February 16, 2011 § Leave a comment
It seems that I am baking through Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain in a similar manner to which Julie Powell cooked through Julia Child’s Master the Art of French Cooking. In the past month I have looked to Kim’s book on a daily basis for baking inspiration. So while, my venture requires no guidelines, time tables, or boeuf bourguignon to stress me out all I need to worry about is browning loads of butter, stocking up on exciting flours, and whipping out heart shaped cookie cutters.
Most recent attack on Kim’s book was a combination of two recipes using teff flour. As I found out yesterday, teff is a deep, rich, and dark flour which makes a beautiful match for two of my favorite ingredients: hazelnuts and brown butter. The outcome of toasting the hazelnuts in the butter as it begins to brown is quite intoxicating, and leaves the entire kitchen smelling of sultry golden love perfect for Valentine’s Day.
Hazelnut Butter Scone
Love child of Kim Boyce’s Hazelnut Muffins and Brown Butter Scone from Good to the Grain.
4 oz unsalted butter
1/2 cup hazelnuts chopped in half
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup oats or a mix of rolled grains
1/2 cup teff flour
1/2 cup palm sugar or 1/4 c white and 1/4 c brown *next time I want to use honey
1 teaspoon baking powder
dash of salt
1/2 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Over medium heat, begin to melt the best butter you can get your hands on. Once the butter has turned into liquid and starts to bubble add the chopped hazelnuts. Let the butter foam. The hazelnuts will become a lovely golden color. Once there are brown bits forming on the bottom of the pan, remove the butter and hazelnuts from the pan and pour into a shallow freezable container. This should take about 7 minutes. Let the hazelnut butter freeze. Do this a day before or wait impatiently while preparing everything else.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all of the dry ingredients together in a food processor. Chop the frozen butter into pieces and add to the dry ingredients. Pulse the flours and butter until the mix is a sandy texture. Whisk the cream, egg, and vanilla together in a separate bowl. When both the wet and dry ingredients are both individually combined, pour the cream and egg mixture into the sandy flour and stir to combine.
Flour a work surface and dump the batter out. Use your hands to press the batter into a circle. Now either slice the circle into 8 slices like a pizza, or use your seasonal cookie cutters and give the scones some character and transfer the scones to a prepared baking sheet.
Brush the uncooked scones with a nice blanket of cream and sprinkle with some sugar; the coarser the better. These babys will be nice and bronzed after about 22 minutes if they are small cookie cutter types, or 26 minutes if they are large slices.
December 16, 2010 § Leave a comment
Kids may have a simple and refined (think sugar not sophistication) palette but there is something to be said about a basic colorful mass of sugar and butter which even the most pretentious of eaters could not turn their fork away from. Take the rice crispy treat for example. The fundamental concept is hardly any different from a cake , with a few substitutions: crackling cereal for white flour, pillows of sugar rather than granulated, and browned butter in place of the standard unsalted. The last switcheroo is really the kicker. Upon first nibble of this cake you will know that something is wonderfully different about it, and yet I dare you to pin the gorgeous nutty notes on the extra 3 minutes the butter needs to transform from simply melted to luxuriously brown.
Browning butter is my favorite thing right now. After eating browned butter that is. Once I learned how simple it is to melt butter past the point of liquidation but before the point of charring I began to make pie crusts and cookies with this liquid gold and have even spread it straight on my toast after letting it solidify and come to room temperature. I am still working out how to bake with it as the fabulous flavor can sometimes be masked by spices or sugars. Any excuse to bake more, I suppose.
Fortunately this crispy cake lets the nutty tang shine right through and tastes much more appetizing than it looks (unless you are four years old or the idea of eating florescent colors seems appealing). I made it in the shape of a cake because we were celebrating a birthday for a wheat sensitive friend, but I think that I have found my new go to goodie for all kinds of eaters.
Brown Butter Rice Crispy Cake
Deb from Smitten Kitchen inspired rice crispy recipe. She has a thing for brown butter too. Or just follow the instructions on the box of Rice Crispy Cereal (but dont forget to brown the butter, seriously).
1 stick ( 1/4 pound) unsalted butter
6 cups rice crispy cereal plus 1 cup sprinkles for effect
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
10 oz bag marshmallows
sprinkles and icing
How to brown butter
Melt the butter in a lage pot on medium heat. Once the butter melts continue cooking it until it foams and the settles and then foams again, do not walk away, stir frequently to see when dark solids begin to form beneath the foamy butter. When the butter begins to emit a lovely nutty aroma and you can see brown particles forming, get ready to remove the butter from the heat.
Rice Crispy Cake
Once the butter has browned stir in the bag of marshmallows. If the pot has cooled down and the marshmallow is slow to melt move the pot back to the warm burner or a low flame. Once everything has melded into a glorious puddle of butter and sugar add the cereal speckled with sprinkles and stir until each grain of puffed rice has been equally coated in a healthy amount the melted marshmallow/butter mix. Be quick. Now pour half of the warm mixture into a cake pan and the other half into another cake pan and allow them to cool for about 45 minutes. Remove the cooled treats and spread a nice layer of icing upon the uneven (top) side of one of the cakes. For aesthetic purposes place the other half of the cooled treat uneven side down atop the iced layer. Now be creative and decorate this scrumptious mass in any manor you feel suitable.
November 30, 2010 § Leave a comment
This past Wednesday night began with roasting a perfectly sweet, tart, and herby cranberry and hazelnut sauce for Thanksgiving. I got the inspiration here, and modified it until the recipe turned into my own.
Coat one pound of fresh cranberries in:
1 cup turbinado sugar
3 tablespoons walnut oil
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh sage
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
Roast the cranberries on a rimmed baking sheet in a hot oven (425 degrees) for about 7 minutes until the berries around the edge begin to split. While the cranberries are in the oven heat 1/4 cup red wine with 2 tablespoons of water in a little sauce pan until it boils. When the berries begin to split take the pan out of the oven and mix in the hot wine then return everything to the hot oven for another 10 or 15 minutes. Stir the mixture a couple of times checking to see when the berries turn into a beautiful syrupy sauce. Leave the oven on to toast the hazelnuts. The method for the hazelnuts is essentially the same as the cranberries.
Mix 1 cup of hazelnuts with 1 teaspoon each fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage in a rimmed baking sheet. Then heat 3 tablespoons of red wine and 3 tablespoons of turbinado sugar until the sugar melts and mix with the herbed nuts. Now heat the coated nut for just under 10 minutes in the hot oven. Keep the saucy cranberries and the toasted nuts separate until just before devouring the mixture.
November 24, 2010 § 2 Comments
As I walked through my kitchen door this evening I felt like a shop-a-holic. The weight of my items were almost unbearable, and yet I found myself chuckling at the though of my spending habits. My products were not boots, jewelry, body products, or any sort of typical merchandise. The goods in my hands were mushrooms from the Mushroom Cap in Kennett Square; a fresh turkey with extra giblets and bacon on the side from the Country Butcher in Kennett Square; hazelnuts from Spring Run in Kennett; leeks, onions, sage, shallots, cider, and honey from Barnard’s. Nothing could have made me happier than hauling my shopping bags into the kitchen and unloading my purchases. I can completely understand how people become addicted to the feeling of new things. Luckily for me my valuables tend to edible, so I always need more.
My Thanksgiving menu has blossomed into something I feel quite proud of. Every flavor, from the woodsy mushrooms to the warm hazelnuts to the complexity of herbs, has meandered from one dish to the other. And most dishes will be a compilation of recipes taken from articles in various magazines and basic knowledge. I am a bit hesitant to be trying out new techniques and flavors with my usually quite traditionally palated family. Although when it comes down to it, who could oppose bread pudding baked inside a pumpkin and drizzled with whiskey sauce, or wild mushroom, hazelnut, and olive bread stuffing? And roasting cranberries in red wine has got to outshine canned cranberry sauce, especially when they are mixed with spiced hazelnuts. These are the dishes which I am fairly confident will be delicious; the bird is another story. I hardly cook meat and a 14 pound turkey commands some loving care. From all I have gathered, brining the gobbler will ensure a crackling layer atop a succulent frame, and just to go the extra mile I picked up some extra thick bacon to drape over the bird as he roasts provide some extra flavor and tenderness. I mean, if I am going to eat meat it better be tender, juicy, and rich.
So tonight I brine and give the salt time to suck the juice fromt the body out to the skin. The turkey will sit in a bath of citrusy salt for almost 36 hours and will be roasted Thursday morning.
Tomorrow I will roast the cranberries and toast the hazelnuts for the cranberry sauce as well as prepare the stock for the stuffing, basting, and gravy.
Thursday will be full of roasting, rotating, reducing. The turkey will cook in my oven while I prepare the mushroom stuffing and pumpkin stuffed bread pudding. Then everything will be transfered to my Grandmothers where the gravy will be made from the drippings from the turkey plus lots of extra innards, the stuffing will be baked, and the desert will be cooking while we indulge.
Recipes, regrets, and photos to come. Please help me with any suggestions or comments!
November 15, 2010 § Leave a comment
After halloween there seems to be an over abundance of pumpkins. My mind immediately thinks “eat as many pumpkins as you can”. Unfortunately not all pumpkins breakdown into the celebrated creamy texture which is baked into pies, scooped into batters, and sliced into casseroles. The pumpkins from my garden fall into the category of not the greatest eating type; their specific name is unknown.
All I know is that for my next pumpkin filling adventure (I have happily survived two in the past 24 hours) will be in a gorgeous cheese pumpkin i have had my eye on from Barnard’s Orchard. The long island cheese pumpkin is squatter, smoother, and a creamier color than the generic orange pumpkin found on doorsteps and porches as decoration and their flesh is less stringy than the flesh of my homegrown guys. Other pumpkin varieties I know are yummy are baby pam, peek a boo, small sugar/ new england, winter luxury, and trickster.
In any case, I have now figured out the basics of pumpkin stuffing and am happily formulating experimental stuffing possibilities. Last night we feasted on curried black rice with leaks, apple, and walnut filled into the pumpkin. The downside with rice in pumpkins is that the rice must be cooked first and then plopped into the pumpkin’s cavity. This defeats the whole novelty of cooking things in the hollowed out pumpkin. I want to use the pumpkin like a dutch oven, filling it with loads of delicious raw ingredients, giving it a stir and letting everything slowly cook together.
That is exactly what I did this morning. Essentially what I made was baked oatmeal; an Amish classic which combines oats, eggs, milk, cinnamon, sugar, raisins, and apples and bakes to perfection. Of coarse I had to fool with the basic recipe and I fooled around so much that I created something completely different, but completely the same. Impossible? Find out.
Oatmeal Stuffed Pumpkin
1 5 pound pumpkin
2 cups whole oats
1 1/2 cups almond milk (or cow’s milk)
1/2 cup apple cider (or juice of your choice)
1 chopped apple
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon honey
pinch of salt
Turn the oven to 375 degrees. Cut off the top of the pumpkin and scoop out all of the seeds and gook. Save the seeds to roast. Now fill the hollow pumpkin with your dry ingredients and give everything a stir. Then add the honey, milk, and cider. Stir everything around again. Put the top on the pumpkin and place the pumpkin in a dutch oven or on a baking sheet. Leave in the hot oven for about an hour, this time will vary depending on the thickness of the flesh. I took the lid off for the second half of cooking. It is ready to be eaten when the skin and flesh feel like butter upon being pierced. In the last five minutes throw a handful of walnuts into the oven on a baking sheet to toast then sprinkle them on top of the goodness you just created.