Tags: baking, bread
Two things you need to have before making Steve Sullivan’s Mixed-Starter Bread are a piece of leftover bread dough and plenty of time. The “old dough” can be just a little hunk of raw dough saved from last night’s pizza party. As for time, we’re talking about a whole weekend. That’s the time needed to feed that old dough and turn it into a big batch of airy new dough.
Once you’ve successfully done your time feeding the starter and kneading and rising your dough, you can make a variety of shapes out of it…like a nice baguette, an amazing couronne, or cute wheat stalk. You can even knead in a heap of walnuts and make a big Walnut Bread. Not wanting to fully stock my freezer with bread loaves, I made a half-recipe of the dough and divided into a somewhat imperfectly snipped wheat stalk (pain d’epi) and a walnut boule.
In the book, the walnut boule is made with an entire batch of the finished mixed-starter dough, so mine is just a baby boule and it baked through much faster than a big guy would have. As a result of reduced oven time, it didn’t brown as much as I would have liked, so I cheated by painting on a little olive oil before its last five minutes of baking. I still wish I’d gotten a both breads a bit darker.
Due to the lack of afternoon light in my house this time of year, I didn’t get a good shot of the cut breads. Even though you feel like you’ve done a lot of waiting while making this dough, it actually doesn’t hang around long enough to develop a sourdough flavor. You get soft white bread with air holes inside and a real crust outside. The walnut version is excellent with cheese, and I’ll take salty butter on the epi, please.
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (the mixed-starter bread is also here and the walnut bread is here). There’s also a video of the BWJ episode showing how to make and shape the mixed-starter bread. Finally, don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: baking, dessert, holiday, tarts
If you’re still on the fence about what to make for this Thursday’s dessert, let me make your decision harder by throwing one more option your way. This Cranberry Crackle Tart from Baking Chez Moi is for people who don’t mind breaking a bit with Thanksgiving tradition. It has a cookie-like base of sweet tart dough (fondly known to those in professional pastry circles as “STD”…we keep it classy), a layer of jam (which you can’t see here) and a meringue topping with cranberries folded though. The topping is like a crispy-edged marshmallow– the sweetness is interrupted by little bursts of softened, tart berries. This is meant to be a larger tart, but I didn’t need so much for the two of us on a random weeknight, so I just made a couple of individual tartlets (they took quite a bit less time to bake, btw). The big one, with its pretty, swirly meringue top and ruby-colored berries peeking through, would make an impressive dessert for a crowd. And it’s a light one, too, after a big dinner.
The hidden jam layer can be any red jam, really, like strawberry, raspberry or cherry. I made a cranberry sauce ahead of time from the extra berries that weren’t going into the tart and I used that instead. We ate our tarts with whipped cream, and my husband said it reminded him of pavlova with a cookie crust.
Tags: savory, tart
This Alsatian Onion Tart is our third Michel Richard puff pastry recipe in a row! This is a great easy recipe to toss together for brunch or lunch (or dinner) if you have some puff in the freezer already. It’s actually designed to use scrap puff pastry that’s been rerolled, but I didn’t have enough scrap and sacrificed a fresh sheet. It was worth it.
This is very similar to the flammkuchen I like to get at German beer hall in my neighborhood (except I think they use a flatbread base instead of puff pastry). It’s almost like a pizza topped with slightly sweet, soft onions simmered in chicken broth, bacon and a touch of cream. I put some fresh thyme on mine, too…hopefully the Alsatians won’t mind.
While the recipe specifies four very large onions for the topping, two of my onions were most definitely small and the other two were medium-sized at best. I was crying so freaking much chopping them, I don’t think I could have physically handled anymore. I had plenty for a nice thick layer anyway. I actually thought it looked like too much cooked onion but I put it all on there. Also, I used turkey bacon instead of slab bacon so I skipped the blanching step and just gave it a quick sauté. Oh yeah, and I baked my tart at 400° because I like puff to be a little browner than I’ve found I can get it at 350°. You can prep the components a day in advance and assemble the tart right before baking.
The recipe says this tart is best just baked, but I had leftovers that I reheated in a 325° oven the next day, and they were great.
Tags: appetizers, savory, snacks
I’m no interior designer. This has been made painfully obvious to me by my home decorating choices (more accurately called mistakes). Right now I’m trying to choose a few paint colors and I just can’t. I can’t. I need a glass of wine and a treat. Thankfully, that I can do, and easily, too, with Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Pizzettes. These little one bite snacky hors d’oeuvres are meant to use up the scraps from the other week’s Sunny-Side Up Apricot Pastries. Homemade puff pastry (heck, even store-bought– it’s expensive!) is a no-waste situation. I only made two of the apricot pastries so I really didn’t have a whole lot of scrap to go with here and just got six pizzettes. Even so, I made two versions with goat cheese– one with tomato and the other with sautéed leeks. I’m annoyed that I forgot to put a little parsley leaf on top of each tomato one…my picture would have been cuter! See what I mean? I fail on the design details.
These were a tasty little snack with glass (or two) of wine. They were best warm, though. The room temp one I tried had definitely lost some of its crispiness.
Tags: baking, breakfast
Michel Richard is a chef with a sense of humor. Case in point, these cute Sunny-Side Up Apricot Pastries. At first glance, they’re fried eggs on toast. At first bite, they’re poached fruit and pastry cream on top of crispy puff pastry.
Before you can have these for breakfast (or for dessert, if you are like I am and this is too much to process in the morning), you have to make pastry cream and poach fruit. I’d take care of these a day in advance. You also have to deal with the puff pastry situation and decide if you are going to buy it or make it. I’ve worked in restaurant and bakery kitchens for more than 10 years now…while not every place I’ve worked has made puff from scratch, a few of them have, so I’ve laminated me some dough. Frankly, it can be a pain in the neck (literally). On a large scale, those of us with no upper body strength (who me?) struggle to roll a ginormous batch by hand if there isn’t a dough sheeter. If the kitchen’s too hot, butter oozes everywhere. It’s often a rush-job because no one bothers to mention that they took the last sheets from the freezer and left me with nothing for the day’s production. But, I’ve made this very puff pastry dough recipe at home before–I actually chose it several years ago when I hosted a Daring Bakers Challenge— and I know that it’s not hard at all, especially if you make it a day or two before you need it and the temps are relatively cool. If you are on the fence, a half-batch is super-approachable, doesn’t take too much counter space to roll and will give you plenty of puff for treats. And if you’re still on the fence, just get a nice store-bought one….I do it all the time, so no judgments.
Apricots aren’t in season here anymore, so I had planned to just use canned ones instead (and also skip the recipe’s poaching step). Then at the Greenmarket this weekend, I saw that nectarines are still around, so I picked out a few of the smallest “apricot-sized” ones and went ahead with those. I gave them a gentle poach and left their skins on. I thought they were pretty, but they kind of wrinkled up in the oven. Next time they’re coming off. Next time I’ll also leave the puff a little fatter than the book indicates. I think the recipe says to roll it too thin, so while the front and back ends puffed nicely, the sides were a little flatter than I would have liked. Super crispy, though.
These were delicious, and a fun weekend kitchen project. I’ll make them again, especially since I have extra homemade puff in the freezer now. Here’s a document that I typed up about making puff pastry for my DB Challenge back in 2009…somewhere near the end are some tips and suggestions.
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here). There’s a video of the BWJ episode showing how to make both the puff pastry dough and the pastries. Finally, don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: baking, cake, dessert, fruit
I’ve had a busy September. It’s one of the nicest months of the year in New York City, but I’ve hardly been home to enjoy it. (Not that I’m complaining…I’ve been here and here instead, and it was all in the name of fun.) Luckily, I was able to squeeze in the Raspberry-Plum Crostata from Leslie Mackie before I began running around. This crostata recipe originally called for a raspberry-fig combo, but I swapped out the figs for plums, just because I already had them. I also tweaked the proportions a bit, and instead of a 1:1 ratio of each fruit, I used 2 parts plums to 1 part raspberries (keeping the combined weight the same 1.5 pounds called for in the recipe). I decreased the sugar in the filling a little, too.
The crust dough is soft and needs to be worked with gently and quickly. Despite its fussiness, it’s easily patched, and I liked the interesting sesame-almond flavoring it has going on. The filling was tasty, too, and that hot pink color makes me a happy girl. I’ll make this one again, and maybe next time I’ll go buy the figs.
This beautiful time of year is when I want to bottle up everything fresh and hoard it for drearier times. I’ve just made concord grape jam and now I’m adding tomato jam to my little fridge stash.
Tomato jam might sound a tad strange, but this isn’t a clear jelly…it’s more of a cross between tomato sauce and ketchup. I’m sure you could eat it straight up on toast although I use it like a condiment. I first came across this when we lived in Sydney and I’d get the most delicious egg sandwiches with tomato jam at the Pyrmont Growers’ Market. I miss Sydney a lot…we’ve been back for several years now, but I still think about it all the time. I like that I can recreate bits and pieces of our time there, and now every September, when I have more fresh tomatoes than we can possibly eat, I made a batch of tomato jam.
I’ve spiced my tomato jam up the way I like it best, with cumin and coriander, but you can adjust or change the seasonings to your own taste. It isn’t just awesome on fried egg sandwiches, but also on burgers, sausages (and sausage rolls!), potatoes and savory pies.
Tomato Jam— makes about a pint
inspired by Citrus and Candy
Steph’s Notes: This is a pretty small batch of jam– small enough that I just store it in the fridge and use it up over the course of a few weeks. I do recommend using a sterilized jar and lid though.
1 1/4 lb ripe tomatoes
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped (red, white or yellow)
1/2 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
dash of cayenne pepper or hot pepper flakes
dash of ground black pepper
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
-Begin by peeling the tomatoes: Bring a pot of water to the boil. With a sharp paring knife, score a small cross on the bottom of each tomato. Blanch the tomatoes for a minute in the boiling water or until the skin just starts peeling. Drain and then peel the skin off the tomatoes. Remove the cores and roughly chop into chunks (I think the seeds are fine).
-Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan (I used a 2-quart saucepan), then sauté onions with the salt for about 10 minutes or until the onions have softened and are lightly caramelized (golden but not brown). Add the garlic and spices and continue to sauté for a minute until fragrant. Add the tomato paste and cook for another minute.
-Deglaze with the balsamic vinegar, scraping any bits off the bottom of the pan, then add the sugar and chopped tomatoes. Bring to a boil and gently simmer for about 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally until it’s thick and darkened. (You can add a splash of water if it looks too dry.)
-Taste the jam (carefully, as obviously it will be quite hot) and add extra salt, hot pepper or vinegar if it needs an adjustment.
-Store the jam in a sterilized jar and keep it in the fridge for up to a few weeks.
Be a good cookie. That’s a real motto for life, don’t you think? It was also the message behind an event for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer that the good folks at OXO, their strong partner and supporter of good cookies, and the lovely Dorie Greenspan invited me to last Tuesday night. I was thrilled to chat with Dorie (she also gave a baking demo), to flip through her amazing new book, Baking Chez Moi (which is coming out next month– get it!), to drool over OXO’s awesome Chelsea test kitchen and to fiddle with some of their latest baking gadgets (I went out the very next day and got myself a spiffy baker’s dusting wand). Most importantly I got to learn more about Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, which provides research grants to some of the nation’s leading pediatric cancer centers to advance the development of less toxic, more effective treatments for children battling cancer.
I want to do at least a small part to help spread the word about Cookies for Kids’ Cancer and Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month (that’s this month), so I’m going to give two lucky winners both an OXO Good Cookie Spatula and a copy of Gretchen Holt-Witt’s book Cookies for Kids’ Cancer: All the Good Cookies! The sale of both these items helps raise money for pediatric cancer research.
Just leave a comment (one per person, please) on this post before 5:00 pm EST on Wednesday, September 10 and I’ll randomly choose two winners from the list. Be sure your e-mail address is correct so I can contact you if you win! **I’m really sorry, but I can only make this giveaway open to U.S. residents.**
You can see heaps of photos from Tuesday’s event here. Visit the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer site to learn more about the organization and to get involved. Also, if you’re looking for some new kitchen toys (like a baker’s dusting wand, perhaps?), OXO will make a donation to the initiative from the sales of select baking items.
***Giveaway Winner Update: I used random.org to generate random comment numbers to find the winners. Congratulations to Becky and Stephanie. I’ll be in touch and sending your items soon!***