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Saturday, February 20, 2021

Buttermilk Brown Sugar Waffles

You wouldn't think we need another waffle recipe (see zucchini, cornmeal, Mr. Spackman's, and chocolate). But we do! I accidentally quadrupled this new recipe the first time I made it, so I was glad that they were tasty. This waffle combines a pleasing nutty flavor with the lovely crunch of cornmeal waffles and the ease of preparation of Mr. Spackman's. 


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Buttermilk Brown Sugar Waffles

Adapted slightly from https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/9062-buttermilk-brown-sugar-waffles
Yields about 8 waffles

2 eggs
1 3/4 c buttermilk
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
3/4 c all -purpose flour
3/4 c white whole wheat flour
1/4 c wheat germ
2 T light brown sugar
2 teas baking powder
1 teas baking soda
1 teas salt
butter, for greasing the waffle iron

Whisk eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter in a large bowl. In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients together, then add to egg mixture and whisk until just combined. Let the batter rest while you heat the waffle iron. Butter the waffle iron and cook, then enjoy! 


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Buttermilk Brown Sugar Waffles (Quadrupled)

Adapted slightly from https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/9062-buttermilk-brown-sugar-waffles
Feeds my family of 6 for several days

8 eggs
7 c buttermilk
4 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
3 c all purpose flour 
3 c white whole wheat flour
1 c wheat germ
1/2 c light brown sugar
8 teas baking powder
4 teas baking soda
4 teas salt
butter, for greasing the waffle iron

Whisk eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter in a large bowl. In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients together, then add to egg mixture and whisk until just combined. Let the batter rest while you heat the waffle iron. Butter the waffle iron and cook, then enjoy! 

Monday, February 8, 2021

Sheet-pan Baked Feta with Vegetables

I made this this past holiday season with the last of my garden tomatoes and thought it one of the most beautiful dishes I've cooked; tastes great, too.

On it's way to the oven


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Sheet-pan Baked Feta with Vegetables

Adapted from:  NY Times Cooking
Serves: 4, as a main dish; more if a starter

1 bunch broccolini, trimmed and thick stalks split lengthwise or cut in chunks or broccoli, cut into bitesize pieces
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved (about 2 c)
1 small red onion, peeled and cut into thin wedges no more than a half inch thick
3 cloves garlic, peeled and halved, optional
3 T olive oil, plus more for serving
1 teas ground cumin
1/2 teas red pepper flakes, or to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 lemon, zested and cut in two, one half for squeezing and one for serving wedges 
2 (6- to 8-oz) blocks feta, cut into slices, half inch to an inch thick or vertically into strips
1/2 c fresh basil leaves or cilantro leaves and tender stems, roughly chopped (optional)

Set your oven rack in the lower third and preheat the oven to 400F. Combine the tomatoes, and onion wedges on a sheet pan and drizzle with the olive oil; toss. Sprinkle with the cumin and red-pepper flakes, and some salt and pepper, and toss once more. Place in the oven and cook for 5 minutes. Pull the baking sheet out and add the broccolini and lemon zest. Squeeze one half of the lemon over all and toss to combine. Place the feta slices among the vegetables. It's all right if they break up a bit (at least NY Times commenter prefers crumbling the feta into good sized chunks).

Place in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes, stopping half way through to stir as well as you can while avoiding disturbing the feta. Cook until the broccolini is charred at the tips and the stems can be pierced easily. The tomatoes should break down a bit and their skin should blister.

Remove from the oven; drizzle with more olive oil. Top with herbs, if using. This can be served as is with crusty bread or over orzo, pearl couscous, or farro. Pass remaining lemon wedges.

Notes:

At my altitude (nearly 5000 feet, I had to cook this longer than the suggested time.

If you go to the NY Times Cooking website and peruse the comments, you'll find that this recipe is quite versatile. Home cooks have employed a grill for roasting, have used different seasonings (Italian herbs, for example), and have added other vegetables, including corn, red peppers, summer squash, potatoes and/or olives. There are suggestions for marinated tofu or a different cheese, such as halloumi. Commenters have added chicken thighs (cooked for 35 minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients), sausage, and shrimp (added late so they don't overcook). And some have added canned (and drained) beans. 

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Ciabatta

While many folks have turned to sourdough during the pandemic, my "comfort" bread has been ciabatta (I was lucky enough to have yeast in my freezer when others were having trouble acquiring it). I often "double" this by making one batch right after the other (I get four loaves for one oven heating). These loaves freeze well; to preserve the fresh, chewy texture I recommend you freeze what you won't use on baking day.

 



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Ciabatta

Yields 2 loaves

For suggestions on adjustments for high altitude, see below.


For the biga:

1 c unbleached AP flour
1/8 teas instant or rapid-rise yeast
1/2 c water at room temperature

For the dough:

2 c unbleached AP flour (I've used 1 1/2 c AP plus 1/2 c whole wheat)
1/2 teas instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 teas table salt
3/4 c water at room temperature
1/4 c milk at room temperature
(or use 1 c water with 2 T powdered milk)

Between 8 and 24 hours before you want to bake, mix together the ingredients for the biga and allow to sit on the counter covered. (Once I couldn't attend to the bread after 24 hours so I put the biga into the fridge for another 24 hours. It didn't seem to hurt it.)

a couple of hours before you want bake, place the biga into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and add all the ingredients of the dough. Mix together on low speed for a few minutes to get all the flour moistened. Turn the mixer to medium and allow to knead for 10 minutes. In a few minutes the dough will gather around the dough hook and look like it is climbing up. This is a very wet dough and as it becomes cohesive it will slap around the bowl a bit and may cause the mixer to walk around on your counter. So stay close and/or place a wet wash cloth or towel under your mixer to minimize this problem. It's recommended you don't add flour even though you think the dough is too sticky. However, I've added a tablespoon when it hasn't become cohesive after kneading 5-6 minutes.

You can place the dough into a new bowl for rising but I usually just leave it in the mixer bowl and cover it. (This method may be difficult if your machine has a post in the middle of the bowl.) Let the dough rise for 1 hour; use a rubber spatula sprayed or rubbed with a bit of oil to turn the dough over itself. Place the spatula under the dough on one side and turn it, rather like folding. Rotate the bowl and repeat folding ahead of previous fold. Turn the dough a total of 8 times around the circumference of the dough. Cover and allow to rise for 30 more minutes and turn the dough 8 times again. Allow to rise one more 30 minute period.

Place a pizza stone in your oven on the lower-middle rack and preheat to 450F. It's best to give your oven 30 minutes to reach full heat. Place a sheet of parchment paper close to the top edge of a pizza peel and sprinkle a little flour where you'll place the loaves.

Generously flour the counter and turn out the dough. Use a bench scraper or a knife to cut through the dough and with well-floured hands form each piece of dough into a loaf by flattening slightly (you don't want to get rid of all those nice bubbles) into a rectangle about 12 by 6 inches. Keeping your hands floured is the key to success when working with this sticky dough. Fold the short side down and then the opposite side up, like a letter. You should now have a rectangle about 7 by 4 inches. Don't worry too much about the exact size but this is a good general recommendation. Carefully move this loaf to the parchment paper on the peel and place the dough to one side. Repeat flattening and folding with the remaining dough and place it on the other side of the peel. You should have 2 loaves about 4-5 inches apart. (You can also cut your parchment paper into 2 pieces 12 by 6 inches and set them on the peel side by side.)

Sprinkle the tops of the loaves with flour and cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise about 30 minutes. Small bubbles will appear on the top of the dough. Using floured fingers poke the dough and lengthen the loaves to about 10 inches (and about 6 inches wide). Spray lightly with water and use the pizza peel to transfer the loaves and parchment paper on to the stone, making jerky, forward moves which will shake the loaves into the oven. During the first 5 minutes of baking, open the door and spray the tops of the loaves with water two more times. 

Bake for a total of 22-27 minutes until the bread measures 205-210F on an instant read thermometer. Use the peel to slide under the parchment paper and remove both loaves from the oven at once. Place on a rack to cool completely.

Notes on higher altitudes:

I find that at my altitude (5000 feet) the lower atmospheric pressure  means loaves formed as recommended above makes for flatter loaves that I'd like (they're still tasty, though). So I have taken to rolling the dough  (instead of folding like a letter) and placing a thinner, longer loaf onto the pizza peel before the final rise. My loaves at this point are more like 8X3. In addition, when poking the dough just before placing in the oven, I try to keep the loaves more narrow and long, by manipulating the dough towards its center so I once again have a thinner loaf than called for. 

Another thing to consider when allowing this bread to rise at a higher altitude is shortening the rising times slightly (5 minutes or so). At the very least, don't let it go over the recommended time. 

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Joanne Chang's Maple-Blueberry Scones

Earlier this year I made a purchase that serves as a cautionary tale when shopping at Costco when you have children. My three-year-old had been happily devouring frozen blueberries, requesting them for snacks repeatedly. I finally decided to purchase a huge Costco bag, when he abruptly decided he didn't like frozen blueberries anymore. This is one recipe that has helped make a dent in my stash. 

The whole wheat flour in these scones provides pleasing heft and a nutty flavor, both of which cuts the sweetness of the maple. Though these are nice anytime, they would also be perfect for any special occasion or holiday. 






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 Joanne Chang's Maple-Blueberry Scones

Source: New York Times Cooking
Yield: 8 scones

For baking at altitudes of 4000-5500 feet, make the measurements for both leaveners scant. 

Scones:

1 2/3 c whole-wheat flour
1 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teas baking powder
1/2 teas baking soda
1/2 teas kosher salt
3/4 c unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cold, cut into half inch pieces
1/2 c créme fraîche, Greek yogurt or sour cream, at room temperature
1/2 c maple syrup
1/3 c buttermilk, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 c fresh blueberries (or frozen, thawed by running under water for a few minutes and then dried in paper towels)

Using a paddle attachment in a stand mixer, mix the flours, baking powder, soda, and salt on low speed just long enough to mix them together. Put half the butter into the bowl and paddle until it is completely mixed into the flour, about 2-3 minutes. This step allows the butter to coat the flour so the scones will be tender. 

Add the rest of the butter to the bowl and pulse your mixer 3-4 times to break the cubes up a bit into the dough. You're trying to get small pieces of butter, which will keep the scones flakey. Don't overmix.

Mix the créme fraîche, maple syrup, buttermilk and egg yolk in a medium bowl until they are thoroughly mixed. Pour in the blueberries and gently stir. With the stand mixer on low, pour the blueberry mixture into the flour mixture and paddle on low for approximately 10 seconds as you get some of the liquid mixed into the flour. At this point, stop the mixer and remove the bowl so you can mix the dough by hand. Bring the dough together and lift it, turning it over in the bowl several times while getting all the loose flour mixed in. Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for an hour to 24 hours. The flour will fully absorb the liquid during this time.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F and place the rack in the center. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet.

Use an ice cream scoop or a half cup measure to scoop 8 mounds of chilled dough. Place them a few inches apart on the baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes, turning the sheet halfway through the baking time. The scones are done when they are golden brown and firm when you press on them.

Remove and place pan on a cooling rack. While they are still warm, brush with the glaze (below) and let sit 30 minutes before serving. 

Glaze:

1/2 c confectioners' sugar
2-3 T maple syrup

In a small bowl mix together the sugar and maple syrup using enough syrup to make a thick but spreadable mixture. Set aside until the scones are out of the oven. This can be store for up to a week at room temperature but whisk before using. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Cowboy Cookie Bars

When I finished baking fruit desserts this fall, I wanted something chewy and full of chocolate. The source recipe caught my eye, and it became my go-to cookie for a few months. Adding pecans made them reminiscent of cowboy cookies, but in a convenient, thick, and chewy bar. 



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Cowboy Cookie Bars

Adapted slightly from https://www.melskitchencafe.com/oatmeal-chocolate-chip-coconut-cookie-bars/
Yields a 9x13 pan, but the recipe can be doubled and baked in a 13x18 sheet pan for feeding a crowd

Notes for baking at about 4,500 feet:

add 1 T and 1 scant T flour
reduce the sugar by 1 1/3 T
add 1/2 teas vanilla

These high altitude changes result in a stiff dough, so much that I strongly recommend using a stand mixer. 

3/4 c rolled oats
1 2/3 c all-purpose flour
1 teas baking soda
1/2 teas salt
3/4 c salted butter, melted
1 1/3 c packed brown sugar (light, dark, or a mix)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teas vanilla
3/4 c unsweetened coconut flakes
2 c dark chocolate chips
1 c pecans, chopped

Heat oven to 350F. Line a metal 9x13 pan with parchment paper and spray it lightly with cooking spray. 

Pulse the oats, flour, baking soda, and salt in a blender until the oats are finer than quick oats but not as fine as flour. 

Mix the butter, brown sugar, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla in a stand mixer until the batter lightens a bit in color. Add the dry ingredients and combine, then add the coconut, chocolate chips, and nuts. 

Press the dough into the prepared pan. Bake for about 20 minutes until set around the edges but still slightly soft in the center. Be careful not to overbake. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Cheddar Cheese Rounds

These crispy appetizers are a mix between a cracker and a short bead and seem so much like a cheesy pie crust cookie that I adore them.



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Cheddar Cheese Rounds


Yield: about 5 dozen

1/4 c pecans
1 1/4 c AP flour
1 T cornstarch
2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 T unsalted butter (1 stick) cut in half-inch slices and softened
1/4 teas cayenne pepper
1/2 teas salt

Place the pecans, flour, and cornstarch in a work bowl of a food processor and run it until the pecans are finely ground. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and pulse until a dough forms. Pull the dough out onto a lightly floured counter or pastry cloth and roll into two logs about 8 inches long. Wrap these in plastic and place in the refrigerator until they firm up, between 1-3 hours or up to 3 days if necessary. 

Place the oven racks in the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put parchment paper on two baking sheets. When the dough is chilled, slice each log into 1/4-inch rounds and place them 3/4 inch apart on the covered baking sheets. Cook until golden, approximately 15 minutes, rotating and switching the sheets so the crackers can cook evenly. Allow them to cool on the baking sheet for about 3 minutes and remove to a rack and let cool completely. Serve. (Rounds can be kept in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature.)

These can be made ahead by wrapping the logs in plastic, then in foil and freezing for up to one month. These should be defrosted in the refrigerator before slicing and baking 

Monday, December 28, 2020

Breakfast Casserole

For years, off and on, I've been searching for a tasty and simple breakfast casserole. This year's Christmas morning attempt will definitely be repeated next year because it's low carb and easy to throw together. And for an extra bonus, I am likely to have the ingredients on hand because of our Christmas Eve taco dip tradition. Maybe one of these years I'll be able to get my boys to eat some, too! 



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Breakfast Casserole

Source: https://tastesbetterfromscratch.com/breakfast-casserole/
Serves 12, but can be halved and baked in a 2-quart dish or square baking pan

2 pounds pork sausage
12 eggs
1 c sour cream
1/4 c milk
salt and pepper
4 green onions
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 c shredded cheddar cheese

If baking immediately, preheat to 350F. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. 

Brown the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks.  

While the sausage is browning, mix eggs, sour cream, milk, cheese, and generous amounts of salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl. Use a hand mixer on low to combine. 

Drain the fat from the cooked sausage, then add it to the egg mixture. 

Cook the peppers and onions in the same skillet for several minutes, until softened. Then add to the egg mixture and stir. 

Pour egg mixture into prepared pan and bake for 40-50 minutes until casserole is set and enjoy. Or, cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before baking.