Mar 30, 2014

Baby Baked Beef Burritos

Baby Baked Beef Burritos

These little beef burritos are filled with spicy beef, jalapeño, onions, black beans, corn, cheese, and a mix of herbs and spices, and they are baked until slightly crispy. What makes them babies? They are made with taco sized flour tortillas.

Baby Baked Beef Burritos

They are not as small as egg rolls. They are about half the size of a regular sized burrito. They would be perfect for lunch or as part of a multi-course Mexican themed dinner. You can make these ahead of time and reheat them for a about 5 to 10 minutes in the oven (not the microwave, or they will be soggy).

Baby Baked Beef Burritos

I need to work on my burrito folding skills... which brings me to the reason why I made these burritos (besides the fact that they are delicious)!

It's Secret Recipe Club reveal day!! Each month we are assigned a member's blog from which to make a recipe. This month I was assigned the blog Sew You Think you can Cook! by Lauren. She is an aerospace engineer (I"m seriously impressed) who hopes to someday be a caterer.

When I first looked through her blog for something to make, these burritos called my name! I was a little intimidated at first because Lauren used to work at a burrito joint (it's where she met her adorable husband) and says she silently critiques others' burrito making skills. She says she uses the "shimmying" method. I need some lessons.

Baby Baked Beef Burritos

One of the cool things (among the many cool things) that Lauren is doing is cooking her way through the book Eating the Bible: Over 50 Delicious Recipes to Feed Your Body and Nourish Your Soul.

Nice to meet you Lauren! I love your blog!

Baby Baked Beef Burritos

Recipe adapted from Sew You Think You Can Cook!

Ingredients


1T vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
1 jalapeño, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1 T tomato paste 
1 C canned corn kernels, drained 
1/2 C black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 C beef broth (I used a demi-glace mixed with some water)
1/2 tsp cumin
1 T fresh oregano, chopped
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 T brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
12 taco sized flour tortillas
1 C shredded Mexican blend cheese
Spray oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In  a large skillet, saute the onion and jalapeño over medium high heat for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds, until fragrant. 
  4. Add the beef, and cook while breaking it up in the pan, until done. 
  5. Add the tomato paste, corn, beans, and broth, and stir. Add the cumin, oregano, chili powder, brown sugar, and salt. Cook until the liquid has been evaporated, about a minute or two. 
  6. Spray a sheet pan with spray oil. Fill the 12 tortillas with the filling and cheese and place them seam side down on the sheet. Spray them with spray oil. 
  7. Bake the burritos for about 20 minutes. If you have a convection option, turn it on for the last 5 minutes. 
  8. Serve immediately, with hot sauce, salsa, sour cream, cilantro, and guacamole if you like (and margaritas!). 
  9. These can be made in advance and reheated in a 350 degree F oven for about 5 to 10 minutes to re-crisp. 

Mar 27, 2014

Water-Proofed Bread | A Sweet Brioche

Water-Proofed Bread | A Sweet Brioche


This water proofed bread is enriched with eggs, milk, and sugar, and tastes amazing slathered in jam.

Water-Proofed Bread | A Sweet Brioche

It's kind of a cross between brioche and challah, and the wild card is the amount of yeast that the recipe calls for. A lot.  And the water-proofing (which means proofing in water, not making the bread safe for taking out in the rain).

This month the Bread Baking Babes are baking a bread chosen by Elle of Feeding My Enthusiasms. I am baking along as a Buddy.

Water-Proofed Bread | A Sweet Brioche

This recipe is from the 1973 edition of the book Beard on Bread by James Beard.

The dough is proofed by wrapping it in a tea towel and plunging it in a bowl of warm water and waiting for it to rise.

Water-Proofed Bread | A Sweet Brioche
The dough when it is first submerged into the water.
Water-Proofed Bread | A Sweet Brioche
The dough after it has risen to the top of the water bath.
I'm pretty sure that doing the bulk rise the traditional way would have worked out just fine, but trying this method was a lot of fun. The rising time was definitely fast, only 30 minutes.

There was a lot of discussion among the Babes about the amount of yeast called for in this recipe, and a lot of the Babes cut back. Back in the day, bread recipes called for much more yeast than we use today. In the end, I wanted to stay true to the original recipe quantities, just to see what would happen.

I am still amazed that only 3 1/2 C of flour produced two loaves of bread. I definitely had my doubts. The dough was very wet and difficult to shape, and seemed like it would barely fill the loaf pans. Oven spring is an amazing thing.

If you use the two packets of yeast called for in the recipe, pay close attention to the dough so you don't over proof it.

In the end, the bread is wonderful. I took a loaf to work with a jar of homemade blackberry jam and it disappeared.

Water-Proofed Bread

Ingredients

2 packages of active dry yeast
1/2 C warm (100 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tsp sugar
1/2 C milk
1 stick (1/2 C) unsalted butter
2 tsp salt
3 eggs
3 1/2 C bread flour, plus more for flouring the tea towel

Instructions

  1. Place the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer, pour in the water and sugar, and stir. Let sit for 5 minutes. 
  2. Place the mild and butter into a heat proof bowl and microwave until the butter has just melted. 
  3. Add the milk and butter mixture to the yeast and stir. Stir in the salt. 
  4. Add the eggs and whisk.
  5. Add the flour and knead with the dough hook for about 5 minutes. 
  6. Generously flour a tea towel and scrape the dough onto it. Loosely wrap the dough with the flour and tie it with string.
  7. Fill a large bowl with 115 degree water and plunge the package of dough into the water. 
  8. Watch closely for the packet to rise to the top of the water (about 30 minutes). Remove the packet from the water, drain, and scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough in half and shape as best as you can into two loaves. Place the dough into two oiled 8 1/2 by 4 inch loaf pans and cover with plastic wrap.
  9. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Allow the dough to rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. 
  10. Brush the loaves with water and bake for about 30 minutes, until the dough reaches an internal temperature of about 190 to 200 degrees F. 
  11. Remove the loaves from the pans onto a wire rack and cool on their sides. After about 10 minutes, flip the loaves to the other side for another 10 minutes. At this point, you can either slice and serve, or wrap it up for later.  
This bread will stay fresh for about a day. After the first day, it makes great toast or French toast. It also will freeze well for later. 

Mar 25, 2014

White Bread and Skillet Pizza with 80% Biga

White Bread and Skillet Pizza with 80% Biga

Why is this bread called white bread with 80% biga? Because 80% of the dough is biga.

That clears it up, right? No? All righty then. I guess I'm going to get all bread geek on you.

Biga you ask? A biga is a a stiff dough preferment. What does that mean? Many Italian bread recipes call for a biga, which consists of flour and water, and a small amount of yeast. It is left out to ferment overnight and develop flavor.

White Bread and Skillet Pizza with 80% Biga

The next day, the biga is mixed in with just a little bit more flour, water, salt, and yeast to make a 75% hydration dough. The resulting bread has a super thin crispy crust that crackles for several minutes after removing the bread from the oven. It has a wonderful flavor and stays fresh for several days.

White Bread and Skillet Pizza with 80% Biga

You can make two loaves from this recipe, or make individual pizzas from half of the dough. If you choose to make pizzas, divide half of the dough into three pieces, form them into balls, cover them with oiled plastic wrap, and refrigerate them overnight or up to two days. I placed mine into plastic bags that had been sprayed with spray oil (see this photo on Instagram).

I decided to try the Skillet Pizza method from Ken Forkish's book, Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza.

This method calls for placing the stretched dough into a cold cast iron skillet, topping it, and placing it into a very hot oven for about 20 minutes. While it is my quest to master the method and flavor of Napolitano pizza, this was pretty darn fabulous, and so much easier than the pizza peel high wire act.

White Bread and Skillet Pizza with 80% Biga

Of course I had leftover pizza for breakfast.

White Bread with 80% Biga

Ingredients


Biga


800 g unbleached all purpose flour
544 g 80 degree F water
1/16 tsp (.64 g) instant yeast

Final Dough


200 g unbleached all purpose flour
206 g 105 degree F water
22 g fine sea salt
2 g instant yeast
All of the biga

Instructions


  1. Mix all of the biga ingredients in a large bowl or 6 quart tub by pinching and stirring the ingredients by hand. Cover the tub with plastic wrap and leave out overnight, about 12 to 14 hours. The dough should have about tripled in size. 
  2. To make the final dough, mix the flour, water, salt, and yeast together in a large bowl or 12 quart tub by hand. Add the biga and mix by hand. Keep a bowl of water nearby to wet your hand to keep the dough from sticking. Alternate between folding and pinching the dough. The whole process should take just a few minutes. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Stretch and fold the dough at 30 minutes, 60 minutes, and 90 minutes. Let the dough rise for another 60 to 90 minutes, until it has risen to about 2 1/2 times its original size. 
  4. Generously flour 2 (or one if you are making pizza with half of the dough) proofing baskets. I used a mix of all purpose and brown rice flour. You can also use a mixing bowl lined with a lint free kitchen towel that has been sprayed with oil and heavily floured. 
  5. With a wet dough scraper or wet hands, loosen the dough from the sides of the bucket and gently turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into two even pieces (to make pizza, reserve half of the dough for pizza, see below). 
  6. Shape the dough into boules, creating a taut skin over the top. Place the shaped dough into each basket, seam side down. 
  7. Spray the top of the dough with spray oil, and cover with plastic wrap. 
  8. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F with two (or one if you are making pizza with the rest of the dough) empty covered Dutch ovens placed on the middle rack. 
  9. Allow the dough to rise about 45 to 60 minutes, until puffy. How to know if the loaves are ready? Here is Ken Forkish, the author, demonstrating the "finger dent test."
  10. When you are ready to bake, cut parchment into two 9 inch by 15+ inch pieces. 
  11. Remove the Dutch ovens from the oven and remove the tops. One loaf at a time, place the parchment over the dough and place a plate over it. Flip the dough over, remove the basket, and lift and place the loaf in the Dutch oven by using the parchment as a sling (leave the paper under the dough). Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the hot oven. Repeat with the second loaf. 
  12. Bake covered for 30 minutes, and then remove the Dutch ovens from the hot oven, uncover, and place the loaves on a baking sheet. Be careful not to burn yourself! Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes more, until the interior of the bread reaches 205 to 210 degrees F and the bread is a deep brown. My loaves were ready sooner, so check early. 
  13. Cool completely on a wire rack. 

Skillet Pizza

  1. Divide half of the dough into three parts, form into balls, spray with spray oil, cover with plastic wrap or place into oiled plastic bags, and refrigerate overnight or up to two days.
  2. To make the pizza, preheat your oven to 525 degrees F, or as high as it will go.
  3. Generously flour a work surface with flour and place the dough ball onto the surface. Flip the dough over to cover the top with flour. 
  4. With your fingertips, press the dough into a disk. Stretch the dough out into a 12 inch disk and place it into a 9 inch cold cast iron skillet (it will shrink back. 
  5. Top with your favorite sauce, cheese, and toppings (I used about 1/3 C of fresh sauce, 3 ounces of mozzarella, and about 8 slices of pepperoni), and bake for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, slide it onto a cutting board with tongs, and slice. Enjoy!!

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Mar 24, 2014

Green Tea Ice Cream | Scoop Adventures Cookbook Giveaway

Green Tea Ice Cream


This Green Tea Ice Cream has a lovely herbal sweetness. The color and flavor come from matcha, a bright green powdered tea.

If I had to pick a favorite dessert, it would be ice cream. It also reminds me of my dad, who loved having a big bowl of ice cream. I think he probably had ice cream just about every day (at least in my memory).
Green Tea Ice Cream


When my dad talked about growing up, he would talk about his favorite ice cream parlor, Fosselman's in Alhambra, California. Amazingly, that place is still there and still run by the Fosselman family. Since 1919! Every time I see it, I give a little wave and say, "hi dad."

This is one reason why I am so excited to be a part of the Scoop Adventures Blog Tour to introduce Lindsay Clendaniel's new book Scoop Adventures: The Best Ice Cream of the 50 States: Make the Real Recipes from the Greatest Ice Cream Parlors in the Country. Lindsay started her Scoop Adventures blog in 2009 to chronicle her recipes and her love of ice cream.

The book has over 80 ice cream recipes inspired by some of the best ice cream shops across the country. Some of the recipes I want to try from the book include Honey Sunflower Seed, Chunky Turtle, Toasted Marshmallow, and Apple Butter Rummy Pecan.


Green Tea Ice Cream


Recipe from Scoop Adventures by Lindsay Clendaniel. (Page Street Publishing, March 2014, Printed with permission)

Inspired by Dave’s Hawaiian Ice Cream, Oahu, Hawaii

MAKES 1 QUART (940ML)

Green tea originated in China and has been associated with many cultures throughout Asia. It was introduced to Hawaiian culture when sugar plantation workers arrived in the early 1800s, bringing many Asian-influenced flavors to the islands. Green tea is now popular all over the world, but many Hawaiians feel like it is an integral part of their culture. Dave’s Hawaiian Ice Cream shares their love of green tea through this soothing ice cream flavor.

1 ½ cups (355ml) whole milk, divided
1 tbsp (9g) cornstarch
1 ¾ cups (414ml) heavy cream, divided
2 tbsp (16g) matcha powder
⅔ cup (133g) sugar
⅛ teaspoon salt

Fill a large bowl with ice water. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons (30ml) of the milk with the cornstarch, whisk and set aside. In another bowl, add ½ cup (118ml) of the cream and matcha powder. Whisk vigorously to combine.

Combine the remaining milk with the remaining 1 ¼ cups (296ml) heavy cream and sugar in a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring the milk mixture to a low boil. Cook until the sugar dissolves, 3 minutes.

Remove the milk mixture from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook over moderately high heat until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Gradually pour the hot milk mixture into the bowl with the cream/matcha mixture. Whisk in the salt. Set the bowl in the ice water bath to cool, 20 minutes, whisking occasionally. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Once chilled, pour the ice cream base into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

Note: Matcha is finely milled green tea. It is bright green and a very fine powder. Matcha can be found in the tea aisle of most grocery stores, or look for it at your local Asian market.

Would you like to win a copy of this amazing book? The publisher has generously provided an additional copy for one of my readers. Just comment with an answer to the question, what is the most adventurous ice cream flavor you have tried? Once you click on the Rafflecopter to confirm that you've answered the question, you will have additional opportunities to win. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This contest is open to all residents of the USA and Canada. The winner will be chosen by a random drawing and notified via email within 48 hours of the close of the contest. If no response is received within 24 hours, a new winner will be chosen.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own. 

Mar 21, 2014

Harvest Bread with Poolish

Harvest Bread with Poolish Karen's Kitchen Stories

Harvest Bread with Poolish. Poolish? It is a sponge or preferment of half flour and water, and a tiny bit of yeast that is mixed up and allowed to sit overnight. It adds extra flavor and chew to the dough. The bread seems to last longer too. That's a good thing for this weekend baker.

Harvest Bread with Poolish Karen's Kitchen Stories

While the poolish for this bread calls for white flour, the final dough for this bread also includes whole wheat flour, wheat germ, and wheat bran.

If you make the poolish the night before, and then mix the dough the next morning, you will have fresh bread by about 1 pm the next day.

Harvest Bread with Poolish Karen's Kitchen Stories

The whole wheat flavor is fairly mellow. The bread is delicious with butter, toasted, and with melty cheese and garlic.

Harvest Bread with Poolish Karen's Kitchen Stories

This recipe produces two 1 1/2 pound loaves.

I baked these loves in my Lodge Combo Cooker, but any Dutch oven with a heat proof handle will do. The advantage to baking bread in a Dutch oven is that the bread creates its own steam, which then creates an incredible crust.

This bread is also proofed with the seam side (the place where you gather up the ends of the dough when shaping) down, so that it bakes with the seam side up. It is not slashed, but allowed to split open wherever it chooses. When you lift the lid off of the Dutch oven, you are always in for a surprise. How cool is that?

Harvest Bread with Poolish

Ingredients


Poolish


500 g unbleached all purpose flour
500 g water, at 80 degrees F
.4 g instant yeast

Final Dough


400 g unbleached all purpose flour
100 g whole wheat flour
280 g bottled water, at 105 degrees F
21 g fine sea salt (or non iodized salt)
3 g instant yeast
50 g wheat germ
20  g wheat bran
All of the poolish

Instructions

  1. In a 6 quart bowl or tub, mix the poolish ingredients by hand the night before you plan to make the bread. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for about 12 hours. 
  2. In a 12 quart tub, mix the final ingredients by hand, both stretching and folding the dough, and pinching the dough to incorporate all of the ingredients. (Check out all of my posts labeled Forkish for more details about the methods). The dough will be very sticky. This is okay.
  3. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or the lid of the bucket, and allow it to rise for 2 to 3 hours, stretching and folding the dough every 20 minutes for the first hour. 
  4. When the dough is 2 1/2 times its original size, it is ready to be divided. 
  5. Gently scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it in half with a dough scraper or bench knife. 
  6. Pour the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it in half with a bench knife or dough scraper. Shape each half into boules and place them seam side down into floured bannetons or flour lined bowl. Cover with oiled plastic wrap.
  7. Place two Dutch ovens in the oven, and preheat it to 475 degrees F. 
  8. Allow the dough to rise for about an hour. 
  9. When you are ready to bake, cut parchment into two 9 inch by 15+ inch pieces. 
  10. Remove the Dutch ovens from the oven and remove the tops. One loaf at a time, place the parchment over the dough and place a plate over it. Flip the dough over, remove the basket, and lift and place the loaf in the Dutch oven by using the parchment as a sling (leave the paper under the dough). Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the hot oven. Repeat with the second loaf. 
  11. Bake covered for 30 minutes, and then uncover it and bake it for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the interior of the bread reaches 205 to 210 degrees F and the bread is golden brown. 
  12. Lift the loaves out of the Dutch ovens with the parchment and let them cool fully on a wire rack (remove the parchment from the bottom of the loaves).
Excellent bread. Enjoy. 

Adapted from Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza. I'm pretty sure this is one of those cookbooks that I will bake my way through.

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Mar 18, 2014

Barbecued Pork Lo Mein | Wok Wednesdays

Barbecued Pork Lo Mein from Karen's Kitchen Stories

This barbecued pork lo mein kind of makes me feel like a college student. Why you ask? Because the cold noodles in the leftovers from this dish are so delicious. I've made several trips to the fridge to dip into them. I'm barely in control and trying to talk myself into waiting until lunch tomorrow. Geesh!

Barbecued Pork Lo Mein from Karen's Kitchen Stories

The meat in this recipe is Chinese barbecued pork. It can be purchased at Cantonese restaurants in your local Chinatown... or you can make it yourself in advance! Way more delicious, and without the red dye.

The recipe for the lo mein calls 12 ounces of the barbecued pork, and the recipe in the book for the barbecued pork calls for one pound of pork shoulder. I ended up picking up a 3 pound pork shoulder and tripling the seasoning to make the pork. It was seriously delicious and succulent. We had no trouble making use of the leftovers.

Here is a photo from my Instagram page of the barbecued pork.

Barbecued Pork Lo Mein from Karen's Kitchen Stories

And the ingredients in the marinade...

Barbecued Pork Lo Mein from Karen's Kitchen Stories

The pork is cut into 4 ounce pieces and marinated overnight. Then it is broiled in the oven for about 7 minutes a side. Be sure to check your pork with an instant read thermometer to make sure it is fully cooked.

Once you have your pork, you will need fresh Chinese egg noodles, salt, soy sauce, oyster sauce, ginger, garlic, bean sprouts, rice wine, scallions, and of course the oil for the stir fry.

Because bean sprouts have been kind of "banned" from "regular" supermarkets, you might need to visit your local Asian market to pick them up. I also had hunt down the fresh Chinese egg noodles.

Here are the ingredients for the final dish...

Barbecued Pork Lo Mein from Karen's Kitchen Stories


What I love about living in Southern California is the diversity. The noodles I used for this dish are Vietnamese "Chinese style" egg noodles made in a plant about 20 minutes from my house. According to Grace Young, the author of this recipe, you can also use fresh Italian tagliarini for this dish.

Bottom line? Amazing dish.

Barbecued Pork Lo Mein from Karen's Kitchen Stories

This is one of my favorite Wok Wednesdays dishes. The recipe is from page 273 of Grace Young's Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Mastery, with Authentic Recipes and Stories.

As a participant in Wok Wednesdays, I cannot post the specifics of the recipe, but I can encourage you to buy one of the best stir fry books ever (this is not hyperbole). This dish is amazing, and the barbecued pork is a revelation.

Chocolate Espresso White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Chocolate Espresso White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

The recipe for these chocolate espresso white chocolate chunk cookies calls for just 1/4 C plus 1 T of flour... for 24 three inch cookies. How do you get 24 three inch cookies with 1/4 C of flour? My mission (someone has to make the sacrifice) was to find out.

Chocolate Espresso White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Assembling this dough was pretty easy, but forming the cookies made me pretty nervous because the dough does not really behave "dough-like." It's super sticky and melty, even after a long rest in the refrigerator. It was really difficult to divide and form into balls, but in the end, it was worth getting my hands covered in chocolate.

Chocolate Espresso White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

The texture of these cookies is more like an airy chocolate truffle flavored with espresso and studded with white chocolate chunks. Think bittersweet chocolate, espresso, and white chocolate chunks in a cookie that is both rich and light.

Chocolate Espresso White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Why am I making these cookies? Why are these chocolate cookies filled with espresso? Because it's time for the Creative Cookie Exchange!

The theme this month is Wake from Winter with Coffee and Tea--because unlike last month, now our Spring Fever has some basis in reality (unless you live in California like I do and are coveting some of the precipitation that the rest of the country is getting)! Want to join in the fun and become a host of this cookie recipe exchange that is based on a monthly ingredient or recipe theme? Just 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 Facebook page, our Pinterest Board, and our monthly posts. 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:

Chocolate Espresso White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Ingredients


5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 C unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 C plus one tablespoon of unbleached all purpose flour
2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 C sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 heaping T of instant espresso dissolved in one T of hot water
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
8 ounces of white chocolate chunks or white chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Over a double boiler, melt the bittersweet chocolate and the butter until just melted. Set aside. 
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the flour and cocoa powder together. 
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, mix the sugar, salt, eggs, espresso, and vanilla for about 3 minutes on high, until light and thickened. 
  4. Add the chocolate mixture and beat until blended. Add the flour and cocoa mixture and mix until blended. Stir in the white chocolate chunks. 
  5. Refrigerate the dough for at least 90 minutes. 
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line baking sheets with good parchment paper. 
  7. Divide the dough into 24 equal parts and, with oiled hands, roll the dough into balls (next time I make these, I might try using an oiled 1 1/2 inch cookie scoop instead of my hands). 
  8. Place the dough balls 3 inches apart on the parchment lined baking sheets. I baked six cookies per sheet, four cookie sheets total (you can re-use cooled baking sheets). 
  9. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time in the middle of your oven for 9 to 12 minutes, until barely firm in the middle. 
  10. Move the baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool for 3 minutes. Drag the cookies, parchment and all, onto the wire rack, and allow the cookies to cool completely before removing them from the parchment. 
  11. Peel the parchment off of the cookies and store in an airtight container for up to four days. 
  12. These cookies are best when fresh.  
This recipe has been adapted from The All-American Cookie Book by Nancy Baggett. So far, every recipe that I have tried from this book has been excellent. I've always had a love/hate relationship with cookie recipes, but this book has been completely reliable. I highly recommend it.


Mar 14, 2014

Mar 12, 2014

White Bread with Poolish

White Bread with Poolish from Karen's Kitchen Stories

The crust of this White Bread with Poolish crackles for days after the bread emerges from the oven. This usually happens when the crust is thin and crispy. I feel compelled to listen to it until it quiets down.

White Bread with Poolish from Karen's Kitchen Stories

This is yet another bread from the amazing bread book, Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza.This is not a sourdough bread, so it is perfect for those who want to try making a bread with his method without having to develop and maintain a starter.

I just noticed that, since I bought this book, it has won two awards: Winner, IACP Awards 2013- Baking: Savory or Sweet, and Winner, James Beard Foundation Award 2013 -Baking and Desserts. My copy is getting well worn. I seriously love this book. 

The technique for making this bread involves mixing a poolish, a 50-50 mix of flour and water and a little bit of yeast and letting it bubble up and ferment overnight. The next morning you mix up the dough in a big 12 quart bucket. The dough is mixed completely by hand. No mixer required.

After the first mix, the dough looks pretty lumpy and "shaggy."

White Bread with Poolish from Karen's Kitchen Stories

After two "stretch and folds" (lifting the dough up from the bottom and stretching it out and folding it over itself from each "side") every 30 minutes, the dough begins to develop gluten.

White Bread with Poolish from Karen's Kitchen Stories

This is what the dough looks like prior to the third "stretch and fold."

White Bread with Poolish from Karen's Kitchen Stories

After the final "stretch and fold...."

White Bread with Poolish from Karen's Kitchen Stories

you let the dough rise until it has more than doubled in size.

White Bread with Poolish from Karen's Kitchen Stories

And then you dump the big bubbling blob of dough out on the counter and form your loaves.

White Bread with Poolish from Karen's Kitchen Stories

Divide the dough into two pieces, and shape them into loaves. In this case, I used a round and an oval banneton for proofing each loaf.

The dough is proofed seam side down so that the dough does not need to be scored prior to baking. Sometimes this works out beautifully, with the dough opening up in the middle as it did with this bread. Sometimes, the bread splits open randomly.

White Bread with Poolish from Karen's Kitchen Stories

This bread is fabulous, and did not last long in this house. I baked one loaf in a round shape, and the other loaf in an oval. This dough is also good for focaccia or baguettes.

For more details about the methods used in this dough (especially shaping and folding), check out the posts for 40% whole wheat boules, overnight white bread, Saturday white bread, and pure levain country bread.

White Bread with Poolish

Ingredients

Poolish

500 g unbleached all purpose flour
500 g lukewarm (80 degrees F) water
.4 g (less than 1/8 tsp) instant yeast. 

Final Dough

500 g unbleached all purpose flour
21 g salt
3 g (3/4) tsp instant yeast
250 g 105 degree F water
All of the poolish

Instructions

  1. The night before you bake the loaves, mix the poolish in a large bowl by hand or with a dough whisk. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 12 to 14 hours. If your kitchen is really cold, let it sit a bit longer, until tripled in size. 
  2. Once the poolish is ready, in a large tub (I use this one), add the flour, salt, and yeast and whisk together. 
  3. Add the water to the poolish to loosen it from the sides of the bowl and scrape it into the flour mixture. 
  4. Keeping a bowl of water nearby to wet your hands, mix the ingredients with your hands by folding and pinching alternately for about 3 minutes, until the ingredients are integrated and there is no apparent dry flour. The dough will be very shaggy. 
  5. Cover the container and allow the dough to rise for about 2 to 3 hours, until it has increased in size by about 2 1/2 times, stretching and folding every 30 minutes three times during the first 90 minutes. 
  6. Pour the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it in half with a bench knife or dough scraper. Shape each half into boules and place them seam side down into floured bannetons or flour lined bowl. In this case, I used one oblong banneton and one round banneton. Cover with oiled plastic wrap.
  7. Place two Dutch ovens in the oven, and preheat it to 475 degrees F. 
  8. Allow the dough to rise for about an hour. 
  9. When you are ready to bake, cut parchment into two 9 inch by 15+ inch pieces. 
  10. Remove the Dutch ovens from the oven and remove the tops. One loaf at a time, place the parchment over the dough and place a plate over it. Flip the dough over, remove the basket, and lift and place the loaf in the Dutch oven by using the parchment as a sling (leave the paper under the dough). Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the hot oven. Repeat with the second loaf. 
  11. Bake covered for 30 minutes, and then uncover it and bake it for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the interior of the bread reaches 205 to 210 degrees F and the bread is golden brown. 
  12. Lift the loaves out of the Dutch ovens with the parchment and let them cool fully on a wire rack (remove the parchment from the bottom of the loaves). 
  13. Place your ear next to the loaves and listen to them crackle as they cool. Smile. 
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Mar 9, 2014

Stir-Fried Baby Bok Choy with Oyster Sauce

Karen's Kitchen Stories: Stir-Fried Baby Bok Choy with Oyster Sauce

This week's Wok Wednesdays dish was supposed to be stir-fried yau choi. In this case I substituted baby bok choy.

My excuse reason? I am late making this recipe and was too lazy busy to drive to the Asian grocery store when I knew I could walk to my local market and pick up some baby bok choy (it's for the environment... that's my story and I'm sticking to it). On our Wok Wednesdays Facebook page, Grace Young, the author of this recipe (on page 196 of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Mastery, with Authentic Recipes and Stories.), did mention that baby bok choy would be an appropriate substitute.

Karen's Kitchen Stories: Stir-Fried Baby Bok Choy with Oyster Sauce

One of the reasons I wanted to try this recipe even though I am ridiculously late, is because I wanted to use this Lee Kum Kee Oyster Sauce. I had bought it in advance to make this recipe. Grace Young says it's the only brand to use. My various ingredients for all of my kitchen adventures are kind of taking over the pantry and fridge, so I need to use what I buy.. or Mr. Kitchen will call me out.

The oyster sauce smelled and tasted divine.

Karen's Kitchen Stories: Stir-Fried Baby Bok Choy with Oyster Sauce

I am looking forward to trying this recipe with the Yau Choi (I promise Grace!), but for those of you who do not have access to the more difficult to find Asian ingredients, the baby bok choy worked out well.

This recipe is so easy to make. Along with the vegetables and oyster sauce, it also contains minced garlic, white pepper, and fish sauce. That's it! It takes less than 3 minutes to stir it up, and there are very few dishes to wash once you are done.

Oh... and it's delicious. I'm excited to use the oyster sauce for our next Wok Wednesdays adventure, Barbecued Pork Lo Mein.

I have three of Grace Young's stir-fry cookbooks, and all of them are amazing. I strongly encourage you to get a wok and get this book. It is so fun learning about cooking with a wok, using new and unfamiliar ingredients, and reading the stories in the book.

While you are waiting for your book to arrive (get it, get it, get it, you won't regret it), the recipe can also be found here.

Mar 8, 2014

Vegetable and Cheddar Tarts

Vegetable and Cheddar Tarts

The Avid Bakers Challenge this month is King Arthur Flour's Mushroom Cheddar Tarts. To make these, I substituted some onion, zucchini, and grape tomatoes for the mushrooms. The result was a delicious savory tart with the wonderful flavor of sharp cheddar cheese shining through.

Vegetable and Cheddar Tarts

The crust of this tart is flakey and buttery like standard pie crust, but it also contains a few ingredients that bring it to another level... such as cheddar cheese, cheddar cheese powder, and Tapatio hot sauce.

This is a great make-ahead dish that can be reheated just before serving.

Vegetable and Cheddar Tarts

The recipe calls for Vermont Sharp Cheddar Cheese powder, a product sold by King Arthur Flour (of course I had some on hand). Cabot also sells a Vermont cheddar cheese powder. If you don't have either powdered cheese available (they are great in pizza crust) you can also substitute finely grated parmesan cheese.

Vegetable and Cheddar Tarts

Some of the other Avid Bakers mentioned that the original recipe produced way too much crust for the filling, so I cut the crust ingredients in half. The original recipe is for bite-sized tarts, which would be perfect for appetizers. By all means, make these tarts in any size you like. The baking time was pretty much the same.

I chose to make these in five 4 1/2 inch tart pans so we could have them for dinner. I think if I had made them in mini muffin tins, I would have popped them all in my mouth. They were that good. Even Mr. Kitchen, who is not a big fan of onions, bell pepper, or zucchini, loved them. Winning!

I am definitely making these again.

Baking tip: I highly recommend using a scale when measuring the crust ingredients.

Vegetable and Cheddar Tarts

Ingredients

Crust

1/2 C (4 ounces) cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/4 C ( 5.75 ounces) unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 C (1 ounce) powdered cheddar cheese or finely grated parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1 1/2 ounces of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
A dash of hot sauce of your choice (I used Tapatio)
1/4 C ice water

Filling

1 T butter
3 to 4 ounces of zucchini, skin on (about 1/3 of a medium zucchini), cut into 1/2 to 3/4 inch pieces
1/4 medium onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 large eggs
3/4 C milk (I used low fat)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 C (2 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
A handful of grape or cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced and placed on paper towels to remove extra moisture. 

Instructions

Assemble the crust

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, add the dry ingredients and the butter and pulse until you get a crumbly mixture. 
  2. Add the cheddar cheese, hot sauce, and the water, and pulse (not too much) until the ingredients are blended into a chunky mess of pea sized pieces of dough. If it is too dry (mine was not), add a tablespoon or more of water. 
  3. Dump the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, press it into a disk, wrap, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. 
  4. Roll the dough out to a 10" by 13" rectangle. Cut the dough into circles to fit five 4 1/2 inch tart pans. Pull the extra pieces together to continue to create dough circles. Press the dough into the pans. Alternatively, to make mini tarts, cut the dough into 12 equal pieces and press into the cups of a square mini tart pan or a mini muffin pan. The dough is really easy to shape and patch. 
  5. Place the shaped crusts in the refrigerator while making the filling. 

Mix the filling

  1. Saute the zucchini, onion, and bell pepper in the butter until the zucchini is tender but not mushy. Some pieces can be slightly browned. That is a good thing. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 
  3. Whisk the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and thyme together. 
  4. When the crusts are chilled, evenly divide the vegetables into the crusts. 
  5. Evenly divide the shredded cheddar and place it into each crust. 
  6. Pour the egg mixture evenly into each crust. 
  7. Top with slices of cherry/grape tomatoes (6 for the larger tart pans, maybe one or two for mini tarts).
  8. If you are using the 4 1/4 inch tart pans with removable bottoms, place them on a baking sheet so it will catch any leaks. 
  9. Bake the tarts for 18 to 23 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing them from the pans. 
  10. Serve warm.
  11. To make ahead, refrigerate and reheat for 10 minutes at 375 degrees F.