I have a love/hate relationship with the Holidays. As I get older, however, I seem to be learning to enjoy them more and more. I especially love the planning -- heck, I love planning anything and everything (just ask my poor family!) As you can see, I've pulled out the old holiday issues of Everyday Food. (Did you hear that the magazine is shutting down/getting incorporated into Living? I'm so sad!) I'm making my holiday baking list, so expect more food posts in the coming days!
I've been looking for a knitting project that would get me excited about knitting again, but I haven't really seen anything new and different out there. Any suggestions on a fun and interesting knitting project?
In the mean time, I knit a Tribble for fun. It's such and easy project that it took me almost no time at all and I'm already using it in the kitchen. Perhaps not very exciting, but that's the state of my recent crafting endeavors.
I've been baking too -- making Maddie's favorite which is banana bread based on this recipe. Of course, I make it gluten free, subbing 210 gr of my GF flour blend for the flour. I also like to use brown sugar for half the sugar, add a bit extra vanilla extract, and top it (in this case) or mix in some toasted pecan pieces and semi-sweet chocolate. So delicious!!
I've also been working in the yard -- pulling weeds, planting potatoes, and other things. Pete spent the better part of yesterday building a new raised bed for the raspberry plants that just arrived. So that's strawberries, herbs, onions, potatoes, lettuces, blueberries and raspberries, so far. The pepper & tomato plants should arrive soon and I really have to get the carrot seeds in the ground. I'm pretty excited about the garden this year.
This is a Hummingbird Cake (recipe here, but apparently from Southern Living mag originally), which I had not heard of until recently. Just in case you haven't heard of it either -- it's like a rich banana bread with a bit of crushed pineapple, pecans and cream cheese frosting. Like banana bread, it works well with a gluten free flour blend. Absolutely delicious!
Lots of baking and such in the kitchen yesterday. First up we have Spiced Pecans from this wonderful recipe.
And homemade marshmallows -- or marshies, as we like to call them -- from Alton Brown's recipe.
And finally, Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Pecan Blondies -- based on this recipe, but obviously modified.
Today I wrap!
First of all, let me say that I was super scared to fry anything. I tried frying once -- about 20 some years ago -- and burned myself pretty badly. This time I made sure I had the right tools and lots of knowledge, and all went very well, indeed! No accidents, no scary moments. In fact, it wasn't even as messy as I thought it would be.
I used this recipe and I'm sure it would have been awesome if I could have used regular flour, but I used my gluten free mix instead and they turned out too dense. Don't get me wrong, we were chowing down on them -- especially when they were still hot! Next time I need to cut back the flour, or increase the buttermilk, or something. I think it would make a huge difference.
I see more frying in my future!
I made gluten free Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday and I have to say, it went pretty well. Of course we will all be going to my mom's on the actual Turkey day, but since there is a lot of gluten involved in the traditional meal, Maddie and I will be unable to truly stuff ourselves.
For our mini Thanksgiving I made a half turkey breast, stuffing (made with gluten free bread), mashed potatoes, gravy and fresh cranberry sauce. The turkey cooked in about 1 1/2 hours and was quite moist for being just white meat, and the stuffing was reminiscent of my mom's stuffing, although not as good.
As for the cranberry sauce -- make your own if you have 10 minutes to spare. Really, that's all it takes and I think it's quite a bit beter than that canned stuff. Here's what you do... get a bag of cranberries, boil a cup of water + a cup of sugar. Add the cranberries, bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. The cranberries will pop, so may I suggest one of those spatter screens.
Other things I've been doing:
Eating Chocolate -- specifically Vosges Holiday Truffles. See my review at the Chocolate Blog.
I've also been reading, baking and watching too much Battlestar Galactica. Thank you Netflix.
Maddie's pumpkin is on the far left, Pete's is in the foreground and mine is 5th from the left.
This was my pumpkin all lit up.
Friday night was our annual pumpkin carving contest at my mom's house. I was super excited to win 2nd place! I usually never get any votes (except for the occasional sympathy vote from Pete), so I was shocked to be in the running this year.
I also had some baking time this weekend, so I made some awesome peanut butter sandwich cookies. I based them off some recipes that all led back to Thomas Keller's Nutter Butter Cookie recipe. I used more peanut butter than butter (and salt -- which is not listed in the one recipe?!?) and had to make them GF, of course. They are super yummy!
And last night I made Broccoli Cheddar soup -- the one that was on the cover of Food Network Magazine. I have to say that the recipes from the Food Network Kitchen are usually a winner, so I'm guessing they are well tested. I actually have better luck with these recipes than some from the network's "chef stars". Be warned though, they say this soup can be made in 35 minutes, and that is just not true. Even with Pete helping with potato peeling and clean up, it took about double that amount of time. It was yummy though.
I didn't remember to mention that I made Martha's (or more likely, one of her many staff writer's) Apple Pecan Cake from the latest Everyday Food mag.
And btw, if you are a Everyday Food subscriber -- you can get the issues on your iPad for free now! I always thought it was stupid to make people pay for the digital edition when they subscribed to the print edition, so I'm happy to see this change.
Apparently you can get free access if you are a Living subscriber too. When did this change? I haven't heard about it before I stumbled upon it today, but it makes me happy!
I do not like summer. The heat leaves me pretty miserable and somewhat lethargic, so it seems that I get so much less done during those long hot months. Now that it's cooling down, I'm getting back to the things I love -- baking, cooking, knitting, sewing and such things.
While watching Heroes on my iPad (I'm late to Netflix, but so digging it!), I finished my orange Herbivore. Well, I should say that I finished the knitting. This project desperately needs to be blocked and I don't have blocking wires. Can anyone recommend some good, inexpensive ones?
I also started socks for Maddie (who loves handknit socks -- yeah!) using Wendy's generic toe-up pattern from her first ever knitting book -- Wendy Knits: My Never-Ending Adventures in Yarn which I have owned for ages. In fact, my copy is an arc. I can't believe I hadn't tried it before -- her description of the short row toe was very easy to follow.
Which brings me to another Wendy Knits book:
Wendy Knits Lace: Essential Techniques and Patterns for Irresistible Everyday Lace, which I have had sitting on my desk for a few weeks, right next to my computer because I have wanted to post a review. Let me say that this book is all fancy-like with charts and illustrations and lots of pretty photos of great lace projects. I especially like the Stacy Shawl and I think that if I get brave, I might attempt the Vortex Spiral Shawl. There are also hats, mittens and gloves that would be nice smaller projects.
I tried a new gluten free donut recipe and despite using non-stick pans and greasing said pans, the donuts stuck like nobody's business.
This one looked almost donut-like after I glopped on the icing. And here's the crazy thing -- they were delicious despite their ugliness. I'm thinking next time I will grease and flour the pans and if that doesn't work, maybe I'll just bake them in cupcake liners.
The recipe came from the new online gluten free magazine -- Easy Eats.
I follow a lot of GF and Foodie blogs and there has been a recipe floating around for a while -- a Peanut Butter Cookie recipe that only requires a few ingredients. It is noticeably lacking flour -- seriously -- which made me think these were going to have a weird texture. But no, these are seriously good!
The fact that they contain a huge amount of peanut butter means that they are rich and have an almost creamy mouthfeel, however, the edges are crisp and crunchy. I think these are seriously dangerous to have around the house and I'm glad it doesn't make a huge batch.
I would love to credit the original creator of this awesome recipe, but it's been around the internets for so long, that I'm not sure of its origin. Here is the recipe:
(Gluten-Free) 5 Ingredient Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Makes about 2 dozen)
1 C. Peanut butter -- I used an organic, all-natural variety
1 C. Sugar -- I used 1/2 C. organic brown sugar and 1/2 C. minimally processed organic granulated sugar
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
1 C. Chocolate Chips
Add all ingredients to a mixer in order, mixing after each addition. Roll into 1 in. balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Flatten in criss-cross pattern with a fork. (Mine were a bit crumbly, so I just pushed them back into shape if they fell apart upon flattening.)
Bake at 350º for about 11 minutes or until lightly browned on edges. Let sit on cookie sheet for about 5 minutes before moving to cooling rack.
We all love the new kitchen and find ourselves hanging out there quite a bit -- not something we did in the old kitchen. I've also been enjoying my new range -- especially after cooking meals for six weeks using only a microwave, toaster oven and rice cooker.
This weekend I baked up a batch of gluten free chocolate chip cookies. My recipe is nearly perfected, and I'll be posting it over at my other website soon. Let's just say that Pete has mentioned that they might even be better then chocolate chip cookies made with regular AP flour, so there you go.
And last night I made something I've never tried before because I thought it was too easy to mess up -- Spaghetti alla Carbonara. And it was not difficult at all. Plus, one of the few ingredients is bacon -- so of course everyone liked it.
I really need to mention the new non-stick pan I bought about a week back. My old non-stick pan was looking pretty bad -- you know how it is. It was definitely past it's prime. After a bit of research, I decided on a Scanpan and I am loving it! I bought mine at Sur la Table (love this store *so* much!) It works beautifully, cleans up easily and doesn't have PFOAs, so it's non-toxic. Oh, and did I mention that the non-stick coating is supposed to last ages -- they have a lifetime warranty. Crazy, huh? I'm hoping I'll never have to throw out another non-stick pan.
In the aftermath of the garage sale, I decided to forget about tidying up the remaining, mostly empty, boxes and instead got down to cooking and baking.
Since I had buttermilk left over from the red velvet cupcakes we made earlier this week (sans red food dye), I did a quick web search and found this tasty looking Raspberry Buttermilk Cake from Gourmet. Now, you can probably see that I didn't use raspberries -- I had blueberries and so that is what I subbed. It is easy, delicious and a recipe I imagine I'll be using again and again in the future.
For dinner we had brown rice & black beans topped with an egg over easy (yes, really -- an egg) and some salsa verde. Yummy and healthy comfort food. But of course, this photo is of homemade granola. I know I posted a granola recipe a while back, but this is my new and improved granola. I'll post the details on a day when I'm not so tired and cranky.
Oops! I didn't think to take a photo of my delicious lunch until it was all gone. Mango smoothies (lassi) are all the rage in our house right now. I cut up one mango, added some honey, oj, yogurt and ice, blended until smooth and we drank them down right quick. I really need to make more smoothies.
Now off to IKEA to check out their new goodies and grab some Swedish meatballs -- with lingon, of course! -- for din din.
A few recipe notes -- I did, in fact, use my stand mixer and they turned out just fine. I also want to mention that I weighed, rather then measured, my ingredients. If you do a lot of baking -- get a scale! I only recently purchased one and I have been loving it. It is both more accurate and less messy. I also used a European style butter, which generally has less water than American style. I'm not sure the effect this might have, but thought I should mention it. Finally, please note that she uses Celsius for the oven temp -- the Fahrenheit equivalent is about 300 degrees.
Make these cookies! You will be so happy that you did!
Every time I bake bread, I wonder why I don't do it more often. It's really not difficult and takes very little actual working time. Over the weekend I made dinner rolls using the recipe in one of my favorite baking books -- Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking -- which I can't recommend highly enough. I also received their new baking book for Christmas and have made several recipes from it -- all good!
I can't exactly explain why, but I've been wanting to make crackers for a very long time, but never attempted it until last night -- while I was simultaneously making dinner and descaling the espresso machine (and doing laundry, and feeding the cats...) Despite the commotion, it all worked out because crackers, as it turns out, are easy to make. Who knew?
For the recipe, I used the amazing book Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It: And Other Cooking Projects which I have raved about here on the blog in the past. Of course I had to alter the recipe because I have some kind of dysfunctional relationship with recipes which requires that I make at least one change. Basically I added a bunch of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and cut the salt a bit. After the first batch, I also decided that thinner was definitely preferable, so I rolled the rest as thin as possible.
These were enjoyed by all and one batch made a bunch of crackers. I'm already experimenting in my head for the next batch.
The Moleskine Passions Recipe Journal looks awesome and would resolve some of my messy recipe collection issues.
I've become a lazy blogger. I never have a camera around to take photos, I don't post half the things I make anymore, and I simply spend so much time reading other blogs, that I don't have time left to write my own posts.
So, in keeping with the time of year, I'm resolving to be a better blogger.
Last night I ran upstairs upon throwing a batch of buttermilk biscuits in the oven so that I could take a photo for the blog. And I have to say, the photos I took were all pretty lousy, but at least I did it, and here I am writing about it. Not a bad start.
The biscuits were made with the leftover buttermilk I had bought for making cinnamon rolls for Christmas, and I simply pulled out some self-rising flour I bought ages ago to make some other recipe -- then shoved in the back of the cupboard. I mean, almost no recipes call for self-rising flour anymore and it was nearing the end of it's life, so this recipe used up two things that would have otherwise ended up in the trash. The thrifty woman in me loves this.
I used the recipe right off the back of the bag of flour. It was simple and used very basic ingredients -- flour (maybe about 2 1/2 c.), butter (or shortening -- 1/2 c. or 1 stick), baking soda (1/2 tsp, I believe), a bit of sugar (2 tsp, perhaps) and buttermilk (about 1 c. -- enough to form a nice workable dough). I also loved it because it gave me a reason to use an old biscuit cutter I purchased at an estate sale this past year.
These rose up like nobodies business and got nice and brown on the top (except for the ones I brushed with buttermilk -- which apparently does not brown up in the oven like cream). Not to mention that everyone liked them quite well -- and they are delicious spread with lingonberry jam.
It seems that cinnamon rolls are becoming a Thanksgiving weekend tradition in our house. This year I tried Alton Brown's Overnight Cinnamon Rolls and they were delicious! I didn't do the boiling water in the oven thing that he recommends, but I did let these sit out for a few hours in the morning before baking them. I baked them Thursday morning and we ate the last of them on Sunday. Popping them in the microwave for 20-30 seconds made them as fresh and gooey as the day they were baked. I'll definitely use this recipe again.
This is not the apple cake I made this weekend -- it is the apple cake I made almost exactly one year ago. This past weekend I used the same recipe -- from Smitten Kitchen -- which is very awesome, but makes a huge cake. Much too big for the three of us. However, as I browsed through the comments, I saw that someone had halved the recipe and made it in a loaf pan. I tried it myself and it worked beautifully, plus the baking time was much reduced. I think I only baked it for about 1 hour. This year I used Liberty apples, and they worked wonderfully.
While at IKEA last weekend, I picked up this cute set of Drommar cookie cutters and yesterday Maddie and I made a batch of sugar cookies using them. I usually only make cut outs with her right before Christmas, so the holiday feeling is strong as I sit here and drink my coffee, nibbling on a "Christmas" cookie.
And since I'm sure many of you have Martha Stewart's Cookies, I wanted to let you know that the cut out sugar cookie recipe is *super* easy to halve. (A plus for our little family of 3!) If you don't have the book, I highly recommend it. We have made *many* of the recipes in this book with great success.
Speaking of cooking, I subscribe to a growing number of cooking and baking blogs. Over the years, I've come to rely on some of them for their wonderful recipes and I want to share them with you (but only if you promise to leave me the names of your favorite food blogs!)
Other food sites of note:
Maddie and I made this monkey bread today and it is so good that I fear I might eat the entire pan.
Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It: And Other Cooking Projects by Karen Solomon is a book so awesome that I was freaking out as I looked through it. Seriously.
So how did I come across this amazing book? Well, I'm a library patron -- one of those people who wander the isles plucking random books from the shelves. I occasionally look up a book in the catalog, but I find a good 90% of the books I check out by hunting and gathering. This week my interests leaned toward preserving, canning and cheese making, so I hit the 641.4 section. This book called out to me when I saw the beautiful cover -- a quick page through it revealed equally lovely photos, so I brought it home.
When I sat down I noticed the subtitle -- "and other cooking projects" -- and knew this was going to be good. I *love* food projects -- making bear, soda, jam, bread, pickles, and so on. When I opened to the first section I was super excited to see cracker recipes -- well, one basic recipe with a bunch of variations. Since I almost always alter recipes, a book with variations makes me happy. And since I've been wanting to get away from processed foods and Pete loves crackers -- this is one recipe I've been looking for.
Condiments are covered next -- infused oils, salad dressings, ketchup, mayo -- all things I want to try my hand at. Then comes pickles and olives, which is wonderful since I'm growing pickling cucumbers and some of them are nearing ripeness.
The next section made me think the author was writing the book just for me, as it includes basic pasta dough, tomato sauce and ravioli (and more). Since we are mostly vegetarian, we tend to eat a lot of pasta and I've been wanting to make fresh pasta with Maddie.
The next couple of sections are for the meat eaters -- cured, smoked, dried, etc. fish and meat. I have to admit, I'm tempted to try her recipe for homemade bacon.
Section 7 is all about butter and cheese. OMG! I was actually looking for this book when I stumbled upon Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It. Recipes include butter and compound butters, queso blanco, ricotta and ricotta salata.
Section 8 is Preserves, curds and fruit butters. And section 9 is called "Sugar It". This section includes a recipe I've been meaning to make for ages -- marshmallows. She thoughtfully includes a recipe for graham crackers too, so you can get some smore action going. And I have to mention the fruit leather recipe because Maddie has been asking to make homemade fruit leathers for the last couple weeks. (Seriously, does the author know me?) In keeping with the sweet theme, section 10 include recipes for all sorts of popsicles, including chocolate fudge pops and burnt salted caramel icies.
Section 11 is all about candy making and includes some yummy looking peppermint patties, toffee and peanut butter cups -- Pete's favorite.
Since I've been meaning to try making flavored vodka, section 12 -- hard and soft beverages -- was well received. I also bookmarked limoncello, ginger beer, chai and winter solstice brew.
Okay, I know I've gone on and on about this book, but it is right up my alley and has me ridiculously excited. Check it out yourself if you have the chance! And I'll be sure to post my results as I work my way through this book.
I've been wanting to make granola for a while now, but for whatever reason, I didn't get around to it until yesterday. Let me just say that when you bake up a batch of this the house will smell ridiculously good.
So why homemade granola? Well, I'm a big cereal fan, but I've been trying to get away from processed foods. Seriously, I simply can't live without cereal -- so I figured I'd make my own. It was quick and easy and the results are quite tasty. In fact, every time I walk past the jar I sneak a handful.
BoogaJ's Homemade Granola
Makes about 8 cups
6 c. Rolled Oats
2 c. nuts (use nuts or seeds or a mixture -- whatever you like)
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Cardamom (so good if you have it -- if not, just skip it)
Salt to taste
3/4 c. Maple Syrup
1/2 c. Oil (like canola -- nothing strong tasting)
2 tsp. Vanilla
Preheat over to 275 degrees.
Toast oats and nuts in a big skillet for a few minutes, until it just starts to smell yummy! Turn off heat and sprinkle on cinnamon, cardamom and salt.
Combine maple syrup, oil and vanilla and pour this mixture over the oat mixture right in the skillet. Mix well.
Spread mixture on parchment lined, rimmed baking sheet -- the larger the better. Bake at 275 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes or until golden brown. Stir several times while it is baking.
Cool and place in an airtight container -- should keep for a long time, but I'm guessing you'll eat it too quickly to find out how long!
Sometimes I purchase a cookbook and right away I have to make something from it -- or several things. Then there are cookbooks that I gaze at and then place on the shelf, only to rediscover them months or years later. Dorie Greenspan's book Baking: From My Home to Yours is one of the later.
After ignoring it for ages, I picked it up a couple of weeks ago and have made two recipes in succession which both turned out wonderfully. Now I shouldn't be all that surprised by this since this book did win the 2007 James Beard Award in the Baking and Deserts category.
First I made the chocolate chip cookies -- I usually use the Toll House recipe, so this was a departure. They were just perfect, the extra dough froze beautifully and the second batch that I baked up after thawing the dough was as good (if not better) than the first.
Then last night I made the Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Muffins. Perfect as a snack or dessert and everyone loved them. They were easy to make too.
I'm not sure what I'll make next from this cookbook, but one thing is certain -- this will be my go to baking book for some time.
It's cookie time! Yesterady Maddie and I made a couple of batches of cookies from Martha Stewart's Cookies. First we made the cookies that you see on the cover -- a chocolate gingerbread cookie. Of course I didn't have one of the ingredients on hand (freshly grated ginger) and I wasn't about to go back out to get it, so we made them without. There is already ground (powdered) ginger in them, so I just added a bit more to compensate. Of course, there was probably a little lack of moisture as a result so our cookies didn't spread nearly as much as the cover cookies, but they were still *really* tasty. We also made Snickerdoodles -- a Christmas tradition. Today or tomorrow Maddie wants to make the Sugar Cookies from the book, so there are more cookies in our future.
This morning I made the Quick Cinnamon Rolls from Baking Illustrated. I'm a subscriber to the Cook's Illustrated magazine (the same people who wrote this book) and I have to say that the baking geek in me loves the way in which they go about creating recipes. The explanations of how they came up with the recipes are always 4-5 times longer than the recipes themselves, which means you learn a lot when you read them through.
This recipe was no exception. For starters, I learned that really awesome cinnamon rolls can be made without the pesky 2 or more hour rise required when using a yeasted dough. These are made with a biscuit type dough which requires no rise at all but puffs up into a light, airy roll almost like magic. I also learned that a short knead of biscuit dough lets the gluten develop just enough to make the rolls hold in enough air to rise high during baking without collapsing.
At any rate, these were given 2 thumbs up by Pete and I agree, they were mighty tasty and I'll be making them again.
Here is the original recipe in my mom's hand. I photo copied a bunch of recipes from her cookbook a while back and I like seeing them in her handwriting so much, that I never copied them onto new recipe cards. I have made some changes, but the basics remain the same. Here is my version:
Makes 1 9" X 13" pan or about 60 pieces.
3 c. Sugar
3/4 c. Butter (1 1/2 sticks)
2/3 c. Evaporated Milk (Not sweetened condensed!)
1 12 oz. bag of good quality bittersweet chocolate chips
1 Jar Marshmallow Fluff (The kind in the glass jar, not plastic tub) approx. 2 c.
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 c. nuts of your choice -- optional
Combine sugar, butter and evaporated milk in a saucepan -- mixture will expand as it boils, so make sure the pan is large enough). Bring to a rolling boil on med high heat and boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and add chocolate chips, marshmallow fluff, vanilla extract and nuts (if using).
Use a hand held beater to thoroughly mix ingredients -- make sure to scrape down sides and stir bottom corners of the pan several times.
Pour into parchment lined 9" X 13" pan. Leave on the counter to cool for about 1 hour then refrigerate an additional 1-2 hours before cutting.
Lift fudge and parchment out of pan and using a long knife (I use a big bread knife), cut into individual pieces. Store in layers separated by wax paper or parchment in a tin in the fridge.
To answer your question -- no, I am not sick of apples yet despite having made apple sauce and apple crisp and having eaten many apples in the past few weeks. In fact, we went to the farmers' market and bought even more apples on Sunday. I needed to get them so I could make this cake.
I first saw this cake on Smitten Kitchen a couple weeks ago and became, well, smitten. Then Scout tells me she made the cake and it was awesome, so how could I resist any longer? So make it I did and it is awesome. The recipe is right here (and it doesn't take any fancy ingredients -- which I love!)
Yes, there were more apples purchased on Saturday. These are some lovely Zestar apples which I made into a crumble. I used the recipe in The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion -- I've actually been using this book a lot lately with great success. Last week I made some lemon bread using their recipe and it was quite yummy.
I used less butter in the "crumble" part of the recipe -- the recipe called for a whole stick, but I used 5Tbsp and it is was just fine. In fact, I think I could lighten up the sugar in the recipe next time -- the apples I used are quite sweet on their own. I suppose if you used a tart apple the recommended amount of sugar would be a good idea.
I didn't even show off the Honeycrisp apples we got for eating out of hand. So sweet and crisp! I want to go back and get more before the season ends!
So yesterday I had yet another eye doctor appointment -- this will make the 3rd or 4th time in about 6 months that I've had to have my eyes dilated. (And I get to go do it again in another 2 weeks! I think my doctor is expecting my retina to detach at any moment, but it refuses to do so.) Thus, for a good portion of the day I was blurry eyed -- more than I usually am -- leaving me to find non sight intensive activities. What did I do? I baked.
First I whipped up a pan of cornbread to have with supper, then realizing that I was still blurry eyed, I decided to make some turnovers with ingredients I had on hand. First I took out a sheet of puff pastry to thaw a bit, then I cut it in fourths, put a few raspberries, a square of dark chocolate and a blob of strawberry jam in the center of each, folded them in half and crimped them shut with a fork. Then they went into the fridge to firm up. After the cornbread finished baking I took the turnovers out of the fridge, gave them an egg wash and a sprinkling of sugar, cut a few vents in the top and popped them into the oven. I baked them for about 20 minutes or so at around 375 or 400 degrees. (I turned the oven up at one point and then back down -- and I moved the turnovers from the top to the bottom portion of the oven and turned the pan around to ensure even baking.)
If I ever do lose my sight, I'm afraid we will all get quite chubby around here!
I know there has been a lot of talk about Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and I have to say that it is totally worth it! I've posted before about my success with the basic recipe, but I had to post again since I am finding out just how awesome this concept is.
First of all, this time I didn't bring out my stand mixer -- instead I just put all the ingredients in a bowl and gave it a good stir with a wooden spoon. This is the same bowl I'm using to store the dough in my fridge, so there is really nothing (except a wooden spoon!) to clean up. Easy, right?
So I made a loaf of bread to have with dinner on Tuesday, and I wanted something different for Thursday. I had some yummy cremini mushrooms -- I am *so* on a mushroom kick -- and cooked them up with some tomatoes to have over pasta, so I decided to make an Italian style herbed bread. Sounds fancy? Well, really all I did was take a hunk of the dough out of the bowl, roll it out, smear on a little olive oil, sprinkle on parmesan cheese and Italian herbs and rolled it up. I left it to rise a bit on the radiator and popped it in the oven. Fresh bread for dinner and it literally took me 5 minutes!
Once thing I love about all of this is there is usually a little bit of bread left over from dinner which I can stick in the toaster oven and have with lunch the next day. Yeah!
I did finally take a photo of the last little bit of bread I made from the big bowl of dough -- more on this dough can be found in my previous post. I took the small bit of dough, squished it flat and sprinkled some Parmesan cheese & Italian herbs on top. Then I popped it in the oven so I could have it for lunch. Very tasty -- and the oven spring was great even 2 weeks after I made the dough. Here's the inside:
I was planning on making up another batch of dough yesterday, but got sidetracked. I'll get to it today hopefully and try to remember to take photos.
I've also been cutting paper:
I've been meaning to do some papercutting, or Scherenschnitte, since someone mentioned it in a comment on my blog back in 2005! (Yes -- Elizabeth (no link) left a comment to this post way back when!) I've checked out a few books, done some research on the web, but hadn't actually *done* any papercutting. Why? I have no idea, other than I was busy with other things, I suppose.
Enter Amy and her amazing Mailorder -- or eMailorder in this case. It's so funny, because Jan was just doing some papercutting and I was going to get my act together and do some myself, but that weekend got away from me. So I guess it was fate -- and I was just waiting for Amy to come along with issue #8!
It was super easy, fun, quick and the results are really great! I mounted the heart on a blank card and the girl on a sheet of cardstock so I could perhaps frame it.
I see more Scherenschnitte (& home baked bread) in my future!
I've been obsessed with making good bread for years and I've found a few recipes that are good, but none of them are particularly easy or -- more importantly -- quick. So when I saw this book, I knew I had to give it a try.
The book is Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg, and I have to say that I'm loving it! The concept here is simple -- you make a large batch of dough, stick it in the fridge, and slice off a chunk of it whenever you want fresh bread. The basic dough keeps for 14 days and is easy to mix up (no kneading!) It uses only very basic ingredients and you can do a lot with it. I made a batch of the basic dough and we have had fresh baked bread with dinner 3 times this past week.
The book also includes some other dough recipes and then expands on these so that you can use the dough to make all kinds of different loaves. I'm looking forward to trying one of the richer breads -- like the brioche -- soon.
What I like most about it is that I can make a family sized loaf. There are only three of us, so I hate to make a huge loaf that goes stale before we can use it all. And I also love that you only mix up the dough once every week or so. Taking out all the ingredients and then cleaning up afterward takes most of the time in baking.
I wish I had some bread to show you, but I'm afraid it doesn't stick around for more than about 30 minutes after it comes out of the oven!
2007 ended with plenty of baking due to the holidays. Maddie and I managed to make these a couple of days before Christmas and they were quite tasty. I used Martha Stewart's recipe from the holiday cookie booklet that came out in '06 I believe, but I think this is the same recipe.
I love making cookies and baking bread, but I don't do it as often as I should. I'm trying to get away from processed food as much as possible, so instead of buying cookies and other sweets at the grocery, I'm going to try to make treats for my family so I know what is going into them, how they are made and can adjust them to make them more healthy. This will surely help me to accomplish another of my 2008 goal too -- buy less packaging. Instead of a box, plastic wrapper and plastic tray -- the packaging used for most foods -- I'll simply put my cookies in a glass jar. Better for us, better for the environment.
I already made a batch of cookies this year -- Oatmeal Raisin cookies from my new go to cookbook -- Essentials of Baking from Williams-Sonoma. I can't seem to get enough of this cookbook. Looking back thruogh the archives, I realize that I haven't even posted about the scones I made using the recipe in this book. I've made them twice now, substituting different dried fruits and they are *so* good (much better than those dry, stale things that Starbucks sells!)
I also received an awesome gift for Christmas that will help me with my goal of baking more in 2008 -- this super cool Cuisinart Brick Oven. I've already used it about 5 times for various things and it works like a dream. Tonight we make homemade pizza in it for the first time. I'm excited!
More baking posts are sure to come in the near future!
Yesterday was pie baking day -- my contribution to Thanksgiving dinner at my mom's is 2 pumpkin pies and one pecan pie. I made them completely from scratch and I have to say that making the crust isn't really that difficult -- especially if you have a food processor. The pumpkin pies did take about 30 minutes longer to cook than Martha said they would, but the pecan pie was ready to come out of the oven after 60 minutes, just as she said. I just pulled both recipes off the Martha Stewart website because I was a bit lazy.
Then at about 8pm I lost my mind and decided that since I had been baking all day anyway, I should just make cinnamon rolls from scratch too. I made the dough, let it rise, rolled it out, filled it, shaped it and put it in a pan in the fridge overnight and baked them and glazed them this morning. It really wasn't all that difficult and I'm wondering why I don't do this more often.
I used what is quickly becoming my favorite baking book for the recipe -- Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking. I just changed things up a bit (2X the cinnamon filling, 2X the glaze, only cut into 12 instead of 16 pieces, etc.) This is the cookbook I used as the basis for the awesome cherry white chocolate scones I made a while back. Williams-Sonoma has excellent cookbooks!
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who celebrates it!
The other day when we were at the library, Maddie told me that she wanted to make a pie. So we headed on over to the cookbook section and I grabbed The Joy of Cooking: All About Pies and Tarts. She decided on apple pie -- perfect since apples are in season! We headed out to pick some up yesterday and I searched through my other cookbooks since I can never follow a recipe outright.
I ended up pretty much using a combo of the pie crust from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook and the recipe for Apple Pie I from The Joy of Cooking: All About Pies and Tarts. Maddie helped me decorate it with Dala horse cut outs and we popped it in the oven:
Of course the filling leaked out in places -- I'm no professional. I think you could count the number of pies I've made on one hand. However, using the food processor for making the crust has converted me. And homemade crust is so much better than store bought! I see more pies in my future!
Oh, by the way, Maddie didn't care for the pie. There were tears. I think she was so excited to have it since she helped me make it that it was really a let down for her. She's a bit picky when it comes to sweets, so I'm not surprised. Poor kid!
Well, we finally finished up that batch of chocolate chip cookies, so last night I made some of the Green Tea Sweets that I was telling you about. They are very much like a matcha flavored shortbread, but much less fussy to make. The butter and egg yolks gives them a very rich flavor which is lightened considerably by the fresh green tea flavor.
One note on my cookies -- I didn't have a cute little leaf cookie cutter, so I used what I had. I needed something small-ish and without a lot of apendages that could lead to overcooked cookie parts. The cookie cutters I ended up using are probably twice as large as what I needed. This was confirmed when I only got a bakers dozen out of the recipe instead of the 25 cookies it is supposed to yield. I just cooked them a bit longer -- maybe 5 minutes -- and all was well. I like the crispier edges though, so I'll pick up a small cookie cutter before I make these again.
They were quick and easy to make and I highly recommend them! The recipe is here at Lovescool.
I've been wanting a recipe for Matcha Cookies for ages -- probably since I first saw the lovely (yet expensive) cookies from Lovescool / Amai Bakery. I've been reading this blog for a good long time and have been quite tempted to purchase the Tea Sweets.
Now I am excited to say that Kelli has posted the recipe for the Green Tea Sweets!! It's right here. And I even have matcha powder in the cupboard. Oh! If only I hadn't just baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies last night, I'd be whipping these up this afternoon!!
It's been a difficult week for me -- when you have clinical depression sometimes things that aren't that awful hit you harder than you would like. I work hard to keep my life structured and secure and for the most part I am able to keep things in check. This week caught me off guard although I'd been preparing my self for it since November.
Back in November I posted about a rough week, well one of the reasons that week was difficult was becuase it was announced that the company my husband works for was being bought out. Now, this isn't a terrible thing -- but there was the chance that his job would disappear. Well, this week that was confirmed. Happy Birthday to me! (My birthday is Sunday.) I know that this isn't a bad thing. We have lots of notice (his job is still there until April and the company actually told them they could job hunt during work hours) and I'm pretty crazy about saving money, so we have a nest egg. And my husband will have no trouble finding a job -- he's so smart and good. (Really! Go read him!)
But I'm a little stressed out anyway -- and I have a feeling that a bit of it has to do with my upcoming birthday. I don't know why that would bother me either -- I love my 30's so much more than any other time in my life. I'm so happy now and love my jobs -- which include homeschooling my brilliant, funny daughter.
I'm neurotic. I know it. I try to deal with it. How? by baking bread, of course!
Yes, I finally decided to give the no knead bread that everyone has been talking about a try. I have a lovely cast iron LeCruset pot that my mom got for me a couple of years ago and it worked beautifully. (I've also been eating massive amount of chocolate -- thank goodness V-Day was last week!)
And I've been stitching:
I'm a good way through part 2 of the mystery sampler.
So, I'm fine -- just crazy.
I have subscribed to many different food and cooking magazines over the years, but I don't think any of them has been as informative as Cook's Illustrated. I learn something new in every issue (this month -- how to store fresh ginger*) and often see some recipes that I want to try out.
Yesterday I received the March / April issue and was fascinated by the "Brown Sugar Cookies" recipe. It actually uses browned butter -- a technique new to me, at least where cookies are concerned. So this afternoon I had to give it a try.
Sure they look innocent enough laying there, but I tell you -- these things are incredible! They are so rich and chewy (the good crispy edge/chewy middle kind of thing) that I almost can't stand it. The browned butter taste really comes though and makes them extra special. I will be making these again and again!
* oh -- you store the ginger unwrapped in the refrigerator.
An especially nice gift that I received over the holidays was a copy of the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Book. I love to bake, but as I read more about nutrition, I want to make healthier things for myself and my family. Using whole grains is something I'm definitely trying to do more of.
This cookbook seriously has a recipe for just about every baked good and there aren't a lot of fancy ingredients that you need (a problem I've had with the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook). So when I was at the grocery and the desire for banana bread hit, I knew that I'd probably be okay if all I picked up was some bananas. As luck would have it, I had all the other necessary ingredients in my cabinets and fridge!
As it turned out, there was a variation for the banana bread recipe that made Chocolate chip banana muffins and I was all over that -- shorter cooking time and it inculded chocolate. Come on!
I would give this recipe 5 stars -- it was easy and tasty with a pleasantly crunchy top and moist crumb and Maddie is downstairs devouring a muffin as we speak. I'm eager to try out more whole grain recipes from this book, so I'm sure you'll be seeing more food photos on the blog in the coming months!
I love making bread from scratch but it takes a lot of time and I hadn't done it in a while. For a couple years (yes, years) I've had it in my mind that I wanted to come up with a recipe for monkey bread -- you know, the cinnamon bread that you usually make by cutting up refridgerated biscuit dough and rolling it in cinnamon sugar and throwing it in a pan to bake as a loaf. Well, I wanted *real* bread -- not some nasty refridgerated biscuits. So Maddie and I pulled out 5 or 6 of my baking cookbooks and scoured them for suitable recipes.
I finally settled on using the basic dinner roll dough from Essentials of Baking. This is a Williams-Sonoma cookbook and I've had great luck in the past with the recipes I've made from many of their cookbooks, so I was hopeful.
Maddie read the instructions and I mixed things up. We left the dough to rise and Maddie checked on it after about 1 1/2 hours -- she was amazed! I think she is at a good age for an introduction to the magic of yeast!
Then came the improvisation. I cut up the dough into about 30ish chunks and I dipped them in melted butter. Then Maddie rolled them in cinnamon sugar -- maybe 1 tsp cinnamon to 2-3 Tbsp of sugar? We had to refill the cinnamon sugar bowl a couple times during the process and thing got a little unscientific. The whole loaf took 1/4 cup of melted butter though -- we didn't run out of that.
As Maddie coated them, she threw them into a bundt pan -- gotta love the classic bundt pan! And then we left it to rise while the oven pre-heated (about 20 minutes). Bake at 375 for about 35 minutes and once cool, turn out onto a pretty plate!
It is quite yummy and would actually be suitable as a coffee cake. (I'm eating some as I drink my coffee right now!) It's sweet and buttery and I'll definitely make it again.
One of my favorite cookbook authors is Beth Hensperger (is it weird that I have favorite cookbook authors?) And last week when I thought I was getting sick, I bought an entire bag of lemons knowing that I would want extra so that I could make some lemon bread. At first I looked in my new favorite baking book (Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook), but Martha's recipe requires cognac (?!?) and something else I didn't have and it made two (?!?) loaves.
Enter Bread for Breakfast and Hensperger's recipe for Lemon and Blueberry Bread with Lemon Glaze. Quick, easy and delicious. It made one loaf and I had all the ingredients -- hurrah! You can kinda see how the glaze sinks in to the bread in the slice:
Great stuff -- even Maddie likes it!
Books have been piling up and I thought I should share them with you. . .
52 Projects by Jeffrey Yamaguchi -- I've been seeing this book around many of my favorite blogs and I decided that I must have it. It's subtitled "Random Acts of Everyday Creativity" and it's filled with 52 projects that you can use to kick start your creativity. Paging through the book already has me excited! I'm sure I'll be posting about the projects as I start to work my way through the book.
Super Crafty -- I think I mentioned that Pete bought this for me for Valentines Day. Let me give you an idea of the projects that I plan to try from this book -- "Super Sock Monkeys" (can you believe I never made a sock monkey before?), "Magnets Galore + Inspiration Board", stuff from the section on shrink plastic (a whole section on shrinky dinks!) and the "Superstar Luggage Tag". Of course I'm sure I'll give each of these projects my own twist. I have to say that this book is packed with great jumping off points -- such as the section on vinyl, which is packed with tips. In fact, there's info on everything from sewing to block printing. Really a great resource to have around.
Complete Craft by Katherine Sorrell -- Great out of print book that I was lucky enough to find for a song on Alibris. Really great book! The crafts covered are unusual and while they produce beautiful sophisticated results, they are presented in a no nonsense way. You get the feeling that you could do any of them! Crafts covered include: screen printing, silk painting, felt making, paper making, cyanotype, mosaic, acrylic molding, gilding and many more.
Betty Crocker's Cooky Book -- I just had to get this one. I remember making cookies from my Mom's Betty Crocker Cookbook when I was little -- oooh! found a picture of hers online:
So anyway, I'm loving the vintage pictures and old fashioned recipes in this cookbook. And there is just about every cookie recipe imaginable included in this book too!
The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion -- A birthday gift from Pete. I love baking and I love books on baking. This is a winner of the James Beard Award and it's truly a comprehensive baking reference. Tips, advice and recipes -- my god, the recipes! If it's not in this book, I don't know where you'll find it. When I go to bake something, I love to have 3 or 4 recipes that I can look at as a jumping off point and that makes this a great addition to my cookbook library.
So that's some of the books that have been coming my way. And I haven't even started to tell you about the library book sale books. I'm almost finished with Wicked, so I'll be talking more about those soon!