Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
This weekend, I skewered some less than perfect cherry and strawberry tomatoes, brushed them with a light coating of olive oil and tossed them on the grill. In five minutes, they were caramelized and fragrant. I plucked a few off the skewer, succulent and sweet. Their warm juices inspired me to cobble together a quick Italian vinaigrette, starring a sprig of rosemary stolen (by my two charges/accomplices) from my neighbor's thriving bush. I'm praying that the gardener doesn't use pesticides and also for forgiveness. Between the beautiful spring weather and the charred warm tomatoes, who needs summer? Long live spring.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I've had a heartfelt, desperate request for "ANYTHING without bones" and Root Beer Barbeque sauce. While I felt absolutely confident that the smoky-sweet soda sauce would be smashing on chicken, I hadn't actually tried it. Now I can bear witness.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Here's what the ex-basketball star got for his birthday. I wonder if he'll still be willing to help me practice my right hook....
Now on to those little pickles....
Refrigerator Dill Pickles
Estimated cost: $5.00
Notes: The price will vary depending on the cost of your local cucumbers, but it's still going to be lots cheaper than purchasing pickles.
about 10 Kirby cucumbers, sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
fresh dill, about 10 sprigs
6 cups water
2 cups vinegar
1/4 cup salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon black pepper
Layer cucumbers, onion, and garlic in clean glass bottles. In a medium saucepan, boil water, vinegar, salt and sugar. Let cool for five minutes. Pour over cucumbers in jars to cover and refrigerate. (If you run out of liquid, just add equal parts water and vinegar.) Cucumbers will be best after one week-but I can never wait that long. Good luck!
Coming Tomorrow: Using your Root Beer Barbecue Sauce on Grilled Chicken-plus a leftover bonus
This week marks my first concoction as a member of the "Tuesdays with Dorie Baking" club. Essentially, club members prepare one previously decided recipe from Baking: From my Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan, and post about it on their blogs each Tuesday.
It's a perfect fit for my goal of "Scandalously Good Food on a Budget." Dorie's creations are worthy of any high end bakery, and yet they are still classic, homey, and affordable when made from scratch.
Pecan Honey Sticky Buns
Estimated Cost for 15: $4.50
Notes: Use only half the brioche dough to make the 15 rolls. Freeze the remaining (filled, rolled, and unsliced) for another time.
(1 cup (packed) light brown sugar,1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces,1/4 cup honey,1-1/2 cups pecans (whole or pieces) )
For the Filling:
(1/4 cup sugar,3 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar,1 tablespoon ground cinnamon,
For the Buns:
1/2 recipe dough for Golden Brioche loaves (see below), chilled and ready to shape (make the full recipe and cut the dough in half after refrigerating it overnight)
Generously butter a 9-x-13-inch baking pan (a Pyrex pan is perfect for this).
To make the glaze: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter, and honey to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to dissovle the sugar. Pour the glaze into the buttered pan, evening it out as best you can by tilting the pan or spreading the glaze with a heatproof spatula. Sprinkle over the pecans.
To make the filling: Mix the sugars and cinnamon together in a bowl. If necessary, in another bowl, work the butter with a spatula until it is soft, smooth and spreadable.
To shape the buns: On a flour-dusted work surface, roll the chilled dough into a 16-inch square. Using your fingers or a pastry brush, spread the softened butter over the dough. Sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon sugar, leaving a 1-inch strip bare on the side farthest from you. Starting with the side nearest you, roll the dough into a cylinder, keeping the roll as tight as you can. (At this point, you can wrap the dough airtight and freeze it for up to 2 months . . . . Or, if you want to make just part of the recipe now, you can use as much of the dough as you'd like and freeze the remainder. Reduce the glae recipe accordingly).
With a chef's knife, using a gentle sawing motion, trim just a tiny bit from the ends of the roll if they're very ragged or not well filled, then cut the log into 1-inch thick buns. (Because you trim the ragged ends of the dough, and you may have lost a little length in the rolling, you will get 15 buns, not 16.) Fit the buns into the pan cut side down, leaving some space between them.
Lightly cover the pan with a piece of wax paper and set the pan in a warm place until the buns ahve doubled in volume, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. The buns are properly risen when they are puffy, soft, doubled and, in all likelihood, touching one another.
Getting ready to bake: When the buns have almost fully risen , center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Remove the sheet of wax paper and put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Bake the sticky buns for about 30 minutes, or until they are puffed and gorgeously golden; the glaze will be bubbling away merrily. Pull the pan from the oven.
The sticky buns must be unmolded minutes after they come out of the oven. If you do not have a rimmed platter large enough to hold them, use a baking sheet lined with a silicone mate or buttered foil. Be careful - the glaze is super-hot and super-sticky.
What You'll Need for the Golden Brioche Dough (this recipe makes enough for two brioche loaves. If you divide the dough in half, you would use half for the sticky buns, and you can freeze the other half for a later date, or make a brioche loaf out of it!):
2 packets active dry yeast (each packet of yeast contains approx. 2 1/4 teaspoons)1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch water1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour2 teaspoons salt3 large eggs, at room temperature1/4 cup sugar3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm
What You'll Need for the Glaze (you would brush this on brioche loaves, but not on the sticky buns):
1 large egg1 tablespoon water
To Make The Brioche: Put the yeast, water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and salt, and fit into the mixer with the dough hook, if you have one. Toss a kitchen towel over the mixer, covering the bowl as completely as you can-- this will help keep you, the counter and your kitchen floor from being showered in flour. Turn the mixer on and off a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour (yes, you can peek to see how you're doing), then remove the towel, increase the mixer speed to medium-low and mix for a minute or two, just until the flour is moistened. At this point, you'll have a fairly dry, shaggy mess.
Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, set the mixer to low and add the eggs, followed by the sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes, until the dough forms a ball. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter in 2-tablespoon-size chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next. You'll have a dough that is very soft, almost like batter. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl (or wash out the mixer bowl and use it), cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes, depending upon the warmth of your room.
Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap to the bowl. Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Slap the dough down in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about 2 hours, then leave the uncovered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight. (After this, you can proceed with the recipe to make the brioche loaves, or make the sticky buns instead, or freeze all or part of the dough for later use.)
The next day, butter and flour two 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch pans.
Pull the dough from the fridge and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cut each piece of the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each piece into a log about 3 1/2 inches long. Arrange 4 logs crosswise in the bottom of each pan. Put the pans on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat, cover the pans lightly with wax paper and leave the loaves at room temperature until the dough almost fills the pans, 1 to 2 hours. (Again, rising time with depend on how warm the room is.)
Getting Ready To Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
To Make the Glaze: Beat the egg with the water. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the loaves with the glaze.
Bake the loaves until they are well risen and deeply golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pans and turn the loaves out onto the racks. Invert again and cool for at least 1 hour.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Aren't you going to be making bushels of corn on the cob this summer? I sure will be; it's a kid favorite at my house. If you're making for a huge crowd, you're going to want a mammoth pot of water for boiling the corn. But, if you're only making a few ears at a time, make it in the microwave. It's much faster than boiling water, it saves a pot of water, pot washing (Hallelujah), and it saves energy-which is the same as saving pennies, my friends.
Pecan Honey Sticky Buns
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Prudence Pennywise Tip for Corn on the Cob
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Well, when it comes to ice cream and root beer, most people stick to root beer floats. While they are good and comforting, they can be problematic. A blob of ice cream floating around in soda is not the easiest thing to consume. Should you use a spoon or a straw? Half the time you break your plastic spoon trying to mix up the two, and the other half of the time, you slurp up your root beer, and eat the plain scoop of vanilla.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Once I made this potato salad in college for my boyfriend (now husband) and his friends, but I forgot to buy dill. It took half an hour to find some kind stranger in the apartment complex with dried dill to borrow. Why I didn't just send my boyfriend to the store is beyond me. Apparently, I waited until he was my husband before marching him off to market for forgotten items.
This time, prepared, I shelled out the $2.29 at the market for a package of fresh dill. I only used a wee bit, so next week I'm making refrigerator dill pickles.
3 lbs. red potatoes, scrubbed
about 1/2 cup thinly sliced red radishes
Although this salad is exceedingly simple, it's also utterly delicious. Spring cucumbers are so cool and fresh, and suprisingly tasty when coupled with the creamy feta and a light drizzle of lemon juice and olive oil. Though I originally planned this as a side dish, it makes one heck of an appetizer before a barbecue. Especially if you serve it with crunchy grilled garlic bread. "We" ate all that before dinner also.
Coming Friday: Tangy Root Beer Baby Back Ribs
Monday, May 19, 2008
Memorial Day Shopping List
strawberries (too early for watermelon yet)
Years ago, a little baby girl was born. Pink, pretty, and sugary sweet. But as of last week, she is seven. Pink, pretty, and sugary sweet-with a little bit of independent spice. We're just crazy about her. Even though she made that big mess on the counter.
Because we bake almost everything from scratch, for an extra special birthday treat, she USED to ask for a boxed cake mix. It practically killed me. She wanted a colorful funfetti cake, just like all the other kids (and grown-up, kid-at-heart Uncle Jack). But now she is seven and she knows better. For the first time this year she asked pretty please for homemade chocolate cupcakes with homemade chocolate frosting. It was a proud moment. I used the Devil's Food Cake recipe from The New Joy of Cooking. Make them only if you have more than an hour and you don't mind washing numerous bowls and dishes AND you love seriously, seriously good cupcakes.
This is what my little girl wanted for her birthday.
Camilla at Enlightened Cooking. Her brilliant ideas for healthy cooking are bright, fresh, and original. You'll be making mousse, ganache, cheesecake, and cookies-and you're still going to fit in your jeans.