sugar cookies

I've never made a great sugar cookie, but it's been years since I tried. New project: find a recipe and method that works.

Tonight I made the dough for Alton Brown's recipe:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk
and I added 2 tsp vanilla.
I creamed the butter by itself first, then added the sugar. I never really get my sugar totally dissolved in my butter so it's not gritty, and this time was no exception. My arm just gets too tired. Someday with a better-sized bowl, or a stand mixer, I'll try that. (Or maybe a food processor. Hmm.) By the time I was done adding all of the flour, the dough was in small clumps and didn't/wouldn't really cohere. I'm not sure if that was because my mixer bowl is gigantic, but I think it's happened before. At any rate - you're supposed to chill the dough for two hours, so I divided it in half, scooped up half and molded it into a lump with my hands (and I think the heat and pressure from my hands helped it cohere quite a bit) and wrapped it in plastic wrap, and then added a little more milk to the second half, mixed it more, and wrapped it up. We'll see which (if any) comes out better. Next time, (if I'm not happy with these results) I'll try a recipe that uses two eggs.

Verdict: I am giving up on making sugar cookies because I cannot roll them out without them sticking to the surface or breaking for love or money.

Dutch Babies

I made a Dutch Baby (man, the name is silly) pancake for brunch today using this recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/dutch-babies-ii/

I don't have a 10" skilet so I made it in a 9.5" Pyrex pie pan. I used an electric hand mixer instead of a whisk, and I didn't sift the flour because I have no sifter (or even strainer, sigh. This is not a well-equipped kitchen.) I added a splash of vanilla extract and some sugar to the batter.
It came out looking like this:

chicken and sage and onions and stuff

This was really tasty:

3 frozen chicken tenders, mostly defrosted, sliced into small pieces
marinated in:
juice of half a lemon
soy sauce
ground sage

then,
most of an onion, sliced
one carrot, sliced
maybe 5 mushrooms (which had been frozen, just thrown loosely into a plastic container and left for 3-4 months!), sliced
one small potato, microwaved to pre-cook it, sliced
and the chicken,
sauteed in some oil with some added paprika, with a lid on the pan

I added a bit of water at one point after the natural juices seemed to be drying up.
At the end I added this roux-ish thing I made out of a TBS of butter and some flour, which was a bit...odd, since I don't really know my way around roux.

But damn, the whole thing was super tasty. I think sage is my new favorite herb. And next time I'd like to try it without the roux. I'm curious how much the butter added. I hope it'd be tasty without it.
ETA: I made it again and it was fine without the butter mixture. I added an extra potato, also pre-cooked, which broke apart a bit and added some thickness. It doesn't look glamorous, but it's gooooood.

kale/chickpea soup

I tried this recipe tonight, slightly modified.

Original said:
You could also switch out the beans for chickpeas and use cumin and smoked paprika and crushed red pepper and I think also get a very nice soup with a different flavor.

Bean Soup with Kale

Olive Oil
8 large garlic cloves, crushed or minced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cups chopped raw kale
4 cups vegetable broth (I add more if needed)
2 15-oz cans of white beans such as cannellini or navy, undrained
4 plum tomatoes chopped (I used 2 cans of diced tomatoes)
(optional) 1/2 butternut squash, cubed or a couple of sweet potatoes
2 tsps. dried italian herb seasoning (or 1 tsp each dried thyme and rosemary)
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat olive oil. Add garlic and onion; saute unitl soft. Add kale and saute, stirring until wilted. Add potatoes or squash and saute, stirring until soft. Add broth, bean and all of tomatoes, herbs and salt and pepper.

Sometimes I put 1/2 can of the beans in a blender with some broth and blend until smooth and I stir that in the soup to thicken or use a hand blender in the pot at the end of cooking.

Simmer on low for a couple of hours.
---
I used canola oil (olive oil isn't good for high heat), slightly more kale, vegetable bouillon instead of broth, a little less than half a (large) butternut squash, only one can of chickpeas, a large onion (plus a little more I had in the fridge added later), a little more than half a 26-oz package of chopped Pomi tomatoes, added a single stalk of celery, and used the red pepper flakes/paprika, and cumin as seasoning.

pasta + vegetables

I watched a friend make this last night and would like to replicate it some time. It was richer than I'd expect.

chopped onion + garlic
sliced vegetables: bell pepper, broccoli, snow peas, grape tomatoes
pasta
milk
breadcrumbs
cheese

Saute onion and garlic with some Italian seasonings, then add other veggies. Toward the end--some grape tomatoes.
Then, add milk(mixed with buttermilk, this time) (and I think also some vegennaise?)and cook for a bit. Then add "Italian" breadcrumbs. And add some cheese (he used grated Havarti.) Serve over pasta and with some chicken or other meat for protein.

Kale/cheese/quinoa

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/2 of a large bunch of kale, shredded into thin ribbons (I include the stems, especially if they're not too tough.)
grated cheese (maybe 3 oz?) I used Havarti but anything would probably be tasty

Put quinoa and water in a pot; bring to a boil. Cover and lower the heat. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat. Dump in the shredded cheese and stir a little bit with a fork. Add the shredded kale and stir a bit too. Put the lid back on and let sit for about 5 more minutes to lightly cook the kale and melt the cheese. Stir again and eat/serve.

Chocolate chip cookies (without a mixer!)

Recipe modified from http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/i-want-to-marry-you-cookies-recipe/index.html

1 cup butter
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 cup uncooked rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1.5-2 cups chocolate chips

Melt the butter over the stove in a large pot. Turn off the heat. Stir in the sugars until well mixed, then place in fridge for 10 minutes to cool. Meanwhile - combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
Remove mixture from fridge. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Stir in flour mixture and oats, then chocolate chips.

Form into 1" (or slightly less) balls on parchment paper on cookie sheet. Chill in fridge for 30 minutes or more. Preheat oven to 325, bake for 12-14 (or more)
minutes. Remove parchment paper from cookie sheet and let cookies cool.

These are nice and chewy, not too thin...but I think I might omit the cinnamon next time. It's distracting. I can also see using a little bit less sugar and slightly fewer chocolate chips.
--
Next attempt, 1/24: 1 cup packed dark brown sugar, 1/4 cup white sugar, no cinnamon, 1 1/4 cups of chocolate chips. The amount of chocolate chips was good, but there was something off about the taste and texture. More sugar next time, I suppose.

poppyseed muffins

1.75 ? cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2.5 tsp baking powder
dash of salt
1+ cups milk
1/2 cup poppyseeds
1/4 cup melted butter
1 egg
good bit of vanilla


Soak poppyseeds in milk. Combine ingredients like you would for other muffin recipes...

These were very poppyseed-y, but tastey. A little bitter in spurts, which might have been bites of poppyseeds that didn't get submerged fully while being soaked -- not sure.

whole wheat muffins

2 cups white whole wheat flour
3 tsp (1 TBS) baking powder
a few dashes of salt
a few dashes of cinnamon
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed (because my house has an insane glut of brown sugar right now)

1/4 cup melted butter
a little bit of oil (to make fat = 1/3 cup approx.)
2/3 c milk
1 egg
2/3 ? cup chocolate chips

(Standard mix dry + wet, put in chips, greased pan at 400 degrees, yada yada yada.)

These came out pretty well...

cranberry muffins

Modified from http://www.meatlessmonday.com/fresh-cranberry-muffins/

  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (dark)
  • a bit less than 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • cinnamon to taste
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup (unsalted) butter or stick margarine, melted
  • 1 teaspoon orange rind, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • cooking spray
Preheat oven to 400. Mix flours, sugars, salt, and cinnamon. Mix milk, melted butter, orange rind, vanilla, and egg. Add chopped cranberries to dry ingredients, stir. Grease muffin tin (12-cup). Stir wet ingredients into dry until just combined. Spoon into muffin tins, bake for 18 minutes or until muffins spring back lightly when touched in the center. Remove immediately and cool on wire racks.

VERDICT: The texture was OK, but too tart. They also have a strange almost fake-sugar taste (not that I've really consumed enough fake sugar to know.) Maybe I needed to cut the cranberries into smaller pieces, or use the full 1/3 cup of sugar. Or stir some sugar into the cranberry mixture first. Dunno. Also, let the melted butter cool before stirring it into the milk mixture. I was impatient and mine re-solidified when it hit cold milk.

chocolate chip cookies w/ oat flour

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/3? cup white sugar

^cream

1 1/4 cups white flour
1 cup oat flour
3/4 tsp (?) baking soda
too much salt (next time: 1/2 tsp? or get a goddamn measuring spoon.)
^mix really well

add 2 eggs and 2ish tsp of vanilla to butter mixture. beat til creamy. stir in flour mixture. add about 3/4 of a package of chocolate chips. Chill, perhaps. Bake at 350 degrees for some amount of time more than 10 minutes, on parchment paper. Perhaps add slightly more flour next time. Or chill longer. Or just stop spazzing out about the quality of homemade baked goods because any cookie is a good cookie.

peach cobbler

Used these two (very similar) recipes
http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/easy-peach-cobbler-10000000257827/
http://southernfood.about.com/od/peachcobblers/r/r70913a.htm

which both do the odd thing where you melt butter in a pan in the oven and then pour a batter directly over it and then dump fruit over it and supposedly the batter/topping magically rises to the top. We'll see. I'm doubtful but I figure nothing with this mix of ingredients could taste bad, so who cares?

Modifications/notes:

Used extra lemon juice (2TBS?) because I like that slight citric acid counterbalance in my fruit
Used (I think) 5 very large peaches, sliced in cubes, which filled up (brimming) a 2-qt pyrex casserole
1/4-1/2 cup of sugar in the peaches - a cup seems like too much
2ish tsp of baking soda (oh shit I just realized it says baking powder...hmm. gah. it's been a long time since I made that mistake.)
used the 1 tsp vanilla
didn't boil anything
didn't peel anything
1/2 cup of sugar in the crust/dough

notes on how it turned out to come.

ETA: brought this to a party and everyone seemed to like it--it had a good amount of sugar. It was more liquidy than would be ideal, probably because I used extra peaches. Next time I won't pour in the extra liquid left sitting at the bottom of the bowl after I made the fruit mixture, and perhaps add some tapioca or cornstarch. The unpeeled peaches were fine. I baked it for 45 minutes (or more) but part of that was because I could see it was so liquidy. Some of the batter did rise to the top, but not all of it. Again, probably because I used extra peaches (or maybe because of the baking soda mixup--which didn't seem noticeable as far as flavor, fortunately.)

Also, for the love of Bob, if you can find freestone peaches or nectarines, do it. It's hard to cut fruit off a pit and into nice slices. 

Almond Bundt Cake

Quick and dirty notes:
Used this recipe: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Glazed-Almond-Bundt-Cake/Detail.aspx

Put in closer to 3 tsp of almond extract and 1.5 tsp of vanilla extract.
As per usual, used salted butter and omitted the added salt.
The batter didn't seem to have as much volume as I remembered bundt cakes having, but it's been a while and it expanded enough to fill the pan to a decent extent.
Baked for 60 minutes (on a low rack of the oven.) My oven miraculously stayed very close to 350 the entire time! It could have taken a tad less time but definitely not more, and it wasn't burned.

It was good but I feel like it could use more almond flavor somehow, maybe with a little less sweetness.

almond brownies

Adapted from http://www.carascravings.com/2010/03/pps-best-brownies-ever.html

1 cup butter (salted)
8 oz unsweetened chocolate
~2 cups sugar
2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
scant 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1.5 cups almond meal

Melt butter and chocolate on stove. Stir in extracts and sugar. Let cool slightly. Add egg and baking powder. Stir well. Stir in almond meal. Spread into greased square (8x8?) pan and bake at 325.

We'll see what happens...

amaranth greens and quinoa

Today I discovered amaranth leaves at the farmers market! Apparently they're also called "Chinese spinach." They're pretty mild (unlike dandelion greens, which were inedibly bitter no matter how long I cooked them or what I added to them), tastier than spinach (I.M.H.O.), and aesthetically interesting. I found a recipe for pasta with amaranth leaves and kinda changed it a bit. The leaves make reddish juice when you cook them, and it kind of turns the quinoa fuchsia. It's purdy.

*chopped amaranth leaves (3qt bowl filled to the top)
*5 cloves of garlic, pressed
*1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
*~tablespoon canola oil
*cooked quinoa
*grated cheese (I think this was manchego, not sure.)

Cook garlic and red pepper in canola oil for a few minutes over high-ish heat. Add leaves, stir for a bit, cover the pot and turn down the flame to let the leaves soften a bit but not too much. Add a few cups of cooked quinoa, stir, put into a bowl, and stir in the shredded cheese.

(white) whole wheat brownies

I'm going to try these: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/tasting-is-believing-whole-grain-brownies-recipe

1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter
2 cups light brown sugar
several (6?) Trader Joes unsweetened chocolate baking disks, broken into pieces
3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional but recommended
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups White Whole Wheat Flour

It promises the shiny top crust, which I'm a big fan of.

Notes:
-omitted salt because I used salted butter
-used 1.5 c light brown sugar + 0.5c white sugar
-threw some trade joes unsweetened baking chocolate disks in with the melting butter because I wanted to use 'em up and because I wasn't sure how potent/fresh my cocoa powder was.
-sprayed the hell out of the pan with baking spray because I'm tired of having to chisel brownies out
-oven stayed at a pretty consistent 350 this time, miracle of miracles
-they rose a good bit, seem to have baked pretty evenly, and the toothpick came out clean after just 25 minutes, so I pulled them out of the oven.
-they're kind of cakey, and came out of the pan very easily - but maybe because of all the baking spray



Next on the roster is almond-meal-based brownies. My housemate brought one home from Whole Foods and it was pretty tasty. If I had a food processor I'd do this: http://www.hanneblank.com/blog/2011/04/22/elemental-chocolate-almond-cake/

placemarker

I made these a while ago:
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Best-Cocoa-Brownies-108346

They were tasty and very rich and fudgy but hard to get out of the pan. I put them in a 9x13 instead of an 8x8.

3/11/17: made these again, in an 8x8, and they were good again.  I melted the butter + sugar + cocoa powder in the microwave in a glass bowl instead for convenience - I really did get it quite hot, stirring in between bouts of microwaving - and let it cool,eventually transferring to a metal bowl to help it cool faster.

Spicy Red Lentil and Chickpea Stew

adapted slightly from http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2009/10/recipe-for-spicy-red-lentil-and.html

1 large onion, finely chopped (I think I used slightly less with no problem)
1 T canola oil
1 T finely grated fresh ginger
1 T finely minced garlic
1 tsp. ground turmeric
3/4 cup celery, finely diced (I used half of this because I didn't have enough around)
1 tsp. Garam Masala
1 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
6 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable stock (I used 6 c water + bulk vegetarian bouillon powder)
1 1/2 cups red lentils
~2 cups cooked chickpeas or 1 can, rinsed
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained

Heat oil in a heavy, big pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add onions, ginger, garlic, and turmeric and gently saute, stirring often, for about 7 minutes, or until onions are quite soft but not browned. Add diced celery, garam masala, ground cardamom, cayenne pepper, and ground cumin and saute 3-4 minutes more, until celery barely starts to soften.

Add the stock, red lentils, canned tomatoes, and chickpeas and bring mixture to a gentle boil. When it starts to bubble, reduce heat to the barest simmer and cover pan with lid. Let mixture simmer, stirring a few times, until lentils are dissolved enough that mixture has thickened into a chunky stew (about an hour.)

oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

I made these yesterday - recipe from the Nestle site, although I didn't use their chocolate chips.

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) chocolate chips
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (optional)
PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat brown sugar, butter and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in eggs, milk and vanilla extract. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats, morsels and nuts; mix well. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 10 minutes for chewy cookies or 12 to 13 minutes for crispy cookies. Cool on baking sheets for 1 minute; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Notes:
-I'd use slightly fewer chocolate chips, I think. I always feel like there's a few too many.
-It's sufficiently molasses-y with light brown sugar
-I used salted butter and added a pinch of salt
-I used old-fashioned oats, which was fine, and really I can't imagine using quick-cooking. As it is the oats seem (to me) to melt into the cookies quite a bit.
-they are kinda sweet. I might dial back the sugar a little.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies


I used to make chocolate crinkle cookies when I was in high school, using a modification of a recipe I'd found in a cookbook from the library. I *think* it was Better Homes and Gardens' Cookies, Cookies, Cookies.

The recipe I used is still somewhere in my mom's kitchen, written out in purple pen on a 4x6 index card, but she hasn't had time to look for it. I remember it had 4 eggs, oil rather than butter or shortening, and that it called for squares of unsweetened chocolate, which I replaced with cocoa powder and oil because melting chocolate and then letting it cool to the right temperature for $recipe is a pain.

At any rate, I just googled a bit and there's a recipe floating around on the 'net that's probably the same one, so I'm putting it here for safekeeping 'til I try it out. It's not a hot weather recipe because if it's hot the powdered sugar will dissolve into the dough and you won't get the gorgeous contrast between clean white powdery powdered sugar and the deep brown cracks of chocolate cookie.

1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 squares of unsweetened chocolate, melted sub 3 TBS cocoa powder + 1 TBS oil for each, so 12TBS (3/4 c) cocoa & 1/4 c oil
2 cups granulated sugar (some places on the net say 1 3/4)
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup a lot of powdered sugar

In a large bowl, combine eggs, granulated sugar, cocoa, oil, baking powder, salt, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally. [I actually do this with a fork instead.] Gradually beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer [or stir with a fork.] Using a wooden spoon [or a fork], stir in any remaining flour. Divide dough in half [or don't...this just makes it easier to keep one half chilled while you're assembling the rest into cookies later.] Cover and chill for 2 to 24 hours or until dough is easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a large cookie sheet; set aside. Set up a bowl with lots of powdered sugar.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls and drop them into the powdered sugar, rolling around to coat. I try to touch them as little as possible (try shaking the bowl) so that the heat from my hands doesn't work the powdered sugar into the dough. Place balls 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheet. You will probably need to put the dough back into the fridge in between assembling each sheet's worth of cookies. The should look like this.

Bake in the preheated oven about 8 minutes or until edges are set and tops are dry. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool. (Cookies will deflate slightly upon cooling.) These are definitely something you're "underbaking," or so it feels.

NOTES:
1) you will probably need to put the dough in the freezer, not just the fridge, for a bit
2) don't assemble the cookies in the kitchen, it'll be too hot. Dining room table is good.
3) parchment paper is awesome for these.

yet another brownie recipe

I still don't have a hand mixer. Until I do...brownies!

I found the recipe in Bon Appetit (February 2011 issue). They were pretty good, very dense and chocolately, but I kind of messed up in following the recipe exactly.
-------------------

Ingredients

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (spooned into cup to measure, then leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, chilled
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 cup walnut pieces

Preparation

  • Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 325°F. Line 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan with foil, pressing foil firmly against pan sides and leaving 2-inch overhang. Coat foil with nonstick spray. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking until butter stops foaming and browned bits form at bottom of pan, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; immediately add sugar, cocoa, 2 teaspoons water, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt. Stir to blend. Let cool 5 minutes (mixture will still be hot). Add eggs to hot mixture 1 at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until blended. Beat vigorously 60 strokes. Stir in nuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
  • Bake brownies until toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs attached), about 25 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan. Cut into 4 strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 4 brownies. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.


aaand a post-mortem:
1. In a sudden fit of laziness, I measured the cocoa powder the wrong way - put the 3/4 c scoop (yes, we have one for that specific amount) into the jar of cocoa and leveled it off and dumped it in, without thinking. I was pretty sure this made it too bitter, so I added more sugar (maybe 1/4 or 1/3 cup.)
2. I used salted butter and did not add any extra salt
3. Melting the butter was weird. I got to the 5-minute mark and there were all sorts of different stages and kinds of foam, but it never *stopped* foaming, and I never saw brown bits on the bottom. Eventually, somewhere around 6-7 minutes, I felt it stick to the bottom a tad, and it started to smell different (maybe like browned butter), so I pulled it off the stove.
4. I didn't do the aluminum foil business; that seems wasteful. I just greased the pan with a mixture of butter and canola oil.
5. My fucked-up oven wasn't quite at 325 when I put them in (it had been, and then it randomly cooled itself off). It was at 325 about 10 minutes later. So I left them in the oven for between 30 and 35 minutes.

2nd post-mortem, 6/19/2011:
1. Browning butter is definitely weird and tricky. I think I let it go too long and noticed brown particles - wasn't sure if it was *burnt* or just browned, so I started over with new butter. Next time: read better instructions for browning butter.
2. I gave in and lined the pan. Definitely easier to get them out of the pan this way.
3. There was that nice flaky crust on part of the tray, not all of it.
4. They're not as thick/high as last time, oddly, especially since last time they seemed pretty solid.
5. Still needed 30-35 minutes and they don't seem dried out, but my oven was on crack again and the temp was inconsistent. Are all ovens so all-over-the-place or do I only notice it now that I have a good thermometer? It is a mystery.
6. Tasty. Oh yes.

Challah - white whole wheat

This is a significantly modified version of this recipe: http://www.leahcookskosher.com/show_recipe.php?id_recipe=90 which probably came from Spice and Spirit.

2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp + a pinch salt
1/3 cup oil
1 1/6 cup warm water
1 TBS yeast
White whole wheat flour as needed (~4-5 cups)

Combine eggs, sugar, and oil in large bowl. Combine salt with flour in separate bowl. (This is probably unnecessary...hmm.) Proof yeast in warm water with a pinch of sugar for a few minutes. Dump yeast mixture into egg mixture, stir to combine. Add flour slowly, stirring and then kneading until it's...dough. Knead until it's...the consistency that kneaded bread dough should have. (Hey, these are my notes for myself!) Place in oiled bowl. Turn dough over to coat top with oil. Cover with damp cloth, put it in a warm spot, let rise for ~1 hr or til doubled. Punch down the dough well, shape into some shape(s) that make(s) you happy, let rise again. Bake at 350 degrees, on a greased cookie sheet. My two loaves baked for somewhere between 20 and 25 minutes.

Spiced Lentils

This is from the original (not new) edition of The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. (The new edition has a lower-fat version called Spiced Lentils with Spinach and Apples, which omits the coconut.) I haven't made it in ages because I didn't have the recipe around, but I finally found it after figuring out I needed to google "spiced lentils" rather than "lentil curry." I'm pretty sure I usually increase the amounts of spices, and I've always used sweetened coconut 'cause that's what's been available. It's good with yogurt raita, served over brown rice.

Spiced Lentils

11/2 cups raw lentils
2 Tbs. butter
2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
1 cup minced onion
1 large stalk celery – chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
a few Tbs. of water, as needed
freshly-grated black pepper to taste
juice from 1 large lemon
2 cups chopped tart apple (approx. 2 large ones)
cayenne pepper, to taste

Cook the lentils in 2 1/4 cups water. Bring to boil, then cover and lower heat to simmer 30-40 minutes, or until tender.

While the lentils are cooking, cook everything else (except the apples) until tender (use a deep, heavy skillet), adding water, if necessary, to avoid sticking.

Add the chopped apples to the saute, cook 10 minutes more (covered), and then combine this mixture with the lentils in a casserole.

Nissua (Finnish Cardamom bread)

From here, with some changes. It was better after it sat for a day or so. I think somehow it took time for the cardamom flavor to really sink into the bread. I tried making it in two gigantic loaf pans instead of three freeform loaves, and it made the bread slightly too dense.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup margarine BUTTER
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom (MORE - 1 TBS?)
  • 7 1/2 cups bread flour (OR REGULAR)
  • 1 egg, beaten, for glaze
  1. Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Stir in the butter, sugar and salt until melted. Let cool until lukewarm. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Pour milk mixture into a large bowl. Beat in eggs, 1 1/2 cup flour, cardamom and yeast mixture. Cover and let stand for 20 to 30 minutes, or until bubbly.
  3. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and supple, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
  4. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into three equal pieces and then divide each piece into thirds. Roll out with your hands until the pieces are long enough to braid. Braid three pieces together to form a loaf; repeat twice to make three loaves. Place on lightly greased baking sheets and let rise for 40 minutes, until nearly doubled. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  5. Beat an egg and brush the surface of the bread with the beaten egg.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, until golden brown. Move to a wire rack to cool completely.

focaccia

From Fields of Greens, which I don't have with me in hard-copy anymore, so I stole it from the kind person who reprinted it here.

4½ tsp. yeast (2 packages)
2 cups warm water at 110 degrees (to proof the yeast)
1 T. sugar
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
5½ cups white flour
2 tsp. salt
Dried rosemary, ground in spice grinder or with mortar & pestle. I don't measure it and I don't think I've ever added too much by accident. Fresh chopped rosemary never seems to add any discernible flavor.

Oil for brushing the focaccia

Coarse sea salt (or kosher salt)


Combine the yeast, ½ cup of warm water and the sugar in a large bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes, until foamy. Add the olive oil and remaining 1½ cups of warm water. In another bowl, combine the flour, rosemary, and salt. Add it to the wet mixture 1 cup at a time. You may have to knead the last cup of flour into the dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead vigorously for 5-10 minutes, adding more flour as necessary to keep dough from sticking. It will start out very sticky but should get smoother and more cohesive as you go. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, turn to coat the surface, cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel, and allow it to rise in a warm place for 90 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and lightly oil 2 9x13-inch baking dishes. Turn the dough out onto the counter, divide in half and press each piece into the oiled dish. Cover and let rise for another 30 minutes. Dimple the dough with your fingertips, brush with oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Place in the over, reduce temperature to 375 degrees and bake for 20-25 minutes, until light golden. Transfer to a rack and cool.

another brownie recipe

I just made these using "pastry flour" (white, not whole wheat) from the bulk bins at Whole Foods (instead of cake flour) and the discs of unsweetened chocolate from Trader Joe (I used 38 of the discs.) I used salted butter and didn't add any additional salt, and I'm trying to keep the oven temp pretty exact, courtesy of my new thermometer. I didn't do the aluminum foil deal, I just greased a regular 9x13 with a mixture of butter and oil (because the only pan spray around here is faux-butter-flavored, ugh) and put the batter directly into it. To be updated when I see how they turn out...which is certainly not going to be after the two-hour waiting period suggested by the recipe.


Aaand they're done. Notes:
1) my oven's temperature fluctuates like crazy in a way that can't really be explained by heat loss from opening the door
2) these took 35ish minutes before I felt they wouldn't be too gooey in the center. But given (1), who knows how this would be in another oven.
3) I need to buy wooden toothpicks.
4) Butter + canola oil is fine for greasing a pan, at least for brownies and blondies. I think butter was fine when I made banana bread, too. Supposedly the water content is a problem, but in practice it's been fine. Project "I am too cheap and lazy to buy regular non-stick spray" is a continued success.

Colcannon

Traditionally this is made with milk or cream, but I make it with yogurt because it tastes better.

Potatoes (maybe 6 small and one larger Russet)
1 small head of cabbage
1 onion
~2 cups of yogurt
salt
pepper


Cut potatoes into pieces and drop into boiling, salted water. Boil until soft.
Meanwhile, slice up cabbage and onions. With cabbage I go for pieces about the size of a finger. Onions too, I guess. Heat some oil in a second large pot on medium. Saute the onions for a while, until almost soft, and then dump in the cabbage and stir around a bit. After you get tired of that, add some water (maybe 1/2 cup?) (use reserved water from the potatoes if you have it) and a few sprinkles of salt. Cover the pot and let the cabbage steam/braise until soft but not mushy.

Drain the potatoes, mash them up with the yogurt, then add that to the pot of cabbage. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Lentil soup w/ tomato & cumin

EDIT: I finished cooking this, and ate it, and it wasn't bad but it wasn't that great. It's possible the frozen spinach was off in some way, but it might just not be a flavor combo that I like.
----
Usually I make very plain lentil soup - celery, onions, carrots, lentils, maybe spinach or parsley. So this is newish.

And as a side note, lately I have been better with doing mise en place - the deal where you take out all your ingredients at the beginning and measure, peel, and chop whatever needs measuring, peeling, and chopping before you start combining anything - and it really makes cooking feel more enjoyable. It feels more orderly and less chaotic, which makes it more relaxing and lets me enjoy the process rather than just the results.

Adapted from http://kalynskitchen.blogspot.com/2008/02/vegetarian-lentil-soup-recipe-with.html

1 T oil
1 T ground cumin
2 small/medium onions, chopped small
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground coriander
fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 tsp. paprika
1 1/2 cups brown lentils
5ish cups of water
1 TBS-ish of bouillon powder
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes with juice
2 cups frozen chopped spinach
salt to taste

Heat oil in large heavy-bottomed pot. Stir in onion, minced garlic, cumin, ground coriander, and black pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the paprika and cook about 1 minute more.

Add lentils, water, and bouillon powder (or maybe add that in after lentils are done cooking, since the salt in it might make them not get tender so easily), reduce heat, and simmer uncovered about 30-40 minutes, or until lentils are quite tender.

Add diced tomatoes and juice and chopped spinach and simmer uncovered 20-30 more minutes, until soup ingredients are well blended and lentils are starting to break apart. Season to taste with salt and serve hot.

stew

Nothing fancy here, but I had never made stew with meat in it before so I want to keep track of what I used. (Almost twenty years of almost-vegetarianism will do that to you.) I think this has a lower meat:vegetable ratio than most, but I figure that if I can make stew with no meat, I can make stew with less meat than you're supposed to...whatever "supposed to" means, anyway.

5 stalks of celery (I think)
5 carrots
4 onions
1 turnip
8oz mushrooms
3 cloves of garlic
1 lb stew beef
1 6-oz can tomato paste
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
4 smallish potatoes

maybe 2 TBS thyme (dried)
maybe 2 TBS paprika
salt
pepper
1 bay leaf
some dried rosemary (less than 1 TBS)

I used an 11-quart stockpot, which had lots of extra space in it. Cut up and sauteed everything except tomato stuff, beef, garlic and potatoes for a bit, then added those and sauteed a bit more, then water. Cooked slowly for a long time...at least an hour, maybe more like two? The meat seems tender enough.

Poppyseed Bundt Cake

I haven't made this in years, but I have a photocopy of the recipe that I keep losing track of, so I'm putting it here. It is tasty and moist and makes me wish I had a bundt pan around. It's from The Pleasures of Your Food Processor by Norene Gilletz. You could probably make it with a mixer instead (mixers are better than food processors for making cake anyhow). I could probably make it with a mixer instead, too. Hmm, I should get a bundt pan.

1/2 c. poppyseeds
1 c. buttermilk or sour milk (I've used 1 c. soy milk + 1 TBS vinegar or lemon juice)
1 c. butter or margarine, cut in chunks (I've only used margarine because I've always made it dairy-free in the past)
1.5 c. sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2.5 c. flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

Soak poppyseeds in milk for at least 1/2 an hour.

Using the food processor's steel knife, process butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla for 2 minutes. Remove cover and add poppyseed/milk mixture to batter. Process for 3-4 seconds to blend. Add dry ingredients and process with 5-6 on/off turns. Mix through with a rubber spatula if batter is not completely blended.

Pour into a greased and floured 12-cup Bundt pan (Bakers Joy flour spray is awesome for this). Bake @ 325 degrees for 50-60 minutes, until cake tests done. Cool 15 minutes before removing from pan.

NOTE 1 - baked this in an oven at almost exactly 325 (thanks to my oven thermometer--a new thing for me) and it seemed done-but-moist at 45 minutes--toothpick was clean.) It was fine, and probably wouldn't have seemed unpleasantly underdone if I'd pulled it out at 40 or 42 minutes.

kale-cranberry barley salad

This is a copy of something I've seen (but not eaten) in the Whole Foods salad bar. I went for a higher ratio of kale to barley, and I made sure not to overcook my kale (theirs looks pale sometimes.)

1-1.5 c pearled barley
1 bunch kale (lacinato)
1-2 onions
balsamic vinegar
4 oz dried cranberries
olive oil
lemon
salt
pepper


Cook some pearled barley: I used between 1 and 1.5 cups of dry barley. Cook in 3x as much water: boil water in pot, add in barley, return to boil, cover and turn down to simmer. Official instructions I've read said 45 minutes' cooking time, but I let it go only about 30ish, and then turned off the flame and let it absorb some more water. There was still water left in the pot, but I figure that helped keep the grains separate and non-mushy.

Saute/almost-sort-of begin to caramelize an onion (I used 1 medium, I'd use two if I'd had more) that's been sliced thin - I did thing onion rings and then sliced into 2-3 cm long pieces. Remove onion to bowl.

Add slight bit oil in pot, add 1 bunch lacinato/dinosaur kale which has been washed, stems removed, and chopped into bite-sized pieces. Cook lightly, possibly add a bit of water and cover it. Really just go slightly beyond wilting it.

Add to that bowl with the sauteed onions: about 2 TBS balsamic vinegar (or more), 1 TBS olive oil, some salt, some pepper, some lemon juice (1/4 of a lemon?) Now add in kale, warm barley, and about 4 oz of dried sweetened cranberries. Stir, adjust spices. Consider adding a little white sugar if it needs it. Good cold.

African Chickpea Stew

I made this recently with my aunt. Recipe archived from here. We used just a fork to mix it, added some tapatio for a kick, and served it over quinoa. It's amazing how sweet it is. It almost tastes like it has added sugar.

Ingredients
1 can chick peas
1 1/2 lbs uncooked sweet potato diced
1 can diced tomatoes (low sodium or no salt added)(I used a 14-16 oz can, or 28oz for a doubled recipe.)
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup carrots, sliced
Spice paste (recipe below)
Spice Paste Ingredients
4 8 cloves garlic (always increase teh garlic!)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Spice Paste Directions
Blend all spice paste ingredients in a blender or mini food processor until a thick paste forms.
Add water one teaspoon at a time if necessary.
Directions
Combine all ingredients in a large skillet and simmer until vegetables are tender.
Serve with brown rice or quinoa.

this was edible*

EDIT:  Over a year later, I need to go back and give myself credit for this. It's a reliably tasty dish that I make often.

[*oh how the standards for this blog have fallen!]

Cook about 3 cups (dry) red lentils until soft. A 2 qt pot is not quite big enough for this.

In separate pot, saute 1.5 onions, chopped, maybe until they start to get brownish, then add a bunch of curry powder, some cumin, some chili powder, some berbere (I think it actually needs the berbere, even though I only used it the first time because I ran out of curry powder), some garam masala, some salt. If you have not randomly begun cooking at 8:30 pm with whatever you have in the house, you might wish to buy some fresh ginger and mince it and throw that in. Cook some more. Dump in 28 oz pureed tomatoes (or a can of whole peeled tomatoes with basil, whirred in the blender. See above re randomly cooking with what's on hand) and 3 cloves of garlic, chopped. Cook for a bit.

Dump lentils into the curry mixture. Add a can of coconut milk. (Coconut milk covers a multitude of sins.) Adjust seasonings. Heat through and eat. Becomes more awesome if you put a few spoonfuls of yogurt into it.