Nov 30, 2013

Bloodhound Cocktail

Bloodhound cocktail

Isn't this Bloodhound Cocktail pretty? I found it in an old out of print Williams-Sonoma Bar Guide and just had to try it. It is gin based, and contains both white and red vermouth plus a small amount of strawberry jam puree.

bloodhound cocktail

Frozen pureed jam works just fine too, and helps keep the cocktail cold. I like to keep a container of it in the freezer and dip a spoon into it when I "need" to make one of these (this trick also works with frozen lemonade and limeade concentrates, all great when you want to make margaritas on the fly because the purees never really freeze solidly).

How was your Thanksgiving? I sure hope it was wonderful. I thought of my aunt Chris this Thanksgiving. She passed away recently and I miss her, especially on holidays. She was my dad's sister, and the only real aunt I had.

I have a lot great memories of her, but one of my favorites is of her helping me make gravy about 10 years ago when it was my turn to host the family Christmas dinner. I had no clue and I had an electric stove top that required that you move one knob to operate each of the burners (all of the others were stripped). She and I worked together... scraping and moving the knob to control the burners, and produced a gravy of which we would all be proud. She was so calm and never made me feel like I didn't know what I was doing, even though I didn't.

I still don't get gravy I guess, because I put too much water in the bottom of my roaster this year and ended up with seriously diluted pan drippings. I warned my family that we might have a gravy-less dinner and then went to work. Somehow, I ended up with an amazingly flavorful gravy. Thank you aunt Chris. I know you were looking over my shoulder.

Oh, and I made your Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes.  Cheers! And much love.

bloodhound cocktail

Bloodhound Cocktail Recipe

Ingredients

2 fluid ounces gin
1 T dry vermouth
1 T sweet vermouth
2 tsp strawberry jam puree

Instructions

  1. Chill a coupe or martini glass
  2. Fill a shaker with ice and add the rest of the ingredients
  3. Strain into the chilled cocktail glass
Enjoy!

Nov 29, 2013

Roasted Potato Bread

roasted potato bread

According to Jeffrey Hamelman in his book Bread, adding potatoes to bread was a result of serious grain shortages near the end of the eighteenth century. Those in power, including the governments, were concerned about unrest, so they attempted to devise ways to add other ingredients to bread to make up for the short supply of grains. While many of the attempted ingredients didn't work, potatoes definitely did.

Roasted Potato Bread

This roasted potato bread has a a wonderful potato flavor. The potatoes in the loaves are baked, not boiled, intensifying the potato flavor. In addition, the skins are also mashed and added to the dough. Potatoes add a lot of moisture to bread, and help keep the bread fresh longer. Trust me, you will love this bread.

This bread was the October Bread of the Month for the Facebook Artisan Bread Bakers Group, and was introduced to the group by my friend David of Hearth Baked Tunes.

Roasted Potato Bread

Roasted Potato Bread

Ingredients

Pate Fermentee

9.6 ounces bread flour
6.2 ounces water
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp instant yeast

Final Dough

17.6 ounces bread flour
4.8 ounces rye flour
13.3 ounces water
1 T salt
1 1/4 tsp instant yeast
8 ounces baked Yukon Gold potatoes (baked whole, not cut up or peeled)
all of the pate fermentee

Instructions

  1. The day before baking the bread, mix the pate fermentee in a medium bowl until just smooth. Cover and allow to sit for 16 hours. 
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the rest of the ingredients and mix on low for about three minutes. Next, add the pate fermentee in chunks while the dough is mixing.  Change the speed of the mixer to the next highest speed and mix for about 4 minutes. 
  3. Place the dough into an oiled bowl or dough rising bucket, cover, and let it rise until doubled, about 90 minutes, with one stretch-and-fold half way through. 
  4. Divide the dough into two pieces and form it into two boules or batards, and let rise for about 75 minutes. 
  5. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and prepare it for steam
  6. Score the loaves and bake them for 40 minutes. If the loaves get too brown, tent with foil. 
  7. Cool completely on a rack before slicing.
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Nov 24, 2013

Roasted Tomato and Pepper Soup | #SecretRecipeClub


Roasted Tomato and Pepper Soup

This roasted tomato and pepper soup is perfect when you need something tasty, filling, and healthy, especially when you are leading into the big eat-a-thon that is the holiday season.

Roasted Tomato and Pepper Soup

Paired with a grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough bread (I love how the cheese melts through the holes in the bread), this makes a wonderful lunch or a light dinner.

The recipe is from Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen, my assigned blog for The Secret Recipe Club. Bobbi has so many wonderful recipes on her blog that it was hard to choose what to make. She also has a wonderful story about how she became interested in cooking. I'm sending her some cyber hugs this Thanksgiving.

In the end, I chose this tomato soup, mostly because I have always wanted to try making it from scratch, and because, like me, Bobbi likes her food spicy. The only alteration I made was adding 1/2 of a red bell pepper. It did not seem to affect the flavor, but punched up the color of my "not quite red enough" tomatoes. For the original recipe, see Bobbi's post.

Roasted Tomato and Pepper Soup

Roasted Tomato and Pepper Soup Recipe

Ingredients

16 Roma tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
2 T olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T water
1 jalapeño pepper
1 large onion, chopped
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 T dried herbes de Provence
1 C dry white wine
1 Qt chicken stock
1 small red bell pepper, optional
Sour cream, olive oil, or croutons for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or foil.
  2. Place the tomato halves in a large bowl and toss with 1 T of the olive oil, salt, and pepper. 
  3. Place the tomatoes cut side down onto the baking sheet and bake for one hour. 
  4. Take the tomatoes out of the oven, remove their skins, and turn them over. Place them back in the oven and bake another 30 to 60 minutes, until shriveled but not dry. Remove from the oven.
  5. Set the oven to broil and line a small baking sheet with foil. Cut the jalapeños in half lengthwise and remove the stems, ribs, and seeds. Broil until blackened, about 5 minutes (but watch closely. Place the broiled chiles in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. When cooled, remove the skin.
  6. In a 4 quart saucepan, saute the onion in 1 T of the olive oil on low until soft, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the garlic and herbes de Provence and saute about 2 minutes more. Add the wine and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and simmer for about 15 minutes. Transfer the liquid into large heatproof measuring cup or bowl. 
  7. Cut the optional red bell pepper into 1 inch squares and microwave in a lightly covered bowl for about 2 minutes.
  8. Blend the ingredients with an immersion blender, or in batches in a blender and place back into the saucepan. Heat on low and add salt and pepper to taste. 

 

Nov 23, 2013

Multi-grain and Spelt 100% Sourdough Boule

Multi-grain and Spelt 100% Sourdough Boule

This sourdough bread is one of my new favorites. Even though it's 100% sourdough, the bread can be made in one day (albeit you must start early). The bread has a wonderful fruity sourdough tang.

Multi-grain and Spelt 100% Sourdough Boule

The dough for this bread is 80% hydration. What does that mean? It's really wet and sticky. In order to get the dough to come together and be workable, I used the "stretch and fold" method. It really is an amazing thing to see the dough come together so that it can develop lovely pockets of air.

Whenever I write about this method, I usually send you to Peter Reinhart's excellent video here. If you're a total bread geek (like me), I think you'd like Craig Ponsford's demonstration too. Go to the 4:40 mark on this video to see the "stretch and fold" method.

This bread contains a blend of bread flour, whole spelt, and a mix of different grains. Because I had some on hand, I used King Arthur Flour's 9-grain blend, but you could easily use a blend of whole wheat, barley, oat, and rye flours. If you can't find barley or oat flours, just play around with whole wheat and rye, or whatever you can find, until you find a blend that you like.

Although my bread did expand in the oven, I think I should have put it into the oven just a bit earlier. This dough rose much more quickly than I expected during the second rise. Check out the Finger Dent Test video here on Ken Forkish's site for tips on how to know when your loaves are ready for the oven. He also has a great video on how to shape the loaves.

Helpful tools:

Dough scraper, bench knife12 quart dough rising bucket or large wide bowl, 9-inch bowls (2) or brotforms, and a baking stone or 2 Dutch ovens. You don't "need" all of this stuff, but they do make it easier.


Multi-grain and Spelt 100% Sourdough Boule

Multi-grain and Spelt 100% Sourdough Boule

Ingredients

430 grams 100% active hydration sourdough starter 
750 grams bread flour
150 grams whole spelt flour
100 grams of a mixture of whole wheat, whole rye, and other flours
700 grams bottled or filtered water
20 grams salt

Instructions

  1. Stir the starter, flours, and water together in a large bowl or bucket until everything is blended, about 3 to 5 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for about an hour. 
  2. Add the salt, and using your wet hands, pinch the salt into the dough, alternately mixing the dough with your hands, and pinching the dough with your fingers. Do this until you feel the dough develop a little tension. 
  3. Let it rise, covered with plastic, at room temperature for 30 minutes. Stretch and fold, and cover again. Stretch and fold two more times, at 30 minute intervals. Let the dough continue to rise until nearly doubled, about another 90 to 120 minutes. 
  4. Lightly flour a work surface, and scrape the dough out of the bowl/bucket. 
  5. With a wet bench knife, divide the dough into two pieces. 
  6. Loosely shape the dough the pieces into two balls, cover with oiled plastic wrap, and let rest for about 15 minutes. 
  7. Flour two brotforms or line two bowls with floured dishtowels. 
  8. Shape the dough into boules and place them, seam side up, in the bowls. Cover with plastic wrap and let them rise at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.
  9. Prepare the oven for steam by placing a baking stone on a lower rack and a broiler pan underneath it. You will be tossing hot water into the broiler pan right after placing the loaves in the oven. If you'd rather go the Dutch oven route, see this post for instructions. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
  10. When the loaves are ready, turn them out onto peel or the back of a baking sheet lined with good parchment paper. Slash, and slide the loaves, parchment and all, onto the stone. Place one cup of boiling water into the broiler pan and immediately shut the oven door. Turn the oven down to 475 degrees F. 
  11. After 20 minutes, pull the parchment out from under the breads and reduce the oven temperature to 425 degrees F. Bake for approximately another 30 to 40 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches about 205 to 210 degrees F. 
  12. Cool completely on a wire rack. 
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Nov 21, 2013

Pumpkin Applesauce Muffins

Pumpkin Applesauce Muffins

These pumpkin applesauce muffins derive a lot of their moistness from pureed pumpkin and applesauce. Of course the butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar help too.... 

A couple of years ago there were rumors of a pumpkin puree shortage. Having never been a big lover of pumpkin, I immediately felt the need to buy a few cans "just in case." I'm not proud of myself. I'm pretty sure it's behavior like this that caused the gas lines in the 1970s and the run on Cabbage Patch Kids in the 80s. 

This year, the rumor is that there is a "small fresh turkey shortage." I'm pleased to say that I did not stock up on extra birds. 

By the way, these muffins were wonderful. Now that pumpkin puree is free flowing again, give them a try!

Pumpkin Applesauce Muffins

Makes about 21 muffins.

Ingredients

Cooking spray
3 1/3 C all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground clove
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
8 T unsalted butter, softened
2 C sugar
4 large eggs
1 C applesauce
1 C canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 tsp vanilla 
2/3 C apple or orange juice
1 1/2 C golden raisins

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degree F and fill 21 cavities of two regular sized muffin tins with cupcake liners. Lightly spray the liners with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. 
  3. In a large mixing bowl or a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar for about 3 minutes, until creamy. Add in the eggs, applesauce, pumpkin, and vanilla, and beat until blended.
  4. Add in half of the dry ingredients and and mix. Add the juice and mix. Add the second half of the dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Don't over mix.
  5. Fold in the raisins.
  6. Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 full. Bake on the center rack for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. 
  7. Allow the muffins to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, remove them from the pans, and cool on a wire rack. Can be served warm or at room temperature.

Nov 19, 2013

Double Chocolate Cookies

Double Chocolate Cookies

These double chocolate chip cookies are sort of a cross between a truffle, brownie, cake, and a cookie... all in a very good way. It's kind of a "fluffy" candy bar.

Imagine a cookie that requires just 1/2 cup of flour to a POUND of chocolate.

Double Chocolate Cookies


The flavor of the chocolate is enhanced by 1 1/2 T of espresso flour. You can't really taste the coffee, but it does a wonderful job of enhancing the chocolate flavor.

The eggs, sugar, coffee, and vanilla are beaten at high speed for 10 minutes to create a thick batter. You then add the chocolate, flour, and extra chocolate chunks (seriously) and chill the batter at least overnight and up to 4 days before baking.

Double Chocolate Cookies

These cookies were amazingly easy and will definitely impress any chocolate lover in your world.

Double Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients

1/2 C all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 stick unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 large room temperature eggs
1 1/2 C sugar
1 1/2 tsp espresso powder
2 tsp vanilla
6 ounces semi sweet chocolate chunks (I used these from King Arthur Flour but I've seen chocolate chunks in grocery stores recently)

Instructions

  1. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl.
  2. Melt the bittersweet chocolate, butter, and unsweetened chocolate together in a double boiler or a metal bowl over simmering water (don't let the bowl touch the water) until melted. Set aside to cool a bit.
  3. Mix the eggs, sugar, espresso, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer using the wire whip on high speed, for about 10 minutes, until very thick. 
  4. Switch to the paddle attachment (one with the built in bowl scraper is really helpful), and on low speed, slowly add the warm chocolate until incorporated. 
  5. Add the flour mixture and mix for about a minute.
  6. Stir in the chocolate chunks. 
  7. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12 hours or up to 4 days. 
  8. When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two or three baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  9. Scoop the dough by tablespoons onto the parchment, placing the mounds about 2 inches apart. 
  10. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for about 10 to 12 minutes. The cookies will appear underdone, but that's okay. 
  11. Using a thin metal spatula or a fish spatula, move the cookies to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Continue to bake each sheet until done.
  12. These cookies can be individually wrapped and frozen for up to a month. Perfect for holiday planning!
This recipe is from Baking with Julia: Savoring the Joys of Baking with America's Best Bakers, and I am baking along with Tuesdays with Dorie. Click on this link for how other bakers fared with this recipe.

The original recipe says it will yield 24 cookies, but I ended up with about 36 cookies. 

Bring your favorite chocolate dessert to Roxana’s home baking #chocolateparty and win amazing prizes from Imperial Sugar®Gold Medal Flour®Safest Choice™ Pasteurized Eggs and KitchenAid®

Nov 18, 2013

Neapolitan Striped Crisps

Neapolitan Striped Cookies

These Neapolitan Striped Crisps are reminiscent of the Neapolitan ice cream my sisters and I used to call "pink, brown, and white" when we were little kids. There's a layer of vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate, just like the ice cream.

Neapolitan Striped Cookies

With these cookies, the layers are held together with a coating of strawberry fruit spread.

To make these cookies, you will need to create one vanilla dough, and then divide it into three parts. You leave one part alone, add chocolate to the second part, and add strawberry fruit spread to the third. I also added a drop of concentrated food coloring to the strawberry part to make it more pink.

You layer the three parts into two mini bread pans, at which point you can either refrigerate or freeze the dough.
Neapolitan Striped Cookies

My biggest challenge was layering the dough and getting it it to be even layers.

The chocolate layer was more dense because it contained melted chocolate, and the strawberry layer was more batter-like, because it contained a few extra tablespoons of strawberry fruit spread.

I think the next time I make these (and there will be a next time, because these were really tasty), I might experiment with the shaping by creating rectangles that I can drop into the loaf pans.

Neapolitan Striped Cookies
I'll also use slightly less jam in between the layers because it leaked out in some places.

Once the cookie dough has been assembled, it is frozen until it is time to slice and bake the cookies.

The dough will have to be thawed overnight in the refrigerator in order to be easily cut into slices.

They are pretty easy to slice, and even if a piece breaks off or separates, you can simply stick it back together.

As rustic as these may look, these are good. The kids went nuts over them!

Neapolitan Striped Cookies

























Neapolitan Striped Crisps Cookie Recipe

Makes about 40 cookies

Ingredients

2 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate
255 g unbleached all purpose flour (about 2 C)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 C unsalted butter, softened
1 C sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1 T unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, run through a strainer to remove any lumps
3 T strawberry fruit spread plus more to spread between the layers

Instructions

  1. Line two small 5 inch by 3 inch loaf pans with plastic wrap with plenty of overhang. If you do not have the loaf pans, aluminum foil mini loaf pans are great, and perfect for the freezer.
  2. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (or a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water). Stir until melted and remove from the heat to cool. 
  3. In medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter and sugar and beat for about a minute. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and beat for another minute, until fully mixed. 
  5. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture, and mix until just blended. 
  6. Divide the dough into three equal pieces and place two of the pieces into two new clean bowls. 
  7. Add the chocolate to the part that is still in the mixer bowl, and mix on low until smooth.
  8. Stir 3 T of fruit spread into one of the other dough pieces. 
  9. Divide each flavor into two equal pieces. Press the chocolate pieces into the bottom of each loaf pan. Brush the tops with 1 to 2 tsps of fruit spread.
  10. Press the strawberry dough on top of the chocolate dough, and brush with the fruit spread.
  11. Press the vanilla dough on top of the strawberry dough.
  12. Wrap the overhanging plastic wrap over the dough, and wrap the pans with more plastic wrap.
  13. Freeze. When you are ready to bake the cookies, thaw the dough in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. 
  14. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment.
  15. Slice the dough into 1/4 inch slices and place them about 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheets. 
  16. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 14 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, and then move them to a wire rack to cool completely. 
  17. These cookies will keep for about 4 days in a sealed container. 
Slightly adapted from Slice and Bake Cookies by Elinor Klivans. (Awesome book)

This post is part of the Creative Cookie Exchange, a once a month cookie baking group.



Creative Cookie Exchange

Nov 17, 2013

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

The first and last time I made these pumpkin dinner rolls was three years ago, when they were the Bread of the Month for the Artisan Bread Bakers Facebook page.  While they were tasty, they didn't look very pretty. Let's just say, I needed to practice my shaping skills.

The bread was wonderful, but it looked all stretchy and wrinkly.

I think I was trying too hard to tuck all of the loose ends in and I ran out of room.

This time I decided to go with a single knot and not worry about the ends.... so much easier!

After baking bread for about four years, I'm beginning to understand the nuances of working with dough.

While baking cookies or cakes is precise, baking bread is more about how it feels to you, the baker.

It's about getting to know the dough and how it behaves. To quote Lionel Vatinet, baking bread is "mysterious and endlessly alluring."

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Even though these dinner rolls derive their color from pumpkin, they do not have a pumpkin flavor. Even pumpkin haters will love them, if they can get past the color. They are super soft, and are delicious with butter, pumpkin butter, or apple butter. They also make excellent buns for turkey or chicken salad sandwiches. Trust me.

They are soft and fluffy, and are great fresh out of the oven with butter, honey, apple butter, or even pumpkin butter. These rolls can be assembled in advance and refrigerated overnight, covered, on the baking sheet prior to baking.

Much prettier, right?

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

For general knotting instructions, see this post in Fine Cooking (this is what I attempted the first time). To see step-by-step photos of the single knot that I used, visit Phyl's blog.

I made this recipe to use up leftover pumpkin puree after making this recipe for pumpkin cinnamon rolls. For additional pumpkin recipes check out the following posts:

Pumpkin martini

Pumpkin cheesecake brownies

Mini pumpkin cheesecakes

Pumpkin, Walnut, and Cranberry Loaf


Pumpkin Dinner Rolls Recipe

Adapted from Phyl of Cabbages and King Cakes, who was inspired by Peter Reinhart
Makes 12 rolls and can easily be doubled.

Ingredients

3 C/14.5 ounces bread flour
1 T plus 3/4 tsp instant yeast
1/4 C sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C lukewarm milk
3 T room temperature unsalted butter
1/2 C canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 room temperature egg
1 lightly beaten egg and a pinch of salt for glazing

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. 
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the second egg) and stir with a large spoon until all of the dry ingredients are moistened.
  3. Knead with the dough hook and knead on low for 5 minutes. Add additional flour by tablespoon if needed to get a tacky but not sticky dough. Be careful not to add too much extra flour.
  4. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl or dough rising bucket and turn it to coat with oil. 
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 90 minutes. It will take longer if your kitchen is cool.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and divide the dough into 12 even pieces (I use a scale).
  7. Roll each piece into a 12 inch rope. Tie each rope into a single knot. 
  8. Place the knots on a parchment lined baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with a rack placed in the middle. 
  10. Cover the rolls loosely with plastic wrap and proof for about an hour, until doubled. 
  11. Brush the rolls with with the egg wash and bake for about 16 to 18 minutes, until golden. 
  12. You can serve these immediately, or cool on a rack. Store leftovers in a plastic bag for about 2 days. 
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Nov 14, 2013

Whole Wheat Challah with Apricots

Whole Wheat Challah with Apricots

Challah is typically baked with white flour. As Daniel Leader says, "challah is the whitest of white breads." He also points out that observant Jews baked bread prior to the invention of white flour, so they must have baked challah with whole grains at some point.

Whole Wheat Challah with Apricots

This challah dough is about half whole wheat flour and half white flour. The addition of a small amount of finely chopped dried apricots add a touch of sweetness to balance the bite of the whole wheat flour.

The bread is pretty amazing, and going forward, it will be difficult for me to choose which challah recipe to bake. This bread is light and airy, and simply wonderful. The dough behaved and was super easy to braid.

Whole Wheat Challah with Apricots

More awesome challah recipes to check out: Italian challah and Demerara sugar honey challah.

Whole Wheat Challah with Apricots

240 grams stone ground whole wheat flour
219 grams unbleached all purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast (I used SAF Gold)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 C water
3 large room temperature eggs
1/2 C olive oil
1/4 C honey
30 grams finely chopped dried apricots

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flours, yeast, salt, water, two of the eggs, olive oil, and honey. Stir with a large spoon or dough whisk to moisten. 
  2. Knead the ingredients with the dough hook on medium-high speed for about 4 to 6 minutes, until the dough is smooth. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl. I had to add a couple of extra tablespoons of flour.
  3. Add the apricots and knead/mix for an additional minute or so.
  4. Move the dough to an oiled bowl or dough rising bucket and let it rise until doubled, about 90 to 120 minutes. 
  5. Deflate the dough and cut it into three equal pieces. 
  6. Roll the pieces into 15 inch long pieces.
  7. On a parchment lined baking sheet, place the pieces next to each other and, at one end, press the pieces together and tucking them under the beginning of the braid.
  8. Braid the strands and, when finished, tuck the other end under the loaf. 
  9. Cover the braid with plastic wrap and allow it to rise until doubled, about 60 to 90 minutes. 
  10. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  11. Beat the remaining egg and brush it over the loaf. 
  12. Bake the loaf for about 40 minutes. 
  13. Cool completely on a wire rack. 
This is the second to last post this year for Eating the Alphabet hosted by Meal Planning Magic
We are cooking with fruits, vegetables, or whole grains beginning with the letters U, V, or W. This month, I've chosen whole wheat. 

Check out how to participate, and enjoy what other bloggers have made with healthy ingredients beginning with U, V. or W below.

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Hamantaschen with Prune Lekvar | Butter Cookies with Prune Filling

Hamantaschen with Prune Lekvar | Butter Cookies with Prune Filling

I discovered Hamantaschen while looking looking for a recipe for Lekvar to make for this pumpernickel bread recipe. After making the bread, I had about a cup of Lekvar left, which meant I had to make these cookies, right?

What is Lekvar, you ask? It's a Hungarian fruit spread made from dried fruit, typically prunes or apricots, and it is usually used in pastries and cookies.

How about Hamantaschen? They are traditional Jewish cookies served to celebrate Purim.

Hamantaschen with Prune Lekvar | Butter Cookies with Prune Filling

The dough for these cookies is really buttery and a little sticky, and I had to use both a dough scraper and many sprinklings of flour while working with it. I also used a thin cookie spatula to lift the cut cookie dough circles off of the counter top to get them to the baking sheets. I toyed with rolling the dough out between sheets of wax paper, but even though this dough was melty, it was still pretty manageable in a weird way.

The trick is to roll the dough out as thinly as possible but not so thin that the filling leaks out while they bake. Your filling also needs to be thick enough so that it stays put while the cookies are in the oven.

I took some of these cookies to work and placed a sign next to them saying "butter cookies with plum jam" (I knew better than to use the word "prune"), and they were a huge hit. I kept hearing "wow, these are really good."

I'm not sure I would have tried these if I did not have the leftover Lekvar, but I am really glad I did. I can't wait to experiment with different fillings and work on my folding and shaping skills. To see instructions on how to fold Hamantaschen (and some photos of perfectly shaped cookies), visit this post from Shiksa in the Kitchen.

Hamantaschen with Prune Lekvar

Lekvar Prune Filling


Ingredients

1 1/2 C pitted prunes
2/3 C water
1 tsp lemon zest
3 T orange juice
1/3 C brown sugar

Instructions

  1. Place the prunes, water, lemon zest, and the orange juice in a small saucepan and simmer for about 30 minutes, covered, until most of the water has been absorbed.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the brown sugar. Mash the ingredients while stirring to create a puree. 
  3. Refrigerate. The Lekvar will keep for several weeks.

Hamantaschen

Slightly adapted from The Shiksa in the Kitchen

Ingredients

3/4 C unsalted room temperature butter, sliced
2/3 C sugar
1 room temperature egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp orange zest or 1/4 tsp orange oil
10.2 (2 1/4 C) unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
a few drops of water if needed

Instructions

  1. Place the butter and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and cream for several minutes until light and fluffy. 
  2. Add the egg, vanilla, and orange and beat until fully blended.
  3. Sift the flour into the bowl, sprinkle with the salt, and mix on low until a dough is just formed.
  4. Briefly knead the dough by hand to form a ball. If it's too dry, add a bit of water, but be careful not to add too much. I did not add any. 
  5. Place a piece of plastic wrap on the counter and place the dough on top. Form it into a disk and wrap it with the plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 3 to 24 hours. 
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  7. Roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. 
  8. Lift up the dough, re-flour the work surface, and roll the dough to 1/8 inch thick.
  9. Cut the dough with a 3 inch round cookie cutter and place the rounds on the baking sheets. Re-roll the dough scraps and cut into more 3 inch rounds. 
  10. Place a teaspoon of filling in each round, and fold the dough into triangles, folding three "sides" over each other (see these instructions). 
  11. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 20 minutes. Cover the waiting baking sheet with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. 
  12. Cool the cookies on a rack. 
  13. These cookies will stay fresh for a few days if kept in a sealed container. 

Nov 13, 2013

Bacon, Leek, and Cheddar Mini Quiches

Bacon, Leek, and Cheddar Mini Quiches

These Bacon, Leek, and Cheddar Mini Quiches are perfect for a cocktail party, game day gathering... or even as a friend suggested, a portable breakfast. They can even be assembled in advance and then frozen before baking, and you don't have to serve them immediately right out of the oven.

The combination of the bacon and leek flavors is pretty amazing.

While I made these with puff pastry, they could easily work will with pie crust.

Bacon, Leek, and Cheddar Mini Quiches

Bacon, Leek, and Cheddar Mini Quiches

Adapted from Fine Cooking
Makes 48 mini quiches

Ingredients


¾ lb bacon, medium dice
3 C medium diced leeks, rinsed and drained
1 ¼ C half and half
4 ounces grated cheddar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 T chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp Kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
cooking spray
2 boxes puff pastry

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and place two racks, one in the upper and one in the lower third of the oven.
  2. In a large skillet, fry the bacon until crispy. Drain on paper towels.
  3. Pour off all but 2 T of the bacon drippings, and sauté the leeks in the same pan until softened, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  4. Mix the half and half, cheddar, eggs, egg yolks, thyme, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a medium bowl.
  5. Spray two 24 cup mini muffin tins with cooking spray.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry out to about 10 inches by 18 inches.
  7. Using a 3 inch circle cookie cutter, cut the pastry and place each one into the cups of the muffin tins. 
  8. Mix the bacon and leeks and evenly distribute the mixture into the 48 cups.
  9. Evenly distribute the egg mixture into the cups.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes, switching the positions of the muffin tins halfway through.
  11. Cook in the muffin tins for about 5 minutes, and then turn out onto cooling racks. 
  12. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Nov 11, 2013

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Shallots and Rosemary

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Shallots and Rosemary

The moment I saw a photo of roasted fingerling potatoes with shallots and rosemary, I knew I had to try preparing them. The last time I was so obsessed about preparing a dish was when I made these potato chips.

These smashed potatoes are pretty darn good too.

There's something about potatoes. They call my name.

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Shallots and Rosemary

I know potatoes kind of have a bad rap right now, and I'm not sure why because they are so tasty. That's why the Justice for Potatoes League commercials make me smile.

As Julia Child said, "everything in moderation, including moderation."

This dish consists of thinly sliced fingerling potatoes tossed in olive oil, sliced shallots, rosemary, and salt and pepper, all tossed together and roasted in the oven until browned and crispy. To slice the potatoes, I used a DeBuyer Kobra mandoline. It's super easy to set up and was perfect with these little tiny potatoes (DeBuyer has no idea I exist, I just like this gadget). The potatoes are super small and long, and using a mandoline made slicing them way easier than trying to do it with a knife.

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Shallots and Rosemary

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Shallots and Rosemary

Ingredients

Serves 4 (150 to 170 calories per serving)

1 pound fingerling potatoes
2 to 3 T olive oil
2 large shallots
2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment
  2. Thinly slice the potatoes about 1/8 inch thin or less
  3. Toss the potatoes in the olive oil in a medium bowl
  4. Thinly slice the shallots and separate the rings. Toss them into the bowl with the potatoes
  5. Add the rosemary, salt, and pepper and mix
  6. Spread the potatoes evenly over in the baking sheet
  7. Place the baking sheet in the oven 
  8. Turn the potatoes at 10 minutes and continue baking for another 30 to 40 minutes, until browned and crispy (but not burned)
  9. Serve immediately
Adapted from Fine Cooking

Nov 8, 2013

Pumpkin Martini

This pumpkin martini is like a milkshake in a cocktail glass... only much better.

This pumpkin martini is like a milkshake in a cocktail glass... only much better.

This pumpkin martini is like a milkshake in a cocktail glass... only much better.

Pumpkin, cinnamon, vanilla, maple syrup, half and half, and vodka. I'd substitute this for a slice of pumpkin pie for dessert.

A friend sent me this recipe and commanded that I make and post this, and being the ever obedient and devoted friend, I obliged. Fortunately, I had some leftover pumpkin puree from this post, but if you don't want to open a whole can of pumpkin puree, you can use pumpkin baby food. Picture yourself buying a bottle of vanilla vodka and a single jar of pumpkin baby food....

Justification for having one of these? A shot of vitamin A. Right?

This pumpkin martini is like a milkshake in a cocktail glass... only much better.

Pumpkin Martini

Ingredients

1 T sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 T vanilla vodka (you can also use regular vodka and a drop or two of vanilla extract)
2 T half and half
1 T pumpkin puree
1 T maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Mix the sugar and cinnamon on a plate.
  2. Wet the rim of a chilled martini glass and twist it through the cinnamon sugar to coat the rim.
  3. Fill a shaker with ice and add the vodka, half and half, pumpkin puree, and maple syrup.
  4. Shake vigorously and strain into the martini glass. 
Cheers! Happy holidays!

Adapted from Real Simple

Nov 6, 2013

Stir-Fried Lotus Root with Bacon and Vegetables | Wok Wednesdays


Finding the ingredients for this Stir-Fried Lotus Root with Bacon and Vegetables was an adventure.

This is one of the things I love about participating in Wok Wednesdays. I am forced to try ingredients I would never even think of trying otherwise. Another thing I love about participating? The support I receive from other Wok Wednesdays participants... including Grace Young, the author of Stir Frying to the Sky's Edge, the book from which we are wokking.

Stir-Fried Lotus Root with Bacon and Vegetables | Wok Wednesdays

Cloud ears. Chinese bacon. Lotus root....

Cloud ears? Turns out it is a fungus. It is usually sold dried and needs to be reconstituted in water. Amazingly, I was able to find a big pack of fresh cloud ears.

I and many of my fellow participants had to make several trips to our local Asian market after buying the wrong item or not finding one of the ingredients. Participants posted photos of what they bought and others weighed in as to whether or not they had the correct ingredient. I actually took the book to the store to show pictures of what I was looking for.

We are a dedicated group. (If you have any interest in joining a fun and dedicated group of people who are interested in learning how to stir-fry, check out the Facebook page.)

Stir-Fried Lotus Root with Bacon and Vegetables | Wok Wednesdays

Final verdict? We all loved this. This is a stunning dish and really easy to prepare once you have all of the ingredients.

In addition to the cloud ears, lotus root, and the bacon (there are some great photos of these ingredients on this blog), the dish includes snow peas, carrots, and scallions, along with ginger, chicken broth, salt and pepper, sesame oil, Shao Hsing rice wine, and soy sauce. Amazing flavor.

To get the recipe, check out page 193 of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge by Grace Young. As participants, we've all agreed not to post the actual recipe. If you are interested in flexing new cooking muscles and want to make some amazing dishes, get the book and try this dish.


Peppermint White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Peppermint White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

This shortbread peppermint cookie is perfect for Christmas. While the ones I made here are simple rounds, you can roll out the dough and make it into any shape you like.

Peppermint White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

These cookies are flavored with white chocolate incorporated into the dough. Then they are brushed with a white chocolate glaze and sprinkled with crushed peppermint candy. I think I need to do a better job of crushing the candy. Either way, they are tasty.

Peppermint White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients

2 ounces chopped white chocolate
1/2 C all purpose flour
1 T plus 1 tsp cornstarch
Pinch of salt
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
3 1/2 T softened unsalted butter
3 T confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp shortening
1/4 C crushed peppermint candies

Instructions

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Microwave 1 ounce of the white chocolate for about a minute to melt. Stir and set aside. 
  3. Whisk the flour, cornstarch, salt, and nutmeg together in a bowl. 
  4. In a small deep bowl, add the butter, sugar, and vanilla, and mix with a hand mixer until whipped. Add the melted white chocolate.
  5. Add the flour and mix on low speed until blended.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a piece of waxed or plastic paper and pull it together. Roll it into a log and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
  7. Slice the log into 1/2 inch pieces and place them onto the baking sheet. 
  8. Bake for about 12 to 14 minutes.
  9. Microwave the rest of the chocolate, add the shortening, and paint one side of each cookie with chocolate. Sprinkle with the candies. 
  10. Cool and enjoy!

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats Blog Hop | Hosted by MealPlanningMagic.com
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Nov 5, 2013

Pumpernickel Loaves | TWD

Pumpernickel Bread

To purists, this pumpernickel loaf is not authentic. At least not German pumpernickel authentic.

According the holder of all earthly knowledge (which used to be my title before Wikipedia came along), Traditional German rye gains its dark color from baking for up to 24 hours in a pain de mie type pan at a lower oven temperature. The flavors are faintly sweet and reminiscent of chocolate and coffee.

Pumpernickel Bread

This recipe comes from Baking with Julia, and was contributed by Lauren Groveman. To quote Lauren, "This bread delivers traditional taste using some untraditional ingredients."

These ingredients include espresso powder, chocolate, molasses, and prune lekvar (prune butter) to replicate the traditional flavor and color. I was a little worried, especially regarding the chocolate, but in the end, we ended up with an amazing loaf of bread.

Pumpernickel Bread

My friend David who writes for Hearth Baked Tunes (and is the well deserved self-proclaimed Rye King and rye purist) will probably be a little disappointed in me... because I really loved this bread.

Pumpernickel Bread

Final verdict? This bread is soft and wonderful. It has a faint sweetness, but doesn't taste like chocolate, coffee, molasses, or prunes. It just has a faint sweetness... kind of like pumpernickel.

The funnest and scariest part of this bread is the technique for the final rise. The bread is wrapped in a flour dusted dish towel and hung from a kitchen drawer. The original recipe required punching holes in your dish towels, which I didn't want to do. Instead, I slammed the drawer door on the top of the dish towel to suspend the loaf.


I was completely amazed at the soft and plump, puffy loaf that emerged from these swaddling clothes.

To see another post about all of the shaping techniques in preparing this bread, check out my friend Cathy's blog. Her blog is especially helpful in demonstrating the corner fold technique.

Pumpernickel Loaves

Ingredients

1/2 C boiling water
1 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
1 3/4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 T unsulphured molasses
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
2 3/4 tsp active dry yeast
pinch of sugar
2 T warm water
1 C water plus 1 T nonfat dry milk
2 T solid vegetable shortening
1/4 C prune lekvar (I made my own; recipe is posted here)
1 T ground caraway seeds
3/4 T whole caraway seeds
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 C coarse rye meal or medium rye flour
3 C high gluten flour. I added a T of vital wheat gluten to bread flour prior to measuring the flour
1 egg white whisked with water

This recipe is from Baking with Julia, and has been cut in half. 

Instructions

  1. Put the boiling water and espresso into a small saucepan and stir. Add the chocolate, molasses, and butter and cook over low heat until the butter and chocolate melt.
  2. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer. 
  3. In a small measuring cup, mix the yeast, sugar, and warm water. Let rest for about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir the 1 C water, nonfat dry milk, shortening, lekvar, caraway seeds, and salt into the butter and chocolate mixture. 
  5. Once the temperature is less than 110 degrees F, add the yeast/water mixture and the rye. Stir in just enough of the four to make a moist dough. 
  6. Switch the bowl to the mixer, and begin kneading and adding the rest of the flour. Add the flour, 1/2 C at a time. Stop at 2 1/2 C of flour and test the consistency of the dough. If the dough seems too wet, add a bit more. The final dough will be soft and most, but will clear the bowl during the kneading cycle. 
  7. Knead on medium for about 10 minutes. 
  8. Place the dough into an oiled dough rising bucket and allow to rise until doubled, 45 minutes to 2 hours. 
  9. Punch the dough down, form it into a ball, and allow to double again. 
  10. Preheat the oven, fitted with a baking stone, to 450 degrees F. Place a pan in the oven on a rack under the stone. 
  11. Shape the dough into a tight fat log. Check out Cathy's blog for the precise instructions. 
  12. Dust a dishtowel with flour and place the loaf, on a diagonal, on the towel. Hang from a cabinet drawer as pictured above. Allow the dough to rise for 40 minutes, undisturbed.
  13. When the dough is ready, Place it, seam side down, onto a piece of parchment on a peel or cookie sheet. Brush with the egg white. Slash the dough three times on slight angle. Sprinkle with seeds if you like. 
  14. Slide the loaf, parchment and all, onto the stone.
  15. Throw a few ice cubes and ice water into the pan under the stone and quickly shut the oven door.
  16. After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and bake for 35 to 40 minutes more, until done. 
  17. Cool on a wire rack completely. 
This post is part of the Tuesdays with Dorie group, where twice a month we bake a recipe from Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Hop over to the Tuesdays with Dorie page to see how other bakers fared.

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