24 May 2015

Triple-Ginger Cookies

Triple-Ginger Cookies
makes about 40

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely grated
1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
11-12 ounces (2-1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup crystallized ginger, minced
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
about 1/3 cup white sugar

1. Position a rack in top third and a rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 350°F.

2. Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper.

3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar

4. Mix in egg, molasses and fresh & crystallized gingers

5. On top of the wet ingredients (or in separate bowl), whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and ground spices

6. Blend wet and dry ingredients

7. Put the white sugar in a small bowl

8. Measure out 1 tablespoon of dough at a time, roll between palms, roll in sugar, place 1-1/2 to 2 inches apart on the lined cookie sheets

9. Bake about 15 minutes, or until cookies look crackly, but are still slightly soft in the center

01 December 2014

Squash Chiffon Cake

Awhile ago, I made the Espresso Chiffon Cake from Smitten Kitchen, and I was really impressed with how it turned out. So when I saw a recipe for Pumpkin Chiffon Cake as I was deciding what dessert to make for Thanksgiving, I knew that I would have to try my hand at that, too.

There were a few tweaks: I halved the recipe, used acorn squash rather than pumpkin, substituted pastry flour, and used the same number of yolks as whites. Oh, and I made up some cream cheese frosting for the cake. Because: Cream Cheese...

It turned out phenomenally. It was certainly denser than the previous chiffon cake I made, but with the squash puree and not cutting some yolks out, that was more than expected. The beaten whites still gave it so much lift and tenderness! I will be doing this again!

Squash Chiffon Cake
adapted from Alice Medrich via Food52
makes 1 - 8" round cake

1/2 cup sugar, divided
4 eggs, divided
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup squash puree (I used acorn)
100 grams (~3.5 ounces) pastry flour (cake or rice work, too)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1. Line an 8" round cake pan with parchment paper (optionally, grease)

2. Preheat oven to 325°F

3. Set aside 1/8 cup sugar (to stiffen egg whites)

4. In a large mixing bowl, mix remaining sugar with yolks, oil and puree

5. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves

6. Mix flour/spices into the puree/yolks

7. In a separate bowl, whip egg whites until they hold soft peaks; add the sugar that was set aside, then whip eggs until stiff but not dry

8. Fold half of the whites into the batter until no streaks remain, then do the same with the second half

9. Pour into prepared cake pan, set in the bottom third of the oven, bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (30-40 minutes)

10. Cool, then slide a knife around the sides to release from the pan; Peel off the parchment paper

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 - 8 ounce package of cream cheese, room temperature (leave out ≥1 hour)
1/2 to 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt

1. Once the cream cheese is at room temperature (softened), whip until light and fluffy

2. Whip in a pinch of salt, and the powdered sugar to taste (start with 1/2 cup, add until you like it)

25 September 2014

Esquites Con Tostados

Chris and I have gone to Oakland's Eat Real Festival for a few years running now, and naturally they have amazing food. This year, I think the winners (in our eyes, at least) were the lamb poutine and the sweet potato waffle pie (with salted bourbon butterscotch syrup). We ate so much of those that we didn't have room for an old favorite of mine, NIDO's Esquite Placero.

Now, I tried translating "Esquite Placero" (via Google, of course), and apparently it's meaningless drivel. As far as I can figure, it is referencing esquites, which is a roasted corn dish with cotija cheese. NIDO's "Placero" is served up on a plate, unlike (so I read) esquites. But the major points of roasted corn and cotija cheese are definitely met. And it is delicious. What more can you ask for?

My take is certainly a bit different then NIDO's; hitting up the highlights of roasted corn and pepper, toasted pepitas, crumbled cotija, all served over some excellent tortilla chips. I, however, went the route of tomatillo salsa rather than aioli.

Esquites Con Tostados (Roasted Corn with Tortilla Chips)
serves 4

2 ears of corn
2 red bell peppers
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

Tomatillo Salsa
1 pound tomatillos
4 jalapenos
4 cloves garlic
handful of cilantro
salt to taste

Cotija cheese
Tortilla chips (I made oven-baked chips: day-old tortillas tossed with canola oil and salt, baked [in a single layer on a cookie sheet] at 350°F for 12 min)

1. De-paper and blend the tomatillos with the rest of the salsa ingredients

2. Broil the bell peppers and the corn*

3. Once charred, remove from the oven and cover the peppers with a damp cloth for a few minutes

4. While the peppers are steaming, turn oven to 350°F and toast the pumpkin seeds (in a single layer in a metal pan with a rim) for 10-15 minutes (if making home-baked chips, you can put them in the oven with the seeds)

5. Cut the corn off the cob

6. Remove the charred skin from the peppers, then mince coarsely

7. Once the pumpkin seeds are toasted, toss together with the corn and the pepper

8. Crumble the cotija

9. On a plate, layer the tortilla chips with the roasted veg & seed mix, the cheese and the salsa

* Note: I just read a suggestion to cut the corn off the cob and fry it up in some oil until pleasantly brown rather than broil it. I'll try this next time.

27 June 2014

Korvapuusti (Pulla Rolls)

Chris went to Finland recently and loved some of their breads and pastries. In particular, he was enamored with the various cardamom breads. Among these were korvapuusti, which means "a slap on the ear" or some such (named, I assume, because of how you cut them; they look a like an ear).  Korvapuusti are a rolled pastry with lots of cardamom, both in the dough and in the filling.

Naturally, we decided to try to make these at home. We adapted a recipe from Kinfolk, though they just call the recipe Pulla.

makes 8


For the dough:
1 tablespoon yeast (~10 grams)
8-7/8 ounces of milk (250 grams)
17-1/2 ounces ap flour (500 grams)
5-1/4 ounces sugar (150 grams)
1/2 tablespoon cardamom seeds (I did 3 grams ground cardamom)
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, softened

For the filling:
9 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar (100 grams)
2-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon (7-1/2 grams)
1-1/2 teaspoons cardamom (3 grams)

To top with:
1 egg, beaten
Pearl sugar (or regular if you don't have pearl)

1. Warm the milk to about 95°F (warm but still touchable)

2. Add the yeast to the milk and let stand about 5 minutes

3. Mix in the flour, sugar, cardamom and salt

4. Add butter, then knead until smooth, elastic and only slightly sticky, at least 10 minutes by hand

5. Cover and let rise until doubled (1 hour)

6. Mix the sugar and spices for the filling together, then beat into the butter until creamed

7. Lightly flour a surface, if necessary, then turn out the risen dough and roll into a 10" by 16" rectangle (should be ~1/4" in height)

8. Smooth the creamed butter out to the very edges of the dough

9. Beginning with the 10" side of the rectangle, roll the dough into a tight cylinder

10. Position the flap at the top of the roll (you'll be pinching it closed or placing it on bottom in a moment, to make sure it will stay closed during baking), and cut into 8 triangles (scalene at the sides, isosceles in the middle of the roll...and well, mostly triangle I should say, because you want to leave the outer most roll layer attached to itself, so really, a trapezoid with one edge really tiny...)

11. Pinch the top point of the triangle and bring toward the center (the bottom of the triangle ends up on the bottom of the korvapuusti, and the top gets pushed down into the center so that it really quite looks like an ear)

12. Cover a baking tray with parchment paper, and place the korvapuusti ~2" from each other; cover and let rise until dough is doubled

13. During last 15 minutes of rising, preheat oven to 400°F

14. Brush the korvapuusti with egg and sprinkle with sugar

15. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown

04 June 2013

Granola Bars

How to Make Homemade Granola Bars
Makes 8 bars
from Emma Christensen at The Kitchn

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup puffed quinoa cereal
1/2 cup chopped nuts, of any variety
1/2 - 1 cup dried fruit(s)
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 - 1 teaspoon spices (optional, for making a specialty type bar)
3 tablespoons peanut butter or 1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1. Heat the oven to 325°F. Line an 11"x7" baking pan with parchment, leaving extra parchment to hang over the sides. Lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray or butter. If desired, toast the nuts and grains for 10-15 minutes until toasted and fragrant.

2. Mix the oats, cereal, nuts, and dried fruit together in a mixing bowl.

3. Warm the rice syrup for 10-15 seconds in the microwave or in a small saucepan over medium heat. It should be just warm enough to pour, not to sizzle when salt & spices are added. Mix in the vanilla extract, salt, spices (if using), and peanut butter or cocoa powder.

4. Pour the rice syrup over the dry ingredients. Stir the rice syrup into the dry ingredients until the ingredients are completely coated and start to stick together in clumps.

5. Pour/scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and firmly press the mixture into the pan.

6. Bake the bars for 20-25 minutes for chewy granola bars or 25-30 minutes for crunchy bars. As soon as you remove the bars from the oven, press them again with the back of a lightly oiled spatula. (This will give you more compacted granola bars.)

7. Let the bars cool completely in the pan. They will firm up as they cool. Once cooled, cut into 8 bars in the pan with a very sharp knife, then lift the bars by the flaps of parchment to remove from the pan. Store between layers of wax paper in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

04 April 2013

Mint Chocolate Ice Cream

Last weekend at the farmers' market, there was proof of a devious mind. Someone had placed the bundles of mint directly by their register. How could I resist buying some? It was so fragrant and wonderful.

At first, I thought I might use it in a sauce for the lamb we had for Easter dinner, but that didn't happen. Thus comes the second inevitability concerning this bundle of mint: I had to make ice cream. Obviously.

As a trusted source of many frozen desserts, I turned to David Lebovitz's website for a recipe. Needless to say, he had one. I'm about half-way through steeping the leaves right now, but I can't imagine anything going awry. (P.S. Nothing did go awry--it's delicious, though yes, it is more herbal than the store bought mint.) So here it is.

Mint Chocolate Ice Cream
adapted from The Perfect Scoop via David Lebovitz
makes 1 quart


1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream, divided
pinch of salt
2 cups packed fresh mint leaves
5 large egg yolks
5 ounces chocolate

1. In a pot, warm the milk, 1 cup of cream, sugar, salt and mint leaves over medium heat until steaming

2. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour

3. Strain the leaves out of the cream and milk, and press out as much liquid from the leaves as possible (try to avoid excessive bruising as cell damage increases the herbaceous flavor and doesn't extract extra menthol)

4. Return the infused liquid back into the pot and rewarm

5. While the infusion is warming, whisk the egg yolks together in a bowl

6. Add a bit of the warmed infusion into the yolks a drizzle at a time, continuing to whisk

7. Once the yolks are warmed, drizzle into the pot of infusion, stirring as you do

8. Stir this custard mixture until it becomes thick enough to coat the spatula, just before it gets steamy (steam point tends to be around 180°F, yolk set point is 177°F)

8b. Optional: Strain the custard base if you think you have any clumps

9. Add the rest of the cream and cool--you can do this over an ice bath--then refrigerate several hours or overnight

10. Churn according to the directions on your ice cream maker

11. While that's churning, melt the chocolate (in a double boiler or the microwave)

12. Toward the end of the churning or as you are putting the ice cream in a container, drizzle the chocolate over the ice cream and stir (or let be churned) a little at a time

13. Freeze until firm

08 March 2013

Blueberry Muffins

I love muffin recipes that use yogurt for the dairy component. There's a delicacy to the crumb that is delightful, a thickness to the batter making it easy to work with, an aroma when baking that I find particularly compelling. That said, I do wish this recipe was worked for twelve regular muffins instead of nine to ten, but I'm hesitant to mess with perfection. And, indeed, the original post from Smitten Kitchen is quite right in calling this recipe perfect.

Blueberry Muffins
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 9 to 10 standard muffins

5 tablespoons (2 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup (6 ounces) plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces) blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, don’t defrost)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F

2. Line or grease and flour ten wells in a standard muffin tin

3. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy

4. Add egg to creamed butter and mix well

5. Add yogurt and zest to mixture and stir to incorporate

6. In separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt

7. Add the dries to the wets in two steps

8. Fold in the blueberries

9. Divide evenly into prepared wells of the muffin tin

10. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of one of the muffins comes out clean

11. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan before removing