Healing Food / Oatmeal Arugula Biscuits / Chocolate Chili Cake

March 23, 2011 § 1 Comment

 

Sometimes, a Biscuit Cures All.

These past few weeks have been brutal with the change of seasons, the yearning for warmth, and the congestion of faces.  All of these things have left me incapable of exerting any extra effort outside of my daily routine.  Luckily, my routine involves sifting flour, roasting garlic, and supremeing oranges.  Unfortunately, my energy levels have been so low that writing about any recent adventures would have been overkill.   So now that spring has sprung, the temperatures have risen, and everything surrounding my sinuses has cleared I can share what I have been eating.

Blood Oranges are good for the Immune System

Orange Zest

Before I got sick, my body knew I needed an extra boost of vitamin C.  Therefore my mind decided to make a blood orange olive oil cake which Deb from Smitten Kitchen just so happened to post around the same time.  It was fate.  I really wanted to make the flaky blood orange tart but had neither the 10 blood oranges accessible nor the energy to acquire them.

Even a Gorgeous Cake Could not Save Me.

But Four Cloves of Garlic Could.

In retrospect I should have gotten the additional oranges for the tart because the cake, even with though it was packed with 4 nourishing oranges, did not prevent my body from aching and my face from congesting.  When preventative baking doesn’t work, its time for a healing soup.  And I can not think of anything better to ward off illness than garlic.  So I concocted a roasted garlic, teff, and lentil soup.  Unfortunately I can not report back about the actual taste, but here I am finally healed, so something must have worked.

Warding off Vampires and Congestion.

Now that I have been able to breathe, smell, taste, and move without cringing I have been craving some thing really decadent to make up for all of the meals lost to lack of taste and/or appetite.  Namely, a chocolate chili cake.  I wanted to experience something rich, yet not too sweet, and bursting with flavor.  So after a good amount of chocolate cake research Scharffen Berger’s chocolate chili cake  won my heart.  Although I did make quite a few tweaks to suit my liking.

The Chili Powder is Tasty, not Scary.

Chili Paste Complements Chocolate Beautifully

Thankfully, I could taste this cake in all of its glory.  And it may just be my new favorite way to get my chocolate fix.  Once it is baked it is moist, and stays moist for a couple of days.  It has the texture of an airy fudge brownie thanks to the buttermilk and leaves a striking remnant of spice on your palate without needing a fire extinguisher.

Chocolate Chili Cake
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup +  2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/3 cups turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons ancho chili powder +1 cup water
1 additional cup water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 cup chopped walnuts- optional
2 tablespoons cocoa powder + 1/2 cup confectioners sugar for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine the dry ingredients into a stand mixer.
3. Make a chili paste by heating the chili and water just to a simmer.  Then remove from the heat and add the vanilla.
4. Add the softened butter to the dry ingredients and stir on a slow speed until it looks sandy.  Now raise the speed and add the additional water and buttermilk once the mixture is uniformly wet add the eggs one at a time.
5. Pour the batter into a thoroughly buttered cake pan and place in the center of the oven.  It will take about 50 minutes to bake through.  After 20 minutes sprinkle the walnuts onto the top of the cake- this will create a nice nutty layer.
6. When a toothpick or knife inserted in the center come out clean the cake is ready.
7. Let it cool for 15 minutes.  Remove the sides if you used a spring foam pan or simply turn the cake out onto a plate to allow to cool completely.
8. Dust with cocoa sugar.

Making up for Lost Meals

After an indulgence, one should do something healthy like adding extra greens onto the plate.  In my case these greens made their way into a tender biscuit founded by homemade oat flour mixed with a nutty white whole wheat flour.  I discovered how easy it is to make oat flour thanks to Heidi Swanson’s oat soda bread which, slathered with a generous coat of Baily’s butter, comforted me during the height of my illness.

DIY Oat Flour

The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread: Grated Butter

The way to a Flaky Biscuit/ My Heart

 

 

Oatmeal Arugula Biscuits
Eat these when they come out of the oven.  Their succulence decreases with time.  I froze half of them after they were shaped and on the cookie sheet then threw them into a plastic bag for an easy warm breakfast in 12 minutes.

1 cup rolled oats or oat flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chilled or frozen unsalted butter
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons honey
1 packed cup arugula

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Add the rolled oats to a food processor and whirl them around for about 3 minutes until the oats look like flour, similarly, just get your oat flour out.
3. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl.
4. Chop the arugula by hand or in a food processor and incorporate into the dry mixture.
5. Use a cheese grater to grate the butter into the dry ingredients and gently stir.  If the butter is not frozen, chill the mixture for 10 minutes.
6. Stir together the honey and buttermilk and slowly add to the oat and butter mixture.
7.  Turn out onto a floured surface and gently knead a couple of times.  Using as much flour as necessary.
8.  Roll the dough into a 9 x 5 rectangle, which should be about 1/2 inch thick.
9.  Fold the short sides of the rectangle in thirds like a letter and re-roll the dough into another 9 x 5 rectangle.  Repeat this two more times.
10.  Roll or pat the dough into a 3/4 inch rectangle and use biscuit cutters to shape the biscuits.
11.  Place the biscuits on a lined baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes until the top is golden.
12. Consume with butter and honey.

 

Eat Happily.

Love is a Hazelnut Butter Scone

February 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

 

Happy Valentine's Day

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.

 

Scone Batter

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.

 

 

Baily's Dairy Unsalted Butter Ready to be Browned

Hazelnuts to be Toasted

Browning the Hazelnut Butter

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 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Hazelnut Butter
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.

Frozen Hazelnut Butter

Scones
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.

 

Eat Happily.

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.

A Nutty and Herby Cranberry Sauce from the Oven

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.

Eat Happily.

Let the Brining Begin

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!

Oatmeal Stuffed Pumpkin

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
toasted walnuts

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.

Eat Happily.

You Can Milk Anything With…

October 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

Nuts.   Every time I chomp into a raw almond my palatte conjures images of the sweet almond’s nectar, commonly known as almond milk.  Consequentially I tried to satisfy my craving with uht boxed almond milk.  While the taste was somthing resembling almonds it no where near appeased my hankering.  I was dreaming of something creamy and smooth, sweet and nutty, luscious and decadent.

After many cups of my favorite pumpkin chai tea steeped in sad, boxed almond water I set out to make my own, true almond milk.  Without preservatives and taunting of deliciousness.

I used 2 cups of almonds and by the end of the batch it was getting a little iffy.  I recommend using 1 cup and making a pint of thin milk or 2 cups of rich cream, depending on the future use.

Almond Milk

1 cup almonds
3 cups water
1 food processor
cheese cloth
sweetener to taste

pinch of salt

Cover the almonds with water, about an inch above the top so that the can expand as they soak.  Leave them alone to get plump and hydrated overnight.

Put the almonds, with some water for lubrication, in the food processor and give it all a whirl, chopping until they are nice and minced into a puree.

 

Lay the cheesecloth over a bowl and scoop the puree into the cloth.  Either in one large or many small batches depending on the size of the cheese cloth.

Squeeze out as much of the nectar as you can.  It will be a creamy silk perfection.  If your cheese cloth has large holes you may want to strain the mixture again until you achieve this heavenly consistency.

Now add water to the cream.  The more you add the thinner it will be.  I added about two cups per 1 cup of almonds to create a nice creamer for chai tea or poached pear deserts.

Let the succulent milk sit overnight to bloom in the fridge.

Take out the milk.  Sip.  Add a touch of salt.  Sip.  Add your sweetener of choice.  Pour a glass.  This is quite perishable so drink up!

Eat Happily.

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