Friday, October 24, 2014

Caramelized Onion and Shallot Braided Bread with Gruyere Cheese and Herbes de Provence

Caramelized Onion and Shallot Braided Bread with Gruyere Cheese and Herbes de Provence

Caramelized onion and shallot braided bread with Gruyere cheese and herbes de Provence. Seriously good bread.

This is a "mock" braid that can be filled with a number of sweet or savory flavors.

For this filling, I used a large red onion and six large shallots, along with dried herbes de Provence. The aroma from the herbes and the onions while they were cooking made me very happy.

Caramelized Onion and Shallot Braided Bread with Gruyere Cheese and Herbes de Provence

If you don't  have herbes de Provence (typically a blend of tarragon, savory, sage, thyme, fennel, dill, chervil, marjoram, rosemary, and basil), you could substitute any number of fresh or dried herbs.

I spread some Dijon mustard down the center of dough, piled on the caramelized onions and shallots, and then topped the onions with about six ounces of Gruyere cheese. After wrapping the filling in the dough with a mock braid, I sprinkled a little more cheese and herbs down the center of the dough.

This bread is wonderful fresh from the oven with a salad and/or soup.

Caramelized Onion and Shallot Braided Bread with Gruyere Cheese and Herbes de Provence

To find other versions of this bread, as well as step-by-step photos for braiding the bread, check out Katie's post at Thyme for Cooking. She is the Kitchen of the Month for the Bread Baking Babes. On her post, there are links for multiple versions of this bread from the rest of the Bread Baking Babes. I'm baking along as a buddy, and this is my take on this wonderful bread.

Caramelized Onion and Shallot Braided Bread with Gruyere Cheese and Herbes de Provence

Ingredients

Dough

455 grams (3 1/2 C) unbleached all purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C water
1/4 C milk
1/4 C vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks

Filling and Topping

1 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced
6 large shallots, thinly sliced
1 tsp sugar
1 T herbes de Provence, plus more for sprinkling (mine is from The Spice House)
6 ounces grated Gruyere cheese, plus another ounce for sprinkling
1 T Dijon mustard
1 egg, beaten with 1 T water

Instructions

  1. Whisk the dry ingredients of the bread in the bowl of a stand mixer. 
  2. Whisk the water, milk, eggs, and egg whites together in a bowl and add to the dry ingredients. 
  3. Mix with the dough hook for about 10 minutes on medium low speed.
  4. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover, and allow to rise until doubled, about an hour.
  5. While the dough is rising, prepare the onion filling. In a 12 inch skillet, melt the butter and olive oil. 
  6. Add the onions, shallots, and sugar, and cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Add the herbs and continue to cook, stirring regularly, for about 20 minutes more, until caramelized.
  7. When the dough has doubled, place it on a piece of baking sheet sized piece of parchment paper. 
  8. Roll it out to a 12 inch by 11 inch rectangle.
  9. Spread the mustard lengthwise in the middle of the dough into a 3 inch line.
  10. Spread the onion mixture over the mustard. 
  11. Sprinkle the 6 ounces of cheese over the onion mixture. 
  12. Using a sharp knife, make diagonal 1 inch cuts on both sides of the stripe of onion and cheese mixture. 
  13. Lift the parchment with the loaf onto a baking sheet. 
  14. Fold the ends over the filling, and then fold the strips over the filling, alternating from both sides, so that the top of the dough looks like a braid. 
  15. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  16. Cover the loaf loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled, about 30 to 40 minutes. 
  17. Brush the top of the loaf with the egg wash.
  18. Sprinkle the center of the braid with about an ounce of grated Gruyere.
  19. Sprinkle the top of the cheese lightly with herbes de Provence. 
  20. Bake the loaf for about 45 minutes, until nicely browned and the center registers about 190 degrees F. 
  21. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm, or cool completely and wrap in foil to serve later.
Inspired by Canadian Living

Sharing with Yeastspotting

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Puff Pastry Pizzettes | Tuesdays with Dorie

Puff Pastry Pizzettes

These little Puff Pastry Pizzettes are made from leftover puff pastry scraps. They are only about two inches across, and are wonderful as appetizers.

Puff Pastry Pizzettes

Puff pastry and I have to break up for a while. I'm a little too attached since I learned how to make my own. I make these things and then I don't share them with anyone even though I intend to. I made 12 pizzettes. I ate four when they came out of the oven, four more for breakfast the next morning, and the other four for lunch. Mr. Kitchen has no idea these ever existed. They are sooooo good!

Puff Pastry Pizzettes

There's one more sheet of this homemade pastry in the freezer, and I have two weeks to use it. I'm thinking a little bit of caramelized onion with gruyere, or maybe cinnamon and apple, or.... any suggestions?

Puff Pastry Pizzettes

Ingredients


Left over puff pastry, store bought, or homemade
Grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
Crumbled goat cheese
Pepper
Olive oil
Basil leaves
Crushed red pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. Roll the puff pastry dough out into 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick sheet on a lightly floured surface. 
  3. Cut the dough into 2 inch circles with a cookie cutter and place them onto the parchment lined baking sheet.
  4. Press a tomato half, cut side up, into the middle of each circle of pastry.
  5. Sprinkle the goat cheese crumbles over the tomato and pastry. 
  6. Grind the pepper over the pizzettes to taste.
  7. Bake until the pastry has puffed and is lightly browned, 10 to 20 minutes (keep an eye on it). 
  8. Immediately brush the tops of the pizzettes with a light coating of olive oil and garnish with a basil leaf. 
  9. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper to taste. 
The Tuesdays with Dorie group is baking these pizzettes this week. We do it because we love Julia Child, Dorie Greenspan, and the amazing book Baking with Julia, from the PBS show of the same name and edited by Dorie. The book, published in 1996, continues to amaze me. It is a collection of recipes from some of the best bakers in the country. Prior to baking one of the recipes, you can typically find a video of Julia and the featured baker making it. Each one of the videos make me smile. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Witch Finger Cookies

Witch Finger Cookies: Karen's Kitchen Stories

I made these witch finger cookies as a treat for my grandsons. Halloween is on their minds of course, and they were coming over for dinner. Yay!!

Witch Finger Cookies: Karen's Kitchen Stories


The youngest (age 6), who thinks nothing of picking up bugs and live lizard tails with his bare hands was a little freaked out by these fingers. He hesitated for several minutes before tasting one. He was particular nervous about the "blood." Fortunately, he finally gave one a try, and promptly ate three.

Witch Finger Cookies: Karen's Kitchen Stories

Making these cookies is super easy and a lot of fun. I attached the almond "fingernails" with egg white, but you could attach them with red jam for an even more "bloody" look.

I added a bit of concentrated green food coloring (think Wicked), but these would probably be just as creepy without it.

P.S. They are quite tasty.

The Creative Cookie Exchange celebrates Halloween! Check out more links to Halloween cookies after the recipe.

Witch Finger Cookies

Ingredients


9 ounces (2 C) all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C (1 stick) room temperature butter
1 C sugar
1 large egg
1tsp vanilla (I used Vanilla Bean Paste for added vanilla flavor)
1 to 2 drops green food coloring (optional)
28 large pieces of sliced almonds
Egg white or or strawberry jelly for attaching almonds
1/2 C raspberry or strawberry jam

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment. 
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. 
  3. Using a stand or electric mixer, mix the butter and sugar on high speed, until fluffy, about 3 minutes. 
  4. Add the egg, vanilla, and food coloring, and beat until blended. 
  5. Slowly add the flour, and beat on medium low until incorporated. 
  6. Form the dough into a rectangle, and cut with a dough scraper or knife into 28 equal sized pieces. 
  7. Roll each piece into a 5 inch cylinder and place on the baking sheet, about one inch apart. 
  8. Dip the almond slices into the egg white or jelly, and press them into the ends of the cylinders. 
  9. Taking a table knife, make three horizontal cuts where the knuckles would be. Press the cylinders between your fingers to give the fingers shape. 
  10. Bake the cookies for about 16 to 18 minutes, and cool on a wire rack. 
  11. Warm the jam in a small saucepan, and dip the ends of the fingers into the jam. Place the cookies back on the parchment for the jam to cool. 
Slightly adapted from Food Network


The theme this month is Halloween! Spooky, silly, creepy, we’ve got it all! If you are a blogger and want to join in the fun, contact Laura at thespicedlife AT gmail DOT com and she will get you added to our Facebook group, where we discuss our cookies and share links. You can also just use us as a great resource for cookie recipes--be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Chinese Jamaican Stir-Fried Beef and Carrots | Wok Wednesdays

Chinese Jamaican Stir-Fried Beef and Carrots

This Chinese Jamaican Stir-Fried Beef and Carrots recipe is the simplest stir-fry from Stir Frying to the Sky's Edge so far.

The ingredient list is short. Flank steak. Soy sauce. Cornstarch. Salt. Carrots. Onions. Matouk's Calypso Sauce.

Matouk's Calypson Sauce? Oops. I should have looked at the ingredient list about a week ago so I could have hunted down or ordered this sauce.

The ingredients list for Matouk's Calypso Sauce includes pickled Scotch bonnet, prepared mustard, cane sugar, onion, garlic, and celery seed. Sriracha has a similar ingredient list, minus the mustard. And a different chile. 

I ended up adding a bit of mustard to Sriracha and crossed my fingers. I have no idea if what I concocted is even close to Matouk's Calypso Sauce, but this stir-fry was amazing either way.

Chinese Jamaican Stir-Fried Beef and Carrots

The flank steak pieces are marinated for a very short time in the soy, cornstarch, and some of the salt. The carrots are julienned and then stir fried with the onions (I used a sweet onion). The steak is then seared in the hot wok, the vegetables are added back in, and everything is tossed with the hot sauce.

This was so easy and so delicious. I had leftovers for lunch the next day and it was still amazing.

Chinese Jamaican Stir-Fried Beef and Carrots

Participants in Wok Wednesdays have agreed not to post the actual recipe. Instead, we encourage you to check out the award winning book, Stir Frying to the Sky's Edge, by Grace Young. This recipe is on page 78. It's perfect for steak lovers.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Golden Raisin and Fennel Sourdough Pocket Bread for #BreadBakers

Golden Raisin and Fennel Sourdough Pocket Bread: Karen's Kitchen Stories

These Golden Raisin and Fennel Sourdough Pocket Breads may look like muffins, but they are are actual sourdough breads baked in a muffin tin.

Golden Raisin and Fennel Sourdough Pocket Bread: Karen's Kitchen Stories

These are filled with raisins soaked with ground fennel seeds, shaped, and then rolled in cornmeal. The flavor combination is exceptional.

Golden Raisin and Fennel Sourdough Pocket Bread: Karen's Kitchen Stories

The concept of pocket breads comes from Josey Baker, a bakery owner and the author of a new book, Josey Baker Bread. When he was first starting his business, he developed these small loaves for potential customers who didn't want or need to buy a large loaf of bread. His book has several pocket bread flavors, including dark chocolate cherry, chocolate peanut butter (with mini peanut butter cups!), and cheddar chive.

Golden Raisin and Fennel Sourdough Pocket Bread: Karen's Kitchen Stories

The theme for this month's Bread Bakers event is grapes, which could mean grapes, wine, raisins, or anything else grape. I originally intended to bake a bread with fresh grapes, but when I found these pocket breads, I had to try them. This is not your typical raisin bread. The sourdough aroma and flavor is perfect with the cornmeal, fennel seeds, and the golden raisins. And they are so cute, right?

One of my favorite ways to serve these is toasted with melted Havarti cheese. So good.

Golden Raisin and Fennel Sourdough Pocket Bread

Makes 12 Pocket Breads

Ingredients


Raisin Soaker


2 tsp ground fennel seeds
1/2 C (70 g) golden raisins
1/4 C (40 g) cornmeal
1/2 C hot water, about 100 degrees F

Mix the ingredients in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for about 8 to 12 hours. Drain before using. 

Sourdough Pre-Ferment


15 g (1T) active sourdough starter
1/2 C cool water
105 g (3/4 C) whole wheat flour

Mix the ingredients in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for about 8 to 12 hours, until bubbly. 

Final Dough


All of the pre-ferment
1 1/4 C lukewarm water
450 g (3 C) bread flour
12 g (2 tsp) fine sea salt (or regular non-iodized)
All of the raisin soaker, drained
About 3/4 C cornmeal for coating the pocket breads

Instructions

  1. Scrape the pre-ferment into a large bowl.
  2. Add the water, bread flour, salt, and raisin soaker, and mix with a wet hand until combined. 
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes. 
  4. Do four "stretch and folds" of the dough (check out this post for a video of the stretch and fold method), every 30 minutes. 
  5. Cover the dough and let rise until doubled, about 3 hours. 
  6. Spray a muffin tin with spray oil.
  7. Divide the dough into 12 equal parts, about 100 grams each. 
  8. Form each into a ball (the dough will be sticky so flour your work surface and wet your hands). 
  9. Lightly spray the balls with water, roll the formed balls into the cornmeal, and place them, seam side down, into the cavities of the muffin tin. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise until puffy, about 3 hours. 
  10. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. 
  11. Slash the tops of the breads, and spray the tops with water.
  12. Bake the rolls for 5 minutes, open the door of the oven, and spray the rolls once more with water and close the door. 
  13. Bake for another 25 minutes, until nicely browned.
  14. Remove the rolls from the oven and turn them out onto a cooling rack. 

BreadBakers

I'm so excited about this month's Bread Bakers theme, which is all things grapes. Check out the amazing grape-themed breads the #BreadBakers made this month:
#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme.  Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.

Sharing with Yeastspotting


Friday, October 10, 2014

Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread

Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread from Karen's Kitchen Stories

This cinnamon apple twist bread has these things going for it:

  1. It's beautiful.
  2. It's delicious.
  3. It's impressive.
  4. It's easy.
  5. Your friends will admire you. 
What more do you need?

The dough is rolled up like cinnamon rolls, but instead of slicing the rolled up dough cross wise like the rolls, the dough is sliced lengthwise, and then braided, cut side up, to create this gorgeous swirly bread.

Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread from Karen's Kitchen Stories

These loaves would be perfect for breakfast or brunch. You could also leave off the glaze if you want something a bit less sweet. I think it would be awesome as a hostess gift with the glaze on the side.

The apple filling calls for Intant ClearJel, which is a thickener that is great to use with fruit pie fillings. I happened to have it on hand (of course I did, because you never know, right?). f you don't have it, you can use flour, corn starch, or tapioca.

Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread

Dough

13 ounces pastry blend flour (or a blend of 65% all purpose and 35% cake flour)
1 1/2 ounces potato flour or potato flakes
3 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
3 T slightly softened butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 large egg
1 C milk

Filling

1/2 C sugar
3 T Instant ClearJel or flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 C peeled and grated apple (about two large crisp apples), I used Braeburn
1 T lemon juice

Glaze 

2 ounces powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp boiled cider (optional)
1 T apple juice

Instructions

Dough

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix all of the dry ingredients with a whisk. 
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix for about a minute until the dry ingredients are wet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes. 
  3. Knead the dough with the dough hook for 10 minutes. The dough should be slightly sticky, so add a bit of water if the dough is too dry. 
  4. Put the dough in an oiled bowl and spray the top with spray oil. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 90 to 120 minutes.

Filling

  1. Mix the cinnamon, ClearJel or flour, and sugar in a medium bowl. 
  2. Mix the apples and lemon in a small bowl. Toss them with the cinnamon sugar mixture.
  3. Cover and set aside.

Assemble the Loaves

  1. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and press it down gently to deflate it. 
  2. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and roll each into 10 by 12 inch rectangles. 
  3. Spread the filling over each piece and roll, starting with the 12 inch side, into logs. 
  4. Cut each log in half lengthwise, and keeping the cut side up, twist the two pieces like a braid, and press the ends together and tuck them under (see the loaf above). Repeat with the second log. 
  5. Place the twists onto a parchment lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until puffy and nearly doubled, about an hour or two. 
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the loaves for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for about an hour before glazing. 
  7. Using a fork, drizzle the bread with the glaze. 
This recipe was slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour and is the recipe that the bakers of the Avid Bakers Challenge are making for October. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sunny Side Up Apricot Pastries with Homemade Puff Pastry

Sunny Side Up Apricot Pastries with Homemade Puff Pastry

I approached these Apricot Pastries with caution. I did not want to get my hopes up because this recipe involved making my own puff pastry.

Yes, the recipe says "1/2 recipe Puff Pastry.. or 1 1/4 pounds store-bought puff pastry." I went for the challenge of making my own puff pastry.

Fortunately, this dough is totally flexible, in that you can make it over a couple of days and refrigerate it between folds. It got easier as I went along, probably because the butter finally got with the program.

homemade puff pastry
The final dough after six "turns."

I've had some experience with croissant dough, and my favorite recipe involves mixing the butter with a bit of flour and shaping it into a block. In the case of this dough, you use butter straight from the refrigerator without mixing. The butter was a bit resistant to forming a cohesive block. I also think I made my butter block too thick. As I mentioned, it finally got with the program and cooperated.

Fortunately, I watched this video in advance of attempting the dough, and was comforted by the fact that Michel Richard, an amazing pastry chef, had butter leaking out of his dough at first. It's not just me. This dough is pretty forgiving.

I made the butter block and dough in the evening, and then proceeded to do the laminating process the next day. After the final fold, I refrigerated the dough overnight, until I had time to make these pastries. I rolled out the rest of the dough, wrapped it, and put it in the freezer. I've got big plans for this pastry. I am one proud baker.

Puff pastry. Check.

Sunny Side Up Apricot Pastries with Homemade Puff Pastry


These apricot pastries are delicious. I cut off a piece of one to try and then managed to inhale the whole thing. The pastry pieces are rolled in sugar, filled with a pastry cream that is pretty easy to make, and then topped with poached apricot halves. Finally, they are glazed with melted apricot jam.

A friend suggested that I use a very sharp knife rather than a cookie cutter so that the edges will separate and get even more puffy. I was just happy to see them puff up as a sat on a stool staring at the oven window as they baked. Yes, I do that a lot.

Puff Pastry Recipe

Ingredients

1 pound pastry flour (alternatively, you can use a mixture of all purpose flour and pastry flour)
1 T salt
1 1/4 C ice water
1 pound very cold unsalted butter

Instructions


  1. Blend the dry ingredients in the bowl of a large food processor. 
  2. Add the water all at once, and mix with the blade until the dough forms a ball. 
  3. Form the dough into a ball, cut the top of it with a sharp knife in a tic tac toe pattern, and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate it while you make the butter block. 
  4. Place the cold butter between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound it into to a square that is one inch thick. Place it into the refrigerator if it gets too soft. 
  5. Roll the dough into a 10-inch square on a floured surface. It is fine to keep dusting the dough lightly with flour to keep it from sticking. 
  6. Place the butter block in the middle of the dough so that the corners of the dough can be folded over the butter like a square envelope and meet in the middle. You might have to stretch it a bit, so be sure to stretch it evenly throughout. At this point, I refrigerated the dough for about 30 minutes. 
  7. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and dust the top with flour. Roll the dough lengthwise into a 24 inch long rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds, turn it so the closed fold is on the left and repeat the rolling and folding process five more times. You should wrap the dough and refrigerate it in between turns if the it gets too warm or the butter begins to leak out. You can even chill it overnight. I kept track of the number of turns by making tick marks in the cookbook. 
  8. The dough will keep for 4 days in the refrigerator and up to 30 days in the freezer. To freeze it, roll it to about 1/2 inch thick, wrap it, and freeze it. I cut mine into quarters first before rolling it out for the freezer. 

Sunny Side Up Apricot Pastries

Ingredients

1/2 of the puff pastry
about 2 cups of sugar
About a cup and a quarter of your favorite recipe of pastry cream
16 apricot halves, either poached or canned
1/2 C apricot jam mixed with 2 T water, heated over the stove or in a microwave

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. 
  3. With a 4 inch cookie cutter, cut the pastry into 8 circles. 
  4. Pour some sugar on the work surface and roll the pastry with a rolling pin over the sugar to coat one side and elongate the dough. Don't roll over the ends. They should be slightly thicker than the middle. 
  5. Place the pastry, sugar side up, on the baking sheet. 
  6. Place a heaping tablespoon of pastry cream in the center and add the two apricot halves, cut side down. 
  7. Bake the pastries for about 35 minutes. Immediately remove them from the pan to a wire rack. 
  8. Brush the top of of the pastry and apricots with the melted jam. 
  9. They can be served warm or at room temperature. They are the best the same day they are baked. 
This recipe can be found in the wonderful cookbook Baking with Julia written by Dorie Greenspan

The puff pastry recipe can also be found here, and the recipe for the pastries (including pastry cream) can be found here

I am baking along with the Tuesdays with Dorie baking group. To see how other bakers fared with this recipe, check out these links on the Tuesdays with Dorie page