Make’n’Tell Day 16: Dough I Know You?

February 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

Yesterday I did something I haven’t done in a very long time: I baked bread. I used the baguette recipe I posted about a while back, but I’ve made some slight modifications in process since then. See, it turns out that most bread recipes are written with instructions to maximize crustiness. I guess most people like a really crunchy crust? Not me (or my kids): I want my bread moist and chewy and not ripping up the roof of my mouth. I can eat me some Cap’n Crunch if I want that.

Makes me hungry just looking at it.

So. I went back to those recipes and books and I paid special attention to the bits that were emphasized for crustiness: baking on a stone, steaming (with a pan of water in the oven), and painting the dough with a coat of water just before baking. Then I stopped doing all of those things, and now I have bread with perfect — for us — crust. It’s chewy and delicious, but not at all crunchy. I don’t use any water, either applied to the dough or to steam, and instead of baking on a stone I bake on parchment paper on an airbake cookie sheet (or in a loaf pan).

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Make’n’Tell Day 7: Do You Fondue? I Fondue You!

February 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

Last night, Becky and I were on our own, as Zack and Kit were off to Zacky’s karate school awards banquet. The banquet’s big draw was a chocolate fountain, so I told Becky we would do chocolate fondue at home.

Fondue

We used dark chocolate for the fondue (because that’s what we had on hand, because that’s what we usually eat), and Becky didn’t care for it, but has agreed to try it again with milk chocolate. She’s such a trooper, that one. She *did* try something entirely new for her, pound cake, which she quite liked (because, duh). Since she tries something new approximately once every 2.5 years, I’m calling it a win. Other dippers we had were marshmallows, animal crackers, toffee cookies, pretzels, and pop chips. My favorites were the marshmallows and animal crackers. I do not recommend the pop chips.

Make’n’Tell Day 2: I Did It All For the Cookie

February 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

Chalk Drawing

Zack’s getting into the make action, too!

Right before Christmas last year, I did that thing where you all of a sudden decide that you need to bake All Of the Cookies and you only have like two days to do it (that happens to everyone, right, it’s not just me?). I wanted to make all my old standbys, but also felt like trying some new recipes, so I consulted my extensive library of cookbooks watched some shows on the Food Network asked my friends and family for recommendations headed to Pinterest. I found a couple of things to try, and for the most part they were pretty successful, but Becky went absolutely gaga for these chocolate chip toffee cookie strips. She’s been nagging asking me to make more ever since, and I thought they’d be a great share for Make’n’Tell.

Not only are these cookies delicious, but I get to use my new favorite technique for rolling out the dough. Instead of putting it between two sheets of wax paper or whatever, you put it in a Ziploc and leave about 1/2″ open at the top for the rest of the air to escape. Then you just roll your dough out inside the bag, and cut the bag open when you’re done. No muss, no fuss.

Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookie Strips

Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookies

No, I did not eat all of these after taking the picture. Not all at once, anyhow.

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 2/3 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yoke
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking bowder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/3 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2/3 c. toffee chips

Preheat oven to 350°. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Cream butter and sugars together in mixer.

Add eggs and vanilla.

Add flour, baking powder, and salt, mixing until thoroughly combined.

With a wooden spoon, stir in chocolate and toffee chips.

Take half of mixture and seal in a gallon size Ziploc bag, leaving about 1/2″ open. Roll dough flat (you’ll only be able to get it as flat as your chips are tall, so about 1/4″). Cut open bag and put dough on prepared cookie sheet. Repeat with 2nd half of dough.

I Like Cheesy Buns and I Cannot Lie

January 15, 2014 § 1 Comment

The backstory: Kit has had to go gluten free. Like, extremely gluten free. I like to call him a Gluten Freek. The tiniest eensiest little bit of gluteny goodness — even just from cross-contamination — will double him right over with stomach cramps. So, he’s been missing a lot of his favorite foods, especially stuff we typically get got in restaurants, like burgers and fries. A few months ago, we discovered that the kids’ favorite stop on the way up to Boston, Maggie McFly’s, has an extensive GF menu and a dedicated GF fryer. And for the “bun” on the burgers, instead of the regular GF buns like he’s been getting at the store, they have this amazing GF cheesy flatbread stuff. It’s so good I’ve started ordering my burgers with them, too.

I looked for a recipe for bread like this with no success, and then about a month ago, one came across my interwebs (I think on Twitter, but I’m honestly not sure). I tried it out last month and it came out pretty good, if a little greasy. This time, it’s pretty much perfect. The original recipe I found calls for tapioca flour, which it turns out I can’t use, as even the smell of it triggers my gag reflex (even just the little bit in GF all-purpose mixes). He talked a lot about the fine, silky texture of the tapioca flour, and I thought rice flour might substitute in nicely. Sure enough, it subs right in. Now, mine don’t look all pretty and puffy like in the pictures over at the original recipe, I assume because of the different flour. But, since we really want to use them for sandwiches, that actually works in my favor.

The hardest part about this dough is getting the texture right. It needs to be, once you’ve added everything in, moist enough to hold together but only just. Any moister, and you’re going to end up with the (admittedly delicious) greaseballs I had the first time. The key to this is the flour — the different flours seem to absorb moisture at different rates, even just different batches of the same type of flour. I used the exact same type and amount of flour this time as when I had the too-moist dough last time, and ended up having to remoisten the dough a little by adding more milk at the end.

Gluten Free Cheesy  Buns

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil
  • 3 1/2 c. Rice Flour (-ish — due to variations in absorbency, you may need more or less flour)
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 c. shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 c. shredded cheddar

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a dutch oven or other large pot, melt butter. Allow butter to brown slightly but not burn.

Add milk and oil. Bring to  boil, stirring frequently.

As soon as the mixture boils, remove from heat.

Add flour, mixing well. Mixture should be fairly dry and crumbly at this point.

Stir in eggs and both cheeses.  Mixture should be smooth and slightly shiny.

If mixture is too dry, add additional milk in 2 Tbsp increments, stirring well after each addition, until mixture holds together. Do not over moisten.

Form dough into discs 3-4″ in diameter and about 1/2″ thick. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes. Dough will lose its shininess and you may see errant pieces of cheese begin to brown.

Let cool before serving. These are best slightly warm but quite good at room temperature or even cold for a quick snack.

The Kumquats Are a Lie

May 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

The kumquat sign is, anyhow. I was at Trader Joe’s the other day, and they had the cutest little orange fruits just hanging out above this sign:

image

See there? “Eat ’em whole; rind & all!” it says. “A sweet little burst of vitamin C!” Sweet, my ass. I bit into one and my face did that thing it does when you bite into something unexpectedly bitter.  I think it took me about 20 minutes to completely unscrew it.

So I went on Pinterest, like I do, to see what I could find to do with these bitter little things (it’s the rind, by the way — I could taste the sweetness of the fruit but the rind just killed me). I considered candying them, and I considered making jam or marmalade out of them, but then I saw that someone had used them in a white sangria and since I had a 5 liter box of wine just hanging out in my fridge (judge not lest ye be judged), that seemed like the way to go.

Kumquat Sangria

It was not the way to go. Don’t get me wrong: it was drinkable. But it was just meh. I also threw in some pineapple, pear, and strawberries for a little added sweetness, and because eating the fruit is half the fun of sangria. Unfortunately, while the sangria itself was drinkable, the fruit was pretty much inedible. It seemed to leach up all the bitterness from the kumquats. That said, I think I’ll be doing the sangria thing again sans kumquats. If it works out, I’ll throw a recipe up here next time. I can promise it will be well-tested. Because that is the kind of sacrifice I am willing to make for my readers.

Yay! Beignet!

November 6, 2012 § 2 Comments

High up on my list of cities to visit is New Orleans, and not least among the reasons for its position on said list is the food. Since it doesn’t look like I’m going to get there anytime soon, I’ve bought some cookbooks (Donald Link’s Real Cajun Cookbook and Cooking Up a Storm, the Times-Picayune compilation that was published after Katrina as a combination fund-raiser/attempt to replace recipes that folks had lost in the storm) and played with making some of the dishes I dream about. You may remember that gumbo I made a while back, for instance. My latest attempt to bring NOLA north is the legendary beignet.

I used this recipe I found online at The Cajun Grocer (which is where I get my andouille, alligator sausage, and ‘gator fillets, incidentally). I actually made the dough a while back and froze it but never got around to frying any up, mostly because it seemed like a waste of oil and time to just fry up a couple of beignets. However, I was recently reminded that I love fried mushrooms, and it occurred to me that I could have beignets in the morning and fried mushrooms for dinner, and that plan made it make sense to get the oil out and start frying.

I actually had this plan last weekend, and ended up not being hungry in the evening when it came time for the ‘shrooms, so I saved the oil for this weekend and a second round of beignets. Also, last weekend my oil was a bit too hot and the beignets ended up being raw in the middle. This weekend, the temperature was just right (about 360 deg. F) and they fried up perfectly. They’re very tasty, but this particular recipe is coming out really, really dense, and I’m not sure if it’s because the dough’s old or just this recipe. Guess I’ll have to make some more beignets and find out! (No recipe just yet, as I want to play around and find/make one that comes out nice and fluffy.)

The Taste of Summer

November 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

Summer is my favorite season, no questions asked. I love the sunshine and heat and warm nights and cooling off in the pool or the ocean and especially, I love the fresh fruit. We live in a fabulous modern age of strawberries in February, but they are truly not the same as the strawberries of July, plucked fresh off the plant, nor are the peaches you buy in January anything like summer’s fresh peaches so ripe they practically burst when you bite into them, dripping sticky juice down your chin no matter how fast you eat. And fresh summer cherries, sweet and firm and plump, the perfect size to pop into your mouth – I can eat a pound at a time (and have, but I don’t recommend this…you’ll have a tummy ache). The downside is, I get so excited about all the fresh fruit that I end up buying more than I can possibly eat before it spoils.

So when I found myself with some peaches and cherries that were getting close to passing over from perfectly ripe to rotten mush, I decided something must be done. And then I decided that something was a cherry-peach cobbler. I used my go-to cobbler recipe, only instead of berries, I used the peaches (sliced to about 1/8”, not peeled) and cherries (halved and pitted). The result is a delicious summery cobbler, fantastic as a breakfast treat or as a dessert…especially delicious under a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Delish.

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