Monday, October 16, 2017

Cardamom-Cognac Apple Cake

Being a part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party has pushed me to try more new recipes than I think I normally would during my busy time of year. Cook Beautiful is enticing because it is divided into seasons, contains beautiful photography, and contains suggestions for decorating a seasonal table. I was also impressed how many recipes did not contain meat, helpful when you are married to a vegetarian!



When I encountered this recipe in Cook Beautiful, I decided this would be a great candidate for recipe modification. I like to modify recipes to be lower carb and grain/gluten free so that everyone in my household can consume them. Recipes like this, that are baked and served out of the same pan, are prime candidates because there are fewer concerns about structure. Just the same, my end result had a satisfying enough structure that it would have stood on its own.



I will start by posting the original recipe as it appears in the cookbook, and then go on to discuss the changes I made and why.



Cardamom-Cognac Apple Cake
(from Cook Beautiful by Athena Calderone)

Serves 8-10

1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp ground cardamom
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
3 tbsp cognac (Calvados, rum, or bourbon work well, too)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup (75 ml) well-shaken buttermilk, at room temperature
3 medium Honeycrisp apples
1 stick (4 oz/115 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for greasing the pan
1 tbsp turbinao sugar
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C.) Nestle a piece of parchment paper into an 8- or 9- inch (20- or 23-cm) cast-iron pan and grease it with butter.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cardamom, baking powder, and salt. In a separate large bowl, beat the eggs until foamy. Whisk in the granulated sugar, cognac, and vanilla extract. Pour in the buttermilk and whisk to combine.

Peel, halve, and core 2 1/2 of the apples, then cut them into 1/2-in-thick (12-mm-thick) cubes. Reserve the remaining half apple, unpeeled, and cut it into 1/4-inch (6-mm) slices, for the top.

Add half of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, stirring until just combined, then gently fold in half of the melted butter. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture and melted butter. Gently fold in the cubed apples, reserving the slices. Transfer the batter to the pan and arrange the apple slices in a circular pattern on top of the batter. Sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. Bake until the cake turns a deep golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes. Transfer the skillet to a cooling rack and let it sit for 5 minutes. The cake may be served warm or at room temperature, directly from the skillet; whichever you choose, make sure to dust it with confectioners' sugar before serving.


I have learned through years of experimentation and recipes (both good and bad) that the key to gluten/grain-free baking is never to use just one flour. Since I have all these flours on hand already, it isn't a big deal for me, but if you are starting from scratch, you might even consider just buying a gluten-free flour mix like King Arthur Flour. Per cup of all-purpose flour, I used 1/3 cup sorghum flour, 1/3 cup brown rice flour, and a heaping 1/3 cup tapioca flour. For the granulated sugar, I used 1/2 cup coconut sugar. Now this was a crap shoot, and I tasted the batter before baking, because coconut sugar is not as sweet as granulated, but too much of it can really alter the color and texture of the batter. It makes it appear as though molasses had been added. As sugar substitutes go, we prefer natural substitutes over chemical, even though they are higher calorie. As sugars go, coconut sugar is very low on the glycemic index, which suits our purposes.

Other changes I made to the recipe - I had bourbon so I used that in my cute little OXO cup as pictured. I had Mutsu apples from the local NC orchards, but they are huge: I used 1 1/2 diced in the batter and 1/2 unpeeled on top. I did not sprinkle with confectioners' sugar for presentation, nor did I use a cast-iron pan, just a pie plate.

This was a successful modification, and I'm sure the original recipe is a delight, and would be a quick dessert to stick in the oven while dinner was consumed. I did make dinner that same night from the cookbook: Meyer Lemon Ricotta Toasts with Blistered Grapes and Roasted Pumpkin and Brussels Sprouts with Poached Eggs. Everything was a success!


 
This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party. All experiences and opinions are my own!

Monday, October 09, 2017

Morning Loaf from Simple Fare: Fall/Winter

Usually when I get a new cookbook, I look for baked goods and sweet treats to make. While Simple Fare: Fall/Winter is full of savory dishes and beautiful photography, I was pulled in by this simple vegan chocolate bread, one where I would have the ingredients on hand on a typical day. I brought it to work and some people snatched second servings, praising it for its taste and texture. I believe the word "silky" was used. I found myself just a little sad that I'd decided to share.


The recipe includes one version plus two variations. The original encourages serving with crème fraîche and cyprus flake salt. I couldn't find crème fraîche at the store, and looking for recipes online sent me down a rabbit hole where I discovered that technically one could never make crème fraîche that could truly be like the French version. Later I discovered that the earlier volume of this cookbook, Simple Fare: Spring/Summer has a recipe for a homemade version. Regardless, I did not have this on hand. Variation 1 says to use mascarpone and sel de guérande to replace the two ingredients, both also difficult to find (although I have made mascarpone from scratch before.) Inadvertently I used Variation 2 without realizing it, (butter/cinnamon) because my husband had picked up a small round of cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger butter. The slices of this loaf are fine without any topping, if I'm being honest, but any one of these combinations truly takes it over the top.  (Also I should note that while the loaf recipe is vegan, none of the suggested toppings are. The cookbook does not tout it as a vegan recipe, it was just something I realized as I went along - I triple checked that I didn't need eggs.)


Morning Loaf

1/3 cup (75 ml) coconut oil, plus more for greasing
1/4 cup (25 g) unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 cups (190 g) all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups (250 g) sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup (60 ml) brewed espresso, cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp distilled white vinegar

For serving
3/4 cup (180 ml) good quality store-bought or homemade crème fraîche
Cyprus flake salt

Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C.) Lightly grease a 9x5 inch (23 x 12 cm) loaf pan with coconut oil and line it with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper with more coconut oil and lightly dust the pan with cocoa powder, tapping out the excess.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a medium bowl, combine the coconut oil, espresso, vanilla, vinegar, and 1 cup (240 ml) water and mix until incorporated. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs, but not raw batter. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack. Once cooled, remove the loaf from the pan. Cut into slices, and dollop each slice with crème fraîche and sprinkle with flaky salt to serve.

Variation 1
Replace crème fraîche with mascarpone and cyprus flake salt with sel de guérande.

Variation 2
Replace crème fraîche with butter and salt with cinnamon.

This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party. All experiences and opinions are my own!

Monday, October 02, 2017

Quark Pancakes

A few weeks ago, I made quark for a German recipe. I needed to do something with the leftovers so I found a recipe for quark pancakes. I would imagine, lacking quark, you could use ricotta. These are light and fluffy, and highly recommended. The blogger that provided the original recipe served them with peaches and thyme, which would be even better. I just ate them with butter and syrup.


Quark Pancakes
(Recipe by Sarah Coates on The Sugar Hit)
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup quark
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • ¾ cup (185ml) milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
  • 1 cup (150g) plain flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 2oz (50g) butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Place the quark, egg yolks (place the whites in a separate bowl), milk and vanilla into a mixing bowl and whisk together.*
  2. Stir in the flour and baking powder until just combined (don't stress about lumps) and then fold through the butter.
  3. Throw the salt in with the egg whites, and whisk until they're foamy - don't worry about peaks or anything. Fold through the batter and put a large, heavy based non-stick pan on to heat.
  4. These pancakes cook fine without any oil in a non-stick pan, but I like to add a little butter (your call), and then ladle in heaping spoonfuls of the batter into the pan (about ¼ cup). Cook until bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake, and then flip and cook until the other side is golden brown.
  5. Continue until all the batter is used.
JennyBakes' notes:

* - I did not separate the eggs nor did I whisk anything separately. As you can see from my photo, they are still the fluffiest. You might like them even more with these steps but I just dumped and mixed and cooked.


Monday, September 25, 2017

Cinnamon Roll Pie with Apples from Lomelino's Pies

I often get access to advanced reader copies of cookbooks through Edelweiss, and usually flip through and note a few recipes to try. This is a recipe I could not get out of my head! So while I need to give a disclaimer and say that I was given a digital copy of this cookbook, the desire to make this pie is all my own. Lomelino's Pies: A Sweet Celebration of Pies, Galettes, and Tarts, comes out October 24.

This is a crowdstopper pie, a centerpiece pie, and it does take a little bit of extra effort, a little more than a typical two-crust pie would take. But I made it inside an afternoon, so it's absolutely doable.


What a genius idea is this, to use pie crust like cinnamon roll and make that into a crust? It is a stunning visual and I couldn't wait to try it, but I've been biding my time until I had local apples (Mutsu from Granddad's, just like last week) and time to make it.


The apples are mixed with dulce de leche, orange juice, and a few spices, so it isn't quite the typical apple pie inside.

Piecrust
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
16 tbsp (8 oz) cold butter
5-7 tbsp ice-cold water

Apple Filling
2 3/4 lbs apples*
2 tbsp (1 oz) butter
3/4 cup dulce de leche
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
4 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

Crust Filling
5 1/4 tbsp (2 2/3 oz) butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom

Glaze**
1 egg
1 tbsp milk
pinch of sea salt
1-2 tbsp pearl sugar, Turbinado, or raw cane sugar



Pie Crust
  1. Mix the flour, granulated sugar, and salt in a bowl.  Dice the butter and add it to the flour mixture. Use your fingers to pinch in the butter until the dough is crunchy.
  2. Add the water (begin with the smaller amount and gradually add more if the dough feels too dry) and mix it with a fork. If you pick up a bit of the dough and it coheres when pressed together, it has enough water.
  3. Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the dough, flatten the dough somewhat, and t hen cover the dough completely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.

Apple Filling
  1. Peel and core the apples. Cut them into thin slices and place them in a large bowl.
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the apple slices and saute them for 2-3 minutes, until the apples soften slightly. Carefully stir occasionally.
  3. Add the dulce de leche, cinnamon, and salt. In a small cup, dissolve the cornstarch in the orange juice and stir it into the saucepan. Let the mixture simmer over low heat as you stir for a few more minutes, until the mixture has thickened. Let the filling cool completely.

Rolling Out the Crust and Baking the Pie***
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  2. For the crust filing, mix the butter with the cinnamon and cardamom. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and divide it into two equal pieces. On a floured work surface, roll out one half of the dough into a rectangle about 15 3/4 and 13 3/4 inches. Spread this dough with half of the butter mixture and roll up the dough from the long side. Repeat with the other half of the dough and the remainder of the crust filling. Place the rolls on a cutting board and then put in the freezer for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Remove one roll from the freezer and cut it into 3/8 inch slices (just as if you were preparing cinnamon buns).  Fill a pie pan with the slices, covering the bottom and sides (the spaces should have a little space between them). Press the slices together so they form a pie shell. Transfer the pie pan to the freezer.
  4. Take the other roll out of the freezer and slice it in the same way, but arrange the slices in a circle (large enough to cover the top of the pan) on parchment paper and then roll them out a little to firm up the circle. If the slices don't want to cohere, you can brush a little water between them. If it is difficult to roll the slices together, press them together.
  5. Take the pie shell out of the freezer and pour in the apple filling. Brush the edge with a little water and add the top crust. It is easiest to leave the crust on the parchment paper and fold it out over the pie filling, then remove the parchment. Cut away any overhang, leaving a rim about 1 1/4 inches wide all around if you want to make a decorative edge. Put the pie in the freezer for 15 minutes (to help it hold its shape better in the oven while baking).
  6. Remove the pie from the freezer. To make the glaze, whisk the egg, milk, and salt in a small bowl. Brush the pie dough with the egg mixture and sprinkle the pearl sugar on top. 
  7. Bake the pie on the lower rack of the oven for 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 F and bake for another 45-50 minutes until the piecrust is golden brown. Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool completely. Serve the pie with vanilla ice cream, if desired.****
 Jenny's Notes:

 * - I found this article from King Arthur Flour on converting apples between pounds and cups  incredibly helpful! So I sliced up the equivalent of 8 cups of apples, which was 3 huge Mutsu apples.
** - Not gonna lie, I skipped this entire section and just brushed the pie with some heavy cream and sprinkled with granulated sugar, lacking any fancy sugars.
*** - I'm not sure the crust filling shouldn't have a little sugar in it, but it really does bake well on both top and bottom in the time allotted, should that be a concern. I had to steal some slices from the second log to adequately cover the bottom and sides, but still ended up with enough for the top. I think I should have made the top crust and frozen it before attempting to apply it because although it flipped onto the pie from the parchment, the paper was still hard to get off and pulled up several of the roll pieces. I didn't do the overhang, just pressed the top into the bottom and it worked out okay.
In general I'd recommend baking the pie on a cookie sheet since there is a lot of sugar in there.
**** - I offered my eaters vanilla and dulce de leche, and both flavors of ice cream worked well. Pictured is the dulce de leche.

Disclaimers and credits galore: While this is not a post affiliated with the ABRAMS Dinner Party, the ice cream scoop pictured was sent as part of their commercial partners. Many thanks to OXO!

And as always, the publisher of Lomelino's Pies (Roost Books) provided access to the cookbook in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Apfel Quark Kuchen - Apple Quark Cake

I am always on the hunt for a new apple recipe, and when I decided to make the quark recipe from Slow Cook Modern, the hunt became a hunt for a recipe for apple and quark. I have encountered recipes calling for quark before, usually from Germany, and was excited to try this soft cheese. The end result was good, halfway between a cheesecake and a custard, at least how the recipe turned out with the quark mixed in with other things.

In the slow cooker, the recipe called for one ingredient - 1/2 gallon of buttermilk, which you cook on low for 2-8 hours, until the curd starts to set and separate from the whey. Mine cooker for 3.5 hours before I decided it was ready; I'm not sure if I should have left it longer but didn't want to overcook it. Then it went into a cheesecloth lined strainer for another 4 hours. Then the solids went into the fridge overnight, because I was going apple picking the next day.



Hendersonville, NC, is only about 45 minutes north of where we live. There is a magical road between it and Chimney Rock, NC, called Chimney Rock Road. It contains apple orchard after apple orchard. We've tried several places along there, and really like the apple selection at Granddad's Apples n' Such. It was packed full of people this weekend with long lines for the bakery and the apple line. I was relieved to find my favorite baking apple - the mutsu - in abundance. Last year I waited too long and they didn't have any.


Quark - check. Apples - check. I guess I had everything I needed!


Since quark is a German ingredient, the best recipes I found were also in German. I also discovered I only had a smaller springform pan, having thrown mine away because it no longer closed. So this was a big risk, both using Bing to translate a recipe and attempting to cut it in half. I'll leave the recipe with the same amounts as the normal recipe, and you can picture me cutting eggs in half. 


Apfel-Quark-Kuchen aka Apple Quark Cake
(recipe translated and slightly adapted from Annemarie Wildeisen's Kochen)

Crust ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup milk

Filling ingredients:
1 orange
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
2/3 cup quark
2-3 apples
powdered sugar to taste

1. Butter and flour a 9" springform pan and chill in fridge while making the crust. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Cream butter and sugar. Stir in eggs and don't worry about curdling.
3. Sift flour and baking powder and mix into the butter mixture. Stir in the milk. Transfer to springform pan and pull up slightly along the edge using a small spatula or spoon. Put back in fridge.
4. Zest the orange and squeeze it for juice. Blend orange juice, vanilla, cornstarch, sugar, eggs, and quark until smooth. 
5. Peel, quarter, and core the apples, then dice. Mix with quark mixture and spread on crust.
6. Bake about 50 minutes. If it browns too quickly, cover with foil.
7. When baked, rest at least 10 minutes before removing from the mold. Sprinkle as desired with powdered sugar.


This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party, well, partly. I was provided a copy of Slow Cook Modern, which is where the quark recipe comes from, but I found the cake recipe elsewhere.

I did make the eggplant tian with olive marinated mozzarella from Slow Cook Modern, the same weekend as this cake.  






Monday, September 11, 2017

Chocolate Chip Cookies and Salted Honey Butter

I thumbed through F*ck That's Delicious: An Annotated Guide to Eating Well by Action Bronson with Rachel Wharton, and found a lot of delicious things. The host of the show of the same name on VICELAND has created a book that seems a lot like him - a mixture of recipes from family and chef friends, some foods that are comfort or memory-based, like a cheese bagel, some recipes from his travels, and others that are just plain delicious. The cookbook is loud and randomly organized and has a big pasta section, but the recipes in here are the real deal.

Since I'm a baker first, I elected to make a baked good, although read through the end of this post to see a picture of the pasta recipe I had to try.

This cookie recipe is one he got from another chef. I will put shorter directions below, but you can find more background information and more detailed directions in the cookbook. (It's late and I don't want to type that much!)


Milton A. Abel Jr.'s Chocolate Chip Cookies and Salted Honey Butter

2 1/2 cups packed all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste*
1 pound chocolate chips
Salted Honey Butter, for spreading on the cookie



1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
2. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy and well blended.
3. Add the eggs and vanilla paste and mix until fully incorporated.**
4. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the dry ingredients, and mix until the dough just comes together.
5. Stir the chocolate chips in by hand.
6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 2-ounce portions*** and roll them into rounds with your hands. Put them in one layer on the prepared baking sheet and chill for 30 minutes. You may freeze them in a zip-top bag if you're not baking them in the next day or two.
Preheat the oven to 350 F (325 if you have a convection oven.)
7. Line a second sheet with parchment paper, place 6 dough rounds on it, and flatten them slightly, keeping about 2 inches of space around them on all sides.****
8. Place the cookies in the oven and bake for 8 minutes, then rotate the sheet, and bake for an additional 4 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown around the edges and look like they are just set on the top.*****

Action watching to make sure I use carry-over cooking technique.

Salted Honey Butter

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup honey
1/2 tsp salt

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and beat with a stiff rubber spatula until light and slightly whipped. To get it really light, use a paddle attachment in a stand mixer.

Notes from JennyBakes:

 * - I live in the south where vanilla bean paste is not stocked in the stores so I just used 1 tbsp vanilla extract.
** - I usually scrape down, add the vanilla and one egg, beat and scrape down, add another egg, repeat.
*** - Okay I didn't weigh this but 2 oz is usually 1/4 cup so that's how big I made them but WOW these are huge. Because of this I baked for 9 minutes and 4 before removing for carryover cooking to take care of the rest.
**** - HE REALLY MEANS THIS. My last batch got too close and made two giant cookies.
***** - I had to play with this timing because my cookies were huge and 1 more minute in the first round worked perfectly.

And now, gaze upon the wonder that is "Egg Noodles with Feta and Paprika," which is simple yet delicious. I mean, f*ck, that's delicious. Of course.

 


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

Monday, September 04, 2017

Balsamic Zabaglione with Peaches

I have long been intrigued by vinegar in desserts, ever since making my Grandma's pie crust recipe for the first time. She calls for vinegar, which I would later learn helps prevent the formation of gluten (and allowing for a flakier crust.) I have experimented with roasting strawberries with balsamic and using them with crepes for breakfast, mashed into sauce for pound cake, even turning the flavors into ice cream. My favorite pavlova has a tiny bit of balsamic vinegar, balancing the other flavors and adding depth.

I was asked this year to participate in the ABRAMS Dinner Party, so you will see a series of posts with recipes from their cookbooks. But of course, this is a baking blog, so when the first book was Acid Trip by Michael Harlan Turkell, I knew it would be fun to focus on the dessert aspect. I still really want to make the recipe for vinegar pie, but my tart pan is missing its middle at the moment.

Instead I was drawn to the zabaglione recipe. Traditionally, zabaglione (also sometimes called sabayon) is made with egg yolks, sugar, and wine. This recipe had fruit marinated in vinegar and vinegar in the custard. I was uncertain if it would work and that's why I had to try it! During my brief year of restaurant work, I spent the month of May making sabayon (featured for Mother's Day brunch but also served as a dessert special), so I knew the technique. With this recipe, the custard is much darker in color because of the balsamic, but by the time it has been whipped to coolness and the whipped cream is folded into it, the color is quite light.

I'm going to make a few notes and recommendations to the recipe below, so keep reading!



Balsamic Zabaglione with Peaches in Champagne Vinegar 
from Michael Friedman, The Red Hen, Washington, DC

4 peaches, cut in half, pits removed*
1/4 cup (60 ml) champagne vinegar**
1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
1/3 cup (75 ml) balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup (75 ml) honey
5 large egg yolks
zest of 1 lemon, about 1 tbsp

In a medium bowl, toss the peaches in the champagne vinegar and marinate for an hour in the fridge.

In a stand mixer, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Transfer the whipped cream to a bowl and reserve in the refrigerator.

Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water. Heat the water until it comes to just under a boil - you want a good amount of steam. Maintain medium heat on the pot for the steam.

In a medium bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar, honey, egg yolks, and lemon zest. Place the bowl over the saucepan (it shouldn't be touching the water) and begin whisking. Rotate the bowl while whisking to ensure all the sauce is being moved.

After 5 to 7 minutes, the zabaglione should have almost doubled in size - if you run your whisk through it and the trail holds in the zabaglione, you're done. Remove the custard from the heat and whisk vigorously until it is cool to the touch.***

Fold the whipped cream into the zabaglione. This will help keep its structure and add great texture and body. Reserve in the refrigerator or immediately spoon over peaches.

Jenny's notes:
* - I sliced the peaches instead of halving them, but this means there is more vinegar flavor. If you slice, use less vinegar. This will be best with fruit that is ripe and sweet, because that balances the other flavors.
** - If I made this again, I'd either not marinate the fruit in vinegar or just sprinkle.
*** - To save your arms, just hook it back up to the stand mixer you used for the whipped cream. Set the timer for ten minutes and check back. If the bottom of the bowl is cool, you can move on to the folding step.


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

Monday, August 28, 2017

Cocoa Pomegranate Pavlova

This comes from one of my favorite winter cookbooks, Wintersweet. Pavlovas are not that difficult to make, but this one has a lot of nuance from the combination of cocoa, cardamom, and balsamic. Don't leave them out, it is subtle and sophisticated. And this was a hit with my book club, even if I made it in the heat of summer.


Cocoa Pomegranate Pavlova

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar (or a scant cup of superfine or caster sugar)
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)

For the topping:

  • ¼ cup Pomegranate Jelly*
  • ½ pomegranate, seeded (½ cup of seeds)
  • 2 cups heavywhipping cream
  • ⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350°F (l75°C). Trace a 7-inch (l8-cm) circle on a sheet of parchment paper in heavy-handed pencil using a bowl or cake pan as a guide. Flip the parchment paper over and set it on a cookie sheet (the circle should be visible through the paper).

For the pavlova, process the granulated sugar for 60 seconds in a food processor or blender until finely ground (superfine and caster sugar require no grinding).

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on medium- high speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until they form stiff peaks that don’t droop when the beaters are lifted.

With the mixer still running, add the finely ground sugar one tablespoon at a time, beating well, until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Once all of the sugar is added, beat the meringue for 4 to 6 minutes more on medium-high speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl, or until the mixture is no longer gritty when rubbed between your fingers. The mixture should cling tightly to the bowl and feel very dense. Sift the cocoa on top. Add the cornstarch, vinegar, and cardamom, if using. Fold everything together with a rubber spatula, rotating the bowl and using light, circular strokes that lift the whites from the bottom and deposit them gently on top of the dry ingredients, until no streaks remain.
Working quickly, dab dots of the soft meringue under each corner of the parchment paper to glue it down so it doesn’t slide around annoyingly while you’re trying to work. Mound the meringue within the marked circle in a big pile. Smooth it into a circular pillow about 2 to 3 inches high with a slight depression in the middle. Don’t bother trying to make it look too perfect—it should be free-form. The batter will spread a bit during baking.

Place the pavlova in the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 300°F (l50°C). Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the meringue is set and crisp on the outside, but the center still feels soft underneath. Do not open the oven door until the very end. I know the suspense is killing you, but the more you check, the more it’s going to want to sink and the more you’re going to want to check it again. Where does it end? When it’s finally done, turn off the heat and let the pavlova sit in the oven, with the door propped open with a wooden spoon, to cool down slowly. Remove the pan from the oven when it is completely cool. (The pavlova can be made up to a day ahead of time. Cover it gently with plastic wrap and store it at room temperature.)

At this point, the pavlova should not look particularly pretty. It will likely be cracked and fissured like a volcanic crater, with the center threatening to collapse. All normal. When ready to serve, loosen the pavlova from the parchment paper with a spatula, and gently transfer it to a serving plate or cake pedestal.

For the topping, warm the pomegranate jelly in a microwave or in a small pot on the stove just until loose. Whisk in up to a teaspoon of warm water to loosen the jelly to a syrupy consistency. Drizzle the pomegranate syrup over the middle of the pavlova. Sprinkle half of the pomegranate seeds over the syrup.

In a medium bowl with a whisk or an electric mixer, whip the cream with the vanilla and confectioners’ sugar until soft peaks form and the cream mounds nicely in a pile, 1 to 2 minutes. Mound the cream on top of the pomegranate topping, and sprinkle with the remaining pomegranate seeds. Serve right away.

*Don't want to make pomegranate jelly? I used red currant this time around. Cherry would be fine too!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Lime Yogurt Bread

I originally made key lime yogurt cake with raspberry coulis ribbon back in 2009, after seeing it on the blog formerly known as Culinary Concoctions by Peabody, now Sweet ReciPEAs. I needed to make a quick bread for an orientation offered by the library, and pulled the recipe back out. I had even more limited time, so I simplified it a bit both with ingredients and parts, and thought I'd share it again. After all it's been eight years! Eight! Years!


Lime Yogurt Cake
(based on Peabody's original and recommended key lime and raspberry yogurt cake)

1 ½  cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
8 oz. key lime or lime flavored yogurt*
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 large eggs
2 tsp grated lime zest
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
¼  cup vegetable oil
¼ cup cream cheese**
1/3 cup lime juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium sized bowl.

In another bowl (large), whisk together the yogurt, cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lime zest, and vanilla.

Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated.

Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lime juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lime-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

JennyBakes' notes:
* - Peabody uses vanilla or plain but I thought this would be an easy way to increase the flavor profile of the lime
** - Peabody uses mascarpone but I find it difficult to locate in the summer. I used one of the spreadable pots of cream cheese, or room temperature brick cream cheese would be fine. You can also make mascarpone from scratch, but I was going for easy and with only 1/4 cup, it wasn't going to make or break the bread!

This would probably work with different citrus combinations, definitely lemon, but lime is more interesting!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Apricot Clafouti

Apricot season! Is there any better time? I know it's here when there is a practical avalanche of almost overripe apricots in the produce section. It only lasts a week or so but I was lucky enough to catch it this year. And then I went looking for apricot recipes and decided to make this one.

So many apricot recipes calling for fresh apricots really have you make a jam first. What's the point? I wanted a dish where you could see and taste the actual apricot.


What is the difference between clafouti and cobbler? I think the real question is the difference between a clafouti and an oven pancake. There is slightly more sugar and slightly less flour in a clafouti, and it takes almost twice as long to bake. And when you add this amount of fresh fruit, it takes even longer to get it to brown on top. I could have baked this another ten minutes.

Apricot Clafouti
(recipe from Real Simple)

Unsalted butter, for the pan
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus almost as much more for the pan
3/4 pound apricots (about 5), pitted and halved
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup half and half
2 eggs, lightly beaten
powdered sugar and/or whipped cream, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Coat a shallow 8-inch ovenproof round dish with butter and sprinkle lightly with sugar.
  3. Place the apricots in the dish in a 
single layer.
  4. Whisk together the flour, sugar, vanilla, half-and-half, and eggs in a bowl until smooth. Pour over the apricots and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until puffed and golden. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream.
 

Monday, August 07, 2017

Chewy Brownie Cookies

I took a screenshot of this recipe once when someone posted it to Litsy, the social media app for book nerds (not a paid advertisement.) When I participated in the 24in48 readathon a few weeks ago, I listened to an audiobook while making these cookies, a practice we in book nerd land call "audiobaking." (There is also "audiocoloring" and "audiocleaning.") I'm pretty sure this recipe originates with Crisco the corporation considering that they refer to it by brand name, and I'm also pretty sure that the chewy texture is largely due to the combination of a lot of sugar plus the Crisco (not a paid advertisement.) So this is one case I wouldn't replace with butter. I made these on a Sunday and they were still soft enough on Wednesday to bring to a work party.


Chewy Brownie Cookies

1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2/3 CRISCO stick or 2/3 cup CRISCO Shortening*
1 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 cups (12-oz package) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 375 F.
2. Combine brown sugar, shortening, water, and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well blended. Beat eggs into creamed mixture.
3. Combine flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda. Mix into creamed mixture at low speed just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips.
4. Drop rounded measuring tablespoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet. 
5. Bake one baking sheet at a time for 7-9 minutes or until cookies are set. Do not overbake. Cool 2 minutes before moving to cool completely.

JennyBakes' notes:
*I use butter flavor, not sure it makes any difference
I find this dough to be a little thinner than regular chocolate chip cookies, probably due to less flour, but this is all about texture so don't add more than it says to. 
Note from person I took recipe from: "Don't scoop too big, or it will be difficult to tell when they're finished baking."

 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Apricot Thyme Scones

I was looking through a cookbook from the Ovenly bakery in Brooklyn called Ovenly: Sweet and Salty Recipes from New York's Most Creative Bakery. One thing I love is that they offer several basic recipes with ideas for flavor variations. The basic scone recipe had both sweet and savory options, but the one that caught my eye was the apricot-thyme version. It said I could use either fresh or dried apricots, and since it is apricot season I used fresh (and used less liquid than the recipe called for, knowing how wet the fresh fruit would make the batter.)


Apricot Thyme Scones

 8 tbsp (4 oz) chilled, unsalted butter
3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup diced apricots, fresh or dried*
2 tsp fresh thyme, pulled off stems
1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream

1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
3. Cut the butter into cubes.** Using a pastry cutter or your fingertips, quickly cut or blend the cold butter into the dry mixture until it resembles coarse meal.
4. Using a large fork or wooden spoon, mix apricots and thyme into the flour-butter mixture.
5. Stir the cream into the flour-butter mixture with a large wooden spoon or a fork until the dough begins to come together. The flour should not be fully incorporated into the dough; do not overmix.
6. Transfer the dough and any loose floury bits to a floured countertop or pastry mat.
7. Quickly knead the dough until it comes fully together, and then flatten it with the palms of your hands into a 3/4 inch thick mound. Fold the dough in half, give it a quarter turn and then flatten it again. Repeat this process 3 more times.***
8. Shape the dough into a 3/4 inch thick round. Cut into 8 even triangles. Place the triangles on an ungreased cookie sheet.
9. Place in freezer for 10 minutes to firm up for shape. Just before baking, brush with cream and top with turbinado just before baking (if desired.)
10. Bake 16-18 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the scone comes out clean.

Jenny's notes:
* If using fresh apricots decrease cream. Start by only using a cup a see where you are.
** Ovenly directions say freeze before using but I just do this straight out of the fridge and into the dry ingredients and it works out fine.
*** The worst thing to me is an overworked scone so I did not do this much mixing/kneading. I used my hands to mix and gather the dough, and formed drop scones for this batch rather than the triangles. I'm also not bothering with freezing the dough ten minutes, but I'm also not working it as much as they do. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Recommended Foodie Memoirs

I once made my youngest sister a list of recommended memoirs. All of these are books I read and liked, and rated either 4 or 5 stars. This is originally from my ReadingEnvy blog, but I thought the readers of JennyBakes might be interested too!



Julie and Julia: 364 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell
Half the story that went into the Julie and Julia movie, the blogger part. She is cleaned up and made into a nicer person in the film than she is in the book, but it’s very readable. She decides to cook her way through The Art of French Cooking by Julia Child and hijinks ensue.

Cleaving by Julie Powell
This is not alphabetical but it follows Julie & Julia so what can you do. This is a continuation of the story, but instead of her exploring Julia Child she works for a butcher. Also she cheats on her husband. I believe I mentioned she is unpleasant. Yet I gave it 4 stars because I couldn't stop reading it.

My Life in France by Julia Child
Half the story that went into the Julie and Julia movie, the legend, the saint, the one and only Julia Child. This is the stage of her life where she is seeking for a hobby and learns to cook!

As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto: Food, Friendship, and the Making of a Masterpiece by Joan Reardon and Avis DeVoto
I was surprised to feel like I learned so much more about Julia Child through her letters. The DeVotos are in the midst of the political and cultural action in New England while the Childs are moving between various appointed locations while Paul worked for the OSS. Julia was a staunch Democrat and very interested in politics, so many of the letters are full of discussions on what was going on with Eisenhower and McCarthy, up through the election of JFK.

Heat:An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany by Bill Buford
Seriously could this title be any longer. I love amateur chef memoirs and this is one of the best, plus it is also kind of a biography of Mario Batali.

Kitchen Confidential:Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
At this point, this book is just a restaurant worker classic, but I adore Tony. I read this when I first started thinking about restaurant work, and it was constantly referenced in the Limestone Grille kitchen. I’ve been watching Tony on television ever since.

The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber
Funny because I remember this as a novel but it is a true story about being the child of immigrants and recreating community with foods. Light and lovely.

Life Without a Recipe by Diana Abu-Jaber
All of this author’s novels are food related but this one is more personal, about her own childhood with different cultures and being a first-generation American.

Mastering the Art ofSoviet Cooking by Anya von Bremzen
I LOVED this book so much I made recipes from it for Thanksgivukkah one year, and had my book club read it the next year. Not all of them loved it as much. It takes different decades of Soviet Russia and talks about her childhood through certain food items. I thought it was so interesting!

My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that Saved My Life by Ruth Reichl
Ruth Reichl was the longtime editor of Gourmet Magazine, and suddenly, Conde Nast cancelled the magazine right before the Thanksgiving issue. The next year of her life was rough, and she went back to cooking and spending time with family to make it through. This is where I got the apricot pie recipe, and even though it wasn’t great, it was how she wrote about it that made me want to try it in the first place.

Relish by Lucy Knisley
A graphic novel memoir. Easy read but fun.

The Temporary Bride: A Memoir of Love and Food in Iran by Jennifer Klinec
Learning to cook and falling in love, this is an behind closed doors story of Iranian culture!

Insatiable: Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess by Gael Greene
 "A woman does well to be beautiful, mysterious, haunting, witty, rich, and exotic in bed... but it never hurts to cook good." From the old, pre-foodie era of New York City!