Thursday, June 19, 2014

What's Baking?: Summer Produce

What's baking in my kitchen? Muffins that I baked in August and immediately froze (instead of making and freezing meals before baby arrived, I made baked goods. It was too confusing to decide on meals to make!

In the 6 months since I became a mother, I have actually baked a bit. I've made several batches of lactation cookies, many batches of the best brownies ever (which I'll share here, I promise), sugar cut-out cookies (a multi-night endeavor), chocolate chip cookies, and even gingerbread blondies (twice!), another recipe I need to share. But that's it. Forget baking on a schedule! I went to a pot-luck last week and I had to go to Big Y to buy two pounds of edamame salad. ME! I bought something for a pot-luck. It's so out of character.

But I've been sorry to miss out on the What's Baking? themes. Twice I did bake something within the theme, but I just didn't manage to blog about it before the deadline. So now that dear FC is 6 months old and eating his own food (steamed, not baked), it's a bit easier to share the baby duties with my husband.

The June theme is summer produce, chosen by Yudith at Blissfully Delicious. Normally I'd bake with freshly picked strawberries- not this year! I fortunately froze several pounds of freshly picked strawberries last year, so I had some all ready in the freezer.

And serendipitously, Joy the Baker has partnered with King Arthur Flour and together they've introduced a baking bootcamp on instagram. Everyone makes the same recipe and posts photos on instagram with #bakingbootcamp and will be entered to win a year's supply of King Arthur flour! (that's like 120lbs, right?) The baking bootcamp recipe is triple berry braided bread. Which includes strawberries.

Hooray, 2 birds, one stone! Perfect for this new mom.

I haven't baked anything with yeast since.... October, maybe? Whereas I used to bake bread nearly every week. This was pretty exciting. As yeast breads go, this recipe is rather straightforward, but the assembly is interesting. Mine was not perfect, but it was delicious and I plan to try again. Also, another participant instagrammed her 2nd attempt, which was a parmesan rosemary version- I definitely need to try that version!

Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread
by Joy the Baker

For the bread:
2.25t active dry yeast
1T sugar
3/4 warm milk (around 100-105oC)
1 egg yolk
2T unsalted butter, melted
2.25 cups King Arthur Flour AP flour
1/2t salt

Whisk together the milk, sugar and yeast, and set aside for 5-10 minutes, til it gets frothy. Stir in the egg yolk and melted butter, then place the flour and salt in the bowl of your mixer and add the yeast mixture. Stir/knead. [Joy suggests kneading by hand for 10 minutes, but I had a crying baby so I just let the mixer take care of it] Place in a greased bowl, covered, and let rise for 1-1.5hrs, til it's doubled in size.

Meanwhile, make the filling.

For the filling:
1/4 cup (half stick) of butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
3T cinnamon
2cups of berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries would be nice)

NOTE: don't use frozen strawberries, use fresh. They are very wet and your bread will be in a puddle and very difficult to shape. Or, if you must use frozen strawberries, have a full roll of paper towel on hand. I blame the frozen strawberries for my less-than-perfect bread!

To make the filling, mix together the butter, sugar and cinnamon. Set aside. Prep the berries (wash, hull, whatever they need), set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375F.

To assemble the bread: this is the tricky part!

Knead the dough on a floured board a couple times. Roll out to a 12x18in rectangle,

then spread the butter/cinnamon/sugar filling in an even layer over the top, leaving an inch-thick bare spot along one long edge. Sprinkle/evenly place the berries over the filling.


 Then start to roll up the dough, ending at the filling-less edge.

 Now you have a snake of dough. Cut this snake in half, leaving one end with a couple inches uncut so the two halves are still connected at that end.
 Flip the halves so the cut sides are up. This is where wet, defrosted strawberries cause a problem: my dough would not stick together and kept flopping open.
 Now, cross the halves over each other in a helix- again, this can be tricky and the dough may threaten to fall apart and all the berries will spill out. Just shove them back in at random.

 Then roll the helix into a circle and place into either a greased iron skillet or a greased springform pan. Brush with an egg wash made of one beaten egg, and sprinkle with powdered sugar (which I neglected to do).

Pop in the oven for 40-45 minutes and go clean up the defrosted strawberry puddle.

Ta-da!

 I love springform pans.
 Voila!


The bread isn't very sweet, so it takes well to the cinnamon sugar filling. I ended up sprinkling powdered sugar over slices as I ate them. The dough is a good bread dough, the filling is classic cinnamon sugar, and it's a nice way to use up berries if you need something to do with them. This recipe would work well for a variety of fillings (like the IGer with her parm-rosemary version). It was fun to attempt a fancier bread shape than I've ever done before, and while it didn't work great and was a little stressful (don't use frozen strawberries!!), I want to make another and try again. Also, it didn't take all that long to make!

If you have kids, I don't recommend making this when your husband's at work. Wait til Saturday when you have someone else in the house!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Beef Stew

wamozart12 had a baby! The wamozart12 family has relied on the kindness of other people to stay fed for the past 4 weeks. wamozart12 enjoys speaking in the 3rd person.

Last night I made dinner for the first time since FC was born. I started the dinner, then FC needed to eat, so Clint finished the dinner, and we cheated and had Pillsbury Grands biscuits instead of homemade biscuits (but boy are those Grands tasty!)

Beef Stew, adapted from a Pioneer Woman recipe

2lbs stew beef
1T olive oil
1T butter
2 onions, chopped into medium-sized pieces
2 cloves garlic (which I skipped, no garlic here)
1t Penzey's northwoods seasoning (supposed to be paprika, we're all out)
1t sugar
1t salt
2T Worcestershire sauce
1 bottle stout (or other dark beer)
2oz tomato paste
4 cups water (beef broth is ideal, I had none)
2 parsnips, cut into chunks
2 carrots, cut into chunks
1 sweet potato, cut into chunks (we left it unpeeled)
mushrooms (we didn't add, but I wish we'd had some to add)

heat up the butter and oil in a large pot or dutch oven, then add the beef and brown a few minutes. Remove the beef and set aside, and saute the onions and garlic for a few minutes, until translucent. Add the spice mix, sugar, salt, Worcestershire and tomato paste and saute for a minute, then add the beef, stout and water (or broth). Bring to a boil and reduce to very low to simmer for 2-2.5hours. Add more broth/water periodically if the liquid boils off too much.

Then add all the veggies and cook for 30-45 min more.

Optional: if you'd like it thicker, place 2-3 ladlefulls of the stew liquid in a small boil and add 2-3T flour. Whisk thoroughly and then add this paste back to the stew, stir and cook for about 15 minutes more. (you can also add the flour directly to the stew pot, but then you're more likely to get lumps.)

Serve with the store-bought biscuits or some crusty bread, or if you don't have a newborn in the living room, get ambitious and make your own biscuits!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What's Baking? November: Cranberries

Long time, no blog!

Here's why:
These pictures are from the day before yesterday. My official due date is a week from today, but my OB thinks I probably won't last that long. So we'll see! I'd love to have Thanksgiving and *then* go into labor, but it's not like I have a lot of say in the matter!

So I'm very pleased to have been able to bake something for this month's bake-along, especially since the theme was cranberries, and I love cranberries! 


This month is hosted by Joanna of the Kosher Kitchen so go check out the other cranberry recipes!

I wanted to make something to enjoy for Thanksgiving. I usually make an apple cranberry and ginger pie, but I wanted to try something new. I thought a quick bread would be appropriate, and I narrowed it down to a few choices and let my husband make the final decision. I think he made an excellent choice!
 
Cranberry Cornbread
Makes 1 loaf
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup orange juice
zest from 1/2 an orange
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2t salt
1 and 1/4 cup AP flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
4t baking powder
1 cup cranberries


Whisk together the wet ingredients (buttermilk, juice, zest, eggs, oil), sugars and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal and baking powder. Gently fold in the wet ingredients until just combined, and then fold in the cranberries.

Bake at 375F for 40-50 minutes in a loaf pan, let cool at least 10 minutes before removing from pan, and completely before slicing.

It's incredibly easy, it took me longer to wash the 2 bowls and 1 spatula I'd used than it did to mix the batter. I love recipes like that, especially around the holidays! We're big fans of cornbread, and this has a really nice, quick bread-like texture that isn't overly dry or crumbly, and it's just sweet enough to balance out the tart cranberries. I omitted the orange zest because I needed to save my single orange for the turkey brine, and I think it would have been better with the zest, so I've included it in the recipe above.



After I made the bread and tried the first slice, I had to continue on this cranberry kick... so I started some cranberry sauce. It smells so amazing that it's really hard not to eat the entire batch right now!

12oz cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
2T orange juice
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4t cloves
1 apple, peeled and diced

Mix everything in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil over medium heat and boil 15 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!



Monday, July 29, 2013

What's Baking? July: Bake Your Favorite Cocktail

This month's theme was chosen by Angela of The Tiny Tyrant's Kitchen, and she suggested baking something inspired by a favorite cocktail. This is perfect for me! It's obvious I haven't been cooking much, and the reason will be clear soon, but to go along with that, I haven't been drinking much, either. Having an excuse to revive a favorite cocktail by baking it is absolutely perfect timing!

Of course, I have many favorite cocktails. I work at a winery, so obviously I love wine, and I would love a glass of wine right now (but alas). I have a small number of favorite cocktails, simply because I prefer wine. But my favorites list include Dark n' Stormies, St Germaine cocktails (champagne and St Germaine, the simple version) and Vermontucky Lemonade. But what to bake? Fortunately, M posted a recipe on facebook for absinthe cookies- essentially those delicious Italian anise biscuit-cookies with anise glaze, only using an absinthe glaze. Ooh! I could work with that!

Surprisingly, I'm not a huge absinthe fan. I love licorice, but I like it sweetened, and the only time I've ever had absinthe, the cocktail was definitely NOT sweetened whatsoever. I also don't think absinthe is the right alcohol for me to have right now, even in a miniscule amount.

So I took this recipe and modified it to use St Germaine. And I love. My husband says he's pretty "meh" about St Germaine, but I did notice all but one of the 8 cookies we had left after taking some to my parents were gone by the time I got home from work yesterday. "Meh" indeed. I need to bake another batch asap!
St Germaine Cookies
inspired by Absinthe Cookies from A Fine Kettle of Fish

Cookie dough
1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted, softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1T St Germaine (or vanilla, or anise, or another tasty alcohol)
3T milk
1/4t vinegar
2 and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1T baking powder
pinch of salt

Glaze (note: I didn't have quite enough glaze for each cookie- this is fine if you can't wait long enough to sample before the cookies cool enough to glaze)
1-1.5cup powdered sugar
1T butter
1.5T St Germaine (or other tasty alcohol, or 1t vanilla, anise, almond, etc)
1T milk (possibly up to 2T)

To make the dough:
Preheat oven to 350F.
Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each. Whisk the flour and baking powder together in a separate bowl, and the St Germaine, vinegar and milk together in yet another separate bowl (and let that sit for a few minutes). Alternate adding the flour and milk mixtures, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Beat til just barely combined. Drop tablespoonfuls of dough on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, and bake in the 350F oven for 12-14 minutes (original recipe said 10-12), til the edges are just barely starting to brown. Let cool.

To make the glaze:
Melt the butter and whisk in the St Germaine and 1T. Whisk in the powdered sugar (start with 1 cup) and add either more sugar or more milk to get the desired consistency- somewhat thick, like honey consistency. Thinner is fine, but it'll run off the cookies more. Drizzle the glaze over the cookies, however much or little you like (I did not have quite enough glaze for the entire batch) Let the glaze harden overnight or for a few hours, either uncovered or very loosely covered.

(I found these got a little sticky in tupperware on a humid July day, and the glaze never really hardened. This leads to sticky fingers, but that's the only bad thing)

YUM. The cookies have a very slight St Germaine taste to them (I wish I could have tried the dough)
but after frosting it's a serious St Germaine flavor. If you want to avoid alcohol, include the St Germaine in the cookies (it's a small amount anyway, and much would bake off) and use lemon juice or vanilla to flavor the glaze.

They're also quick and easy. I can't comment on how long they'll keep, since we ate them all in less than 3 days. ;)



Thursday, May 2, 2013

April Foodie Penpal Guest Post

For April, I sent a package to Geneva. From what she told me, it sounded like she liked the same things I did, so I put together a package of some of my favorite ingredients. Here's what she thought (I'm so glad you enjoyed everything, Geneva!):

My name is Geneva Brown and I received a package from Catherine who was my April Foodie PenPal.  It was one of my favorites so far.  It contained a Lake Champlain rum caramel dark chocolate bar.  I had never tried that particular bar, but was very excited because caramel with chocolate is my favorite.  The thought of having rum flavoring added was more than I could handle.  It did not disappoint either.
Also in the box were two packs of spices from Penzey's.  One was Herbs de Provence which I use all the time.  It is the best blend for vegetables.  I love to use it on egg recipes.  In fact I made an asparagus quiche on Sunday and used both of the spice blends.  The other one was Northwoods Seasonings.  It has rosemary, paprika, etc.  I know it will be wonderful on Potatoe Salad and fish also and am looking forward to trying it out on some of my favorite recipes.
Thank you Catherine for the great package.

Monday, April 29, 2013

What's Baking? April: Mini/Bite Sized Treats

This month's What's Baking theme was chosen by Amanda of Our Italian Kitchen, and she chose mini/bite sized treats. Great idea! At first I was going to copy the yummy brownies stuffed with rolos and baked in a mini muffin tin that my boss made for our work party a couple weekends ago, but then one of my friends posted this delicious recipe on facebook.

I made mini blueberry cobblers. These have the basic baking ingredients you already have on hand (just change up the fruit to suit your taste/contents of your fridge or farmer's market) and were super quick. In the time it took for my oven to heat up to 350F, I had already mixed everything and assembled all the ingredients in the muffin tins.

Since I found this recipe on facebook, I have no idea where it came from- it included no citation. So if you can tell me its origin, I'll edit to include that! It's a great idea, someone needs credit for this.

Mini Blueberry Cobblers
recipe from...??

Makes 12 mini cobblers

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1t baking powder
pinch of salt
3oz (3/8 cup) milk
12t butter
12 dashes of cinnamon or cinnamon sugar
2/3 cup blueberries, or other fruit (peaches, raspberries, strawberries, etc. If using apples I'd consider sauteing them a bit first)

Turn the oven on to preheat to 350F.

Place 1t butter in each well of a 12-muffin tin (the recipe said 1t, I used as small a slice of butter as I could consistently cut). Pop this in the oven for a few minutes, until the butter has melted (you don't need to wait for the oven to come to temperature).

In a medium bowl, beat together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and milk. Place 2T (one cookie scoop-full) in each muffin tin well, on top of the butter. Drop a few berries (I like 8-10 of the big fat blueberries) on top of the batter.

Add a dash of cinnamon/cinnamon sugar.

Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes (the original said 12 minutes, this was way too little). Let cool for a few minutes in the pan, then remove.

Note: I did not spray the pan, and they were easy enough to get out. They didn't slide out, but only one fell apart. I might add more berries next time.

I can't comment on how long these will keep, because we ate them all in one day :-/ YUM. The batter is nice and sweet, so the berries don't need any extra sweetening- I used cinnamon sugar this time but next time I may just add cinnamon straight to the batter. I predict that I will make these many, many times over the next few months, especially as berry picking season starts.

Friday, March 29, 2013

What's Baking? March: Sprinkles!

Oh this was fun! Our March What's Baking? theme was sprinkles. Anything you want, as long as it has sprinkles! So I went right out and bought a giant thing of sprinkles. Actually I toyed with the idea of making my own, but that was a little overly ambitious. I forget how few empty hours I have now that I'm teaching!

Jen the Beantown Baker hosted this month, so go see what everyone else made!

I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted to make, but then friend N posted an adorable cookie idea on facebook- Easter basket cookies! We have no lack of sweets at Easter, but these were too cute to pass up.
See? Ridiculous in its cuteness.

Now, the original recipe, like many Easter cupcake and cookie recipes, used coconut, to simulate Easter grass. Several members of my family do not like coconut (ranging from don't care for to despise utterly), and I thought sprinkles would be the perfect substitute. I also found, way in the back of my pastry tools drawer, a jar of Easter sprinkles I bought a few months ago. Yes!!


For the cookies, I used my favorite sugar cookie recipe (from Alton Brown), and instead of rolling them out, I took a little less than a tablespoon of dough, rolled it into a ball, and placed each ball into the well of a mini muffin tin (spray well with nonstick cooking spray!!). I pressed my thumb into each, like when you make a thumbprint cookie, and baked at the normal 357F but for a few minutes longer, 15-17min.

 Alton Brown's sugar cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1T milk
1t vanilla or other flavoring (if you want, not in the original recipe)
3-3.5 cups of flour
3/4t baking soda
1/4t salt


Beat the butter and sugar together for a until minutes until nice and fluffy. Beat in the egg and milk and flavoring. Sift together 3 cups of flour with the soda and salt, and add in 2 batches to the butter/sugar mixture. Usually you'd refrigerate this dough, but I just floured my hands well and started rolling it into balls.

I let the cookie cups cool in the pans, then pulled them out and let them cool overnight before frosting.

I used my favorite frosting recipe, from the Magnola Bakery Cookbook. I just made half a recipe and it was plenty.

1stick butter, room temperature
4-5 cups of powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1t vanilla

Combine butter, 2 cups of sugar, milk and vanilla in a bowl and beat til well-combined. Gradually add in more flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until you reach the desired consistently. Beat for at least a couple minutes between each sugar addition. Color if desired (I planned to, but then thought it might camouflage the sprinkles too much).

Assembly: pipe a little bit of frosting into the well of the cookie cup (I used a star tip but it doesn't matter. I find piping easier than spreading. More things to wash, but also more control). Sprinkle with the sprinkles a the "easter grass", press in if necessary. Add in a few jelly beans to be your Easter eggs, and then cut a licorice lace to a good length and stick into the frosting to be your basket handle.

Note: the handles are decorate, not functional. You can't pick up the cookie by the licorice lace handle!
Note #2: if you plan to bring these somewhere else to serve, unless you have a really tall tupperware, I recommend assembling everything but the licorice lace handle, pack them all in your tupperware, and then add the handle when you're arranging them on the serving plate. Seems obvious, but possibly not until you've already done a bunch and now have several licorice laces with frosting-y ends.


 here you can see my supplies: I wanted Starburst jellybeans, but the Easter candy section at the grocery store was pretty picked over. these are Sweettart jelly beans, which are pretty good. I also got Swedish Fish jellybeans, which are dangerously good. :-/