Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike. -John Muir

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pizza Dough

Good pizza is hard to find here in the southern adirondack park. But with a little patience and a few speciality cooking items it isnt hard to make (and most of the time, it comes out way better then you can get elsewhere!) The dough can be used to make pizza in the oven (or on the grill), calzones, it is delicious deep fried with sugar and cinnamon.. yum

speciality cooking items you need:
-cooking scale
-pizza stone (optional)

Good dough takes three days to make, but can be used 1-2 days after.

The first step is to create a ferment (or poolish). The ferment will add TONS of flavor to the dough and also makes it turn rich in color when cooked.

To make-a the ferment:
-combine 350 grams bread flour ( better yet high gluten flour) with 14 ounces of water and a pinch of instant yeast.
-mix, tightly cover, and set it on the counter for 12-18 hours

this is what it looks like after 12 hours:

To make-a the dough:
-to the ferment add 1 teaspoon instant yeast, 200 grams bread flour, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt.
-fully combine

-Turn onto the counter

-The dough is going to be very sticky but do not add any more flour. although it makes working the dough a little more difficult, the moisture in the dough is going to make the crust soft and spongey instead of dense and dry.

-the kneading technique is going to be a little different than how you would knead a pasta dough. its more of a scoop-and-flip-over motion.

-after about 10 minutes the dough will start to come together and come off the counter more easily. at this time add a little flour to the surface and drop the mass into a bowl, cover securely and place in the refrigerator over night.

-take the dough out a few hours before you plan on cooking.

-gently deflate the dough and divide it and form 3 balls.

-you can now cover these balls on the counter with a cloth and proof them (a little under double in size) or you can put the balls into 3 separate containers and put them back in the fridge to use at a later date. or you can freeze them.

Cooking in the oven:
-preheat the oven and stone to 500 degrees
-form the proofed ball into desired pizza thickness and shape
-place corn meal or semolina flour on a pizza peel or the back of cookie sheet (this allows the pizza to slide off easily during the transfer onto the stone) and plop the pizza dough the peel or cookie sheet.
-put on your toppings and transfer the pizza to the stone
-cook until the crust has a nice dark color

Cooking on the grill:
-form the proofed ball into desired pizza thickness and shape
-brush a little oil on the top and flip it onto the grill oil side down
-when the bottom has crisped up, add oil to the other side and flip. (under cook this side because you are going to cook it again later)
-take it off the grill and apply the toppings to the "crispier" side
-put it back on the grill on a lower heat cook until done.

Fried dough:
-take the proofed dough and cut into 1 inch cubes or strips and drop into 350degree oil until golden brown
-sprinkle with powdered sugar, dip into maple syrup, or coat with cinnamon and sugar

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

I am missing autumn something fierce here in Texas.  Not to say that I like Austin, TX any less, and I actually have recently discovered I really enjoy skeet shooting, but I miss my North East.  I miss those days when you wake up to frost on the red and orange leaves.  I miss throwing on my mom's Navy sweatshirt and bumming around the house.  I miss hiking where the leaves change to such vibrant and beautiful colors.  I miss apple picking and apple cider doughnuts.  I love everything about fall.  It's hard not to regret moving so far south, especially now that it's football season.  We are still in high 90's and it's the end of September.  So I have decided to crank up the AC and pretend.  In honor of my own private autumn in Texas I was in the mood for something pumpkin. 

What you need:
2/3 cup milk
4 tbsp room temp butter
1 can of pumpkin (I used the pie mix because the store didn't have plain)
4 tbsp sugar (I I used 2 because my pumpkin already has sugar in it)
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups flour
4 tsp yeast

1 cup light brown sugar (packed)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
vegetable oil

2 cups powdered sugar

To prepare the rolls: Add the roll ingredients to bread machine and set cycle to dough or follow the alternate dirctions below**.  The dough is very wet and should rise considerably.  When the dough cycle has completed, divide the dough into 2 balls.  Roll out each ball on a floured suface forming a 8x14'' ish sized rectangle.  Brush this with oil and sprinkleeach with 1/2 the filling on top.  Roll the dough up with the filling inside so that you end up with a 14'' ish log.  Cut each log into 12 equally sized peices and place into a well greased 9x13 cake pan.  Allow to rise for 40 min or til doubled in size.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Mix icing with water to get consistency you like ( like mine pretty thick because I put it on the rolls while they are still warm and don't want it to go everythwere, so I really only used about 2 tbsp watter), frost, enjoy.  It should be noted that this makes 24 cinnamon rolls.  Which is quite intelligent actually because I popped one in the oven and one in the freezer for another time after the rolls were all set up in the pan but before they rose. 

**Alternately you can mix these ingredients in a large bowl until fully combined.  Allow to rise (covered) one hour in a warm dry place.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Chocolate Chip Meringues

A tough day needs a sweet ending.  A tough week needs cookies.  I think that's all that needs to be said in introduction to these pillowy cookies.  They are as light as air so you won't feel guilty for having more than one an entire batch.

What you will need:
6 egg whites
3/4 tsp salt
3/8 tsp cream of tarter
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
12 oz. mini chocolate chips 

In a large bowl beat the egg whites until frothy.  Add the salt, vanilla, cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form.  Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold in the chocolate chips.  Bake cookies at 300 deg for 25 minutes.  The outside should be crispy and the inside with be hollow/pillowy. 

The last step is to take a plate full of these babies and relax.  You had a hard day, you deserve this.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Best Zucchini Bread Ever

I haven't posted anything in a long time due to moving and travel and being lame.  And I feel doubly guilty because I promised Kurt that I would post recipes for him to make delicious food with his CSA bounty.  Lies, all lies.  So to keep my promise (kind of), I know one of the vegetables I got the most when I had a CSA was zucchini.  By the end of the summer it feels like you are practically bathing in zucchini.  This recipe is for the absolute perfect zucchini bread.  So yummy, so moist.  This recipe is guaranteed to make boys/girls fall in love with you.  No really, baking tasty food will make people love you... okay fine, I ate both loaves all by myself.

This recipe is for one loaf, but I always double it because one zucchini is usually 2 cups when grated.

Preheat Oven to 325 F and Spray 8" loaf pan.

Combine Dry Ingredients:
1.5 cup flour
.5 tsp salt
.5 tsp baking soda
.5 tsp cinnamon
.5 tsp nutmeg

Combine Wet Ingredients:
1 egg
.33 cup veg oil
.33 cup chunky apple sauce
2 tbsp plain yogurt
.75 cup brown sugar

Combine Wet and Dry

Fold in:
1 cup zucchini (grated)
.33 cup raisins/dried cranberries
.33 cup walnuts* (coarsely chopped)


 Bake 50-60 min or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Rhubarb Pie With Brown Sugar Crumble

I have never tried rhubarb before.  I know, how awful!  I made this recipe to try it out.  It tastes somewhere between applesauce and strawberries.  The verdict: Yum!

What you need:
rhubarb compote
1 lb rhubarb (sliced)
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed)
2 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp cold butter
3 cups crushed grahm crackers
1/3 cup melted butter
3 tbsp sugar

For the rhubarb:  Place all the ingredients into a medium sized pot and cook on low heat until the rhubarb is soft.  Set aside when done.
For the crust: combine ingredients and press into pie dish.  Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
For the topping: Place all the ingredients into a bowl and cut butter into sugar until well combined.

Assemble and Bake at 375 for 15-18 minutes or until the brown sugar topping is crispy.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Lemon Yogurt Cakes

I really love lemons.  Some people love chocolate deserts; I cannot resist lemon desserts.  These light and tart lemon cakes are a lot like pound cakes.  I added a layer of fruit to the middle to make them really perfect. 

What you will need:
3 cups plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 6 oz containers of plain yogurt (2 cups)
2 cups of sugar (plus 2 tbsp)
6 eggs
4 lemons
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup vegetable oil
1 16 oz bag of frozen berries (thawed and drained)

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  In a large bowl combine yogurt, sugar, eggs, the zest of the 4 lemons, vanilla, and oil.  Add dry ingredients to wet and stir to combine.

Spray 2 loaf pans with cooking spray and line bottoms with parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 350.  Pour 1/2 the batter evenly between both pans.  At this point you want to add the fruit to the top of the batter in an even layer.

Add the rest of the batter on top of the fruit layer (see below).

Bake at 350 for 55 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  At this point you want to combine the juice of the 4 lemons with 2 tbsp of sugar.  After you take the cake out of the over allow it to cook for 10 minutes and then baste the cake with the lemon juice mixture several times to allow it to soak up the lovely juice and become super moist. 

When serving, dust generously with confectioners sugar.  You can cut the batch in half, but if you do, you may find that you will not have enough to share with others for yourself.


Cinnamon Almonds

These babies don't need much of a story or an intro.  They are tasty, enough said.

What you need:
2 eggs (whites only)
6 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups almonds (raw)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

In a medium bowl whisk the egg whites until foamy.  Next, add the vanilla.  After the vanilla and eggs are combined, toss the almonds in this mixture.  After the almonds are coated, add the sugars and cinnamon.  Make sure the almonds are coated evenly.  Pour this onto a greased baking sheet and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.  YUM!