Aug 31, 2012


I am excited to report that our tangelo tree is loaded again with a bounty of ripening fruit. What amazes me about this tree is that it was planted by the previous homeowner in a three foot patch of ground between a cinderblock wall and a concrete slab, yet almost every year, we get bags and bags of this lovely juicy fruit. I'm sure this tree was planted about forty or fifty years ago and it looks so craggy, as if it has had to fight hard to exist.

Last "season," we had fruit for about 16 months! Almost none of it was wasted.

I've made sorbet, cake, margaritas, and even tangelocello. We have given away bags and bags of these, and when I take them to work and leave them out, they quickly disappear.

You just have to be really careful when you are eating one because they are so juicy and have a tendency to spray your clothes.

Peeling them has been like playing seed lottery. Some are completely seed free, and some are loaded with seeds. What's up with that?

One day, as I passed through our family room, I looked outside and noticed these tangelos all lined up like little children waiting outside their classroom and I just had to take this picture.

Recently I stumbled upon Aparna's blog My Diverse Kitchen. Along with great recipes, she also provides photography lessons, especially food photography. She also hosts a monthly exercise in food photography. This month's exercise is "Feature Just One Ingredient."  Hop on over there to see beautiful photos of food.

This photo of just one ingredient was taken with a 60mm f/2.8 macro lens at aperture 3.5, shutterspeed .0125s, and ISO 320.

Aug 28, 2012

Fresh Berry Focaccia

I've made focaccia, awesome focaccia, but not sweet focaccia. This dough is typical focaccia dough, but with berries pressed into the dough pieces, and a streusel generously spread over the top. The dough is super wet, requires an overnight refrigeration, and does not contain sugar. The contrast between the slightly savory and sweet is interesting. The dough is really easy to handle.

The Twelve Loaves inspiration this month was to use summer fruit in a bread recipe. I came across this recipe in Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan so I thought I'd give it a try.

My random observations:

1. The dough is elastic and bubbly, but not sticky, after sitting for 36 hours in the cold fridge.
2. The dough did not brown in this sweet interpretation, probably because I baked two sheets at a time.
3. Do not bake two baking sheets at a time.
4. The recipe calls for a lot of streusel.

Okay... other than that, I'm going to try this again by baking one sheet at a time to see if they brown. I'm also going to try using a steam pan. Maybe I'll use less streusel. Oh, by the way, the pastries are tasty.

Aug 26, 2012

Mexican Breakfast Casserole

Mexican breakfast casserole

What's wonderful about this breakfast casserole is that you can assemble the whole thing the night before and then bake it in the morning while sipping your coffee, Bloody Mary, or Mimosa.

It's got eggs, chorizo, chiles, cheese, and corn tortillas. Garnish it with sour cream, chopped cilantro, and some Tapatio or other hot sauce at the table. Serve this with a big fruit salad and you've got Sunday brunch for ten.

Aug 25, 2012

Multi-grain Boule

This is a large loaf of bread that you bake in a Dutch oven. It includes sour dough starter or a poolish, whole grains and seeds, and a combination of unbleached white and whole wheat flour. It makes excellent toast, and lasts for quite a few days. It is really easy to work with this dough.

Aug 23, 2012

BBA Challenge #19 Marbled Rye Bread, # 20 Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire, #21 Pain a l' Ancienne

Installment number seven on my year of baking my way through Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice.

Go get some coffee. These breads were three of my favorites from this book. 

BBA Challenge # 19 Marbled Rye Bread


Left: Shaped as Marbled Rye. Right: Shaped as a Spiral Loaf, not all that different, right?
I always thought that marbled rye bread was made from two different doughs based on two different flours.. one white rye, one pumpernickel. Wrong. At least in this case, it's just the same dough, with half of it dyed brown with caramel coloring, cocoa, carob, or coffee powder. 

I didn't have caramel color and didn't know where to find any (I've since run across it at Smart & Final near my house), and didn't want to use cocoa or coffee in my bread. A search on "caramel color" on the internet produced a suggestion to use Gravy Master. Gravy Master? Guess what the top two ingredients are? Caramelized sugar and caramel color... and I already had it in my pantry. So I added a tablespoon of that stuff plus a few drops of AmeriColor gel food color in brown. Look at how contrasty this bread turned out. 

The dough is 1/3 white rye flour and 2/3 all purpose or clear wheat flour. You can use medium rye flour, but you won't get this contrast between the light and dark. I got my white rye from King Arthur Flour. You make two batches of dough and then add one of the darkening ingredients to one of the doughs. 

You have a few options for shaping. I tried the marbled technique and the spiral technique. For the marbled bread, you divide the dough up into balls and them clump them together and then shape your loaf. For the spiral loaf, you create four layers of alternating colors, and roll them into a spiral. As you can see, they pretty much exploded in the oven.  

For those of you who don't like rye bread, this bread does not have that store bought rye taste that you think of when you imagine rye bread. It is very mild and the dough behaved like bread dough. I would definitely make this bread again.

Google BBA Challenge #19 Marbled Rye Bread to see other bakers' experiences with this recipe. 

BBA Challenge #20 Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire

Every time Peter Reinhart writes a bread book, he includes a recipe for this multi-grain bread, also called Struan. In fact, this is the bread that lured me into the BBA Challenge

This bread starts with a cornmeal, rolled oats, and wheat bran soaker. It also includes bread flour, cooked brown rice, brown sugar and honey, and buttermilk. It is pretty incredible. I highly recommend making this bread. Awesome toast. I've made it twice, even with the "pressure" to finish baking my way through this book. Try it. You'll love it. 

Google BBA Challenge #20 Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire for more bakers' experiences with this recipe. 

BBA Challenge #21 Pain a l'Ancienne

The amazing thing about bread (yes, I know I've said this before) is that you can take the exact same ingredients, and depending upon how you treat them, you get completely different results. Variables include ratios, and also the fermentation time, and in this case, fermentation temperature. 

This dough is cold fermented, and uses ice water. This method creates an amazing flavor.  In his book, Artisan Breads Every Day, Peter used this dough to create an amazing Ciabatta. I speak from experience. 

This dough is very, very wet. And forget slashing it. You create these strips of dough, place them on parchment, and bake them on a stone. Go with it. You will be pleased. You will feel like a pro. 

To see other blogger's experiences with this bread, Google BBA Challenge #21 Pain a l'Ancienne. 

And get the book! Or borrow it from the library. It's amazing.

This post has been submitted to the Bake Your Own Bread bread basket.

BYOB 125 x 125

Aug 21, 2012

Popovers | Tuesdays with Dorie

I had never baked popovers before. In fact, I had never tasted popovers before. What was I thinking?

I made these in the morning for breakfast, but they would also make excellent dinner rolls. They are crisp on the outside and hollow and airy on the inside.


The recipe consists of flour, milk, eggs, salt, and melted butter mixed together in a blender. I baked mine in buttered and then sprayed (I heard sticking is a big problem so I overcompensated - they did not stick) Pyrex custard cups I've had forever, which is why they are wide and somewhat shallow, but you can use muffin pans or even buy a special popover pan for that tall look. Hmmmmm...... thinking about it....... how can I introduce the pan into the house without my husband rolling his eyes......

You are not allowed to open the oven while they are baking... thank goodness my oven has a window...  For a while I was pretty sure they would not rise. But then poof!  Success! Magic.

Once you take them out of the oven, you are supposed to serve them immediately to enjoy the maximum puffiness, but you can freeze them and reheat them later. I've tried them fresh out of the oven, and then frozen and reheated, all in the interest of "science." They are still pretty tasty reheated.

I enjoyed mine with butter and preserves. Amazing. Where. Have. You. Been... ?

The popover recipe I used is on page 213 of Baking with Julia: Savor the Joys of Baking with America's Best Bakers - In Classic Julia Style, by Dorie Greenspan.



1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole or 2% milk, at room tº
½ teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room tº
2 Tbs unsalted butter, melted

Melted butter, for greasing popover cups


  1. Position a rack on the lowest rung of the oven and preheat the oven to 425ºF.
  2. Butter or spray nine ¾ cup glass custard cups or ten ½ cup muffin cups. For the custard cups, place them on a half-sheet pan. For the muffin pans, use two to give the popovers room in between for air circulation. 
  3. Pour al the ingredients into the container of a blender, food processor, or with a hand mixer and mix until smooth. Strain if lumpy. 
  4. For the custard cups, pour 1/3 of batter into each cup, dividing any extra batter among the cups. For the muffin cups, use ¼ cup of batter for each cup, filling alternate cups in each tin.
  5. Bake, without opening door, for 25 minutes, until the popovers are puffed, browned, and crisp on the outside. Turn the oven down to 350ºF and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, to help dry out the interior, which will still be a little custardy. 
  6. Serve immediately.
These are best fresh from the oven, but I was able to wrap them individually in plastic wrap and freeze them (up to a month). Reheat them in a 350º F oven for 10 to 15 minutes. 

Aug 18, 2012

Chocolate Wafer Cookies

Chocolate Wafer Cookies
I am in love with this cookbook, Miette: Recipes from San Francisco's Most Charming Pastry Shop. This book is so exquisite, with scalloped pages and incredible photographs.

I bought it when it first came out and have made several of the recipes. One of my favorite recipes in this book is for chocolate wafer cookies. The author wanted to recreate the Famous Chocolate Wafers that are used for ice box cake. These are way better.

The book also includes recipes for graham crackers and ginger snaps (with three types of ginger!) that are shaped just like these chocolate cookies. Last Christmas I made all three for gifts, and got rave reviews. I think nearly everyone bought the book after tasting these cookies.

Clockwise from left, Chocolate Wafer Cookies, Ginger Snaps, & Graham Crackers
Last year I visited my sweet friend Kay in Northern California, and we had some time to kill before heading to Oakland Airport, so we visited the Miette Bakery in Jack London Square.  Beautiful!  Thank you Kay for putting up with my obsession!  I picked up these cookies and can honestly say that the recipes recreate the wonderful flavors of the cookies in the bakery.

Aug 16, 2012

BBA Challenge # 16 Kaiser Rolls, #17 Lavash Crackers, #18 Light Wheat Bread

Installment number six of my chronicle of baking every recipe in Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread.

BBA Challenge # 16 Kaiser Rolls

These are also known as New York hard rolls, and are intended for making deli sandwiches. These rolls were really tasty. They also gave me another opportunity to use the diastatic barley malt powder that I purchased especially for the bagels from King Arthur Flour. Thank goodness. my pantry and freezer are overrun with ingredients and are shrines to that company.

The recipe requires a Pâte Fermentée, pre-fermented dough to develop flavor. 

While I would definitely make these rolls again, there are a couple of things I would do differently. First, I used a Kaiser roll cutter. As you can see, the cuts grew back together.  Next time I will knot the rolls. I also think that the recipe has a misprint. It has you place the rolls top down on a parchment sprinkled with corn meal. The rolls in the book are shiny and not sprinkled with corn meal. I think the corn meal is supposed to be on the bottom of the rolls once you flip them and place them in the oven. 

Otherwise, these make great sandwich rolls and hamburger buns. 

Google BBA Challenge #16 for more feedback on this recipe.

BBA Challenge #17, Lavash Crackers

Lavash is an Armenian flatbread and is similar to a lot of the flatbreads throughout the Middle East. It involves rolling the dough paper thin. The ingredients include bread flour, salt, yeast, honey, oil, water, and toppings. These crackers are super crispy and flavorful.

Once I rolled out the dough, I topped it with stripes of poppy seeds, paprika, toasted sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, caraway seeds, sea salt, herbes de Provence, and flax seeds. I ran a pizza wheel over the dough in random patterns, and baked it for 20 minutes in an non-rimmed baking sheet. Loved these crackers.

This is a sweetgrass basket I picked up in Charleston, South Carolina a year ago, and a napkin I picked up in Provence, FR eleven years or so ago. Makes me sound like a world traveler. Hardly. But I love both of these pieces and just noticed that I used them both in this photo. =)

Google BBA Challenge #17 for more feedback on this recipe.

BBA Challenge #18, Light Wheat Bread

This bread is 33 per cent whole-wheat, and 67 percent high gluten white flour. This is a good sandwich bread. It includes just enough whole-wheat so that the flavor is not overwhelming. The bread is easy to make.

Along with the high gluten flour (Since my house will not fit another bag of flour, I used bread flour and a couple of tablespoons of Bob's Red Mill vital wheat gluten, which you can find at the supermarket) and whole-wheat flour, the ingredients include honey, salt, powdered milk, yeast, butter, and water.

Great go-to recipe for a "brown" bread. Great oven spring.

Google BBA Challenge #18 for more feedback on this recipe.

Aug 15, 2012

Pain Francais - Plain French Bread

This recipe is from Julia Child's book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two, and the recipe is nearly twenty pages.... twenty pages....

While this bread takes several hours to make (mostly waiting for the dough to rise), it actually was very easy.. except when it came time to slash the dough and move it to the oven. It was there that I struggled.

You are supposed to be able to slash the loaves before placing them in the oven, but in my case, my lovely round mini-baguettes just went pffft and flattened when I began slashing them. That is supposed to indicate that the loaves have over proofed and that is likely what happened. The loaves are supposed to take 1 1/2 hours to 2 1/2 hours to rise, and mine were past ready in an hour. This dough is also very wet, which makes it difficult to slash. Rest assured, I will continue to work on getting this right!

Nonetheless, the flavor is wonderful. We sliced them lengthwise through the middle and they made great sandwiches.One of my favorite quotes from the book is "You may muff this every once in a while, and produce some queerly deformed shapes, but they will all bake into bread." Indeed they did.

Aug 11, 2012

The Negroni

A little less than a year ago, we spent a long weekend in Charleston, South Carolina. Amazing place. The food is incredible. The people are wonderful. It seemed like many of the people with whom we interacted were actually from somewhere else, and purposely moved to Charleston because they loved it so much.

One of the places we visited was a restaurant called Fig.
This is where I was introduced to the Negroni. In fact, their cocktail menu has several versions of the Negroni.

I had the classic. According to my copy of Williams-Sonoma 1999 Bar Guide, the cocktail was named after Count Negroni, an aristocrat from Florence. He supposedly created it in the late 19th century by adding gin and an orange slice to an Americano, a popular drink in Italy at that time.

Aug 9, 2012

BBA Challenge #13 Focaccia, #14 French Bread, #15 Italian Bread

Installment number five on my year of baking my way through Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice.

BBA Challenge #13 Focaccia

This bread is infused with flavor from an herb oil that you make yourself from your choice of herbs and spices. I kind of took the kitchen sink approach, and loved the results. We have a few pots of herbs in our patio/backyard, so it definitely felt good to be able to use so many of them in one recipe. 

To make the herb oil, heat olive oil to 100 degrees, add the herbs, and let them steep to infuse the oil with their flavors. 

I used parsley, purple basil, oregano, sage, and thyme from our mini herb garden. I also added coarse sea salt, black pepper, garlic, paprika, cayenne, fennel seeds, and dried minced onion. A flavor party. 

There are two versions of this bread in the book. Either way, this bread is a two day affair. I chose to make the Poolish Focaccia. On the first day, you make the poolish, which requires no time at all. On the second day, you make the bread. 

The trick to this bread is stretching and folding the dough, and dimpling the dough once you get it into the pan to shape the dough and maintain its airy quality. The book is loaded with specific instructions on how to create this wonderful bread.

I loved this bread.

13 x 18 inch focaccia
The only thing I might experiment with is placement in the oven. The bottom was more pale than I expected, so I might move the rack down a bit to be closer to the heating element of my electric oven. 

Peter Reinhart also offers variations for making pizza style focaccia with various toppings. They look wonderful.

Google BBA Challenge #13 for other bloggers' results and tips.

BBA Challenge #14 French Bread

My bread did not turn out anything like the photos in the book and I'm pretty sure it was user error. I probably should have made the three small baguettes called for in the recipe. I also likely made my dough too wet, which resulted in a fairly flat bread. The nice thing about these breads though is that they still taste good. But still. 

Google BBA Challenge #14 for other bloggers' results and tips.

BBA Challenge #15 Italian Bread

Didn't you always wonder what the difference was between French and Italian bread? Me too. In the grocery store, French bread has blue and red on the wrapper and the bread might be a little crustier, while Italian bread has green and red on the bag, and the bread might be a little softer. 

Peter Reinhart's French bread uses a pate fermentee, while his Italian bread uses a biga. They are both preferments that improve the flavor of the final dough. The difference? The pate fermentee does not include salt. 

In this case, I used a 66% sourdough starter that I had on hand, instead of the biga. The ratios are about the same. 

With this recipe, you can make two loaves or 9 rolls. I was happy I could make nice round baguette-style loaves this time. The author also offers tips on how to make breadsticks and grissini with this dough.

Google BBA Challenge #15 for other bloggers' results and tips.

Aug 7, 2012

Berry Galette | Tuesdays with Dorie

Berry galette
Mixed berry galette. My first pastry crust. Awesomeness. No longer intimidated.

This galette is on page 377 of Baking with Julia: Savor the Joys of Baking with America's Best Bakers - in Classic Julia Style, edited by Dorie Greenspan.

I'm pretty excited with the results.

The dough consists of flour, corn meal, butter, sour cream, sugar, salt, and ice water. While the dough is a bit sticky, it was actually very easy to work with. Once you prepare the dough, it needs to be chilled in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Overnight is perfectly fine, and, in fact, you can freeze it for up to one month.

Once I chilled mine, I rolled it out onto a floured Silpat, and floured my rolling pin to prevent sticking. Do not worry about having a perfectly round piece of dough. Rough edges are part of its rustic "charm."

I rolled the dough up on my rolling pin and moved the dough to a parchment lined baking sheet, piled on the berries, added sugar, honey, and a bit of butter, folded the crust over the berries, sugared the crust, and baked the galette.
berry galette
I used a combination of blackberries and raspberries. The galette was not too sweet, and really emphasized the flavor of the fresh berries.

This dessert is small, and would be perfect for a dinner for four. It's exquisite. For the recipe, please visit one of the hosts of this week's Tuesday's with Dorie, The Kitchen Lioness. Her blog is beautiful. Or Tomato Thymes in the Kitchen. Pretty cool stuff there too.
berry galette

Aug 5, 2012

Pain de Beaucaire

What is amazing about baking bread is that it involves the same ingredients.. flour, salt, yeast (wild or commercial) and water, but with different results.

Pain de Beaucaire.... do a search on it...  I"ll wait.... I want to give you a chance to see what it is really supposed to look like.

This is a sourdough bread that uses a stiff dough, and yet results in a crusty loaf with an open, airy interior that is typically associated with a very wet dough. I first saw two versions of this bread on Wild Yeast. One version used a levain as well as bran to cause the top of the bread to open up. The second recipe skips the levain, and uses sesame seeds to cause the bread to open.

While the dough of this bread is stiff, it is painted with a slurry of water and flour, which is then sandwiched between two layers of dough. Once the slurry is added, bran, whole wheat flour, corn meal, or seeds are sprinkled between the layers.

My first attempt, using flax seeds, did not open up.

I used bran on my second attempt, but I think I over compensated after my first attempt. I had a hard time keeping the two parts together, and while the dough split open, it flattened a bit.

However, the flavor is amazing. The results are a lot like Pain a l' Ancienne, which is a completely different formula. Next time I will try using less bran. And maybe less water in the dough (although my dough was really stiff.... don't want to kill my mixer!).

Aug 4, 2012

BBA Challenge #10 Corn Bread, #11 Cranberry-Walnut Bread, #12 English Muffins

Part 3 in my chronicle of baking my way through The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart.

BBA Challenge #10 Corn Bread

This is the only non-yeasted bread in the entire book.

This bread takes two days because it requires a corn meal soaker, but hands on time is minimal. 

This bread is topped with cooked bacon.....  and rendered bacon fat is used to coat the 10" round cake pan. 

This corn bread is lovely. It includes quite a bit of whole corn, and is quite sweet, so your reaction to this bread will depend on your taste. 

To see more blogs on this bread, Google BBA Challenge #10.

BBA Challenge #11 Cranberry-Walnut Celebration Bread

I wish I had more photos of this bread. I suspect that it is because both times that I made it I struggled with the shaping. The first time, when I tried to braid it, I ended up with a messy boule. The second time, I tried baking it in a baking pan, and the loaf out grew the pan. The good news is that I LOVED the flavor of this bread and will definitely make it again. I skipped the walnuts (although I will include them next time), and used orange extract rather than lemon. This bread is so tasty. I will definitely make it again.

To view many bakers' experiences baking this bread, Google BBA Challenge #11 Cranberry-Walnut Celebration Bread.

BBA Challenge #12 English Muffins

My English Muffins look gorgeous and they were easy to do. You first "fry" the muffins on a griddle, and then finish baking them in the oven. The frying technique was pretty cool

I was not all that excited about the texture of these muffins. The dough was very firm, and my muffins did not have a lot of holes. I am going to try the recipe in Artisan Breads Everyday. Still... aren't they pretty?

To see other bakers's reaction to this recipe, please Google BBA Challenge #12 English Muffins.

Aug 1, 2012

Zucchini Tomato Gratin

This Zucchini Tomato Gratin is one of my favorite summer dishes. It is really easy to make, and is a great way to use up all of your summer squash bounty. 

This Zucchini Tomato Gratin is one of my favorite summer dishes. It is really easy to make, and is a great way to use up all of your summer squash bounty.
My sister first introduced me to a version of this zucchini gratin. If I remember correctly (and I've been "known" to not remember correctly), we were both new moms just trying to come up with stuff to make for dinner.