Wednesday, December 5, 2012

French Bread


Everyone deals with stress in different ways, some exercise, some go shopping, some talk to a friend. I deal with stress by baking. Which means, since it's the end of the semester and finals are upon us, I have been baking up a storm. In the past week I've made:
A double batch of bagels
Pumpkin muffins
2 different kinds of cookies
A pumpkin roll (recipe to come!)
French bread

Thank goodness I have a big family who likes what I bake. And about half of everything gets put in the freezer. Well, except for the pumpkin gingersnaps I made yesterday. They're already almost gone.
I tend to make things with yeast when I know that I have other things to get done, such as studying. I justify baking by telling myself that I'll study while the dough rises, bakes, etc. Usually I end up cleaning the kitchen or starting another baking project (yesterday it was cookies) while the dough rises. But it's the thought that counts, right?
I've made bread before, quite a few times. Not the same as this, though. I really thought I was messing it up terribly until I looked it up online. Ooooh the wonders of google! I found a wonderful post here about how to make better french bread. Definitely a good article to read if it's your first time making it.
This is not a bread you make if you don't have much time... total rise time is about 6-7 hours. But, there's very little hands-on time so if you're going to be home all day doing other things, it's a great recipe to try. And it's absolutely lovely, I'm so excited about it!
I changed the recipe a bit, as I was a little low on AP flour and had an excess of bread flour, so I switched that and it seemed to work out very well. I proofed the yeast in half a cup of warm water with 2 tsp of sugar for five minutes as well as mixing it into the flour first as well.
This dough was super, super sticky. It made me pretty nervous when I was first making it, but it turned out well. I am, of course, not even close to an expert on whether or not this is anything close to real French bread, but it is delicious and definitely worth making.

French Bread
Adapted from Barbara Bakes

3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 packet fast acting yeast
2 1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water

Grease a bowl for rising, set aside.
Proof yeast in a small bowl with sugar and 1/2 cup of water. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
Pour flour, salt, yeast mixture, and the rest of the water into the bowl of a mixer and mix with dough hook and knead until dough is formed, adding water and flour as needed. Once dough has come together (it will be a bit sticky), put in prepared bowl and loosely cover. Let sit at room temperature until about tripled in size, around three hours.
Punch dough down, cover, and rise again for another hour and a half to two hours.
On a floured surface dump the dough out and cut into three equal pieces. Form loaves and place on parchment paper to rise. Cover and let rise at room temperature for about two hours.
Preheat oven to 500 or 550*, whichever your oven will go to. Transfer loaves on to pan or baking stone (I used a pizza pan), slash the tops with a very sharp knife, put bread in the oven, and turn heat down to 450. Take about a 1/4 cup of water, pour it on the oven floor and close it quickly**.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes (the original recipe said 25, I baked mine for 20), until golden brown. Remove and let cool for at least two hours before eating.

* This was in the post listed above, to turn the oven up to a high heat and then turn it down. It helps form a better crust.
**Be suuuper careful with this. I found it here, it creates steam which also helps a good crust form. It's cool but kind of scary so be careful that you don't burn yourself.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Grilled cheese sandwich with sauteed mushrooms and caramelized onions

There are fewer things in life better than cheese. Seriously. Well, I guess unless you're lactose intolerant. In which case, I am so sorry for you. But other than that! Cheese is the bomb. Always and forever. Whenever I'm in need of some extra comfort (middle of the semester with three tests, a lab practical, and a paper all in one week... yeahhh I need some cheese!), I always crave grilled cheese. But not the gross disgusting grilled cheese with that nasty prepackaged stuff and the chemical filled white bread... ugh. I didn't even eat that nonsense when I was a little kid. Seriously. All rye bread and deli cheese for me! I was spoiled when it came to grilled cheese.
Sauteed mushrooms and caramelized onions make everything better... I have a weird family, half of them hate mushrooms, half of them hate onions. One of my best friends hates both! Craziness. This stuff is freaking magic. I can eat both with a fork, standing over the stove, and not feel badly at all. Yum yum yum.
You don't need a recipe for grilled cheese, this is more me bragging about this epic sandwich I made the other day. It was inspired by the wonderful and amazing Joy the Baker and an incredibly delicious looking sandwich she made a few months ago... I am crazy jealous of her skills. Baking, cooking, photography, and writing skills, she is amazing. Please do not compare me to her in any way because I will never match up... but that doesn't matter because this sandwich is still amazing. So! Listen to the wonderfulness of this sandwich and drool.

Grilled cheese sandwich with sauteed mushrooms and caramelized onions
Inspired by Joy the Baker
Sauteed mushrooms
Caramelized onions
Parmesan cheese
Smoked Gouda cheese
American cheese
Rye bread

I sauteed the mushrooms with some salt, pepper and garlic. I caramelized the onions with salt, pepper, thyme, and a bit of rosemary. Butter both sides of the bread (duh), and the make sure you put some kind of cheese over both sides of the mushrooms and onions so it keeps it all in, like glue. Tasty, tasty glue. Eat and be happy!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tea Cake with Lemon Glaze

I hate tea... I really, really do. I think it's gross. I want to like it... But I just can't. I've tried. So when I got some wonderful smelling mint green tea from Joy the Baker and Lost Crates, I knew I had to figure out something to do with it. I tried grinding the tea up with a food processor... epic fail. Then I tried grinding it up with a mortar and pestle. That seemed to work slightly better... until I actually baked with it... Yeahhhh another epic fail. Bland cookies with bits of grittiness... not so tasty! So I gave up for a while until I decided that I absolutely had to bake with this tea RIGHT AWAY. Apparently, you can infuse butter with tea leaves (should have figured that out myself!). It's super easy. I'm definitely going to be trying this with all different kinds of teas. Locally grown tea with lemon icing? Yesss please!
This cake is about fifty two million times better than I think a cup of tea is... Since the tea I used was mint green tea, it was slightly mint-y. The tea taste isn't super obvious but it's definitely there. Super fabulously delicious! And I made this in about 15 minutes. So worth it!
Also, that little black dot is part of a tea leaf... a few pieces snuck through into the cake. Still delicious!!

Tea Cake with Lemon Glaze
Adapted from
Joy the Baker

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup plus one tablespoons butter
1/4 cup loose leaf tea

Lemon Glaze:
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 and butter and flour a 9" pan.

How to infuse butter with tea:
Melt butter with tea leaves and let cook on low for 5 minutes. Set aside and let cool with tea leaves for five minutes. Pour butter through a sieve, making sure to press out as much butter as possible. Set butter aside and discard leaves.
Whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugars, salt, baking powder and baking soda, set aside.
Whisk together milk, two eggs, vanilla, and butter. Pour into dry ingredients and fold together until just combined. Pour into pan and bake about 30 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
Whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice, set aside.
Let cake cool in pan for ten minutes before poking holes in the top with a skewer or fork. With the cake still in the pan, pour on the glaze, making sure the whole top of the cake is covered. Let sit for thirty minutes before eating. Yum! :)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Couscous and Quinoa Salad

There are some foods that make you feel healthier and happier after you eat them. There are also some people that make you healthier and happier after you are around them (but don't eat them... cannibalism is generally frowned upon...). I am lucky enough to have a lot of really positive influences in my life. One of the most recent people that have made such a huge difference in my life is a woman I met while volunteering with Alzheimer's patients. Volunteering has been an amazing experience, getting to know such wonderful people who have lived such full lives has been awesome. At twenty years old, I have far less life experience than the people in the program, but there is still never a lack of things to discuss. I've learned so much in the three short months that I've been volunteering there.
The one person who has been such a great influence there is the program coordinator. She is one of those people who is just full of light, no matter what the situation. Talking to her about a vast array of things has been so helpful to me. Being around her, the other volunteers, and the participants of this lovely program is one of those things that just makes you feel so happy and mentally healthy.

While this salad might not be life changing, it is lovely to eat it on a quiet night just as the sun is going down, when you can reflect on the wonderful people that have affected your life.

This recipe is more like a general idea of what to put in this salad, as you can use so many different things. It would be lovely with lemon instead of balsamic vinegar, parmesan instead of feta, or a million different vegetables or herbs mixed in. This is just my take on it.

Couscous and Quinoa salad
Makes one very large serving

1/4 cup dry quinoa, then cooked according to package
1/3 cup dry Israeli couscous, cooked according to directions
1/4 of a red onion
1/2 of a tomato
2-4 tbs parsley
1/2-1 cup spinach
2 tbs crumbled feta cheese
1 tbs sun dried tomatoes
2 tsp olive oil
1-3 tbs balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Chop all vegetables, cook quinoa and couscous, toss veggies, quinoa, and couscous and top with olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Enjoy and feel happy! :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tomato soup with clams and couscous

I believe I've asked if anyone goes through food phases before... hmm. Maybe. I can't remember.
But anyway. I do. Majorly. Like I'll eat at least 2 apples a day for a month, or have cream cheese and tomato on rye sandwiches every day for a week straight (SO good!), often more than a week straight. That's also what I do with this soup. I made it about six times in a week. Not even kidding. I think one day I ate it for lunch and dinner. I'm a little obsessed. Maybe my body is lacking something that tomatoes have? I have no clue, but I have been craving tomatoes constantly lately. Thank goodness it's so warm here and they come in season early. I'm gonna  be eating nothing but tomatoes. And peaches. And that's all, all summer. Not even kidding.
But anyway! Back to this soup. It's kind of like a twist on pasta and sauce. It's so crazy good, cheap, and easy! Yum yum yum. It takes like, two seconds. I don't usually add spices spices other than salt and pepper, because I like the more simple taste of it, but it would definitely be good with other spices, too. It's a major comfort food. And it's pretty healthy and so filling, bonus!
Also, sorry for the lack of posts. What with school and work and everything it's been hard to find time to update!

Tomato soup with clams and couscous
Makes one very large serving
by me

one 14.5 (or close to that) oz can of tomatoes (can be diced, whole, doesn't really matter)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup of couscous
1/2 of a small onion, diced
one small can of clams, drained
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
olive oil for the pan

Pour the can of tomatoes in a medium sized pot and use an immersion blender to puree the tomatoes until it's smooth and there aren't many big chunks of tomato.* Stir in balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Put on stove turned to medium low.
In a small pot, cook couscous according to box directions, set aside.**
In a medium sized pan, warm olive oil, add in onions, garlic, and clams. Saute on medium heat for about 5-7 minutes, until clams are cooked and onions are slightly opaque.
Stir the couscous, clams, garlic, and onion into the tomatoes and let simmer on low for just a few minutes. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

* You also could use a food processor or blender of course, but I have an immersion blender that I LOVE and is so easy.

** I usually just cook the couscous in tomato sauce and it absorbers some of the tomato liquid and makes everything nice and thick, but it will take longer than it would in water.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Meyer Lemon Curd Cake

This is not the prettiest cake, I know this. BUT trust me when I say, it is totally and completely worth making. The cake batter part is rich and vanilla-y, which goes really well with the lemon curd. And when baked, the lemon curd gets a lemon bar type consistency. SO good. I'm pretty sure I ate most of it myself. My family aren't huge lemon fans so whenever I end up making lemon things, I eat the majority of it myself (over a period of time of course). I have been known to eat an entire (large) pan of lemon bars by myself in two days... yeah, not a good life choice...
But this cake is one that I definitely do not mind eating all by myself, it's just that delicious. Also, it's totally easy to put together. It'd be delicious with other kinds of curd too of course. I'd like to try it with raspberry curd next.
So while this cake may not be the one you pull out to show off when guests come over, it is definitely a good cake to make for a night in, or a lazy weekend breakfast. Trust me, totally worth making. Don't judge a book by it's cover and all that jazz. Also, it's from Heidi at 101 Cookbooks and I'm pretty sure she's incapable of creating something that isn't totally delicious.
You can use store-bought lemon curd, but it's probably cheaper and way more fun/delicious to make it yourself. It may seem like a scary thing to make, but trust me, it's totally easy!

Lemon Curd Cake
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup lemon curd
Sugar in the raw for the top (optional but definitely adds a good texture and flavor)

Preheat oven to 350, butter a 9" pan. Set aside
Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of a mixer, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in eggs one at a time, then beat in vanilla.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients all at once and fold in to combine. Do not over-mix.
Pour half the batter into the pan, and using about half of the curd, drop spoonfuls over the batter. Pour the rest of the batter in. It's a thick batter so it's not going to smooth over the curd well, that's okay though. Do your best to get it over, then put the remaining curd on top of the batter. Take a butter knife and swirl the curd and batter just slightly, being careful not to get the curd too close to the sides of the pan (it will stick and be pretty messy after baking). Sprinkle sugar in the raw on top. Bake 32-34 minutes.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Meyer Lemon Curd

Do you ever have specific words that gross you out? I never notice words that I don't like unless one of my sister's or my mother point out words that gross them out. Apparently, a gross word is "curd". You'd think that being 17, my sister would at least try it. Nope! She will have none of it, and neither will my boyfriend. Seventeen and nineteen years old and they refuse to try something because the name is gross... people are strange sometimes :P
But! Don't let the fact that this is called curd get to you. It's totally fabulous and delicious and SO easy to make. Super easy. I have to find more things to do with it, I swirled it into a cake (recipe to come!) and it was glorious. Going to put it on some pancakes later... yuuuum...

Meyer Lemon Curd
FromConfections of a Foodie Bride
1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice (about 4-5 lemons)
1 Tbsp lemon zest
2 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 stick butter, cut into 4 pieces

Whisk together lemon juice, zest, sugar, and eggs in a bowl placed over a simmering pot of water. Whisk until warm and then add in butter one piece at a time until melted. Whisk constantly until thickened and smooth, will be about 165 degrees on a candy thermometer.
Pour through a strainer. Use or store in fridge with plastic wrap over the top of the curd (this prevents it from getting a "skin" like puddings do).

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

I make pound cake wayyy too much... it's just so easy and there's something awesome about creaming together massive amounts of butter, cream cheese, and sugar. Especially after getting my absolutely fantastic Kitchenaid stand mixer for Christmas... seriously, I'm pretty sure I'm in love with it. I used to think that maybe they weren't THAT great, and then I got one. Probably one of the best things ever. I just left the cream cheese, butter, and sugar in the mixer to cream while I made dinner. Aaaaamazing.
But I'll stop talking about my mad crazy love for my mixer and tell you about this recipe. Totally and completely delicious, and very easy. One of my sister's says it tastes like cheesecake with a different texture. Anything even slightly cheesecake-y and I'm pretty sure its a great idea.
If you're not a huge fan of cream cheese pound cake, this is a wonderful recipe for normal pound cake, and also one that I use on a regular basis.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake
Adapted from My Baking Addiction
Makes one bundt cake

1 1/2 cups butter, room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 tbs vanilla extract
3 cups flour

Preheat oven to 325, grease a bundt cake pan. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat together butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add in sugar and beat until light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. Add in eggs two at a time and beat to incorporate. Beat in vanilla.
Add flour and mix until fully combined.
Pour into bundt pan and bake about an hour, rotating pan once.
Let cool in pan for about 20 minutes before removing to cool on wire rack completely.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Giant Malted Oreos

When I bake, I like to plan what I'm going to bake way before I actually bake it. I'm not sure why I do this, because I change my mind about 50 times before I come to a final decision. I'll be all set to bake whatever I decided on, and then change my mind to something completely different. So it's pretty pointless to attempt to plan anything to bake, but I do it anyway. Sometimes planning is most of the fun.
I've wanted to make this recipe for a while and I'm SO glad I finally got around to it. It's totally delicious and not at all hard. It did take me a while to make because I'm ridiculously slow the first time I try a recipe, but for most people this shouldn't take long at all :P
School starts tomorrow for me so posting may slow down a bit, but I am definitely planning to still update at least once a week, preferably two to three times a week, depending on how much I actually bake.

Well, as I have about a million things to do to get ready for school before I go into work, this is a short post. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

Giant Malted Oreos
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Not sure how many this makes, as a lot got eaten before I could count but I doubled her recipe and (accidentally) made my cookies bigger than actual oreos so I'd say about 40 sandwich cookies. Definitely half this if you won't eat them all, but I plan to give some away if I actually have any left.
Also, if you want bigger cookies, use two teaspoons worth of dough. Make sure you give a bit of room between them on the baking sheet, they spread.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup malted milk powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cups butter (2 1/2 sticks)
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 375 and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, malt, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Add in butter and eggs and beat on low speed. You may have to use your hands to get this dough to come together.
Drop rounded teaspoonfuls (that's a word now, if it wasn't before) onto baking sheets and press down slightly, bake about 8-9 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets for about 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
4 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbs vanilla extract
one vanilla bean, scraped

Beat together butter and shortening until smooth, then add in sugar and beat until creamy. Beat in vanilla and vanilla bean until fully incorporated.

Using a pastry bag or a freezer bag with the corner snipped off, fill cookies.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Chewy Sugar Cookies

When I was little, the best part of going to the grocery store was the sugar cookies you get when you go to the deli. No chocolate chip cookies for me, no way. Vanilla was the way to go. They were always the best, always soft and chewy, never crunchy. Crunchy cookies were (and still are) gross when I was 5, so grocery store cookies were the best.
What is it about children and less than awesome taste in food? Thank goodness it's something you grow out of. Or at least it is for some people... my boyfriend had Eggo Waffles with maple syrup, whipped cream, and chocolate milk for dinner. Some people don't outgrow the gross phase... But anyway! While I outgrew the stale grocery store cookie phase, I still love sugar cookies. These were almost like a mix between sugar cookie and a shortbread cookie. The outside was buttery and slightly crisp, but the inside was soft and chewy. They're very vanilla-y and super delicious. You also can leave the dough in the fridge overnight, too.

Vanilla Sugar Cookies
from Joy the Baker

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for tops
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Beat butter till smooth, then add in oil. Beat a bit, although it may not fully incorporate. Add in sugars, egg, and vanilla, beat until smooth.

Stir in dry ingredients all at once until fully incorporated. Refridgerate for at least an hour until firmer and easier to handle.

Preheat oven to 350, and line sheets with parchment paper.

Drop tablespoonfuls (is that a word? maybe not...) onto cookie sheets, flatten slightly, and sprinkle liberally with sugar. Bake about 10 minutes until edges are just slightly browned. Cool on cookie sheets for about 5 minutes before cooling the rest of the way on wire racks.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips and Millet

I am a little bit obsessed with pumpkin... okay maybe a lot obsessed. Pumpkin puree starts out looking kind of gross and like carrot baby food, but baked into things, it's amazing. Pumpkin bread is definitely my favorite way to eat it. It's delicious without anything in it, but adding in chocolate chips and millet makes it even better.
This bread is super moist, as most pumpkin bread, and the spices are great. Chocolate chips and millet make it even better. Millet is a strange but delicious thing. It's in bird seed, but is a common grain in other countries. Super delicious and crunchy, so don't be weirded out over it!

These loaves also freeze very well, so you don't have to eat it all at once.

Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips and Millet
Adapted from Joy the Baker inspired by this recipe.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
1 15 oz can of pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup flax seed meal
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup raw millet
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Raw sugar for sprinkling

Grease two loaf pans and preheat oven to 350.

Whisk together butter, oil, sugar, and eggs. Add in vanilla, milk, and pumpkin. Whisk or beat well until fully combined. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flours, flax meal, salt, baking soda, and spices. Stir in millet. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in wet ingredients. Fold together, then fold in chocolate chips. Pour into to loaf pans and pour raw sugar liberally over the top. Bake about 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans for about 15 minutes before removing from pans and cooling completely on wire racks.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Malted Mint Chocolate Cookies

When I was about 13 my best friend lived right down the street from Pitt Street Pharmacy, a retro-style pharmacy/diner. Whenever we'd ride our bikes down there, she'd get a chocolate shake and I'd get a mint chocolate chip malt. Sounds weird but is absolutely delicious!
I got some mint chocolate chunks on sale a couple weeks ago and decided I needed to use them in this recipe, as well as add some malt. The cookie is delicious and fudgy and I will definitely be making them again soon!
I got these on sale because the main grocery store that I shop at only has them seasonally, but I believe Wal-Mart has them year round.

Malted Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Annie's Eats

1/2 cup butter, cold and cut in chunks
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup malted milk powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups mint chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 350 and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Whisk together flour, malt, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, then beat in vanilla. Mix in cocoa powder. With mixer on low, beat in flour mixture until just combined, then stir in chocolate chunks.
Drop rounded tablespoon amount onto cookie sheets, and bake 9-10 minutes, until edges are set. Cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks.

Makes about 56 small cookies.