Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats
From Smitten Kitchen (of course)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (plus a bit of extra for greasing the pan)
1 ten-ounce bag marshmallows
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt*
6 cups Rice Krispie Cereal
1. Butter an 8 inch square cake pan with 2 inch sides or a 9x13 pan. The 8-inch square pan will produce fewer, thicker treats which I prefer but if you're trying to spread the love around go for the 9x13.
2. Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a large pot. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear and finally start to brown. Stir constantly and scrape up the little bits as it cooks and once it begins to brown watch it very closely as it is easy to burn the butter and ruin a perfectly good batch. Once the butter takes on a golden brown color and begins to smell nutty pull it off the heat.
3. Stir in the marshmallows. The heat from the melted butter might not be enough to melt them so you can return the pot to the stove and melt over low heat until the marshmallow-butter mixture is smooth.
4. Remove from heat and stir in the cereal and salt together, a silicon spatula works great here. Quickly pour the mixture into the prepared pan and push into the edges with the spatula or a piece of parchment paper or saran wrap.
5. Allow to cool for a few hours and cut into squares. Enjoy!
*This is important: regular table salt will not work. Besides being a chemical compound (NaCl - hooray chemistry!) table salt is made in a factory, of chemicals. You want real salt from the sea. You can find a sea salt grinder at target (or probably in any supermarket) for $2.00 and it will give your treats the right taste.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
In other baking related news, I broke down and bought a kitchenaid mixer. It is perhaps the most exciting thing I've ever owned. I've already baked banana bread, rustic white bread and apple muffins (which are to die for) and I've only had it for a little over a week. Hopefully once we've moved I will post more regularly. But, I've said that before.
Friday, April 30, 2010
I enjoy Julia Child. Even before Julie and Julia and her 2nd wave of popularity hit I thought she was great. My dear friend Laura is the proud owner of a beautiful le creuset and approached me one day and suggested we make Boeuf Bourguignon. It was something I've wanted to make for a while but I don't possess the correct crockery and thus could not, until Laura came to the rescue.
Let me tell you, this is delicious, and not too difficult. It takes a while and does involve some prep work but it was totally worth it in the end. The only thing I have to say is that it does not photograph beautifully... but it tastes divine.
from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
6 ounces of bacon (Julia used a solid chunk but we used just regular bacon and it was fine)
1 tbsp olive oil
3 lbs of lean stewing beef cut into 2-inch cubes (we didn't cut ours)
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tbsp flour
3 cups of a full-bodied young red wine (we used Chianti)
2 to 3 cups brown beef stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 tsp thyme
1 crumbled bay leaf
18 - 24 small white onions brown braised in stock - see recipe below
1 lb quartered fresh mushrooms sauteed in butter - see recipe below
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
1. Cut bacon strips into pieces 1/4 inch wide, it helps if you stack multiple strips and use a sharp knife. Simmer bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.
2. Saute oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Reheat the fat until it is almost smoking before you saute the beef.
3. Dry the beef with paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Saute it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. You may have to add more oil as the beef soaks it up. Once it is brown remove it to the side with the bacon.
4. Once you are finished browning the beef, brown the sliced vegetables in the same fat. Once they are browned, pour out the fat.
5. Return the beef and the bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in the middle position of the preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to the oven for 4 minutes more. Remove the casserole and turn the oven down to 325 degrees.
6. Stir in the wine and enough stock so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Once it is simmering, cover the casserole and set in the lower third of the preheated oven. Regulate the heat so that the liquid simmers very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
7. While the beef is cooking prepare the onions and mushrooms as indicated in the recipes below. Set them aside until needed.
8. When the meat is tender pour, pour the contents of the casserole carefully into a sieve (or pasta strainer with little holes) set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole dish and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.
9. Skim the fat off the sauce. Simmer the sauce for a minute or two skimming off the additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. Our sauce was very thin so we boiled it down rapidly for another 6 to 7 minutes to get the correct consistency. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.
10. For immediate serving, cover the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat before serving. To serve it later, cover the casserole once it has cooled and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving bring to a simmer, cover and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes before serving.
Small White Onions Brown-Braised in Stock
18-24 peeled white onions
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp oil
1/2 cup of brown stock, red wine or water
1. Bring the oil and butter to a simmer in a 9 inch skillet. Add the onions and saute over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so they will brown as evenly as possible... you cannot possibly brown them completely uniformly - don't worry.
2. Pour in the liquid, season to taste and cover to simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the
onions are tender but retain their shape and most of the liquid has evaporated.
Mushrooms Sauteed in Butter
1 lb mushrooms, washed, well dried and quartered
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp oil
Julia says the most important thing about browning mushrooms is not to crowd them in the skillet. We did ours in 2 batches.
1. Place a 10 inch skillet over high heat with the butter and oil. As soon as you see the butter foam has begun to subside add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4 to 5 minutes. During their saute the mushrooms will first absorb the fat. In 2 to 3 minutes the fat will reappear on their surface and the mushrooms will begin to brown. Once they have browned lightly remove from the heat.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Anyhow. Where was I? Oh right, healthy things are expensive. I have no issue paying more for better food - organic fruits and vegetables and hormone and anti-biotic free meat - but the price of granola bars is ridiculous. I don't want six little bars for four dollars! But I tend to get cranky when I don't eat and when I work on pre-production for music videos like this I often don't eat for 8 hours at a time. So, I thought to myself, I'm sure I could make my own granola bars that are even a bit healthier than the ones found in stores! And so, ladies and gentlemen, that is what I did on this lovely Thursday afternoon.
I scoured the Internet and food blogs for recipes that seemed like they would be easy and delicious. But honestly, most of them contained things I really didn't want in my granola bars. I was looking for something that wouldn't be too sweet and would be full of protein and would keep me full for a little while. So, I made my own recipe based on what I read. My first original recipe!
These are fairly sweet. At first I thought they were too sweet, but after cutting them up and wrapping them individually I've stored them in the fridge and they've mellowed a bit. Next time perhaps I'll adjust the amount of honey and maybe use peanut butter instead but this time I was worried about the "glue" not being strong enough so I used variations of other recipes. They are delicious though, just as they are.
This recipe is really just a guide. If you don't like sunflower seeds you can use some other kind of seed or nut. Basically anything you think would be delicious can go in here.
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup peanuts, crushed
1/4 cup almonds, chopped*
1/2 cup brown sugar**
1/2 cup honey
4 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces of dried fruit (raisins and cranberries are what I used but apricots, apples, dates, figs etc. would be delicious I'm sure)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with parchment or waxed paper that extends a bit over the ends of the pan, sprayed lightly with vegetable cooking spray.
1. Crush the peanuts by putting them in a plastic bag and using a heavy jar or pan to crush them.
2. Mix the nuts, oats, wheat germ, and seeds in a baking pan with sides. Toast in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes stirring every 4 minutes to prevent things from burning. Once everything is finished toasting turn the oven off and let the mixture cool a bit.
3. Meanwhile, put the brown sugar, honey, butter, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan over low heat and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. The mixture should look fairly evenly colored and everything should be melted together.
4. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl with a wooden spoon, making sure that the "glue" coats all of the nut mixture and the dried fruit. Scoop the mixture into the parchment lined pan spreading it evenly. Put a small piece of saran wrap between your hands and the granola bars and push down hard to compact everything into the pan. Allow to cool completely - I put mine in the fridge for two hours.
5. Once cooled, lift the granola bars out of the pan and use a sharp knife to cut into bars, wrap in plastic wrap for individual bars on the go or keep them in an air tight container. I keep mine in the fridge because I like mine nice and firm.
*Almonds are miserable to chop. I will probably use cashews or something next time - or just buy sliced almonds...or a food processor.
** Many recipes seemed to use 2/3 or even 3/4 cup of brown sugar. I cut the amount thinking that with all the honey it might be too sweet. I might even cut it a bit more because they were so sweet.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
For full disclosure though I will admit that I goofed - big time. I misread the original recipe and used active dry yeast instead of instant yeast and panicked when the sponge didn't foam up as Deb had indicated that it would... and when, as a result of the less than foamy sponge, the flour was nearly impossible to incorporate. Once I discovered my error I thought about scrapping the whole batch and starting over again in the morning once I had purchased the correct kind of yeast, but I didn't, I persevered. The result? Cinnamon Raisin Bagels that rival any I've ever had from a bakery - even fresh from the oven.
Don't be intimidated! They may seem scary but I promise they are fairly simple so long as you read the directions and take deep breaths you'll be fine.
Cinnamon Raisin Bagels
From Smitten Kitchen
This is either a one day project that will begin in the morning and end in the evening or something you can start after dinner and cook in the morning when you wake up (as I did - and let me say, there is nothing like a fresh bagel in the morning).
Yield: 12 super large, 16 regularly large or 24 "miniature" bagels
1 teaspoon instant yeast
4 cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
2 1/2 cups water, room temperature
1 teaspoon instant yeast
3 3/4 cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar
2 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar, or honey
1 - 2 cups loosely packed raisins, rinsed with warm water to remove surface sugar, acid, and natural wild yeast (I used what I had left in the box, which was about a cup and a half I think, but if you dislike raisins you can use less)
1 tablespoon baking soda
Cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting
1. Day one: To make the sponge, stir the yeast into the flour in a large (approx. 4-quart) mixing bowl. Add the water, whisking or stirring only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (Deb likened it to a pancake batter, I found it to be quite thick, more like biscuits). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly. It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop. (As I noted above, mine didn't achieve this, for obvious reasons but next time, when I make it with the correct kind of yeast I'll make sure it does. Mine just expanded to twice the size.)
2. To make the dough: in the same mixing bowl, add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Then add 3 cups of the flour, cinnamon, sugar, salt and brown sugar. Stir (my dough was dry so I ended up using my hands to knead it together in the bowl, wetting my hands a bit when nothing was coming together) until the ingredients form a ball, slowly working in the remaining 3/4 cup flour to stiffen the dough, as needed. In the last two minutes of mixing, add the raisins. This may mean you need to add a bit more flour if the raisins are still a little wet.
3. Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for at least 10 minutes. The dough should be firm, but still pliable and smooth. There should be no raw flour – all ingredients should be hydrated. If the dough seems too dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading. If the dough seems tacky or sticky, add more flour to achieve the stiffness required. The kneaded dough should feel satiny and pliable but not be tacky.
4. Immediately divide the dough into 12 (4 1/2 ounce) pieces for super sized bagels, 16 (3.375 ounce) regular-sized bagels, or 24 (2.25 ounce) perfectly smaller bagels. Form the pieces into rolls. If you don't have a kitchen scale the 2.25 ounce balls were approximately the size of golf balls.
5. Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for approximately 20 minutes.
6. Line 2 sheet pans with baking parchment and mist lightly with spray oil. Poke a hole in a ball of bagel dough and gently rotate your thumb around the inside of the hole to widen it to approximately 2 1/2 inches in diameter for a supersized bagel, two inches for a large one or just slightly more than one inch for a miniature. The dough should be as evenly stretched as possible (try to avoid thick and thin spots.)
7. Place each of the shaped pieces two inches apart on the pans. Mist the bagels very lightly with the spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the pans sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
8. Check to see if the bagels are ready to be retarded in the refrigerator by using the “float test”. Fill a small bowl with cool or room-temperature water. The bagels are ready to be retarded when they float within 10 seconds of being dropped into the water. Take one bagel and test it. If it floats, immediately return the tester bagel to the pan, pat it dry, cover the pan, and place it in the refrigerator overnight (it can stay in the refrigerator for up to 2 days). Mine floated immediately but, if the bagel does not float, never fear! Return it to the pan and continue to proof the dough at room temperature, checking back every 10 to 20 minutes or so until a tester floats. The time needed to accomplish the float will vary, depending on the ambient temperature and the stiffness of the dough.
9. The following day (or when you are ready to bake the bagels, see head notes), preheat the oven to 500°F with the two racks set in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (the wider the pot the better), and add the baking soda. Have a slotted spoon nearby.
10. Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many as comfortably fit, I fit seven (they should float within 10 seconds). After 1 minute, flip them over and boil for another minute. If you like very chewy bagels, you can extend the boiling to 2 minutes per side. While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the same parchment-lined sheet pans with cornmeal or semolina flour.
11. When all the bagels have been boiled, place the pans on two middle shelves in the oven. Bake for approximately five minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and giving the pans a 180-degree rotation. (If you are baking only one pan, keep it on the center shelf but still rotate 180 degrees.) After the rotation, lower the oven setting to 450°F and continue baking for about 4 and a half minutes, or until the bagels turn light golden brown. You may bake them darker if you prefer.
12. Remove the pans from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving. They are delicious with cream cheese, toasted, or just on their own!
Monday, March 1, 2010
For my 22nd birthday I wanted to throw myself a party and bake lots of scrumptious desserts, gather my friends together and really start the next year of my life off in an exciting fashion. Well, on Saturday I did just that. And it was great. The dessert I was the most proud of was my birthday cake: a raspberry cake with Swiss buttercream frosting. Delicious! And fortunately for me (and unfortunately for my waistline) I have half a cake waiting to be eaten in the fridge.
I baked this cake a week in advance and froze it in layers wrapped in ridiculous amounts of saran wrap - think four layers of saran wrap per layer of cake. Yikes! Once it thawed a little bit I frosted it and it tasted fantastic and moist. I encourage you to make this cake (or try making some cupcakes? I'm sure those would be delicious as well.) and eat it in celebration of whatever you choose.
Raspberry Birthday Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
4 1/2 cups cake flour*
3 cups sugar
5 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups pureed frozen raspberries (I used a whole bag, 1 pound)
8 egg whites
2/3 cup milk
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 9-inch round or 8-inch square cake pans. Line with parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.
2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixer bowl. With the electric mixer on low speed, blend for 30 seconds. Add the butter and raspberry puree and mix to blend the ingredients. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes; the batter will resemble raspberry ice cream at this point.
3. In another large bowl, whisk together the egg whites and milk to blend. Add the whites to the batter in two or three additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well and mixing only to incorporate after each addition. Divide the batter among the three prepared pans.
4. Bake the cakes for 30 to 34 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the layers to cool in the pans for 10 to 15 minutes. Invert and turn out onto wire racks and peel off the paper liners. Let stand until completely cooled before assembling the cake, at least an hour. Once they've cooled, you can also freeze your layers** for later use.
From Smitten Kitchen
Makes enough for a 9-inch cake (plus filling, or some to spare)
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
26 tablespoons butter, softened (3 sticks plus 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Whisk egg whites and sugar together in a big metal bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk occasionally until you can’t feel the sugar granules when you rub the mixture between your fingers.
2. Transfer mixture into the mixer and whip until it turns white and about doubles in size. (Here’s a tip: when you transfer to the mixer, make sure you wipe the condensation off the bottom of the bowl so that no water gets into the egg whites. This can keep them from whipping up properly.)
3. Add the vanilla.
4. Finally, add the butter a stick at a time and whip! It will take a while to come together. Mine took about 7 minutes of serious whipping. I put it in the freezer for a little bit (mine was actually in too long) five to ten minutes should do it.
Assembling The Cake
Cake Board (corrugated cardboard piece that is 2 inches larger than finished cake, so that there is a one inch border all the way around)
Parchment Paper or Waxed Paper
Table Knife or ideally an Icing Knife
Note: If you've frozen the cake, let it thaw, unwrapped, for about an hour before attempting to frost it. If you haven't frozen the cake, Smitten Kitchen suggests sticking it in the fridge for 20 minutes to make it a bit easier to work with.
1. Put the first layer on the center of a cake board. Tuck four 3-4 inch wide pieces of parchment or waxed paper under the bottom layer to protect the cake board from any mess that might result during frosting. When you're done frosting the cake, simply pull out the pieces and Tada! nice clean cake board.
2. Spread 1/2 to 2/3 cup of frosting over the entire layer, all the way to the edges. Add the 2nd layer on top and repeat. Add the top layer and frost the top and the sides of the cake with a thin layer of frosting, this is called the crumb coat. Place the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes.
3. Remove the cake from the fridge and use the remaining frosting to finish the top and sides. Swiss Buttercream seems to smooth out pretty well, and my friend Mike complimented me on the plaster type texture on the cake - really, it was a compliment because that is exactly what it looked like, a beautifully plastered wall (that doesn't sound pretty at all, but look at the pictures and judge for yourself).
4. Pull the parchment or waxed paper out from the sides of the cake and add decorative berries or piping around the edge should you choose to do so. Voila! Prepare for your friends to be impressed.
*Okay, Cake Flour: It comes in a box people. When you're in the store looking for it for a ridiculously long time and you're sure it doesn't exist and pastry flour must be an acceptable substitute (it's not) don't give up (as I did) it is there! It's usually in a box and has pictures of cake on it, not flour. If you can't find it you can use this as a substitute, as I did, and it will work just fine.
**If you should choose to freeze the cake here are my suggestions that I gleaned from all over the Internet.
- Wrap in triple layers of plastic wrap so as to avoid freezer burn.
- I slid my finished cake layers onto cake boards and then wrapped them, attaching the cakes to the board and thus making them much sturdier and easier to move/wrap. Upon further research I found that some people don't put their cakes on boards - fine. If your cake can support itself (not this one) then don't put it on a board, you can just use boards to separate the layers in the freezer to keep cakes from sagging.
- Let the cake sit out of the freezer for about 15 minutes before unwrapping them. Let them sit an additional 30 - 45 minutes before beginning to frost.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
A few weeks ago I picked up the February issue of Martha Stewart Living because the cover was so darn pretty and the cover advertised "One Simple Recipe, 4 Great Breads." Well Martha wasn't kidding - this bread is simple and DELICIOUS. I made the cinnamon raisin loaf and it is incredibly delicious, like better than brownies for dessert delicious. Put a slice in the toaster and spread a little bit of butter on it and try not to eat half the loaf in one evening. YUM. If anyone makes this I'd love to know how it turns out!
Cinnamon Raisin Bread
From Martha Stewart Living
1 Tablespoon plus 1 1/2 Teaspoons active dry yeast (two 1/4 ounce envelopes)
2 1/4 cups warm water
3 Tablespoons plus 2 Teaspoons honey
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for bowl, pans and brushing
7 Cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface and dusting
2 Tablespoons coarse salt
1 Cup raisins
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 Teaspoons ground cinnamon
1. Sprinkle yeast over 1/2 cup water. Add 2 teaspoons honey. Whisk until yeast dissolves. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
2. Add butter, remaining 1 3/4 cups water and 3 tablespoons honey. Mix the flour and the salt together. Add 3 cups of the flour mixture to the yeast mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon until smooth.
3. Add the raisins, mix until smooth. Add the remaining 4 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing until dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ragged, slightly sticky ball.
4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Wash out the mixing bowl (or use another bowl) and butter the sides of it. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic but still slightly tacky - about five minutes. Shape into a ball. Transfer to prepared bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
5. Allow the dough to stand in a warm place until it doubles in volume (it shouldn't spring back when you poke your finger in), about 1 hour.
6. Butter two 4 1/2 by 8 1/2 inch loaf pans. Once the dough has risen punch it down and divide it in half. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
7. Shape one dough half into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle that is about 8 by 10 inches. Lightly brush the dough with water and sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon sugar mixture, leaving a 1/2 in ch border around the edge. Starting with the short side roll dough into a log. Seal edges with fingertips and tuck ends under. Transfer the dough seam side down to the pan. Brush the top with melted butter. Repeat with the second half of the dough.
8. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Drape the loaves with plastic and let dough stand until it rises about one inch above the tops of the pans - 45 minutes to 1 hour.
9. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake, rotating pans after 220 minutes until tops are golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer to wire racks. Let cool slightly; turn out loaves. Let cool completely before slicing (no really, do this, I didn't and it was bad).
*I made my bread by hand, using a wooden spoon, as the recipe suggests. If you are so lucky as to have a KitchenAid mixer with a dough-hook attachment go ahead and use it, but don't tell me because I will be jealous.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Have lovely days, exciting culinary adventures and stay tuned because someday maybe I'll have time to cook something other than pasta .