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!

Sunday, May 15, 2011


     During a mad search for a really good homemade hot sauce i came across this recipe. Although it is quite hot, it has a refreshing sweet/fruity tang.  I put it on everything from sandwiches to eggs, and it makes a great base for a red enchilada sauce.

8oz red fresno chiles
4 garlic cloves
1teaspoon koshers salt
1 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons palm sugar (or 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1 teaspoon molasses)

-chop the peppers and garlic, add salt and vinegar and let it sit in the fridge over night. aside from allowing the flavors to mingle, the time in the vinegar will dilute the heat.

-transfer all the contents to a saucepan, add the sugar and bring to a boil. lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. remove and allow it to cool.

-throw everything into a mixer and blend for 5 minutes. strain the mixture.

you will end up having this magnificently bright orange sauce.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cheesy Potatoes with sauteed Garlic and Caramelized Onion

2 medium onion
4 large russets
7 cloves garlic (or more if you'd like)
olive oil
romano cheese
parmigiano reggiano

I cant believe its been over a month since I posted anything! My apologies. So, ive really been trying to give a little extra thought to my side dishes lately. I usually spend all of my time and energy on the main course and by dinner time all I have on my plate is a piece of meat. These potatoes were a huge hit and im really happy with how they came out. Here's the play by play:

-Start by caramelizing some onions (any onions will do). Just slice them thinly, melt some butter in a pan over med-low heat, season, and let them do their thing. Make sure you stay with them and stir randomly so they dont start to burn. when the are nicely caramelized remove them and set aside.

-In another pan saute about 7 cloves of minced garlic in a little olive oil until golden. set aside.

-Peel 4 russets, and slice them about 1/8 inch thick. rinse them under cold water to remove some of the starch.

-Now its time to layer. Take the potatoes and make a layer in the bottom of a baking dish. (think "fish scale" pattern), season, sprinkle some of the garlic and onions, and then grate some parm and romano on there.  (p.s. im getting hungry again writing this). add another layer of potatoes and repeat.

-After you cheese the final layer scatter a little butter on top, cover with foil, and bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until a knife enters easily. uncover for the last 15 minutes, or stick it under the broiler to crisp-a-fy

-Rough chop some fresh parsley for the final touch and then serve.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Black and White Cookies

Imagine the hour and a half train ride to NY city, the hustle and bustle of Grand Central Station, the magnitude to the big city, your very first Broadway show.  Now imagine the whole time holding onto your daddy's hand for dear life because the big city scares you.  And then you stop in the most special bakery your eyes have ever seen and get the most wonderful cookie that your 8 years had ever tasted.  This is my memory of black and white cookies.  While fearing the fast passed life of the city I remember everything melting away for this... of course I was a complete copy cat and making my sisters favorite treat my own.

 Many of you may know how a sibling can be.  You are eternally bonded to them.  My sister has been my best friend from the moment I was born.  When I applied to colleges I followed her to Ohio State.  She means a lot to me, even though she now lives very far away (California) and I haven't seen her in over a year.  So for Easter this year I decided to make her some cookies, but not just any cookies, her childhood favorite.  

What you need:
2 cups cake flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 sticks butter (salted - room temp)
1 3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
zest of one lemon
1 cup milk
5 oz chocolate
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp honey
5 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

For the cookies:  Cream together sugar and butter.  Add eggs one at a time until combined.  Mix in vanilla and lemon zest.  In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and baking powder.  Add this in 3rds to the butter mixture alternating additions with 3rds of the milk.  Scoop 1/4 cups full of the batter onto a baking sheet (leave plenty of room btwn cookies).  Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes or until the bottoms are golden (see below).

For the frosting: Over low heat combine honey and water in a small saucepan.  Once combined add the vanilla and pour 3/4 of the honey mixture to the powdered sugar.  Stir to combine and add extra honey mixture to the powdered sugar if needed.  Spread white icing on 1/2 of all the cookies.  Melt the chocolate and add it to the remaining sugar mixture.  Add more honey water if needed (I needed).  Spread chocolate frosting on the 2nd half of the cookie.

Hope you enjoy these as much as I do.  (A little bit of home away from home)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Can't Sleep? Then Bake...

Recently I've had quite a bit of stress in my life.  This past Sunday, my fathers best friend suddenly passed away.  So with all the other stresses, I am now worried about my parents coping with their grief over the loss of a very dear friend.  As a child, whenever something bad would happen, my mother would be right into the kitchen baking cookies.  She always said 'You need a little sweet to go with the bitter'.  That has been something that has always stuck with me.  Whether its the relief that I get from being in the kitchen, or the beautiful pairing of bittersweet in life and in food, I find that somehow being in the kitchen tonight at midnight helped relieve some of the stress.  I plan to mail some of these cookies of to my folks tomorrow morning.

Lemon Curd Thumbprint Cookies: The Bitter and the Sweet

What you need
 for the curd:
     3 eggs (whole)
     1/3 cup lemon juice
     3/4 cup sugar
     2 tbsp lemon zest
note: this is lemon zest and lemon juice from 3 large lemons
     4 tbsp room temperature butter
for the dough:
     1/2 room temperature butter
     1/4 cup sugar
     1 egg
     1/2 tsp vanilla
     1 cup all purpose flour

For the lemon curd: In a stainless steel bowl over a pot of boiling water whisk together eggs and lemon juice and sugar.  Keep whisking the mixture until it thickens (this will be a few minutes, be patient).  Then the mixture thickens, take it off the heat and add the butter and lemon zest.  Stir until everything is combined.  I had enough lemon curd to fill a small mason jar.  (It is yummy in place of jam on toast and scones too).

For the cookies: With an electric mixer combine butter and sugar.  Add the egg and vanilla and combine.  Add the flour in 2 portions mixing completely.  Make 1 inch diameter balls of dough and lay out on baking sheet.  Gently press thumb into center of dough to form a well for the lemon curd.  put about 1/2 tsp lemon curd into each well.  Bake on 350 for 13-15 minutes.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pamesan and Thyme Crackers

When I was in undergraduate chemistry I was almost afraid to do my experiments because I thought doing the slightest thing wrong would cause a great catastrophe.  My friend in the class realized this and whenever he finished his lab he would come over to my station and set something on fire or cause some undesired chemical reaction.  This would make me laugh and let me finish the lab without worrying about setting the building on fire.  What exactly am I getting at?

When I started baking I was exactly the same way.  I was afraid I had to do everything exactly as the recipe said or my kitchen would spontaneous light on fire or my food would be awful.  These days I feel like my own grandmother in the kitchen.  I add things to improve texture and color instead of going by a recipe verbatim.  I now can feel how bread dough should be and either add flour or water to it to fix it.  There are some quantities I never measure, and I never use unsalted butter.

Which brings me to the following recipe.  The texture of a shortbread cookie, the taste of a artisan cracker, these babies are simple enough for any home-cook to make.  Here's how...

What you need:
2 sticks of butter (room temperature)
8 oz (2 cups) of Parmesan cheese (grated)
2 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 cups all purpose flour
2-3 tbsp water

With an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy, about 1-2 minutes.  Then on a low speed blend the Parmesan cheese, thyme, and pepper into the butter.  Slowly add the flour.  Add water as needed to make the dough moist and easy to work with.  When the dough is mixed, divide into 2 portions.  Roll each ball of dough in waxed paper to create a log.  Chill this log for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.  Once the dough has been chilled, slice 1/4 inch pieces and lay them on a baking sheet.  Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes or until edges start to brown.  Enjoy!

Homemade Naan

When I decided to make naan I came across a variety of recipes ranging from yeast to no yeast and yogurt to no yogurt.  Using the ingredients I always have readily available in my kitchen here is my take on naan.... yum

What you need:
1 cup milk (warm)
1/2 cup water
3 tsp olive oil (plus more for brushing the naan with)
3 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp yeast

Add all the ingredients (minus those in parenthesis) to your bread machine.  Turn your bread machine on to the dough cycle and wait for the magic to happen.  One your bread machine is done, take the dough out and lay on a floured surface.  Divide dough into 8 pieces.  Carefully flatten each of the 8 dough pieces.  At 1st I used a rolling pin to do so, but I found that pulling the dough apart must like pizza dough actually helps retain those charming bubbles.  Brush the tops of the naan generously with olive oil and garlic.  Place in hot skilled (medium heat) olive oil side down.  Brush the other side of the naan with olive oil and garlic.  You are looking for the side of the dough that is on the skillet to become firm, much like when making pancakes.  This should only be 1-2 minutes depending on your heat.  Once it is firm, flip the naan and cook the other side. 

Good thing these babies are intended to be eaten warm off the skillet because they are hard to resist.  They will keep for a few days in Ziploc bags, but I recommend them popped into the toaster oven and warmed up if you don't polish them off right after making them.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Black Beer Bread

I have been meaning to make this bread for a while.  The only problem was finding the right beer, which was a huge challenge for me because I do not drink beer.   The fact of which makes me the black sheep of my family.  I really wanted to use a local beer, but I finally decided the flavor profile of New Belgium's 1554  Enlightened Black Ale was what I really wanted.

Before I delve further into the recipe I want to take some time to describe why the beer choice was so important to this bread:  Quality of ingredients is everything. 

I wanted a bread that is rich, soft, dense, with notes of coffee and chocolate.  But I also wanted to balance that with the slightly bitter taste of hops to balance out the sweet complexity of the malt and the molasses.

What you will need:
12 oz bottle of a dark beer
1/3 cup molasses (dark)
1 1/2 tsp instant coffee (I used expresso)
2 tbsp dry milk powder
2 cup bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rye flour
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp (soft) butter
2 tsp yeast (bread machine)

Place the ingredients into bread maker in the order they are listed.  Put the bread maker on dough cycle.  When the dough cycle has ended, knead the dough and shape it in a ball.  Allow to rise for 40 min.  Preheat the oven to 350.  Bake bread for 35 minutes or until it sounds hollow when tapped.

When it is done, take it out of the oven to cool  enjoy immediately, slathered in butter.  Yum!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Undoubtedly, we all have heard of the terrible stigma associated with brussel sprouts.  This is unfortunate because they are quite delicious.  I wanted to mix up the cabbage and potatoes for St. Patrick's Day this year, so I roasted some of these... I consider it a wise decision. Yum!

What you will need:
1 lb brussel sprouts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Preheat the oven to 400.
Prepare the brussel sprouts by cutting off the brown ends, peeling off the outer leaves if needed and slicing them in half.
Add the brussel spouts, oil and salt to a bowl.  Toss until the brussel spouts are coated.   Place the brussel sprouts on a baking sheet and dust with pepper.
Cook for 35 minutes, stiring half way so they cook evenly.

It's that easy. And very good.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Irish Soda Bread (Spotted Dick)

Those of you who do not know me well, or at all, may not know that I love St. Patrick's Day more than Christmas, New Years and Halloween  all put together.  I can't exactly tell you why.  My mom used to make us green clover shaped pancakes and boiled cabbage and potatoes for us  and corn beef hash for my father.  Although I am not quite willing to boil cabbage and potatoes, every year I always end up making at least 2 batches of this traditional Americanized version of Irish Soda Bread.

What you will need:
3 cup All Purpose Flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cup raisins
 1 3/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs (beaten)
1 tsp vanilla
4 tbsp butter (2 tbsp melted, 2 for greasing the pan)

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a cast iron dutch oven (or other deep baking dish) generously with butter.  Add dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Whisk them until combined.  Add raisins to this mix and stir gently.  In a separate bowl combine the buttermilk, melted and cooled butter, vanilla and eggs.  Stir to combine and then slowly add the wet mixture to the dry while stirring.  Try no to over mix.  When the dough is ready, pour into prepared dish and bake for 1 hr or until a knife comes out clean from the center.

I usually try to carve an 'x' on the top of the bread so the fairies can get out, but as far as baking purposes go, this bread does not require that like the traditional bread did.

It is best served warm or toasted with butter, however if you find yourself with a craving for french toast... this is (besides carrot cake french toast) the best french toast you can find.