Sunday, November 28, 2010

Daring Bakers: November 2010, Crostata!

I've been meaning to make an exciting tart in an exciting pan, but those are one of those hard to make for one and hard to bring to a department to share.  You need a reason for them.  And then it was the Daring Baker's challenge for November.  Well, crostata was, where crostata is a traditional Italian tart.  And I'm home for Thanksgiving, so I figured it was perfect.  The challenge was figuring out a filling, since it's November and not much is in season.  I ended up going with an Anjou pear and pecan filling because it was as seasonal as I could get.

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well. 

The recipe is here, and I used version 1.  I caramelized some pears as the filling.  I thought it was a little heavy on the pecans, but still good.

Caramelized Pear filling
4 Anjou pears, cut into slices (I didn't peel them and we barely noticed)
4 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp brown sugar
splash brandy
2 Tbsp pecans

Cook the pears in the butter until the start to brown, then add sugar, brandy and pecans until they pears are soft to a fork.  The whole process took about 20 minutes.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Daring Bakers: October 2010, Donuts!

I'm a little delayed on this post.  In fact, I am over a month behind on this post and I have a bunch of others.  I'll do it one at a time.

Donuts were the daring cooks challenge for October.  I put it off since I had no one to make them for until the Weirstrass potluck (October 31).  And I wasn't looking forward to it.  And this was probably my least favorite thing I've done in the kitchen.  It was extremely hard to clean up, and I only had one size of round cookie cutters so the were more like beignets, pumpkin shaped beignets.  But I made the sour cream, er buttermilk, donuts because that is the only kind of donut I find at all decent.

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious. 

Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Cake Doughnuts: 
Preparation time: 
Hands on prep time - 25 minutes 
Cooking time - 12 minutes 
Yield: About 15 doughnuts & 15 doughnut holes, depending on size 
Sour Cream ••• cup / 60 ml / 60 gm / 2 oz 
All Purpose Flour 3 ••• cup / 780 ml / 455 gm / 16 oz + extra for dusting surface 
White Granulated Sugar ••• cup / 180 ml / 170 gm / 6 oz 
Baking Soda ••• teaspoon / 2.5 ml / 3 gm / .1 oz 
Baking Powder 1 teaspoon / 5 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz 
Kosher (Flaked) Salt 1 teaspoon / 5 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz (If using table salt, only use ••• teaspoon
Nutmeg, grated 1.5 teaspoon / 7.5 ml / 9 gm / .3 oz 
Active Dry Yeast 1 1/8 teaspoon / 5.6 ml / 3.5 gm / .125 oz 
Buttermilk ••• cup + 2 Tablespoon / 210 ml / 225 gm / 7 ••• oz 
Egg, Large 1 
Egg Yolk, Large 2 
Pure Vanilla Extract 1 Tablespoon / 15 ml 
Powdered (Icing) Sugar ••• cup / 120 ml / 65 gm / 2.3 oz (Used for decorating and is optional
1. In a small stainless-steel bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water, heat the sour cream until just warm. 
2. Heat the oil to 375°F/190°C. 
3. Over a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg; make a large well in the center. Place the yeast in the well; pour the sour cream over it. Allow it to soften (if using packed fresh yeast), about 1 minute. 
4. Pour the buttermilk, whole egg, egg yolks, and vanilla extract into the well. Using one hand, gradually draw in the dry ingredients. The mixture should be fairly smooth before you draw in more flour. Mix until it is completely incorporated. The dough will be very sticky. Wash and dry your hands and dust them with flour. 
5. Sift an even layer of flour onto a work surface. Don’t be afraid to use a lot of flour. You don’t want the doughnuts sticking to your counter. Scrape dough out of bowl onto the surface; sift another layer of flour over dough. Working quickly, pat dough into an even 1/2-inch (12.5 mm) thickness. Dip cutter in flour and, cutting as closely together as possible, cut out the doughnuts and holes. Place holes and doughnuts on a floured surface. Working quickly, gather scraps of dough together, pat into 1/2-inch (12.5 mm) thickness, and cut out remaining doughnuts and holes. 
6. Drop three to four doughnuts at a time into the hot oil. Once they turn golden brown, turn them and cook the other side. Cooking times may vary, but with my oil at 375 °F/190°C, I found they only took about 20 to 30 seconds per side. 
7. Once cooked, place on a baking sheet covered with paper towels to drain. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Caramelized onion Tartlettes

So I went to my first baby shower this morning!  And it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try making two things I've been meaning to make for a while: puff pastry and caramelized onions.  So I looked up how to make puff pastry, and it really isn't as hard as one would think, it's like folding pie crusts on top of itself a few times.  And caramelizing onions is certainly easy.  The hardest part was figuring out how to work with puff pastry and how homemade puff pastry translates to frozen sheets.

Puff Pastry
1 c butter
2 c flour
2/3 cup ice cold water

Mix 14 Tbsp cold butter with 1/4 cup flour to make a smooth paste.  Mold into a 1/2 inch square of butter and put in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Mix the cold water, 2 Tbsp butter, 1 3/4 cup flour.  Mix and knead for 1 minute.  Refridgerate this.

Once both doughs are chilled, take the water based dough, roll to 3/4 inch thick on a WELL FLOURED surface.  Place the smaller butter square inside and fold the water based dough around it like a package.  Roll this out to a long rectangle about 3/4 inch thick.  Fold in thirds like a business letter.  Roll this out, fold into thirds again.  Refrigerate again and repeat twice.  I put it in the refrigerator over night.  This is your puff pastry.

1 Tbsp butter
1 large onions, thin sliced
2 tsp brown sugar
2 oz feta cheese

Melt butter and heat pan.  Cook onions and thyme for about 15 minutes over medium low heat.  Make sure they don't brown too much.  Add brown sugar, cook another 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Roll out puff pastry.  Cut with 2 inch round cookie cutter and put the circles on a cookie sheet.  Put a little feta and a spoon of onion mixture on each pastry and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and crispy (make sure oven is fully preheated.  I added a little spinach to some because the onions didn't quite go around.  I also put a little spinach and feta inside the leftover dough and made little pockets.

These are really cool to watch bake.  They steam and bubble.  It's fun.  They kind of sizzle when they cook too.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

New Blog

No, this one is staying here, but I think I'm actually going to follow through on this math blogging thing now that I have stuff to talk about and wordpress to actually write math successfully online.  Most of you probably don't care, but there might be (two) people who do.  If you are one of those people, feel free to stop by and see what I'm up to.  Unfortunately, blogger is not a fan of LaTeX, so I had to make it in wordpress:

This blog is staying put though, you can still read about food without updating anything!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Flying Biscuits!

For anyone who has been to Georgia (or parts of Florida, I believe), there are a few restaurants that you have to go to.  Flying biscuit is one of them.  Now I have my favorites at the Flying Biscuit, which may not be the same as others' (black bean cakes!), but I think anyone will agree that at the flying biscuit, you must get a biscuit, and more importantly, you must eat it with the cranberry apple butter.

We found the recipe.  And it's cranberry/apple season.  So of course, we had to recreate the biscuits and apple butter.  This was my first time ever making biscuits.  It's not something that is worth it for one person, in my opinion, but when there are two and you are making apple butter, it makes a nice apple butter delivery mechanism.  Both these biscuits and apple butter are inspired from the flying biscuit, though we 1 1/2ed the apple butter.  Also, I forgot to brush them with half and half and sugar, which I thought was just fine because it's mostly for appearances, which I don't care about unless I'm serving them to guests, and besides, I slathered them in apple butter, it's not like I noticed.

In other news, I'm extraordinarily behind in posts (and I've remembered recently a bunch of things I made last winter that I didn't blog about), so I might have some random posts creeping up soon.

The Flying Biscuit’s Famous Flying Biscuits

  • 3 cups all purpose flour (a soft winter wheat flour, like White Lily, is best)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 6 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup half and half plus more for brushing on top of biscuits
  • 1 tablespoon sugar for sprinkling on top of biscuits
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Place flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Cut butter into ½ tablespoon-sized-bits and add to the flour. Using your fingertips or a pastry cutter, work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in all the heavy cream and the half and half.
Stir the dry ingredients into the cream and mix with a wooden spoon until dough just begins to come together into a ball. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 2 or 3 times to form a cohesive mass. Do not overwork the dough.
Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to a 1-inch thickness. The correct thickness is the key to obtaining a stately biscuit.
Dip a 2 ½ inch biscuit cutter in flour, then cut the dough. Repeat until all the dough has been cut. Scraps can be gathered together and re- rolled one more time.
Place the biscuits on the prepared sheet pan, leaving about ¼ inch between them.
Brush the tops of the biscuits with 1 tablespoon of half and half and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar.
Bake for 20 minutes. Biscuits will be lightly browned on top and flaky in the center when done.
Makes 8 to 12 biscuits, depending on the size of the cutter.

The Flying Biscuit Cranberry Apple Butter

  • 2 cups of dark brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 cups cranberries
  • 10 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
Place sugar, spices, and orange juice in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a simmer and add the cranberries. Cook over medium heat until cranberries begin to pop.
Add the apples and cook over low heat, stirring frequently. Cook until apples are tender and falling apart. Puree contents of saucepan in a food processor or mash with a potato masher until smooth and thick. Cool and serve with hot biscuits.
Cranberry Apple Butter will keep for 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.