Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pumpkin Pie

pumpkin pie

Thanksgiving is this Thursday and I have no idea where 2011 has gone. It seems as if the days drag but once you stop and take a look around it's already Christmas. But I like fall and winter is my favorite season, so I suppose the year flying by is a good and bad thing. For this Thanksgiving I thought I would make a pumpkin pie.

This was my first pie and I think it came out pretty good!

Pumpkin Pie
1 can of pumpkin (15 oz.)
3/4 c brown sugar
1.25 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground cloves
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1.5 c half and half

Preheat oven to 400F. Prepare pie crust, roll out, and put in 9 inch pie plate. Crimp edge. Do not prick. Line with double thickness of foil and bake 15 minutes. Remove foil.

In large bowl, combine the pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves. Add eggs and beat lightly until combined. Gradually add half and half and stir until just combined.

There are two ways to do this next step. My recipe says to place the partially baked piecrust on the oven rack and then pour the filling in. I just poured it in the shell while it was still on the counter.

The unbaked pie

If you do what I did, be really careful when you pick it up because the filling is very thin. I also had some filling left over, so into the oven it went without a pie crust. I just baked the rest of it in another lightly greased dish.

Either way, you need to cover the edges with aluminum foil to prevent over browning. Bake the pie for 20 minutes and then remove the foil. Bake 25-30 minutes more. A knife inserted in the center should come out clean.

Pie Crust
1.5 c flour
1/2 t salt
1/4 c shortening
1/4 c butter, cut up
1/4-1/2 c ice water

In medium bowl, stir together flour and salt. Cut in shortening and butter. Slowly add the water and make a dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll out into a circle. Put in pie plate.

pie crust

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pig Stomach Stir Fry

Last week we were in the grocery store when J discovered an interesting section in the meat department. There were all kinds of fun stuff - tripe, pig stomach, pig ears, pig feet, and cow tongue. At first I was completely grossed out by the stomach. It was kind of wrinkled and limp and, well, I'll just let you have a look.

pig stomach

After we returned home sans pig parts, I really started considering it as an option. So we went back the next day and I bought the stomach and ears. I decided to tackle the stomach first.

I open the package. Apparently we bought two stomachs.
stomach #1
stomach #2

Anyway, there they sat in all their glory. I searched the Internet for proper ways to clean the stomachs. Our store didn't sell the raw stomachs, so we got the prepared stomachs, but they still needed washing. One of them, actually. I froze the smaller stomach for later use.

To Clean the Stomach:
Rub the stomach with kosher salt and let it sit for an hour. Make sure to rub the inside too. Mine slimed me. The stomach's juices were really flowing by the end of the hour.

Rinse it and turn it inside out. Rub more salt on it, rinse, and continue, making sure to get the inside of the stomach and the outside.

The inside was cool - it had some lining in there and stuff.
inside out stomach

Once you've done that, boil in some water for a couple of minutes. It should get kind of hard and stiff. Repeat the rinsing process. I rubbed the stomach with some lime juice in an effort to get rid of the offensive smell. Also, if you see any white stuff that looks like fat, it is fat. Trim it off.

When you're boiling the stomach, take a whiff of it. It's an odor like none I've ever smelled before.

The lime juice sort of helped though.

Next, boil the stomach for 1-2 hours or until you can poke through it easily with a fork.

boiled stomach
After boiling for 2 hours.

It is ready for your recipe.

I stir fried the stomach and served it over rice.

from here
1 pig’s stomach
3 cloves garlic (finely minced)
1 medium size ginger (skinned and finely sliced/chopped)
2 Tbsp dark sweet soy sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp fish Sauce
2 Tbsp black vinegar
4 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Cup of water or chicken stock

Slice the stomach into bite size pieces. Mix together the dark sweet soy sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, vinegar, and water. I used chicken stock.

halved stomach

Preheat the wok/pan. Add the sesame and ginger. Saute until ginger is crispy. Add garlic and saute until fragrant. Add the pig stomach, saute for about a minute. Add the liquid mixture and simmer until liquid is slightly reduced. It should make a nice sauce.

stomach stir fry

I bet if you gave this to someone and didn't tell them what it was, they'd happily try it out. The sauce was very good and the stomach was not bad. It was a bit chewy and did have a distinct taste. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011



It's definitely autumn around here these days - it's really cold at night. I wanted to make something that would warm me up from the inside. Also, I actually had a few days off, so I took advantage of that to make bagels. It's a two day process.

I've been working my way through The Bread Baker's Apprentice and so far it's been a fantastic book. All of the recipes have turned out, although that may be partly due to my habit of repeatedly checking to make sure I'm following the recipe exactly. It's the perfectionism in me I guess.

Makes 12 large bagels.

1 teaspoon yeast
4 cups bread flour
2.5 c water, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon yeast
3.75 cups bread flour
2.75 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons malt powder, or 1 tablespoon malt syrup or honey or brown sugar

To finish:
1 tablespoon baking soda
seeds/salts for topping

1. Make the sponge by stirring the yeast into the flour in a bowl. Add the water and stir until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like pancake batter). Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 2 hours.


After sitting for two hours, it was nice and bubbly.

2. To make the dough, in the same bowl, add 3 cups of the flour and all the salt and malt. I used a tablespoon of brown sugar. Stir till the ingredients make a ball.


3. Transfer dough to counter and knead at least ten minutes. There shouldn't be any raw flour - all the ingredients should be incorporated. This dough needs to pass the windowpane test.
This dough was the stiffest I've ever worked with.

4. Immediately divide the dough into pieces. I weighed mine to make them pretty equal. They should be about 4.5 ounces for standard bagels. If you want, make them smaller. Cover the rolls with a damp towel and let rest for about 20 minutes.

5. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper and mist lightly with spray oil.

6. Shape the bagels. You can either poke a hole in the middle of the roll and gently widen it or roll the dough into ropes and connect the two ends to make a circle. Place the shaped bagels on the pans. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for about 20 minutes.

7. Check to see if they're ready to be retarded by using the float test. Fill a bowl with room temperature or cool water and place a bagel in it. It should float within ten seconds of being dropped into the water. If it does, return the bagel to the pan and pat it dry gently. Put the pans in the refrigerator overnight.

If it doesn't float, return to the pan, pat dry, and continue proofing. Check the tester every 10-20 minutes until it floats.

8. When you are ready to bake the bagels, preheat oven to 500F. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Peter Reinhart must have had a huge pot of water. I used the biggest one we had and still had to the do the bagels one by one.

9. Boil the bagels for 1 minute, flip them, and boil for another minute. Sprinkle a parchment lined sheet pan with cornmeal. If you want to top your bagels, do so as soon as they come out of the water.

10. Once all of the bagels are done boiling, bake for 5 minutes.* Rotate the pans and reduce oven to 450F once you've rotated them. Bake for another 5 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and cool.
*I did my bagels in batches. I re-used the parchment paper from the first batch, which was wet from where the bagels were sitting. My second batch, the bagels that were baked on the wet places came out kind of soggy on the bottom. So...don't do that...make sure your parchment paper is dry.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cheese Muffins

Yesterday I made some nice cheese muffins. Between Hurricane Irene and everything else, I hadn't had a lot of time to make anything really. I think I would add something herby next time. Or spicy.

cheese muffins

I got 14 muffins out of this recipe.
3/4 c self rising flour
1 T baking powder
1 tsp salt
1.5 c cornmeal
1.5 c grated cheddar cheese
4 T butter, melted
2 large eggs, beaten
1 garlic clove, minced
1.25 c milk

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a muffin tin or line with paper liners. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl, then stir in cornmeal and 1 cup of the cheese.

Place the melted butter, eggs, garlic, and milk in a separate bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix gently until just combined.

Put the batter in the muffin tin. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Place in oven and bake 20-25 minutes or until risen and golden. Serve warm or place on cooling rack and let cool.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Kaiser Rolls

kaiser rolls

The other day I watched the finale of Food Network Star and the guy who won, Jeff, has his own show now - Sandwich King. I started thinking about sandwiches.

I'm not big on sandwiches but when I do have one, it's usually Wonderbread with cinnamon sugar. Like cinnamon sugar toast, except a sandwich. I came to the conclusion that eating plain Wonderbread is like eating air. It's boring and bland.

Which was okay, because I used to consider bread as just a vehicle for the stuff that fills the sandwich. After trying these Kaiser rolls, I am a changed person. They have a hard, crusty exterior and the inside is soft and light and perfect. You seriously don't even need to make a sandwich out of these. They can stand on their own, that is how delicious they are.

kaiser roll

This is a 2 day process. It's worth it.

Kaiser Rolls
from The Bread Baker's Apprentice
Pâte Fermentée

1 1/8 c plain flour
1 1/8 c bread flour
3/4 t salt
1/2 t instant yeast
3/4 c water, at room temperature

1 1/2 c Pâte Fermentée (this is one half of the recipe above)
2 1/4 c bread flour
3/4 t salt
1 t diastatic barley malt powder or 1.5 t barley malt syrup
1 t instant yeast
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1.5 T vegetable oil or shortening, melted
3/4 c water, lukewarm

Note: I used active dry yeast instead of instant and it worked out fine. Also, Macheesmo has a great step by step tutorial for this recipe.

For the Pâte Fermentée:

Stir the flours, salt, and yeast together in a bowl. Add 3/4 c water and stir until it all comes together in a ball. Adjust the water or water so the dough is not too sticky or too stiff. Err on the side of sticky - it's easier to add more flour later on during kneading.

On a floured counter, knead 4-6 minutes. The dough should be nice and smooth and soft.

Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and roll it around to coat it with the oil. Cover and ferment at room temperature for 1 hour or until it has swelled to 1.5 times the original size.

Remove dough from bowl and knead lightly. Place bowl in fridge overnight.

For the dough:
Take the pâte fermentée out of the fridge an hour before making the dough. Cut into about 10 small pieces with a bench scraper or knife, whatever you have. Cover and let sit for an hour to take off the chill.

Stir together the flour, salt, malt powder, and yeast. Add pâte fermentée, egg, oil, and 10 tablespoons of water. Stir for 1 minute or until the ingredients form a ball. If there is still some flour left over, add 2 tablespoons water.

Dust a counter with flour and knead for about 10 minutes. If needed, add some more flour. The dough should be soft and tacky and should pass the windowpane test. Lightly oil a bowl and roll it to coat with oil. Ferment at room temperature for 2 hours.

Remove from bowl and divide into 6-9 pieces. A kitchen scale helps get the rolls to about the same size. Each roll ended up being about 3 oz for me. Cut the rolls with a kaiser roll cutter or by knotting them.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and mist it with spray oil. Sprinkle cornmeal on it if desired. Place the rolls, cut side down, on the sheet and loosely cover them. Proof the rolls for 45 minutes at room temperature, then flip the rolls over. Continue proofing for another 30-45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425F. Mist the rolls with water and if you want, sprinkle poppy seeds on top. Bake for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 400F, and continue baking for another 15-30 minutes. They are done when they sound hollow when lightly tapped. The top will be all golden brown and crusty.

Cool for at least 30 minutes on a wire rack before serving.

kaiser roll close up

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lemon Bars

lemon bars

Today I am at an utter loss for words...something that does not happen often. I believe I'll let the pictures do the talking.

lots of lemon bars

Lemon Bars
from here
1.5 c flour
1/2 c confectioner's sugar
3/4 c cold butter
2 lemons
3 large eggs
1 c granulated sugar
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
3 T flour
confectioner's sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 13x9 pan with foil; lightly grease the foil. (I actually forgot this step; whoops. The bars still came out really easily.)

2. In a bowl, mix 1.5 c flour and 1/2 c confectioner's sugar. Cut in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Transfer to the pan and press firmly onto the bottom, forming the crust. Bake until lightly browned, 15-17 minutes.

3. Grate a teaspoon of lemon peel. A microplane zester works awesome here. Squeeze 1/3 c lemon juice.

4. Beat the eggs until thick and lemon-colored. Whisk in lemon peel and juice, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, and the 3 tablespoons of flour. Mix them all thoroughly together.

5. Pour the lemon filling onto the warm crust.

6. Bake about 15 minutes, or until the filling is set and golden around the edges. Sift confectioner's sugar over the bars and let cool completely in pan. When they are cool, use the foil as a sort of sling to remove the lemon bars. Cut in bars.

two lemon bars

The filling really sets up nicely and the bars are not cloyingly sweet, just sweet enough. The lemon taste really comes through, especially with the zest and all. These guys barely lasted a day in our house..

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Strawberry Shortcakes

After the macarons, I still had quite a bit of heavy cream left over. I figured I'd better use that cream straightaway. In something amazing. So I did.

Yesterday I opened the fridge for a snack and came face to face with two cartons of some mighty fine looking strawberries. It was then I realized I had all the ingredients to make strawberry shortcakes. They are a perfect summer treat and I already had the flour and other dry ingredients for the cakes.

I believe this situation is a lot like that saying, something about the stars are all aligned or whatever.

Strawberry Shortcakes
from here

4 c fresh strawberries
4 -6 T sugar (I used 4)
1.5 c flour
1.5 t baking powder
4 T sugar
1/3 c butter, cut up
1/2 c cold milk
1/2 t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 425F. Rinse the strawberries and slice them up. In a bowl, stir strawberries and 4-6 T sugar and set aside.

In separate bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and 4 T sugar together. Cut in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add milk and vanilla all at once to flour mixture and stir just till combined. It's a lot like making biscuits.

Drop mixture onto ungreased baking sheet in 4 equal piles and bake 12-15 minutes. Let cool slightly. Assemble the shortcakes. Eat.

The cold, soft, sweet whipped cream is like a pillow that contrasts with the still warm from the oven biscuit. The strawberries are juicy, fresh, sweet and give a nice pop of color.

strawberry shortcake

I do believe the stars were all aligned and the universe was telling me to make strawberry shortcakes.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Chocolate Macarons

Macarons are delicious and make for great presentation but the cookies are pretty temperamental. They're made from simple ingredients so it's really about the execution I think. There are so many different ways to go with the flavor combinations, which is awesome.

chocolate macarons

The thing that really overwhelmed me when I first started out making them was the millions of ways to use the ingredients. To age the egg whites or not and how long? Pre-ground almond flour or grind it yourself? Is it necessary to weigh your ingredients? Hand mixer or the trusty KitchenAid? Italian method or French? Oven temperatures? The list went on and I started to psyche myself out. Not good. I'll stop rambling now so we can get on with it.

So, the recipe:

Chocolate Macarons
makes 16
3/4 cup almond flour (ground almonds)
scant 1 cup confectioner's sugar
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

3.5 oz. semi-sweet chocolate or bittersweet
2/3 cup heavy cream

chopped almonds

I used whole almonds so I chopped them up before grinding them. If you're using chopped or slivered almonds, stick them in a food processor or something to grind them up. I used a small spice grinder. The idea is to grind them to a flour, not a paste.

sifted dry ingredients

Sift the almond flour, confectioner's sugar, and cocoa powder together. 

Separate your eggs. If any yolk gets into the whites they will not whip. Lots of recipes I've read call for aging your egg whites but I didn't do that. I took mine straight out of the fridge and whipped them cold.

soft peaks

Beat the egg whites till soft peaks form.

soft peaks in bowl

When you've reached soft peaks, gradually add the granulated sugar. Then continue beating the mixture until you reach a firm, glossy meringue. 

firm glossy peaks

Also, you can turn the bowl upside down and the whites will defy gravity!

upside down bowl

When the you scrape the beaters off, the egg whites will just sit there on top of the meringue. They will not disappear into the rest of the mixture.

thick ribbony batter
Just a few more folds and the batter is ready.

Add in 1/3 of the dry ingredients and fold them in with a spatula. Fully incorporate it and then add another third in. Finally, add the last of it. Use it all - it may look impossible at first, but keep going. If you don't use all of it, the dry to wet ratio of ingredients will be messed up.

I've heard the proper batter described as a mixture that "flows like magma" or has a "shiny, ribbon-like consistency". Seems fairly accurate, I guess, since I've never been remotely near flowing magma. When you lift your spatula a thick ribbon should fall slowly into the bowl and disappear within 30 seconds.

piped macarons
My piping skills are kind of rusty.

Place the batter into a pastry bag or a Ziploc bag with the corner cut off and a plain tip inserted. Pipe rounds onto a Silpat or parchment paper. 

Some people just pop their macarons into an oven at this point. When I tried that, the smooth tops broke. So I let them rest for 30 minutes. You should be able to lightly touch one without the batter sticking to your finger.

macaron shells

I think it really depends on your oven at this point. Some run hot, some cooler. It took some real trial-and-error (heavy on the error) to get to the point where I finally got my shells to look like the ones in the picture. 

I baked them at 290F for five minutes, then reduced the temperature to 280F and let them bake for 12 minutes more. That's a big difference from the 325F my recipe called for. So it could be anywhere from 280F-325F for your oven.

After letting cool for about 5-7 minutes, carefully pry the shells off the paper. Completely cool - fill with ganache.

chocolate ganache

Place chocolate in heatproof bowl. Heat cream in saucepan till just boiling and pour over chocolate. Stir until smooth and use to sandwich the macaron shells together.

Don't be discouraged if the macarons don't work out the first time. I used to have stacks and stacks of GLAD containers with fail macarons in them. Seriously. Really though, these are so worth it once you get the hang of it. It's so satisfying to take a bite and know you created this with your own two hands. You will impress everyone with your little sandwich cookies. 

Or: Omit cocoa powder for plain shells. 
Lemon Macarons: add some yellow food coloring and zest of one lemon to batter and fill with lemon curd.

lemon macarons

Finally, after a long winded post, I am leaving you with some ways to use all of those egg yolks. I nearly went crazy with the amount of egg yolks left after all those batches of macarons I made. You'd have thought I made a few angel food cakes or something.

Creme Brulee
Lemon Curd
Ice Cream
Béarnaise Sauce

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lazy Morning Waffles

Waffles almost never make an appearance in the house except for the Eggo kind on hectic weekdays. They show up lots when guests are staying, because they're pretty impressive, especially if they're dusted with powdered sugar and have a side of fruit.

I'm just kind of reluctant to bust out the waffle iron often because pancakes can easily be made with a simple skillet and a bowl or two. So my poor waffle maker tends to hang out in the pantry for far too long than it should.

However. I woke up at around nine thirty today and decided to make waffles. The batter came together quickly and all I had to do was let my iron do the work after that. I made them in my pajamas too. Because that's the only way to do it :)

lazy morning waffle

Buttermilk Waffles
from this blog

2 eggs
2 c buttermilk
2 c flour
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/4 c and 2 T shortening (I used 1/4 c melted butter and it worked fine)

Heat waffle iron. Beat eggs and then add the rest of the ingredients. Beat it all together till smooth. Follow the directions on your waffle maker.

I made chocolate waffles and replaced 1/2 cup of the flour with 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder and 1/4 cup granulated sugar.

These waffles were great - crunchy on the outside and warm and soft on the inside!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tuna Melt

Tuna was something that was really in the background of my diet before this sandwich. Eh, not even in the background. It was like a blip on my radar that showed up only occasionally, like in chip dips and tuna salad. Usually I bypassed it without a thought.

Everything changed when I was up in the mountains with a few relatives. We were staying in a small cabin with one little stove and a fridge as the kitchen. We ate out frequently, but sometimes we'd cook a little something up for a quick lunch. Anyway, on that fateful day, one friendly relative handed me a tuna melt, right from the hot pan. I inspected it warily before taking a bite.

Love happened. Between the toasty bread and the melty cheese and the crunchy celery, there lay a hunk of tuna.  I suddenly regretted ever having ignored this amazing food.

Unfortunately, we returned home and the tuna melt memory was forgotten for awhile. Surprisingly. You're not supposed to forget experiences like that, are you? Well, I did. I think it was almost year before I hopped onto the computer and bugged him for the recipe. He was very nice and emailed me back with the recipe.

Tuna Melt
makes two sandwiches

4 slices of bread
One can of tuna
1-2 stalks of celery
1-2 Tbsp mayonnaise

Heat a pan over medium - medium high heat.

Drain the can of tuna. Place into a bowl with mayonnaise. Adjust it to suit your taste. I usually use a tablespoon. I like to think of it as the glue that holds everything in this sandwich together.

Chop the celery and throw it in. Mix it all up.

Slice the cheese if you are using a block, or just pull out a few slices. I used cheddar because it's a good combination, but I bet some pepper jack would work well too. Whatever cheese you want.

Assemble the sandwiches. I put some butter in the pan at this point. If it sizzles, I usually take it as a sign that my pan is hot enough.

In the sandwiches go. You don't really have to time each side or anything like that. Really, it's kind of like making a grilled cheese sandwich. Everything should be heated throughout, bread should be toasty, cheese well melted and it's all good.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Focaccia + Growing Lentils

To be completely honest, I was never partial to sitting quietly in a desk and listening to a teacher read from a textbook. Wasn't much of a fan of copying from the board or reading aloud either, I'm afraid. I would much rather be outside trying to catch frogs or learning how to put something together.

And thus, when my teacher decided we were going to grow something, I was excited. We were each given some beans. We moistened some paper towels and then folded them into squares. The beans were folded into the moist paper towels and all of it was placed into a plastic bag. We taped the baggies to a wall in the greenhouse and waited for nature to work its magic.

They sprouted days after and we planted them in soil. They grew into plants; we watered them and talked to them. It was probably one of my favorite experiences in school.

I decided to see if the process would work with lentils, and they sprouted quite quickly.

After only 2 days

At this point J informed me I could eat these if I wanted. So I told him I planned to nurse these precious lentils into a beautiful plant.

He dubiously agreed and assured me if I needed any help he would do his best to help. I thanked him and went about my business planting the sprouts.

Despite the excitement of all of this, I managed to squeeze in some baking. I was reluctant to turn the oven on in heat wave, but sometimes to get what you want, you have to make sacrifices. And sacrifices it is when it comes to focaccia.

Recipe from King Arthur Flour can be found here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I think everyone has their favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, whether it's their grandmother's recipe or the recipe on the back of the chocolate chip package.

I happen to like this one very much. It makes a great cookie and is simple to prepare. There are so many variations for that single cookie that I rarely repeat the same recipe, but my family enjoys this recipe so much that I find myself making it over and over!

Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes: about 30

1/2 c butter, softened
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c sugar
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 large egg
1/4 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 c semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375F.

2. Cream the butter, sugars, baking soda, and salt together. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Add the flour until it just makes a dough. Stir in the chocolate chips and if desired, 1/2 cup walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, whichever you prefer.

3. Roll pieces of dough into roughly the same size and place on ungreased cookie sheets or you can use baking paper. Bake 8-10 minutes or until edges are just turning light brown. Cool on sheets for 2 minutes and then move them to cooling racks to cool completely.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Almond Granola

The weather has been hot and humid lately, which greatly diminishes my desire for a hot bowl of oatmeal. I do love my oats, but thought that something cold to start the day would be better. Enter: Granola.

I'm not a fan of all those weird preservatives and additives that manufacturers put in their food, and granola doesn't seem to be any exception. So I made my own. Why not?

Almond Granola (from here)
makes: about 2 cups

2 T unsalted butter
2 T honey
1/4 c brown sugar
1.5 c rolled oats
1/3 c slivered or chopped almonds

Now I was supposed to put some coconut flakes or shreds in with the party, but I didn't have any, so I didn't use any. The original recipe called for 1/4 c shredded sweetened coconut.

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Melt butter and honey together over low heat. Stir in the sugar and stir and cook until it's dissolved.

2. Stir together the oats and almonds in a large bowl. And the coconut flakes too, if you're using them.

3. Pour the butter, honey, and sugar mixture over the oat mixture. Mix it all together well, so all of it is coated.

4. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring frequently so it doesn't burn. I stirred it every 5 minutes because I'm kind of nervous like that, but I imagine it would be okay to stir it every 10 minutes. Take it out of the oven when it's golden brown. It will smell really good.

5. Let cool completely on the sheet on a wire rack.

I like to eat mine with cold milk like cereal, with some banana chips or M&Ms mixed in. This is a really good all purpose recipe that you can use again and again for basic granola. :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Fluffy Pancakes

Pancakes and I have a special relationship. They're the first thing I ever learned to make, aside from toast and ice. And they're versatile! Add chocolate chips, blueberries, strawberries, bananas...they will almost always taste wonderful. A hot stack of pancakes with lots of butter and syrup, mmm. I love pancakes.

These do not take much time to make and if you're in a hurry, use a large egg instead of two egg whites.

Pancakes | makes 10-12 pancakes

1-1/4 c plain flour
3 t baking powder
2 t sugar
1/2 t salt
1 c milk*
2 egg whites
2 T oil or applesauce or plain yogurt, you pick

*If the batter seems too thick, add another tablespoon of milk. 

1. In a medium bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt together. In a separate bowl, combine milk, egg whites, and oil. 

2. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and stir just until combined. It should be quite lumpy.

3. Get your pan or griddle going over medium heat. Spray or wipe it with a little oil. Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls into the pan or just use a spoon to plop it in. I prefer the first method, because I like the size and it makes them more uniform. 

4. When the pancakes are bubbly and look a little dry around the edges, give them a flip and let cook for a few minutes more. Serve. 

I'm not sure if it's the egg whites that did it, or the applesauce, or maybe my baking powder was having a good day, but these were fluffier than any other pancakes I've made.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hello, World & Mixed Grain Bread

Yesterday, I made a mixed grain loaf of bread. It was really good, with a crunchy crust and a nice texture. J said he liked it too, so I think it's a winner. A warm slice with some butter or jam is the best!

Mixed Grain Bread | makes two 8x4x2 loaves (adapted from BH&G New Cookbook)
3.5 - 4 c plain flour
2 pkgs active dry yeast, or 4.5 t
1.5 c milk
3/4 c water
1/2 c cracked wheat
1/4 c cornmeal
1/4 c packed brown sugar
3 T oil, or applesauce
2 t salt
1.5 c whole wheat flour
1/2 rolled oats, not the instant kind
Note: the original recipe called for 1/2 cup cracked wheat, but I didn't have any, so I substituted whole wheat flour for it and it worked just fine. I also decided to be rustic and mix it by hand, but you can use a stand mixer if you'd prefer to.

1. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of the plain flour and the yeast. Set aside. In a pot, stir together milk, water, cracked wheat, cornmeal, brown sugar, oil (or applesauce), and salt. Heat on medium - low heat until warm. Add to the flour mixture and stir well.

2. Use some elbow grease and stir rapidly for 3 more minutes. Be careful, as the mixture will be thin. Add the whole wheat flour, the oats, and as much of the remaining plain flour as you can mix in.

3. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead for 6-8 minutes or until moderately stiff. Shape into ball and place in a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let rise until double in size (about one hour).

4. Punch dough down. Divide in half. Cover; let rest for 10 minutes.

5. Lightly grease two 8x4x2 loaf pans. Shape each half of the dough into a loaf, and set in the prepared pans. Cover and let rise until double, about 30 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 375F. Brush loaf tops with water and sprinkle additional oats on top. Bake 30-35 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Remove bread from pans immediately and let cool on wire racks.