Tags: baking, savory, snacks
The Matzo recipe from Lauren Groveman is bread at its most basic. Really, it’s just flour, salt and water, hand-kneaded and with no real resting period required. A little ground pepper and some sesame seeds are technically optional, but I wouldn’t skip them…they make a boring-sounding dough interesting and flavorful.
The instructions say to roll the dough as thin as possible. When I make crackers, I like to roll them out on my pasta machine rather than with a wooden pin. I did that here, too, and because the machine cranks out long, narrow, strips, I wound up cutting them into smaller pieces than the large, plate-sized matzos shown in the book’s photos. The smaller pieces seemed also more easy to deal with using the kinda scary-sounding baking-and-flipping-on-a-blazing-hot-sheet-tray technique called for in the recipe. I only burned myself once, so I’d call that a success!
I got matzos that were much more thin and delicate than the store-bought ones I’ve had. And did I already mention how good the sesame seeds are in here? I made a little smoked salmon, dill and cream cheese spread to go with the matzos, and the combo was every bit as addictive as chips and dip.
Tags: baking, cupcakes
Cupcakes…it’s been a while. They don’t get the same love that they used to, but I still like them. I especially like them when there’s booze involved, and here it’s limoncello, the sweet Italian after dinner drink. This one was missing from my little digestivo collection, but now I have a bottle of limoncello hanging out in the freezer for whenever I might want it!
The cupcake batter is simple to make. It gets it’s moisture from yogurt and oil, so there’s no pesky creaming involved and it comes together in a flash by hand. There’s a little dollop of marmalade hidden in the center of each cupcake, but if you have some lemon curd, I bet it would be good, too. As I was making the batter and scooping the cupcakes, I realized that it’s pretty much the same deal as another Dorie cake– her yogurt loaf cake with marmalade glaze— that I’ve made several times before, just tweaked into a different form and with a bit of limoncello added. The cupcakes rose perfectly. They had a nice dome and the yogurt/oil combo gave then a springy, moist texture. They get brushed with a limoncello simple syrup while they’re still warm to boost that citrusy flavor.
What’s a cupcake without frosting, right? Well, due to an unexpected powdered sugar shortage, I really only made frosting for the two in the picture. The others we ate naked, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and an extra drizzle of the limoncello syrup all over. We actually liked them better that way, so if you don’t want to make frosting, they are great as-is…but I’d still recommend the syrup for a little extra spike of limoncello.
Tags: baking, pie
This Sweet Ricotta Pie from Nick Malgieri is the dessert version of his Pizza Rustica, which we made a few Easters ago. It’s made with the same sweet, cookie-like pasta frolla dough and also has a ricotta-based filling. Apart from the ricotta (and few eggs to bind), the filling is pretty simple and is just flavored with sugar, anisette and cinnamon. I’m not wild about anisette, and thought the filling could use a little more pizzazz anyway, so I tweaked it a bit. I had a small handful candied orange peel left from this year’s batch of Hot Cross Buns, so I soaked that, along with some golden raisins, in a good amount of Grand Marnier. I kept the cinnamon, but stirred it into the filling along with the dried fruit (rather than sprinkling it in a layer on top).
This pie has good orange flavor, but the filling’s a little dry. If I make this one again, I may try adding a few tablespoons of heavy cream to the batter or try swapping out a couple of the whole eggs for just yolks to see if that adds more moisture. I like the pasta frolla dough, too, although I wish the lattice strips had gotten a little more color in the oven. Looking back, I see that with the Rustica, I eggwashed the lattice for some browning action…seems I always look back a little too late.
Tags: baking, bread
A couple of weeks ago, the group made the Pebble Bread recipe from Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, world travellers who have brought us a few other flatbreads you may or may not remember. I was all geared up to make this one, and then I didn’t. Sometimes I just run out of gas. Thankfully we get a make-up week every now and again.
Pebble Bread is a round Moroccan flatbread; traditionally baked on hot pebbles, it gets dimply and a little puffed. The not-so-traditional Western method we used here involves a bowl of water, your fingertips, and a heavy skillet…first dipping a rolled out dough round into water to create steam, next quickly dimpling it with your fingertips, then starting the bread in a skillet on the stovetop to cook the bottom, and finishing it under the broiler to cook the top.
I only made half a recipe (four large-enough-to-share pieces of bread) and since I used two skillets and they take just a few minutes each to cook, I worked though the process pretty quickly. Of course I totes torched the top of my first one under the broiler, but, just like my morning toast, it was nothing a little scrapey-scrape with a serrated knife couldn’t fix. You learn, eat your mistake before anyone else sees it, adjust and keep going.
I’d call these a definite success. I can’t roll pie dough into a nice round to save my life, but these breads all rolled out into perfect circles. They had just enough puff and chew, and a good flavor from the overnight sponge (yes, you need to plan to make a sponge the day before you make the bread, but it’s virtually hands-off) and the barley flour in the dough. I have a couple breads left in my freezer and I am very happy to eat all of them warm, ripped up and swiped first into olive oil and then into dukkah (which is actually an Egyptian nut and seed mix, but we found it all over the place when we lived in Australia, and ever since I must have it on a regular basis).
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll to see if anyone else did a rewind this week, and see the links page from the Pebble Bread a couple of weeks ago!
Tags: fruit, pie, tarts
I’ve done a pretty traditional LMP here before, so I guess it’s time to try out Gale Gand’s Not-Your-Usual Lemon Meringue Pie. Forget about making pie crust for this– lemon curd and meringue are sandwiched Napoleon-style between layers of crispy sugared phyllo dough. BTW, based on the previous Gale Gand stuff we’ve made, I was not at all surprised to see phyllo pop up here.
This is a pretty dessert and it’s pretty straightforward, too. It does need to be served fairly soon after it’s stacked up, but you can make the lemon curd and bake the phyllo crisps plenty ahead of time. Wait till the last minute to get the brown sugar Swiss meringue done, though.
We liked this “pie” a lot. The pretty layers do smoosh as soon is they’re hit with a fork, but that’s okay. The lemon curd is a gentle one…not too puckery. The recipe left me with extra curd, which is no problem in my books, but I would recommend reducing the meringue amount by at least a couple of whites, if not by half.
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here). Here’s a video of the BWJ episode (this dessert is in the second half). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: baking, citrus, tart
I only seem to get my hands on a few blood oranges each winter and when I do, I always think I should to do something special with them. That’s why last week I took Dorie’s Pink Grapefruit Tart and turned it into a blood orange one. This tart is a take on a favorite of hers called Pétale de Pamplemousse from Hugo & Victor, a swanky shop in Paris. It has a sweet tart shell with a layer of lemon-almond frangipane cream hidden under a rich citrusy crémeux. Frangipane we’ve done before, but crémeux is a pastry cream luxuriously enriched with heaps of butter and softly set with gelatin. These several steps each have their own wait times as well, so it’s best to spread the process out over two days.
OK, here’s where I ran into trouble on this one…I’m not a vegetarian, but I don’t eat red meat so I try to avoid gelatin, too. I also try to not get too crazy about it, because I’ve worked in kitchens for years and I know that gelatin gets slipped into things one would never even suspect. But if I know it’s in there, I don’t go for it on a menu and I don’t make it at home. The word “crémeux” is a tip-off that gelatin is involved (although some chocolate ones don’t need it to set), so I wanted to find my way around that to make this tart. I tried agar-agar once, likely messed it up, and haven’t tried it again (although Zosia did and it looks great!). I tried fish gelatin another time, had good success, but have since decided that I’m creeped out by it. Poking around, I found that I had half a packet of a plant-based kosher gelatin in the cupboard. I have absolutely no clue what I did with the other half of the packet…I remember buying the stuff but have no memory of using it….but it was about equal in amount to half the gelatin called for in the recipe, so I made a half-batch of everything (for a 7-inch tart) and added that to my cremeux base. The next morning, however, my crémeux was still very loose, so either the setting ratio is different (the packet didn’t compare it to regular gelatin), or it was too old (I admit that I’d had it in the cupboard for quite a long time). I broke down and brought home a leaf of sheet gelatin from work that night, scraped the cremeux back into the mixer, blitzed in the bloomed gelatin leaf and poured it straight into the crust to set. Fine, that worked.
This tart was beautiful and perfectly delicious, and fresh citrus can certainly brighten up a frosty late Februaury day. Dorie says you could omit the almond cream to skip a step and keep it simpler, but I really think the flavor adds a lot to the tart. All that said, while I’m willing to tinker around with different gelatin alternatives (has anyone tried Natural Desserts Vegan Jel??), I’m not sure this will be a repeater for me. If I make something this butter-heavy, generally I want it to be because frosting is involved…yeah, yeah, I’m a cake person.
P.S.: Enter my blogoversary GIVEAWAY here!
I realized not long ago that the end of this month marks the 8-year anniversary of my little space on the Web. What?!? That’s a pretty long time…certainly longer than I ever thought I’d keep this up. To celebrate not throwing in the towel years ago, I decided to treat this blog to a new header and I got in touch with Alyson, who helped me the last time. Do you like it? I think she incorporated the best parts of my much-loved old one in with the new.
I have something for you, too….because where would a whisk and a spoon be without you? Actually, I have two somethings to share– two bib aprons in red and oatmeal striped linen from NYC-based Birdkage to giveaway to two readers. Let’s bake clean and cute!
Just leave a comment (one per person, please) on this post before 5:00 pm EST on Monday, March 2 and I’ll randomly choose two winners from the list. Be sure your e-mail address is correct so I can contact you. xoxo
***Giveaway Winner Update: I used random.org to generate random comment numbers to find the winners. Congratulations to chickie brewer and Melissa E. Your aprons are on their way!***