Monday, December 21, 2009


A no knead recipe that turns out nicely risen bread with a glorious crust.

King Arthur, I think I love you.
Recipe from the King Arthur Flour Blog.

I admit to being rather skeptical. This is the loaf just before I slash it and get ready to throw it in the oven. Look how limp. It barely even reaches my 2nd knuckle!

But would you just look at this impressive rise? Within a few moments of being popped in the hot oven, the bread puffs up bigger than a puffer fish and by the end of the baking it's turned that fantastic deep golden brown.

And it wasn't super dense inside :) YAY! Guess what's going to become a part of the regular rotation while it's not too hot to be cranking the oven up to 450?


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Not Canned.

Never before have I bothered to make fruit preserves - mostly because (for some inexplicable reason) I always thought I would have to make huge batches and can or otherwise jar them up.

A friend of mine recently forwarded me a delicious recipe, perfect for using up the bounty of berries currently available at the market. The recipe is easily scaled.

Strawberry & Balsamic Preserves
1 pound fresh ripe strawberries, washed and quartered
3/4 cups sugar
juice of one small lemon
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil, then simmer to reduce until thickened. Once all the liquid came out, I wound up reducing the volume by about 1/2 to 2/3rds. As the preserves cool, they will continue to thicken nicely.
Serve on toast, freshly baked bread, cake or ice cream...or eat it straight from the bowl ;)

Thanks Marie, for passing on the recipe!


Monday, April 28, 2008

Sugar, and Cream, and Chocolate...oh my!

Dark Chocolate Toffees/Caramels, adapted from Milk Chocolate Caramels with Fleur de Sel from Chocolate Epiphany by F. Payard.

Ingredients & Equipment:
Parchment Paper
9 x 13-inch baking pan
large sauce pan, with deep sides
candy thermometer
cooking spray

1 cup heavy cream
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons salt
6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped and melted

Prepare the pan: Line your baking pan with either the parchment paper, leaving the parchment to overhang the edges of the tray. Spray the parchment with cooking spray.

Making the candy: Over medium-high heat, combine the cream, sugar and salt in your saucepan, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Once dissolved, attach your candy thermometer to the saucepan and cook the caramel to hard ball state (just past 250* F ... this may take a while, as you'll be reducing the cream down before the caramel can reach that temperature). As soon as the caramel hits the appropriate temperature, remove from the heat and stir in the melted chocolate.

Pour the candy into your baking tray, quickly spreading it out into an even layer. Allow it to cool to room temperature before cutting or breaking into bite sized pieces.

The finished candy is hard at first, then as you chew it or allow it to melt in your mouth, it becomes more caramel or taffee-like in consistency.

*for a softer more caramel-consistency of the finished candy, cook the caramel only to soft ball temperature before removing from the heat and stirring in the chocolate.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Mmm Pizza

Baked v Grilled...that is the question. I was hoping for grilled, what with the temperatures well into the low 100's down here already - anything to save me from having to adding heat to the house is wonderful.

I really liked the flavor imparted to the pizza crust with the high temps on the grill, but I have to admit my technique leaves something to be desired as I had to move the pizza to the oven to finish as I was worried about burning the crust.

Technique inspired by Raquel, using the crust recipe at the bottom of her post. Incidentally, her pizza toppings are much more exotic compared to my rather mundane tastes of pepperoni, cheese, onions and peppers ;)

Anyhow, since the dough makes enough for 2 pizzas, I made the 2nd one in the oven - as you can see, I got a rather large thin crust pizza out of it as it's completely overflowing the pizza peel (though it fit perfectly on my perforated pizza "pan").

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I heart Carbs.

I love bread. And Pasta. And Cake. And Potatoes. And all kinds of other carbolicious foods.

I've been on a quest to learn how to reproduce (to the best of my ability with the lack of fully appropriate tools) various rustic hearth breads. I had acquired the book No Need to Knead: Handmade Italian Breads in 90 Minutes in my quest for such delicious bread, but have not had much time to experiment with the recipes inside.

Anyhow, a while back, I saw a recipe posted for a No Knead bread that is an adaptation from a recipe from the Sullivan Street Bakery.

This weekend, I had some time on my hand and decided to give it a try...

Recipe: No-Knead Bread
Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
Time: About 1 1/2 hours plus 14 to 20 hours' rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

The Results?

Well, the bread came out and made a most satisfying crackling noise as it was cooling - the crust is wonderfully chewy and very tasty. The middle bit, while tasty, still didn't develop the large holes I was looking for - though it did on one side.

The only think I can think is I may have played a bit too much trying to get the rather slack dough into an approximate ball shape. I suspect the dough was a bit too wet as even with a heavy dusting on the towel that it sat upon for the 2nd rise, it was stuck quite firmly when came time to transfer the dough to the pot for baking.

I'll definitely be trying this method again :)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Fresh Roasted!

Storyville Coffee - date stamped on the day it's roasted and sent off in a special resealable bag with a one way valve (to let your beans exhale, as it were).

If you've a coffee connoisseur on your gift list this holiday season, a gift of Storyville beans may the perfect thing.

They have 2 versions of their rather tasty signature blend available - Prologue (caffeinated) and Epilogue (decaffeinated).

I rather liked the sample of coffee I received - not too dark, and very flavorful - if you don't have access to a fresh small-volume roaster, you'll want to taste it for yourself :) Me? I've been hooked on freshly roasted beans for a while and I'll never go back :P

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I *had* to try it

I love Matcha flavored things - so when I saw this cake mix while shopping at Trader Joe's, of course I had to buy some and give it a whirl...

The making is as easy as any other cake mix, and this one is a bit kinder on the waistline than the very tasty Trader Joes Brownie mix...which, by the way is fantastic and substitutes just fine for brownies baked from scratch - but we're supposed to be talking about Matcha Cake.

The batter doesn't look terribly enticing when mixed - it has an odd resemblance to guacamole...


The cake, once baked has a definite flavor of green tea, and thankfully, the guacamole green color is much more subdued...though perhaps it's difficult to tell since the sun was on its way down for this photo. The only green colored cake that I welcome is Pandan cake.

The crumb was um...a bit tougher than anticipated, and only mixed til combined...and I checked the cake for done-ness 5 minutes before the earliest "done" time marked on the box (and it wasn't done yet at that point).

Ah well, I really can't complain - it is a cake mix after all.

hmm back to that Pandan cake - anyone know where I can get one short of flying to Malaysia? I've never seen one at my local asian markets...