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.