Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Brioche

Weather often provides us with excuses to get out of the things we really don't want to do. This time, Hurricane Irene gave me the perfect excuse to do exactly what I wanted to do, stay in and bake. Steve racked up some major brownie points on Thursday night by bringing over his old stand mixer. Precisely what I needed to kick of our brioche marathon weekend. At first glance, brioche might seem intimidating, overwhelming, or even untouchable. It is a pretty long process, but I was surprised by how forgiving it actually was.

If you're interested in baking this brioche or other delicious breakfast breads and pastries, I suggest you order the Tartine cookbook. If you enjoy a more rustic style of baking and want to learn how to bake using your own natural leaven, pick up the newer Tartine Bread cookbook. Can't go wrong either way. They're both fantastic.

The Tartine recipe makes three 9x5 loaves. I ended up staggering the three loaves, baking the first in a 10x4 bread pan on Friday (worked fine), then used the same bread pan on Saturday (because of the longer rise it didn't work so well... the bread poured over the sides while baking), and decided to make brioche buns with the third dough on Sunday.


Preferment Ingredients

3/4 cup nonfat milk
1 3/4 tsp instant yeast (Tartine calls for 2 tsp active dry yeast)
1 3/4 cup bread flour

Dough Ingredients

1 tbsp + 2 1/2 tsp instant yeast (Tartine calls for 2 tbsp + 1 tsp active dry yeast)
5 large eggs
1 1/4 cup whole milk
3 1/2 cup bread flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 cup + 2 tbsp unsalted butter

Egg Wash

4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt


I'm not going to write out step-by-step instructions because IF you have the desire to make brioche, you owe it to yourself to get the Tartine book.

Here are some pictures from my 4-day brioche party for your enjoyment, and hopefully reference.

Rolled it from one narrow end to the other and placed it in the buttered bread pan, seam side down.


Within 2-3 hours will double in volume. Trust your gut on when it's ready to go in because the temperature of your home will severely impact the rise time.


The recipe said to bake at 425° for 15 minutes, then reduce oven to 350° and bake for another 45 minutes... Mine was done in 35-40 minutes total. It could be because of the smaller bread pan and/or because I was baking them one at a time.


Very flattering picture of me eating my first slice. Nom Nom Nomm....


After two gorgeous, airy loaves of brioche, I decided we needed some brioche buns for our veggie burger dinner.


Rolled the dough into 6 even balls and lightly pressed down on them to flatten.


I placed them in a turned-off oven to rise because (a) it's much cooler than a hot NYC apartment in the summer, and (b) it's draft free. After they almost doubled in size (about 1.5 to 2 hours) I brushed on the egg wash and sprinkled with sesame seeds. You'll want to let the egg wash dry for 5-10 minutes before baking.


Bake at 425° for 10-15 minutes. Let cool (or not) on a wire rack and serve 'em up!


We prepared a classic veggie burger with a Garden Burger patty, smoked gouda, avocado-mayo-sriracha spread (made my Steve), boston lettuce, thinly sliced sweet yellow onions, and a hefty slice of beef steak tomato.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Classic Shortbread


I had my first baking experience inside a real industrial kitchen this week. And I'm hooked. I arrived at the cafe early Thursday morning, all bright-eyed and bushy tailed (pre-coffee). The day started with spanish tortilla, then salted focaccia, ricotta cake, olive oil cake, peach galettes, and so on... When the prep duties were done, I rode off into the sunset. And by sunset, I mean pouring downfall of rain and ominous grey skies. Hurricane Irene is comin...

Didn't matter. I was on cloud nine. I came home, jotted down everything I could remember from the morning, rode to Brooklyn Kitchen to pick up a few supplies, and started with my first brioche. Since the brioche was gonna be a 2-day process, I decided to also make the classic shortbread recipe out of Tartine.

Ingredients

1 cup + 2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 + 2 tbsp AP flour
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp cornstarch
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar (for topping)

Procedure

Preheat oven to 325° and butter a 6x10 inch glass baking dish (I used 8x8, which worked fine). Place butter in a mixing bowl and mix in salt until it dissolves completely. Add the 1/3 cup granulated sugar and mix until just combined. Then sift together AP flour and cornstarch, before adding it to the butter. Mix until a smooth dough forms.


Pat the dough evenly into buttered glass dish and bake until the top and bottom are lightly browned, about 30 minutes.



Let cool on wire rack (or stove top if you have a gas range). Once the shortbread is warm to the touch, sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar to coat the top surface evenly. Tip and pour out the excess sugar.


Cut the shortbread right away with a very sharp knife. It crumbles very easily and just gets harder to work with as it dries.



Monday, August 22, 2011

Bite-Sized Eggplant Parmesan

I spent a very lavish weekend with great company in Chilmark, Mass. Martha’s Vineyard is one of the most beautiful places that I have had the opportunity to visit and the food is top notch. Over the course of the weekend I ate some of the best seafood I’ve ever eaten: tuna salad, scallops, swordfish, whole lobsters, oysters (all from Larsen’s), and some of the most amazing farm-fresh organic produce: heirloom tomatoes, watermelon, sweet onions, swiss chard, eggplant, yellow zucchini, sweet basil, maxixe brazilian cucumbers, corn on the cob (all from Morning Glory Farm).

Out of all the spectacular feasting over the 3 days, my favorite was a bite-sized spin on eggplant parmesan that Steve-o and I tag teamed. The inspiration came from (1) all the beautiful eggplant we’ve been seeing this season at the farmers markets and (2) a recipe we came across in in the Times last week, although our creation was not all that similar to it in the end…


Ingredients

2 chinese eggplants
3 large heirloom tomatoes
1/2 cup flour
1 cup panko
3 eggs
fresh ricotta
shredded parmigiano reggiano
fresh basil leaves
head of garlic
canola oil for frying
olive oil for drizzling

Procedure

Steve started us out by cutting the heirloom tomatoes in twelfths (quartering them and then cutting each forth in to thirds). It worked ok for these bite-sized parms but we’ll probably leave them a bit larger next time around. Arrange the tomatoes on a baking sheet along with garlic cloves, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle salt and pepper.

Slow roast at 225° for three hours. This is when we kayaked across to the beach for some cartwheels (girls) and rock sculpture making (boys).


Slice the eggplant in half-inch medallions. To remove excess water, microwave slices on high for 3-4 minutes. Remove and using paper towels press down to soak up the water.


Prep three medium bowls with flour, beaten eggs, and panko mixture (panko + shredded parmigiano reggiano). Dip each medallion into the flour, egg, and then panko, always shaking off the excess coating. Tip: use one hand with the egg and another with the flour and panko so your hands don’t get coated.


In a large pan, heat up about an inch of canola oil to 375°. Fry the breaded eggplant pieces until golden brown on both sides (1-2 minutes per side). Remove and place on drying rack (or paper towel lined plate).


Arrange the fried eggplant on serving plate and top each with a dollop of fresh ricotta, a few slow roasted tomato pieces, and basil chiffonade.

Shred parmigiano reggiano atop each medallion, drizzle plate with olive oil and enjoy!



Thank you, Evan!! For inviting us to such a beautiful place!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dad's Green Stuff

I've been eating this spicy green dip/spread for as long as I can remember. It's referred to simply as "Green Stuff" in my family and my dad is always expected to bring to every single gathering. He usually makes it in two batches: so-so spicy and SO-SOOO spicy. If ever you visit my parents house and there's oddly no Green Stuff in the fridge, my dad will gladly run out to the garden, pick some fresh ingredients, and whip up a fresh batch in no time.


Ingredients

2 bunches of parsley (you can also use cilantro, depending on what flavor you like better)
1 lemon
2-4 jalapeños (or serranos if you want it even more spicy)
1 good-sized garlic clove
3/4 cup olive oil
1 cup raw walnuts
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Procedure

The easiest way to make Green Stuff is to throw all the ingredients in a food processor. Since I don't have a food processor, I have to add the ingredients systematically into my blender in order for it to blend well.

I start with one bunch of parsley, stems and all. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, one pepper and blend until fully incorporated. Once you got that going, add the second bunch of parsley and the remaining peppers one by one until you think it's spicy enough (you can remove the seeds if you want to keep the heat subtle). If you have to add more olive oil to get it to mix smoothly, so be it.

Then throw in the garlic, walnuts and salt and pepper. Blend. Scoop into some mason jars for easy access.

Beer Bread

I wanted to whip up something fast for our 5-hour ferry ride to Martha's Vineyard so I decided to try out a simple beer bread that literally takes all of 45 minutes.

This is quite possibly the easiest bread recipe of all time... It's not going to blow your mind, but if you're looking for something quick and you like biscuits, you might as well try it.


This is a follow-up pic from the Vineyard. Why does everything look better while on vacation?? Please note that I used Brooklyn Summer Ale for this recipe. The Sierra Nevada above is just for show (and for drinking).

Ingredients

3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
12 oz beer (something light)
2 tbsp butter

Procedure

First preheat oven to 375° because it won't take you more than 10 minutes to prepare the dough. Then in a large mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Sift well with a whisk. Pour in beer and stir until the mixture becomes a cohesive mass.


Scrape dough into pre-greased 9x5 bread pan and pour slightly melted butter over the top.


Bake for about 40 minutes or until a butter knife inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.




Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Granola Time

Growing up we always had granola in the house. But since my dad was an on again off again vegan, my options for pairings were sometimes slim. I love almond/rice/soy milk now, but at the time I thought it was some form of child abuse. In those situations I would opt for apple juice in my bowl o' granola. I haven't tried it in a while... but I just might. I imagine it would be a bit more crisp and refreshing on these hot New York mornings. But I digress...

It may be easier to grab a bag of granola off the shelf but it doesn't even compare to your own homemade batch. The best thing about making granola is you really can't go wrong. Add whatever you like (or have in the house). It's bound to turn out great.

This batch was inspired by (1) my granola-loving gal-pal, Emma, (2) my Aussie lady-friend, Rohani, and (3) an old hippie cookbook my mom gave me when I flew the coupe, The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook.

Ingredients

4 cup rolled oats
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup sunflower seeds (lightly toasted)
1/2 cup flax seeds
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cup shredded organic coconut
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup R. Stephens Tasmanian Honey (courtesy of Rohani)
3/4 cup Lemon Myrtle infused Macadamia Oil (straight from the bush!)
1 tsp vanilla


Procedure

Mix the dry ingredients together in a LARGE mixing bowl. I can't over emphasize "large"... It got a little messy in my kitchen because I tried to make do with my new medium sized mixing bowl. It's gorgeous! But not big enough for granola.


Heat the liquid ingredients together and pour over oat mixture. Stir and spread out evenly on 2 cookie sheets. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes or until golden. Turn with a pancake turner a couple times so it browns evenly.


Remove from oven and immediately stir in dried fruit (I used dried mango and cranberry). Let cool. Store in an airtight container.



xoxo
Earthy Crunchy Hippie

Pizza and Scattergories

I debated on whether or not I should write about my recent pizza party because I don’t have start to finish pictures…. But this pizza was way too good not to share! My next pizza episode (which will probably be sooner than later) will focus on perfecting the crust and I’ll make sure to take photos.

Dough Ingredients (inspired by this serious eats recipe)
makes six 10-inch pizzas

20 ounces (4 cups) Italian tipo "00" flour, plus extra for dusting dough
.3 ounces (about 2 1/4 teaspoons) kosher salt, plus extra for assembly
.2 ounces (about 1 teaspoon) active dry yeast
.2 ounces (about 2 teaspoons) sugar
12 ounces water

Procedures

  1. Combine flour, salt, yeast, and sugar in a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Add water and knead until mixture comes together and no dry flour remains. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Knead for an additional ten minutes. The mixture should come together into a cohesive mass that barely sticks to the bottom of the bowl. Cover bowl tightly with plastic and refrigerate at least overnight, and up to 5 days.
  2. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and dust the top with additional flour. Using a bench scraper, divide the dough into six even pieces, approximately six ounces each. Using floured hands, shape each piece into a neat ball by gathering the dough towards the bottom. Coat four small containers with olive oil and add one dough ball to each bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and allow to rise at room temperature for 2 hours (dough should roughly double in volume).
  3. Transfer 1 ball of dough to a medium bowl filled with flour and flip to coat. Lift it and gently pat off the excess flour. Transfer it to a floured surface and gently stretch it into a 10-inch circle, leaving the outer 1-inch edge slightly thicker than the center.
  4. Have your toppings ready and close to the stovetop. Arrange the oven rack such that you can just barely fit a 12-inch heavy-bottomed oven-proof cast iron pizza pan on top of it. Preheat the broiler to high with the pizza pan inside.
  5. Transfer one dough round to the skillet. It should fill up the entire bottom surface. Working quickly, spread your choice of toppings over surface leaving the outer 1-inch border un-sauced. (See below for our list of favorites from the night!)
  6. Transfer skillet to broiler and broil until pizza is puffed and darkly charred in spots (this can take anywhere between 1 1/2 to 4 minutes, depending on the strength of your broiler). Return the skillet to the stovetop and cook until the bottom is darkly charred in spots, using a thin metal spatula to peek after about 1 minute (depending on the skillet you use, you may skip this step if the pizza is already charred). Transfer the pizza to a cutting board and serve immediately. Repeat steps 4 and 5 to bake remaining pizzas.

Avocado Squash, Mushrooms, Garlic, Ricotta, and Romano
(this poor dough was a little damage but I love the way it turned out!)

Scape Pesto, Hen-of-the-Woods Mushrooms, Fresh Mozzarella, and Romano
(Thank you, Nancy, for the yummy garlic scapes!)

Peaches, Fresh Ricotta, Rosemary, and Sea Salt
(Best new pizza creation award goes to Leigh!)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Simple and Wonderfully Delicious

Me and the boyfriend drove up to a spa on the Hudson River last Sunday and then spent a long rainy day in Tarrytown. By the time we were ready to head back into the city we knew we had to do a quick and easy dinner, but our day was much too special to settle on takeout. We decided to stop by Stew Leonards for some lobster roll fixins and make a big fresh salad from Saturday's Farmers Market run.

Voilà!

Salad recipe:

  1. Thinly slice carrots and cucumbers with either a mandoline or vegetable peeler. Let stand in ice water until they curl up.
  2. Chop up some of your favorite lettuce and/or micro-greens. Add diced tomato, a handful of sunflower seeds and flax seeds. Toss with a tasty dressing (this time I used Brianna's Homestyle Blue Cheese).
  3. Plate the dressed salad and top with cucumbers, carrots, sea salt, and fresh ground pepper.

Sometime a simple dinner is best.