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.
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).
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.
- 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.
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.
August 24, 2011 § 4 Comments
And my waistline, but so, so worth it. I came across this thing called Taste & Create a few months ago, where people make food from each other’s blogs (you sign up and get assigned a partner each month — it’s very cool). I decided to participate for the first time this month, and my partner was Always Eat On the Good China. The hardest part was choosing a recipe to make (and I’m totally going to make more of them — she has some really nommy sounding stuff!) but I finally settled on the Chicken Puffs. Chicken, bacon, cheese, puff pastry…what could possibly go wrong? Nothing, in this case. They were amazing.
I did modify the recipe a little to use what I had on hand (for example, I used goat cheese instead of cream cheese), and since I’m not a huge fan of plain chicken, I also decided to play around with marinades* and tried something new: OJ and balsamic vinegar. Yeah, that’s a keeper (1c. OJ + 1 Tbsp BV to cover about 1.5lbs of cubed chicken). She mentions in her post about the recipe that although the pic shows a whole chicken breast, she now cuts it into bite size chunks, so I went that way with it. And I didn’t mix anything up for the cream cheese mixture — I just threw a bunch of goat cheese on top and then topped it with some fresh basil, because I am lazy. Oh! Also instead of spraying my cookie sheet I just lined it with parchment paper which works beautifully for keeping stuff from sticking. And I didn’t brush with the egg wash, but that was just because I totally forgot to do it. Seemed to come out fine, but they would’ve been a little crispier with the wash.
So, modifications I’ll probably make next time I make this (because there will be a next time): First off, I think I’m going to try it as a pot-pie kind of thing…the puff pastry-to-filling ratio is just really high. Now, it’s puff pastry, so it’s not like my tastebuds are complaining, but I think it will be just as tasty topped with the puff instead of surrounded by it. Second — you might want to sit down for this one — I’m going to leave the bacon out. I just really didn’t feel like it added much to the flavor experience in this case. Weird, I know, but there you are. I also will probably try different marinade/cheese combos — I think this would be great with something spicy on the chicken and cheddar cheese, for instance. And there you have it…my first Taste & Create. This was tons of fun — I’m totally going to do it again next month!
*A note on using a marinade on something you’re going to wrap in puff pastry and bake: you need to dry it out before you put it in the pastry. Throw it in a saute pan and brown it — you’ve got lots of sugar in this marinade, so even let it caramelize a bit. You don’t need to worry so much about it being cooked through — the baking in the oven part will take care of that. And it won’t get too dry b/c you’ve added all that moisture to it.