Snow Day Crêpe Day: Buckwheat Galettes, Fig Butter, Onion Jam.

February 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

Snow Day Crepe

There are some things in life which never change.  Like snow days. Who doesn’t get a cozy nostalgic feeling with the thought of a day off from the real world?  As a kid, this meant an escape from sitting at a desk all day listening to someone talk to at you from the front of a packed room (for many adults this may still be the case).  For me, a snow day means that my kitchen gets my full attention.

Onion Jam Crepe

These past few weeks I have been slightly obsessed with the mere thought of a delicate crêpe wrapped pleasantly around a oozy gooey filling of nirvana.  Oddly, in these past weeks I have had more opportunities to indulge in a simple fruit filled crêpe since living in France.  But I found myself resisting, unconsiously holding out for what would be the perfect crêpe day.

Crepes, Fig Butter, Onion Jam

By noon on this exceptionally wintery day I had a table full of steaming buckwheat crêpes, warm fig butter, lustrous onion jam and a perfect way to spend my snow day.  I made two batches of batter, one made from solely buckwheat flour, which is completely nontraditional.  But I had no warning, and authentic batter should really rest over night and I unwilling to compromise.  I want to have my crêpes and eat them too.  Consequentially we will be finding all sorts of fillers for the endless stacks of toasty savory galettes which will be gracing our plates for the next couple of days as I could not resist the urge to mix up some more traditional batter, courtesy of David Lebovitz and fry them up tomorrow for dinner.

The filling for my crêpes today are from Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain, and are unbelievable delicious.  She has this ingenious section of her book dedicated to fruit and vegetable jams and spreads to accompany all of her treats.  My favorite: fig butter.  I was first introduced to the idea of her fig butter when Heidi Swanson unveiled Kim’s Figgy Buckwheat scones on 101cookbooks.  Since then have been looking for the perfect time to bring the heavenly butter into my life.  I must confess my disappointment; the time which I let pass without consuming this butter is completely unacceptable.  I could, no lie, eat this everyday.  Possibly at every meal.  It has a velvety, rich, deep flavor from the figs, wine, and butter but doesn’t leave a feeling of piggishness behind.  It requires little hands on work aside from chopping off stems, boiling sugar, and getting out the food processor, and yields a sufficient amount to last (an insatiable girl) just about two weeks.

Almost Fig Butter

Perfection.  The second filling was even more simple and just as ingenious.  Onion jam will be finding its way into nearly all of my sandwiches from here on out.  When onions cook down they turn into a heap of savory caramelized luxury ready to make any meal a feast.  There is a reason that they make you cry, and it is happiness for what is about to come.  It is as if they are forcing us to pay for the magnificence which if hidden behind their bite.

Slicing Onions

(Nontraditional) Buckwheat Crêpe
This recipe is actually gluten free as buckwheat has no relation to wheat.   It also requires only a 15 minute rest which was the appeal for me.  These are also a bit thicker than I am used to but delicious nonetheless.  I used a 7 inch cast iron pan for the crêpe cooking, if you desire larger crêpes simply use a larger pan.  I found the recipe here and followed it pretty precisely but I used salted (Baily’s Dairy!) butter  and less salt.

1 cup buckwheat flour
2 tablespoons arrowroot (a thickening agent)
dash of salt
2 eggs
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 3/4 cups water

Almost Ready to Flip

To make the batter simply sift the dry ingredients together into a medium sized bowl.  Now whisk the eggs with the water and add the butter.  When the wet ingredients are well mixed pour half into the buckwheat flour and stir until incorporated and smooth.  Then pour the rest of the egg mixture and finish stirring.  The mixture will be a pretty dark purple color and quite runny.  Let it sit for 15 minutes.  Just enough time to prepare the pan and finish up the fillings.   Heat a cast iron pan over medium heat and coat it with butter.  Add just under 1/4 cup of the batter to the hot pan and swirl it around so that it fills the entire bottom.  When the crêpe batter has started to dry out on top, after 2 or 3 minutes, flip it over to briefly cook the other side.  I used my fingers to do this.  A spatula is safer but less effective.   The first crêpe is always, always, always, a disaster.  Keep the crêpes warm in a 200 degree oven.  This recipe will make 10-12 crêpes.  I am planning on freezing some leftovers by wrapping them individually in plastic wrap then sealing in a freezer bag.

A perfect day for crepes

Kim Boyce’s Fig Butter
These recipes are not published on the internet and I technically have no right to publish them. Consequentially I am going to HIGHLY recommend you make the decision to own your own copy of Good to the Grain if this looks good to you.  I will leave a basic description of the recipe.

A little bit of sugar and water are boiled with cloves and star anise for about 10 minutes.  Then lots of red wine and port and black mission figs and cinnamon are added to to the syrup.  This mixture simmers for about 3o minutes and becomes a beautiful viscous maroon liquid.  The concoction needs to come to room temperature for another 30 minutes or so before removing the cloves and star anise.  Then the figs and their syrup are pureed with some soft butter.  It is possibly the most indecent thing I have ever eaten.

Fig Butter

Almost Onion Jam

Kim Boyce’s Onion Jam
See the notes above regarding Kim’s book.  You can figure this one out on your own without a recipe.  This onion jam with some sauteed mushrooms, horseradish, and hearty slices of bread could hardly make me happier.  Although slathered inside a hot crêpe with butter I was quite delighted all day.

Slice a lot of onions.  I think I used about 10 yellow cooking onions from Barnard’s Orchards.  In a medium dutch oven heat some olive oil on medium high heat for a minute or two.  Add the sliced onions and salt and coat them in the oil.  Cook them on high until they just begin to brown.  Turn down the heat and cover until they get a nice consistent golden.  Remove the lid and let them look until they break down into a mass of jam like consistency.   This all take about two hours and makes about a cup of savory jam.

Eat Happily

Retox and Detox: 10 Favorite Holiday Indulgences

January 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

Exhale.  Its all over.  The glorious gluttony.  The constant consumption.  The indulgent imbibing.  In place of the cream and sugar which has been dominating every nook and cranny of my kitchen I am happily welcoming my old friends, kale and quinoa back into my life.

Perhaps my  body may have an unnatural affection for greens and vegetables, but for the past six days I have been yearning for the super nutritious whole foods which usually grace my plate.  The future of my meals will look something like this: squash stuffed with quinoa and beans; kale and white bean casserole; sauteed greens loaded with nuts; garlic soup studded with brussel sprouts, onions and everything else cleansing.

Although, before I happily begin my post holiday purge, I would like to share some of my favorite indulgences of the past couple weeks.  After all, extravagance may be my favorite aspect of detoxification.

10. Biz’s Cookie Party.  Buckwheat and Quinoa Fig cookies, Mexican Wedding cookies, Peanut Butter chocolate chip, Basic Sugary bliss.  Need I say more?
9. Every Excuse for Champagne.  From Christmas morning mimosas, to raspberry champagne cocktails with dinner, to champagne shots at the stroke of midnight, this beverage has made an appearance too frequently in the past week.  My body always knows when I drank champagne the previous night.
8. Mallory’s Whiskey and Cider.  If there is anything better to warm you from the inside out than a piping hot thermos of Barnard’s apple cider mulled with cinnamon, cloves, a little vanilla, and a large glug of whiskey topped with some fresh whipped cream (spiked of course) please let me know.
7. Morning After Whiskey and Champagne Breakfasts.  Plates smothered with creamed chipped beef, cups filled with v-8 (and vodka?), ovens filled with stratta.  Any of the above are (almost) proven to expunge most nausea.
6.  Desert after every meal.  Leftover cookies, cakes, and meringues, make this mandatory.  Breakfast and that fourth meal between lunch and dinner included.
5.  Phyllo Dough.  What?  Yes.  Not the typical indulgence, phyllo dough has proven to be the perfect companion to everything oozy and gooy: baked brie au bleu, apple and brie quiche, feta and sundried tomato pizza, and endless cheese combinations (see below).
4.  Cheese.  Most of my cheese plates this year were compiled thanks to Talula’s Table.  Favorites included:  Sharp aged gouda, pungent and slaty shroppshire blue, lovely humboldt fog, smooth and delicate rosemary goat.  Similar h’ordeuvres were compiled from layers of phyllo dough brimming with  heavenly marriages of cream cheese and onion pepper jelly, brie with pears and brown sugar, fresh goat with cranberry and pistachio crumble, and gruyere with caramelized onions.
3.  Bacon.  It occurred to me that even as a see myself as a kind of closet vegetarian I somehow omit bacon from the realm of carnivorous consumption.  My new favorite party trick is to fabricate bite sized bowls from a slice of bacon and load them with everything good * instructions below.  Sliced mushrooms melted together with a gorgonzola cream somehow found their way into my cups of salted heaven.
2. My First Roast Duck + Duck Fat Fried Potatoes Everything. A Classic Christmas feast, duck is actually quite easy to make and produces a ungodly amount of animal fat suitable for making the ordinary roasted potatoes exceptional.  My duck was lucky enough to be smothered in honey and rubbed down with a blend of lavender and peppercorns leaving the skin insanely crisp and the meat dark and juicy.
1.  The people and parties which provide the opportunities for extravagance.  Maybe this is a cop-out or cliche but its true.  Eating bacon, cheese, and dessert three times a day may be enough to make one sick, but somehow the wonderful company of friends and family keeps me feeling healthy.  I supposed it could be the additional laughing and smiling around this time of year.  

Bacon Cups:

I used 2 packages of bacon but was not keeping track of how the yield or the actual number of slices needed.  The thinner, leaner cut bacon works best.  Fattier cuts will shrink more.  I also used a very small muffin tin which makes the cups bite sized as opposed to awkward two bite sized.

Cut a slice of bacon into 3 pieces:  first in half and then one of the halves in half.
Make a cross with the two quarters on the bottom of the muffin tin.
Use the long half piece of bacon to wrap around the circumference of  the muffin tin and secure by pressing the ends together.
Experiment with what you have.  This is simply what worked for me.
With all the cups wrapped, place the tin into a casserole dish and bake for 15 minutes or so at 500 degrees until the bacon is quite crispy but not burned.
Let the cups cool and then simply pop  them off, possibly with the assistance of  a spatula.
Load the cups with anything you heart desires.   

My Cookie Counterpart: A Buckwheat, Quinoa, Fig, and Nut Delicacy

December 5, 2010 § 2 Comments

Sometimes I get carried away.  I mean, is it abnormal to buy 10 pounds of butter at once?  Typical or not, yesterday my rare visit to the supermarket in search of some unsalted baking butter left me in awe.  Two pounds of high quality butter was on sale for five dollars.  Now, I am not sure if you have noticed the price of the butter recently but it is not cheap.  Usually my go to butter for baked treats costs four dollars per pound alternatively my  bread slathering butter from lancaster costs seven dollars per pound.

Consequentially as I calculated the price of my Christmastime baking escapades my wallet cringed, belly smiled, and my pants tightened.  But now I have a refrigerator full of discounted butter, cabinets full of unconventional flours, and a computer full of bookmarked cookie recipes.  Let the Christmas giving begin.  

During my thorough recipe research to find the perfect cookie escort to Biz’s Cookie Swap next weekend I found what I hoped would be my baked soul mate.  Everyone has one.  Some people are a dense double chocolate.  Some are of the buttery and addictive persuasion.  While some are salty and crumby.  Think about it and I bet your favorite cookie will tell you more about yourself than you realize.  Maybe I have simply indulged in one too many personality tests for my own good.

Personally, I am sweetened with honey, figs, and brandy while still retaining my nutty foundation.  I like to surround myself with intriguing qualities like buttery buckwheat or  toasted quinoa doughs brightened with citrus and then douse myself with Gran Marinier icing.  Tell me about your cookie personality.

Buckwheat/Quinoa Italian Fig Cookies
The inspiration came from here, although the flour experimentation is thanks to Kim Boyce.    I made two exploratory batches; one substituting some buckwheat flour and one swapping quinoa flour in for the all purpose flour.  The buckwheat creates gorgeous blueberry color with a deep luxurious flavor and the quinoa bakes into a cookie which is nutty is appearance and flavor, it reminds me of peanut butter.  Also, I like to make half batches of dough because I make things so often, so I will give the measurements for both whole and half.  On the other hand I love fillings, so I doubled the ingredients, again both are listed.

For the fig, nut, and honey filling:

1 cup | 2 cups dried quartered figs (I used Kalamata, like the olives and Turkish but much prefer the Turkish as they are softer and sweeter.)
1/2 cup |1 cup raisins
1/4 cup | 1/2 cup dried chopped dates
1/2 cup | 1 cup honey
1/4 cup | 1/2 cup brandy
1 1/2 teaspoons | 3 teaspoons orange zest
1 teaspoon | 2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon | 2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon | 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon | 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (really, it makes a difference.  Go get whole nutmeg)
1/2 cup | 1 cup toasted and chopped almonds
1 cup | 2 cups toasted and chopped walnuts
a dash or two of salt
*optional dark chocolate chocolate chips not added into the filling mixture but placed between the filling and the dough

Soak the figs in the brandy while you prepare everything else (i.e. toasting and chopping nuts, grating nutmeg, and measuring).  Now chop all of the dried fruit in a food processor until the pieces are uniform.  If you want more textured cookies (next time I do) stir all of the other ingredients in a large bowl with the diced dried fruit.  Or you can potentially break a vital piece of equipment and add everything to the food processor and whirl it around.  Let the flavors unify overnight or at least 8 hours in the refrigerator.

For the buckwheat and/or quinoa dough:

1 1/4 cups | 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups | 1 1/2 cups buckwheat or quinoa flour
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon | 1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar (I used Florida Crystals, an organic less refined sugar)
1/2 tablespoon | 1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon | 1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup, 1 stick | 1 cup, 2 sticks cold unsalted butter
1 egg | 2 eggs
1/3 cup | 2/3 cup whole milk
3/4 teaspoons | 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon | 1 teaspoon orange (or lemon) zest

I toasted my quinoa flour, which is hardly imperative but very aromatic, and I would guess adds a wonderful dimension to the dough.  To toast the flour mix the quinoa and all purpose flour together and the put the mixture into a large skillet on medium heat, stir the flours frequently to check the bottom for browning.  My flours took about seven minutes to begin to brown and emit a vivd nutty scent.  Or just skip this and jump to the next step.

Mix the flours together then sift into a big bowl with the rest of the dry ingredients (sugar, baking powder, salt).

Grate the butter into the dry ingredients (Kim Boyce’s idea) using a cheese grater.  This makes breaking up the butter into the mixture much simpler.  Now you can use your fingers pinching to incorporate the grated (or cut into 1/2 inch pieces) butter into the flours until they are pea sized bits.

Add the slight whisked egg(s), milk, vanilla, and citrus zest and give everything a nice stir.  The dough will be shaggy so at this point I use my hands and gather, almost kneading, the dough into a nice ball.  If you are making a whole recipe you now separate the dough into two disks and let them sit in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.  I left mine overnight. 

Can you spot the difference in the two photos above?  One is buckwheat and one is quinoa.

When the time comes to bake:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the dough on a heavily floured work surface and begin to roll (with a floured rolling pin) the disk into a large rectangle (13 x 15 inches to be exact) the thinner the better.  My rolling pin is 14 inches so I can easily estimate.  Trim the sides down to a 10 x 13 inch rectangle and save the scraps.  You want to cut the rectangle into four strips 10 inches long, so quarter the long 13 inch side.

Using your most valuable tools, you hands, place a stripe of filling about an inch wide down the center of each strand of dough (here is where you can add the optional chocolate chips under the fig filling).  Wrap the sides of the dough around the filling pinching the edges to secure everything as it may try and escape in the oven.  Now flip each log so the seam side is down and cut each long segment into squares or rectangles depending on your size preference.

Bake the cookies in the middle of the hot oven for 16-20 minutes.

Repeat with the scraps or another disk of dough.

Make the icing while the cookies bake:
1/2 cup confectioner sugar
1/2 tablespoon Grand Marnier Liquor (or as much as you need)
1 tablespoon orange juice (or as much as you need)

Mix everything together until it is a gloopy liquid, adjusting to your taste.

When the cookies are out of the oven, have been transfered to a cooling rack and have cooled for about 10 minutes, coat the goodies with a couple delicate brush strokes of the icing.  Everything is done.  Let the cookies cool before eating too many because you have been staring at and smelling their indecency all day.  

Eat Happily.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the Fig category at PepperAttacks.