Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hot cross buns

1/2 c milk
1 c water
2 T margarine
4 oz wholemeal flour
12 oz or more white bread flour
1 T yeast
1 t mixed baking spice
1 c or more currants and chopped mixed dried fruit
few T sugar (I added just a bit more than what would be perfect, err on the side of too little especially if your fruit is sweetened)
half a beaten egg

3 T flour
3 T powdered sugar
3 T margarine
1/2 t (tiny splash) milk

other half of a beaten egg
2 t (slightly larger splash) milk

Heat together the first three ingredients and let cool to lukewarm. Stir together the warm liquids with everything up to and including the first half of the egg, adding the flour slowly until it becomes a soft but kneadable dough. Nice soft buns start with a nice soft dough, so don't worry about getting it past the sticking-to-everything point. Knead for a few minutes in the bowl, then put in a covered greased bowl to rise. Playing cricket and having a sandwich stolen by a dog are good ways to pass the time while the dough rises.

When doubled, punch down and turn out onto a lightly floured board. Divide into 16 pieces, form each into a ball, and place (well separated) on greased baking sheets. Cut a cross into the top of each bun with a sharp knife, cover with greased plastic, and let rise.

While the buns are rising, make the topping by mixing together the flour, sugar, margarine, and milk to make a paste that's somewhere in between frosting and sugar cookie dough. Using a little plastic bag with a corner snipped off, pipe lines of topping into the cut crosses on the now-almost-risen buns.

Sometime around now, preheat the oven to 425F (gas mark 4). Beat a little milk into the other half of the egg and use this to glaze the buns. When the buns are well risen and the oven is hot, bake for 12-16 minutes until golden on all sides and soft but cooked through. Serve split, toasted, and buttered in Lester's mom's kitchen.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A few days of food in London

  • several delightful coffees at Federation
  • hot cross buns at Danny's flat
  • beer, Jamaican food, and the ManU/Chelsea match at The Effra
  • cheap delicious sandwiches at Cafe Soho, a member of the British Sandwich Association
  • candle-light dinner at Le Mercury on Lauren's recommendation
  • Clif Bar in Trafalgar Square while wandering from Lester's visa appointment to the British Museum
  • takeaway quiche and veggie&grain salads from The Natural Kitchen
  • Achewood's Flavor Burgers at the Addingtons' flat

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Asparagus pasta salad

1/2 pound fusilli
olive oil
1 leek, sliced
small bunch asparagus, trimmed and sliced on the bias
1/4 c pine nuts (or a little more)
half a bunch of fava leaves, stems removed and leaves minced/chiffonaded
4 oz crumbled feta
zest of 1 meyer lemon

Cook the pasta to al dente in salted water. Meanwhile, saute the leek in oil over medium-low until starting to brown. Add the asparagus and pine nuts, and a bit more oil, and cook for a few minutes until the asparagus is done but retains a bit of crunch. Transfer to a mixing bowl and immediately add the fava leaves and feta; the heat of the asparagus will cook the fava leaves as much as needed. Add the lemon zest and pepper to taste. When the pasta is ready, add it too, stirring to coat (and adding more oil if the pasta still seems dry or sticky).

This made as much as my tupperware could hold for bringing it to Pat's birthday bbq, but if you have no such size restrictions then doubling these amounts would be the right choice--it's even tastier than I expected! The lemon zest and fava leaves work really well with each other and with everything else.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Spring barbecue pizza

1 recipe pizza dough

oyster mushrooms, torn and sauteed in butter
fingerling potato, thinly sliced and pan toasted
shaved asparagus tossed with olive oil
leek, sliced and sauteed
fava leaves, washed and unchopped
artichoke hearts from a TJs can, quartered
cheddar+gruyere melange, grated
fresh mozzarella
crumbled feta

not pictured:
cherry tomatoes, halved
grilled veggie sausage
salt and pepper
olive oil

Make the dough no later than the morning of, and preferably a day or two beforehand. Divide into 6 pieces, place each in a separate spray-greased tupperware, cover each with a spray-greased lid, and stick in the fridge until two hours before bbqtime. At that point, transfer each piece of dough to a well-floured surface, pat into a small round, dust with flour, spray with spray grease, cover with a clean cloth, and let sit to rise.

Meanwhile, prepare all the toppings and get the coals ready in the bbq. Brush the grill with olive oil, pull a ball of dough into a crust-sized round, place on a heavily semolina'd flat thing (eg back of a cookie sheet) and slide on the grill for a few minutes. When it's firm enough to handle, flip it, cover with toppings in whatever combinations you desire, and cook on the other side until the crust is done and the cheese is melty. My grill doesn't have a cover, which helps with cooking the toppings before the crust burns, so none of the pizzas turned out that well. The ingredients were all quite nice though!