Monday, June 18, 2018

Maple Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

I keep talking about the Alaska from Scratch cookbook, and this cookie recipe also comes from it. You see, I followed the author/blogger for years, but I was even more excited it came out this year because I am going to Alaska for the first time later this summer! Cooking and baking these recipes has felt like a connection to a place I just know I am going to love.


I made these Maple Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies during the week we had in May in upstate South Carolina where it was hot, humid, and rainy ALL DAY LONG EVERY DAY. The students in my Storytelling class were tired of having to trudge around in downpours and I wanted to bake them a treat for working so hard in class. It can feel very vulnerable to share your personal stories, after all.

These were everything I hoped they would be - soft, sweet, and the "imitation" maple extract I had to order from Amazon (maple is just not a popular flavor in the south) wasn't fake tasting, and actually also contained maple syrup. The addition of pecans was perfect, and I actually think you could leave out the chocolate chips for a nice fall cookie... but if you can add chocolate, I don't see why you wouldn't.

I think you should buy the cookbook, so I won't post the recipe here. I did notice that Maya posted a similar recipe in her blog from a visit to her sister.

If anyone has recommendations for ingredients or food products I can buy in Alaska that are hard to find elsewhere, I'd love to know about them.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Apply to Join the ABRAMS Dinner Party plus 2017-18 Roundup

If you coveted my experience of spending a year experimenting with the cookbooks from ABRAMS Books, it is time to apply for the next season! The application is due July 20th, and more information can be found on the application page.

You may be wondering what a year on the ABRAMS Dinner Party is like. I felt like it reinvigorated my baking and cooking by giving me new recipes to try out and a community to share it with. I was exposed to cookbooks I don't think I would have come across otherwise, and chefs I didn't know about. Who would have thought I'd start salivating over Action Bronson's "Egg Noodles with Feta and Paprika?" (dang, that sounds good again) or that the "Traditional Pinto Beans" from The Austin Cookbook would become the most requested recipe in our household? Or that I'd take to making "Morning Loaf" from Simple Fare when I felt like bringing in a snack for my co-workers? Or that the "Gooey Chocolate Chip Bars" from What's Gaby Cooking would be one of my most popular Instagram posts all year?

I thought it would be fun to do a cookbook and recipe roundup from JennyBakes, so you can get a sense of the variety of this past season, and maybe see a dish or two you might have missed. For some of the cookbooks, I played more with regular food and didn't think it fit for JennyBakes, so there will definitely be cookbooks on this list that have not been on this blog!

Fall 2017

Acid Trip by Michael Harlan Turkell
JennyBakes: Balsamic Zabaglione with Peaches | Instagram

F*ck, That's Delicious by Action Bronson
JennyBakes: Chocolate Chip Cookies and Salted Honey | Instagram

Slow Cook Modern by Lianna Krissoff
JennyBakes: Apfel Quark Kuchen / Apple Quark Cake | Instagram 

The Dinner Plan by Kathy Brennan
Instagram: Dark Chocolate Banana Bread and a Chickpea, Tomato and Spinach Stew over Lemony Quinoa

Simple Fare: Fall/Winter by Karen Mordechai
JennyBakes: Morning Loaf | Instagram

Cook Beautiful by Athena Calderone
JennyBakes: Cardamom Cognac Apple Cake | Instagram

Southern Girl Meets Vegetarian Boy by Damaris Phillips
Instagram: Benedictine and Tempeh Bacon Sandwiches, Spicy Buffalo Deviled Eggs, and the Carrot Cake Bars
 
The Artful Baker by Cenk Sonmezsoy
JennyBakes: Double Chocolate Bundt Cake | Instagram

Paladares by Anya von Bremzen
Instagram: Katia's Ginger Cookies

Healthyish by Lindsay Maitland Hunt
Instagram: Broccoli Pea Soup, Apple Slice Snacks, Kale Caesar with Curried Cauliflower, multiple smoothies, and Beans with Baked Eggs

One Knife, One Pot, One Dish by Stephane Raynaud
JennyBakes: Pineapple with Hazelnuts and Vanilla | Instagram

Spring 2018

Tom Fitzmorris's New Orleans Food by Tom Fitzmorris
JennyBakes: Chocolate and Cafe au Lait Mousse | Instagram | Instagram

The New Farm by Brent Preston
Reading Envy: Book review | Goodreads | Instagram
 
Godforsaken Grapes by Jason Wilson
Reading Envy Podcast Episode 117

First We Eat by Eve Kosmas Flores
JennyBakes: Rhubarb Tarragon Ice Cream | Instagram

The Austin Cookbook by Paula Forbes
JennyBakes: Enchiladas and beans | Instagram

Katie Lee's Easy Breezy Eats by Katie Lee
Instagram: Spinach Salad with Pickled Strawberries & Poppy Seed Dressing and Rolled Goat Cheese & Dill Omelet.

The Cook's Atelier by Marjorie Taylor
JennyBakes: Wild Ramp Souffle | Instagram

What's Gaby Cooking by Gaby Dalkin
JennyBakes: Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares | Instagram

The Foreign Cinema Cookbook by John Clark
JennyBakes: Tahitian Vanilla Pavlova with Strawberry Coulis and Rose-Scented Rhubarb | Instagram
 

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Strawberry Shortcake Scones

We are heading to Alaska this summer and I'm still checking in and trying out new recipes from The Alaska from Scratch Cookbook by Maya Wilson. When it was finally strawberry season, and I had berries that were in their last days, I remembered seeing a strawberry scone recipe in there, and decided to make them.


This isn't the recipe to use if you're trying to use up a bunch of berries; it only calls for 12. But somehow those are well utilized and the flavor is balanced with a sweet glaze.

(I'm copying the recipe from her blog rather than her cookbook, but I think everyone should buy her cookbook. Not a paid advertisement.)

Strawberry Shortcake Scones
(from Alaska from Scratch, based on a scone recipe from Smitten Kitchen; we're all friends here)

Yields: 12 scones (or, as JennyBakes says: 8 in a scone pan)

For scones:

2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5 Tbsp chilled butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
12 strawberries, hulled and quartered
3/4 cup half and half or cream

For glaze:

3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup half and half or cream
1/2 tsp vanilla.


Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender until mixture resembles crumbs.

Toss in strawberries and coat lightly with the flour mixture. Add half and half and fold together gently until the mixture just begins to come together and form a soft dough (more cream can be added if needed). Do not knead or over mix the dough.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and pat into a 1-inch thick rectangle. With a sharp knife, cut the rectangle into 6 squares, then cut the squares on the diagonal to form 12 triangles. Place scones on prepared baking sheet and bake 16-18 minutes, or until scones are cooked through and golden.

Place a sheet of parchment on a work surface, then place a cooling rack over top of parchment. Remove scones from pan to cooling rack. Cool about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make glaze by whisking together powdered sugar, vanilla, and half and half until smooth. Glaze too thick? Add more cream by the tablespoon. Too thin? Add more powdered sugar by the 1/4 cup until the desired consistency is achieved.

Taking each scone by the bottom, dip them top side down directly into the glaze until top is covered. Return scones to cooling rack and allow glaze to drip down the sides and off the rack onto parchment. Glaze will firm up when scones are completely cool.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Easy Rhubarb Breakfast Cake

I was hunting for a recipe to use up some rhubarb. It's like the cereal bowl issue, I always find myself buying more rhubarb to have enough for the next recipe, and I always have leftovers. I didn't have enough to make the roasted rhubarb for this scone recipe I found on a Canadian Mennonite baking blog, but I did realize from that one that rhubarb is an easy one to chop up and freeze for later. (Perhaps next time I'll do that instead of "pouring more cereal into the bowl.")

So I went with this recipe that only called for 2 cups of rhubarb, which was precisely what I had. I do like breakfast/snacking cakes, and this one came together quickly and baked before I was starving on a Sunday morning. The color of my final cake is more golden brown than the blogger's original, but I did have to make a few changes to the recipe: I used milk instead of half-n-half, and once I started measuring things realized I only had 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour! So I used up the gluten-free flour mixture that I bought for my sister's visit, and filled in the gaps with spelt flour. I loved the texture of the cake, and the lovely flavor. I would have liked it even better with some hazelnuts or pecans. And my rhubarb doesn't look as pretty and pink after baking as the original blogger's - so even if you can't see rhubarb in there, it is! And it's delicious!


Easy Rhubarb Breakfast Cake
(from The View from Great Island blog)

Ingredients 

1/2 cup (116 grams) half and half
1 tsp lemon juice
1 stick (1/2 cup, 113 grams) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup (214 grams) granulated sugar plus 2 tsp for sprinkling
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups (256 grams) all purpose flour, saving out 1 Tbsp to toss with rhubarb
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups thinly sliced rhubarb

Instructions

Set oven to 350F Lightly butter a 9x9 square baking pan. I like to line the pan with parchment paper with overhanging ends so I can easily lift out the cooled cake for cutting. That's optional.

Stir the lemon juice into the half and half and set aside.

Cream the soft butter and sugar in a stand mixer, or with electric beaters, until fluffy and pale yellow.

Beat in the egg and vanilla, scraping down the bowl as necessary.

Take 1 Tbsp of the flour to the rhubarb and toss well.

Whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder, and salt.

Add half of the flour mixture to the bowl and blend in. Add all of the half and half, and blend in.

Finally add the rest of the flour and blend just until combined, don't over mix. Fold in the rhubarb. Note: the batter is on the thick side.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top evenly with a little sugar. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until the cake is turning golden and a toothpick in the center comes out without wet batter clinging to it (moist crumbs are fine.)

Let the cake cool slightly before cutting.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Tahitian Vanilla Pavlova with Strawberry Coulis and Rose-Scented Rhubarb

As we planned the annual book club pick party for my in-person book club, I started thinking about which dessert I would make. When I RSVP'd, our fearless leader emailed me back:
So, what extraordinary thing are you bringing on Monday?  Please make another Pavlova!  My bday is this Friday and I would love to have a piece on Monday!!
How could I ignore a birthday request? I had marked a recipe in The Foreign Cinema Cookbook: Recipes and Stories Under the Stars by Gayle Pirie and John Clark for a pavlova that used spring fruits, so once I checked that she was okay with rhubarb, I knew I'd make this recipe.
 
The recipe in the cookbook ends up making 6 individual-sized pavlovas, but I wanted to make one giant one, not being able to predict how many people would be there, but knowing it would be more than six. So I found a recipe with what looked like a scaled up recipe with the same ratios, just to make sure it would work, with one stabilizing ingredient (I'll link to it; the recipe that I'm including is from the cookbook itself.) I used the fruit methods from the cookbook recipe exactly, except I didn't have time to go find rosewater and left that out. I think this is how cookbooks are used, though, where you start with the recipe and adapt to make it work for your available ingredients and who you are making it for.



Tahitian Vanilla Pavlova with Strawberry Coulis and Rose-Scented Rhubarb
from The Foreign Cinema Cookbook 

Serves 6

Meringue
2 large egg whites
6 tbsp (75 g) sugar
pinch of kosher salt
1 Tahitian vanilla bean

Strawberry Coulis
1 pound (455 g) strawberries (about 4 cups)
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
pinch of kosher salt

Rhubarb
2 cups (400 g) sugar
1 tsp rosewater
pinch of kosher salt
3 medium stalks rhubarb, ends trimmed, cut into 1/4-inch (6 mm) dice

Whipped cream, for serving

To make the meringue: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 200 F (90 C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Fill a medium saucepan with enough water to reach about one-third of the way up and bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so that the water is just barely simmering.

In a medium heatproof bowl large enough to rest on the edge of the pan of simmering water without touching the water, whisk the egg whites, sugar, and salt. Slit open the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the bowl. Drop in the pod as well.

Set the bowl over the pot and gently whisk the egg white mixture until the sugar completely dissolves and the mixture is hot (a thermometer should read 150 F/ 66 C). The liquid will look clear with a little bit of foam on top.

Remove the bowl from the pan and transfer the egg white mixture to a clean bowl. Discard the vanilla pod. Beat the mixture with a handheld electric mixer on medium-high speed until it doubles in volume and stiff peaks form, 7-8 minutes. You should see no unincorporated liquid in the bottom of the bowl.

Use a 3/4 cup (60-ml) measure to dollop the meringue onto the prepared baking sheet in 6 mounds with 2 inches (5 cm) all around them. Use the back of a spoon to make a well in the center of each.

Bake until the meringues are dry on the outside and soft in the center, about 90 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely, at least 30 minutes.

To make the coulis: Hull and roughly chop the strawberries and put them in a medium saucepan. Add the sugar, lemon juice, salt, and 1/4 cup (60 ml) water. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the strawberries are soft and the liquid is syrupy, about 10 minutes.

Let cool slightly, then transfer the strawberries and syrup to a food processor fitted with a metal blade and process until smooth. Strain the berries through a fine-mesh strainer (discard the solids) and let cool completely.

To prepare the rhubarb: Line a plate with paper towels. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, rosewater, salt, and 4 cups (960 ml) water. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup comes to a simmer, about 5 minutes. Add the rhubarb and return to a simmer until it is just barely tender, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer; discard the liquid. Scatter the rhubarb onto the lined plate to cool.

Pour 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the strawberry coulis into 6 shallow individual serving bowls and set a meringue on top of each. Center a heaping spoonful of rhubarb over each of the meringues, letting it cascade over the sides. Dollop each pavlova with whipped cream and serve immediately.

Make ahead: Although this dessert has several components, all can be made in advance and assembled to order. Refrigerate the strawberry coulis and rhubarb in separate airtight containers up to 1 day ahead. Store the baked meringue in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Notes from JennyBakes: I substituted this classic pavlova recipe, which has a lovely marshmallow texture on the inside if prepared correctly. I made the whipped cream, rhubarb, and coulis the night before, then made the pavlova the morning of book club, allowing it to cool in the oven while I was at work. This worked okay but it did get quite a bit wider and flatter than it started, so I may not have beat the whites long enough! It still tasted good, still soft inside, and heck, it made it easier to share.

This cookbook is brand new, and came out last week on May 15, 2018. Since I wasn't familiar with the restaurant, I started out expecting recipes that matched with movies somehow. But apparently this is a well-loved San Francisco restaurant that has been around since 1999. Woe is me, for I live too far from the west coast. You can read more about the restaurant at its website.

Until I had a reason to make the pavlova, I had my eye on a bunch of recipes that I am likely still to try (including some delicious sounding drink recipes based on homemade ingredients) - Potted Smoked Trout, Tomato Salad with Harissa Vinaigrette, Farro and Grilled Kale, Buttermilk Spoon Bread with Shiitakes/Corn/Scallions, Wild Greens Soft Polenta, Ginger Cake with Cardamom Creme Chantilly, and Champagne Omelet from the brunch section.


This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party. 


Monday, May 14, 2018

Rhubarb Tarragon Ice Cream

When I first perused First We Eat, one of the cookbooks sent to me as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party, I was enamored by its northwestern focus, as a former resident of the northwest. I also loved the seasonal sections, and had my eye on some of the rhubarb recipes in particular. When rhubarb proved hard to find, I dug my heels in until I could find some. One (new, I presume) worker at a local organic store told me that rhubarb season is August, but anyone who knows looks for it between April and June. Finally the produce guy at Publix, wearing a light pink shirt, said he had a big box in the back, and stopped what he was doing to package some up just for me, including washing and chopping it. This is not a paid advertisement for Publix, but seriously, does any grocery store even come close to their service level?

I marked several rhubarb recipes, but the one that moved to the forefront is this recipe for rhubarb-tarragon ice cream. I couldn't imagine the flavor combination. It took almost a week longer to make all the parts and to allow time for everything to chill properly, but I did it!


Rhubarb Tarragon Ice Cream
from First We Eat

1/2 cup (120 ml) sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup (13 g) coarsely chopped fresh tarragon
3 large rhubarb stalks (about 1 pound/455 g), cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) slices
1 cup (200 g) sugar
2 star anise
2 egg yolks
1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream

In a very small saucepan, stir together the condensed milk and tarragon. Heat over low heat until hot but not boiling, stirring every minute. Remove from the heat and allow to rest at room temperature for 1 hour. Strain the infused condensed milk into a bowl, discarding the tarragon.

In a medium saucepan, combine the rhubarb, sugar, star anise, and 1/2 cup (120 ml) water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring every 5 minutes, until the rhubarb has become pulpy and partially disintegrated, 20-025 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Strain the syrup through a mesh sieve into a bowl and discard the solids. You can double the syrup recipe, and serve half alongside of the ice cream for garnish. The syrup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the rhubarb syrup until the mixture lightens in color, 3-5 minutes.

Bring water in the bottom of a double boiler to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low. In the top of the double boiler, whisk together the infused condensed milk and the egg yolk mixture. Whisk until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream on medium-high speed until it holds soft peaks. Cover and refrigerate.

Fold the whipped cream into the chilled egg yolk mixture, then pour the mixture into an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer's directions. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight freezer-safe container. Cover and freeze. Best if eaten within 6 months.

Makes about 1 1/2 pints.

Notes from JennyBakes:

I did make the double recipe of the syrup, as you can see in the photo. What a pretty pink color! I also have been adding some to sparkling water for a fizzy spring drink, since I didn't end up using all that much when serving the ice cream.

If I know anything, it's that you have to really chill everything, so I did overnight for all of it.

First We Eat: Good Food for Simple Gatherings from my Pacific Northwest Kitchen, is by Evan Kosmas Flores, and came out March 20, 2018.

I also made the Fennel-Pistachio Pesto Lasagna, since it also had the tarragon and I had enough for both recipes. If you can't picture this flavor combination, well neither could I. It was amazing. Fresh and tasting of spring, and if I had not known what was in it I'm not certain I could have identified the flavors individually but they really did work nicely together. I'll post a picture of that at the end of this post.

I have my eye on the Brown Butter Sprouted Grain cake that is made here with a rhubarb buttercream, but probably has endless flavor possibilities. I even went as far as purchasing the sprouted grain flour but have not made it yet. I also plan to make the Chai and Poppy Challah (but it seemed better for the fall), the Homemade Chai Latte, and perhaps I'll bring the recipe for Foraged Fir Tip Herbal Tea with me to Alaska.

Fennel Pistachio-Pesto Lasagna

This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Wrinkle Cookies of Internet Fame

I saw these cookies everywhere, even in the spaces around the paywall the New York Times has for a recipe that wasn't even their recipe in the first place (harumph.) Luckily enough people on the internet have made these cookies that it started to beg the question, why haven't I? And so I did.


The original recipe creator just calls these chocolate chip cookies but then interrupts the baking process to slam the cookie sheet down on the rack, deflating the cookie and causing ripples or wrinkles in the surface. They are also giant.


This is definitely a cookie that is simple enough that it is going to depend on the quality of your ingredients. I used Trader Joe's dark chocolate block for the chocolate in this and I think that's why my cookies tasted a bit off. Look, it's cheap chocolate. I would make these again with higher quality chocolate that doesn't just taste like sugar alcohol. I also overbaked my first batch (not pictured) by only two minutes, and while they were a lovely golden color, they were crunchy all the way through. I went for underbaking for the rest, and added a bit of salt on the top, and these two changes made for a more delicious cookie.

Sarah Keiffer’s Chocolate Chip Cookies 
very slightly adapted from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book 
as seen on Building Feasts

Makes 14-16 cookies

285g (2 cups) all-purpose flour 
1/2 tsp baking soda 
1/4 tsp salt (plus more for the top of the cookies) 
225g (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature 
300g (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar 
50g (1/4 cup) packed soft brown sugar 
1 large egg at room temperature 
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract 
2 tbsp water 
170g (6oz) dark chocolate chopped into irregular bite size pieces

Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). 

Line two extra large or three regular baking sheets with parchment paper. 

In a small bowl whisk the flour, baking soda and salt. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat the butter and sugars together until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla and water and mix on low to combine, scraping down the bowl to make sure it is all fully incorporated. Add the flour mixture and mix until combined.  Add chopped chocolate and mix on low into the batter. 

Using a large ice cream scoop (or a 1/4 cup measure) form the dough into balls and place next to each other onto one of your prepared pans. Cover with cling film and place in the freezer for 15 minutes (or at this stage you can freezer the dough balls completely, transfer into a ziplock bag and keep for as and when you need them). 

When you are ready to cook, arrange the cookie balls well spaced apart on the baking sheets (they will spread considerably) and bake for 8 minutes until the cookies are puffed slightly in the middle. 

Pick up the baking sheets and let them drop onto the oven rack to set the edges of the cookies and the middle deflates (trust Sarah - it feels wrong but works). Repeat this lifting and dropping of the cookie sheets every two minutes three more times (baking 14-16 minutes total) to create the ridges and the crisp edge but with pale and not fully cooked middles. 

Allow the cookies to cool completely on the racks before removing from the tray.

Note:  If you skip the freezing stage the cookies will spread too much and not keep their shape.