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

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Snickerdoodles :)


I never like to go over a friends house empty handed especially when football watching is involved.  Snickerdoodles are very easy to make and I never ever have to go home with left overs.  This year I made some for a few football gatherings with friends.  The secret of these babies is to not mush they together too much with your hands when you roll them into balls.  If you leave some air in them you will have a much better cookie.  Don't expect these cookies to become flat.  If you ball them properly they will retain some of their original volume.

Dry Ingredients (whisk together in medium bowl) :
2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
Wet Ingredients:
1 cup butter (soft)
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

With an electric mixer, combine butter and sugar.  Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.  Add dry ingredients in 3 parts.  The resulting mixture should look similar to the picture below.

Now for the lovely cinnamon sugar coating.  I actually keep a jar of cinnamon sugar in my fridge for toast and for coating cookies with.  Yum.

In a small bowl combine:
1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Roll golf ball sized balls of dough and coat them in cinnamon sugar.

Bake at 400 deg for 7-10 minutes of until the just begin to get golden brown.

I always. always burn my mouth trying to eat a few right out of the oven and then can't taste anything else for the rest of the day.  But look at these little jewels.  How can you resist?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Honey and Beer Rye Sourdough Bread

Alright I admit it, I took a vacation from posting anything when I was on winter break from school and now that I have a lot of work to do again, I will continue to avoid it by updating the blog with some things I made and devoured over my vacation. 

Let me preface this recipe by saying sorry to Eric that I did not post my sourdough bread recipe sooner!  But I assure you, this recipe was worth your waiting!

For the Starter:
3/4 cup milk
1 cup rye flour
3/4 tsp easy-blend yeast

Mix these ingredients in a large bowl and them cover with a damp dish towel.  Let the starter rest in a warm place for 3 days.  Stir once or twice a day.  Also open up a bottle of your choice of beer to let it sit and get flat.

You only need 3/4 cup of flat beer for the recipe, so if you so choose pour out the 3/4 cup to get flat and don't let what remains in the bottle to go to waste.  Also note that I used Magic Hat #9 for this particular bread, but was unimpressed by the flavor it added.  In the past I have used Yuengling Traditional Lager and have been much happier with the result.  Although the next time I make this I plan to use a darker beer and see what type of flavor  I get.

For the Dough:
3/4 cup flat beer
2 3/4 cup white bread flour
3/4 cup rye flour
1 tbsp honey (I use wildflower)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp yeast

Add the starter to the bread machine.  Next add the ingredients listed above for the dough, in that order.  Set the bread machine to the basic dough setting and press start.  Lightly grease a 8x8 in square pan.

When the dough cycle has finished, remove the dough from the machine and place on a floured surface.  Roll the dough into a rectangle about the same width of the baking dish and 3 times as long.  Fold the bottom third of the dough up and the top third down (see below) and then seal the edges.

Place the folded dough in the prepared baking dish and leave in a warm place to rise for 45-60 min.  Preheat the oven to 425. 

Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes or until it sounds hollow when tapped.

Turn the dough out onto a wire rack (I use a bamboo cutting board) and let cool.  Or, if you are like me, and you can't resist trying the bread hot out of the oven... cut off a slice and enjoy!

Mmmmm look at how beautiful it is!  So wonderful, so tasty... Just one more glamor shot.

Amish Friendship Bread (The Chain Letter of Baking)

Usually, a few times a week I am sent some kind of chain letter that promises that Bill Gates will explode my computer if I don't send it to 10000 of my closest friends.  Usually, this email comes from my mother (love you mom).  This recipe is a chain letter, but instead of promising doom if you don't send it, it promises that your friends will be joyous and appreciative of the delicious little bit of love you have given them.  It takes 10 days to make, but most of the work involves mushing a ziploc bag.  

For the starter you will need:

1 package active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water (110 degrees F)
3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
3 cups granulated sugar, divided
3 cups warm milk (110 degrees F), divided

Day 1
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Let stand 10 minutes.
In a medium glass, plastic or ceramic container, combine 1 cup flour and 1 cup sugar. Mix thoroughly. Slowly stir in 1 cup milk and dissolved yeast mixture. Cover loosely and let stand at room temperature until bubbly.
Days 2 - 4
Stir starter with a wooden spoon.
Day 5
Stir in 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk.
Days 6 - 9
Stir starter with a spoon.
Day 10
Stir in 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk. 
Remove 1 or 2 cups to make your first bread, give three cups to friends along with the recipe. Store the remaining starter in a container in the refrigerator and begin the 10 day process over again.
You can also freeze this starter in 1 cup measures for later use. Frozen starter will take at least 3 hours at room temperature to thaw before using.  Be sure to date the ziploc bags that you put the starter in for your friends (for the bread recipe today is day 1).


Bread Recipe Instructions
(don't forget to give these to your friends with their 1 cup starter in a ziploc bag)

Day 1: Do nothing day
Day 2: Squish bag
Day 3: Squish bag
Day 4: Squish bag
Day 5: Squish bag
Day 6: Squish bag
Day 7: Add to bag: 1 ½ cups each: flour, sugar, milk & squish bag to mix.
Day 8: Squish bag and let air out.
Day 9: Squish bag and let air out.
Day 10: Empty contents of bag into a large mixing bowl. Add ½ cup each: flour, sugar and milk. Combine ingredients thoroughly. Pour 1 cup of this mixture into each of 3 sturdy Ziploc gallon size bags.  Date the bags and give to friends along with a copy of this instruction sheet (for them today is day 1).

Add to the remaining mixture: 
1 cup oil
 3 eggs 
½ cup milk 
1 tsp vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix the following: 
2 cups flour 
 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 cup sugar
½ tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 small boxes instant vanilla pudding (yum)

Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Grease 2 large bread loaf pans well.  Pour dough into pans. Sprinkle extra cinnamon and sugar on top. Bake at 325 degrees F for one hour.

Note: I like to make my bread in small bread loaf pans so I can give them with the recipe and starter so my friend know how yummy this bread is.  And there are a number of wonderful variations to the bread available online!

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

This year I have been eating a whole lot of pickles.  They are just rather tasty and salty and I can resist them.  But I have started wondering why the ones you buy in the store are neon green.  So I took of from school on m y birthday and made some pickles from scratch.  And then I waited a week to eat them.  The verdict: they are delicious and so easy, perfect for a blog entry.

 The very 1st step is to cut 12 pickling cucumbers in half or in quarters.  Then soak them in water for one hour.

While the cucumbers are soaking heat 3 cups apple cider vinegar and 3 cups water on the stove top, to simmer.  Add to this mixture 1/8 cup sugar and 1/4 cup salt.  Stir to dissolve and take of heat.  Let cool until luke warm.

Add 6 cloves of garlic (chopped), 1 dried red pepper, 3 tsp dried dill, 1 1/2 tsp of pickling spice to a 3 liter jar (or you can divide these among 4 quart jars).

When the cucumbers have sat long enough, place them in the jars.  Pour the liquid over them to cover.  Now refrigerate for at least one week.   

After that week is up, enjoy your long awaited success (I told you they don't last long in my house).

 (This week I am trying this recipe with various spice variations so stay tuned and I will give you an update in one week.)

Updated Recipe:  
12 pickling cucumbers
3 1/2 cup water
2 1/2 apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp pickling spices
6 large clove garlic
1 large chili pepper
3 tsp dill weed

Friday, January 14, 2011

Espresso Ice Cream

I was watching barefoot contessa the other day and she made this espresso ice cream with chunks of dark chocolate and chopped espresso beans..... I immediately got right in my car and headed to the store to by the ingredients. which are.....

for the creme anglaise:
3 cups of half and half
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
a pinch of salt

2 1/2 tablespoons ground espresso
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon kahlua
chopped chocolate covered espresso beans, and/or chopped dark chocolate, and/or chopped newtons mint cookies

you will also need some sort of an ice cream maker device. it seems like the neighbors always have things like ice cream makers.

to make the creme anglaise:

in a sauce pan scald the half and half. heat it until small foamy bubbles form on the sides of the pan and its steaming.

in kitchen aid cream the eggs yolks with the sugar and salt

at this point its time to add a little bit of the hot half and half to the eggs while stirring vigorously. this will temper the eggs and allow the rest of the hot cream to be added without curdling the eggs.

now that the mixture has been combined put it back on the stove in a clean sauce pan on med low heat.

its really important to stir this constantly or it will curdle and get chunky. you do not want to boil it.
what you are doing is heating it up slowly to thicken it. it should take about 5-10 minutes.
when it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon run your finger on the spoon, the line you make through the custard shouldnt fill back in. 

you can strain it now to make sure there arent chunks. or just run with it.

add the espresso, vanilla, kaluha 

put the mixture into a clean container and chill it (preferably over night).

when its fully chilled now you can throw it in the ice cream maker.

right before its done churning (when its still soft and smooth) chop up the remaining ingredients and throw them in to combine them.

the final step is to put it into containers and freeze them. 

anything good takes time and making homemade ice cream is no exception. enjoy!

Spicing up the morning with a little Green Chile Omelet

add a little heat to your omelet!

3 eggs
1 can of chopped green chiles
1 slice of bacon
jack or cheddar cheese

crisp up the bacon and crunch it up on the inside with the green chiles, cheese, cilantro and a squeeze of lime.  need some more flavor? try it with some sriracha hot sauce and youll be skipping to work.