March 23, 2011 § 1 Comment
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1 cup almonds
3 cups water
1 food processor
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!