Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Savory Wheat Crackers

June 3, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in groups, other savory, savory things, tuesdays with dorie | 12 Comments
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savory wheat crackers

Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid’s Savory Wheat Crackers were a nice little snack to munch on with a chilled glass of wine this past (very fine) weekend.  I’ve made crackers before…here, for instance.  Also, in the restaurants I’ve worked in, pastry always had to make the crackers to go with the cheese plates.  Rolling cracker dough out with a pasta machine (or a sheeter like we had at my first job) is my pro tip from those days.  It gets them super thin, although you have to use a fair amount of flour to not shred the dough in the roller.  I took these to the second thinnest setting in my machine and then topped my crisps with nigella seeds, ground coriander and fleur de sel.

This whole wheat cracker dough is super basic….no leavening necessary.  It comes together with a whiz in the food processor, although my dough was a little sticky, so I added some supplemental AP flour to make it behave. The recipe makes a lot of dough…even the half recipe I made yielded tray after tray of crackers!  They have to be rolled, cut and baked in batches.  It was like a Nabisco factory in my kitchen on Sunday.  Actually, I forgot to cut two of the trays before I put them in the oven– I just broke those into big shards after they were cool.  Real Nabisco would so fire me.  You need a ripping hot oven for these and will likely have to tack on a few minutes to the stated baking time. My crackers took 6-7 minutes to bake through, rather than the three minutes in the recipe.  One minute too many, though, and the crackers will be charcoal (and yes, I did torch a tray myself)!

I made a little spread out of famer’s cheese and flowering chives to snack on with these crackers.  I have lots more to eat up, so I’ll have to think up some other ideas.  For the cracker recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Tropical Napoleons

May 20, 2014 at 5:51 pm | Posted in groups, other sweet, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 13 Comments
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tropical napoleons

Charlotte Akoto’s recipe for Tropical Napoleons is in a section of the book called “Grand Pastries,” which seems to mean plated desserts.  I have to say that a lot of them look kinda dated to me, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still taste great.  This dessert, with layers of coconut and sesame meringue, fruit and rum whipped cream is really light, but so satisfying.  I wouldn’t turn down Eaton mess or a pavlova, so I knew I would like this one, too.

Despite its “grand” status, this recipe isn’t really that involved.  Whipped cream and sliced fruit are easy enough to prep.  If you don’t have a good selection of tropical fruit (I wish I could buy passion fruit in Brooklyn from any corner fruit guy like I could when we lived in Sydney), just go with straight-up berries.  Even the meringue is a simple one to make, and a quick stencil cut from a yogurt lid makes perfect meringue disks.  I baked my meringues on a Silpat and they took almost twice as long as the recipe said to get fully crisp.  If anything gives you trouble, it will be getting those meringues off your sheet pan after they’re baked– they’re meant to be really thin, which also makes them really brittle.  I only broke one before discovering that if I ran an offset spatula carefully around its outer edge before kind of pressing the spatula down into the Silpat and scooting it underneath the meringue, it would come off in one piece.  The meringues are sweet, so I cut back a bit on the sugar in the cream.

 For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.   There’s a video here of the episode.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll

 

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Scallop and Pesto Purses

May 6, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in groups, other savory, savory things, tuesdays with dorie | 18 Comments
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scallop and pesto purses

I’ve been trying to lay off the sweets a bit lately.  No more dessert every night, I’ll mostly keep that to weekends.  This is because I can tell my trainer would like it if I dropped a few pounds.  The things I do for this guy….I even got up early to run a 5K on Sunday!  He’s right of course, and he has made me strong, so at least that running was a piece of cake (unlike the cake I’m not eating).

I do miss baking stuff more than once a week, though, so it’s nice to have a little savory project to put together.  To tell the truth, these Scallop and Pesto Purses, courtesy of Gale Gand, were more of a quick assembly task than a real baking project.  Take a nice, fat sea scallop and a schmear of pesto, bundle it up in a phyllo dough wrapper and pop it in the oven.  These purses are intended to be elegant appetizers, but I will probably never have a dinner party sophisticated enough to serve them (pigs in a blanket, anyone?).  After I snapped this photo, I put a few of them together on each plate with a bit of salad, and we had them as dinner…with the rosé, obvi.  They were really tasty and the scallops cooked nicely inside (which I was worried about since I couldn’t really tell what was going on in there).  The juices from the scallop did make the bottom of the purses soft, but we were knife and forking it, so it wasn’t a big deal.

I pounded together a little bit of parsley pesto for these in my new mortar and pestle.  It was my first time making pesto this way– normally I use the food processor– and it was so good, I made more a few nights later for pasta.

scallop and pesto purses

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Cantuccini

April 15, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 20 Comments
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cantuccini

Nick Malgieri’s Cantuccini are thinly sliced, super crisp biscotti.  I put almonds and cardamom in mine, but I bet pretty much any nut/sweet spice combo you want would work well.  Citrus zest and dried fruit would be fine additions, too.  Oh, I wonder if anyone will add chocolate?

The canutccini have to be baked twice, which takes a bit of time, but the dough itself is really quick to make.  The recipe gives “by hand” instructions, but I just tossed everything into my stand mixer.  I probably had that dough ready to go in the oven faster than I was able to make the ghetto cappuccino I dunked them into later!  Just like with the hazelnut biscotti from a couple of years back, lightly wetting your hands helps with shaping sticky dough into a log.  I wish I’d made a fatter log so I would have had cookies that looked more like the slim little half-moons in the book.

The recipe notes say that cantuccini are typically enjoyed with the sweet wine vin santo.  I’ll be looking for a bottle of that at the wine shop this afternoon, since I have lots more of these to eat up (even though I made just a third of the recipe).  For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  There’s also a version of it here.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Potato Lefse

April 1, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, groups, pancakes & waffles, tuesdays with dorie | 22 Comments
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potato lefse

I didn’t really know much about Potato Lefse before Beatrice Ojakangas’s TWD recipe of the week.  I quizzed my half-Norwegian friend, and she told me that they are kind of like crêpes and that there’s also a non-potato variety.  She said she’s never made them herself, but buys premade ones and reheats them.  Ha–looks like I’m one up on you now, Karen!  That was mean…I should invite her over for leftovers and see what she thinks.

Making the lefse dough was easy.  It basically starts with super-smooth mashed potatoes that you air dry in the fridge overnight.  Then the next day, you knead flour into the mash and divide the dough into pieces.  Shaping and cooking the dough is where it gets tricky.  There are a whole host of special tools that  hard-core lefse enthusiasts use– a grooved rolling pin and a cloth-covered round board to roll the dough, a big, flat round griddle to cook the lefse on and a long, flat wooden stick to lift and flip them.  Darn, I don’t have any of that stuff.  I poked around the cabinets to see what I could use instead.  This is what I came up with: my regular rolling pin and my Silpat to roll the dough, and a flat cast iron crêpe pan and stick that I have.  It would have been easier to cook these with another person, so one could roll the lefse dough balls while the other cooked them off.  By myself, it was kind of a process, but I got better as I moved along.  My crêpe pan is only 11″ wide, as opposed to 16″ for a lefse pan, so I divided my dough into 16 balls instead of 12.  With plenty of flour, I was able to get them rolled nice and thin on the Silpat.  I didn’t even need that stick to lift them off…I was just kind of able to flip and peel them onto my hand, tortilla-style.  They cooked up perfectly and got nice speckles on the crêpe pan, and the stick came in handy for flipping them.

potato lefse

Apparently, much like a crêpe, you can wrap lefse around lots of fillings (even hot dogs–gotta try that!), but we went the sweet route for breakfast, with butter and cinnamon sugar on some an lingonberry jam on others.  They do taste slightly potatoey, but it’s a pleasant earthiness that was surprisingly nice with the sweet fillings. For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  As Sandra pointed out there’s a video of Beatrice making lefse alongside Martha Stewart.  Beatrice uses slightly different measurements than she does in the book, but it’s a great watch for the process of making, shaping and cooking the dough.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Mocha Brownie Cake (or Baileys Brownie Cake!)

March 18, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in cakes & tortes, groups, layer cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 32 Comments
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brownie cake

For Saint Patrick’s Day, I turned the Mocha Brownie Cake from Marcel Desaulniers into a Baileys Brownie Cake.  Oh yeah!  It was as easy as just replacing the coffee in the ganache with Baileys…plus a swig more to taste.  I’m lucky I’m a fast baker, because I pushed the clock on this one.  All those resting and chilling times didn’t really register when I read through the recipe.  Thanks to my BFF, the freezer, I managed to get a photo while it was still light(ish) out.

I made a half recipe in six-inch form.  It only took about 35 minutes to bake (I watched it closely, cuz no one likes a dry brownie).  The cake is a cake-brownie hybrid.  It starts out with whipped eggs– sort of like those Best-Ever Brownies we made awhile back– and also has baking powder for lift.  I was kind of nervous to cut the cake into three layers, but it rose nicely in the oven and after it was chilled and firm, it was really no problem to slice…it helped that it was a small cake, I’m sure.

The filling and glaze is a dark chocolate ganache flavored with coffee (or Baileys for me, thanks).  Delicious!  I just realized after reading another blogger’s post that I completely forgot to add the extra sugar in the ganache. Oh well– it doesn’t need it, especially if you like your chocolate on the dark, bitter side (or you use sweet Baileys to make it). Even thought the recipe said to make sure the ganache was still pourable when filling the layers, mine was definitely spreadable– the consistency of thick custard.  I didn’t see any problem with using it that way, and in fact it set up nicely. I didn’t need to build the cake up in a springform pan and it was ready to glaze quickly.  I did reheat the remaining ganache so I’d have a shiny, pourable glaze for over the top.  And then I sprinkled the cake with green luster dust for extra shimmer.

I’m really impressed with this actually.  It looks great cut (use a hot knife) and it totally satisfies my ever-present chocolate craving.  Also, it’s a heck of a lot easier to put together than Marcel D’s “Death by Chocolate Cake,” which I made once and is waaaay more involved.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Buttermilk Scones

March 4, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in biscuits & scones, breakfast things, groups, tuesdays with dorie | 18 Comments
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buttermilk scones

In order for me to get most breakfast pastries on the table for anything even resembling acceptable breakfast time, I usually have to get started the night before.  While I’m still in my jammies, I’m a disorganized mess.  I generally can’t handle measuring, mixing, baking and cleaning all before I’ve had my Chemex of coffee…so for something like scones, I get the dough made the night before and just set the pieces on a sheet tray in the fridge overnight to bake in the morning.  Always works great.  For some reason, though, I decided last minute to make Marion Cunningham’s Buttermilk Scones on Saturday morning instead of Sunday, and thankfully they came together really easily the morning of.  By the time the oven was preheated, I had the dough made and cut and the dishes (only a few) washed.  I actually used my KitchenAid to mix the scones, since I got used to doing them that way at the shop I worked for up until October.  I just kept a close eye on the size of the butter bits, and then skipped the extra hand-kneading Marion gave hers at the end.  These scones were delicate, just sweet enough, great with jam and easy to make.  This recipe’s definitely going to be made again.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here).  And there’s even a video of Julia and Marion making these together (there’s an interesting option shown using a rolled dough technique…I may try that next time).  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Chocolate-Mascarpone Cheesecake

February 18, 2014 at 6:43 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, cheesecakes, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 23 Comments
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chocolate-mascarpone cheesecake

I wouldn’t want to eat David Ogonowski’s Chocolate Mascarpone Cheesecake in any type of weather other than the type we’ve been having (i.e., “two blizzards a week” weather).  It’s true hibernation food…if you told me it was a thousand calories a slice, I wouldn’t be surprised.  This is a dense and creamy cheesecake with cream cheese, of course, mascarpone and sour cream. Oh, and there’s chocolate, too, although frankly it gets a little lost in all the dairy.  Adding a dark chocolate ganache layer on top of the cooled cake is an option, but might send this cake over the top.

The recipe doesn’t call for a crust.  Well, actually, it calls for baking the cheesecake without a crust and then patting cookie crumbs onto the bottom and sides once it’s set.  My inner baker’s voice told me that was weird and that I’d probably have some sort of disaster in the process, so I went ahead and made a real crust for mine.  I had a baggie of homemade chocolate-hazelnut cookie crumbs in the freezer that need to be used up (and I love crumb crusts!) anyway.  Also, I’ve always liked making my cheesecake batter in the food processor rather than in a stand mixer.  Faster mixing and fewer lumps.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Onion Bialys

February 11, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, groups, savory things, tuesdays with dorie, yeast breads | 15 Comments
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onion bialys

A toasted bialy with salty butter is my idea of a very fine breakfast.  I’m sure a number of my fellow Americans have never heard of a bialy– I hadn’t before I moved to New York City.  Then after about six years of living here, someone *finally* brought a sack of them in from Kossar’s at the first restaurant I worked for, and I was hooked.  I now know that I can find bialys at almost every bagel shop in the city, but they’re usually pulled out of a plastic bag, and I get the feeling that they aren’t made fresh in-house.  To get my fix, I stock up at Kossar’s anytime I have errands to run on the Lower East Side.  I was pumped to be making Lauren Groveman’s Onion Bialys for TWD this week!  BTW, I feel like every other week we’re making another recipe from Lauren Groveman…

I’d call bialys cousins of the bagel, although they are not boiled, they are flatter than bagels (despite the fact that mine came out looking like balloons), and instead of holes they have awesome caramelized onion-filled centers…so on second thought, even though they have a similar dough, they are really not really like bagels at all.  Speaking of the dough, it was soft and lovely (I didn’t need all the flour called for) and easy to work with.  Of course my bialys took off in the oven, but I’m sure it was my fault.  I did prick the heck out of the centers, but next time I’ll hand stretch them a little more, too.  I don’t really care– they tasted great and had perfect texture.  Fresh from the oven, they are even better than Kossar’s!

For the bialy recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Vanilla Chiffon Roll

January 28, 2014 at 7:40 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, groups, layer cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 21 Comments
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vanilla chiffon roll

I start this post with a warning:  after I made Mary Bergin’s Vanilla Chiffon Roll, I took a look in the sink and internally freaked out.  I think I used every bowl, whisk and spatula I own to make the cake and mousse filling, not to mention the food processor and all its bits and pieces.  Well, I was really glad that this cake was totally worth that mountain of dirty dishes I had to tackle!   And also that assembly was much easier than washing up.  The soft vanilla chiffon cake was really easy to roll around its delicious chocolate-walnut mousse filling.  I didn’t get any tears or cracks…just a little sticking, which was easily disguised with a dusting of cocoa and powdered sugar.

I made a half recipe of the cake in a quarter sheet pan.  I think it took a few minutes longer to fully bake than the time indicated for the full-sized cake, so go with your good judgment if it looks underdone.  I noticed when I watched the video that there was a lot of leftover mousse in Mary’s bowl after she filled her cake, so I decided that I’d just make a third of the mousse recipe (I keep typing “mouse” BTW).  The full cake supposedly yields six servings…if you’re feeding giants…I easily cut six slices from my smaller cake.  Once this roulade has had time to chill out in the fridge, it’s really divine, not to mention classy.  I loved the chocolate-walnut mousse (and was psyched to use my special black walnuts and fancy walnut oil for it).  If I had had any extra left, I most certainly would have polished it off with a spoon.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here, along with a video). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

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