Monthly Archives: March 2011

Lemon-poppy seed Biscotti

It was my bosses birthday last week and in addition to decorating the entire hallway from the elevator to her office with black balloons, we decided to have a surprise birthday brunch at our morning meeting.  Our group tends to excel at the pot-luck, so I knew there would be way too much food.  I am in no way complaining about the monsterous amount of food, just pointing it out as reasoning behind my decision to make something small and snackable that would keep well for a day or two (so we could spread the gluttony out).

It's Biscotti time.

After much deliberation, I settled on biscotti. We have a fair number of coffee and tea drinkers in the group, so I knew it would be enjoyed.  Having never made biscotti, I didn’t know what I was in for and actually expected it to be much more difficult than it was, but it’s really not that hard!

Ready to make friends with a cup of tea.

I started with a basic biscotti and added lemon zest and poppy seeds.  Once the dough was well mixed and I was happy with my zest to poppy ratio, I spread it into a loaf shape on a cooking sheet for its first round of baking.

Lemon-poppy biscotti loaf.

I removed the dough once it was a light golden brown, sliced it on the diagonal, and returned it to the oven for its final tanning.  I did decide to flip over the biscotti spears midway through the second baking in order to achieve a more consistent browning.  To finish them off, I dipped an end of each spear into melted white chocolate seasoned with a little lemon zest and then topped them with a few poppy seeds.

Lightly zested and ready to celebrate.

Overall, I am over joyed with how the biscotti came out!  They had just the right amount of sweetness and weren’t too hard.  The recipe was simple to execute and easy to manipulate for whatever flavor you might dream up.  I can’t wait to make them again!

Lemon-Poppy seed Biscotti

1/2 stick of butter

6 tbsp sugar

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

2 tsp lemon zest+ extra for chocolate dip

1 egg

1 cup flour

1 tsp poppy seeds+extra for decoration

White chocolate

Heavy cream

Stir together flour, baking powder, and poppy seeds and set aside. Beat butter, sugar, zest, and salt. Add in the egg. Add in the flour mixture until fully combined.   Form the dough into a 3 inch wide loaf on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes@350° F until light golden brown. Transfer loaf to a cooling rack until it can be handled. Cut loaf into 3/4 inch wide strips on the diagonal. Lay spears on their side and bake for another 15 minutes, flipping half way through.  While spears are cooling, prep white chocolate dip.  Melt white chocolate in a double boiler, thinning out as needed with heavy cream.  Add in lemon zest as desired.  Dip one end of each spear into melted chocolate and let cool on parchment paper.  Sprinkle with poppy seeds as desired.  Makes about 1 dozen.

Enjoy!

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Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

I need to extend a HUGE thank you this week to Dee over at Deelicious Sweets!!!!!!!   She was so sweet to give me the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers  award this week!  So pop on over, check out her site and her drool worthy posts, and tell her I said hello!
Hmmm, so as part of the award I have to list out 7 things about myself and give the award to my blogging buddies.  Here goes nothing:
1. I’m not a real Southerner. I’ve only lived below the mason-dixon for 9 years and it’s still easy to tell I’m not from around here.
2. I don’t eat red meat or chicken so you won’t see too many recipes for them around here unless Kettle gets the keyboard.
3. Kettle has a severe nut allergy.  Don’t expect too many recipes with nuts either.
4. I’m a huge nerd in ‘real life’ and I try my hardest to minimize it here on the blog, but I apologize if I write to let something ‘incubate” or add in something to “alter the freezing point”. I can’t help it.
5. I like to run in my spare time or when I’m waiting for bread to incubate, er, rise.
6. I park in the same spot everyday at work, otherwise I forget where I’ve parked and can’t find my car.
7. I’m Pot, he’s Kettle. And yes there is a story that goes with it. 🙂
I am passing the award on to these lovely blogs.  Make sure to swing by and check them out!
Enjoy!

Week Recap: Sorbet

Yum.

This week I was inspired by fresh fruit, the start of spring, and the return of warm weather.  I tried my hand at sorbet and was surprised at how easy it really is!  Good heavens.  Pureed, sweeten, and freeze.  This is almost too easy.  I wonder if its healthy to live off sorbet alone.  I am also really excited about how easy it is because it allows me to control the sugar content and eliminate the ‘other’ content of commercially produced options.  And plus Miss Mini Sous Chef gobbles it up.  She even picked it over ice cream the other night. I don’t dare tell her that its not that bad for her.

Thanks again for all the lovely comments this week.  I did have one or two questions, including a great one from Alchemy about what I’ve named my pineapple-mint vodka drink.  Kettle and I bantered back and forth a few times and it just got a little silly (I think when I offered up “Don Hoe with a stick of gum” and “Sponge Bob Mojito” I knew we would never come up with anything).  So if anyone has any good ideas about naming options, I will totally consider them and give you a shout out!

Notable points from the week:

What I’m reading: Gumbo Tales by Sara Roahen.

What I’m thinking about: The French Macaron

What I’m excited for: The rain to stop before next weekend.

Teaser for This week’s posts: When life gives you lemons…

 

Enjoy!


Strawberry-Kiwi sorbet

Two days a week a local farmer bring his produce truck to work.  A lot of the food is from North Georgia, but he also brings in other yummys that are in season from around the country.  He’ll even bring special things along if you request them.  It’s basically a way to promote veggie and fruit consumption at work and support local farmers. I enjoy visiting it at least once a week! 

I'm back!

This week I got a little inspiration from veggie man.  Of course the strawberries caught my attention.  They are just so tasty and hard to pass up.  But he also had a good deal on huge kiwi this week.  No seriously, these things are huge.  And they were sitting right next to the strawberries.  It’s like they wanted to be together.  So I helped them along. 

A tasty duo

One of the reason I love cooking with fresh fruit is the smell.  Of course there is also the beautiful vibrant colors and the vivid tastes, but, oh, the smell.  There is nothing like walking by a piece of fruit and having its sweet scent catch your nose.  Droooool.  I also love how the taste can cure my cravings for more “devilish” and less healthy desserts.  Sometimes I just need a touch of sweetness. 

Chop chop.

After success with the pineapple-mint sorbet, I decided to continue on the trend.  This time I didn’t follow a recipe and decided to just wing it.  Just puree fruit, sweeten, and freeze, right?  After dicing and pureeing everything up, I decided to strain out the seeds because both fruits have a lot of ’em.  And I mean a lot.  I don’t think this is a ‘must do’ step in terms of taste, but I thought it was important for the consistency of the sorbet.  One thing I love about sorbet is the smoothness and I thought straining out the seeds would help me achieve this. I honestly think I strained out over 1/4 a cup of seeds.

So many seeds!

I sweetened the puree with some simple syrup and seltzer water.  In the end, the sorbet was a little hard to scoop, so maybe a touch more sugar to alter the freezing point next time.  Overall, it’s a keeper.  Quick, easy, and a great option for fresh fruit!

Churning

Strawberry-kiwi Sorbet

1 cup diced kiwi, ~2.5 kiwis

1+1/2 cups diced strawberries

1/4 cup seltzer water

1/4 cup simple syrup

Dice fruit and puree together until no chunks remain.  Strain out seeds if desired. Blend in simple syrup and seltzer water.  Chill mixture in freezer for about 20 minutes.  Churn in ice cream maker for an additional 20 minutes or until thickened.  Return to freezer to solidify.

 

Enjoy!

 


Pineapple-mint sorbet

I bought two of these guys last week because they were just too good to pass up. 

One is the loneliest number.

Yep, one is missing.  I ate him.  And I liked it.

Pineapple bottom

But I hadn’t decided what to do with the second one.  Slice and eat?  Always tasty, but I want something a little more creative.  Pineapple upside down cake?  Sure, its a classic, but I really have no need for a cake anytime soon. As the smell of this lovely fellow began to permeate my apartment, I knew the time for action was near. And then it got hot.  Not unbearable-oppressive-summer hot, but when you have a 30+ degree temperature swing in one day, you notice it and you get ideas.  Tasty, cool ideas.  With that, his fate was sealed. 

Off with its head!

A sorbet it was.  After a little investigation I came across a recipe for pineapple mint sorbet.  Given that Kettle and I had just planted fresh herbs, including mint, over the weekend, it was a perfect option.  I love that it was a different take on sorbet and a fun way to use my pineapple.

Fresh mint from the garden, er, window sill.

Overall, I am very happy with how this recipe came out.  The consistency is really nice and the pineapple-mint combo works surprisingly well.  Next time I will make sure to very finely chop the mint.  Mine was a little chunky making the bites a little inconsistent.

Time to eat!

Pineapple-Mint Sorbet

Adapted from Scoop Adventures.

2 cups pineapple puree (~half a pineapple peeled and cored)

8 tbsp sugar

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup seltzer water

1+1/2 tsp fresh mint

Add pineapple and sugar to a blender and puree until combined.  Add water and seltzer and pulse until mixed.  Stir in finely diced mint.  Cool mixture in the freezer until well chilled, but not frozen.  Poor mixture into an ice cream machine and churn until solid consistency.  Return to freezer overnight till frozen.

Diggin' in.

Don’t be afraid if you make a little extra pineapple puree.  It makes a great cocktail when mixed with seltzer and mint vodka.

Mmmm...cocktails always make cooking more fun!

Enjoy!


Week Recap: Bread

So I kind of got into a bread phase last week and ended making a progression of bread types.  I started with pretty standard recipes just to get my feet under me, but now feel like I am ready to explore and get a little more creative!  Thanks everyone for your comments and encouragement!  It’s always nice to get feedback and I really do appreciate it!

Breaded

Notable points from the week:

What I’m reading: Gumbo Tales by Sara Roahen.

What I’m thinking about: Recipe ideas for Spring fruits and veggies!

What I’m excited for: Grilling Season!

Teaser for This week’s posts: In the words of my fellow ATLers, the immortal Outkast,

“What’s cooler than being cool?  Ice cold.”

 


Just loafing…..

I’ve been wanting to make  a loaf of bread for sometime now, but the idea of kneading and kneading dough has really turned me off.  Also, since I am not the most patient person, waiting 12-16 hours for rising doesn’t get me excited. However, with my successful progression through types of bread this week, I figured it was time to try it out.

Hot out of the oven.

Why have I been baking so much bread this week?  Its yummy.  It makes the apartment smell great.  I always have the ingredients on hand and with my poor track record for going to the grocery lately, there are few recipes for which this is true.

Captain Hook.

I started looking for a good basic bread recipe and finally settled on a farmers wheat. Now here is where one of my cooking weaknesses really got me.  I am not good at following recipes.  I tend to loosely follow them, liberally exchange ingredients, and skip steps.  Likewise when I pick out recipes, I often skim or half read them before I decide it’s a go, thus leading to my previously mentioned issues sticking to the recipe.  Same with this one.  I quickly looked at the ingredient list, saw that I had everything, and checked the simplicity of the “day 1” steps and decided to start.

New ingredient addition to the bread progression.

Day 1 is super easy. Combine two types of flour, warm water and yeast in a bowl until smooth.  That’s it.  Then in the interim you can hit the hay, hit the clubs, or head out for a day of work.  I prepped “day 1” right before I went to bed with dreams of having warm bread for breakfast.

Good morning dough!

The next morning I looked at the “day 2” steps and realized that there would be no bread for breakfast.  There are several resting and rising steps in “day 2”, nothing to hard or complicated, it just takes time.  At the start of day 2, warm water, yeast, salt, and molasses are added to the dough and mixed well, followed by the remaining flour. The resulting dough looks like this:

Complete Dough.

I let the dough rise covered at room temperature for 1.5 hours and then it looked like this:

It just keeps growing.

At this point, the dough was divided in half and shaped into ovals and allow to rest covered at room temperature for twenty minutes.

Resting loaves to be.

Afterward, one end of the dough was rolled out, brushed with olive oil, and folded over.  At this point the loaves were set to rest covered at room temperature for 1 hour.

Looks kind of like a envelope or satchel.

After the hour, the dough will have obviously risen again.  Seriously, it just keeps growing.

It's alive!

Now here is the glorious part, the actual baking!  The loaves only need about 30 minutes in the oven, until they looked golden and tasty.  They are really handsome loaves once you’re done.

Just baked.

The loaves turned out great.  The recipe is not technically very difficult, it just takes a long time because of all of the resting and rising.  I managed to find great ways to multitask for each of them (take the dog for a run, clean the kitchen, solve world peace). The bread is quite tasty.  It’s perfect for a sandwich or paired with a nice spread.  I definitely would make it again especially now that I know all of the steps.

Well Rested Wheat Bread

Adapted from this recipe.

Day 1

1 cup wheat flour

1 cup all purpose flour

1/4 tsp yeast

3/4 cup warm water

Combine day one ingredients until smooth.  Cover and leave at room temperature for 12-16 hours.

Day 2

1+1/4 cup warm water

1/2 tsp yeast

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp molasses

2+3/4 cup all purpose flour

Olive oil

Add the warm water to the dough and mix.  Stir in the salt, yeast, and molasses until combined. Slowly add in the flour while continuously mixing the dough.  Once it is all combined, transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and toss once to coat.  Let dough rise for 1.5 hours cover at room temp.  Divide dough into two piece and shape into an oval.  Let rest 20 minutes covered at room temperature. Roll out one end of the dough, lightly baste with olive oil, and fold over.  Let sit an additional 1 hour covered at room temp.  Preheat oven to 400°F and place a cast iron skillet one shelf below the shelf you plan on using for the bread.  Once the oven is hot, place the loaves on a cookie sheet in the oven and add 1 cup of hot water to the cast iron skillet.  This will create a steam effect that creates a good crust on the bread.  Bake for ~30 minutes and cool on wire rack.

 

Enjoy!


Na, Na, Na, Naan

I’m on a bit of a bread kick this week.  Oregano flatbread was a success and the crowd at french lunch gobbled it up.  It’s always nice to see one of your creations enjoyed.  For the next step in my bread progression, I decided to add an ingredient and its a big one in the bread world.

Yeast!

It was a pretty rainy here the other day and there is nothing better than warm soup on a cold, rainy night.  To go with it, I made some naan.  I love naan.  To be honest I love all carbs, but warm bread, the kind that is both soft and slightly crispy, really gets to me.

Stack of rolled naan.

Naan is quick.  No overnight rising steps to worry about.  And the ingredient list is simple.  All stuff that you have in the pantry.  More importantly, it pairs perfectly with stew or soup.

Hand-pinched Naan stack.

To start, mix yeast, sugar, and warm water in a small bowl.  Hot water from the tap should be just fine, no need to heat some up.  Mix the ingredients well and let sit at room temp until a layer of foaminess forms on top.  In a separate bowl, combine flour and salt.  Dig a little well in the middle and add the clarified butter and yeast/sugar/water.  Stir together until dough forms.

Dough, close up and personal.

Lightly grease or oil another bowl.  Transfer dough to greased bowl and turn to coat lightly.  Greasing the bowl and the dough will allow it to rise more evenly and completely.  Let the dough sit at room temp until it doubles in size (~1hour).  It’s the perfect amount of time to prep the rest of dinner, clean up the kitchen, or walk the dog (my multitasking activity of choice).

Dough in a row.

Divide the dough into 6 equal balls.  Now the next step is up to you.  I tried two different methods of flattening the dough, by hand and rolling, and got very different results.  Both were great, but they are different (see pics above and below).

Hand pulled naan (one upside down)

I hand pulled/flattened half of the dough and got a thicker, softer naan that still had a slight crunch to it because of the butter.  I rolled out the other half of the dough paper thin and got a lighter, airier, papery naan.  I liked both and had no trouble eating them.  It just comes down to personal preference.

Thin and light rolled naan.

Naan

based on this recipe

1 tsp yeast

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 cup warm water

1 cup flour, plus extra for rolling out

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup butter, clarified

Mix yeast and sugar.  Add warm water and mix well.  Let stand at room temp for 5-10 minutes (a little foam should form on the surface).  In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.  Create a well in the middle of the mixture and add butter and yeast/sugar/water mixture.  Mix together all ingredients until consistent and smooth dough forms. Dough will be very sticky, but continue mix/knead for an additional 3-5 minutes.  Lightly oil another bowl and add dough.  Turn dough slowly to coat with oil.  Let dough sit at room temperature until it doubles in size (about 1 hour).  Preheat oven to 400°F.  Divide dough into 6 equal balls.  Roll out until very then.  Bake on a lightly greased cookie sheet for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown.

Enjoy!


Oregano Flatbread+Hummus

We have a French language lunch every other week at work.  It’s a great break in the day where we enjoy each other’s company, mingle with people outside our work group, converse in (for most of us) a non-native tongue, and bring in a few foods to share. 
Some weeks we’ll have mini language or culture lessons (all in french), but for the most part it’s rather informal and relaxed.  Since my language skills are not as strong as many of my coworkers, I usually attempt to excel in the food portion of the get together while I mumble through a few words every now and then to stay involved (I understand much more French than I speak).  French lunch is also a great opportunity to try out new recipes on a captive audience, so I always try to attend when my schedule allows. 

Oregano Flatbread

This week, I was in a bit of a savory mood. And since it’s a lunch time affair, I didn’t want to bake a heavy dessert that would zonk everyone out for the afternoon of work.  I made an oregano flatbread and homemade hummus.  A simple, easy, and yummy snack. 

Rinsed and Ready

I got the idea for the flatbread from this recipe by Smitten Kitchen.  It’s very similar to my current pizza dough recipe except there is no yeast involved.  I decided to pair oregano flatbread with a basic hummus because it would be easy to prep and it usually a crowd pleaser.

So here’s what you need to get started on the flatbread.

Olive oil, baking powder, oregano, flour, sea salt

Yep.  That’s it.  To start mix the dry ingredients together.  Then create a dent in the middle of the dry ingredients and add water and olive oil.

Mix together slowly....

Slow combine the dry and wet ingredients until the dough forms.

Dough not D'OH.

Break the dough up into three portions and roll them out on parchment paper.  Try to roll them out as thin as possible because it will make for a crunchier bread.

Rolled and brush.

Brush each flatbread with olive oil before baking.  It will help with browning.  I also add some chunky sea salt on the top of each piece.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly brown.

Stacked.

Oregano Flatbread

1+3/4 cups of flour

1 tbsp oregano

1tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 450°F. Combine dry ingredients.  Make a small dent in the mixture and add wet ingredients.  Slowly combine until dough forms.  Divide dough into three portions and rollout on parchment paper.  Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly brown.

Hummus

1 can chickpeas

olive oil

garlic

lemon juice

I don’t really have a recipe for hummus.  I combine all the ingredients in a food processor until I achieve the right taste and consistency.  To be safe, I usually start with small amount of garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice and add more as needed.   This is a basic hummus recipe that can be jazzed up with spices, roasted eggplant or red peppers, or garnished with sesame seeds.

Enjoy!


Strawberry Scones

Strawberry season has begun here in the south, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Welcome back.

Strawberries are one of my favorite fruits.  There is something so decadent about them, yet accessible.  Dress them up, dress them down, they still taste good and there is nothing quite like fresh ones.  To celebrate, I thought I’d make scones for my Thursday morning meeting with the strawberries that escaped my feeding frenzy.

Scone goodness.

I have a basic scone recipe that I really like.  It’s quick, simple, and only requires things you have around the house.  It’s not too dry like scones can often be, and it just a little bit sweet.  They go wonderful with a hot cup of coffee, but are still moist enough that you can have them solo.  I tend to add only about 1/3 cup of diced fruit to it because the scone batter is good enough to stand on its own.  The fruit just adds a little something extra.  I also dice the fruit because I think it incorporates into the dough more consistently and allows for more even cooking.  Ok, on to the nitty gritty.

First, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Oh my!

Add diced cold butter.  Crumble the butter into the dry ingredients by hand until no chunks remain.  Mixture should have a meal-ish consistency at this point.  Stir cream into the mixture until a consistent dough is formed.  Fold in diced fruit.  Lay dough out on a cookie sheet and spread out into an even layer (about 1/2 inch thick).  Cut into ~12 pieces and spread out on the cookie sheet.  This step is kind of weird, but its the best way to get a consistent thickness between all the scones.  It helps make all the scones cook evenly.

Yum.

Strawberry Scones

2 cups flour

1/3 cup sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

5 tbsp cold butter

1 cup cream

1/3 strawberries, diced

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Sift together dry ingredients.  Crumble in cold butter by hand until no larger chunks remain.  Stir in cream until dough forms.  Fold in strawberries.  Spread dough out onto cookie sheet in an even layer (~1/2 inch thick).  Cut into ~12 even pieces and spread out scones on cookie sheet.  Bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on scone size) or until lightly golden brown on top.

Enjoy!