Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Light Brioche Burger Buns

I've been wanting to make bread for some time. I've been sitting on the floor playing blocks with my son and dreaming of making foccacia, or rosemary sandwich buns. Weird, i know. But I never found time to work it into my day until now. This recipe caught my eye on Smitten Kitchen, so I dropped what I was doing and got to it! The recipe was published in the New York Times dining section last week.

The recipe was straightforward and easy to follow, although I did end up adding a little extra flour to the dough to make it easier to manage. I tried making the dough in my kitchenaid mixer, however there simply weren't enough ingredients for the dough hook to get around. I think it might work if the recipe were doubled, but otherwise I'd make it by hand. And be prepared for super sticky dough! I also let mine overrise by mistake while running to the grocery store, so my buns were a little flatter then they might otherwise have been. Still, the sweet buttery taste of the buns was worth all the hassle! I don't know if this will become a regular due to the tricky dough (Moomie's recipe is easier to work with) but I will definitely make it again. The taste was truly spectacular, and has inspired me to make more bread!!

I did not photograph my buns (what a surprise!) however Deb at Smitten Kitchen has plenty of gorgeous pictures so I urge you to take a peek. You can find her post about this recipe here.

Light Brioche Burger Buns
Adapted from Comme Ça restaurant in Los Angeles, via the New York Times

Go! Make these! What are you waiting for?

Makes 8 4 to 5-inch burger buns

3 tablespoons warm milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Sesame seeds (optional)

1. In a glass measuring cup, combine one cup warm water, the milk, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about five minutes. Meanwhile, beat one egg.

2. In a large bowl, whisk flours with salt. Add butter and rub into flour between your fingers, making crumbs. Using a dough scraper, stir in yeast mixture and beaten egg until a dough forms. Scrape dough onto clean, well-floured counter and knead, scooping dough up, slapping it on counter and turning it, until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. The dough will be on the sticky side so it can be a bit messy, but keep in mind that the more flour you knead in, the tougher the buns will get. Try to leave them tackier than you would a round loaf.

3. Shape dough into a ball and return it to bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, one to two hours. (In my freaky, warm apartment this only took an hour.)

4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using dough scraper, divide dough into 8 equal parts. Gently roll each into a ball and arrange two to three inches apart on baking sheet. Cover loosely with a piece of plastic wrap lightly coated in nonstick spray and let buns rise in a warm place for one to two hours. (Again, this only took one hour in my apartment and I suspect, you’ll also only need an hour for a second rise.)

5. Set a large shallow pan of water on oven floor. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in center. Beat remaining egg with one tablespoon water and brush some on top of buns. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using. Bake, turning sheet halfway through baking, until tops are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Wacky Cake

How has it been almost a month since my last post? The veggie kitchen has actually been quite busy these days, but the taking pictures and typing up recipes piece of blogging hasn't been going as well. And since that's a key part in keeping a blog going, things have been slow. Hopefully one day soon I'll be able to tell you about the roasted potato gruyere tart we've made, or the brownies, or there was the lemon pasta Mike created...

But this was something I made just this past Friday. One of my mommy friends has a baby with a dairy/soy allergy. Needless to say this means she must pass on most baked goods that come out of my kitchen. Since it was her birthday last week, I decided to make something she could enjoy. And this cake sprang to mind. I made it once years ago, but remembered it as being tasty and EASY. The glaze posed a bit more of a problem for this particular situation. I subbed rice milk for the dairy milk, but was a bit stumped by the butter. My first thought was to buy vegan butter, but when I had it home I realized it contained soy which wouldn't do. As it turned out butter is okay for this friend, and so I did just use regular butter.

The cake was rich and chocolatey. Mike thought the texture was a bit different from a standard cake, however we both enjoyed the pieces I snuck home from the gathering. And the cake was quite a big hit at the social event to which it was taken. No one could believe that it was dairy free (mostly) and easy.

I think this cake's value lies in its versatility. Need an easy vegan cake for a vegan friend? This cake fits the bill. Need a chocolate fix readily filled by ingredients likely to be on hand? Again, this cake will definitely do. I was quite glad only a slice or two came home, as more would have been quite dangerous for Mike and I both! :)

Wacky Cake
From Simple Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin

"Wacky" cake is so called because it has no eggs in it, and is mixed together in an unusual way. Because it only takes a few minutes to make this cake batter (you don't even have to butter the pan beforehand) you must turn on your oven at least 10 minutes before you begin so it has time to preheat.

1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon distilled white or apple cider vinegar

The Chocolate Glaze
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (or vegan butter)
2 tablespoons milk (I used rice milk for our situation, soy milk would also work)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If using a glass baking dish, heat to 325. A good ten minutes later, begin to make the cake. Place flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in an 8x8 inch cake pan. Using a fork, stir the dry ingredients together until completely blended and uniform in color with no visible streaks.
2. Pour on the water, vanilla, oil, and vinegar and immediately stir with the fork until completely blended. Using a spatula at this point is helpful for getting batter out of the corners.
3. Put cake in oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake completely on a wire rack, about 2 hours. This cake is meant to be served out of the pan, not unmolded.
4. To make glaze, combine sugar, butter, milk, and cocoa in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove pan from the heat, and stir until cool (about 5 minutes). Add vanilla extract, then pour onto cake. Let cool completely before serving (about 1 hour).

For a 9x13 cake, use 1.5 times the recipe and cook about 25 minutes.
For a 9 inch round spring form pan, use 1.5 times the recipe and cook about 50 minutes. (butter and flour the pan before hand, mix batter in large bowl and pour into pan. Unmold after baking).
For a sheet cake, use a 17x11 inch jelly roll pan that has been buttered and floured beforehand. Mix 3 times the batter in a large bowl, and pour into prepared pan. Bake 35 minutes, unmold after baking.
For cupcakes, this recipe as above will make 1 dozen. Place 12 paper liners in a muffin pan. Mix batter in a bowl, then fill liners. Bake 22 minutes.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Brazilian Black Beans - Every Day Food

I am a big fan of beans. Particularly black beans - I love the versatility of cooking once and having beans to use in a variety of ways for the next few days. These days that quality is key as it relieves the pressure of daily cooking. Cooking dinner every night just isn't going to happen now that Quinn goes to bed at 7 pm on a daily basis. But, recipes like this mean I have something to work with after he goes down.

This recipe caught my eye in a recent Every Day Food issue. I'm pretty faithful to my favorite black bean recipe but I was intrigued by the step of cooking the beets in the beans. It seemed simple enough, but I would have never thought to do it. So I deviated from the norm, and gave the recipe a whirl.

This recipe was simple enough, and yet the taste belied the basic ingredients. There was no discernible beet quality to the beans (we wouldn't have minded if there were), and I liked having a vegetable side ready to go as the beans were done. I ended up mixing beans bought in two different stores which ended up with some beans underdone, but that was my mistake and not terribly detrimental to the dish as a whole. I served the beans with brown rice, sprinkled with the recommended sides seen above in a picture from the Every Day Food website. We also enjoyed simply braised collard greens to round out the meal.

I'm not sure I would make this particular recipe again because I think it is simple enough that I can create something like it in the future without following a recipe. But Mike and I both liked the idea of cooking the beets in the beans, and plan to tinker with that again in the future. And, with some planning ahead (and cooking beans ahead) the final steps in this recipe definitely made it weeknight worthy.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Great Grains Muffins

I'm really digging muffins these days. They're easy to make, quick and easy to eat in the mornings between wakeup time and first nap time and they give me the feeling that I'm back in the kitchen. Or, back in the kitchen without spending hours and hours slaving over a hot stove.

Last night I decided to whip up a batch of Great Grains muffins from Dorie Greenspan's Baking:From My Home to Yours. This is big for me. They contain no chocolate. None. Not even a bit. And they were quick and easy to throw together. I even made it through assembling the dry ingredients wearing Quinn. But then he'd had it with baking, and it was time to start bedtime. So I recommend this recipe for its ease and simplicity, as well as being baby wearing friendly.

The muffins were sweet, but not overly so. They had a nice crumb, and both M. and I enjoyed one with our breakfasts this morning. I had a feeling M. would really like these muffins (as he is not as big a fan of chocolate as I am) and he was quite pleased with the finished result. I added raisins and sliced dried apricots to my muffins, and thought the combo was good. But cranberries would work, as would any other dried fruit (or nut if you like nuts in baked goods) combo. I also used fat free buttermilk.

Great Grains Muffins
from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 large eggs
1 stick
unsalted butter, melte
d and cooled
3/4 cup quartered, moist, plump prunes or other dried fruit and/or nuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter or spray a muffin tin.

In a large bowl, whish together the flours, cornmeal, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, maple syrup, eggs, and melted butter. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry and gently, but quickly stir together. Don’t worry about being thorough — if the batter is lumpy, that’s fine. Stir in the fruit or nuts, if you are using them. Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the tops are gold and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes, then carefully lift each muffin out of its mold and onto the rack to cool.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Root Beer Bundt Cake

One of my favorite things about going to Baked is never knowing what cakes will be offered that day. There are usually three cakes available for purchasing by the slice, and the offerings change daily. I can go craving one cake, but if isn't available that day then I'm FORCED to try something new. Which, as a creature of habit is probably a good thing for me. :)

On one of our trips, M. tried the coca cola bundt cake. He was really taken with it, and asked me to research a recipe so we could make it at home. Well, that never happened. But when I saw the root beer bundt in the Baked cookbook, I decided it would be the perfect dessert for a dinner party we had this weekend. It could be made in advance, and ready to go at the conclusion of the meal. I learned the hard way recently that this is key, particularly these days with babies being a baking factor. I did debate swapping the root beer for coke (which I will do in the future) but we both decided we'd try the "authentic" version first.

The cake was easy to prepare, although it doesn't use a mixer. The wet ingredients (including the root beer) are heated on the stove, and then the dry ingredients are mixed in. The recipe cautions over-mixing. Accordingly, I was very careful not to over-mix. So careful that I actually undermixed and my cake was studded with pockets of flour. Oops. Next time I'll mix a little harder, and not worry so much about it. But the results were still delicious, if a little unusual to the eye. There was also a lot of frosting to this cake. I happen to LOVE frosting, but if you are not such a big fan then I would recommend cutting the glaze recipe in half. I also really liked how easy the glaze was to make - the recipe called for making it in the food processor. A bit unconventional, but oh so quick and easy to whip up!

Overall, the cake was well received by all and the leftovers are still sitting and taunting me as I write. Very very dangerous. :)

Root Beer Bundt Cake
for 1 (10-inch) Bundt cake
From Baked: New Frontiers In Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

for the cake:

2 cups root beer (do not use diet root beer)
1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs

for the frosting:
2 ounces dark chocolate (60% cacao), melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup root beer
2/3 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

For the cake:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Generously spray the inside of a 10-inch bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray; alternatively, butter it, dust with flour, and knock out the excess flour.

In a small saucepan, heat the root beer, cocoa powder, and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the sugars and whisk until dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool.

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

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until just beaten, then whisk them into the cooled cocoa mixture until combined. Gently fold the flour mixture into the cocoa mixture. The batter will be slightly lumpy–do not overbeat, as it could cause the cake to be tough.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a small sharp knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Gently loosen the sides of the cake from the pan and turn it out onto a platter.

For the frosting:

Put all the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until the frosting is shiny and smooth.

Use a spatula to spread the fudge frosting over the crown of the Bundt in a thick layer. Let the frosting set before serving, with the ice cream on the side.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins

I won't tell you when I actually made these muffins. We'll just leave it at it wasn't yesterday, or even this week. Sigh. Getting back into the swing of blogging is harder then I thought. But I am determined to get there ... one day.

All the internet is abuzz with the recent publication of Baked:New Frontiers in Baking. I'm quite spoiled, the bakery Baked is about a twenty minute walk down the road from my apartment. Strolling down to choose a treat has become a new favorite weekend activity. As a result, I'm continually expanding my repertoire of tasty treats and am thrilled so many are included in the cookbook. Their layer cakes are delicious, and I look forward to trying a few at home in the near future. We sampled a slice of the Lemon Drop last weekend, and were quite pleased with the results.

I made this recipe pretty much as is. I did measure espresso from a cup of espresso, but added a bit more. I usually do that as I'm too lazy to stock espresso powder when we have an espresso machine at home. I thought the coffee taste was present but subtle in these muffins, so if you like a stronger flavor you might want to amp the flavor up a bit. These muffins are moist and sweet, and I've kept a few in the freezer for those mornings when I need a bit more of a boost. I got a yield of 16 muffins, however I noted these muffins didn't rise overly much. When I make them again, I might get 12 as I will know I can fill the cups a little bit more then I did this time. And there will be a next time I make these muffins. Banana, chocolate, coffee - how can you go wrong?

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins
From Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

1 1/2 cups mashed, very ripe bananas (about 4)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp instant espresso powder (I used liquid espresso, and increased to 1 tablespoon)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, stir together the bananas, sugars, butter, milk, and egg.
In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, instant espresso powder,baking soda and salt. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well and stir just until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Fill each cup about 3/4 full. Bake in the center of the oven for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.
Let the muffins cool on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Then remove the muffins from the pan and allow them to finish cooling on the cooling rack. Store up to 2 days in an airtight container.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Smitten Kitchen's Mushroom Bourguignon

Continuing the Smitten Kitchen recipe roll, we will now discuss the mushroom bourguignon. This recipe grabbed me the second I saw it on the website.  The sauce looked luscious, the mushrooms delicious and the bed of pasta - perfection.  You can find the blogger's fantastic photos and the recipe here.  Beef Bourguignon suddenly became a dish that I didn't know I'd missed until I saw this mushroom alternative.  I believe the recipe came out on a Thursday, and I put it on Saturday's menu.  

We had company that evening, company I deemed worthy of sharing what I hoped would be mushroomy deliciousness.  M ended up making the dish (that whole baby tag-teaming effect again) and reported that the preparations were straightforward.  A little chopping, a little braising.  And the results?  Oh, the results contained the deliciousness I'd hoped for.  The sauce was rich, the mushrooms tender and winey and the bed of pasta provided the perfect compliment to the saucy stew.  M. did follow the directions on the pearl onions, but our general consensus was that they were too firm.  Next time we would parboil them before adding them to the stew, or perhaps try frozen.  Ours were fresh, and were just too firm and spicy to meld with the softness of the stew. 

Needless to say there were no leftovers that night.  I look forward to making this recipe again, perhaps on a night when M. and I are without guests so that there WILL be leftovers we can enjoy on another occasion.  In fact, we haven't planned our menu for Valentine's Day yet... 

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Smitten Kitchen Chocolate Pudding

Signs I need to post more often:

My last post was on the first day of this year (okay, it is only February but STILL).
It took me a minute to remember how to create a new post.  I went to the website first, and was puzzled for a second about how to log in and write a new post.  

Ah, lack of sleep. It boggles the mind.  

The veggie kitchen has actually been a'cookin these days.  Maybe not every day, but at least several times a week.  Still, the whole photography blogging piece has been lagging.  I'll keep working on it, but in the meantime I want to start sharing what I (we ... cooking is often a tag team event round here) have been up to.  

Starting with  ... chocolate pudding.  Yes, be very impressed.  

This week I had a crazy craving for chocolate pudding.  Homemade, of course.  This was puzzling to me as I didn't grow up with chocolate pudding in a regular dessert rotation at my house.  In fact, I don't think we EVER had chocolate pudding.  As a young adult, my only concept of chocolate pudding was the small brown JELLO box.  It would do from time to time, but nothing to get excited about.  But this week, I wanted pudding and I wanted it to be real.  I googled for a recipe, and up popped Smitten Kitchen's.  I've made several recipes off of her site lately, and figured this would be good place to start.  

I was stumped by the lack of whole milk in the house.  It isn't something we keep around, and I was afraid that if I made the pudding with skim it wouldn't set.  Several of the commenters on Smitten Kitchen seemed to have that problem.  But, I plucked up my courage, threw in a half a cup of heavy cream lying around for one half cup of the milk and held my breath.  And it worked.  Perhaps the pudding would have been richer and lusher had it been made with whole milk, or even 2%.  But it was plenty rich and chocolatey for my taste buds, and I like to think that it was perhaps a touch better for me as a result of the lighter milk.  A touch.  

M. thought the pudding was just okay.  When making the pudding, I added 3 oz from a Trader Joe's bittersweet chocolate, and planned on adding 3 oz of semisweet chocolate chips.  M. had to take over for me, and he misunderstood my directions and added 3 oz of milk chocolate chips instead.  I thought the results were tasty, perhaps milder then had we used the semisweet but still rich and silky smooth.  M. thought the quality of the chocolate could have been better and wasn't quite as impressed.  Apparently when it comes to chocolate I'm an easy sell!  

Still, the recipe came together inside of a half hour, and kept very well for several days in the fridge.  Served with a dollop of whipped cream on top, this customer was quite happy and has spent the past couple days in a chocolate cloud of anticipation of the evening's pudding dessert. 

You can find the recipe here... along with amazing photographs. 

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze

I've always thought it would be fun to host the holidays.  We've alternated going to my parents or my husband's family for years, and I've always thought it would be great to have everyone come to us.  That way we could plan our menu, serve what we want to serve and just put our spin on the holiday celebration.  

Of course, when I had these thoughts I did not think we would take the holiday hosting plunge three weeks after having our first baby.  But we did!  And it was a ton of work for my husband who did most of the planning, preparing and cooking. But I managed to contribute cinnamon rolls for breakfast Christmas morning.  I've always thought cinnamon rolls (or some equivalent "special" breakfast food) should start a holiday.  And this year cinnamon rolls popped into my head as the perfect start to the day.

Making them was an experience.  I drifted into the kitchen, made part of the dough before going back out to pick up a freshly awakened baby.  A short time later I came back in wearing the baby, and finished the dough.  The dough rose for a bit longer then the 2 hours called for in the recipe, although it seemed no worse for wear.  And after cutting the rolls, I put them into the fridge overnight for their last rise before baking the next day.  

I used this recipe from Bon Appetit, and I was really pleased with the results.  The glaze made plenty - I am a frosting lover and these were perfectly iced in my book.  The rolls were best the first day fresh from the oven, but oven heated leftovers disappeared the next two days as well.  I did not get the rolls photographed... I will have to work on that important step in my next recipe, but I will say it felt good to be back in the kitchen.  My motivation which abandoned me during pregnancy seems to be back, so hopefully my baby-juggling/cooking skills will continue to develop and I will be posting more regularly soon.  

Happy New Year everyone!