Monday, December 23, 2013


Happy holidays! We're in Minneapolis for Christmas, where Norwegians eat creamy potatoes three meals a day and freeze their bums off and everyone has a lovely time. Today's installment of creamy potatoes is lefse, a crepe-like pancake that's rolled out with a special textured rolling pin. The recipe is Grandma's, and, as befits a Grandma recipe, is more specific about the texture than about the amounts of each ingredient. You'll figure it out :)

3-4 lb floury potatoes (eg russet)
1 t salt
~1/2 c cream
~3/4 stick butter
~2 3/4 c flour

Peel, boil, and mash the potatoes. Beat in the salt, cream, and butter until it's smooth, thick, and malleable, like good frosting (adding cream and butter as needed). Let cool for a couple hours on a 0F Minnesota porch. Measure how much mashed potatoes you have (we had 5 1/2 cups), and stir in half that volume of flour until it's mostly incorporated. Let it sit for a few minutes to finish hydrating, and knead gently to form a smooth workable ball that's neither dry nor sticky. Divide into 2" balls (we got 23 balls).

Preheat a large dry griddle to 450F and prepare a work surface (preferably a pastry cloth) with plenty of flour. Roll each ball into a 9-10" circle with a floured lefse rolling pin. Carefully slide the wooden lefse turner under the center axis of the lefse, lift it up, and transfer it to the griddle (pictured above). Cook on each side until freckled with light brown spots (pictured below), smacking it with the lefse turner if it bubbles up (that part is just for fun, just ask Lester).

Store cooked lefse between sheets of wax paper between towels. To eat, spread with butter, sprinkle with sugar, squeeze on a little lemon if you're feeling adventurous, roll it up, and enjoy.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Mushroom etoufee

Happy Thanksgiving, happy Hanukkah, happy anything else you're happy about! Cajun/creole food is something I'm happy about right now—I'm totally going to take a post-graduation vacation to New Orleans!—so instead of mushroom gravy I decided to make a mushroom etoufee for Thanksgiving this year. The internet doesn't seem to have much consensus on what makes an etoufee an etoufee, so I went with a variation on this recipe. It turned out amazingly: savory and rich, with a good balance of creaminess, zing, and kick. You're supposed to have it with rice but I think it will be splendid with stuffing.

2 T butter
2 small onions, minced
4 stalks celery, minced
1 green pepper, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
20 oz criminis, coarsely chopped
1 oz dried fancy mushrooms, rehydrated and minced
1/4 t cayenne
1/4 t paprika
2 t cornstarch
1 stock cube
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 c cream
1/2 c 1% milk
5 oz spinach, chopped
4 sprigs parsley, minced

Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a large pot. Sweat the onions until translucent, then add the celery, green pepper, garlic, and bay leaves, and cook until soft. Add the mushrooms, cayenne, and paprika, and cook until the mushrooms are done. Add the cornstarch and stock cube and stir until dissolved, then add the tomatoes and dairy. Slowly bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, turn the heat down a bit, and simmer for at least 15 minutes. Add the greenery and keep simmering for at least half an hour. Adjust the seasonings and liquid, and serve over a mushy absorbent starch.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Brownie bites

Just doing what Deb tells me to, procrastinating from finishing my thesis by making easy delicious easily-transportable brownies. Procrastination or not, the thesis and therefore my graduate career will be wrapping up extremely soon, and I'm looking forward to a higher frequency of food creation extravaganzas—expect more posts soon!

3 oz unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 stick butter
1 1/3 c sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1/4 t salt
2/3 c flour

Preheat oven to 350F and spray-grease a mini cupcake pan. In a medium bowl, melt the chocolate and butter together in a double-boiler or in a couple 30-sec spurts in the microwave. Whisk in the sugar, then eggs and vanilla, then salt and flour. Fill the mini cupcake tins almost full; there will probably be a little bit extra batter after filling 24 mini cupcake wells, which can go in a second pan if you have one, or 2 wells of a regular cupcake pan, or whatever. Bake the mini brownies for 15-17 min, larger brownies for longer, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 min in the pan, then transfer the brownies to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Persimmon pancakes

It's persimmon time again! I made a double batch of persimmon bread last week and that recipe is still amazing. This morning I tried this pancake recipe, which is tasty but not as thick and fluffy as I prefer. Next time I might try this one.

3 T melted butter
pulp from 1 Hachiya persimmon
1/4 c yogurt
1 c milk
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1/2 c oat bran (or oats ground in the food processor)
1/2 c cornmeal
1/2 c flour
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
2 t brown sugar
1/4 t salt

Separately whisk together wet ingredients (butter through vanilla) and dry ingredients (oats through salt) then whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Let sit for a few minutes while the pan heats up and the batter thickens (it will still be runny). Cook pancakes with 1/4 c worth of batter each.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Tomato jam

Welcome back from England, me! My usual travel post will be up soon, but there were more urgent garden matters that demanded my attention first. Just look at all those tomatoes I picked! (And that's only about half of the cherry tomatoes.)

Six pounds of ripe garden tomatoes in the cupboard, with more on the way, and with Lester stuck in England and unable to enjoy the fruits of his labor... It's preserving time. At first taste, this jam is a bit too sweet, but the aftertaste is balanced and nicely spicy. I'd add a bit less sugar next time.

1.5 lb cherry tomatoes, halved
1 lb regular tomatoes, diced
1 1/4 c sugar
juice + zest of 2 Meyer lemons
1 T red wine vinegar
1 shallot, finely minced
1 pasilla pepper, finely minced
1" ginger chunk, grated
1/2 t salt

Put everything in a pot and simmer uncovered for a bit more than an hour, stirring occasionally and squishing up any intact tomato bits, until the water has cooked off and the mixture is thick and spreadable (it won't set up much more in the jars). Transfer to 3 cups worth of sterilized jars.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Blackberry almond muffins

It's blackberry season again, and I still have frozen blackberries from last summer! Gotta step up my game. I haven't really been slacking though—in the last few weeks I've been busy making other summery things (like okra+shishitos and shakshuka), and other sweet things (like chocolate chip cookies), and other awesome things (like apps and more apps). And tomorrow, Lester and I are heading to England for a couple weeks, so you can look forward to some good British travel posts in the near future.

But this morning: just some quick and easy muffins. Tau approves.

1.5 c frozen blackberries
1/2 stick butter
1/3 c sugar
1 egg
3/4 c milk
juice of 1 large Meyer lemon
1.5 c flour
1/2 c oats
1/2 c slivered almonds
1/2 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 350F and put the berries in a colander to defrost and drain a bit. Melt the butter in a 2-c pyrex, then stir in the rest of the wet ingredients (sugar through lemon). Combine the dry ingredients (flour through salt) in a medium bowl, then stir in the wet ingredients and berries until just combined. Scoop into 12 greased muffin-tin cups and sprinkle a healthy pinch of turbinado on each one. Bake for 25 min until a toothpick comes out clean and the tops are starting to brown. (If your berries aren't frozen, the baking time will be up to 10 min shorter.) Transfer to a cooling rack, let cool until the berries won't burn your mouth, and enjoy.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Yarn side project: hippos!

Happy welcome-to-life, David and Cat's baby, and happy moving-on-with-life, Aaron! Somehow I decided that these very different celebrations should each be commemorated with a little squishable crocheted hippo.

For both hippos, I exactly followed this pattern using this yarn. The only difference was the crochet hook: the bigger yellow one was on a H hook (recommended for the yarn), and the smaller red one was on a F hook (tighter stitches -> hopefully more babyproof).

Friday, July 5, 2013

Rhubarb-blackberry coffee cake

Happy 4th of July, all! I don't know how to modify this blogger site in protest, so I made something tasty instead. This is half rhubarb from Lester's garden (the first two ripe stalks!), half foraged blackberries that we froze since last summer, and just a few cape gooseberries from the garden for good measure. It's vaguely red-white-and-blue, but it more reminds me of Alan and Lester talking about British summertime baking—my kind of celebration. And the crumble top is friggin amazing.

1/2 lb tart fruit (eg rhubarb, blackberries, cape gooseberries)
1/3 c sugar
2 t cornstarch
1/2 t ginger

Prepare the fruit (chop the rhubarb, defrost the blackberries, etc). Toss everything together and set aside.

1 stick salted butter, melted
1/3 c turbinado sugar
1/3 c sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger
1 3/4 c flour

Stir the sugars and spices into the melted butter until the white sugar is dissolved, then stir in the flour until it's firm and crumbly but thoroughly moistened. Set aside.

1 c flour
1/2 c sugar
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
3/4 stick softened butter, cut into pieces
1/3 c yogurt
1 egg
2 t vanilla extract

Stir together the dry ingredients (flour through baking powder) in a medium bowl. Stir in the butter, kind of like biscuit dough. Mix the wet ingredients (yogurt through vanilla) in a small bowl then stir into the dry ingredients in two batches.

Preheat the oven to 325F and butter a 8" square pan. Spread the batter evenly in the bottom of the pan and top with the fruit. (Smitten Kitchen said to leave a bit of batter aside and dollop it on top of the fruit, which I did, but I don't think it makes much of a difference.) Sprinkle the crumble over the fruit, breaking up large chunks and squishing together sandy bits to make roughly 1/2" crumble bits. Bake for 50 min until a toothpick comes out clean.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cinnamon-crusted banana bread

You may have noticed that I really like quick breads. But the closest thing I've posted to a banana bread, a classic of the genre, is something that's trying pretty hard to be a danish instead. This isn't because I don't like banana bread, because I do—it's because I can't stand the smell of overripe bananas, and smelling that smell is hard to avoid while making banana bread.

But once in a while I suck it up and make banana bread anyway. (Today's excuse was a bunch of bruised bananas left over from camping this weekend.) Orangette had a surprisingly large number of recipes to choose from, and I went with this breakfast-ready option: not too rich, no fancy add-ins (besides chocolate of course), and with a nice crackly spicy crust on top. If you know that it doesn't have any added fat, you can tell that it's ever so slightly gummy, but you probably wouldn't notice the texture if you weren't looking for it. Since all the structure is from sugar and eggs, though, you can't cut back on either of them, so choose a different recipe if you're tempted to reduce the sugar.

3 ripe bananas
2 eggs
1 c sugar
1 t vanilla
1.5 c flour
1 t baking soda
2 t cinnamon
1 c chocolate chips (3/4 c + 1/4 c)
2 T cinnamon sugar (almost 2 T sugar + 1/2 t cinnamon)

Preheat oven to 375F and butter a 8" square pan. Mash the bananas in a large bowl with the potato masher, then stir in the eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, cinnamon) in a small bowl, then stir into the wet ingredients until just combined. Stir in 3/4 c chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and top with the cinnamon sugar and the remaining 1/4 c chocolate chips. Bake for 35-40 min until a tester comes out clean.

Monday, April 15, 2013

S'mores-able vegetarian marshmallows

You heard me right—these are marshmallows with no gelatin that vegetarians can take camping. At least, I'm pretty sure they'll work based on preliminary toaster-oven-based investigations, which yielded toasty-on-the-outside, gooey-on-the-inside balls of sugary goodness. Looking forward to trying them for real next weekend!

I spent a very long time choosing a recipe for this project. Not because there aren't a lot of vegetarian marshmallow recipes on the internet, but because most of them say they're not s'mores-friendly. Which is the only point of making marshmallows, right? I ended up going with this one partly because it seemed prudent to choose one with egg whites (no need to be vegan today) and partly because I found xanthan gum in cheap little packets at the end of the health supplement aisle at Berkeley Bowl. Plus, it's a nice easy recipe, especially if you're familiar with meringue buttercream frostings (although it's more like the Italian variety, which I haven't made, than the Swiss kind, which I have).

I followed the recipe at this blog. That, in turn, follows this cool collection of guidelines and recipes for many intriguing (and many more just plain odd) molecular gastronomy gelled edibles: dondurma! Iberian ham cream! whiskey gel! restructured onions! Definitely worth a look.

This makes 25 jumbo-sized (~1.5"x1.5"x1") marshmallows, big enough that you only need 1 per s'more. I used cornstarch for all the dusting, which gave the marshmallows a bit of a cornstarchy taste. I suspect that powdered sugar would work just as well and taste much better, so I'd advise trying that instead, but I can't totally vouch for it. Also, even with all that cornstarch, the marshmallows are sticking to each other a bit after one night in the fridge; I plan to re-dust them right before heading out for camping.

1 t xanthan gum
1 T + 1.25 c sugar (250 g)
4/5 c corn syrup (250 g)
1/4 c water (60 mL = 60 g)
1 t vanilla
3 egg whites
lots of cornstarch (or wherever I say cornstarch, sub powdered sugar)

Butter the bottom and sides of a 8x8" square pan and dust thoroughly with cornstarch. Grind the xanthan gum with 1 T sugar and set aside (since the xanthan gum is already a powder, I can only assume that the point of this step is to make the sugar finer). Weigh out the remaining sugar and the corn syrup in a 2-quart saucepan, then add the water and vanilla.

Heat the contents of the saucepan to 240-250F (firm ball), stirring at least after it foams up (220F). Meanwhile, or immediately before or after, whip the egg whites in a stand mixer until soft. Turn the mixer down to low and slowly drizzle in the hot syrup and sprinkle on the xanthan sugar. Turn it up to medium-high and whip for a couple minutes until it's fluffy and pulls away from the sides in strings or ribbons (a bit like well-beaten ciabatta dough). Scoop the fluff into the prepared pan and attempt to spread into an evenly flat layer about an inch high. Dust the top with cornstarch, cover with plastic wrap, and put in the fridge to set.

After a few hours, prepare a tupperware by lining it with wax paper and dusting that with cornstarch. Put more cornstarch on a bowl or plate, and dredge a metal spatula and a pizza cutter in it. Use the pizza cutter to cut the marshmallows into 25 squares, then use the spatula to reinforce the cuts and lift the marshmallows out of the pan. Dredge the marshmallows in cornstarch and transfer them to the tupperware. Add more wax paper between the layers, and re-starch everything as necessary when things start sticking to other things.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Chocolate orange pie

Laura has a delicious recipe for a vegan chocolate mousse pie (where "mousse" means silken tofu). This is not it. Instead, this is my second non-vegan variation on that theme. This time, the filling is just as vegan as hers, but with some orange zest to liven up the rich chocolate.

The crust, on the other hand, is not vegan in the least—it's the pate sucree from Flour. It bakes up a bit like a crunchy shortbread or a HobNob, which I think complements the creamy filling much better than like a flaky pie crust and at least as well as a cookie crumb crust. And if you're already going non-vegan, definitely top with some whipped cream!

1 stick butter, softened
1/4 c sugar
1/2 t salt
1 c flour
1 egg yolk

Cream together the butter and sugar until light. Beat in the salt and flour until it's grainy, like wet sand. Add the egg yolk and mix just until the dough comes together (more or less). Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Roll the dough out into a 10-11" circle on a floured surface and transfer into a 9" pie pan. (I couldn't do this without tearing the dough, but pressing the tears back together worked just fine.) Make it nice and even around the edge, then bake for 30-35 min until golden brown. Cool completely before adding the filling.

1 block silken tofu
1 pack chocolate chips, melted
zest of 1 orange
1 t vanilla

Blend everything together in the food processor until smooth. Pour into the baked, cooled crust, and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving (ideally with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream).

Crumpet pancakes

Crumpet pancakes sound even more decadent than regular pancakes, right? Who would have thought that I came up with this recipe as a healthier, no-yolk adaptation of another pancake recipe. (Although the real motivation was to use up some egg whites left over from making mocha chip ice cream for Pat's birthday ice cream cake.) But these little guys really do have a tender, creamy texture that is very much like fresh crumpets, and they go so well with jam. Lester approves.

This makes 8 smallish pancakes, enough for 2-3 people. Since there's so little fat in the batter, I needed more butter in the pan than usual.

1 c white flour
1 T whole wheat flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/3 c yogurt
~2/3 c milk
2 egg whites
1 T sugar
butter for the pan

Stir together the dry ingredients (flour through salt) in a medium bowl. Combine the yogurt and milk in a 1-c pyrex and stir until smooth. Gently stir the dairy into the dry ingredients until almost smooth, adding another splash of milk if the batter is too thick. In another bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peaks, then whip in the sugar until dry. Fold the egg whites into the batter. Cook the pancakes in a generously buttered pan, using about 1/4 c batter per 4" pancake. Eat with blackberry jam.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Roasted cauliflower, tempeh, and lemon salad

I finally checked out Beauty's Bagels today. Verdict: they have very nice bagels, and very nice-sounding brunch options. The salad special today was arugula with roasted cauliflower, fried capers, radish, and Meyer lemon vinaigrette, which sounded far too good not to try making for myself. It tastes just how you'd think it would—mildly peppery from the radish and arugula, mildly tangy from the lemon and capers, mildly sweet from the caramelized cauliflower and fennel, balanced and filling with the addition of tempeh. This is a keeper overall, and the combo of roasted cauliflower+tempeh+lemon zest is a keeper in particular.

1 pack tempeh, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 head cauliflower, cut/torn into bite-sized pieces
zest + juice of 1 large Meyer lemon (2 T juice)
2 T capers
1 t fennel seeds
1/3 c olive oil, plus more as needed
2-3 handfuls baby spinach and arugula
1/2 large watermelon radish, peeled, very thinly sliced
1 purple-bulbed spring onion, very thinly sliced
salt, pepper, lemon juice to taste

Preheat the oven to 400F and simmer the tempeh in a small pot of water for about 10 min. Toss the tempeh in a 9x13 pan with the rest of the things to be roasted (cauliflower through oil). Roast until the cauliflower is tender and everything is browned, about 45 min, stirring every 5-10 min and adding more oil if needed. Let cool to warm or room temp. Toss the roasted things with everything else in a large bowl, and adjust the seasonings. Serve with a toasted Beauty's everything bagel (which also has fennel seeds!).

Monday, February 18, 2013

Tempeh hash

Here's a continuation this week's theme of brunch for dinner, and of this year's theme of getting better at tempeh. (Actually, I don't appear to have posted any of the recent tempeh experiments, my bad. The main trick is to simmer it for at least 10 minutes in water or in a marinade, then to fry it up nice and brown.) We ate it with a bit of creme fraiche, but it would be good with sour cream, cheddar, or other texmex-style toppings too, or with a poached egg for extra brunchy action.

1 small red onion, diced (divided)
1 hot dried chili pepper
juice of 1 lime (2 T)
scant T honey
1/4 c water
1 pack tempeh, chopped in large bite-size pieces
5 red potatoes, chopped in large bite-size pieces
oil for frying
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 pasilla pepper (fresh not dried), diced
salt to taste

Make a sauce for the tempeh by grinding 1/4 of the red onion and the chili pepper to a paste, then mixing in the lime, honey, and water. Combine the tempeh and sauce in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer, cover loosely, and simmer over low until the liquid is mostly cooked off. Meanwhile, parboil the potatoes until just barely piercable with a knife.

Heat some oil over medium-high in two large frying pans (or one, but two is better for optimal browning). Put the potatoes in one and the tempeh with its remaining sauce in the other, and fry both until browning on at least a couple sides, flipping occasionally. Toss the remaining onion in with the tempeh and the peppers in with the potatoes, and fry until the veggies are softened and the tempeh and potatoes are well browned. Toss the tempeh and onions in with the rest and flip to combine, and add some salt if you haven't already.

Shaker lemon pie

I've had my eye on this pie ever since Alan made one around Thanksgiving time. I like the filling much more than typical lemon curd or custard fillings: it has a great marmalade-like texture, it's not too sweet and not too sour or bitter (at least with my Meyer lemons), and it's easier because it doesn't need a stove-top thickening step.

Since the resident pie crust expert Laura is off cavorting in South America, I got to try my hand at her dough recipe unsupervised—with surprisingly excellent results, if I do say so myself. She's been planning to do a guest post with a step-by-step tutorial on her favorite all-shortening pie crust, so I think I'll keep you in suspense about the crust until she does. In the meantime, don't hesitate to try out an all-butter crust like this one (which I haven't tried but I think is similar to the one Alan used).

3 medium Meyer lemons
2 c sugar
1/4 t salt
4 eggs (3 whole + 1 separated)
1/2 stick butter, melted
3 T flour
turbinado sugar

pie crust for a 8-9" double-crust pie

Slice the lemons very thinly with the mandolin and remove the seeds. Toss the lemon slices, sugar, and salt in a plastic bowl and let macerate on the counter for at least 2 hours; the lemon juice should seep out and dissolve the sugar into a thick goopy delicious soup. (Meanwhile, mix up and roll out the crust.) Preheat the oven to 425F. Whisk 3 eggs + 1 egg yolk, plus the butter and flour, into the lemons, and pour the filling into the unbaked lower pie crust. Top with the upper pie crust and crimp the edges together. Lightly beat the remaining egg white with a fork then brush it on the top of the pie. Sprinkle turbinado generously over the whole top crust, and cut air slits into the crust. Bake at 425F for 20-25 min, lower the temperature to 350F (and cover the rim of the crust with foil if needed), and bake for another 20-25 min. Cool completely and serve at room temperature, with or without a dollop of creme fraiche.

Wild mushroom crepes

Last weekend Lester and I went up to the Point Arena/Sea Ranch/Salt Point stretch of coast. Not only does this area have miles of thoroughly gorgeous beaches and bluffs, and vastly nicer weather than you would expect—it also happens to be great for mushroom collecting!

This little amusing and informative book led us to identify a swath of mushrooms growing in our cabin's backyard as the purportedly delicious Craterellus cornucopioides or horn of plenty:

My experienced mushroom-hunter friend Trevor concurred, and helped us identify another clump as Gomphus clavatus or pig's ear, another good edible:

Then we felt confident enough to cook them up.

To celebrate the great Brit tradition of Pancake Day, we used the mushrooms as a savory pancake topping (which works because English pancakes are more like crepes). Lester followed this recipe for the pancakes and, celebrating another Brit tradition of self-deprecating pun-based jokes that rely on words or usages I've never heard before, insists that I inform you that he "made a bit of a pig's ear of it." Because pig's ear mushrooms, get it? Anyway, I thought his pancakes came out well, even if they were slightly thicker than optimal because the small cast-iron pan is slightly smaller than optimal.

I cooked the two kinds of mushrooms separately, but followed the same fairly simple procedure for both. First trim the ends, tear into strips, and wash or brush the dirt off. Heat a dry cast-iron pan (no butter or oil) over medium-high heat until quite hot, then add the mushrooms and dry-saute until all the liquid has been released and cooked off; this took a few minutes for the Craterellus and very little time for the Gomphus. Turn down the heat to medium-low, add a bit of butter, and saute gently until cooked through (this is important because even edible wild mushrooms can have unpleasant digestive consequences if undercooked).

We ate the mushrooms rolled up in the pancakes, along with some caramelized shallots and a bit of creme fraiche. Both kinds of mushrooms were delicious, but the Gomphus was more flavorful and heartier; next time I might try drying the Craterellus first as some sites suggest. And hopefully there is a next time!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Pistachio cookies

But not just pistachio—there's also white *and* dark chocolate chips accenting the high and low notes, orange zest rounding out the middle, and enough salt to bring it all together. Besides that, it's just the recipe on the chocolate chip bag (which I always forget is improved by letting the dough firm up in the fridge).

2 sticks butter, softened (salted)
3/4 c white sugar
3/4 c brown sugar
2 eggs
zest of 1 large orange
1 t vanilla
2 1/4 c flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t allspice
1 t kosher salt
1.5 c pistachios (unsalted)
1.5 c chocolate chips (half white, half dark/semisweet)

Preheat oven to 375F. Make like cookies: cream butter by itself, cream in sugar then eggs+zest+vanilla, mix in dry ingredients (flour through salt), mix in nuts and chips. Drop onto 3 greased cookie sheets, stick in the fridge for a few minutes so they don't spread out as much as mine did, then bake for 8-10 min.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lemon drizzle cake

Lester sent me this very British recipe for lemon cake yesterday—grams, self-rising flour, greaseproof paper, and all. I kept the grams, as you can see, but everything else is easy to substitute. It makes a deliciously syrup-laden cake, a good balance of tart and sweet all the way through, and the turbinado crust is a great touch. I think it might be even better without the almonds though.

3 sticks butter
350 g white sugar
zest + juice of 6 medium Meyer lemons (divided)
6 eggs
200 g flour
1 T baking powder
150 g ground almonds
2 T milk
1 T bourbon
200 g turbinado sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F and butter and parchment 2 loaf pans. Cream the butter, sugar, and half the lemon zest. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Gently mix in the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, almonds) then the milk and bourbon; the batter should be fairly stiff but still sloppy enough to fall off the beaters. Divide the batter between the pans and bake for 45 min (for 9x5" loaf pans, probably longer for smaller). Meanwhile, stir the turbinado into the remaining lemon juice+zest to partially dissolve.

When the cakes are baked, set them in their pans on a cooling rack and poke the tops all over with a toothpick. Pour the lemon syrup over the surface, letting the liquid soak in and the sugar leave an even, crunchy coat. Let cool completely in the pans.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Crust & Crumb bagels

This attempt at bagels (the third on this blog) turned out about as well as the first, and way better than the second. That's probably because this version has the driest dough yet, which is critical for getting good chewy bagels. The everything bagels (which I topped with salt, poppy seeds, fennel seeds, and caraway seeds) turned out especially well.

I followed the "yeasted bagels" recipe from Crust & Crumb, which takes 24 hr start to finish. My only real modification to the recipe was to add a drizzle of honey to the poaching water—this is characteristic of "Montreal-style" bagels, which are popping up all over the west coast these days—but I'm not sure it made a difference.

make the sponge:

2 c bread flour
2 c cool water (65F)
1/3 t yeast

In the morning, stir together the sponge ingredients in a bowl that can hold double the volume. Cover and let sit on the counter all day. By evening (or at least 6 hr later) when you're ready to use it, it should be bubbly and have a loosely cohesive internal structure like a well-proofed starter (but without the sourdough smell).

make the dough:

2 c sponge
1 t yeast
1 c lukewarm water (85F)
4 t salt
3 T malt syrup
1.75-2 lb bread flour (at least 6 c)
optional add-ins (I used cinnamon raisin)

After dinner, measure out the sponge into a large bowl, and stir in everything else except the flour until smooth. Dump in a third of the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to make a batter. Dump in another third and stir to form a stiff, shaggy ball of dough. Transfer the dough to a clean surface and knead for a long time, gradually incorporating the last third of the flour until your wrists are exhausted and the dough is smooth, firm, and dry. (At this point I cut the dough in half and kneaded 1 T cinnamon and a cup or two of raisins into one half.) Let the dough ball(s) rest on the counter, covered with a clean cloth, for about half an hour while you take a break and play some pinochle (or the recipe says you can move straight to shaping).

Cut the dough into 16 equal-sized pieces (e.g., 8 plain and 8 cinnamon raisin). Roll each piece into a 6" rope, join the ends with 2" overlap, and roll the overlapping ends together on the counter to seal. Place the shaped bagels on 2 semolina- or cornmeal-dusted baking sheets, cover with cloths, and let rest. After an hour or two, the bagels should just be beginning to rise, and a tester bagel should float in a bowl of cold water. Seal the pans inside spray-greased garbage bags and put in the fridge overnight.

cook the bagels:

big pot of water
optional toppings (I used kosher salt, poppy seeds, fennel seeds, and caraway seeds)

Wake up early to pull the bagels out of the fridge, remove the bags, and cover the bagels with a cloth. Put the pizza stone in the middle of the oven and start preheating to 475F. This will take a while, so make some coffee and read some email. Then start boiling a few inches of water and a drizzle of honey in the pot. When the water boils, turn it down to just barely simmering (harder boil means flat wrinkly bagels). Working in batches (three bagels at a time works for my pot), poach the bagels in the water for 1.5 min on each side. Place the poached bagels on semolina-dusted parchment and sprinkle with any toppings. (Out of the 8 plain bagels, I left 4 plain and made 4 into everything bagels.) When the first 8 bagels are boiled and topped, slide the parchment of bagels onto the pizza stone and bake for 10-11 min while you boil the other 8 bagels; the second batch should be ready to bake right about when the first batch is done. Let the bagels cool on a rack for at least half an hour before slicing.

Egg drop soup

This soup started out as a way to turn extra egg whites (leftover from making mint chip ice cream) into dinner. It's very quick, very easy, very savory, and very light. In fact, it was a bit too light for a light dinner for three, and would be even better bulked up with wontons, sturdy greens, ramen or udon noodles, etc—try adding those between the mushrooms and the egg.

drizzle peanut oil
1 thumb-size chunk of ginger, peeled and sliced
1 bunch scallions (6-8), half chopped in 2" lengths and half thinly sliced
1/2 t red pepper flakes
dozen shiitake mushrooms, stems reserved and tops quartered
6 c hot stock (2 not-chicken stock cubes)
1 t soy sauce, or to taste
6 oz tofu, diced
1 T cornstarch
3 egg whites, lightly beaten

Heat the oil, ginger slices, long scallion parts, pepper flakes, and mushroom stems in a pot while you boil water for the stock. Add the stock to the pot and simmer for 15 minutes until the the broth is flavored to taste (add soy sauce now as needed). Remove and discard the ginger, scallions, and mushroom stems (scooping or straining works).

Add the tofu and mushroom tops to the broth and simmer until the mushrooms are cooked through. Ladle a bit of broth into a bowl and dissolve the cornstarch in it, then stir it back into the pot to thicken the broth a bit. (This should help the chunky bits stay suspended in the broth instead of just floating at the surface.)

With the soup at a very gentle simmer, slowly drizzle the egg whites in a thin stream around the surface of the pot—the egg should cook instantly into ribbons. Sprinkle in the rest of the scallions and gently stir. Simmer for another couple minutes to set the egg completely before serving.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A couple days of food in Portland

  • Amazing vegan reuben at Red and Black Cafe before exploring Hawthorne, Hosford-Abernethy, and the warehouse district
  • Genmaicha at the very pleasant Behind the Museum Cafe to gather our energy for Powell's
  • More vegan grains+veggies goodness for dinner at Prasad
  • Brunch of stellar french toast, but underwhelming other things, at Jam
  • While wandering around Mississippi: tea samples at Stash (we bought the Portland blend), solid cappuccinos (plus comfy couches and good music) at Albina Press, and delicious jambalaya and fried okra for happy hour at Miss Delta (no interesting local beer though, boo)
  • Didn't get any food or drink at Living Room Theaters, but Old Goats was highly entertaining and you should see it if you get the chance
  • Midnight snack at Voodoo Doughnut, of course
  • Passable coffee at Pieper Cafe, around the corner from Brandon's house (thanks for putting us up!)
  • Train food to-go from the Mt Tabor area: pasties from the Brit-approved Horse Brass, yummy lefse and overpriced sides from Viking Soul Food, spelt+pear+pecan bread from Tabor Bread. Wanted the veggie bowl from Namu, but sadly they didn't open while we were around the Good Food Here food cart pod.
Verdict: Mississippi and Mt Tabor neighborhoods are delightful. As are vegan tempeh rice bowl things. Totally failed to take advantage of the beer scene, but that just means I'll have to go back!