Friday, August 18, 2006

"Quilted" Corn Bread

One of the simplest ways to dress up a cornbread is with roasted red pepper and flat parsley. The red pepper is a nice compliment to the taste of cornbread.

Curried Salmon in Aspic

It was lovely, molded with mushrooms, capers and roasted red pepper. To be polite, my husband took a couple of bites, discreetly pushing the aspic aside on the plate.

I'm glad I took a photograph, as I likely won't be preparing this again.

Baked Tomatoes

The filling for these small tomatoes was quite simple:

Fresh white breadcrumbs
Olive oil
Fresh Basil, oregano, and Rosemary
Garlic powder

I baked them at 400 degrees F. until the tomatoes were soft (about ten minutes).

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Rustic Bead II

This recipe for wheaten rustic bread came from Floyd at The Fresh Loaf.

A few observations about this bread:

I wouldn't try this as your first attempt at bread baking. The dough is quite wet, sticky and difficult to handle. After a while, you'll have picked up a few handling techniques that can't really be translated into directions, but by "feel" you'll sort of know what to do. A year ago, I could not have managed this loaf.

I baked this on a hot day with high humidity and I should have used a bit more flour to compensate.

I opted for a heavy, commercial jelly roll baking sheet lightly tossed with cornmeal, rather than a stone-the results were good though I did not get as much spring as I might have hoped for.

Two cups of water thrown into a pan that pre-heated along with the oven did the trick for steam-the crust was perfect.

Using an exacto knife for scoring does not work as well as one might think.

I'll attempt it again later this week and post results.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Cinnamon Rolls

I made these last Sunday, and my husband is already requesting a repeat for this week. The recipe comes from my 1950 edition of the Betty Crocker Cookbook(aka-"the red cookbook"-though truth be told, most of the recipes sound pretty bourgeois...)

I made a few changes that will better reflect the way we cook today (adjusting for granulated yeast, and so on). Most of the ingredients can be mixed the night before and set in the icebox to begin the next morning. If you pre-mix the dough, be sure to allow extra time for it to warm up once you bring it out in the morning.

Sweet Rolls:

1/2 cup milk at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 teaspoons granulated yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 eggs
1/2 cup shortening
4 1/2 -5 cups or more sifted all purpose flour

Proof the yeast in the warm water and set aside. Mix together the milk, sugar and salt. Add the yeast. Add shortening and eggs and the flour in two additions. Knead until smooth but still somewhat sticky-you don't want to add so much flour that it dries out. Place dough in a buttered bowl, turn once to coat and cover tightly with plastic wrap and a towel. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place about 1 1/2-2 hours.

When doubled in bulk, punch down and let rise again until almost doubled (about 35-45 minutes).

Cinnamon mixture:
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons softened butter

Roll out dough into a large rectangle. Spread with butter and top with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up tightly from wide end and pinch seam closed well. Cut roll into 1 inch slices and place in a well buttered 13x9 pan. Cover and let rise until doubled (35-40 minutes). Bake in pre-heated 375 degree F. oven until baked through (the cookbook advises testing with a fork, but I needed to pull it from the oven and give it a push with a finger). Makes about 18 rolls.

The recipe did not offer one but a simple trick is to take 1 cup of powdered sugar and a teaspoon of water adding more or less slowly until thick. Spread over still warmed rolls. You could of course make the glaze with milk or cream as well.

Tofu With Green Beans

This recipe can be adapted to make use of whatever vegetables you happen to have on hand. Broccoli, carrots, onions, bamboo shoots-all work well.

For the marinade:
6 tablespoons sesame oil
4 tablespoons hoisan sauce
2 heaping tablespoons black bean/garlic paste
1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
canola oil

Combine everything except the canola oil in a measuring cup. Add enough canola to total 1 cup all together. Place desired vegetables in a large bowl or plastic zip seal bag and add the marinade. Let sit a few hours or overnight.

For the Tofu:
extra firm tofu-drained, patted dry, and cut into strips
canola oil for frying

Fill frying pan with enough oil so that tofu will be covered. Heat to just past medium on stove setting (taking care not to let oil smoke) and drop the slices in. Fry, turning occasionally until edges become golden. DO NOT OVERCOOK! Remove and drain. When cool, store in icebox until ready to use.

To prepare:
Cook the marinated vegetables in a deep frying pan over med/high heat until soft. Add tofu towards the end-just to heat through. Serve over rice. It should serve about four people, though it can be stretched by cutting the tofu smaller and adding additional veggies. I did not give exact amounts as it will vary. A lb. of green beans, or eight large carrots would be typical ratios to balance a block of tofu.


These samosas are shaped like pierogi to make for easier frying.

For the filling: (can be made ahead)
3 cups (aprox) mashed potatoes
1/2 cup cooked peas
curry powder to taste
2 teaspoons dried onion flakes
salt to taste
olive oil if desired

For the pastry:
2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter-melted
7 tablespoons yogurt (more if needed)

Sift flour and salt. Add butter and yogurt gradually working with your hands until smooth. Roll out thin and cut into circles. Fill and pinch closed with a fork.

Fry in hot fat (aprox 360 degrees on a fat thermometer) until browned. I prefer to drain on a cooling rack placed over a baking sheet to prevent them sitting on soggy paper towels.

Chocolate Lemon Gateau-instructions follow below

Chocolate Glaze For Gateau

This glaze is very difficult to handle and thick. The effect is gorgeous-shiny as glass, but you need to work quickly with good utensils. I rather think a heat resistant spatula is required for this, as is a heavy cast iron/enamel pan for cooking. You don't want the mixture to scorch.

Have the gateau assembled ahead of time on a piece of waxed paper atop a baking sheet. The glaze is messy and after it hardens, you can scrape away the excess and transfer it to a plate without too much difficulty.

Have any decorations also ready to go. I cut pieces of crystalised ginger into flower petals, though if I had planned ahead, I might have made candied lemon peel for a decorative effect. You'll want to brush off as much sugar as possible so it does not spoil the shiny glaze. Place them quickly atop the gateau once the glaze has poured and press in gently.

I'd also caution against overcooking the glaze, or you will very likely end up with fudge.

Chocolate Glaze:

1 cup unsweetened cocoa (I like Droste) well sifted to remove lumps
pinch of salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Add everything except vanilla in pan over medium heat. Whisk constantly until smooth and begins to thicken (don't overdo it). Remove from heat and cool slightly before adding vanilla. Pour over gateau spreading quickly down sides. I try to let the top stay as untouched as possible to retain the glasslike appearance. Let set at room temperature and then transfer to plate and chill in icebox.

Lemon Filling For Gateau

Certainly, one could use orange to great effect with a dark chocolate glaze, but I had lemons on hand, so that was what I made.

Lemon Filling:

1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
2 tablespoons+ (depending on desired tartness) lemon zest (concentrated culinary oils work quite well here-a few drops go a long way)
1/2 cup lemon juice (strained to remove seeds)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Heat in a pan over medium heat whisking constantly. Bring to a boil and then go an additional minute. Chill before spreading. It will seem a bit gelatinous when it is removed from the icebox, but a few stirs will smooth things out. Don't freak out if you discover a bowl of yellow blob-that's how it is intended to appear. The colder it is, the better it will hold up to being coated under the hot chocolate glaze in the final step.

Genoise for Gateau

I varied Raymond Oliver's recipe to use less eggs as I really think seven eggs is a bit of overkill. I also used all purpose flour that I sifted twice, rather than cake flour. The recipe still came up quite light and flavourful.

A couple thoughts;

If you are fortunate enough to know someone (as we do) that can provide you with fresh eggs from their farm, depending on how the chickens are fed the colour of the yolks may intensely tint your finished product.

You really need a stand mixer to do this genoise properly. I can't imagine having the upper body strength to whisk enough air into the eggs by hand-though certainly before electrical appliances, people did. Personally, I wouldn't waste the eggs trying.

A double boiler would be helpful for warming up the eggs and sugar before whipping. I don't happen to own one so I set a large pot with a couple of inches of water on the stove. Across it, I laid a strainer with a handle, and I set the bowl with the eggs and sugar inside. Take care not to let the water touch the bowl (you shouldn't need more than an inch or two). Do not let the water boil, keep it on low heat and be patient. Give the mixture occasional stirs just to be certain the eggs don't begin to cook on the bottom. You only wantthe eggs lukewarm-so test frequently.

Make the clarified butter ahead-a good thing to have on hand anyhow.

Basic Genoise:

6 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all purpose flour, sifted twice
1/2 cup butter, melted and clarified
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine the eggs and sugar mixing, but not beating. Set the bowl over water as described above and heat to lukewarm. The eggs should look thick and bright yellow.

Place the eggs in an electric mixer and whip them at high speed until they are fluffy and have at least doubled in bulk-if you sense they will go higher without collapsing-go for it.

Add the flour a small bit at a time and fold thoroughly, but very gently alternating with the clarified butter. Add the vanilla.

Bake in the centre rack for 25-30 minutes. Don't stick a toothpick in it to test for doneness! Press it lightly to see if it springs back. The cake should start to pull away from the sides as well. Remove from pan right away and cool on rack. Do not try to trim any over-flowed edges whilst hot. Wait until cool and it will cut much easier.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Rustic Bread and Chocolate Lemon Gateau

I couldn't wait to post these beautiful photographs-the recipes will follow later this weekend. I was surprised just how simple the genoise was to prepare, though I had the benefit of a stand mixer. The lemon filling and glaze were quite another matter. I hate to keep harping on it, but a good whisk is one of the best investments you can make for kitchen supplies. Oh, and heat proof spatulas-what a great innovation those are!

The bread was light and chewy, though I think my next attempt will make use of a preferment. I plan to try it again tomorrow, so it will be interesting to see if I notice a difference while I still have the old loaf around for comparison. I was able to get a fair amount of steam into the oven, but I suspect a baking stone would have enhanced the crust even more.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Pineapple Cookies

Prepare dough ahead of time to chill well.

For the dough:

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar 2 eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix together shortening, sugar and eggs. Stir in cream and vanilla. Sift dry items together and add to previous. Chill dough well for at least four hours.

Roll thin to 1/16" and cut into 3 inch rounds. Add filling and top with another round. Press shut with fork. With a sharp knife, cut out a small hole in the centre. Bake at 400 on greased cookie sheet about 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Pineapple Filling:

1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons flour (or quick mixing flour like Wondra)
1 1/2 cups crushed pineapple, drained
4 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup pineapple juice

Mix sugar and flour together in a heavy pan. Add the rest. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until thickened (five to ten minutes). Cool well before using to fill cookies.