Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Matzos

April 21, 2015 at 12:01 am | Posted in BWJ, groups, quick breads, savory things, snacks, tuesdays with dorie | 5 Comments
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matzos

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.

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

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Limoncello Cupcakes

April 14, 2015 at 12:12 pm | Posted in BCM, cupcakes, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 21 Comments
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limoncello 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.

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

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Sweet Ricotta Pie

April 7, 2015 at 10:50 am | Posted in BWJ, groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 6 Comments
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sweet ricotta 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.

sweet ricotta pie

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

TWD BWJ Rewind: Pebble Bread

March 30, 2015 at 12:34 pm | Posted in BWJ, groups, savory things, tuesdays with dorie, yeast breads | 4 Comments
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pebble 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!

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Crispy-Topped Brown Sugar Bars

March 24, 2015 at 5:44 pm | Posted in BCM, cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 16 Comments
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crispy-topped brown sugar bars

Anyone remember the Snickery Squares from BFMHTY?  I think Crispy-Topped Brown Sugar Bars are BCM‘s answer to those.  Junky, but in the best possible way, these homemade candy bars have a brown sugar cookie base and a smear of dark chocolate.  The star of the show, though, is the layer of caramelized Rice Krispies on top.  You may be tempted to skip caramelizing the Krispies and just toss on a handful as-is outta the box, but it is a step that is worth it.  (A couple of people used caramel corn instead of Krispies, and that sounds pretty darn good, too.)  Also, you’ll wind up with extra caramel Krispies– score!  I shamefully admit that I considered eating those extra sugary puffs with milk for breakfast, but decided to save them for ice cream sundaes instead…far less shameful, right?

I heard that the brown sugar cookie base was very crisp and a bit of a mess to cut when baked at the recipe’s stated time and temp (375°F for 22 minutes), so I baked my base at 350°F for about 15 minutes instead.  It was easy to cut into bars and ate like a soft, chewy shortbread.  I did only make a half recipe in a loaf tin, but if I did a full size batch, I’d still definitely peek in the oven after 15 minutes and see what’s going on.

These bars sounded like they had the potential to be very sweet, so I used a 72% bittersweet chocolate with a tiny pinch of salt sprinkled in to keep it under control.  They are rich enough that I could say a little goes a long way, but really, they are moreish enough that I could have eaten the whole loaf pan in one go!

Make them!  For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll.

P.S.: If you’re interested in gluten-free baking, enter my Gluten-Free Flour Power book giveaway here.

Gluten-Free Double-Chocolate Brownies and a BOOK GIVEAWAY!

March 22, 2015 at 11:14 am | Posted in cookies & bars, sweet things | 14 Comments
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double-chocolate brownies

By no means do I follow a gluten-free diet (more like a gluten-full diet), but I know plenty of people who do, and I’ve had to do an increasing amount of gluten-free baking for customers at work.  So I’m interested in it, even if I don’t do that much gluten-free baking at home, and was excited to see a copy of Gluten-Free Flour Power by Aki Kamozawa and Alex Talbot (from the very cool Ideas in Food) show up in my mailbox.  They’ve developed gluten-free flour blends and devised recipes to use them that run the gamut of baking…breads, cookies, cakes, pies…heck, even kougin amann and cannelés!  There’s pasta, dumplings, steamed buns and Japanese fried chicken, too.

Flipping through my new book, I fixated on a brownie that’s made gluten-free, not with a blend, but simply with the use of oat flour.  When it comes to brownies, I’m not loyal to any one recipe.  I play the field and always seem to be trying a different recipe out.  Oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies are a favorite of mine, and I knew I’d like a bit of that wholesome flavor in brownie-form.  You can buy oat flour at most stores or make it yourself by blitzing old-fashioned rolled oats in your food processor, blender or spice grinder.  I use oat flour often for whole-grain pancakes and when I need it, I usually go the homemade route because it’s something that’s a lot cheaper to DIY (and it’s quick and easy).  Just make sure the flour or the oats you buy are certified gluten-free if you also want your brownies to be.

These brownies use melted chocolate and a healthy amount of natural cocoa powder, so they really fix a chocolate craving.  They’re tall and kind of straddle the line of being a little cakey on the edge and fudgy in the middle (I’m assuming this structure comes from having 6 eggs in the batter).  And yeah, I could taste the oats, but no, I didn’t mind one bit.  They’re delicious.  A scoop of coffee ice cream on the side is delicious, too.

The kind folks at W.W. Norton sent me a copy of Gluten-Free Flour Power,  and now I want to send a copy to one of you!  Just leave me a comment (one per person, please) on this post before 5:00 pm EST on Sunday, March 29 and I’ll randomly choose a winner from the list.  Be sure your e-mail address is correct so I can contact you.

Double-Chocolate Brownies– makes a 9-16 brownies
adapted from Gluten-Free Flour Power by Aki Kamozawa and Alex Talbot

Steph’s Note:  If you grind your own oat flour and are using cup measures, grind more than you think you’ll need and measure again after.  You can save any extra to add to other recipes.  Also, nuts were not included in the original recipe, but I like them in brownies and added them to mine.

6 oz/ 170 g bittersweet chocolate, chopped
12 tbsp/ 6 oz/ 170 g unsalted butter, sliced
1 cup/ 130 g oat flour
2 cups/ 400 g sugar
1/2 cup/ 60 g natural cocoa powder
1 tsp/ 6 g fine sea salt
6 large eggs (cold)
1/2 cup toasted and roughly chopped nuts (optional)

-Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. (You can line the pan with buttered parchment if you’d like, and the brownies will be easier to remove.)

– Put the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between each until melted and smooth.  It should take about 2 minutes total.  You can do this in a double boiler on the stovetop if you prefer.  Let the mixture cool.

–Put the oat flour, sugar, cocoa and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to blend.  Add the chocolate/butter mixture and whisk to blend.  Add the eggs, one by one, stirring in each well with a rubber spatula before adding the next.  If using nuts, fold them in now.  Once all ingredients are incorporated, give the batter another 20-25 strokes to insure the batter is well-blended.

– Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan.  Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the brownies are just set in the center.  They should feel firm when gently pressed and they will not jiggle if you shake the pan.

– Let brownies cool completely before cutting them with a sharp knife.  (I like to refrigerate brownies for a couple of hours before cutting them.)

***Giveaway Winner Update: I used random.org to generate a random comment number to find the winner. Congratulations to Becky Ellis!  I’ll be in touch soon.***

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Lemon Madeleines

March 10, 2015 at 12:01 am | Posted in BCM, cakes & tortes, cookies & bars, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 22 Comments
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lemon madeleines

By now, I’ve made several of Dorie’s madeleine recipes, but these Lemon Madeleines were the first to give me that coveted backside bump!  The trick, apparently, is to keep the batter super-cold until the second the shell-shaped pan hits the oven.  Hmmm…perhaps I should revisit one of the older recipes (chai was a favorite)?

I like madeleines, but I never really think of them until they roll around for TWD.  They’re easy enough to make…the batter is quickly whisked together by hand and it can even out in the fridge for a few days.  Madeleines are for sure best eaten fresh, so it’s handy to be able to bake them off as you want them (I did about four a day until the batter was gone).  These ones came out nice and spongy.  And lemony, of course, because of zest in the batter and juice in the glaze.

Madeleines often find themselves dunked into a cup of tea, but there was some lemon curd left from last week’s BWJ recipe, so we swiped them in that.

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

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Blood Orange Tart

February 24, 2015 at 8:05 am | Posted in BCM, groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 16 Comments
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blood orange 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.

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

P.S.:  Enter my blogoversary GIVEAWAY here!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Crème Bruléed Chocolate Bundt

February 17, 2015 at 12:02 am | Posted in cakes & tortes, groups, puddings & custards, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 21 Comments
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crème bruléed chocolate bundt

This Crème Bruléed Chocolate Bundt is the first, no second, no make that third Mary Bergin chiffon cake we’ve made.  I’ve liked them all…I think I just really like the spongy, fluffy softness of chiffon cakes.  And it also helps here that I love chocolate and Bundts.  And crème brulée, too…who am I kidding?  I knew this would be good.

If you watch the video of the BWJ episode, you’ll see that this chocolate chiffon Bundt gets its center stuffed with raspberries and then a big glug of vanilla crème brulée custard is poured over top of the whole shebang and torched.  I figured that as soon as the brulée was poured on, the cake pretty much needed to be eaten up…This would be very dramatic and impressive for a crowd, but since I was just making it for two of us, I had to both reduce the recipe and settle for adding the custard to order.  I made a half recipe of the cake (in my 6-cup Bundt pan) and a half recipe of the brulée cream, too.  I was convinced, even though I’d sprayed the heck out of my Bundt pan and coated it well in cocoa (which I prefer to use instead of flour for a dark chocolate cake), that the cake would stick like crazy and rip when I tried to unmold it.  It didn’t!  I made sure to kind of gently nudge it from the sides with a little offset as it started to cool and shrink in a bit, and it released perfectly– phew!

I used my darkest cocoa powder (Valrhona) and my Bundt had great flavor.  The chiffon was easy to make, too…in fact, I did the whole thing in my bathrobe (TMI??).  I’d happily make it again on its own, just to have with ice cream or whipped cream.  I liked the stovetop water bath method for thickening the crème brulée…that was new to me, and it came out nicely.  After the better part of a day in the fridge, the brulée had thickened up well and I was able to pour it over a single slice without it looking a mess.  All in all a winning dessert for Valentine’s Day weekend.

crème bruléed chocolate bundt

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!  (Update:  I see from the blogroll that some folks wound up with a thinner custard, in which case I’d just serve it as an anglaise sauce on the plate.)

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Salsa Quitza

February 3, 2015 at 12:01 am | Posted in BWJ, groups, savory things, tuesdays with dorie, yeast breads | 7 Comments
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salsa quitza

I’ve been intrigued by Lora Body’s Salsa Quitza recipe for a long while…I’ve nominated it at least five or six times, but seems I was the only one so interested!  With refried beans in the crust and layers of cream cheese and salsa in the filling, I’ve never heard of this bizarre Southwestern quiche-pizza hybrid thing.  Must be a Lora Brody original.  I made it for Sunday’s game (which did not at all end the way I hoped it would, by the way), and my husband asked what to expect…I told him the only thing I was sure of was that it would be weird.

The quitza crust is a bread dough that can apparently also be made into a loaf, if you don’t want to go full-quitza on it.  The dough instructions call for a bread machine, but I don’t have one so I made it in my stand mixer and let it rise on the counter.  I combined the ingredients in the “regular” way, with yeast and liquids first (including the not-so-regular addition of refried beans…I used canned pinto), followed by the dry stuff.  The dough was soft, but not sticky, and made a nice ball after about eight minutes of knead-time.  I let it rise twice, about 45 minutes to an hour each time, before shaping it in the pan.

I made half a recipe and baked it in an 8″ regular cake pan.  For the filling, I followed Cher’s suggestion to decrease the salsa by about half (proportionally, of course, for my half recipe), and I also chose to reduce the cream cheese layer by a couple of tablespoons and add on a smear of refried beans, since I had extra from the dough.  I topped it with a mix of cheddar and mozzarella.

OK, yeah, it was kind of weird, but good-weird.  The dough was soft and rose high, like a deep dish.  The filling was really creamy from the cream cheese (and I’m glad I reduced the cream cheese and salsa or it would have been sloppy and too much).  And it went well with beer.  If I make it again, I think I’ll sprinkle some olives on top.

salsa quitza

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

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