Thursday, June 27, 2013

New Office Treasure Hunt

In my third office move in under two years, I decided to make the location change announcement a little more fun this time around.

I posted this picture, the view out my window, and said if people could find me, they would receive a tasty treat!
If you know the library at all, the ramp rails that you can see is what would give it away, and the view of the tree is clearly a main-floor view.  Most people knew where I was already, so it wasn't the greatest mystery, but fun just the same.  I even found a new home for one of the plants left behind.  I'm a very nervous plant parent, so the fewer I have to worry about, the better!

What was the tasty treat?  Well America's Test Kitchen had posted a recipe for chewy chocolate cookies and I just had to make them.  I followed the recipe exactly, even purchasing DARK karo syrup and DARK brown sugar, but still ended up with cakey cookies instead of chewy.  *shakes fist* 
Still, people seemed to like them.  One librarian in particular came back for more!  The picture of the cookies is on my desk looking out to the reference stacks, the view I see even more often than the outdoor view. 

I'm happy with my new office - it is closer to the people I work with, and much easier for students and faculty to find.  Now I just need to find a new music librarian this fall and consolidate to just having one office, one set of files, one set of post-it notes, and I think work will be much easier to manage!  Soon.

Anniversary Decadence

On June 24th, we celebrated our thirteenth wedding anniversary!  I know that the traditional gift for 13 years is textiles, but who would pick fabric over peanut butter mousse?


I hadn't really decided what to make so I just scrolled through recipes I'd always meant to try until I came across a picture by Culinary Concoctions by Peabody for her Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Torte.  Honestly, if there is something more decadent on the earth, I do not know of it.

I made a modified, slightly cheater version.  First, I never feel like homemade brownies are anywhere close to box brownies.  I've tried recipes that claim to be close to that chewy texture, but NO.  So I always grab the Ghiradelli double chocolate type when I need brownies, although this time I went with triple chocolate because I wanted super moist chewy.  They were perfect. 

I made the brownies and the peanut butter mousse (as written) the day before.  Then I cut the brownies into hearts that I split in two and put peanut butter mousse between and on top.  Then I drizzled the ganache.  Then I sprinkled with chopped peanut butter cups.

The plate you see pictured above? I could only eat half of one brownie heart torte thing.  We fell asleep on the couch in decadent coma.  We're old and married, and it was worth it!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

TWD Baking with Julia: Tomato & Cheese Galette

I signed up with the Tuesdays with Dorie group in order to keep challenging myself as a baker despite not eating many baked goods anymore.  This group started out by baking through Baking: My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan (a favorite in my house!) and moved on to Baking with Julia, based on the series with Julia Child.  This is another favorite cookbook in my house, so I was excited to join.

It is just now that I'm baking something along with the group!  Hopefully they still want me, and hopefully I will sink into their twice a month baking schedule.  Now on to the recipe!

For June 18, the recipe selected is the Cheese and Tomato Galette from page 429 of Baking with Julia

Basically, the recipe asks you to make the galette crust ahead of time, and the same recipe is used for sweet and savory galettes in the cookbook.  I had never made a crust that mixed ice water and sour cream, and the only sour cream I had at home was 'light,' but I just went for it.  The other key ingredients besides the obvious flour and salt are cornmeal and butter.

There had been some chatter in the group discussion on how roasting the tomatoes made for a less watery galette.  I had two tomatoes in the fridge, and used the Barefoot Contessa's roasted tomato recipe as my framework.  I sprinkled the tomatoes with dried basil since I had neglected to buy any fresh.

When I assembled the galette for baking, I used mozzarella and provolone that I topped with the tomatoes.  I baked it a little less than directed because I could smell it was ready, and when I took it out the crust was already a little more browned than I would have liked.  That's a pure butter crust for you!

Other than the time you have to allow for the crust to chill, this is a quick and easy recipe.  I had made sweet galettes before (see my Blueberry and Blackberry Galette with Cornmeal Crust) but never a savory version, so I enjoyed making this recipe!  Now I have another crust to use, will it go for something sweet or savory?  Spoiler - I have peaches in my fridge, so I think I know.  Maybe I'll combine the two and do peach-rosemary or something.  I'll report back.

Now for the real question - is the "g" in galette hard or soft?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Chia Pet Pudding

Chia seeds are the newest trendy food.  Not only are they linked to the Aztecs and Mayans, they claim to give a body everything from fiber to weightloss to reducing cholesterol. Every time something comes along that promises to deliver more than ceasing hunger, I think back to Michael Pollan's writings on nutritionism and smile, knowing the fad will pass.

Still, I couldn't wrap my head around how the same thing that could do this:
...could also make something delicious.  And that deliciousness would also be low in sugar, and even considered raw if done correctly.  I had some chia seeds in the pantry that I had used on homemade crackers, and didn't like very much, so it wasn't even wasting them to try this chia pudding, what we fondly refer to as chia PET pudding, because come on, that's hilarious.

There are a bunch of more creative recipes for chia (pet) pudding on the internet - mocha and chocolate varieties.  I went as simple as I could - I started out by mixing 1 cup of coconut-almond milk and 1/4 cup chia seeds, stirring together, stirring together the next morning when I thought I could eat it for breakfast and it wasn't ready, and then eating the next morning with some fresh raspberries.  First I mixed in a bit of sweetener and some vanilla extract.  Most recipes start with sugar but as you know, I try not to eat much of it, but just with the milk it wasn't quite sweet enough.

I liked it the first time, but the second time it seemed harder to eat. I swear I did it the same way, so I'm not sure what happened; I didn't even want mine, and just ate the fruit off the top.  I still have my eye on a few other versions of it that I might try should the pantry elves discover more chia seeds.  For now, it was a fun experiment but didn't change my life.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Momofuku Milk Bar Cornflake-Chocolate Chip-Marshmallow Cookies

I came across this recipe in Pinterest, and decided to make it right away because it sounded so good! You can track it down on The Cooking Actress or Martha Stewart if you want to try it, but I'm not sure I recommend it.  The high sugar content means these overcook easily and turn crunchy even more easily.  Something isn't quite right about the recipe, and I'd have to play with it a little bit to see what I could make better.

The cookie pictured is one of mine, but not all of them looked so pretty.  It could be that I just have a bias against crunchy cookies.

Momofuko Milk Bar sells these for $2 a piece, so they have it figured out.  The cornflake crunch, an element in the cookie that has to be made first, has powdered milk in it which adds an interesting flavor. Also salt. That added to the 1.5 tsp salt also made them saltier than I really like.

Sunday, June 02, 2013


After my visit to Flour Haven Bakery, I could not get pannukakku out of my head.  I found a few recipes that I pinned to my "Recipes to try - jennybakes" board in Pinterest for the next opportunity I had to bake for people (this is where I store all the recipes I'm just waiting for a chance to make!)  My group in the library had a retreat, and I decided to bring breakfast.  I knew it had to be pannukakku.

When searching for a recipe, it was important to me that the recipe was not merely another oven pancake like the recipe I used to have in rotation from the Betty Crocker cookbook with its equal amounts of egg, flour, and milk.  It is tasty, but the pannukakku I had tasted was more custardy than that. 

I found a recipe from Whiterock that looked perfect.  It is an adaptation from a recipe she got from her friend in the U.P. of Michigan, where I imagine there are a lot of Finnish people.  In her family, they call it Bunny Cake, which is a slight tweak on the pronunciation of pannukakku (bun-a-guck-ooh, according to that blogger.)

I made it exactly as written, although I took too long and the first stick of butter burned in the oven.  After cleaning out the pan, I melted another stick in the microwave and put about a third of it into the pan, adding 2/3 of it to the batter.  Other than that, the recipe that follows is exactly what I did, adding raspberry jam and powdered sugar.

Pannukakku (Finnish Pancake)

1 stick butter
6 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 cups whole milk

In a 9x13 inch baking pan, melt the butter in the oven while it preheats to 375 degrees. Meanwhile, with electric mixer, beat eggs until blended and frothy. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until sugar is dissolved. In a separate bowl, stir salt into flour. Alternately add flour mixture and milk to egg mixture, mixing well between each addition. Add approximately 2/3 of the melted butter and mix in. Pour batter over the remaining butter in the pan.

Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 35 minutes. Serve warm.

While I was pining after pannukakku, I found this silly animated video with a pannukakku song.  Enjoy! And let me know what you think after making this delicious breakfast. Seriously, my mouth is watering for more.