Happy Passover!

April 9th, 2009

I have a lot of cooking ahead of me as I don’t have any food made yet. In the past this would have stressed me out but not this year. I’m looking forward to making passover popovers, spinach vegetable kugel, matzo meal pancakes, matzo brei and maybe a few of new things. I love passover. I need to go buy a couple of chickens. And a tube pan. It is very handy having Good Friday off from work. Lots to do tomorrow!

Fresh Pasta – now ridiculously easy

April 4th, 2009

Way back in high school I got a hand-crank pasta roller and cutter set. I enjoyed making fresh pasta, but it was always kind of a pain dealing with the long sheets of dough in one hand and trying to crank the pasta roller with the other hand. I probably made fresh pasta 5 or 10 times, until one day in college I got the bright idea to use my pasta roller on some fimo clay and that was the end of that. It’s nearly impossible to get fimo clay out of a pasta roller.
I’d had my eye on the pasta roller attachment for the Kitchen Aid mixer for a long time. After I got married and had a couple of Macy’s gift cards burning a hole in my pocket, I bought the set. And then it sat on my shelf for 6 months. Or maybe longer. Ok, longer. You got me. In my head it seemed like fresh pasta was going to be this huge messy project, a once-in-a-blue-moon kind of thing. Well let me tell you, it was easy and not at all messy. Here’s the dough recipe:

Pepper Pasta
2 eggs
2 1/4 C King Arthur Unbleached AP flour
2 Tbsp water
1/4 tsp salt
lots of fresh ground pepper (I didn’t measure it)

Combine all ingredients in the workbowl of your mixer and mix together using the paddle blade. Once a dough forms, switch to the dough hook and knead for a couple of minutes. Form the dough in to a ball. You may want to knead by hand for an additional minute or two. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt the water once it’s boiling. Don’t salt the water before it boils or you’ll pit your pots. Seriously.

Set up the roller attachment on your KA mixer. Divide the dough in half. Roll one ball through on the largest setting, folding the dough and re-rolling 6 or 7 times. Once you have a smooth sheet, move the setting 1 notch smaller. Only roll the sheet through once per notch. Keep rolling on smaller settings until you have the thickness you desire. (I like it thin, 5 or 6). Let the sheet rest and roll out the other sheet.

Homemade Pasta Homemade Pasta
Homemade Pasta Homemade Pasta

Once both sheets were done, I used the fettuccine cutter to cut the pasta. I recently read a recipe that recommended letting the sheets rest for 15 minutes between rolling and cutting. I’ll have to give that a try next time. Once the pasta is cut, boil it off. It only takes 4 minutes or so to cook, so if you’re planning on having any sauce with your pasta, have it ready before you put the pasta in the water.

Cream Scones

March 16th, 2009

Just so you don’t get any funny ideas, I don’t get any sort of promotional consideration from King Arthur Flour (though I wish I did… Hey – KA .. need me to test anything? :) I’d be delighted to…)
I order flour and other things from King Arthur Flour fairly regularly. A couple of orders ago, I got a free Cream Tea Scone Mix for ordering more than $50 or $60 worth of stuff. The mix sat on my shelf for awhile, as I’m not a big mix person or a big scone person. Finally, I made them at xmas time when Jodie and Ian came to visit. They were nothing short of fantastic. Delicious, moist, light-textured. No trace of the sawdust doorstops so many scones are. I’d been dreaming of ways to replicate them, since a $7 mix can’t be a staple in my house.

I found a recipe for Cream Scones with Currants in Baking Illustrated Here’s the recipe with my modifications.

Cream Scones (no currants)
2 cups unbleached AP flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5 Tbsp cold butter, cut in to cubes
1 C heavy cream

Preheat your oven to 425F and set your rack in the middle of the oven.
Put flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in the workbowl of your food processor. Process with several 1-second pulses.
Remove the cover and distribute the butter evenly over the flour. Cover and process with 12 1-second pulses. Add in the heavy cream and do several short pulses until the dough begins to form.
Transfer the dough to a countertop and knead the dough by hand until it comes together into a rough, slightly sticky ball, 5 to 10 seconds.

The original recipe says to cut the scones into 8 wedges. I wanted small, round scones so I used a biscuit cutter to cut them out. This was not a great plan. I should have added in some more flour when I was kneading or something, because they were a big sticky mess to cut out into rounds. Big sticky mess.

Cream Scones Cream Scones

Place the scones on an ungreased baking sheet . If you have some pearl sugar, it makes a nice decoration on top. Bake until scone tops are light brown, 12-15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes.

Cream Scones

They tasted great, were nice and light, but the dough wasn’t as easy to deal with as the Cream Tea Scone Mix dough. If I want scones that are easy to cut out, I’ll have to keep playing around a bit. I think I’ll give this recipe another try but I’ll go with the more standard triangle shape.

Rollerderby Report

March 15th, 2009

CT Girls Rollerderby

Rollerderby was awesome! I wish I was a good enough skater to be able to play. I’m not really looking for another hobby right now, so the improving-skating-to-be-able-to-play part will have to wait. The next match is April 11. Check out www.ctrollerderby.com for more details.

So much for pi day

March 14th, 2009

I didn’t make a pie. Instead I made another couple of batches of whole wheat bread, cream cheese brownies, and scones. More to come on that later, cause there’s some good stories and good lessons to be had. For now, I’m off to watch some CT RollerGirls roller derby!

waste not, want chocolate cookies

March 3rd, 2009

As I’ve mentioned before, I hate wasting food. I had a substantial amount of chocolate buttercream frosting left over, even though I think I halved the recipe. I’ll have to look at it again to be sure. Not wanting to just eat a big bowl of frosting, I thought I’d try to make some chocolate cookies. Since I didn’t know exactly how much frosting I’d used and how much I had left, this was a total improvisation.

Frosting was: butter, “homemade powdered sugar” (see PSA from previous post), cocoa powder, and a touch of heavy cream.
I added a tablespoon of baking powder, a tablespoon of baking soda, about a half tablespoon of kosher salt, and King Arthur AP flour until it “looked right”. Not terribly scientific, but I’d estimate about 2 cups. I baked the cookies at 350 for 12 minutes and they turned out, well, pretty darn perfect. They didn’t spread and they puffed up nicely. Since our house is a little long on baked goods right now, almost all of the cookies went in to the freezer. Once we’ve eaten through them, I’ll try to make them again and put together an actual recipe.

Three cheers for not wasting butter!

Cupcakes for Jeremie

March 2nd, 2009

Jeremie's Birthday Cupcakes

I take birthdays very seriously. I wanted to make a nice birthday treat for Jeremie to have with his friends at the office but I wasn’t quite sure what to make. At first I was thinking layer cake, but I thought it would need to feed a lot of people and making a big enough cake would be difficult to transport. Who knew that we’d have a snowstorm on March 1? So then I started thinking about cupcakes. The one downside of cupcakes, in my thinking, is that there’s no great way to write “Happy Birthday Jeremie” on them. Then a couple of days ago, the little cookie idea came to me.

Jeremie's Birthday cupcakes

I was going to make a yellow cake recipe from Baking Illustrated, but there were two things about it that I wasn’t thrilled about: 1) it calls for a lot of butter, and 2) the recipe only makes 12 cupcakes and I didn’t want to double it, never having made this recipe. A last minute conversation with Jodie steered me towards Martha Stewart’s Cooking School: Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook which I had forgotten to check for a recipe. I decided to go with her yellow butter cake recipe. It made 42 cupcakes, which is a lot, but we brought about 30 in to the office and I can pop the rest in the freezer. I used Martha’s recipe for easy chocolate buttercream, but I used more cocoa and about a tablespoon of heavy cream to help it all come together. I baked the cupcakes the day before but I didn’t pipe the frosting on until just before leaving the house.

For the little cookies, I used my Mom’s recipe for Hanukkah cookies, a tried and true winner when you need a frostable cookie.

Frostable (Hanukkah) Cookies
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 T. orange juice
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream sugar and shortening. Add eggs. Beat.
Add dry ingredients. Add liquids. If dough is a
little wet, add more flour. Roll out on floured
board. Bake at 375 for 6-10 minutes on ungreased cookie sheets.
Makes 5-6 dozen.

Because I made such little circles, I baked at 350 for 5 minutes and I always use a silpat.

Was this time consuming? Yes.
Are they delicious? Yes.
Worth it? Oh totally.

A PSA: I realized I didn’t have enough powdered sugar for the frosting at 10:30 on a Sunday night in a snowstorm. Not good. I checked the internet and found several suggestions on how to make your own powdered sugar. The gist of the stories is: combine 1 cup of granulated sugar with 2 tablespoons of corn starch in a coffee grinder or food processor, whirl for a minute or so and voila, powdered sugar. Well, let me tell you, what I got was indeed powderier than granulated sugar but it sure wasn’t powdered sugar. I added some more cornstarch and whirled again, but no dice. I used it in making the buttercream frosting because I was out of options. The frosting was tasty but grainy, as you would expect when using granulated sugar. So, if you run out of powdered sugar I do not recommend trying to make your own at home. Maybe it would be passable if you’re making cookies or something baked, but it doesn’t cut it for frosting.

That is what I get for not checking my staples. Now I’m out of granulated sugar.

Sourdough Waffles

February 25th, 2009

I hate to waste food. I love making sourdough breads, but whenever I have to toss a cup of starter *(see note) it makes me sad that good flour is going to waste. So, when I saw this recipe for Sourdough Waffles, which calls for a cup of unfed starter, it seemed like a perfect match. For great step-by-step instructions, see the recipe from King Arthur Flour as linked above. For the recipe as I made it, scroll down.

*I don’t bake every day. If you let the starter go for more than a couple of days, you need to slough off a cup of starter and re-feed it before you bake.

Sourdough Waffles Sourdough Waffles
Sourdough Waffles Sourdough Waffles

Sourdough Waffles
Sponge
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups skim milk
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cup sourdough starter, straight from the refrigerator (not fed)

Mix the lemon juice in to the milk and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then combine the remaining ingredients together and let sit overnight, covered.

Waffle batter
the sponge
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp melted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Beat together the eggs, oil, and butter. Stir in to the sponge and add the salt and baking soda. Cook up in your favorite waffle iron.

Not bad for a Wednesday, skippy.

Oh, so after I used the cup of unfed starter for the waffles, I fed the starter. This morning I mixed up a sponge for sourdough bread and let it sit on the counter, covered, while I was at work. When I got home I mixed up the dough, adding more flour and a mix of seeds. I’ve got my seeded sourdough dough slow rising in the fridge overnight for a) extra sour flavor and b) so I’m not up until 2am baking. I’ll take it out from the fridge when I get home tomorrow night, shape it, let it do the final rise, and then I’ll bake it off.

Good things, large packages

January 22nd, 2009

The following items have shipped:
MEDIUM RYE FLOUR 3# qty: 1
PUMPERNICKEL FLOUR 3#-ORGANIC qty: 1
KAF UNBLEACHED BREAD FLOUR 5# qty: 1
KA ORGANIC ALL PURPOSE FLOUR 5# qty: 1
NON DIASTATIC MALT POWDER 1# qty: 1
FIRST CLEAR FLOUR 3# qty: 1
UNENRICHED SEMOLINA FLOUR 3LB qty: 1
KA WHITE WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR 5# qty: 1
EVERYTHING BAGEL TOPPING 8 OZ qty: 1
CARAWAY SEEDS 8 OZ qty: 1

31 lbs of flour & other goodies down in the mailroom! I can’t wait to go home and start making stuff. I love you, King Arthur Flour!

Greetings from the Tundra

January 18th, 2009

I’m just being dramatic from Detroit. There’s a lot of snow here but it’s nothing compared to the amount of snow in Grand Rapids. I shovel when I travel. Could I have some snow in CT please? I would like to use my snowshoes. Thanks.

I just saw this post about Jelly Roll from KAF/Bakers’ Banter and I really want to make this soon with my homemade rhubarb jam. Oh man. JELLY ROLL. I hope I have enough of that jam. If not, I could divide it in two and make two different kinds, I guess.

I have a lot of updating to do but that’s not going to happen right now because I don’t have all the photos. My main project lately has been rye bread though I’ve squeezed in a few batches of cookies as well. I need to stop playing with my site redesign ideas and just start posting regularly. Ya, ya.