Saturday, November 23, 2013

Speedy Rosemary Sugar Cookies

I read this recipe by Sally's Baking Addiction for sugar cookies, and decided to make something very similar for my mother, who is a rosemary aficionado.  The cookies are super soft, smell strongly of rosemary, and are just fine without any topping-- though I think they're much prettier with the icing.
My take on the recipe takes less time than Sally's, because I skip the long chilling of the dough.  But do bear in mind that my kitchen is freezing-- if you are in a warmer house, you may want to chill the dough for an hour or so before baking the cookies, to avoid excessive spreading.





Ingredients:

For cookies:

1 stick / 115g unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup / 220g white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp / 5mL vanilla extract
1 Tbsp / 3g rosemary leaves
2 tsp / 3g baking powder
1 1/2 cups / 190g white flour

For frosting:

3/4 cup / 100g powdered sugar
2-5 tsp / 5-20mL milk
1 tsp / 5mL vanilla
2 tsp / 2g rosemary leaves
1/4 tsp / .5g dried lemon zest

Procedure:

Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Beat butter until it is light and fluffy.
Cream sugar and butter, then stir in vanilla extract and egg.
Add rosemary leaves and stir until smooth.
In a separate bowl, combine baking powder, salt, and flour.
Mix dry and wet ingredients.
Roll dough into little columns, about half the size of your index finger, and about 1 inch/2cm diameter.
Place these dough columns far, far apart on the cookie sheets-- you'll end up with about 10 cookies per sheet.  The column shape makes the cookies tall and fluffy, not flat, as they spread out.
After rolling all of the dough, place the baking sheets in a cold place.  Fridge, freezer, or cold outdoors (covered, of course!)
Set oven to 350˚F / 180˚C.
Bake cookies for eight minutes.  They will be white when you take them out.
Let cool on sheets for about five minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.


Make the icing:
Combine powdered sugar, lemon zest, and rosemary.
Stir in vanilla extract, then add milk until everything is just smooth.
Immediately drizzle over cooled cookies and let harden for seven minutes.
Serve!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Russian-style Pancakes with Banana and Rye

Unfortunately, in the cooking process, I used the last
of the sour cream.  These are nice alongside powdered
sugar in a pinch.
Russians have a wide variety of pancake-like breakfasts: syrniki, which are dense and made of farmer's cheese, blini, which are very thin, and alladushki, which are like American pancakes, but denser.
This is a recipe for alladishki.  The alladushki are rather sweet on their own, and are best when served with sour cream, orange marmalade, or anything else with a sour note present.

While cooking, I used sour cream, although you can easily substitute strained yoghurt for it.




Ingredients:

210g / 1.5 cup white flour
60g / 0.3 cup rye flour
50g / 0.25 cup sugar
8g / 2 tsp baking soda
dash salt
1g / 0.5 tsp cinnamon
2g / 1 tsp orange zest (dry)
130g / 0.5 cup sour cream
1 egg
45g / 2 Tbsp honey
200g / 1 cup milk
Oil or butter, for cooking
2 or 4 bananas
note: if you want the bananas to be on both sides of the alladushki, use 4.

Procedure:

Slice bananas into 1cm / 0.5 inch rounds.
Combine dry ingredients, mix well.
In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients, except for the banana and mix well.
Heat a pan to medium-low temperature, and warm up oil.
Once the pan is hot, mix all of your wet and dry ingredients together.
Pour a large spoonful of batter onto the pan.
note: if you used 4 bananas, before pouring the batter, place 3-4 rounds onto the pan and put the batter on top of those.
Place 3-4 rounds of banana on the wet batter facing towards you.
Let sit until edges are just slightly browned, around three minutes, making sure not to burn the alladushki.
Flip alladushki over with a spatula and cook their other side for a bit shorter time, a little less than two minutes.
Cook all of the batter as such.
Serve hot or cold-- these keep well in the fridge,
 in an airtight container.








Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sesame Garlic Bread

After reading Andew Whitley's book, Bread Matters, I decided to try out making yeast-leavaned bread for once in my life.  I recommend his book to those interested in bread-making, as it covers a wide scope of bready topics and explains rather well dough-related jargon and practices.
Here, I'm posting his recipe for a simple white bread, with my modifications.

As an aside, throughout the book, Whitley reminds the readers that a wet, difficult to work with dough is not terrible.  This dough will stick to your hands quite a bit, but Whitley is correct that adding extra flour really does do unsavory things to the texture.  For this reason, I kneaded the dough in the air, and as it could not stick to a table, the temptation to add excess flour was minimal.

Ingredients

600g / 4.75 cups strong bread flour
(200g + 200g) / (1 cup+ 0.6 cup) warm (~35˚C / 95˚F) water
8g / 0.25 oz fresh yeast
3g / 2T dried black tea leaves, powdered
5g / 1t salt
3g / 1T chili pepper flakes
30mL / 2T sesame seed oil
5g / 3T fresh chives, chopped finely
2g / 1.5t fresh ginger, grated
Handful arugula leaves, torn into shreds
5-10 basil leaves, torn into shreds
3 cloves garlic, diced
3g / 1T black sesame seeds

Butter or coconut oil, for oiling

1 egg yolk
Well-preserved herb leaves, herby flowers, sesame seeds, and chili pepper flakes to decorate

Procedure

In a bowl, mix bread flour, tea leaves, chili pepper flakes, and salt
Dissolve 8g yeast in 200g warm water, and pour water into flour mixture.
Wash out bowl with remaining 200g water, and pour into flour mixture.
Using your hands, mix the dough until it comes together.
Lift dough out of the bowl and knead in the air, as though you were clapping, for 10-15 minutes.  The dough should be relatively smooth at the surface, springy, and supple.
Return dough to its bowl and cover with a plastic bag.
Let rest in a warm place for 2 hours, or until dough has doubled in volume.
After 2 hours, oil a large cooking vessel.
note: cast iron cookware gives a great-looking crust to the bread.
Assemble ginger, sesame seeds, arugula, basil, garlic, and sesame oil.  Place on top of dough.
Take dough out of bowl and incorporate additions into dough using kneading motions.
On a flat, lightly floured surface, plop down dough and flatten into a square.
Fold in half, and flatten.
Roll into thirds, and flatten again.
Roll into a cylinder and transport into cooking vessel
note: these steps are done to arrange the dough's gluten proteins in such a way that the dough doesn't try to explode from the bread as it bakes.  They are much easier said than done, and I did these steps very loosely.
Let rise in cooking vessel for 30 or so minutes.
Preheat oven to 230˚C/450˚F
Break an egg yolk in a small bowl, and brush onto risen dough, gently, so as to not deflate it.
Decorate dough as you wish with flowers, leaves, herbs, and seeds.
note: I used dill, onion flowers, arugula flowers, wood sorrel, basil, and arugula leaves.  These additions do not affect the flavor of the bread's dough.
Bake for 10 minutes, rotating halfway if you have poor convection.
Turn oven down to 205˚C/400˚F.
Bake for another 30 minutes, again turning halfway if you have poor convection.
If dough sounds dense after baking time has passed, let sit in hot oven for 5 or so minutes.
Remove from oven, cover in a cotton cloth, and let cool on a wire rack to prevent soggy bread bottoms.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Apple Cornbread

After reading this cornbread recipe, I very much wanted to make something similar.  I modified the ingredients slightly to fit what I had in my kitchen.
This cornbread has a pleasant smell and is just sweet enough to be a dessert.  I am very satisfied with the texture, which is crumbly without being mealy.

Ingredients:

125 g / 1 cup white flour
115 g / 1 cup corn meal
13 g / 3.5 t baking powder
6 g / 1 t salt
1 1/2 large apples, or 3 small ones
note: select apples that are good for baking.  Very crunchy as well as mealy apples tend to bake poorly, so if possible, select more sturdy types, such as Gala, Fuji, or Granny Smith.
85 g / 6 T unsalted butter
2 eggs
30g / 1.5 T wildflower honey
75 g / 0.3 cups + 1 T brown sugar
note: Turbinado or molasses-darkened sugar both work here
240 mL / 1 cup milk
Optional: generous handful mixed berries and/or raisins



Procedure:

Preheat oven to 205˚C / 400˚F
Chop apples into slices or rounds no thicker than 0.75cm / 0.3 inch.  Remove peels if they are rough.
In a bowl, stir together flour, corn meal, baking powder and salt.
Heat butter until it is still solid, but very soft.
Add in butter, honey, sugar, eggs, and milk to the bowl.
Mix until no clumps are present.
If using, stir in berries and raisins.
Oil a 30cm / 12 inch diameter round baking dish, such as a cake pan or cast iron skillet.
Place one third of the chopped apple slices on the bottom of the dish, and cover with one half of the batter.
Place another third of the apple slices atop of the batter, and then cover with the remaining mixture.
Place final third of apple slices on top of the batter.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a brown crust is present and the center does not jiggle.
Serve warm.






Sunday, June 2, 2013

Walnut Scones


This is a recipe for simple walnut scones.  The dough can be very quickly assembled, and is not too sweet, but rather rich.  The scones kind of look like biscuits, but I'd like to think that their taste and smell make up for that discrepancy.  If you wish to make them look more dessert-like, you could sprinkle the dough with large-grain sugar, like turbinado, or cover in an icing (such as a glaze made from a few spoons of milk and half a cup of confectioner's sugar, with some lemon zest).
These can be served warm or cold, and the given proportions yield about 16 medium sized pieces.

Ingredients:
2 cups / 290g white flour
4T / 50g white sugar
0.5 t / 3g baking soda
0.5T / 5g baking powder
Dash salt
6T / 85g cold butter, cubed
1.25 cups + 1T / 250mL cream
0.5T / 5mL vanilla extract
0.5 cup / 60g walnuts, crushed into pieces 1cm or smaller

Procedure
Preheat oven to 425˚F / 220˚C.
In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients and combine well.
Add in butter cubes, and mix well either with a large wooden spoon or with very clean hands.
Gradually stir in cream and vanilla extract.  Stop mixing once dough becomes evenly moist.
Stir in walnut pieces.
Drop scones in circles on a parchment-covered baking sheet, or cut into triangle shapes.  Make scones approximately the size of a deck of cards.
Bake for 15 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through the process if you have poor convection.
note: you will probably have two batches of scones.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Curry-Fried Plantains

Plantains are the starchier, less sweet brothers of bananas.  They remind me of potatoes when I cook them, but more delicate.  This is a recipe for very spicy plantains-- if you find it to be too hot to eat as is, you can stir in a few spoonfuls of canned coconut milk upon taking off of the pan.  The addition of coconut milk will make the plantains more soft, less like a finger food.
Be careful!  You must be sure to add just enough coconut milk to coat the plantains, to avoid making a very unsavory soup

Ingredients:

15mL / 1 T coconut oil
Dash asafoetida/hing powder
5g / 2 t tumeric powder
5g / 2 t coriander powder
2g / 1 t cayenne pepper
5g / 2 t  cumin powder
2 plantains
12g / 1 T dark brown sugar
note: I refer here to the American brown sugar, which is white sugar mixed with molasses.  If you have none, you could either mix equal amounts of sugar and molasses together and add that, or simply use all white sugar.
Pinch salt

Procedure:

Melt oil in pan on medium-low heat.
Add all of the spices and stir until aromatic and a shade darker, from three to five minutes.
As the spices heat, peel and chop the plantain into circles 1cm / 0.5 inch thick.
Add the plantain to the oil in one layer, trying to avoid having the pieces touch.
Raise heat to medium-high.
Let sit uncovered for five minutes, until the bottoms have a crust.
Turn over the plantains and cook the other side for another three minutes.
Continue cooking and flipping until both sides of the plantain are nicely browned, and the plantain feels like an almost-ripe avocado to your spatula.
Sprinkle sugar and salt atop of the plantains and flip once more, turning off the heat.
Serve!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tahini Eggplant

This is not a very sweet recipe, but I enjoy it very much for how satiating it is, and its ability to be eaten hot or cold and still taste alright.  The proportions here will yield two to three large servings.  Sometimes, I top this with balsamic vinegar, or sunflower seeds.

Ingredients

1 large eggplant
At least 0.5 lb / 0.25 kg spinach
6 T / 180g tahini
1/4 cup / 20g raisins
1/2 cup / 50g walnuts
Grapeseed oil, for cooking

Procedure

Heat up a frying pan to medium heat, with oil
Dice the eggplant into 1' by 1' / 2cm by 2cm cubes.
Cook eggplant until browned and mostly translucent, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in the spinach.
When the leaves are almost entirely wilted, take the frying pan off of the heat and stir in walnuts and raisins.
Stir in the tahini.
Serve.