Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Book Fifty-One: Baking with Julia

by Dorie Greenspan
Recipe contributed by Lauren Groveman
(Edited January 2015)

Note to TWD: This post published in 2011 before BWJ. This is not only the first recipe I made from the book, but my first try at bread making, aside from quick breads and rolls.

                                                                           Eastern European Rye

Ahhhh... Julia Child. Many cooks have been inspired by her. I do recall catching her a few times on PBS and she was always a kick to watch - and I have to admit I loved the movie Julie & Julia with Meryl Streep; I even have the DVD.

I have had a longing to make fresh homemade bread but have always shied away due to my fear of yeast which I am slowly overcoming. I have had recent success with Parker House rolls and knotted dinner rolls which have given me the confidence to give this a try.  I think it would be wonderful to have fresh bread to make sandwiches from. Andy always orders his sandwiches on rye so I chose the Eastern European Rye loaf.

Reading through the ingredient list I see that the recipe calls for solid vegetable shortening; something I usually steer away from or substitute butter for. Being that I am not an accomplished bread maker I did not want to do any substitutions on the first run. In regard to the caraway seeds needing to be finely ground, if you don't already have a coffee grinder go out and get one (to be used only for grinding spices). We just recently gave ours away to our daughter since we had not used it in I don't know how long. I tried grinding the seeds in a mini-processor and in a pestle & mortar to no avail - ended up having to make a quick run to Target.

I did it!! I'm so excited! The bread is soft and chewy and the crumb (the pattern of holes inside a loaf) is perfect - no large tunnels running through it.

I think everyone should try making bread from scratch at home at least once. I chose the old fashioned way, kneading by hand, not using a stand-mixer with a dough hook. The scent of the yeast is wonderful and the aroma of baked bread is amazing.

Success meter (1-3): 3


Still too seedy after running through
a mini-processor and pestle & mortar.

Much better after using a coffee grinder.

Yeast before proofing.

Yeast after proofing - a bit dome shapped
and creamier looking.

I like to place my dough in
the oven (turned off) to rise.

First rising.

To "punch down" the dough, flour the backside
of your hand and quickly "slap" the dough
with the back of your fingers.

"Pinch" the dough after each roll
by poking the edge with your fingers.

Too fun!
If you will be baking bread often
you  may want one of these.

Apparently, I did not know the trick at the time to making beautiful slashes.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wok Wednesdays | Chinese Indian Chicken Manchurian

WW wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young

How many favorites can one have? When asked what is my favorite stir-fry, it is impossible to say.

Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Onion, chili pepper, garlic, ginger
Bowl 2: Chicken, egg white, cornstarch, garlic, ginger, water, salt, vegetable oil
Bowl 3: Chicken broth, soy sauce
Bowl 4: Cilantro
Bowl 5: Scallion

Grace mentions in the book that the Indian influence in this dish comes from the spicy hotness of the stir-fry, and being saucy, much like a curry.

It just amazes me every time, in these recipes, how tender chicken is after such a short time marinating; and it's not marinated in a typical salty concoction. Here the chicken is mixed with some egg white, cornstarch, garlic, ginger, water, salt and vegetable oil; it then has a short thirty minute rest in the fridge. Truly amazing.

As with most cooking, the aromatics are stir-fried first, then they are pushed to the side of the wok; the meat is added and allowed to sear before stir-frying until browned all over, at which time the broth mixture and cilantro are added and given a quick toss, and once the sauce has thickened slightly, the scallions are added, and the most delicious stir-fry is ready to be served.

I served this alongside the cabbage and bacon stir-fry, from my last WW post. My husband nonchalantly stated that I could make both of these dishes again... if I wanted to.

As mentioned above, this is one of the saucier stir-fries in the book, so you will want to make some rice to go along with it, to soak up all the deliciousness. 

We are asked not to post the recipes here on our blog. If you would like the recipe, you will find it on page 142, of  Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, which you can purchase at your local bookstore or find it at your local library. I highly recommend purchasing the book - you won't be disappointed.  

Wok Wednesdays is an online cooking group. If you would like information about joining us, click here, or visit us on Facebook. Would love for you to wok along with us!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

TWD | Baking Chez Moi | Granola Energy Bars

Tuesdays with Dorie baking through Baking Chez Moi
by Dorie Greenspan


Whether you ride, hike, run, or stuck behind a desk all day, these make for a healthy and tasty snack that will help sustain you throughout your day.

These homemade energy bars are way better than any store bought that I have purchased - not to mention super easy to make.

They are made from old-fashioned oats, almonds, raw sunflower and pumpkin seeds, coconut, and dried fruit - I used cherries, golden raisins, and apricots. I also added the zest of one small (Cara-Cara) orange.

Brown rice syrup is called for in the recipe, along with unsalted butter to bind the bars; I could not find the brown rice syrup at the three local markets I frequent; though I'm sure a health food store carries it; so I used Lyle's Golden Syrup, which I was a bit shy, by about an eighth of a cup, which I made up the difference with the last of my ginger honey (about half tablespoon), and the remainder with wild flower honey.

Individually wrapped, they make for a quick, grab-and-go snack.

The oats, nuts, and seeds are lightly toasted before being mixed with the fruit, coconut, and a bit of salt. The syrup and butter are simmered then poured over the oat mixture and some vanilla is added, then the mixture is stirred until the granola is moistened throughout.

The granola is then tightly pressed into a parchment lined pan and baked for about thirty minutes, or until the granola has a golden sheen to it. After baking, the granola is once again pressed down tightly and left to cool completely, at least three hours, before being cut into bars.

I will for sure be making these again; everyone that I shared these with enjoyed them, including myself. However, next time, I will switch out the butter for coconut oil as suggested by a fellow baker, for I thought the bars were a tad oily the next day, and I swear I could taste the butter, though no one else seemed to. 

Forget those dry, hard bars that you buy in the grocery store; these were soft, moist, and delicious! I wish all "good for you" treats were this tasty.

Update: I made these again using the brown rice syrup, and coconut oil in place of the butter. They turned out firmer, not oily at all, and not as sweet. Personally I prefer the first batch made with golden syrup and butter.

It is the rule of TWD not to share the recipe on our blogs. You will find the recipe on page 328 of Baking Chez Moi; it is however, available on Google books.

Do visit my fellow baker's sites to see what their thoughts of this recipe are. You will find their links by clicking here.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

TWD: Inside-Out Upside-Down Tirami Sù

TWD baking through Baking with Julia
by Dorie Greenspan
Contributing baker: Gale Gand

Tiramisù has been on my to-make list for the longest time, and when I saw it on the nomination list, I seconded that option - without reviewing the recipe beforehand.

Little did I know it was going to be nothing like the Italian dessert of coffee soaked lady fingers, layered with a mascarone cream filling, and topped with a dusting of cocoa, that I was so excited to finally be making, and marking off my list.

This version is made with phyllo dough, coffee flavored granita, and a cinnamon flavored saboyan sauce.

The recipe calls for four-inch ring molds which I do not have, so I formed my own with aluminum foil.  The phyllo dough is buttered and sugared (a mix of sugar and ginger), then scrunched up and placed into the mold. I forgot to add the sugar before scrunching, so I sprinkled it on top after the fact (before baking).

My sugar looks a bit clumpy because I used fresh ginger rather than dried, and the moisture from the ginger made it clump, which after baking gave it a wonderful hard, crunchy texture.

One of the benefits of baking and posting late, is you get a chance to read your fellow bakers posts to see if they experienced any issues with the making of the recipe. The consensus was that the granita melted almost immediately after being plated. So I made sure I had everything ready to go. I even sprinkled the top phyllo pillow with powdered sugar and shaved chocolate before assembly.

For a little extra pizazz, I added a drizzle of caramel sauce that I had hanging out in the fridge.

Gayle's sabayon sauce recipe calls for whipped cream and mascarpone to be stirred into cooled custard; I did not have any whipped cream, so I added enough half-and-half to thin the sauce to an almost pourable consistency.

I wasn't expecting to like this much after my disappointment in finding this was not a classic tiramisù; and the whole time, with each step, I kept saying to myself, I really don't feel like making this... I was so not in the mood.

In the end, I thought it was really good! The only thing I would do differently next time, is make the espresso stronger. I used instant espresso coffee, next time, either add extra, or just hit up Peet's for a real espresso.

You can find the recipe on page 398 of Baking with Julia, or by clicking here.

To see what my fellow bakers thought of this recipe, click here.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Cottage Cooking Club | December Recipes

The CCC cooking through River Cottage Veg
by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

My selections for December:

Roasted Baby Beets with Walnuts and Yogurt Dressing
Brussels Sprouts, Apple, and Cheddar
Curried Sweet Potato Soup
Quick Chickpea Pasta
Roasted Roots with Apples and Rosemary
Salsify Puree 

Click here for the complete list of the December recipe choices.

Well, I made four out of the six recipes I chose this month. The beets for the Roasted Baby Beets with Walnuts and Yogurt Dressing are sitting in the fridge as I type this and I hope to get it made soon.

As for the Salsify Puree, I was unable to find this vegetable. I did not want to make a substitution (such as parsnip), for I chose this recipe because I have never had salsify, let alone hear of it. This vegetable is also know as the oyster plant, because when cooked it has an oyster like flavor.

Brussels Sprouts, Apple and Cheddar

This is a raw salad made up of Brussels sprouts, apples, cheese, nuts, and thyme, with a simple vinaigrette of lemon and oil.

The thinly sliced sprouts were tossed in lemon juice along with the olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper. The apples, also sliced thinly, are added next and tossed into the salad (I tossed the apple slices in lemon juice to prevent them from browning, before adding them to the rest of the ingredients). Next, cheese is added and tossed once again, and then topped with nuts.

This salad has potential. It really wasn't very flavorful, though it was beautiful. I would like to try this again, using my go-to dressing, and using a smoked cheese.

Curried Sweet Potato Soup

Now this soup has incredible flavor. By far, the favorite of the month. And how can it not be? This soup is made with the most delicious ingredients - including several of my favorite; sweet potatoes, curry, lime, garlic, chili, cilantro, just to name a few.

This most delicious soup is made by sautéing onions until they are soft and translucent - then garlic, ginger, chilies, garam marsala, and curry powder are added and cooked for another minute, or until the spices are fragrant. Cubed sweet potatoes are added along with some broth, salt, and pepper, and allowed to cook until the potatoes are tender. This is then puréed and mixed with coconut milk.

Just before serving, some cilantro and lime juice are stirred in, I omitted the cilantro in the soup, and used it as a garnish only, along with some yogurt and a sprinkling of pepper.

This is one recipe you won't want to pass up. It's delish!

Quick Chickpea Pasta

I almost did not choose this recipe, for the picture in the book makes this look rather dry. Which it can be. But I love garbonzo (chickpea) beans, and I love pasta, so I had to give it a whirl.

The orecchiette pasta is the perfect vehicle for cradling the garbanzo beans.

Talk about quick and easy! 

The most time consuming part of this recipe, is waiting for the water to boil; and while one is waiting, you heat some oil in a fry pan and quickly sauté some garlic and fresh chili pepper (I used a freshly dried pepper) just until it is fragrant - you don't want to burn your garlic. I also added the beans to the fry pan to heat them up, rather than adding them to the pasta water as Hugh suggests.

The cooked pasta is added to the pan with the garlic mixture & beans, sprinkled with some salt and pepper, and a splash of lemon juice, and topped with some Parmesan cheese.

Yes, it comes out a tad on the dry side, but nothing that a little reserved pasta water stirred in (as I did) or buttered pasta wouldn't cure. 

This is a great dish for when you need to get something on the table pronto. 

Roasted Roots with Apple and Rosemary

Once again, another quick and easy recipe, not to mention wholesome and delicious.

Here we have a mixture of root vegetables and apples, tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper, and rosemary. You can choose whatever vegetables you prefer, I used fingerling potatoes, turnip, parsnip, rutabaga, celery root, and carrot.

The vegetables get roasted in a 375°F oven for about forty minutes, or until browned and tender. Then the apples and rosemary are added and cooked until the apples turn golden.

I love roasted vegetables - one of my favorite ways to prepare them. I never thought to add apple to my roasted vegetables; what a wonderful addition it made. I would also add some garlic and thyme to this as well next time.

To see what recipes the other members chose for this month, head over to the December LYL post on the CCC website, by clicking here.

We have been asked not to publish the recipes here on our blogs. We encourage you to go out and purchase the book and join us on this fun and healthy adventure!