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Dec 30, 2012

Mini Twice-Baked Potato Appetizers

These Mini Twice-Baked Potato Appetizers are are pretty much "comfort food meets the cocktail hour."

These Mini Twice-Baked Potato Appetizers are are pretty much "comfort food meets the cocktail hour."

The next time you throw a cocktail party or host a game day party, give these mini twice-baked potatoes a try. You will be a very popular host.
Dec 29, 2012

Cracked Wheat and Bran Bread

Cracked Wheat and Bran Bread

This is the time of year when I feel like I have to get organized, clear out closets, and make plans for the upcoming year. If I don't get to go through this process, I'm a little off kilter for the year. I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, but I do like to start the year with a plan... or at least a cleaner slate. It just feels better... at least to me.

I am not naturally organized but I hate that feeling of being disorganized. I still need to figure out how to keep track of the ingredients I have in my pantry and freezer so that I don't waste them. January, at least some of it, will be about using what I have on hand.

For this recipe, the pantry ingredient I randomly pulled out of my freezer to use was cracked wheat. I had purchased it at one point when King Arthur Flour offered free shipping, but I hadn't given a lot of though about how I was going to use it. It has languished in my freezer for who knows how long. It needs to be used (or least I need to use it so I don't feel like I belong on Hoarders!).  I was also able to use some wheat bran I also had in my freezer.


Cracked Wheat and Bran Bread

Ingredients

1 1/4 C boiling water
1/4 C plus 2 T cracked wheat (bulgur may be substituted)
1/4 C bran
1/4 C dark brown sugar
1 T vegetable oil
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp instant yeast (I used SAF)
1/2 C whole wheat flour
9.5 to 10.5 (or 2 1/8 to 2 1/3 C) ounces bread flour

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the boiling water, cracked wheat, bran, oil, and salt, and let set for for 15 minutes, until it reaches about 90 degrees F.
  2. Add the whole wheat flour to the mixture and mix until fully incorporated. 
  3. Add the yeast and 1 cup of the bread flour. Mix until blended. 
  4. Place the bowl into the mixer and attach the dough hook. Begin mixing and slowly add the rest of the flour until you've developed a slightly sticky dough. Knead for about 15 minutes. 
  5. Place the dough into an oiled dough rising bucket or a large bowl, turn the dough to oil all sides, and allow to rise for about an hour, until doubled. 
  6. Gently deflate the dough and roll into a loaf and place into an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pan. (This loaf was baked into a 9 by 5 inch pan, which turned out to be a little too small. 
  7. Let the loaf rise for about one hour in a warm place. 
  8. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and spray the loaf with water. 
  9. Bake the loaf for 35 to 40 minutes. Tent the loaf with aluminum foil if it begins to brown too much. Bake until the loaf interior reaches 180 degrees F. 
  10. Remove from the oven, de-pan, and cool completely on a wire rack.
I love the flavor of this bread. It has a great whole wheat flavor that is balanced by the bread flour. The cracked wheat and wheat bran add all of the benefits of whole wheat. This is an excellent tasting and performing whole wheat bread recipe. 

Adapted from The Knead for Bread. Sharing with Yeastspotting
BYOB 125 x 125
Dec 27, 2012

Holiday Apple Kuchen

Apple Kuchen


This is a yeasted bread/coffee cake/pastry/breakfast treat/dessert (I'm flashing back to the Gilda Radnor, Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase commercial parody).

"It's a dessert!" "No, it's a bread!"

I'm getting off track here.

This was my dessert tonight, and will be my breakfast tomorrow. It's really good.

The bottom layer is a yeasted "cake" (I guess Kuchen means cake in German) that is dough-like and is spread on the bottom of the pan. The second layer is a mixture of a good amount of spiced apples. On top of that is a crumb topping. I nearly doubled the amount of topping listed below. Also, I halved the original recipe and baked mine in an 8 x 8 inch square pan.

The assembled Kuchen is allowed to rise for one hour (there is no first rise), and then baked. The recipe calls for a sweetened cream cheese topping. I confess! I did not make the cream cheese topping, but used whipped cream instead. The Kuchen is good without any topping but would be great served warm with ice cream.

Love this.



Holiday Apple Kuchen

6 servings. 

Crumb Topping

I doubled these amounts, and then used most, but not all of it. 
1/4 C flour
1/4 C brown sugar
1 1/2 T cold butter

Pastry

6.25 to 6.85 ounces all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 C milk
1/4 C sugar
2 T butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg

Apple Topping

2 C thinly sliced baking apples (I used Braeburn)
2 T + 2 tsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp quick cooking tapioca
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp apple pie spice. (I actually had some on hand. Mine is a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and mace. I'm sure just cinnamon with a pinch of nutmeg would be fine.)

Cream Cheese Topping

4 ounces of softened cream cheese
1/3 C whipping cream
1/3 C powdered sugar

Instructions

  • To make the crumb topping, combine the flour and brown sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Cut the cold butter into 1/2 inch pieces and place in the bowl. Pulse the mixture just a few times, until you have developed the consistency of course breadcrumbs. I pulsed mine about eight times. 
  • To make the pastry/cake, grease an 8 x 8 inch square pan. 
  • Combine 1/2 cup of the flour and the yeast.
  • Heat the milk, granulated sugar, butter, and salt in a small sauce pan until the mixture reaches 120 to 130 degrees F. 
  • Add the heated mixture and the egg to the flour and yeast, and beat on low to combine, then beat on high for about two minutes until the mixture is smooth. Using a dough whisk or wooden spoon, add the remaining flour to create a stiff batter. 
  • Spread the batter into the pan. 
  • To make the apples, in a large bowl, mix the apples, brown sugar, tapioca, lemon juice, and apple pie spice. 
  • Spread the apple mixture on top of the batter, and then top the apples with the crumb topping. 
  • Allow to rise for one hour in a warm place. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, until top is browned and the apples are cooked through.
  • Cool on a rack for 30 minutes.
  • To make the cream cheese topping, beat the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth. Beat in the rest of the ingredients. 
  • Can be served warm or at room temperature. 



Dec 23, 2012

Czech Christmas Bread

Czech Christmas Bread

I did not grow up with a Christmas celebration bread tradition. The only Christmas bread I was aware of was the dreaded fruitcake. I think we would occasionally receive them as gifts, but I don't remember actually eating them. In fact, because of the aforementioned fruitcake, I had an aversion to any bread with fruit in it (except maybe cinnamon rolls).

Roast Turkey | Easiest Turkey Ever

Roast Turkey | Easiest Turkey Ever

Everyone has their favorite method of roasting their turkey. Many brine their turkeys, either in a salt or salt/sweet solution, or with a dry brine. Others swear by cooking their turkeys in a bag or a covered roaster. One of my colleagues has an electric turkey roaster that she says produces perfectly flavored turkey every time (although the turkey skin kind of explodes). I have friends who cook their turkeys on their barbecues or in fryers outside in the backyard. At work, we have a guy who uses his beautiful designer oven once a year, just to roast a turkey for our annual Thanksgiving potluck. He turns on the oven, puts the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan, and roasts the turkey until it reaches the right temperature. No basting, no seasoning, just roasting. It comes out beautifully. It's enough to make those of us who slave over our turkeys a little annoyed.

Everyone has their favorite method of roasting their turkey. This just happens to be mine.

Did you run out of time or do you lack the room to brine a turkey?

Do you bake your turkey breast side down and then have to flip it in the middle of roasting?

Did you put off buying the turkey until the day you need to roast it?

Sick of basting the turkey every so often when you'd rather be hanging out with your guests?

I'm here to help.

I first saw this method on an episode of Cooks Country. It involves poking holes in the skin of the turkey, covering it with salt port, a wet cheesecloth, and heavy duty foil. This method is referred to as larding, and is designed to insulate and slowly baste a cut of meat that might otherwise dry out.

The turkey is roasted covered with the fat for about 2/3 of the roasting time at a lower oven temperature, and then is roasted uncovered for the remaining time at a higher temperature to brown and crisp the skin and complete the cooking of the bird.


Roast Turkey

Ingredients

1 cheesecloth package, new
4 C water
1 12 to 15 pound turkey
1 pound salt pork. I use the pre-sliced salt pork from Hormel.  If yours is unsliced, cut it into 1/4 inch slices. If you can't find salt pork, you can use bacon, however bacon will impart its own smoked flavor.

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 F with the rack placed on the lowest position.
Remove all of the packages of giblets, neck, etc from the cavities of the turkey. Rinse and pat the turkey dry. 
Fold the cheesecloth into an 18 inch square, place in in a large bowl, and cover with the four cups of water. 
Lifting up the skin, pierce the skin of the breast and legs several times with a fork. Do your best not to pierce the meat itself. 
Cover the turkey with the strips of salt pork (see photo), and cover with the soaking wet cheese cloth (do not wring it out). Pour the rest of the water into the roasting pan. 
Cover the entire pork and cheesecloth contraption with heavy duty foil.
Roast until the breast reaches 140 degrees F. This should take about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours.
Remove the foil, cheesecloth, and salt pork (discard).
Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F and roast until the spot between the breast and thigh reaches 160 degrees F. This should take another 45 minutes to an hour. 

When the turkey is done, remove it from the oven, place it on a carving board, and tent it with foil for 30 minutes to an hour to rest. 

Hope this helps! Let me know if you try it. 

Dec 22, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

During the holiday season, with all of the sweets that are around, I sometimes just crave something savory. I am thinking about a chicken pot pie right about now.

I have made this recipe a few times. Those at the table quickly earned memberships to the "clean plate club."

One thing I love about this recipe is that I can make the filling a day in advance and then bake the individual pot pies just prior to serving. This cuts down on all of that dinner party stress that gets me really cranky. Serve these with an easy appetizer, a really nice green salad and homemade ice cream or sorbet for dessert and you are in business.

I baked these in these little individual mini Dutch ovens.  I love them because they are so cute, and they also keep the pot pies super hot. You can also use 2 cup souffle dishes to make these pies.

Because the cast iron Dutch ovens are so hot, I like to serve them on a large salad plate topped with a couple of super pretty cloth or paper (gasp!!) cocktail napkins under the ovens. This will protect your table as well as your plate, and won't look like you are serving dinner on trivets.



Be sure to try my slow cooker chicken pot pie too!



Chicken Pot Pie

Serves 4, but I usually have lots of leftovers.

Filling

6 half chicken breasts, bone in, skin on (see note at the bottom of this post)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
40 ounces of low sodium chicken stock
2 T chicken demi glace or Better Than Boullion Chicken Base
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
2 large onions, chopped
3/4 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 C heavy cream
3 T dry sherry
2 T Signature Secrets from King Arthur Flour (optional, not necessary for this recipe)
2 C diced carrots (about 3/8 inch), blanched for about 2 minutes
1 10 ounce package of frozen peas
1 1/2 C frozen pearl onions
1 1/2 T chopped fresh thyme or 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 C minced fresh parsley

Pie Dough

You can either make your own pastry, use store bought pre-made pie crusts (Pillsbury is my favorite brand, do not use generic.. trust me on this), or frozen puff pastry. Here is a suggested recipe:

3 C all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 C shortening or lard
1 stick unsalted butter, diced
1/2 to 2/3 C iced water
1 egg beaten with 1 T water (for egg wash)
Flaked sea or Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Dec 18, 2012

Roasted Onion and Asiago Miche | Mission Accomplished

Roasted Onion and Asiago Miche

The Finish line. This is the last bread, bread #43, from The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. I baked every single bread in the book. I've never baked an entire cookbook before and I'll probably never do it again, but I am proud that I did. It's always good to flex new muscles. I feel like I earned my journeyman status in the art of bread baking.

Let's talk about this bread.

Days to make? Three (don't worry, there's lots of down time here)
Worth it? Yes.

This bread is crazy good. Crazy good.

I remember when I first baked it I thought that it was just a giant hunk of bread gorgeousness. Bear with me because I took a lot of photos of this one.



The original recipe makes two large loaves. I've cut it in half for you here.

On day one, make a "sponge," a combination of sourdough starter, water, and flour.

On day two, roast the onions, mix the dough, let it rise, shape the loaves, and chill them overnight.

On day three, do a final shaping, and bake the loaves.



Roasted Onion and Asiago Miche

Sponge

1 ounce of 100% sourdough starter
4 ounces of room temperature water
5.6 ounces of unbleached bread flour

Roasted Onions

4 ounces  of onion, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
Pinch of ground black paper
Pinch of salt

Dough

16 ounces of unbleached bread flour
1 1/8 tsp instant yeast
9 ounces of lukewarm water (90 to 100 degrees F)
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 T olive oil
8 ounces grated Asiago cheese. You can also use Parmesan, Romano, or dry Jack cheese. I used a combination of what I had on hand. 
1 ounce of chopped chives
1 ounce of sliced scallions
Semolina flour or corn meal for dusting the pan. 

(the dough in this photo is for two loaves. This recipe is for one loaf.)
Dec 13, 2012

Cranberry & White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Cranberry & White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Yesterday I went to a cookie exchange with a wonderful group of women. One brought cookies from the book Presidential Cookies by Bev Young. She has been baking the various cookies of the US Presidents from George Washington to George Bush. The cookies she brought tonight were from Chester A. Arthur's era. They were called Rocks. Who knew?

A sampling of some of the other cookies at the party.... Clementine Gingerbread Checkerboards, Linzer Tart Cookies, Chewy Lime Sugar Cookies, Gluten Free Berry Pillow Cookies, Caramel Pretzel Pecan Cookies, Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti, and Grandma Emma's Sugar Cookies.

I am humbled.


Cranberry & White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

These cookies were my contribution. They consist of a shortbread, leftover homemade cranberry sauce, and white chocolate.

I have made these cookies many times, usually using raspberry jam. They are always a big hit, but the spicy homemade cranberry sauce seemed to add another dimension.

Cranberry & White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies


Cranberry & White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies


Makes 36 cookies


½ C unsalted butter
¼ C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
About 1 ¼ C all purpose flour
1/8 to ¼ tsp salt
¼ C cranberry sauce (or raspberry, blackberry, or any other jam, not jelly)
2 ounces of white chocolate, chopped

1.     In the bowl of stand mixer beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla with the paddle attachment until smooth.
2.     Stir in the flour until the dough comes together
3.     Divide the dough into three equal parts and create three 9 -inch logs
4.     Place the logs on a parchment lined baking sheet
5.     Press the logs with your finger to make indentations every inch
6.     Spoon about a ¼ tsp of jam into the indentations
7.     Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned at the edges
8.     Cool on the pan on a rack
9.     Place the chopped chocolate in a plastic bag and melt in hot water
10. Dry the outside of the bag
11. Squeeze the melted chocolate toward one of the bag’s corners and tie the bag above the chocolate.
12. Cut a corner of the bag and pipe the melted chocolate across the ropes from side to side.
13. Chill until the chocolate is firm.
14. Cut the ropes diagonally into 12 pieces. 

Dec 11, 2012

Toasted Sunflower Seed and Pumpkin Seed Bread with Rye Sourdough

Toasted Sunflower Seed and Pumpkin Seed Bread with Rye Sourdough

Supposedly pumpkin seeds have properties that are very good for you. Sounds good to me. Good excuse to eat more of this bread. It is loaded with them.
Dec 9, 2012

Ruby Port Cranberry Sauce

This Ruby Port Cranberry Sauce takes cranberry sauce to a completely new level.




I had no idea that cranberry sauce could be this good until my friend Michele, an outstanding cook, told me about this recipe five years ago. She had made it for Thanksgiving and was bowled over by the flavor.

It was my year to host our extended family's Christmas Eve celebration, and I was planning a traditional turkey dinner. Cranberry sauce has always been one of those things you have to serve but no one actually eats.





This was much better. While it's still cranberry sauce (there's no getting around it, it's not for everyone), it really has a much richer, deeper, spicier flavor. I've made it every year since. I use the leftovers for cookies, ice cream, and even PB&J. Thanks Michele!

For those who prepare turkey dinners for Christmas, give this sauce a try. I think you will be pleased. By the way, I also love this orange cranberry sauce, which is even easier to make.

This recipe appeared in the November 14, 2007 issue of the Los Angeles Times Food section. I still have the email Michele sent me with the scanned clipping.

Oh, and I developed a taste for good Ruby Port. Dangerous stuff.



Ruby Port Cranberry Sauce


Ruby Port Cranberry Sauce
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Author:
This Ruby Port Cranberry Sauce takes cranberry sauce to a completely new level.

ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 C Port
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • Spice bundle: 3 cloves, 1 cinnamon stick, 3 allspice berries, 4 black pepper corns, tied into a bundle with cheesecloth
  • 2 inch by 1/2 inch strip of orange peel. Alternatively, a drop of orange oil can be substituted
  • 1 package of cranberries, fresh or frozen

instructions:

How to cook Ruby Port Cranberry Sauce

  1. Place everything but the cranberries into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for four minutes to reduce the wine to about one cup.
  2. Add the cranberries and bring the mixture to a boil again. Reduce the heat and simmer for about ten minutes, until the cranberries pop.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool. Remove the orange peel and the spice bundle.
  4. When fully cooled, pour into a container and refrigerate.
Calories
153.21
Fat (grams)
2.27
Sat. Fat (grams)
0.21
Carbs (grams)
32.03
Fiber (grams)
2.72
Net carbs
29.31
Sugar (grams)
23.24
Protein (grams)
1.28
Sodium (milligrams)
277.50
Cholesterol (grams)
0.00
cranberry sauce, Thanksgiving, holiday
Side dish
American

Did you make this recipe?
Tag @KarensKitchenStories on instagram and hashtag it #KarensKitchenStories
Created using The Recipes Generator
Dec 8, 2012

Smashed Potatoes

These smashed potatoes are both crispy and creamy, and full of flavor. They are the perfect side dish for roasts or steaks. 




It is made with baby potatoes that are first roasted in a small amount of water, and then coated in olive oil, "smashed," brushed with more oil, seasoned, and then roasted again. We served these with beef tenderloin. Let's just say, I had a hard time sharing.
Dec 7, 2012

Vanilla Bean Sable Cookies | Best Vanilla Cookies Ever

Vanilla Bean Sable Cookies

See those tiny dots? Vanilla.

Vanilla Bean Sable Cookies

Scraped from vanilla beans. Unbelievably good.

Vanilla Bean Sable Cookies

This cookie is sort of a cross between a sugar cookie and a butter cookie. I've heard sable means "sandy" in French. Not sure if it's true because I don't know French, but the description fits the texture of these cookies.

This recipe is by Dorie Greenspan and is featured in the April/May 2012 issue of Fine Cooking. I posted a photo of these on Twitter for Dorie and she responded saying that they were lovely and that she liked the twine. Sigh. Love her. Trying not to be seen as a stalker. Sigh.

Vanilla Bean Sable Cookies

Here's the recipe:


Dec 6, 2012

Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Torpedoes | BBA Bread #42


This is the second to last bread in the amazing book The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. It took me one year to bake the 43 recipes in the book (in order).  If I hadn't committed to baking all of the breads in a row, I would have probably baked this bread right away.


See the cheese oozing out of the side of this loaf? So good.

At the end of the book, Peter included two recipes from Bennett Valley Bread and Pastry's Tim Decker who was Peter's head baker at Brother Juniper's Bakery in Santa Rosa.

These breads are ridiculously good. I wanted to hide these loaves and keep them to myself. They disappeared way too fast.

To make this bread, you must have a 100% ratio (water to flour) sourdough starter (referred to as barm in this recipe) that has been fed. There are plenty of recipes out there to make your own sourdough starter, some way more complicated than others. I actually bought a dehydrated starter from King Arthur Flour about three years ago. King Arthur flour also has a simple recipe for creating your own starter.

Each loaf includes 1/4 pound of boiled potatoes, and the water in the recipe is the water in which the potatoes were simmered. This makes it a very soft bread. The rest of the ingredients are bread flour, instant yeast, salt, chives, and slices of sharp cheddar cheese.

And I used my own home grown chives. Yay!

The only thing I would do differently is make the slashes deeper so that the cheese would ooze out of the top and make the crust more cheesy.

You can find the recipe here. You should also Google BBA Challenge #42 because there are many bakers who took step-by-step photos of how they baked this bread.

Shared with Tasty Thursday.

BYOB 125 x 125
Shared with Yeastspotting.

Homemade Graham Crackers


This recipe captures the flavor of graham crackers, but takes them to an entirely new level. Think crispy butter cookies with a graham cracker flavor. 

You will love these cookies. I have given these as gifts, and every time I have been asked for the recipe. Just about everyone has purchased the book from which this recipe originated. 

Just saying. 


Homemade Graham Crackers

Makes 18 to 20 crackers

Ingredients

1 1/2 C (7 1/2 ounces) unbleached all purpose flour
1/3 C (1 1/2 ounces) whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Rounded 1/4 tsp cinnamon
6 ounces of unsalted room temperature butter
1/4 C packed light brown sugar
2 T honey
Sparkling or regular granulated sugar for sprinkling

Instructions

  • Whisk the flours, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl
  • Mix the butter, brown sugar, and honey in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment for about five minutes, until fluffy
  • Mix in the dry ingredients in thirds, beating each time until just combined
  • Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes and up to two days
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  • Roll out the dough between two pieces of waxed paper to 1/4 inch thick
  • Cut the dough into 3 1/4 inch rounds with a scalloped or ruffled edge cookie cutter
  • Place the cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet
  • Gather up and roll out the scraps and cut more cookies
  • Score the cookies at about half inch intervals (no need to be exact) with a toothpick or cake tester and very lightly sprinkle them with sparkling sugar or granulated sugar. 
  • Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown
  • Cool the cookies on a wire rack
Sometimes it can be difficult to remove the cookies from the was paper without messing up the edges. What works for me is cutting the cookies on top of the wax paper, placing another piece of wax paper on top of them, flipping the whole thing over, and peeling off the top piece of was paper. Because they are not attached to the (now) bottom piece of wax paper, they are easy to move. 

Adapted with permission from Miette by Meg Ray. The book is exquisite. 

This is week 10 of Twelve Weeks of Christmas Treats by Brenda of Meal Planning Magic. Check out all of the contributions for ideas. 


Dec 4, 2012

Gingerbread Baby Cakes | Tuesdays with Dorie - Baking with Julia

These gingerbread baby cakes are loaded with gingery spiciness. 

These gingerbread baby cakes are loaded with gingery spiciness.

Eight little four inch baby cakes of buttery gingery brown sugary molasses-y peppery goodness. I absolutely love these cakes. They are so spicy, and well... hot! These cakes definitely have an adult taste.
Nov 30, 2012

BBA Challenge #38 Tuscan Bread, #39 Vienna Bread, #40 White Bread, #41 Whole-Wheat Bread

The next installment about my journey baking my way through The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread by Peter Reinhart. I started the project in August of 2011 (pre-blogging days) and finished in August of 2012.

BBA Challenge #38 Tuscan Bread

tuscan bread


So here's the deal about this bread. It does not contain salt. I once accidentally left salt out of a bread recipe before. Taste? Cardboard.
Nov 29, 2012

Sauteed Carrots


According to Ina Garten in Barefoot Contessa: Family Style, "These sauteed carrots are the essence of 'carrot-ness.'" Truly they are.

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes with a Gingersnap Crust

These mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes are the perfect little holiday treat. The crust is so simple, just a gingersnap dropped into the bottom of a muffin tin, and, because these are muffin-sized, they're pretty foolproof.

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes with a Gingersnap Crust





Even if the tops of your cheesecakes sink too much, or even crack, you can hide any flaws with a spritz of whipped cream. These little cheesecakes are also wonderful for using up any leftover pumpkin puree you might have.
Nov 25, 2012

Pocketbook Rolls | Feathery Buttery Rolls


I decided to attempt a couple of new recipes for Thanksgiving (I like adding a little suspense). One of them was this recipe for yeasted rolls. Yeasted you say? Correct. Yeasted rolls that must be baked and then served hot.



{Attendees were my husband, kids, and grandkids, so I figured I could toss them (the rolls, not my family) if they (the rolls, not my family) didn't work out. They (my family, not the rolls) are a very forgiving group of guests.}

The big trick was to make sure I got the timing right. These rolls worked out beautifully!!!!



The recipe calls for the dough to be mixed at least one day, and up to one week, in advance. The dough is unusual in that it is almost batter like when you mix it, but it emerges from the refrigerator like biscuit dough or cookie dough. It's pretty amazing how this recipe works out.

The rolls are like a cross between light and airy rolls with the flavor of biscuits... plus butter.... it's really hard to explain. You must try these. I've been using the leftovers to make "turkey and stuffing sliders." Soooo good.


Pocketbook Rolls

Yield, approximately 24 rolls. Adapted from Paulchen's Kitchen, adapted from The Glory of Southern Cooking by James Villas.

Ingredients

2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1/4 C lukewarm whole milk
1/4 C shortening
4 T room temperature butter
1/4 C sugar 1/2 C boiling water
1 large egg, beaten
13 ounces unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
8 T melted butter

Mix the dough

  1. Place the yeast in the lukewarm milk and let it sit for five minutes or so. 
  2. Cream the shortening, butter, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment. Slowly add in the boiling water. 
  3. Add the yeast and milk mixture, continuing to mix.
  4. Beat in the egg
  5. Beat in the flour and salt and mix until all ingredients are well blended
  6. Place the dough into a bowl that is at least double the dough's size, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 to 7 days

Assemble the rolls  (about 3 hours before serving)

  1. Grease a half sheet pan.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter, lightly sprinkle the dough with flour, and lightly coat a rolling pin with flour. 
  3. Roll the dough out to a scan 1/2 inch thick.
  4. Using a 2 1/2 inch round biscuit or cookie cutter, cut the dough into rounds and fold each round in half. 
  5. Place each roll onto the baking sheet. 
  6. Generously brush the rolls with butter. 
  7. Cover the baking sheet loosely with plastic wrap and a towel. 
  8. Set aside to rise for about 2 1/2 hours. 
  9. Bake in a 400 degree F oven for about 10 to 12 minutes. Serve immediately.
Back story: This recipe is part of the Bread Baking Babes monthly bread baking extravaganza. Well, maybe not an extravaganza, but... well, click the link and read more. Once the Babes post the recipe, the buddies (that includes me!) can bake along with the Babes. Here is a round up of the Buddies' posts.

Many of the Babes think that these rolls look like lips. What do you think?



Nov 22, 2012

Semolina Sourdough Bread


See how the edges of the slash stick up and are all toasty? Those are bread ears. It's what we bread bakers all strive for. These are my best ever. It's amazing what gets us excited.
Nov 21, 2012

Homemade Oreo Cookies | Fauxreos


Doesn't this make you want a big glass of ice cold milk? 

Me too.


Homemade Oreos

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, adapted from Retro Desserts by Wayne Brachman. Makes about 26 cookies.

Ingredients

Cookies:

1 1/4 C all purpose flour
1/2 C unsweetened Dutch process cocoa. While it's not necessary, I used 1/2 regular Dutch process cocoa and 1/2 King Arthur Flour's black cocoa because it makes the cookies extra dark. 
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 C sugar
1 1/4 sticks of softened unsalted butter
1 large egg

Icing:

1/2 stick softened unsalted butter
1/4 C vegetable shortening
2 C sifted confectioners sugar
2 tsp vanilla


Instructions

  • Space two oven racks near the middle of your oven and reheat it to 375 degrees F
  • In a food processor, mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. 
  • Pulse while adding first the butter, and then the egg. Pulse until the dough forms a mass. 
  • Form rounded teaspoons of batter and place them about 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets. I used this small cookie scoop. It really helps to keep the cookies evenly sized. 
  • Flatten the dough with a dampened hand or the bottom of a glass. I used the pusher from my food processor to get those cool circles on top of each wafer. 
  • Bake, two sheets at a time for 9 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through.
  • Smack the cookie sheets on the counter once when you remove them from the oven to let some of the air out of the cookies, and set them on a rack to cool. 
  • While the cookies are cooling, make the filling. 
  • Using a hand or stand mixer, blend the butter and shortening.
  • On low speed, slowly add in the powdered sugar and vanilla. 
  • Beat the filling on high speed for about 3 minutes, until it is very fluffy.
  • Place the icing in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch round tip. Alternatively, place it in a plastic storage bag and cut off the corner to pipe the icing. 
  • Pipe a scant tablespoon sized dollop of icing onto half of the cookies. 
  • Top each with another cookie and press lightly to evenly nudge the filling to the edges of each sandwich. 
Nov 20, 2012

Best-Ever Brownies | Tuesdays with Dorie




This week, the Tuesdays with Dorie group is baking a brownie recipe titled "Best-Ever Brownies" from the book Baking with Julia

This recipe involves melting chocolate and lots of butter, adding some sugar to the chocolate butter mixture, slowly adding half of the four eggs and sugar to the chocolate, whipping the other half of the eggs and sugar into a frothy concoction, folding it into the chocolate, and then folding in the flour and salt. Phew! I had to read the recipe several times just to make sure I was doing it right. Not your typical brownie recipe. 

The recipe calls for a 9 inch square pan, preferably ceramic or glass. Really? Another piece of cookware this cookware junkie with a pan habit does not have? 


I do have an enameled cast iron 9 inch square pan, so I went for it even though cast iron stays hot for quite awhile, and the brownies are supposed to cool in the pan.

I really couldn’t tell by the instructions how to determine if the brownies were done, so I pulled the brownies out at 28 minutes (the max amount of time according to the recipe) even though they were kind of liquid in the middle but set on top. I figured that the pan would stay hot and continue to cook. 


So.. are these the Best-Ever Brownies? 

They are really good actually. They are super fudgy, not at all cakey, but not necessarily chewy. A little goes a long way. While the knife inserted into them to test for doneness came out coated in batter, once the brownies cooled, they came together. I'm not sure if it was the pan or the 6 ounces of chocolate bar in the recipe. If you make this recipe, definitely allow the brownies to cool completely before cutting them.

Would I make them again? Yes!

You can find the recipe on Monica's A Beautiful Mess blog. It's a really sweet blog by the way. For more information about Tuesdays with Dorie, click here