Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Bagels: Round One.

I have been wanting to make a batch of bagels for a while now so this morning, that’s just what I did.

Bagel dough is quite stiff and I don’t have a stand mixer in my current kitchen so I alternated kneading the dough with a hand-held mixer and by hand. (So I wouldn’t wear out the motor or my wrist.) I just made a small batch so it wasn’t too bad.

After about an hour of fermentation, I divided the dough into rounds and let them rest a little bit before shaping them into logs and then bagels. (I need to practice this part a bit more to get a cleaner seam. The idea is that you cross the ends over and roll them together to seal it, I’m hoping the next time around they will be a little more even at this point.)

Another hour and they were ready to boil and bake. I set up my station; water boiling on the stove, a seed tray with my favorite seed blend sesame/poppy/fennel, a cast iron griddle in the oven, and a cooling rack.

First I popped the bagels in the water for about 30 seconds….

Then I coated them in seeds, lots of seeds.

They baked for about 15 minutes with a flip after about 2.

Not bad for a first try…

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The beginning.

I just moved to San Francisco to go to baking school. I am very excited about it! Today was my first day in the program. It is a small class, 16 of us. I am really looking forward to getting to know everyone and learning all about bread and pastry!

Here is a picture of a couple of baguettes that I made!

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Buttermilk Ice Cream

I love buttermilk. My local grocery store just started carrying some really good, fresh, cultured buttermilk. I now have an excuse to buy it all of the time, that is at least until it gets too cold for ice cream. One of my friends recently turned me on to making buttermilk ice cream and as soon as I made it at home my family got hooked too. So far I haven’t made it the same way twice, I am having a lot of fun playing around with it, trying out different proportions and flavors. It’s hard to say which has been the best but I will say it is fantastic with grilled peaches! The peaches get really juicy and a bit caramelized.

Currently, I have a batch of peach buttermilk ice cream base chilling in the fridge waiting to go into the ice cream maker. Raspberries also go really well with the buttermilk. I’m thinking I will have to try out a batch with some plums when they are ripe!

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I made a variation of this galette (inspired by my friend Emily) for Thanksgiving last year and have been dying to make it again ever since, I am going to a birthday party this evening so I thought it would be a nice thing to bring along.Today’s variation is a bit heavier on tangerines, because I was running out of cranberries.

For the crust, I combined two of my favorite recipes (Pastry for Pies and Galettes from Deborah Madison, and Pâte Brisée from James Peterson) to get a crust that, I think, came out quite nice.

2 c. flour

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 c. cold butter, cut into small pieces

3 Tbsp. cream

1/2 tsp. vinegar

3-4 Tbsp. ice water

Cut the butter into the dry ingredients. Add cream and vinegar and mix gently. Add water 1 Tbsp. at a time until the dough comes together. Wrap and chill for at least 30 min.

While the dough was chilling, I prepared the filling.

3-5 tangerines-preferably organic, washed well

3/4- 1 1/2 c. cranberries, washed and sorted

1 1/4 c. sugar

First, cut a few thin slices from the widest part of the tangerines and set aside. Cut the remaining tangerines into pieces and remove any seeds.

Put the chunks of tangerine in a food processor and pulse until there are only small pieces left. Add 3/4-1 cup of cranberries and pulse again. (The first time I made this I had more cranberries so 1 c. of cranberries here, and 3 tangerines. This time, I only had about 3/4 c. cranberries so I used 5 tangerines.) Scrape cranberries and tangerines into a mixing bowl and add 1 1/4 c. sugar. (For the first version, at this point I added 1/2 c. whole cranberries as well.)

By this point, the dough was chilled, I rolled it out into a rather large rough circle.  Transfer the dough to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread the filling to about 3 inches from the edge of the dough. Place the tangerine slices on top of the filling and fold the edges over. (I had a little extra filling and dough so I made a tiny galette also.) Sprinkle a little brown sugar on top of the crust. Bake at 400*F for 20 minutes, turn the heat down to 375*F and bake for another 25 minutes or so, until the filling sets up a bit and the crust is golden. Serve with whipped cream.


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Every year my mom would ask me what kind of cake I wanted for my birthday and for the past 10 years or so, I have had the same request, coeur a la creme. Coeur a la creme is a smooth and silky dessert made with cream and cream cheese, a little mousse-y in texture. Traditionally it was not sweetened and served with fresh fruit. My mom always added a little chocolate too, she would use half white chocolate and half dark chocolate, and finished it with raspberry sauce and some fresh raspberries. This year, I decided I wanted to try making it myself so I spent my free time on my birthday making coeur a la creme as well as a couple of other treats.

The coeur a la creme was so simple to make. First, I melted a little bit of white chocolate and semisweet chocolate (separately,) while that was cooling I mixed the cream cheese and powdered sugar together until it was nice and fluffy, then I added a little bit of heavy cream and vanilla and mixed again.

I split the mixture into two bowls and added white chocolate to one and dark chocolate to the other.

I whipped the rest of the cream and folded it into the mixture. I spooned it into the special heart-shaped molds lined with cheesecloth and set them in the fridge to drain. (The molds are equipped with lots of little holes in the bottom.)

I took them out of the fridge (about 8 hours later), turned them out onto a plate and removed the cheesecloth. This was the interesting part, the dark chocolate mixture set up and held its form but the white did not. I am not sure why this happened, I did the exact same thing for both types. The white chocolate variation still tasted delicious so I put it in a bowl to serve.

For the other treats, I made a couple of little  fresh fig tarts and lemon meringue pie. I have been drooling over this recipe out of The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern by Claudia Fleming, it is a fresh fig tart with a cornmeal crust, yum! I ended up using a different recipe for the crust, one without egg. I love the added texture that cornmeal adds to baked goods, it is so crunchy! (The crust made 4 x 4″tart shells.) I pricked the shells and pre-baked them so they would be ready for their respective fillings.

I didn’t have quite enough figs to make the “jam” for the bottom but, I did have a jam of fig jam from Tunisia so I mixed a little of the jam with a little bit of orange zest and juice and spread it on the crust. I nestled in the quartered figs and called it done.

Lastly, I made a couple of little lemon meringue pies. These were inspired by the gigantic egg that I got in the morning. (I am working a couple of mornings a week at Radiance Dairy, hanging out with cows is a wonderful way to start the day! Francis, the owner of the farm, and i had just been talking about his chickens when he called out to me, the next thing I knew, there was an egg flying through the air. It was one of the biggest eggs I have seen, and it was still warm!) I thought a lemon meringue pie would be the perfect use for it, spotlighting both the yolk and the white.

I made a simple curd using the egg yolk, sugar, lemon juice and zest, and butter. While the curd cooled, I whipped up the egg white with a touch of cream of tartar and sugar. I smoothed the curd over the crust (cornmeal .and spooned on the meringue topping, being sure to overlap with the crust a little so that the meringue wouldn’t pull away and shrink while it baked.I baked it for about 15 minutes, until it was golden.

Out for delivery…

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blueberry pie(phone)

The other day I picked blueberries. I had big plans of picking lots and lots of blueberries to make pies and all sorts of preserves. Unfortunately, my picking time was cut short when a huge storm came barreling in, forcing me to run for cover. I did however pick enough berries to make a pie.

For the filling, I mixed together about 1/4 c flour with 2/3 c sugar, a pinch of nutmeg, and some lemon zest.  I tossed this together with the blueberries and poured them into the crust.

I scattered several little dots of butter on the berries and topped it with a lattice. (My friends were teasing me for talking on the phone while I was putting it all together, so when it came time to name it, they dubbed it the ‘piephone’)

I baked it at 450 for about ten minutes, then brought the temperature down to 375 and continued to bake it for about 40 minutes more. When it was cool, I took it to a pie festival in Ypsi to join 70 other pies!

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If you know me from Iowa, you know how amazing Francis’ dairy farm is. If you know me from Michigan, you hear me talking about the super rich sweet milk. On a trip home last weekend, I made a point to buy a gallon of Radiance Dairy milk and bring it back with me. It is now in my fridge, making me happy every time I open the door.
Borrowed from Torrey:

Sometimes towns are lucky enough to have a small, local, organic dairy. The town where I live is one of those lucky towns. Our dairy, Radiance Dairy, is run by Francis and Susan Thicke, and it provides probably the best milk I have ever had.

Every time I grab a cup of milk for tea, or mixing up pancake batter, or topping my oatmeal, I know that the source of the milk is a herd of very well taken care of and well fed cows.

The operation of Francis and Susan’s grass-fed dairy is based on the principles of ecology. Specifically, the cows are rotated through paddocks on the farm, imitating the grazing of bison on the prairie. The carefully managed plan of rotation allows for the cows to be fed on a healthy and diverse diet of grasses. The rotation plan also benefits the land through increased biodiversity and improved soil fertility.

Francis is running for Secretary of Agriculture for Iowa.  He has a vision of how to improve agriculture on a state and national level based on the effectiveness of nature, supported by advances in science and technology. Radiance Dairy is a working example of this vision.

Francis needs support, and it is easy to give money to his campaign. This is something that is so important for our state, country, and for the environment in which we all live. For more information, visit Francis’ website ThickeForAgriculture.com.

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I went home to Iowa last weekend. My family is notorious for not taking a break while on vacation,my sister and I are a perfect example. My weekend was full of baking, cooking, gardening, fruit tree planting, and working at my mom’s shop. The next two posts (bird crackers and crostata) were written by my sister, who has a wonderful and inspiring blog. 

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About a week ago, we got some canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in at the deli. I have always loved the flavor of chipotle peppers and these smokey little morsels are no exception. One of my favorite things right now, they are really spicy and have a great flavor!

In honor of the peppers, I had a couple of friends over for dinner. I made some black beans, garnished with fresh cilantro, sour cream, lime juice, and the chipotle’s in adobo. Sarah made some tortilla’s to go along with the beans. We also had a fennel salad and some sweet citrus on the side. It was a perfect impromptu meal to showcase the new peppers.

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One of my good friends, Sandy, has made this for me several times and I love it! She gave me the recipe a while back and I finally made it last night. It is a great snack to take to potlucks, picnics and parties! I used this recipe as an excuse to get a bottle of my favorite red wine vinegar from Zingerman’s Deli (where is spend my days snacking on various vinegars and olive oil).

The first step is cubing the eggplant and sprinkling it with sea salt and letting it drain for a couple of hours. Eggplant tends to soak up any and all oil that is in the pan when sauteeing it, this helps to make it less sponge-like. After it had been sufficiently drained, I knocked off any excess salt and tossed it in a frying pan with a little olive oil.

After the eggplant was finished cooking I set it aside and cooked down some tomatoes with a pear-diced, added some cooked celery, capers, black olives, a pinch of sugar and Banyuls vinegar. I let this cook down a bit and added the eggplant in the last few minutes of cooking.

I let in set up in the fridge over night, turned it out onto a plate, sprinkled it with some toasted almonds and served it with a french baguette.

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