Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

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Blueberry Loaf

July 11, 2010

It’s become a family tradition: we pick blueberries, we make jam, we bake, and life is good. This year is no exception.

I made another Blueberry Pie, which was beautiful. (It disappeared before I had a chance to confirm my suspicions about its flavor, but based on the anecdotal evidence, that was one fine pie!)

We’ve also been making loads and loads of blueberry loaves. I began by making muffins for some friends who were driving cross-country, but we quickly discovered that this recipe makes a mean loaf—caky, moist, studded with blueberries and topped with just the right amount of streusel (read: a lot!). The batch that’s currently making the house smell so very good is #5 in the last week or so. Did I mention that life is good?

Blueberry Loaf
adapted from Epicurious.com

You’ll need:
For batter
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/3 cup whole milk
1 whole large egg
1 large yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh blueberries (12 oz)

For streusel
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
cinnamon to taste (I put in enough to make the streusel change color)

Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat to 375°F. Generously spray two loaf pans with nonstick spray.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over moderately low heat, then remove from heat. Whisk in milk, then whisk in whole egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined well. Set aside.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

Rub together all streusel ingredients in a bowl with your fingertips until crumbly. Set aside.

Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined, then gently fold in the blueberries.

Pour batter into loaf pans and top with streusel. Bake until a tester comes out clean. (Start testing after 25 minutes.)

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Cinnamon Rolls!

May 22, 2010

Way back in fifth grade, long before I knew I was interested in food writing, we had to write an essay for English class describing a personal expertise. I wrote about being an expert at loving cinnamon.

In the ensuing years, I’ve dumped McCormick for the freshly-ground Korintje variety from the Spice House, but my passion for cinnamon endures. You may have noticed that it’s a common theme in the recipes I’ve posted here.

So when I saw an episode of “Good Eats” featuring a recipe that didn’t require getting up at the crack of dawn, I began looking for an excuse to try my hand at one of the purest forms of cinnamon adoration: the breakfast baked good. I mean, it’s a hell of a way to start a day, right? The only problem: I’m one person, and the recipe makes a dozen sinful rolls.

A few weekends ago, I had some friends over for the weekend, and I decided that enough is enough. Even though there were only 3 of us, I made the darned cinnamon rolls. A girl can only wait so long! It worked out perfectly–I, the night owl, did the prep the night before, and my friends, who are morning people, took care of the final rise and the actual baking and frosting. Talk about teamwork.

The verdict? They were everything I hoped they would be. Truly things of beauty–and delicious, too. I could have eaten all 12 by myself, but showed uncharacteristic restraint.

I believe the only change we made to the original recipe was to double the cinnamon content. (In my household, a teaspoon means a tablespoon when cinnamon is involved!)

One of these days, I really should see if that essay is with my school papers.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
adapted from Alton Brown’s original masterpiece

You’ll need:
Dough:
4 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 large whole egg, room temperature
2 ounces sugar, approximately 1/4 cup
3 ounces butter, melted, approximately 6 tablespoons
6 ounces buttermilk, room temperature
20 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 cups, plus additional for dusting
1 package instant dry yeast, approximately 2 1/4 teaspoons
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
Vegetable oil or cooking spray

Filling:
8 ounces light brown sugar, approximately 1 cup packed
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
Pinch salt
3/4-ounce unsalted butter, melted, approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons

Icing:
2 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened, approximately 1/4 cup
3 tablespoons milk
5 1/2 ounces powdered sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups

For the dough: in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, and buttermilk. Add approximately 2 cups of the flour along with the yeast and salt; whisk until moistened and combined. Remove the whisk attachment and replace with a dough hook. Add all but 3/4 cup of the remaining flour and knead on low speed for 5 minutes. Check the consistency of the dough, add more flour if necessary; the dough should feel soft and moist but not sticky. Knead on low speed 5 minutes more or until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead by hand about 30 seconds. Lightly oil a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, lightly oil the top of the dough, cover and let double in volume, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Mix until well incorporated. Set aside until ready to use.

Butter a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently shape the dough into a rectangle with the long side nearest you. Roll into an 18 by 12-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with the 3/4-ounce of melted butter, leaving 1/2-inch border along the top edge. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border along the top edge; gently press the filling into the dough. Beginning with the long edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Firmly pinch the seam to seal and roll the cylinder seam side down. Very gently squeeze the cylinder to create even thickness. Using a serrated knife, slice the cylinder into 1 1/2-inch rolls; yielding 12 rolls. Arrange rolls cut side down in the baking dish; cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight or up to 16 hours.

Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and place in an oven that is turned off. Fill a shallow pan 2/3-full of boiling water and set on the rack below the rolls. Close the oven door and let the rolls rise until they look slightly puffy; approximately 30 minutes. Remove the rolls and the shallow pan of water from the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

When the oven is ready, place the rolls on the middle rack and bake until golden brown, or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, approximately 30 minutes.

While the rolls are cooling slightly, make the icing by whisking the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy. Add the milk and whisk until combined. Sift in the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Spread over the rolls and serve immediately.

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Non-Kosher, non-vegetarian cookies

March 30, 2010

Some ideas turn out pretty well, regardless of how twisted they sound at the beginning. Like, for instance, these oatmeal cookies with cinnamon chips plus a hefty dose of this candied bacon. (Credit here must go to my mother, who suggested the cinnamon oatmeal cookies in place of the chocolate chip options I had been considering.)

Aren’t they beautiful? These were for a friend who, upon tasting Candied Bacon Ice Cream, began dancing around my living room. He and his girlfriend were packing up their apartment this weekend, and I thought they might need some fuel. The “Zach has a happy” cookie was born. (Ok, and I really wanted to see if bacon cookies had potential. Turns out, the dancing is not limited to bacon in frozen form.)

I made the following changes to the recipe:

  • First, I omitted a 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar in the cookie dough, because the bacon is sweet.
  • As to the bacon, I unintentionally cooked it a bit less than I would have liked and, in hindsight, I’m glad I did. The fat was still soft and chewy, but it crisped up beautifully when baked with the cookies.
  • To combine bacon and baked good: I chopped the bacon as I would for the ice cream. After I had scooped the cookies onto the baking sheet, I pressed a nice dollop (say, a four-fingered pinch) of bacon bits into each cookie.

I think my cookie scoop is larger than my mother’s, so I’d estimate I had enough bacon for 2-3 dozen cookies. I left a dozen cookies plain for the vegetarians in the crowd. Oddly, the bacon cookies tasted even better the next day than they did straight out of the oven.

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The Best Brownies I’ve Ever Made

February 14, 2010

My brothers’ friends can attest to the fact that I make a lot of brownies when I know there are people around to eat them. I confess, however, that most of the time, they’re Ghiradelli mix, because that’s what my mom keeps in the house.

Guys? I’ll be making a different kind of brownies for you this summer. They’re almost as easy as the mix, and they’re ridiculously fudgy. And, oh yeah, they have a layer of Reese’s Cups baked into them.

Reese’s Brownies
adapted from epicurious and inspired by April Rouleau’s York Peppermint Patty brownies

You’ll need:
7½ oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2¼ sticks butter
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
3 t vanilla extract
⅜ t salt
1½ cups flour
24 Reese’s cups

1. Melt 5 oz bittersweet chocolate, 1 1/2 sticks butter and 2 oz unsweetened chocolate in a double-boiler.
2. Whisk 2 cups sugar, 4 eggs, 2 t vanilla and 1/4 t salt in a large bowl until fluffy.
3. Stir in melted chocolate mixture.
4. Mix in 1 cup flour.
5. Pour into a 13×9″ greased pan.
6. Arrange Reese’s cups over batter, pressing them in slightly.
7. Repeat steps 1-3 with 2 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate, 6 T butter, 1 oz unsweetened chocolate, 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 1 t vanilla, 1/8 t salt.
8. Pour batter over Reese’s cups and spread.
9. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs attached. Start testing after 35 minutes.

Note: These make great cupcakes, too. The amounts described in step 1 will make about 20 standard-sized cupcakes. I put two Reese’s quarters in each cupcake.

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Bisque, Quick

February 12, 2010

Chicago has the sort of winters that make you flee into the arms of the nearest warm, thick soup. As a girl who doesn’t really like peas, beans, or tomato-based soups, I’m always thrilled to find a new recipe for something I might like. Something like Shrimp Bisque.

I was intrigued to find a Shrimp Bisque thickened with rice instead of cream in the New York Times this week, and I just happened to have a big bag of shrimp in my freezer. The result? Delicious, easy, fairly quick–and a one-pot meal!

Shrimp Bisque
adapted from the New York Times

You’ll need:
1 pound medium or large uncooked shrimp, shelled and deveined, shells reserved
6 T butter
1 1/2 t kosher salt
2/3 cup plus 2 T dry white wine
6 cups water
3 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
3 celery ribs, chopped
3 large leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 fennel bulb, chopped
2 large shallots, chopped
2 small onions, chopped
1/4 cup long-grain rice
2 T tomato paste
juice of 1 lemon

In a large pot over high heat, cook shrimp shells in 1 T butter and 1/4 t salt, stirring frequently, until lightly browned in spots. Add wine and boil until most of the liquid has evaporated. (Right about now, your kitchen will smell pretty incredible.) Add water, thyme and bay leaf and simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes or until everything else is chopped and prepped. Mine went a bit longer. Strain shrimp stock into a bowl, pressing on shells before discarding them.

In same pot, melt 2 T butter with 1/4 t salt. Add shrimp and sauté until they are pink, 2 to 4 minutes depending on size. Using a slotted spoon, put the shrimp in with the stock.

Add remaining 3 T butter to pot along with celery, leeks, garlic, fennel, shallots and onions and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice, tomato paste and remaining salt and sauté for 2 additional minutes.

Add shrimp stock, being careful to keep the shrimp in the other bowl, and simmer, covered, until rice is tender (20 minutes).

Cut shrimp into chunks and add to bisque. Purée using your preferred method. I used an immersion blender, and thus I ended up with a slightly chunky bisque with the consistency of applesauce. A real blender might yield a smoother soup.

See, doesn’t it look like applesauce? Return the soup to the pot, if you used a blender, and stir in the lemon juice. At this point, I couldn’t tell there was any acid in it. I was tempted to throw in some extra salt and white pepper, but I didn’t. Good thing, too–the next day, the soup was perfect: shrimpy, warm and comforting.

I’ll definitely be making this one again.

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Back to Baking!

January 6, 2010

I apologize for the lengthy hiatus! I am now a diploma-bearing freelancer. Very exciting!

I’ve been baking up a storm lately, and it is so much fun! I feel like I haven’t really baked in years, but I know that can’t be true.

First I whipped up more than a gross of Krispies (like a very vanilla-y chocolate chip cookie, but with Crunch bar bits and Rice Krispies instead of chocolate chips). This took a few days, but I got into a rhythm and it went by very quickly. I think I like baking because of the rhythm: just follow the instructions and all will be well. (Ok, the end result might have a tiny bit to do with my attraction to baking over cooking.)

Since I sent all those cookies out, I’ve been feeling the itch to bake again. Plus, I found cinnamon chips for sale at the grocery store, and I just have to try those! My mother finally consented to once again having baked goods in the house.

So right now the kitchen smells delicious. I took my old standby oatmeal chocolate chip cookie and made two substitutions:
1. cinnamon chips for chocolate. Generally speaking, I never EVER substitute for chocolate, but I’m a cinnamon fiend. Plus, I want to find out if these cinnamon chips are worth stocking up on.
2. pumpkin pie spice from the Spice House for cinnamon. My mother’s house usually contains a ridiculous amount of cinnamon, but not so today!

The verdict? They’re ridiculously tasty–chewy and spicy!

Vanishing Oatmeal Cinnamon Cookies
adapted from an adaptation of the Quaker Oats box classic

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, preferably from The Spice House
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 package cinnamon chips

1. Blend flour, baking soda, spices and salt and set aside.
2. Beat together butter and sugars until creamy.
3. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.
4. Add dry ingredients and mix well.
5. Stir in oats and chips.
6. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
7. Bake at 350º 13-15 minutes or until golden brown.
8. Eat!

The only problem? I was told to make a small quantity, and now I’ve got 4 1/2 dozen cookies on my hands.

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3.14

July 25, 2009

Sorry–I just couldn’t resist. The thing is, I’ve been on a pie kick lately.

It all began last week, when my family picked what can only be described as a surplus of blueberries. After the jam-making and the eating-with-yogurt, my mother found yet another 10 pounds of the persistent little blue buggers in the car. Clearly, something had to be done.

I had never tasted a blueberry pie, but I figured that if something was good enough for Bette Midler to pen a song, it was worth trying. Enter Blueberry Pie with Cornmeal Crust and Lemon Cream from this month’s Bon Appétit.

After a close call with some mealworms in a decades-old bag of cornmeal, I opted to use a simple butter and shortening crust instead. The result? Heavenly. The lemon cream was absolutely marvelous, and I had no idea it was so easy to make lemon curd! That pie lasted maybe 4 minutes at a dinner party that night.

Then there’s the Honey Caramel Peach Pie with Sour-Cream Ice Cream. I’m not sure which part of that intrigued me first, but as soon as I saw it, I started a countdown until Michigan peach season–coincidentally, today.

Though picking peaches proved to be a bust thanks to some misleading online information and a grumpy peach saleslady at the orchard, we found some amazing peaches at Paul’s in New Buffalo. (By “amazing” I mean that they smelled good enough to stop shoppers in their tracks as they walked by.) So, problem solved.

Again, I used my standby pie crust, and the resulting pie was fabulous, if a bit soggy. The ice cream tasted oddly like frozen yogurt when I made it last night; I found it somewhat amusing that so many unhealthy ingredients could come together to make something that tasted virtuous and, well, not as good as I hoped. As it turns out, the ice cream was waiting for the pie. I don’t think either component would have been as good without the other.

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