Tuesday, December 17, 2013

TWD: Gingersnaps

Tuesdays with Dorie baking through Baking with Julia
by Dorie Greenspan
Contributing Baker: David Blom

I was excited these cookies were picked for our second recipe for December for a few reasons:

1. I love gingersnaps.
2. They are cut-out cookies - who doesn't like making cut-out cookies?!
3. Uber easy!
4. A new cookie for the Christmas cookie tin. :)

 Before baking, you brush the cookies with a molasses glaze (equal parts of molasses and water).

 If only I had these cute cookie stencils.

The description for these cookies say they are mildly spiced - this is an understatement. I wish I had gone with my instinct to add more ginger and cinnamon to these. The only discernible flavor was the molasses. I like molasses - if they were called molasses cookies, the flavor would have been spot on.

These were not anything like I was expecting them to be. They were thin, tough, and chewy. I was hoping they would be similar to the Sweetzels brand that I buy - full of ginger flavor, with a hard, yet crunchy texture, perfect for dipping in a cup of coffee or tea.

I did have high hopes for these cookies. The dough was deliciously fragrant. And it took all but maybe 5 minutes to make the dough. I'm glad I refrained from making a double batch, for the end result was a disappointment.

If you want to give this recipe a try (maybe you'll have better luck than I did), you will find the recipe by clicking here, or it can be found on page 324 of Baking with Julia.

To see how my fellow bakers fared (I know a couple of them enjoyed this recipe), visit the Tuesdays with Dorie website and look for the LYL: Gingersnaps link.

Monday, December 16, 2013

TWD: Challah

Tuesdays with Dorie baking through Baking with Julia
by Dorie Greenspan
Contributing Baker: Lauren Groveman

This was an easy and fun bread to make!

Challah is normally eaten on the Sabbath and other Jewish holidays; however, this recipe is not Kosher, for it contains both milk and butter.

This recipe makes two large loaves. From what I hear it freezes well - this I don't know for I sent the second loaf home with our daughter; which she made some delicious looking French toast with hers.

This bread can be made and completed in one (full) day. There are three rising periods and I was wanting natural light for taking of the photos, and being it is late fall, it gets dark early, so I refrigerated the completed braids overnight. I brought the loaves to room temperature and allowed them to rise till they were puffy and just about doubled in size, before placing them in the oven.

The recipe calls for adding a topping of sesame, poppy, and/or caraway seeds if desired. I chose not to use any. This is a sweeter bread, and seeds of any kind just did not sound appetizing to me.

I enjoyed this best, toasted and buttered. I have yet to make the French toast.

You actually start braiding from the middle to one end, then flip it around and do the other half. Only, when you do the second half, you need to braid the strands "under" instead of "over" - this is not explained in the book.

When you reach the end of your braid, pinch the ends together and tuck under.

The braid gets an egg wash just before going into the oven. This gives it its beautiful golden color.

The beautiful & delicious looking French toast our daughter made.

The recipe can be found on page 93 of Baking with Julia or by clicking here.

To see the results of the other talented bakers of our group, click here for their links.

Savory Vegetable Bread Pudding

Recipe found at Taste, Love & Nourish

Andy, had a Christmas party to go to for his rock crawling group (yes, I was invited. Been there, done that.. not my thing.) and I sent him with a pot full of chili and a couple of (small) loaves of bread that we purchased at the farmer's market - one sourdough loaf, and the other a garlic loaf. Probably half of each came home, however, they did devour the chili. :)

 Rock crawling
(That's my hubby)

What does one do with a bunch of leftover bread - besides making croutons? Make bread pudding; of course it would have to be a savory type, with the garlic and all. 

A quick Google search led me to this delicious recipe. It was even better the next day when we had it for lunch. There was still plenty left over, so one of our employees took the rest home for him and his wife for dinner he liked it so much.

Sauté some onion, celery, red pepper, mushrooms, zucchini, tomato, garlic and thyme.

Toss the bread cubes with some olive oil and bake until golden.

In your largest baking dish, toss the sautéed vegetables, bread cubes, cheese, and egg mixture together and top with some additional Gruyére cheese.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Book 108: Autumn Gatherings

by Rick Rogers

Wow! This was easy and delicious! What more could one ask for?

This would be perfect for company. It takes hardly any time at all to throw together. I made the sauce while the rice was cooking, and the salmon roasted for maybe 20 minutes. I always buy the Coho salmon - it's thinner, which equates to a shorter cooking time, and I think it has a better flavor.

Whenever I have to make a reduction of any kind, it always takes way longer than stated in the recipe. Not sure what it is that I am doing wrong. Maybe I don't cook it at a high enough temperature, worried that I may burn it. I also don't have one of those fancy pans with sloped sides that are made for sauce reductions.


The instructions for this sauce says to reduce the liquid to two tablespoons, about 6 minutes - it took longer as usual. I can't tell you how long, for I did not pay attention to the time. But that's OK. It was ready in plenty of time - even if it wasn't, it would have been worth the wait. This sauce in my opinion, is to die for. I kept going back for more, I just could not get enough of it.

You may be thinking that this looks like a really small piece of salmon. I had purchased three-quarters of a pound for the two of us, and received a call from our daughter that she would be stopping by, and I had asked her to stay for dinner. She offered to stop and pick up some more fish, and I said we would make do - and we did - it turned out to be the perfect amount.

According to the American Heart Association, a serving of fish is two to three ounces.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

WW: Chinese American Shrimp with Lobster Sauce

Wok Wednesdays wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by the fabulous Grace Young

This stir-fry was delicious!

I had reservations as to whether I wanted to proceed with the recipe after reading the directions. I had purchased peeled and deveined shrimp to save on preparation time; only to find out that you need the shells to make the lobster sauce.

I have mentioned several times on the importance of reading a recipe completely - and I did! Only by the time I went to the grocery store, I just jotted down what I thought I needed. It's a good idea to re-read the recipe in its entirety, right before going to the grocery store.

I commented on the Wok Wednesdays Facebook page that I did this, and Grace (yes, the Wok Goddess Extraordinaire herself responds to our never ending questions) says that using only clam juice, the recipe would still turn out just fine - though the shells "add an amazing layer of rich flavor".

I'm looking forward to making this again using the correct ingredients. Seriously, can it be better than it was? I can only imagine~ till next time.

 Mise en Place

1. Shrimp
2. Soy sauce, pepper
3. Pork, ginger, garlic
4. Serrano pepper (The recipe called for Thai red chili)
5. Fermented black beans
6. Clam juice, soy sauce, pepper
7. Clam juice, cornstarch
8. Egg
9. Scallions

Are you asking yourself as I did, "Where is the lobster?" After a quick Google search (what would we do without Google?) this sauce is typically served "over" lobster, not made with lobster. And boy is it tasty! (Even with my omission of the shrimp shells.)

I served this over brown rice which was made with a mixture of leftover chicken and vegetable stock from our Thanksgiving feast. I wish I could remember what stock I used more of, for the rice was really good too.

The leftovers were equally delicious the following day. Good for me, that the hubby forgot to take it in with him for his lunch. ;)

We are asked not to post the recipes here on our blog. If you would like the recipe, you will find it on page 179 of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, which you can purchase at your local bookstore or find it at your local library. I highly recommend purchasing the book - you won't be disappointed. 

Wok Wednesdays is an online cooking group. If you would like information about joining us, click here, or visit us on Facebook. Would love for you to wok along with us!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

TWD: Double Chocolate Cookies

Tuesdays with Dorie baking through Baking with Julia
by Dorie Greenspan
Contributing Baker: Rick Katz

This weeks recipe is an intense chocolate cookie; on the outside it has a paper-thin, crispy topping much like homemade brownies, their insides, truffle like. Pure chocolate goodness.

These tasted as good three days later, as they did the first day. Everyone enjoyed these. They may even make it into the Christmas cookie tin this year.

These cookies have a mixture of bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate - a whole pounds worth. Half of the bittersweet chocolate and the unsweetened chocolate gets melted down with butter for the batter, and the rest of the bittersweet is chopped in larger-than-chip-size chunks, and added to the chocolate mixture along with the dry ingredients.

As you can see, the cookie "dough" is not dough-like at all. It is more like a cake batter - so you have no choice but to chill the dough; no skimping out on this step.

Even after chilling, the dough is still not like your typical cookie dough - it is very soft and sticky; if you have ever made truffles, that is the texture this dough has. It took a little prodding to get the dough out of the scoop.

The instructions state that these are "spreaders" - to leave at least two inches of space between each mound. As you can see, I had very little spreading; I was expecting to pull out a pan of very flat cookies.

These cookies are fairly quick to make - aside from the chilling time. You know the saying.. good things come to those who wait. And these were good..

This post participates in Tuesdays with Dorie. Click here for links of all the talented bakers of our group, to see how they fared with this recipe.

Friday, November 8, 2013

TWD: Pumpernickel Loaves

Tuesdays with Dorie baking through Baking with Julia
by Dorie Greenspan
Contributing Baker: Lauren Groveman 

I have to start off by saying, the end of daylight savings time is killing me! Summer, hurry back, please.

Bread. I have found this to be the hardest to photograph. How does one make bread (muffins, etc.) look pretty? I took 123 pictures of the finished product alone. Crazy.

I know what most of you are thinking: This is what went into the bread? Strange. I agree. But it works. You don't really taste any of the individual components.

And if you Google traditional pumpernickel, you won't find them there, other than the molasses; but the coffee, molasses, supposed to be prune lekvar (prune butter - I could not find any and did not feel like making it, so I subbed plum preserves), and the chocolate is what gives this bread its dark (not as dark as I was expecting) color.

Also, the traditional recipe calls for a baking time of anywhere from 6 to 12 hours (this is where it gets its color from) at a low temperature of 225°F. Whereas this recipe only bakes for approximately 40 minutes. Yeah. I would have skipped this recipe if it had to bake that long.

After kneading and forming your dough into a ball, it has two rising periods before shaping. About two hours each - depending on the temperature of your kitchen.

Once the loaf is shaped (for detailed photos - see my post for European Rye), place on a floured towel, this becomes a sling for a final resting period of forty minutes.

Lauren, the contributing baker, calls for you to poke holes in the corners of the towels, and to use an S-hook to hang them from. I think she is just wacky for doing so (I'm sure Julia [Child] did too) - kitchen towels don't come cheap. Do as I did, tie the corners together and hang from string or ribbon.

I was going to bake the bread on a baking stone, but to make a short story even shorter, I didn't. I used a half-sheet pan - covered with parchment. Then as directed, covered the parchment with some cornmeal, and added extra poppy and caraway seeds.

 I liked the look of the bread before it was baked! That would have made for a beautiful loaf.

After placing the loaves on the baking sheet (or stone), smooth side up, you slash the tops, give them an egg wash, and sprinkle with extra caraway and poppy seeds if desired, and bake away!

The instructions say to wait two to three hours before slicing. That wasn't going to happen. The bread was done about an hour before dinner was served, and this bread was on the menu.

I was pleasantly surprised at how moist this bread is - even the next day.

I was hoping to have a picture of a delicious looking turkey sandwich, but I forgot to buy turkey - hence the buttered slice - it will have to suffice. (Ha! I'm a poet, and didn't even know it!)

My husband and daughter enjoyed this bread. Me, I am still undecided if I care for pumpernickel in general. My only recollection of having pumpernickel before, is the small, dark, dry, little squares that you can purchase in the deli department of your grocery store. The ones they use to make those little tea sandwiches with. (Update: Yeah. This is good.)

I did enjoy it with a slathering of butter. Butter does make everything better..

Please visit my co-baker's blogs to see their experiences and takes (the prune lekvar is not an easy find) on this recipe. You will find their links over on the TWD website - under the LYL: Pumpernickel Loaves link. 

The recipe is on page 95 of Baking with Julia, or you can find it here on Lauren's webpage.

To see Lauren making this bread herself, click here for the video.