Two years blogging!

This was a perfect day for baking.  The weather was downright chilly after a week of sweltering heat. I had printed this recipe earlier in the month and this was the day to use it. So for the anniversary blog I have made the July Bake Along Recipe from King Arthur Flour: Blueberry Hand Pies. Now I have made hand pies before: Pork Pies. But this is summer and the berries are in season and blueberry pie is so good! I had anticipated changing the recipe when I got down to making these, but I followed it exactly! That’s probably a first. I had recently bought some tart pans and thought I would make these into individual tarts and I was even thinking of making my own standard pie dough or using store bought: oh my!

I gathered the ingredients for the pastry and got out my food processor with its brand new blade that I waited 6 months for Cuisinart to replace for safety reasons. This is the part of the recipe that I did not follow. The food processor makes making pie dough simple. I never liked making it by hand.

PASTRY

  • 2 cups unbleached All-Purpose Flour; I had exactly two cups; I thought I might have had to use some whole wheat pastry flour, but I had just enough.
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (16 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup cold sour cream

I pulsed the dry ingredients and then added the butter and finally the sour cream. It does come together in clumps as described in the recipe. When I dumped that onto my lightly floured board and read the description of rolling this out, it dawned on me that this is a puff pastry. Most likely a rough-puff as it only has two turns: rolling out, folding over, rolling out again, repeat, fold over, and chill for 30 minutes. My cutting board block is marked in two inch squares so I measured it to the 8×10 inches both times.

FILLING

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (a large pinch)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Rinse berries and put in saucepan. Mix the dry ingredients and pour over. Add the lemon juice and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. My filling began to thicken in about 3 minutes over medium-hot heat so that is how long I cooked it. I don’t usually cook the blueberries before putting in pie. But this does help hold the filling together for the small squares of pastry. Let cool. I let the filling cool but not quite to room temperature. And I have leftover filling. This could be good on pancakes or to top ice cream. I will use it to top Brie cheese!

Preheat oven to 425 F and get that pastry out of the fridge and get ready to roll!

Here again I found the markings on my cutting board block helpful. Roll the pastry into a 14 inch square. Then cut it into sixteen 3 1/2 inch squares. My squares were not squared completely nor were they cut to the exact size. Put a heaping tablespoon or two on eight of the squares. Brush the edges with beaten egg. Oh yeah, make a vent in the other eight squares. Then put together and press the edges with the tines of a fork. Brush the rest of the egg yolk on the tops and sprinkle with sugar. And they are ready for the oven.

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Looking good so far…

Bake for 18-20 minutes until lightly browned. When I took these out I was in awe…

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And they taste great. I am not sure how to share this with the King Arthur website for the bake-along so I will be content sharing it with you who read this.

Many blessings to all!

What’s new in my kitchen?

The first answer that comes to mind is “nothing much”. But there is a new green bucket for compost. I have subscribed to a composting service called blue earth. This is not a paid endorsement just my newest little way of saving the planet. And we earn dirt! I would post a picture but it just looks like food scraps.

Next, I found Keurig cups that are completely compostible: Chock Full O’ Nuts. Oh, and the Keurig is also new in my kitchen. Hubby and I were drinking less coffee even though brewing a pot full each morning. This way we control the amount of coffee used and drunk.

I have not been doing much baking or innovative cooking. My creative juices seem to have dried up. Cooking dinners of meat and vegetable and sometimes rice or potatoes. No recipes required. I see recipes that I think are interesting but have not gotten around to it.

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So tonight’s dinner is soup and bread. The soup is a mix from King Arthur Flour. In fact I got my purchases in the mail today. Contrary to my nature, I ordered several mixes from them. I do not usually buy mixes or from on-line but took a survey and got a coupon. My math skills being a little rusty had the idea that 10% would be $10 but is really only $5 on $50 worth of items. Oh well.

Soup is for supper even though I had thought about barbecue chicken pizza. On Facebook I saw a video on how to make a stuffed crust pizza in a cast iron skillet. I love my cast iron skillet and I have four pieces of barbecue chicken hanging about in my refrigerator. There’s also three pieces of Popeye’s chicken in there.  But there is a nice loaf of artisan bakery bread that needs to be eaten. The soup is farmhouse vegetable and I used chicken stock. Hubby will eat a couple pieces of chicken anyway. And this dreary New England day is a perfect one for soup. I will need to steer Hubby away from the BBQ chicken so I can make that pizza tomorrow night, or Saturday, or maybe someday in the future!

So here is my three ingredient supper!

 

Pound Cake for the New Year: everything is better with cake!

 

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Hubby’s favorite cake is pound cake.I wanted to bake something. We ran our Saturday morning errands, spent a bit of money on pet food, took the dog to a play date at the local dog park, and came home. We will not go out this New Year’s Eve. But I will bake a cake.

The latest King Arthur Flour’s sales flyer has a recipe: King Arthur Flour’s Original Pound Cake. (They probably have it on their website as well, but I did not look for it.) Heat oven to 350 F and grease or cooking spray your Bundt pan.

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar; I use the organic fair trade sugar from Aldi which has a slight caramel color
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

Beat butter until very light. I softened my butter by putting it in a bowl and in the microwave for 30 seconds. I know this is a cake-baking “no, no”. But that is what I did. Then gradually add the sugar, then the eggs, one at a time.

  • 2 cups flour; with all respect I changed this up to 1 cup all-purpose and 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour; we had just been talking about adding fiber to our diet. I did notice that the high end pet food we bought features “no grain”
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Sift or whisk these ingredients in a separate bowl.

  • 1/2 cup milk; I did not want to use almond milk so I used 1/4 cup half-and -half diluted with water to make 1/2 cup.
  • 1 Tablespoon your choice liquor such as brandy, sherry, rum; (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Hubby brought home a bottle of Jim Beam maple bourbon, pure Kentucky whisky! I am not much for the drinking of spirits but this has been an exception! Just a finger of this to sip on while watching some good, some bad, TV…yum! But nights kept awake with heartburn (both of us) made us put this back on the shelf. But it sounded like the perfect “liquor of my choice” for the pound cake.

Whisk these three ingredients together in a small bowl. Alternately add the wet and dry ingredients to the egg/sugar/butter mixture, stirring after each addition. End with the flour. Well I stirred quite a bit with the “stir” setting on the KitchenAid. Pour into the prepared pan smoothing the top. Bake 60-65 minutes. You can tent with foil for the last bit of baking if you think it is browning too fast.

Remove cake from oven and loosen the sides. Wait five minutes and turn out onto rack to cool. The recipe says to wrap in plastic wrap and store for a day or two before serving. I’m not doing that! Why bake a cake if you are not going to eat it?

Now my cake does not look as pretty as the one in the KAF flyer. I decide to add a glaze using maple syrup and the bourbon. This is an adaptation of a glaze for the cake I made in September. Take one tablespoon of butter, 1/8 cup bourbon, and 1/8 cup maple syrup and bring to boil. Keep boiling for 5-8 minutes until reduced to syrup consistency. Brush this over the warm cake.

We did not wait for the cake to cool completely before having a taste. I whipped up some cream with a touch of maple syrup for the topping. Delish!

Happy and blessed new year to all. Thanks for reading my food rantings this past year. I plan to keep them coming: I hope you do too! And may God bless us, everyone.

Brownies!

brownie 001I was sitting in my kitchen reading blogs on brownies. Some of you make wonderful sounding brownies and other chocolate goodies! So I began to contemplate brownies. I got out all the chocolate in my baking pantry to see what is there. I have semi-sweet chips, Special Dark Chips, German’s chocolate, unsweetened chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, Hershey’s Natural cocoa, and Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa. These are out on the counter when son walks in and asks what I am making. When I mention I was thinking of brownies, he says he likes chewy, not cakey, and no add-ins such as chocolate chips or nuts. He also likes the shiny crust on top. Me, too.

Recipes abound! I bring out a few recipes and am undecided. He refers me to look at Shirley Corriher’s book Bakewise. After all, he says, he made the cheesecake with a gingersnap crust and it was great. So I start reading the section on brownies. Very interesting. I had just been reading the King Arthur Flour blog on brownies and the shiny crust. http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2015/05/31/make-brownies-shiny-crust/ . There is no real agreement on what makes cakey, shiny crusts, etc. I know that my favorite brownies were very chewy and came from a recipe on the back of Nestle Toll House chocolate chips way back in the 1980s. I have lost that little clipping and have been searching for the best brownie recipe ever since. For about 10 months in 1999 I made a batch of brownies weekly and tested them on my teenagers and their friends. I did not have a standard rating scale but only listed where the recipe came from. After these many trials the best brownies were determined…to be from a mix! It did not even matter which brand. The box brownies were chewy and always had the shiny crust!!

That was then, this is now. I have honed my baking skills and knowledge and much less frequently make brownies from a box. That elusive perfect brownie is still out there. Brownie recipes that I have used make up well and do not go uneaten. I just have not determined a “go-to” standard recipe. Brownies are basically butter, chocolate, eggs, sugar and flour.

We decide to go with the Shirley’s Fudgy Brownies from Bakewise, page 411-412. This recipe calls for 1 ½ cups of butter and four different sugars. It also uses 4 whole eggs and an additional 3 egg yolks. Wow! We run to the grocery to get the light corn syrup as the fourth sugar. There is also powdered sugar, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. For the chocolate the recipe calls for 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped, and 1 ounce German’s chocolate.  There are a lot of ingredients in these brownies! We left out the pecans.

  • 1 ½ cups unsalted butter, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 ounce German’s Sweet Chocolate
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 ½ cups dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup confectioners (powdered) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups spooned and leveled bleached all=purpose flour

(In reading this now I realize that I only used ¾ cups of packed brown sugar but also used ¾ cups granulated. The page must have flipped over to the Shirley’s Cakey Brownies recipe! No worries!)

Her instructions are to melt the butter with the chocolate. In a separate bowl beat the eggs to blend the whites and yolks and then add the other ingredients, except for the flour. Add the egg mixture to the chocolate mixture. Then stir in the flour without over beating.

We get all this put together. In beating the egg mixture I beat them in the stand mixer for a few minutes more because this will give the shiny crust. Apparently it is a “meringue” from the egg whites and sugar that rises to the top of the bake.

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The oven has been preheated to just 300 degrees F. All ready to go in but son has the idea it should sit in the pan a bit to even itself out. While I wait for that to happen I reread the recipe. OOPS!!! I only used half the amount of butter. I used 1 ½ sticks instead of 1 ½ cups! What to do?

 

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adding the missing butter

I scrape the batter back into the mixing bowl. I melt another 1 ½ sticks of butter and add that to the batter and blend. This is a necessary step because the fat to flour ratio makes the difference between fudgy and cakey.

 

I then pour this back into a re-prepared 13 x 9 inch baking pan and pop it into the oven. This time I don’t bother with the foil just sprayed the pan. It has taken 45 minutes of prep time at this point. Well, 5 of those minutes were adding in the butter that I had forgotten to add in the first place by my miscalculations!

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shiny crackling crust

52 minutes later a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean. Take this out of the oven right now so as to avoid overbaking. We want fudgy and chewy. There is definitely a shiny crackling crust! That was a success.

Do you know of anyone, ANYONE, who waits until the brownies completely cool before cutting? I don’t think it is a natural thing to do. I would be concerned if there were a chocolate brownie lover out there who actually follows that step of these recipes. Granted, cool brownies cut more cleanly. But why is that important? Son pokes and prods at the side and takes a nibble. The only thing left to do is to actually cut a square and taste it. Very rich and sweet. It is fudgy and has its shiny crust.

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definitely fudgy

These are successful but the recipe is a bit too fussy to become a “go-to” for me. It is a “keeper” though because it is in a book. The book is worth reading as she explains the science of baking and some history of recipes and is just plain interesting.

Some of these will need to be individually wrapped and frozen for later enjoyment.

Musings from my Kitchen Table

For the past 8 or so weeks I have started my day sitting at my kitchen table contemplating the day at home, out of work due to my broken ankle. If hubby had coffee before leaving for work there is a thermos of coffee waiting for me. If not, that is the first thing I’ll make. I have a journal that I write down what I would like to accomplish on that day or that week. My “to do” lists rarely have been checked off completely. From my kitchen table I can see the stove, the pile of dishes in the sink, the cats eating their food, and my cabinets full of cookbooks.

In the weeks before Christmas the list was full of sewing projects, cookies to bake, and gifts needed. I wheeled around the house in my sewing desk chair preparing for the holiday. Then the holidays came and family was around and it was great fun. The ankle pain had died down mostly by then but for occasional twinges and achiness. After the Christmas holiday my son was home and we talked some, he played piano a lot, and I trusted him to drive my car. It is a standard shift and he learned and mostly drives automatic. We cooked a little bit together, watched Jeopardy and football, and he cooked some meals for us.

So after the New Year I expected to be healed and well on my way back to work. Did not happen! Another 4 weeks for healing the bone was needed. So here I am, sitting at my kitchen table in the mornings planning out my day. There is no holiday to prepare for. It is only bleak winter.

The son left for vacation. He decided to see Vietnam. I went to High School and college in the 1970s. My brother had a low draft number the year they stopped the draft. Saigon fell in 1975. There was a flooding of refugees. Do you know the oddness of feelings when there is the thought “my son left for Vietnam this morning”? (Mothers of my parents’ generation dealt with that for the many years of the war. I am ever grateful that my family was saved from the ravages of that war. Many were not spared.)

Bleak winter calls for soup. This is a barley soup from the back of the barley package. I use my regular substitutes: potatoes for parsnips, spinach for kale, northern white beans for the cannellini, Italian seasoning for the basil. With soup, the exact ingredients are not essential for successful outcome. Throw whatever you have around the house in a pot of broth!

Sitting in my kitchen I like to plan supper. I don’t want to wait until the end of the day to decide. Sometimes I do, though very seldom. I brought my computer in here so I could take care of household business. But I also peruse all sorts of wonderful recipes from you fellow bloggers as well as the King Arthur Flour website and blogs. I have gotten used to baking something or trying a recipe each day.

The other day I was contemplating brownies. Today I am contemplating chocolate cake. I was even thinking I could make a cake and send my sister a picture of it for her birthday at the end of this week. “Give” her a birthday cake!? Hubby does not have a sweet tooth like mine. I would eat 80% of the cake when and if I make one. What to do? I revisit the desserts for two website: www.dessertfortwo.com . Here I can find small batches of chocolate desserts. Brownies or cakes, which will it be?

And I have been thinking about frozen raspberries as well. And here is where other bloggers become my inspiration. I rarely make one of the recipes exactly but I will give credit to the inspirers! http://bitesize-bakes.com/2016/01/26/raspberry-buttercream-layer-cake/ and http://www.dessertfortwo.com/2011/09/one-bowl-chocolate-cake/ and http://sugarbcupcakes.com/2016/01/21/chocolate-raspberry-ganache-cake/

MusingsChocCake 008I get out the closest thing to a six inch cake pan that I can find. This is a 7-inch cast iron skillet to make the one-bowl-chocolate-cake:

  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (I am using Hershey’s Special Dark since the only other chips I have are bittersweet chocolate)
  • ½ cup seedless raspberry jam
  • ¼ cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Grease and flour the pan. Melt butter; stir in chocolate until melted; add the jam and sugar and stir well; add the egg and stir until well blended. Sprinkle on the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Bake 43 to 45 minutes at 350 F. My cake took only 40 minutes. The directions say to let cool completely before trying to slice. I turn it out on a plate. Tasting the crumbs from the bottom of the pan finds that there is definitely a raspberry taste to this chocolate cake.

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Meanwhile plan the frosting! With the Raspberries! Should it be pink or chocolate? When getting the raspberries from my freezer I find that I have a container of chocolate frosting leftover from the birthday cake made in early December. (I hate throwing food of any kind away.) So I take some raspberries for decoration and put the rest with this frosting, thawed of course. I whip that up to blend and then chill it a bit for spreading consistency. Now to wait for the cake to cool completely. Otherwise the frosting will melt and become more of a glaze. That’s not a bad idea, but, no, I’ll wait.

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Looks very rich and yummy! I could whip up some cream to serve with it. This small cake should make dessert for two for two nights.

(While finishing this up the KAF shopping magazine came in the mail, with a chocolate sheet cake recipe in it! Another cake next week?)

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Bread

I found this interesting bread recipe while browsing through my Mom’s recipe notebooks. I had a carton of buttermilk in the fridge that needed to be used and I had exactly three cups of whole wheat flour, the white whole wheat variety from King Arthur Flour.

 

I gather up my ingredients and get to work. Reading through the recipe finds that there are three rising times for this bread and that it makes three loaves.

  • 2 packages active dry yeast (I use instant yeast at 1 3/4 teaspoons per active yeast packet for a total of 3 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 cup warm water (right from the tap)
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup butter (one stick, unsalted)
  • 4 tablespoons sugar or 1/2 cup honey (I use the honey)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt (I use 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour or cracked wheat flour, or combination (I use KAF White Whole Wheat Flour)
  • all-purpose flour to make a soft workable dough, about 5 cups
  • melted butter (optional, as I forgot to brush the tops with this as the loaves came out of the oven!)

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. I do this even though instant yeast does not need to be activated. Pour the buttermilk in a saucepot, add the butter and heat until butter melts. Don’t mind if this curdles, it will not affect the final product.

 

wholewheatbuttermilk bread 007Meanwhile in large bowl mix the honey, baking soda, salt and eggs. The yeast mixture and the buttermilk mixture are to be added to this and stirred well. I find that this mixture gets quite hot and I need to let it cool down before proceeding.

 

Slowly add the whole wheat flour. The recipe clipping says to mix with a fork but I always use my Kitchenaid with the bread hook. After the wheatflour is added, add enough all-purpose flour to until you must use your hands to mix it in to make it soft and satiny. Here again I guesstimate this because I add  5 cups of the white flour and it is shiny and sticky. I knead this for 10 minutes with the bread hook and add one or two more handfuls of flour but it is still sticky. Supposedly one is supposed to have been able to turn this out on a floured board and knead it for about ten minutes. I did not want to keep adding flour and have a dry bread.

After this first kneading place in greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a towel, let rise for an hour to double in bulk. This rose nicely. Then punch dough down, knead lightly (it is still a bit sticky!) and then let rise again. This second rise time is not specified. I assume it is for another hour and that is what I allow. I had to flour the board quite a bit for the light kneading because the dough was sticky.

After second rising, turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead lightly. Let rest for ten minutes. Meanwhile grease three loaf pans. I chose two loaf pans and one round pan to make rolls out of the third portion.Divide dough into three equal parts. Roll each part into a rectangle and roll up pinching edges and place in prepared pans. Let rise another 45 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 F and bake loaves for 35-40 minutes.  And then there is bread!

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The clipping notes “the bread smells fantastic while baking” and “this whole wheat bread melts in your mouth.” We concur!

 

Kitchen Bully

That needs five minutes to cook before you add the eggs.

You’re going to put that in there? (with skeptical tone)

I don’t think that’s done.

Can you freeze raw eggs?

That should be enough for four.

It’s not fair of you to eat all of this; it means I don’t get any for leftovers.

You can’t cook it that way!

I was going to use this; why are you using that?

But they’re still frozen! (with scrunched up nose)

I am accused of being a kitchen bully. This is probably true. As long as I stay out of the kitchen when hubby is cooking, all is well. But if I am there “helping”, then I’m maybe not so nice! I should be grateful and I truly am! I just am a strong willed woman with definite opinions! And I don’t shrink from saying them outloud.

So we did go to the kitchen and chop a green pepper and an onion to put with eggs to make a wrap. I chopped ham and peperoni. Putting the veg in the skillet I say one of the above statements. Before that I said something about the size of the skillet he had put on the stove! In response to the “kitchen bully” remark I march over to the other side of the kitchen, an entire four steps away, open the King Arthur Flour Cookbook to something “chocolate” and announce that I will make a cake, so there! Page 281. (The cookbook recipe does not list espresso powder like the website does.) I made the cookbook version.  http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/king-arthur-flours-original-cake-pan-cake-recipe

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This is the pan cake recipe which is similar to the snack cake recipe I have clipped from the back of a flour bag many years ago. I don’t really make the three holes in the flour mixture for the oil, vanilla, and vinegar but pour all the wet ingredients and stir to mix well. Pour it into the greased pan and stick it in the oven. Voila! In 35-40 minutes we have cake. Technically it is Vegan, if that matters to anyone. It is made without butter or eggs.

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Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar and serve. Hubby and I eat half a cake while watching Jay Leno’s Garage TV show about classic cars.

We ate half a cake.

Got a problem with that?!

LOL (I think this is “text” for laugh out loud, but in my case it is more like “little old lady”!)

Eat cake; it’s good for you!