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.

Ponzu salad

For Yael's going-away picnic, several of the things she likes: sweet, sour, salty, and sesame seeds. Also nutritious and cold, all good things for a picnic on a quite hot day. The carrots were a bit flopsy but that actually was a good thing because it brought their flexibility closer to that of the cabbage and tofu.

handful buckwheat soba noodles, broken in half and cooked
1/4 head green cabbage, thinly sliced
4 small carrots, peeled and cut into strips/matchsticks
1 block braised tofu, cut into strips/matchsticks
several chives, snipped
1 T black sesame seeds
4 T ponzu sauce
1 T canola oil (I would have used sesame oil if we had some)
1 T lime juice from half a lime
soy sauce to taste (I used ~1/2 T)

Start cooking the soba according to the package. Meanwhile, slice the veggies and tofu, and toss them with the sesame seeds in a large bowl. Drain the soba, rinse thoroughly with cold water, and add to the bowl. Mix together everything else to make the dressing, drizzle it over the salad, and toss to combine. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for an hour before heading out to the picnic.