Meringues

Meringues

Ingredients

7 egg whites
pinch of salt
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preparation

Preheat oven to 250F and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Beat egg whites with salt until stiff.
Continue to beat while adding 1 & 1/2 cups of sugar 1 tablespoon at a time.
Beat until no longer grainy when rubbed between two fingers.
Fold in vanilla and remaining sugar.
Put into a pastry bag and pipe small ovals onto the baking sheet.
Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until dry but not brown.
Turn off the oven and allow to cool, or gently transfer to a wire rack to cool.

My Thoughts

I usually whip up a batch of these when I make ice cream because there are always a ton of egg whites left over. I tend to pipe these on the smaller side, about the diameter of a nickle or a quarter but you can really make any shape and size you want. This is a slightly modified version of the recipe in the New York Times cookbook, it’s a little lazier and uses a little less sugar. That recipe makes a meringue pie crust so I guess you could theoretically make one giant meringue if you are feeling crazy.

Flatbread

flatbread

via

Flatbread

Ingredients

1 & 1/2 cups AP flour
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar
2 Tbsp melted butter
3/4 cup warm water

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 425F (if you have a pizza / bread stone pop it in the oven)
  2. Mix all ingredients until they come together.
  3. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth
  4. Cut into pieces small pieces 16 – 32 depending on how small you want them
  5. Dust a surface with flour and roll into long strips
  6. lightly tap the surface with your finger tips (like you would with pizza dough) to prevent big bubbles
  7. Brush top side with water or an egg wash
  8. Sprinkle herbs, salt, etc on top
  9. Bake strips until golden brown

My thoughts

My favorite toppings are smoked paprika, garlic powder, and salt. Other good toppings include, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, herbs (rosemary), and coarsely ground black pepper. I tried cooking one big sheet of this stuff and it didn’t cook evenly, probably the downside to using a pizza stone a sheet pan w/ some parchment might have been a better choice for that experiment. I’d still like to try rolling out a big sheet of the dough and then cutting squares with a pizza cutter to make more traditional crackers or even matzo.

Cardamom Ice Cream

I searched around for a while, but all of the cardamom ice cream recipes I found just didn’t seem quite right, so I just modified David Lebovitz vanilla ice cream recipe to make this. I’m really happy with the result. If you aren’t a hard core cardamom fan, (ie. you think it tastes like soap) then you could reduce the ground cardamom or leave it out completely. A few recipes I saw recommended 1/8 tsp ground cardamom. I love it though so I bumped it up to 1/4 tsp.

Cardamom Ice Cream

Ingredients

1 cup whole milk
A pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar
8 cardamom pods (crushed)
2 cups heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
1/4 tsp ground cardamom

Preparation

1. Heat the milk, salt, sugar and cardamom (crushed seeds and pods) in a saucepan. Cover, remove from heat, and infuse for one hour.

2. Set a strainer over the top of a small (2qt) bowl and pour the cream into the bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks. Rewarm the milk then gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan.

4. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.

5. Fill a large bowl (one that can contain the smaller bowl 4qt or 6qt) with ice. Cover the ice with a generous amount of salt. Place the bowl with the cream into the larger bowl.

6. Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Stir over the ice until cold (~32F). You may need to change out the salty ice bath at some point during the mixing. The closer you get the mix to freezing the better.

7. Freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Tip:
You can mix by hand but I have a stirring attachment for my hand mixer and it really helped to mix the custard during the cooling phase:
http://www.amazon.com/KitchenAid-Mixer-Liquid-Blender-Attachment/dp/B0000DE0M5/

Warning:
Salty ice water can get really really cold. You could probably frost bite your fingies if you aren’t careful.

Grilled Pizza

"grilled" pizza

Most directions I’ve seen for grilling pizza involve throughing the dough directly onto the grill grates. While grill marks look cool, I find that burnt dough doesn’t taste very good. So I just use a baking stone. I actually use two, I have one that broke and then I put another one on top of that, I find that helps to distribute the heat a little better.

I also put the dough on parchment paper. It makes sliding the pizza onto the stone a lot easier. You can also roll out all of the dough before hand and stack them on top of each other with a piece of parchment in-between.

.25 oz. pkt. active dry yeast
1/4 tsp. granulated sugar
3/4 cup 110 degree water
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt

pizza sauce
shredded cheese (part skim mozzarella)
toppings

Dissolve yeast and sugar in water; allow to rest for 8 minutes.
Add in the flour and the salt.
Mix with hands or a wooden spoon until dough comes together.
Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for 2 minutes.
Divide the dough into two or three equal pieces (depends on how big / thick you want the dough)
Dust a surface with flour and roll the dough out, ~12-14″ diameter circle, add more flour as needed to keep from sticking.
Place the dough on parchment paper.
Spread sauce over crust and top with cheese and desired toppings.
Bake at 500 degrees for 8-12 minutes, or until edges are golden.

Recipe

Failure: German Wasser Brötchen

I tried to make German style breakfast rolls for brunch tomorrow. To put it nicely, I fucked them up. The key ingredient to failure in this case was covering the rolls with cling wrap on their second rise after shaping. The cling wrap pretty much mangled all of them. Beyond that, I don’t know how to correctly shape this kind of roll, while trying to create a steam bath for a nice shiny crust I sprayed the sides of my oven with a squirt bottle, this dislodged flakes of black stuff which is now embeded in the crust of the bread, I forgot to do the egg wash, and to top it all off I forgot to add salt, so they taste like shit too!


This is a comparison, the one on the right is closer but still not quite right.

Recipe

Brotchen (German Breakfast Rolls)

2 1/2 – 3 cups flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package active dry yeast
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup warm water
1 egg white

Pour 2 1/2 cups flour into a large bowl and make a well. Pour yeast, sugar, and two tablespoons of warm water (the water comes from the 1 cup listed above) in the well. Mix yeast, sugar and water carefully within the well. Do not mix with the flour at this time. Cover the bowl with a cloth and set it in a warm place for 15 minutes. Add the remaining water and oil and beat until mixed.

Turn out on counter top and knead until smooth. Add the remaining 1/2 cup flour as needed. Put dough in a bowl, cover, and let it rise until double in size.

Punch down and divide the dough into 12 parts. Shape into oval rolls and place 3 inches apart on a greased and floured cookie sheet. Cover and let rise until double in size.

Beat egg white and 1 teaspoon water with a fork until frothy and brush on the rolls. Bake in a preheated oven at 450 for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.

Source: “Authentic German Home Style Recipes” by Gini Youngkrantz

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More info: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Br%C3%B6tchen

Snow Cream

Snow Cream

Snow Cream

Ingredients

1/2 cup Half & Half
3 Tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
1 Quart of snow

Preparation

Mix together first three ingredients until sugar is mostly dissolved. Pour over the snow and mix until combined. Should be the consistency of soft serve ice cream.

My Comments

This is another one of those things I remember from my childhood that I haven’t had since then. It’s basically a snow cone with cream instead of syrup. My sister had the idea that you could probably use a real vanilla bean instead of the vanilla extract but that would require simmering the half and half with the bean to extract the flavor and I was to impatient for that. Also note that I’m doing this because we just had a blizzard and there’s about 30 inches of snow in my front yard. Normally I wouldn’t classify the snow around Baltimore as edible, but in this case I think it’s OK.

German Pancake

German Pancake

German Pancake

Real Simple Recipe

Ingredients

3 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
powdered sugar

Preparation

Heat oven to 400° F.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs to combine.
Add the flour and whisk until smooth.
Add the milk, salt, and vanilla and mix until smooth.
Add the butter to a large cast-iron skillet and pop it into the oven until the butter melts.
Pour the batter into the hot skillet.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Dust with powdered sugar.

My Comments

These are one of those things I grew up eating and promptly forgot about. I hadn’t had one in years and honestly they are better than I remember. And they are super simple and since there isn’t any leavening agent they are impossible to over mix and screw up. One key thing to remember is to use unsalted butter. I used salted butter and it was a little too salty. I also tried it a bunch of different ways, with jam, nutella, just powdered sugar. I think fried bananas would be good too though or end a meal with a 1/4 pancake and a scoop of ice cream.

These are also known as Dutch Baby Pancakes. Wikipedia says that the Dutch in “Dutch Baby Pancakes” refers to the Pennsylvania Dutch (who are German descendants), hence German Pancake.

Caramel Popcorn

Caramel Corn

Caramel Popcorn

Adapted from epicurious

Ingredients

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2/3 cup popcorn kernels
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preparation

Add oil and popcorn to a brown paper bag and microwave until the popping sounds slow down to about 5 seconds between pops, Alton Brown style.

Line bottom of a large shallow baking pan with foil. Lightly oil foil. Melt butter in a 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat. Add brown sugar and corn syrup and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring, then boil, without stirring, until syrup registers 300°F on thermometer, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat.

Using a wooden spoon or a heatproof spatula, stir salt and baking soda into syrup, then quickly stir in popcorn to coat. Immediately spread mixture in baking pan as thinly and evenly as possible. Cool completely, then break into bite-size pieces.

My Comments

The only difference between this recipe and the one on epicurious is that I removed the peanuts, bumped up the amount of popcorn and I pop my corn in a bag.

I was really hoping this would taste like Fisher’s popcorn. It didn’t. It’s still good but it just isn’t the same. Back to the drawing board I guess.

Granola Bar Bites

Granola Bar Bites

Granola Bar Bites

Yeild

~64

Ingredients

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cup assorted dried fruit

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line an 8×12″ baking dish with parchment paper.

Put the dry ingredient (except for the fruit) onto a sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300F.

Add the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt to a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the fruit and stir until the dry stuff is evenly coated.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet the back of the spoon you were using to stir and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for 2 to 3 hours before cutting into desired shape. I choose to do bite sized pieces but you could just as easily do bars or break out some industrial strength cookie cutters and make Christmas trees or something.

My Comments

I looked at a few recipes before settling on this one. This is pretty much a straight rip off of Ina Garten’s recipe. I also tried Alton Browns recipe and from the stark similarity between the two I gleaned that granola bar recipes are pretty flexible, so I experimented a bit. As long as you have the right ratio of dry to wet ingredients, you can throw in anything you like. Some ideas that I tried were, flax seed (they have omega-3, a nice smokey nuttiness, and they add a nice crunch), sunflower seeds, dried apples, dried apricots, dried cherries, dried cranberries, raisins. Some things that I still want to try, macadamia nuts, chocolate, candied orange peel. One last note on why I like this version over Alton Browns, coconut. The shredded coconut adds another level of binding and a unique chewyness that Alton’s were lacking, so unless you hate coconut I’d leave it in there at the recommended ratio.

Candied Orange and Chocolate Biscotti

Candied Orange and Chocolate Biscotti

Yeild

~24

Ingredients

2 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter at room temperature
2 large eggs

1 c. candied orange peel
1/2 c. chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350F

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

Sift together flour and baking powder
In another bowl mix together butter and sugar
Add eggs to the butter and sugar one at a time
Add flour mixture and mix just until combined
Gently fold in the candied orange peel and chocolate

Form into two 13″ X 3″ logs and place on the parchment paper side by side
Bake for 40 minutes or until brown
Cool for 30 minutes
Cut the logs into 1/2″ thick slices with a bread knife
Place the slices cut side down on the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes

About a year ago I went biscotti crazy. I tried tons of different recipes looking for the perfect one. Believe me, there are a lot of biscotti recipes lurking on the internet. The biggest difference I have found is how soft the end product is. I’ve made ones that are so tender that they barely make it through the cutting stage and back onto the baking sheet and I’ve made ones that were tooth breaking hard. I think the harder they are the better they are for dipping, too soft and you end up with half a biscotti at the bottom of your coffee.

I really like this recipe because it’s right in the middle, soft like a cookie, but hard enough to hold up to the rigors of dunking in my tea. You could probably make them a little harder or softer by varying the time and heat of the second baking stage.

The base for this recipe is just Giada’s recipe and instead of pistachios and cranberries I added candied orange peel and and chocolate chips, along with a few minor tweaks.

Giada seems to think that these only last for 3 to 4 days. Personally I take a bunch with me to work and they hang out in my desk drawer for over a week sometimes two. I’m still here. My logic is that these are just cookies and cookies last forever right?

I linked to a candied orange peel recipe above. Candied orange peels are dead simple and taste great. I’ll try to write another post about them in the future. I didn’t really follow that recipe exactly because I only had two oranges. But I wholeheartedly agree that multiple boil and drain sessions are key.

The down side: I have to admit that after a few days the orange peels got really hard. If your aren’t going to eat them right away it might be worth experimenting with other candied orange peel recipes that leave you with a softer peel that might be less prone to drying out.