt
1/2 c milk
1/2 or 1 t salt
lots of pepper
1/2 t paprika
1 t oregano
butter for the pan
1 large leek, sliced
3 medium-large leaves kale, sliced thin
1/3 c crumbled cheese (eg English mature cheddar)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Slice the baguette into 1" slices, then cut each slice into quarters. Whisk together the eggs with the milk, yogurt, and spices, and set aside. Saute the leek and kale in a bit of butter in a 10" cast-iron pan for a few minutes, but don't worry about cooking them all the way through. Turn off the heat on the pan and let it cool down for a few minutes; meanwhile stir the bread cubes into the egg mixture and let them soak. When the bread seems sufficiently egged, pour the egg and bread into the cast-iron pan and arrange things until the veggies, egg, and bread are each evenly distributed around the pan. Sprinkle with the cheese, and bake for 35 minutes until set. Cut into 6 wedges and serve after a night out dancing. It might stick slightly to the pan if you didn't use much butter for sauteing the veggies, but it stuck less than I thought it might.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Oatmeal raisin soda bread

Feeling antsy, lots of work (and dance) and not enough cooking—had to bake something tonight. Candace suggested oatmeal raisin cookies, but I was feeling more cakey, so I tweaked this soda bread. (Most of the tweaks are to make up for the fact that I didn't feel like going to the store and buying a second egg.)

It's not one of those sad dry soda breads—quite nice and moist actually—but it's a bit plain right out of the oven. A wedge split and toasted for breakfast is pretty great though, with or without some extra marmalade and a cup of tea.

1/2 stick salted butter, plus extra for greasing
1/3 c orange marmalade
1/2 c oats, ground in the food processor
2.5 c flour
generous 1/2 c sugar
1 t baking soda
3.5 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 egg
1 3.4 c milk (+ juice of a Meyer lemon for buttermilkiness)
1.5 c raisins

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 10" cast-iron skillet. Cut a circle of parchment to fit into the bottom of the pan, press it into the pan to get one side all buttery, then flip the parchment over to butter-side-up.

Microwave the butter and marmalade together until the butter is melted, then beat with a fork until smooth except for any chunks of peel and set aside to cool. Whisk together the dry ingredients (ground oats through salt) in a mixing bowl. Beat the egg into the butter+marmalade with the fork, then stir in the (butter)milk. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir gently until just combined, then stir in the raisins. Pour into the prepared skillet and bake for 35 min until golden and firm to the touch. Brush just a little bit of butter over the whole top, and wait a few minutes before cutting.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Halvah ice cream

Laura had the idea ages ago to make halvah coffee swirl ice cream, but she's been far too busy with work and/or awesome to actually make ice cream herself. Unsurprisingly, I was perfectly happy to have the task delegated to me. Although I was really pleased with the jam swirl in this ice cream, I'm less confident that it would work as well with two different ice cream flavors, so I just made one batch of my mocha chip and one batch based on this. Serving suggestion: one scoop of each. (Preferably in a little pomegranate bowl from Israel.) The nutty tahini-honey base with just a hint of vanilla tastes spot on, the texture is smooth and soft, and it's perfectly complemented by the mocha chip.

3/4 c tahini
3/8 c (6 T) honey
1/4 c (4 T) dark corn syrup
1 c cream
1 c whole milk
1 t vanilla

Combine the tahini, honey, and corn syrup in a saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until smooth and warm, then stir in the rest of the ingredients. Pour into a bowl and put in the fridge for an hour or two. Churn in the "new" ice cream maker (the one that Lester picked up for cheap at a thrift store) while a batch of mocha chip ice cream churns in the "old" ice cream maker (my birthday present). Let it churn for a long time, like more than half an hour, because it seems to need it, then finally give up and stick it in the freezer before it gets as thick as the other ice creams I've made. (This may be because the ice cream maker bowl had only been in the freezer for ~12 hours, or because it's a different ice cream maker, or something particular to this recipe. Who knows.) It'll to be scoopable about two hours later, and fully frozen the next day.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Applesauce streusel muffins

Nothing fancy, just some tender, gently spicy, appley-sweet muffins for breakfast. I guess the streusel is a teeny bit fancy, although it's almost superfluous with all the oats in the batter.

Preheat the oven to 375F and prepare tins for 12 regular muffins and 12 mini muffins (eg with spray grease).

1/2 c oats
2 t flour
1/2 t cinnamon
2 T brown sugar
3 T cold butter, cut into pieces

Mix together with your fingers until the butter chunks are mostly broken up and incorporated.

1 1/4 c whole wheat flour
1 c oats
1/4 c wheat bran
1/2 c brown sugar
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t cardamom
1/4 t nutmeg
3/4 c applesauce (2 single-serving containers)
3/4 c plain nonfat greek yogurt
1 egg
2 T canola oil
1/4 c chopped crystallized ginger

Mix the dry ingredients (flour through nutmeg) in a mixing bowl. Stir together the wet ingredients (applesauce through oil) in a small bowl, then gently stir into the dry ingredients. Stir in the ginger until just combined.

Fill the muffin tins almost full. Distribute the streusel topping over all the muffins, rubbing it between your fingers as you sprinkle it on to break up any last butter chunks. Bake the regular muffins for 17 minutes and the minis for 12 minutes. Loosen from the tins, transfer to a cooling rack, and eat warm.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ricotta gnocchi

A lovely way to use up the rest of the fresh ricotta, plus some farmers market basil and tomatoes for bonus points. They held together beautifully while staying lighter and fluffier than your average storebought potato gnocchi. Holy dairyfat though—this is pretty much (deliciously flavored) cheese and butter on a plate by the time you're done. 6-8 slightly-larger-than-tablespoon-sized gnocchi makes a totally reasonable serving size, and this recipe makes 4 of those servings.

2 larger-than-fist-sized tomatoes, chopped
1/2 onion, peeled
3 T butter
salt to taste

Make the sauce by putting the ingredients in a saucepan and letting simmer for 45 min to an hour, stirring occasionally. When it's as thick and smooth as you want it, remove the onion and use.

2 c homemade ricotta, very well drained
1 egg + 1 extra white
1/4 c finely grated Parrano cheese
1/4 c finely sliced basil
1/4-1/2 c flour
salt to taste
extra flour and boiling water

Make the gnocchi by beating together all of the ingredients very well, whipping the ricotta separately first and adding the flour last. You want to add the smallest amount of flour that allows the gnocchi to not fall apart when you boil them, and mine held together with zero problems with 1/2 c flour—you could probably get away with less.

Start a pot of salted water simmering and put a generous layer of flour in a 9x13 pan or other high-sided flat container. Scoop out a single gnocchi-sized spoonful of dough with a spoon and use your finger to push the lump into the bed of flour. Jiggle the pan to flour all the sides of the gnocchi, flipping it with your finger if needed. Toss the gnocchi between your palms to smooth out the shape and shake off excess flour, then place somewhere relatively nonstick (like a plastic cutting board) until the water boils. Drop the first gnocchi into the water and adjust the water to a slow simmer. Simmer for a few (2-5) minutes after the gnocchi floats to the surface, and taste. Adjust seasonings in the dough if needed (and if the gnocchi held together and is ready for production), and/or add more flour if your gnocchi fell apart (in which case do another test run before shaping the rest of the dough).

When you have gnocchi that can survive cooking, use the same procedure to shape the rest of the dough, then cook only as many as you will eat now (you can freeze the rest). Toss the just-boiled gnocchi with the sauce (which should be nice and thick by now) and eat with Laura while she tells Burning Man stories.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Padron poppers

Like jalapeno poppers, but with largish, fairly spicy padron peppers. This is definitely the happiest I've been with a breaded fried thing I've made. I suppose that's not necessarily a skill I want to spend a lot of time perfecting, at least when it's only me and Lester at home this week (what with Laura at Burning Man and Candace in Ann Arbor). But if you're committing to both making and eating a fried thing then it may as well be good!

8 3" padron peppers
1/2 c homemade ricotta, salted to taste
2 egg whites + 1 yolk
1/4 c flour
2 T cornmeal

Roast the peppers in a hot, very lightly oiled cast-iron pan until blistered and slightly wilted. Chop off the tops and remove the seeds, then stuff with a spoonful or two ricotta.

Start heating enough oil to come half-way up the sides of the poppers. For breading step 1, whisk together the eggs for several minutes until very light and fluffy. (If you remembered to separate the first egg, then whisk the egg whites until stiff then fold in the egg yolk, but it worked just fine sans separation too.) For breading step 2, stir together the flour and cornmeal in a flat bowl. Dip each pepper in the egg to cover it with a good fluffy layer, then dredge it in the flour to cover all the egg surface. Fry in one or two batches until golden on each side, flipping once.

Eat in short order (with yogurt or another cooling sauce if the creaminess of the ricotta isn't quite a match for the hotness of the peppers) and with corn on the cob rubbed with a slice of lime (how Mom likes it).

Blackberry ricotta pie

Based on this, which looked amazing all by itself but didn't contain quite enough blackberries as written.

1/3 c sugar
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 egg yolk (don't need the white)
1/2 T milk
1/2 T sherry
1 c + 2 T flour (yes the extra 2 T made a difference)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

7 oz homemade ricotta
1/3 c sugar
1 T amaretto

other fillings:
1/2 c hazelnuts
1/4 c blackberry jam
1 T brandy

Preheat the oven to 325F. Cream together the butter, egg yolk, and sugar until fluffy and smooth. Stir in the milk and sherry. Stir in the flour and baking powder, and form into a ball of a workable dough. Press 2/3 of the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of a 8" or 9" pie pan, and save the rest of the dough for later. Stick the pie crust in the fridge while you make the fillings.

For the fillings, stir together the ricotta, sugar, and amaretto; grind the hazelnuts in the food processor; stir together the jam and brandy until smooth. When everything is ready, take the pie crust out of the fridge. Scoop the ricotta mixture into the pie crust and spread into a roughly even layer. Sprinkle the hazelnuts over the ricotta and press them in with your fingertips, evening the top of the ricotta-hazelnut layer. Spread the jam mixture over the filling; there should be just enough for a thin layer. With the reserved pie crust, pinch off bits and place them decoratively over the top of the pie, for instance in a lattice pattern. If the pie crust base extends past the filling, push it down all around the edge until even with the top of the filling.

Bake for 55 minutes until the crust is browned but not too browned, and the filling is bubbly. Let cool, then eat for midnight snack and again for breakfast.

Fresh ricotta

As seen here and used here and here and here.

1 gallon organic whole milk
1 quart buttermilk

Line a large colander with at least 4 layers of cheesecloth, and place over a large bowl. Pour the two milks into a large pot over medium heat. Heat, stirring occasionally to prevent milk bits sticking to the bottom, until it reaches 175F, at which point the curds (white cheesy chunks) will have separated from the whey (pale watery liquid). Ladle the curds and whey into the colander as pictured, letting the whey drain into the bowl. Tie the corners of the cheesecloth together and continue to drain for about an hour and a half, or until it reaches your desired degree of dryness or creaminess. Put the whole cheesecloth-wrapped package in a tupperware in the fridge and use within a few days.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Brown bread ice cream with blackberry ripple

I love Tillamook's marionberry pie ice cream, so I decided to try something similar with my blackberry jam. I even set aside a few pieces of baked sweet pie crust for this purpose when I made a lemon blackberry tart last weekend (which I guess I didn't get around to posting, sorry!). But looking around for recommendations on how to do the berry swirl step, I found this recipe and I remembered how much John likes the brown bread ice cream at Scoops. I'm not sure that brown bread was a better approach than pie crust, but it's certainly good (denser bread and maybe more brown sugar would have made it even better). And the blackberry ripple is just lovely.

2 c half-and-half
1/2 vanilla bean
3 egg yolks
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c 1% milk
1/2 c cream

2 large slices dense wheat bread, crusts removed
3 T melted butter
3 T brown sugar

4 T blackberry jam
2 T brandy

Pour the half-and-half into a saucepan. Scrape the insides of the vanilla bean into the half-and-half, then drop the bean pod in too. Heat over low until it smells and tastes as vanilla-y as you want, at least 10 minutes; remove the bean pod but leave in the seedy bits. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together. When you're ready, stir a bit of the vanilla dairy into the eggs to temper, then stir the eggs into the pot. Heat, stirring constantly, until thickened slightly. Pour into a bowl (straining if needed), stir in the milk and cream, and let cool in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment. With the food processor, grind the bread into coarse crumbs. Stir the bread crumbs and the brown sugar into the melted butter. Spread the mixture on the baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes until well browned but not burned. Let cool completely. Taste any bits that seem like they might be burnt and discard if they're not delicious.

While the custard and brown bread are cooling, go to a dance class at Hipline (Ziva was good today!). When you're back and done with lunch, stir together the jam and brandy until you have a smooth, pourable, but still very thick syrup. Churn the ice cream for 15 min, add the brown bread, and churn for another 5 minutes. Scoop 1/3 of the ice cream into a container, dollop half the blackberry over the ice cream, add another layer of ice cream, then the rest of the blackberry, then the rest of the ice cream. Stick a spoon through the layers in a few places to marble, then put in the freezer.

Roasted eggplant salad

Start by buying some gorgeous tomatoes at the market, a baguette at La Farine, and some mozzarella at TJs. Make caprese; eat it while you finish prepping dinner.

When you're sated with tomato goodness and are maybe starting to wish you'd picked up more mozzarella, preheat the oven to 400F and start making something along these lines. Specifically, cube a medium eggplant, cut half a head of cauliflower into florets, and drain a can of garbanzos. Toss them all in a big bowl with at least 1/2 c olive oil and some pepper, then spread the mixture on two baking sheets and start roasting. Deputize Lester to start the polenta at this point.

Slice half a bunch of asparagus, toss it with a bit more oil, and spread it on another baking sheet. After the eggplant/cauliflower/beans have been roasting for 10 minutes, stir them to detach and flip the pieces, and stick the asparagus in too. Roast for another 15-20 minutes until everything is tender, stirring another couple times. While Lester finishes seasoning the polenta, dump all the veggies into a big bowl and toss them with salt, pepper, a bit of white wine vinegar, and two sliced scallions. If you have some feta, by all means toss it in, but I didn't.

Serves 4 with a salad.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tapas dinner: gazpacho with sides

Tomatoes have officially taken over the farmers market, Todd's garden had more cucumbers than he could handle, it was actually warm enough today to wear a tanktop, Lester's soccer season has officially started, much of my non-kitchen time today was spent preparing for the classes I'm helping teach fall semester...must be August. The gazpacho was nice and light (add some chili if you want it spicy) and the sausage made the oyster mushrooms really amazing (I'd add more oyster mushrooms next time).

for gazpacho:

6 assorted heirloom tomatoes (just over 1 lb)
1 huge cucumber (just under 1 lb)
1 red pepper
1 large shallot
1 T olive oil
2 T lemon juice
1/2 t salt
a few grinds of pepper
1 avocado, mashed
1 green onion, white and green parts sliced

Put a strainer over a large bowl. Squeeze the tomato seeds into the strainer, letting the juice drip through. Peel the tomatoes, putting the skins in the strainer too. Chop the tomato flesh and put it in the bowl with the tomato juice. Peel the cucumber, scoop the seeds into the strainer, chop the flesh, and put the flesh in the bowl. Press down on the seedy goop in the strainer to get a bit more juice out, then discard. Mince the red pepper and shallot and add to the bowl. Stir in the oil, lemon, salt, and pepper. Process with a blender wand until it's your desired consistency. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for a few hours until dinnertime. To serve, stir some avocado and green onion into each bowl.

for the other dishes:

Brown some duck sausage from the butchers in just a tiny bit of oil. Add some thinly sliced shallots, then some oyster mushrooms, then some chopped kale, cooking for a few minutes between each addition. Deglaze with a splash of sherry. Taste before adding salt, it's probably quite salty enough as it is.

Fry some whole shishito peppers in a little oil over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until wilted and browned. Sprinkle with salt and eat as finger food, discarding the stems.

Blackberry jam

For the berries:

Bike to the Albany bulb on a sunny afternoon in August. Walk out near the end of the peninsula, turn right at the path that aims toward the two red-and-white radio towers, and walk down to the water. You will see bunch of art and a bunch of wild blackberry bushes. Pick about 3 quarts of berries and bike back home.

Rinse the berries thoroughly in a colander, spread them out on baking sheets, and pick out any tiny ants and tiny inchworms that you see crawling around (there will only be a couple of each, not bad at all). Put the sturdiest quart-worth of berries in tupperwares in the freezer; use the squishiest, ugliest 3 cups of berries for jam as described next; and put the rest of the berries in the fridge for tomorrow.

For about 1.5 c jam:

3 c blackberries
1 T lemon juice
1 T minced lemon peel (reserved from limoncello)
1.25 c sugar

Choose your jam jars, and clean and/or sterilize them as you see fit. I simply filled my clean jar with boiling water and let the lid sit in a bowl of boiled water while I cooked the jam.

For a seed-rich jam, put the berries in a large pot and crush them with a potato masher. For a seed-light jam (my preference), put the berries in a colander over a large pot, crush them with a potato masher to get as much juice out as you can, then squish even more juice out by pressing down on the remaining solids with the base of an appropriately-sized bowl. I ended up with about 2 c of juice (plus some seeds that slipped though) in the pot.

Either way, stir the lemon juice and peel and the sugar into the berries. Cook over medium heat, stirring almost continuously, for about 20 minutes or until the temperature reaches 222F; the jam should be obviously starting to jell. Carefully transfer the jam into jars, screw the lids on tight, and let cool on the counter overnight. Eat on biscuits for breakfast and store in the fridge.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Paneer pizza

What to do when you find paneer at Berkeley Bowl but you've already made two curries in the past week? Paneer pizza, apparently, which the internet says is a real thing in India. Some sites suggested letting the paneer and veggies sit in a light, dry yogurt marinade with some spices (not necessarily these) before putting them on the pizza, which makes for tasty toppings that you chop ahead of time and don't have to pre-cook. You could add some thinly sliced tomatoes or a smidge of tomato sauce if you want, but then the crust would take even longer to bake through, and anyway the toppings were moist and zingy enough as they were.

1 medium-large crust's worth of pizza dough
2 T yogurt
1 t cumin
1 t garam masala
1/4 t chili powder
1/2 t salt
juice of 1/2 lemon
7 oz paneer, cubed
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cherry tomatoes, quartered
olive oil
1-2 T grated parmesan
several T cilantro leaves

In the morning, transfer frozen pizza dough to the fridge to defrost, or mix up a new batch of pizza dough and put it in the fridge. Mix the ingredients for the marinade (yogurt through lemon juice) in a large tupperware, then stir in the things to be marinaded (paneer through tomatoes) until everything is lightly coated. Stick the marinade in the fridge too.

In the evening, take the pizza dough out of the fridge and let it warm up on the counter until workable. (Try out a pretty ok bellydance class in the meantime.) Preheat the oven to 450F and line a baking sheet with parchment. Form the pizza dough into a nice thin crust, place it on the baking sheet, and brush it lightly with oil (or ghee if you happen to have some around). Distribute the marinated paneer and veggies over the dough—it all fit on for me, but just barely. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the crust is cooked through and the marinade is sizzling. Sprinkle with parmesan, then with cilantro. Slice and eat.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Limoncello, day III

jar of limoncello from day II that's been sitting in the cupboard for a month and a half
hose for siphoning
big mixing bowl or jar
coffee filters and cone
6 or 7 375ml bottles with resealable tops

So, my bad: apparently powdered sugar contains a large fraction of cornstarch. Who knew? If, like me, you used powdered sugar instead of normal white granulated sugar in your simple syrup, a fluffy-looking layer of white gunk will have settled to the bottom of your limoncello. The bulk of your jar will still be full of a lovely bright yellow viscous liquid that is your limoncello (and if you were smart and used granulated sugar, that should be all you have).

Carefully transfer the jar of limoncello to a high surface, and use the hose to siphon the limoncello into your large vessel, leaving any settled-out particulate matter at the bottom of the jar. Wash out the jar, put a coffee filter in the cone, and set it on top of the jar. Filter the limoncello through the coffee filters, replacing the filter as needed (siphoning worked well here too). Fill the bottles with the limoncello, using the funnel (and again siphoning) to reduce spillage. Six 375ml bottles was perfect for me, but if you throw out less sludge then you may need a 7th bottle.

Seal well and make cute labels with packing tape and a sharpie. Put one bottle in the freezer for immediate drinking, and keep the rest in the cupboard to age. It's pretty strong—about 75-80 proof I think.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Roasted summer veggies

Making good veggies into even better versions of themselves by adding salt, pepper, oil, and heat. Not in any way original, but that doesn't stop it from being delicious! And the shishito peppers (similar to padrons) were seriously good.

olive oil
can of garbanzos, rinsed
cloves of garlic and shallot, crushed
cherry tomatoes, whole
bell peppers, chopped into large pieces
shishito peppers, whole
various small summer squashes, thinly sliced
coarse sea salt
cracked pepper
light carbs of choice, eg pappardelle or baguette

Preheat the oven to 400F. Put the garbanzos, garlic, shallot, and tomatoes in a square baking dish, drizzle on just enough oil, and stir to coat. Line as many baking sheets as you need with foil, drizzle on just enough oil, and spread it around with a brush. Place the rest of the veggies on the baking sheets in a single layer, flip each piece over to get a lightly-oiled side on top, and brush with a little more oil if needed. Sprinkle everything with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes until everything is your desired balance of soft, crisp, and/or charred, stirring the garbanzos occasionally. (My slicing of the squashes wasn't the most even, so some bits were quite brown by the end, but they were still great. Use a mandolin if you want more consistency.) If you're making pasta, time it to be ready at the same time the veggies are. Assemble your own plate and eat while nice and hot, discarding the shishito stems.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Coconut okra curry

The cookbook calls it vendaka masala pachchadi. It's one of the more original curries I've had in a long time—the sweet, hot, rich, and tangy flavors are all very well balanced.

canola oil
big bag of okra, ends trimmed and stems in 1/2" slices
3 T cashews
2/3 c grated raw coconut
~1/2 c water
1/2 t cumin seeds
1 t black mustard seeds
1 onion, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1" piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 red chili pepper, minced
1/2 t tumeric
2 t ground coriander
salt to taste
3 nice tomatoes, diced

Fry the okra in hot oil in a large frying pan for about 6 minutes until lightly browned, drain if needed, and set aside. Grind the cashews and coconut together in a food processor until finely chopped, slowly process in enough water to make a paste, and set aside. Heat some oil over medium heat in another large pan and add the cumin and mustard seeds. When the seeds start sizzling, add the onion and saute until soft. Turn down the heat to medium-low, add the spices (garlic through salt), and cook for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes, then the coconut paste, then the okra, simmering for a few minutes between each addition. Keep over low heat for another 15 minutes until the red rice is ready, then serve to 3 or 4 housemates.

Black-and-white marble cake

My primary souvenir from this trip to NYC was Peyton and Byrne British Baking (plus a Strand tote bag to put it in). There are any number of exciting recipes in there that I look forward to sharing with you, like Sherry Trifle and Chelsea Buns and Victoria Sponge, but the most exciting ones were several levels above my baking capacity when I made it a few days ago. (How does a "non-stop" flight from Newark to SFO mean sitting on a plane for 9.5 hours and getting home at 3am west coast time? Hint: first answer the question "How many Continental airplanes does it take to change a lightbulb in Indianapolis?" Sigh and yawn.)

But a chocolate and vanilla marble cake, that seemed both festive enough for Chris's qual and simple enough for my jetlagged self. It doesn't have much to do with black-and-white cookies besides the vague NYC connection; maybe I should call it black-and-white-and-Brit instead. This is a 1.5x batch to upgrade it from loaf pan to bundt pan, plus some extra white chocolate in the cake, plus two ganaches instead of one frosting, plus some error bars from mass-to-volume conversions.

180 g (1 stick + 6 T) butter, softened
300 g (1.5 c) sugar
4 eggs
1.5 t vanilla
250 g (2 c) flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
250 g (just over 1 c) plain yogurt
100 g white chocolate, chopped
2/3 c cocoa powder
6 T boiling water

Preheat oven to 350F and butter and flour a bundt pan. Cream together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, then beat in the eggs one at a time and the vanilla. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, bakings powder and soda) in a small bowl and add in two or three additions to the batter, alternating with the yogurt.

Dump about 1/3 of the batter into a medium bowl, and stir the white chocolate into the larger fraction. In yet another bowl, stir together the cocoa powder and water until thick and smooth, then stir the chocolate into the smaller fraction of the batter (using the electric mixer if needed to make it smooth).

Drop the batter into the bundt pan, alternating spoonfuls of the black and white batters. I put 5 or so spoonfuls of the white batter evenly spaced around the pan, then added spoonfuls of the black batter in the spaces, then covered the black batter with spoonfuls of the white batter, then put spoonfuls of the black batter over the first round's spoonfuls of the white batter, and then you probably get the point. When all the batter is in the pan, run a spatula or knife once around the pan through the center of the cake to marble it.

Bake for 50 min until a toothpick comes out clean with maybe a couple moist crumbs and the top is brightly golden. Cool in the pan for 15 min before carefully inverting onto a baking rack to cool completely (mine stuck to the bottom a bit). When cool, cover the cake and cooling rack together with plastic wrap and let sit overnight.

7 oz dark chocolate, chopped
3.5 oz white chocolate, chopped
1 c cream

In the morning, make black and white ganaches by putting each chopped chocolate in a bowl, heating the cream just to a boil (3/4 c for dark chocolate, 1/4 c for white), pouring the cream over each chocolate, and stirring each until smooth. Unwrap the plastic wrap from the top of the cake but leave it underneath to catch the ganache drippings. When the dark chocolate has firmed up enough to make a good glaze, pour over the cake, letting it drip down the sides. When the dark chocolate has set a bit and the white chocolate is starting to firm up, drizzle the white chocolate over the cake too.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A few days of food in NYC

  • dinner with nice vegan sauces at V-Note and British banana bread beer at Jones Wood Foundry with Ruchi
  • totally decent bagels at Bagelworks and coffee at Java Girl before starting our >12 miles of walking each day
  • brunch at Tom's Restaurant (corned beef hash with scrambled eggs and grits was unexpectedly delicious, lemon ricotta pancakes were expectedly delicious) before strolling through Prospect Park and Park Slope
  • nothing eaten while wandering from Grand Central Station down Broadway past touristy things, but a British baking book was procured from Strand
  • Fentiman's rose lemonade at Chelsea Market after seeing the Young Dancemakers Company at the High Line park in the rain
  • dinner at Hi Life with Rula and Ruchi
  • iced tea at East Harlem Cafe after walking through Central Park with Rula
  • falafel snack at Mamoun's before walking through the East Village and down the East River
  • quinoa salad (vegetables! finally!) at Berkli Parc, then pistachio gelato at La Cremeria before people-watching through Little Italy, Chinatown, and the South Street Seaport
  • lavender lemonade at Teany to recharge legs and phone after making it all the way down to Battery Park (Gimme doesn't have seating, boo)
  • pesto and wine at Brittain's apartment in Williamsburg, then drinks at Sweet Ups
  • brunch at Sarabeth's with Rula before one last stroll through Central Park
  • bagels for plane food and presents from Ess-a-Bagel

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Blueberry buckwheat bundt cake

This cake seemed perfect for today for all sorts of reasons. It made a (teeny tiny) dent in the 20 pounds of blueberries my family picked this morning from the farm down the hill; buckwheat is something I associate with my dad's and brother's baking and I'm at Dad's house now; I want a vehicle for bringing blueberries on the train down to NYC and to our lovely hosts there; today is the first day it's been cool enough to even think of turning on the oven in the middle of the afternoon. Oh, and the alliteration of course. The recipe calls for yet another "b"—buttermilk—but using half milk and half plain yogurt seems to work just fine in every recipe I've ever tried.

The buckwheat makes it slightly grainy, both in terms of texture and as in "tastes like grains." Along with the juicy berries and the not-too-sweetness, it's a great breakfast cake.

1 c buckwheat flour
1 c white flour
1 c brown sugar
4 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t cardamom
6 T butter
2 eggs
1 c plain yogurt (stepmom's homemade, thick but runny)
1 c milk
2 t amaretto
1 c blueberries

Preheat the oven to 375F, and butter and flour a bundt pan. Melt the butter in a medium bowl and let cool. Whisk together the dry ingredients (flours through cardamom) in a large bowl. When the butter is lukewarm, whisk the wet ingredients (eggs through amaretto) into the butter. Gently but thoroughly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Layer the batter and blueberries alternately into the pan: cake, berries, cake, berries, cake. Bake for 35 minutes until a tester comes out clean and the top is lightly golden and lightly domed. Cool for a few minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Wrap wedges in plastic wrap to give to family and friends.

ps happy (slightly belated) birthday to the blog!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Molasses spice ice cream

It's ice cream, it's soft and creamy and spicy and smooth, you know this already. The weird part with this one was the texture before it became ice cream, when it was still a young little custard yearning for greatness on the stovetop. This time the custard thickening was accompanied by a change toward an inhomogenously goopier, more cooked texture, which has only happened for me when I've left the egg whites in. Maybe that's part of why almost every recipe calls for only the yolks. And the molasses may have been doing weird curdle-y things to the milk even before the eggs were involved? All sorts of odd things going on.

Which makes me start to think that ice cream is like bread—no matter how it misbehaves during the process, don't give up, it will probably still turn into ice cream. Based (at least the whole eggs with cornstarch part) on Weinstein's ginger ice cream recipe; makes more than 6 cups.

2/3 c half-and-half
1/3 c evaporated milk
1/2 c 1% milk
1/2 c molasses
1/4 c turbinado sugar
1/4 c crystallized ginger
about a dozen each of whole cloves and whole allspice
3 whole eggs
2 t cornstarch
2 c cream

Combine the half-and-half, milk products, molasses, sugar, and spices in a saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until as aromatic as you desire, at least 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, beat the eggs with the cornstarch. Strain the milk into a bowl, discarding the cloves and allspice but saving the ginger. Pour a bit of the hot spiced milk into the eggs, stir to temper, then add the egg and milk mixtures back to the saucepan. Heat over low heat for a few minutes until thickened or whatever, stirring frequently. Strain into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, stir the cream into the molasses custard, then churn in the ice cream maker. Mince the crystallized ginger while you watch the ice cream get puffier and puffier until it's starting to overflow the ice cream maker and there definitely doesn't seem like there's room for any add-ins like crystallized ginger, even if there's only a little bit of it. So scoop half the ice cream into one tupperware, let the machine stir the ginger into the other half, then scoop that ice cream into a second tupperware.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Whatcha makin'? Ginger cake

You can blame the title of this post on Lester, King of the Puns. I was trying to make Jamaican ginger cake, a British (or maybe Jamaican, at least British-associated) gingerbread/spice cake that's as dark, dense, and sticky as a spice cake could possibly be. This recipe is delicious, rich, and moist, but it's not quite up to Jamaican standards. I think subbing oil for the butter and upping the molasses (while keeping the evaporated milk and large quantities of grated ginger) would make it just about perfect. I'm still happy to have made it, partly because the blog it's from is pretty adorable. (Seriously, Jill and Toni, you need to click through those links. Girl makes some tall Brit cakes and reads some funny old-school cookbooks.)

2 sticks butter, softened
1 3/4 c flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t allspice
1 t ground ginger
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 c brown sugar
~2 T grated ginger (from a couple inches of ginger root)
1/2 c molasses
1/2 c evaporated milk (I went with fat-free, did you see those two sticks of butter?)
2 eggs

Butter and flour a loaf pan, and preheat the oven to 350F. Cream the butter in a large mixing bowl. You think you're going to add the sugar and eggs next, but you're wrong—this recipe says to add the dry ingredients (flour through nutmeg), so that's what I did. I mixed them in a little bowl first then beat them into the butter in two batches, making something that looks like streusel topping. Then beat in the sugar and grated ginger, making something that's starting to look like cookie dough. Heat the molasses and evaporated milk together in a little saucepan until warm and well mixed, then beat that into the batter. Finally, last but not least, beat in the eggs. The batter looks the same as if you did things in the normal order, but who knows? Maybe this crazy order made a difference. (If you're trying the oil-for-butter substitution, forget all that and just do the typical "mix all the wet ingredients in one bowl, mix all the dry ingredients in another bowl, mix one into the other" schtick.)

Pour the batter into the loaf pan (mine was about 3/4 full). Bake for 55 min: 45-50 min until a toothpick comes out clean, then another 5-10 min until it looks like it won't collapse too badly. Cool in the pan overnight, try a slice for breakfast while waiting for my REI goodies, then bring the rest into the office for Chris's practice qual in the afternoon.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bay simple syrup

Not sure what to put it in yet. I made one of these (pictured here) with Genevieve gin and Meyer lemon juice, and the egg white just dumbed down all the other nice things that should have been going on. Your turn!

6 fresh bay leaves
1 c white sugar
1 c boiling water

Put the bay leaves and the sugar in a small saucepan. Pour the hot water into the pot, and simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Final volume 1 1/3 c.

Bay leaf ice cream

Yesterday was a rare dinner fail—the falafel wouldn't fry and the pitas wouldn't puff. Turns out you can still make a little salad (with shredded cabbage, julienned green beans, cucumber half-moons, quartered cherry tomatoes, minced garlic, and lemon juice), jab it into a mound of warm bready something that was supposed to be a pita, and shove in some feta and yogurt (mixed with a bit more lemon juice and some dried oregano and fennel seeds). If you eat that at 10:30pm it will at least ease your low-blood-sugar-aggravated annoyance that the rest of dinner didn't work. It even tastes pretty good if you weren't expecting something else.

But I digress. The bay leaf ice cream, which I started earlier in the evening when food still worked, turned out just how it was supposed to: very herbal and very rich. Rich enough that you only want a couple spoonfuls, and herbal enough that each of those bites is a lingering, thoroughly satisfying experience. Bonus points for looking nice in tiny glassware.

2 c cream
1/2 c 1% milk
6 fresh bay leaves
generous drizzle honey
pinch salt
1/2 c sugar
3 egg yolks (reserve the whites for cocktails)

Heat the cream, milk, bay leaves, honey, and salt in a saucepan over very low heat for about an hour. Meanwhile, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks. Discard the bay leaves. Whisk part of the cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture to temper, then mix the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan. Heat over medium-low until thickened, stirring constantly. Strain into a bowl and put in the fridge for a few hours. Churn in the ice cream maker for about 25 minutes. (I'm not sure why this took longer than usual, maybe because it was a small quantity so it took longer for the paddle to do its thing?)

ps that's bay simple syrup in the background and in the cocktails

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Vegan chilaquiles

No picture, sorry, it was late and we were hungry and we just ate it as soon as Lester got back from soccer. My impression is that chilaquiles usually have egg and cheese and maybe even sour cream, but after a weekend of eating a lot of cheese-related items at picnics I wasn't really in the mood (gotta save that dairy-fat quota for ice cream!). Somehow these picnics also resulted in me taking home an excess of tortilla chips and I didn't have any loftier goals for this meal than to use some of them up. But I was very pleased with how fresh-tasting and flavorful this turned out--the coriander seed is key I think, especially if you don't have fresh cilantro around or really much in the way of fresh veggies at all.

canola oil
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
~1/2 t each cumin, coriander seeds, red pepper flakes, and paprika (I just dumped some in so these could be way off)
1 portabella mushroom, coarsely chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can tomatoes
1/2 tomato can of water
2 t tomato paste
large handful green beans, ends trimmed and beans cut into black-bean-sized pieces
several handfuls of tortilla chips

Heat the oil over medium, and saute the onion, garlic, and spices for a few minutes. Add the mushroom and cook for another few minutes until the mushroom is mostly cooked. Add the black beans, tomatoes, water, and tomato paste, and simmer until thickened to your liking. Add the green beans and then tortilla chips, breaking up the chips a bit as you drop them in. Stir until the chips are coated in sauce and softened, and the green beans are kind of cooked but still crunchy. Eat.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Raspberry ricotta mini cupcakes

For our 4th of July croquet&fireworks picnic, it's red and white desserts--how patriotic or something. At least they're bite-size instead of americanly huge. Based on this, makes 4 dozen.

1 stick salted butter, melted in a small bowl
3/4 c ricotta
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
2/3 c sugar
1 T minced lemon peel leftover from limoncello (or lemon zest)
2 c flour
2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1 t cardamom
48 unsweetened frozen raspberries

Preheat the oven to 400F and butter the mini cupcake pan. In the bowl in which you melted the butter, stir in the ricotta until smooth, then stir in the eggs and vanilla until smooth. In a larger bowl, toss the sugar and lemon peel together. Whisk the dry ingredients (flour through cardamom) into the sugar. Plop in the ricotta mixture and stir with a spatula until combined; this will be much thicker than a batter, almost rubbery, but it baked up just fine so don't worry. Drop a soup-spoon-ful of batter into each mini cupcake mold. Push a frozen raspberry into the top of each cupcake, pointy end up and hollow end down (which is much easier with firm frozen raspberries than with soft fresh ones). Bake for 12 minutes until lightly golden on top and dark golden on the bottom, and transfer to a cooling rack to cool.