31 December 2011


Last year over the holidays was the first time I had helped to make springerles, and I was amazed that the only anise flavor came from the aniseeds that the cookies lay upon. As I had recently taken up making my own extracts, and both Chris and I wanted more anise-y springerles, I made a lovely anise extract for this year's batch.

Making aniseed extract couldn't be more simple, either: Fill a small jar half way with aniseeds, top with vodka and let it sit for several months before straining. And I must say, this batch of springerles is most excellent. That said, whipping whole eggs 'til light and fluffy is still weird!

makes several dozen depending on thickness

3 large eggs
1-2 tablespoons of butter
1-1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon aniseed extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3 tablespoons aniseeds, or enough to cover your cookie sheet

1. Beat the whole eggs until light and fluffy and the eggs come off the beaters in ribbons

2. Add butter, sugar, and extract to the eggs and mix

3. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder

4. Add the flour mixture in 1/2 cup increments until you can no longer beat the mixture, then mix in by hand the rest of the flour

5. Roll out the dough so that it's 1/2 inch thick, then press into shapes so that it is at least 1/4 inch thick

6. Cut out the cookies and lay out approximately 3/4 inch apart on top of a cookie sheet that has been lightly covered with aniseeds

7. Leave out at room temperature overnight to 24 hours to dry out

8. Preheat the oven to 325°F and bake the cookies for 13-15 minutes. Do not brown!

17 December 2011

Oat and Neep Stew

Once upon a time, when I was looking for Scottish fare to serve on Burns' Day (because I neither could nor wanted to serve haggis), I found a stew that was thickened with rolled oats and called for turnip or rutabaga as the main starch. Of course, I've never found it again, and I've done some adjustments to the proportions of the stew, but the inspiration stands.

The original recipe called for some sort of bean or lentil, I'm sure, but I don't remember exactly what. I have, however, settled on using both beans and lentils, though more of the former, and I particularly like kidney or cannellini beans in this recipe. (By the by, I was looking up the correct spelling of cannellini and randomly found out that in fact "as few as five raw [kidney] beans" can cause poisoning "and symptoms occur within three hours, beginning with nausea, then vomiting, which can be severe and sustained [profuse], followed by diarrhea. Recovery occurs within four or five hours of onset, usually without the need for any medical intervention." [Wikipedia] Of course boiling them for ten minutes takes care of that, but still. How odd.)

I've also tried a few different meats in this stew. Ground lamb is what was in the original recipe, and it is delicious. Chicken (not ground) also works very well, but steer clear of beef as it's too bitter for this stew. And I guess that's all I really have to say about this recipe, so let's get to it.

Oat and Neep Stew
serves 6-8

3/4 cup dry kidney or cannellini beans
1/2 cup dry lentils

4 cups vegetable stock
1 to 1-1/2 pounds of rutabaga or turnip
2 large carrots
1 large onion
2 large cloves garlic
1 pound meat (chicken or ground lamb)
2 sprigs rosemary
3 sprigs thyme
1/2 cup rolled oats
salt and pepper to taste


1. Soak your beans overnight or for at least 3 hours and discard soaking water. Lentils need to soak at least 1 hour, but can be soaked overnight too, just expect them to fall to mush if you do this. You can skip this step, but do at least rinse the legumes, and know that they will take longer to cook if you haven't soaked them.

2. After discarding the soaking water, put legumes in a pot and cover with water by about 3 inches. Bring this to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and simmer until tender.

3. Meanwhile, cut the carrots and rutabaga into bite-sized pieces; dice the onions; mince the garlic, rosemary and thyme.

4. In a separate pan from the legumes, sear the meat and then sauté the onions and garlic. Set these aside.

5. Drain the bean liquor if you want, if not, you'll have to use a bit more oats to thicken the stew.

6. Add everything to the pot with the legumes; bring it to a boil, reduce again to a simmer and cook until the carrots and rutabaga are tender and the beans are a bit mushy.

23 November 2011

Chocolate Beet Cake

My first experience with chocolate beet cake was at a potluck earlier this year when Chris and I went to our CSA farm for a day of cider pressing. It was pretty exquisite, but it was much more a chocolate cake that incidentally had beets in it than a chocolate beet cake. The recipe that I found for making it at home, however, is more the latter. This is a beet cake that has some lovely chocolatey-ness to it, and I love it.

An additional note now that I've made this recipe again: I found that the cake is very different depending on how you make the puree. Boiling gives a much less pronounced beet flavor. This was probably obvious if I had thought on it, but I hadn't until it smacked me in the face. That said, I found boiling to be even easier than roasting and definitely shorter, so it's a bit of a toss up as to which I prefer.

So, without further ado, here's the recipe.

Chocolate Beet Cake
makes a two-layer 9-inch cake
adapted from Tiger in a Jar

1/2 cup oil (or butter)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs

4 (1 ounce) squares semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 pound (~2 cups) beet puree*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ounce liquor of choice (I used whiskey)

10 ounces (2 to 2-1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

confectioner's sugar or frosting (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F and grease two 9-inch cake pans

2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together (or cream if using butter) oil and brown sugar; then add eggs and mix well

3. In a medium mixing bowl (or double boiler) melt chocolate and 1/4 cup butter and stir until smooth

4. Cool the chocolate slightly before adding beets, vanilla and liquor

5. Add the beet mix to the butter/sugar/egg mix and blend thoroughly (this apparently may appear separated, but I didn't have such an issue)

6. Sift together flour, soda, and salt before adding to the wet ingredients and stirring until smooth

7. Pour one-half the batter into each cake pan and bake for 20-30 minutes

8. Cool in pan for at least 10 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely

9. Dust with confectioner's sugar or frost and serve

*If you've not made beet puree before, it's very simple. You can either just boil the beets until they're soft, skin them and put them in the blender with a bit of water, or you can skin them, roast them with a bit of water then pour all that in the blend and puree it. It does take about an hour to roast them versus about 30 minutes to boil, but still easy-peasy. And cooked beets (either way) or beet puree freezes just fine.

12 November 2011

Guy Fawkes Day Cake

I haven't the slightest idea why Brits traditionally have a ginger cake for Guy Fawkes Day, but when Chris and I were looking at gingerbread recipes, we came across this one and saw that it wasn't too sweet and it had molasses in it (double score!). We even made it almost on time (Guy Fawkes Day was a week ago). Now, we did indeed made it according to the recipe in the book, substituting only lemon vodka (homemade) for the zest and upping the amount of ginger, but we weren't told to absolutely not use just blackstrap molasses. Which you shouldn't, as we found out. We also decided we really did miss the egg. So here's the slightly revised recipe.

Guy Fawkes Day Cake (Parkins Cake)
adapted from Joy of Cooking
1-8" round cake

1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, melted
2/3 cup molasses (NOT blackstrap); alternatively, 1/3 cup molasses (can be blackstrap) + 1/3 cup honey
1 egg
1 teaspoon lemon vodka or lemon zest

5 ounces (1 cup) flour
2-5/8 ounces (~2/3 cup) rolled oats
1 tablespoon sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons ground ginger (according to personal preference)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2/3 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease an 8-inch cake pan

2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix the melted butter and the molasses (and honey, if you're doing half and half), then beat in the egg and lemon zest

3. In a separate, large mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients

4. To the dry ingredients, add 1/2 the butter mixture and stir until the mixture is uniformly moist, then add half the milk, stir, the other half of the butter mixture, stir again, and finally the last half of the milk and stir until thoroughly mixed

5. Pour into the greased cake pan, and bake 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean

14 October 2011

Cape Gooseberry Jam

I first tasted a cape gooseberry while I was in Germany. It was served as the crowning jewel of a dessert and none of my group knew what it was. Our first thought was that it was a small tomato, but when I bit into it, I knew that wasn't the case. It was such a revelation of flavor. It was a heavenly bite of goodness. I had a new favorite fruit. Of course, it took several people that our server had to consult with to give it an English name: Cape Gooseberry. And when I got back to the US, I looked up this lovely fruit and my what names it is called: husk cherry, tomatillo (but not the type one makes Mexican salsa verde from), ground cherry, and a few others besides.

Well, fortunately for me, my CSA last year gave us so many that I couldn't eat all of them and decided to jam some. Oh, what wonder! Unfortunately, I didn't record my recipe, but I have found another with which I have jammed this year's crop; which this time are some I picked myself, though it was indeed from the farm I have this year's CSA.

Cape Gooseberry Jam
yields 6 cups

2 pounds fruit, husked and washed
2 pounds sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 box pectin

1. Pierce the fruit with a fork and cover with sugar and store in fridge overnight

2. In the morning, blend at least 3/4 of the fruit and sugar into a puree and add back into the pot

3. Add the pectin and lemon juice

4. Bring to a full rolling boil and hold for a minute, or until a thermometer shows at least 220°F (jell point) and/or a drop on a cold plate shows jelling

5. Jar as usual

08 October 2011

Pickled Peppers

When it comes to pickled things, I'm more than a bit picky. I don't like any sort of pickled cucumber, though this might be because I don't like cucumbers. I didn't like the pickled carrots I made so long ago. I do, however, like sauerkraut and pickled plums, and I have recently discovered a love of pickled peppers.

I first had some pickled peppers not that long ago. I know, what rock have I been living under all my life? (Unfortunately, that would be my mother who doesn't really care for most vegetables and then destroys them when attempting to do something that resembles cooking them for other people.) Anyway, I had these pickled peppers on a grilled cheese sandwich when I was in Traverse City, MI visiting my old friend Beth, and it was the most fantastic explosion of deliciousness in my mouth.

So, when the pepper harvest came in from my CSA this year and I was inundated with peppers of all natures, I thought that I would try to recreate this wonderful thing. And I did.

Pickled Peppers
1 cup water
1 cup distilled white vinegar
3% w/w (non-iodized) kosher salt (~1/2 ounce)

Enough peppers to fill the up to 2 pint jars, preferably a mix of (mostly) sweet and (2-3) spicy (but not habaneros as their flesh is too thin)

1. Prepare jars and begin boiling the water bath canner

2. Cut the peppers in half, remove the seeds, and sear the skins of the peppers beneath a broiler or over a grill

3. Remove the peppers skins and chop as finely as you'd like the pickled peppers

4. Boil the water, vinegar and salt solution for five minutes

5. Pack the jars tightly and to within 3/4" of the rim

6. Pour the pickling liquid over the peppers and fill up to 1/2" of the rim

7. Remove air bubbles in the jar by running a chopstick around the side

8. Lid the jars and process in water bath for ten minutes (fifteen for quarts)

Note: Some people want to have a 1:2 water:vinegar concentration, but as long as the jars remain sealed the contents are safe to eat. If you do want to up the vinegar, but you don't want the extra sourness, you can add sugar (though I don't know how much per cup of liquid). Sugar, however, tones down spiciness as well as acidity, so you'll want to add more spicy peppers per jar to get the same kick.

These pickled peppers will need to sit preferably a month or more to properly soak in all the flavors--the sourness of the vinegar, the saltiness, and the spice from whatever hot peppers you added to the jar.

12 September 2011

Kabocha French Lentil Soup

We've just started getting winter squashes from our CSA this past week, even though it seems a bit early doesn't it? Well, this very first week, the only squashes in the bin were of a kind that I hadn't really paid any attention to before. Oh, I'd heard of kabocha squashes, but I always went for the varieties more familiar to me such as butternut or acorn or even delicata. Silly me didn't even recognize what she picked up for being kabocha and didn't remember to ask before she left with it in her bag.

Fortunately, roasting winter squashes is all so much the same, and while it was roasting I was looking for a new and interesting recipe. During that search, lo and behold, I figured out exactly what I had and came upon the following delightful recipe without hardly trying. The agricultural gods must love me.

The ginger I find to be much more important than the anise, but maybe that was because I didn't have any fennel to really bring out that licorice flavor. Regardless, kabochas are sweet squashes and spices that accent that feature couldn't go wrong in here. I found that the squash could have used a little coaxing to really integrate with the soup, which is why I added the optional step of pureeing it before it goes in with the lentils.

Overall, it is an ugly looking soup, but it tastes phenomenal. I'm definitely going to do this again, either with more kabocha or some butternut like the person who posted the recipe suggested. I might even think about doing this with some sweet potato, as I think it would have a very appropriate taste and texture.

Kabocha French Lentil Soup
adapted (a little) from here
Serves 4 - 6

1 kabocha or other dark orange winter squash, ~1-1/2 lb
1 tablespoon canola oil

1 cup green lentils, rinsed
5 coins ginger, 1/8-inch thick
between 10 to 20 aniseeds
6 cups water
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
2-3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, medium dice
(1 leek, sliced into 1/4 moons)
(1 fennel bulb, medium dice)
red pepper flakes

1. Preheat oven to 350°F, with a rack in the top third of the oven.

2. Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Oil and salt the squash and roast cut side down with the bottom of the pan covered in 1/4" of water for about 45 to 60 minutes or until tender.

3. Take squash out and let cool. When cool enough to handle, scoop out cooked squash and set aside.

4. Meanwhile, in a large pot, combine the lentils, ginger, aniseeds and 6 cups water. Simmer until tender, about 30 minutes. Then add 1 teaspoon salt.

5. In a separate sauté pan, sauté the onion (and leek and fennel if you choose) until tender.

6. Remove the ginger coins from the lentil sauce pan.

(Optional step 6.5 For a smoother consistency, puree the squash with the lentil broth)

7. Add the squash and the vegetables to the lentils and broth in the stock pot. Stir well and cook for another 15 minutes or so, allowing the flavors to blend. Taste and adjust the seasoning here with more salt if needed. I used red pepper flakes as well.

23 July 2011

Tomato and Corn Biscuit Pie

I saw a recipe for tomato and corn pie last summer on Smitten Kitchen and just had to make it. Considering how much I liked it, I'm surprised I didn't post it on here sooner. I have made only a couple very minor adjustments, the two important ones being using my own biscuit recipe for the crust (2/3 of the Yogurt Biscuit recipe) and using drained homemade yogurt in place of mayo and lemon juice.

Tomato and Corn Pie
serves 8

3 oz pastry flour
6 oz ap flour (or 3 oz ap, 3 oz whole wheat)
(that's about 2 cups flour total)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
3/4 to 1 cup (~6 ounces) plain yogurt

1-3/4 lb tomatoes (2 large or 3 medium), blanched and peeled
1-1/2 cups corn (from 3 ears), coarsely chopped by hand
1/4 cup basil leaves
1/8 cup chives
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
6-7 oz (1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cup) cheddar, grated
about 1 cup yogurt to drain (alternately, 1/3 cup mayonnaise + 2 tablespoons lemon juice or scant 1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt)

1. Preheat oven to 400°F

2. Place two layers of paper towel in a colander and set the colander over a bowl. Scoop in about 1 cup yogurt to drain

3. In a large mixing bowl, mix flours, baking powder, baking soda, and the salt for the crust

4. Grate in the butter

5. Add the yogurt and mix gently until all ingredients are in a ball

6. Split the ball of dough in two and roll out on a well-floured sheet of wax paper

7. Place bottom crust into a pie tin

8. Slice tomato into rounds, and gently deseed; roughly chop the corn (if you haven't already); finely chop the chives and basil; grate the cheese

9. Layer into the pie crust half each of the tomato slices, corn, cheese, herbs and spices (salt and pepper); then layer in the second half

10. Top with a scant 1/2 cup drained yogurt

11. Top with the second rolled out crust, seal and flute the edges, then cut air vents in the top (as with any other pie)

12. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly

29 June 2011


makes 24

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup
1 large egg + 1/4 cup infused vodka of choice (or another large egg)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Whisk to combine.

Cream butter and vegetable shortening in bowl of electric mixer. Add sugar and beat until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add egg and beat in.

Add flour and mix to combine.

Combine 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon in small bowl.

Form dough into 1 1/2" balls. Roll in sugar and cinnamon.

Place on baking sheet lined with parchment, partially pressing down. Bake until top is cracked and lightly golden, 12-14 minutes.

Cool completely

21 June 2011

Shortcake Biscuits

Among other sweets to use up all the strawberries I mentioned in my last post, Chrissy is quite the fan of strawberry shortcake. Personally, when I think of strawberry shortcake, I'm thinking of a sponge cake–you know, something that actually involves cake. However, Chris and his family, for whom I'm making the shortcake, are more partial to the type of "shortcake" that's a cross between a biscuit and a scone. Mind you, I find these delicious and I certainly don't mind the shortcake biscuits being the vehicle for my strawberry and whipped cream consumption, I just think that a more cake-like substance is better. Nonetheless, here is a recipe for shortcake biscuits.

Shortcake Biscuits
makes about 12
adapted from Joy of Cooking

2 cups ap flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1-1/4 cups cream

1. Preheat oven to 450°F

2. Mix dry ingredients together.

3. Add cream all at once and stir briefly. Then very gently knead the dough until all the flour is incorporated.

4. Roll out on a lightly flour surface until dough is a scant 3/4 inch thick and cut into 3 inch diameter circles. Re-roll extra dough and cut out more circles until all the dough is used.

5. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

6. Serve with strawberries that have been cut and macerated in sugar, and some whipped cream.

Strawberry Ricotta Ice Cream

The time has come again that Chris and I were visiting his grandmother and picking strawberries; and let me tell you, I thought nine quarts last year was a lot, but this year we picked fourteen quarts in one day. So now I have at least five cups frozen, four cups just to eat, and ten cups all cut up and just waiting to be used. That's a bit much just for jam and pie, and I just couldn't resist the thought of homemade ice cream, even though I don't have créme fraîche. Fortunately, there was some ricotta just wanting to be used in the fridge.

Now, I don't have an ice cream maker, so this was a bit tedious, I'll admit. I had to pour it into a large pan to increase surface area and give it a good stir every 15-25 minutes. Next time, I'm going to cut back on the alcohol, 'cause that added on extra hours of freezing time my way. It was, however worth it.

Strawberry Ricotta Ice Cream
makes 3-4 cups
adapted from Tigress in a Jam

2 cups washed and cut strawberries (~1 pound)
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup ricotta
1/2 to 1 tablespoon alcohol (I used vanilla brandy)
1 teaspoon (fresh) lemon juice

1. Wash and hull about one pound strawberries. This should give you your 2 cups cut berries.

2. Macerate the strawberries briefly in the sugar.

3. Place everything in a food processor or blender and give it a whirl. The end consistency is up to you, so let this go until you have the strawberry chunks the size you'd like.

4. If everything was already cold, you can go onto freezing it now, if not, place in the fridge overnight.

5. If you have an ice cream maker, follow the instructions, otherwise, you can proceed one of two ways:

5a. Pour the liquid into a large sheet pan. You're going for surface area, as the quicker this freezes the smoother the product. Place the pan in the freezer so that it is fairly flat. Every 15-25 minutes, stir with a fork fairly well to break up and distribute ice crystals. Do this until it has reached soft serve consistency, then scoop into a quart-sized container, cover with wax paper, and let finish freezing.

5b. Pour into a quart-sized ziplock bag, place this bag into a gallon-sized bag and fill that with ice and a teaspoon salt. Shake the bags until the ice cream reaches soft serve consistency (at least 1/2 hour), then scoop into a quart-sized container, cover with wax paper, and let finish freezing.

15 May 2011

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Though lemon poppy seed muffins are not my favorite muffins, I am always amused when I make them because of Chris's inordinately happy response. He certainly enjoys their lemony goodness with his mid-morning tea! I, on the other hand, have to limit myself (which is no bad thing in and of itself, I just get a little jealous when Chrissy grabs three) because I inherited my grandmother's reaction to opiates. That is to say, I can only consume so many poppy seeds before I get shaky and nauseous (and forget anything stronger). Nonetheless, these seem to be the only muffins we ever make around here, and this is one of the best recipes I've found--tweaked only a little to include my homemade limoncello and no fresh lemon zest.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
adapted from Annie's Eats
yields about 12 muffins

9 ounces (~2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature or softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 medium eggs
1/3 cup limoncello
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup yogurt (plain or vanilla)

For the glaze (optional):
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
1-2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350°F

2. Mix all the dry ingredients (flour, seeds, b. powder & soda, salt)

3. In a separate bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy (~2 min. with electric beater, 3-4 min. by hand)

4. To the sweetened butter, beat in the eggs one at a time

5. Add the limoncello, lemon extract and vanilla to the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly

6. To the wet ingredients, add 1/2 of the dry, mix; the cup of yogurt, mix; other 1/2 of dry, mix

7. Into a greased or lined muffin tin, divide up the batter evenly

8. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean

9. While they are still warm, glaze if desired

12 March 2011


Chris and I have brewed at home all of twice now, a wheat beer last spring that was so-so and a Belgian Saison that we started a month ago that's turned out quite nice. This time, though, we were looking for other interesting things to which brewing supplies could lend themselves. Among them, we saw that bagels, of all things, require malt syrup (at least the recipe that intrigued us). So what were we to do but make bagels?

We found a recipe on Smitten Kitchen that adapted a Peter Reinhart recipe. We didn't have high-gluten flour, but we did have bread flour. Unfortunately, the first attempt with bread flour didn't turn out quite right in shape (they smooshed overnight in the fridge), though we figure this might have just been because it was a wee bit wet. Regardless, the second attempt incorporated vital wheat gluten and turned out much more shapely.

Whether I found this so easy because I keep Amara (my sourdough sponge) on hand, or just because I'm quite used to baking many and sundry bread products, I don't know. I do know, though, that there will be many more renditions of our homemade bagels!

adapted from Peter Reinhart via Smitten Kitchen
yield 8 (3-3/4 to 4 oz) bagels

1-1/4 pound 100% hydration sponge (10 oz flour, 10 oz water)
1/4 teaspoon yeast
scant 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt (3/4 tsp table salt)
1/2 tablespoon malt syrup (or honey, molasses, or brown sugar, or 1 tsp malt powder)
8-3/4 ounces bread flour
1-1/4 ounces vital wheat gluten
(optional) 4 ounces of dried fruit, 1 teaspoon cinnamon

To add to the boiling water:
1 tablespoon baking soda

Plus any toppings, such as:
Asiago cheese
Chopped onion
Sesame seeds

1. Let your starter/sponge come up to room temperature if it has been in the fridge. If you do not already have a starter, add equal parts by weight flour and water (assume ~5 oz/cup for flour, 8 oz/cup water), along with 1/2 teaspoon yeast and let sit for at least 2 hours

2. Mix starter, malt, salt, and yeast together, giving a cursory stir to help begin to incorporate these ingredients

3a. Add the gluten and flour and knead for 10 minutes, adding flour as needed. The dough should be relatively firm at 1:2 water to flour, but still pliable and smooth, not at all sticky

3b. If adding dried fruit (such as raisins) and/or cinnamon I've found this is the best time to add it. Stretch out the dough, and add the dried fruit a small handful at a time and a sprinkle of cinnamon, folding inbetween additions, and kneading briefly after all the fruit is in.

4. Divide into equal portions, and cover with a damp towel. Let sit for 20 minutes.

5. Cover a pan in parchment paper, and lightly oil.

6. Make a somewhat large hole (2-1/2 inches) in your the dough balls by poking your thumb through the middle and using your finger to roll and shape the dough. Try to make the bagel as even as possible.

7. Place on the parchment paper, lightly oil the tops of the bagels, and let sit for 20 more minutes.

8. Check to see if the bagels are ready to be retarded in the refrigerator by using the “float test”. Fill a small bowl with cool or room-temperature water. The bagels are ready to be retarded when they float within 10 seconds of being dropped into the water. Take one bagel and test it.

9. If it floats, immediately return the tester bagel to the pan, pat it dry, cover the pan, and place it in the refrigerator overnight (it can stay in the refrigerator for up to 2 days). If the bagel does not float. Return it to the pan and continue to proof the dough at room temperature, checking back every 10 to 20 minutes or so until a tester floats. The time needed to accomplish the float will vary, depending on the ambient temperature and the stiffness of the dough.

Next morning:
10. Preheat the oven to 500°F, and bring a large pot of water to a boil.

11. Add baking soda and malt syrup to the boiling water.

12. Get the bagels from the fridge, and slip them into the boiling water one at a time until there are as many bagels as fit comfortably floating on top of the water (2-3 for my pot).

13. Boil the bagels for 1-2 minutes (longer gives chewier bagels), then flip with a slotted spoon, and boil for 1-2 more.

14. While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle a bit of corn meal on the parchment paper.

15. As you pull the bagels out of the water, place them back on the parchment paper (on the corn meal) and top them as you like.

16. Once you have a full tray of bagels, place them in the oven.

17. Bake for 5 minutes, then turn the pan 180° and reduce the temperature to 450°F. Bake for another 5 minutes or until the bagels are a lovely golden to golden brown.

08 March 2011


It's that time of year again. The time when certain monotheistic cultures celebrate one last time before they deprive themselves until the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox. The whole practice sounds kind of pagan to me (other than the fact that it's for Jesus), but hey celebrations are always fun.

All joking cynicism aside, although I didn't grow up with the tradition of pączki, being neither Catholic nor Polish, I took to it quite well when introduced by some of my friends. I have always liked sugary, yeasty fried dough, and the addition of jam in the middle (rather than some sort of custardy filling) just clinched the deal for me. So after four years of delighting in the wonders of pączki every Fat Tuesday, not being able to find a decent example in Boston last year (though I've recently found out that I just didn't look in quite the right places at quite the right times) was very sad.

I was up to the challenge, though, and after finding and bookmarking an appropriate looking recipe, I decided to try my hand at it myself this year. It was certainly easier than I ever thought it would be. Frying might have taken forever with a big batch, but I thirded the recipe and was very content with what I came out with--plenty for just Chris and me.

adapted from The Novice Chef Blog

4 egg yolks
3/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons yeast
4 teaspoons warm water
2 tablespoons room temperature butter
3 tablespoons sugar
7-1/2 ounces (~1-1/2 cups) flour (1-3/4 ounces pastry, 5-3/4 ounces ap)
1-1/2 tablespoons (sugar plum) brandy (rum or vodka will also work)
1/3 cup scalded whipping cream
Jam for filling
Crisco for frying (oil or lard work too)
Granulated sugar for dipping

1. Dissolve the yeast in the water, and let sit for at least 5 minutes.

2. Scald the cream on medium-low heat, then remove from heat and let sit

3. Add salt to the egg yolks, then beat until mixture is thick, slightly lightened, and forms a ribbon that takes a few seconds to disappear when the beater is raised (~5 min)

4. Cream the butter, then add sugar to it gradually, beating until fluffy.

5. Slowly beat in the yeast.

6. Stir in one quarter of the flour into the butter mixture.

7. Add brandy and half of the cream.

8. Beat in another quarter of the flour.

9. Stir in remaining cream.

10. Beat in another quarter of the flour.

11. Add egg yolk mixture, and beat for 2 minutes.

12. Gradually beat in the remaining flour until the dough blisters.

13. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise. When it has doubled in bulk, punch it down. Cover and let rise again until doubled. Punch it down again.

14. Transfer the dough to a board lightly dusted with flour, roll out until it's the thickness of your pinky.

15. Using a 2-1/2 to 3 inch cutter, cut the dough into circles, wadding up the scraps and re-rolling until all the dough is used. Place on a baking pan dusted with flour. Cover again and let it double in bulk.

16. Heat oil to 350°F in a wok, a deep fryer or even a wide skillet. This was at medium heat on my stove. You can test the temperature by frying a piece of bread; it should bubble and turn golden quickly. Fry as many pączki at a time as fit comfortably without touching each other. Do not crowd as this lowers the temperature and the pączki will absorb too much grease. When one side is golden, flip with a fork to fry the other side.

17. After you've removed the pączki from the oil, dip immediately in sugar, then place on paper towels to drain any excess oil.

18. Fill them with the jam of your choice by squirting about two teaspoons into them with a pastry bag fitted with a doughnut tip.

17 February 2011

Yogurt Biscuits

Before Chris and I left for a week, I naturally wanted to do something with our short-term perishables, namely our milk. Fortunately, there was a beautiful application that I like doing anyway: yogurt. Homemade yogurt is a bit thinner than store bought as it doesn't have such things as pectin or cornstarch. As such it is much better for baking with. I use my homemade yogurt in my naan and some curries (though that's not baking). I also use it occasionally when feeding my sourdough starter or directly in my bread.

So now that we're back and neither of us has had a chance to go to the store (Chris being quite busy with work and me being sick), we're finding out pretty much everything we can do with what's on hand. The past couple of mornings, we've had some waffles that we froze before we left, and this morning I found a really good recipe for yogurt biscuits.

Yogurt Biscuits
adapted from Mark Bittman via Culinate Kitchen Collection
makes at least 15

5 oz pastry flour
4 oz whole wheat flour
4 oz ap flour
(that's about 3 cups flour total, adjust individual amounts according to preference)
1-1/4 teaspoons kosher salt (3/4 tsp table salt)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
8 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups (~10 ounces) plain yogurt

1. Preheat the oven to 450°

2. Mix together the dry ingredients

3. Either cut or grate the butter into the dry ingredients

4. Stir the yogurt into the dry ingredients, until the dough just comes together. If you still have some dry at the bottom, use an additional spoonful of yogurt

5. Using your hands, press all the dough together into a shaggy ball, and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface

6. Knead gently until the dough holds together; keep in mind that it will probably still be a bit sticky

7. Press dough into a ¾-inch-thick rectangle and cut into biscuits with a round glass or biscuit cutter dipped into flour

8. Place the biscuits onto an ungreased baking sheet

9. Reshape the leftover dough, being careful not to overwork it, and cut out more biscuits

10. If you don't have a double bottom baking sheet, place the baking sheet on top of an identical baking sheet as a double pan lowers the chance of overbaking the bottoms of the biscuits and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the biscuits are golden-brown. These biscuits are best served warm.

02 February 2011

Chocolate Mousse

I was looking through the various recipes that I keep on hand, and I realized that this mousse recipe has never made it here to Jammin' Jelly. That's likely because I tend to make it around the holidays, when I either have little to no access to the internet or am just not thinking about blogging a recipe when I could be talking with the people I love.

Regardless, I think this is such a wonderful recipe that I really do want to share it here. I know plenty of other people like it, as I've found it spammed over other food blogs, but it originates from Gourmet Magazine and you can find it here. I will say that I like it with the darker chocolate, but if you don't, you should use semi-sweet chocolate rather than bittersweet.

Without further ado,

Rich Chocolate Mousse
Serves 4-6
adapted from Gourmet

8 oz bittersweet chocolate (60-70%), chopped
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick)
3 large eggs, separated
1 tablespoon brandy, rum, or other liquor (such as creme de menthe)
1 cup heavy whipping cream (not ultra-pasteurized)
1/8 teaspoon salt

1. Melt chocolate and butter, either in a metal bowl over pan of boiling water or in a glass bowl in the microwave. I know some people have trouble with scorching chocolate in the microwave, but it's my preferred method. I melt the chocolate for 1 min, then stir and add butter and put it in for an additional minute. Stir it again when you take it out.

2. If you don't care for washing your beater(s) inbetween beating the different parts of the eggs, start with beating the whites with the salt. Beat until they've formed soft peaks.

3. Beat the egg yolks until they are lightened and thick. A ribbon formed when you pick the beater up should take a few seconds to disappear.

4. Add the yolks and liquor to the chocolate mixture and stir in.

5. Beat the cream until stiff.

6. Fold cream and whites into chocolate mixture gently.

7. Transfer to dessert glasses or bowls, chill for 30 minutes before serving. You can also chill, covered tightly for up to 2 days, though you'll want to let them stand at room temp for 30 minutes before serving if you do completely chill them.

17 January 2011

Waffling on Waffles for Breakfast

For Christmas, my boyfriend's family does a passing game with small gifts. It's vaguely amusing in that it would be awfully fun with the right people, but between Chris and I being the only people of our generation that participate and the gifts being somewhat...odd, I am not completely fond of it. Nonetheless, there are occasional wonderful gifts. Usually they end up with people that can't use them, but fortunately for the waffle maker that Chris's dad ended up with (he already has one), it found a lovely home with us.

I was a bit skeptical that we would really put it to good use, mainly because I didn't know where we would find room to put it; and if it's shoved in too inconvenient of a place, Chris and I would be unlikely to unbury it to make lovely waffles. Fortunately, Chris and I (read: mostly Chris) found the motivation to rearrange the kitchen/dining area of our apartment (and Chris even cleaned out the closets), so it now has a lovely home beside the yogurt maker and the crock-pot.

Which all leads up to the point of this post, making wonderful waffles. Now, I haven't really made waffles before. I have used pre-made batter back in my college dorm days in the cafeteria, but that's really the extent of it. I know, I'm so deprived, aren't I? Fortunately, I love whipping things with my little hand-cranked beater.

Half-Whole Wheat Waffles
makes about 8

4-3/8 oz (7/8 cup) whole wheat flour
4-3/8 oz (7/8 cup) pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

4 medium eggs, separated and at room temperature
12 oz (1-1/2 cups) milk, room temperature
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter--can halve for low-fat or double for rich and amazing
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Measure out and mix together solids.

2. In a separate bowl, melt butter

3. Separate eggs, beat whites until just past the soft-peak stage.

4. Beat yolks until lightened (a couple minutes)

5. Add yolks to the butter, mix

6. Add milk and vanilla to yolks and butter, mix thoroughly

7. Make a well in the solids, pour in milk-mixture

8. Stir until liquids are fully incorporated

9. Fold in egg whites

10. Pour ~1/2 cup into each section in the waffle maker and let it do its thing. (I'm told most take about 4 minutes to properly cook a waffle, but I didn't time mine. I just waited until the green light came back on as per the directions.)

Serve with syrup, fruit, etc.