Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thursday Night – Still Life With Eggs

IMG_00000002

Just testing the picture-taking capability of my new BlackBerry Playbook… not bad; better resolution AND colour than my actual camera.  Even with no flash!

Making my Auntie Sally’s Challah recipe… as you can see here, each week I print out a new recipe sheet.  Terrifically wasteful, but one doesn’t want to bring any kind of electronic device within splashing range.  I suppose a whiteboard would do the trick… but for now, I print it off from the spreadsheet, which automatically calculates what I need based on how many finished challahs I want.

IMG_00000004

Another trick that will throw off my quantities a bit but greatly increase the yumminess of the finished product:  any bread dough left over from the week – in this case, a bit of a batch of no-knead dough from Tuesday’s boule – becomes an instant pre-ferment for the weekly challah.  I did use regular yeast as well, though since I’m leaving it overnight, I probably didn’t have to.

 IMG_00000003 

One of the most important tools for a food blogger – not that I consider myself to be such,  you understand – is a decent camera.  I have been reasonably happy with my Sony, but this upgrade adds another dimension of happy that may even see me posting here more frequently.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Pareve Chocolate Caramel Cookies for Shabbos

BONUS COOKING TIP OF THE DAY – scroll to the bottom of this post!

DSC04675Mmm… my favourite way to unwind on Friday afternoon, when there’s time, is to sample the yummies for Shabbos and blog about them!

This week, it’s these scrummy chocolate cookies that start out really good but transform into utter decadence with the help of a caramel filling and chocolate coating.  They’re not TOO patckedik, either.

(read on for how it’s done…)

The actual chocolate cookies came from this recipe from Frugal Ima’s blog (I reduced the vanilla quite a bit), and IMG_5493I baked them last night, because I have had enough bad experiences of baked goods that were not sufficiently cool to ice.  This is Frugal Ima’s picture, because I forgot to take one myself.   The trick here is pressing down the middle of the cookies RIGHT AWAY when they come out of the oven.  Like her, I used the lid of the vanilla bottle to make the indentation.

This recipe made a LOT of cookies.

Then, this morning, I made this yummy coconut-milk dulce de leche that I fell in love with a few weeks ago.  Dulce de leche is basically caramel sauce, and this one features only 3 simple ingredients and a touch of neglect.  Perfect for around here!  I should have cooked it down a little longer, because mine came out too thin and runny.  A little thicker is probably better, though it will probably firm up after a while.

When the dulce de leche had cooled a bit, I spooned it into the cavities of the cookies.  So that’s why those cavities were there!!!  (the dulce de leche looks opaque because it’s frozen in this picture; it’s translucent and very caramelly-looking at room temperature, I promise)

DSC04676

The next step is to place the cookies in the freezer for a while to help the caramel set.  This step is necessary, I think, even with thicker caramel because you’ll be turning the cookies upside down to coat them and you want everything to stay put.

Now for the chocolate coating.  Easy peasy:  Coconut oil and chocolate chips (and a bit of sea salt)!  I used the proportions I found in this Instructable, but found it was too thin, so I had to add more chocolate and it was still too runny.  I might use something closer to these proportions in future.  HOWEVER, the way I make my life easy when chocolate coating is usually the same… melt the coconut oil FIRST, then add the chocolate and turn OFF the heat.  I find that if I avoid having chocolate on the heat at all it behaves wayyyy better.

Let the chocolate coating cool for a bit, then retrieve the (frozenish) cookies.

Dip one by one; I double dipped for good measure.

DSC04674 

I noticed that after a few seconds, my caramel sauce was “bubbling up” through the chocolate coating.  Here is my desperate attempt to drip chocolate over the little craters that marred the pristine chocolate surface.  Just a dot of chocolate on a clean fingertip – drip!  Down it goes.  Still unsightly, but in a different way.

DSC04677

And then back in the freezer to set.  When cool, these will probably be fine in the fridge.  If I did everything (both caramel & chocolate) PERFECTLY, they’d probably stay solid at room temperature during the winter.  But I don’t trust the chocolate coating, so I plan to leave them in the fridge.  As with anything chocolatey, I wouldn’t leave them out at all during any season when coconut oil is liquid at room temperature.

Naturally, I had to sample one of these before I could blog them.  Rest assured that, minor flaws aside, they are a most delightful cookie that will probably wow your Shabbos table attendees, should they be the kind that will overlook minor aesthetic flaws in favour of a cookie that tastes rather mind-blowingly good.  (or should you be that rare home baker who can achieve both aesthetically perfect and flawlessly flavoured desserts!)

Enjoy!!!

Oh, you’re still here?  Waiting for your free bonus tip of the day?  Well, thanks for either reading all the way through or scrolling so assiduously.  Here you go:

TIP O’ THE DAY: Freeze any leftover chocolate mixture in a sandwich baggie. Label well so you don’t stand in front of the freezer saying, “is this pareve?” and “when is this from?” Thaw it by floating the baggie in warm water and then snip the tip of the baggie to drizzle chocolate attractively wherever you want it.

OR

BONUS TIP: If you don’t want to go to that trouble, call your kids into the kitchen and have them assemble dessert “shish ka bobs” out of mini-marshmallows and banana slices. Drizzle with leftover chocolate mixture and freeze until Shabbos.

Enjoy!!!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Quick, Easy Corny Skillet Cornbread – with Recipe

Tip o’ the Day: (recipe follows) Always preheat your oven to 25-50°F higher than the recipe calls for, then turn it down. You’ll lose 25-30 degrees of heat when you open it and patchke around getting the pan in and out. And most breads (and many pastries) do well with a strong burst of initial heat anyway.

Wanted to get a picture of this before it was too late, but… well, it was almost too late.  That’s how good this was with our chili tonight!

DSC04673

This really is one of the few recipes I’d say would be completely different without a cast-iron skillet. I have made cornbread in pans and it’s lovely… but there is something awesomely crispy about cornbread baked in butter on preheated cast-iron.  Given that my soul-food diet precludes bacon, I tell myself that this deep, hearty crunch and this corny cornbread’s crunchy sweet / savoury crust is the next best thing.  Or really quite special in its own right, depending on if you’re a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty kind of person.

Special equipment:

  • 9” cast-iron skillet (mine was cheap secondhand from Value Village, kashered in my oven’s self-clean cycle)
  • Optional: a little silicone handle doohickey like this one makes life REALLY good when transferring a hot cast-iron skillet to or from the oven
  • Optional: and I cannot tell you how much better life got with a nice pair of oven gloves… (not mitts; gloves!)

The Dry Stuff:

Whisk together thoroughly in a large bowl and set aside:

  • 1 1/4 cups cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (or a bit less) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

The Wet Stuff:

  • 1/3 cup milk (whole milk is nice, but I used 2%)
  • 1 cup yogurt (regular, not Greek!) (if you don’t have yogurt, mix 1 cup of milk with 1-2 tsp of lemon juice / vinegar added – stir and allow 5 minutes to curdle and thicken slightly)
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 stick (= 8 tbsp) unsalted butter
  • 1 can (341 ml, 12 oz) corn kernels, drained
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.  While preheating, melt butter in oven in a 9-inch cast iron skillet (about 5 minutes). 
  2. When butter is melted (even if oven’s not all the way hot), remove from oven and pour into a bowl to cool slightly.
  3. In a measuring cup or small bowl, stir the milk, yogurt (or soured milk), and eggs together well. Stir in slightly cooled melted butter.  Mix well.
  4. Make a well in the middle of the dry stuff in the large bowl.  Pour wet stuff into the well in the dry stuff.  Pour in corn kernels now, too.
  5. Stir a few times just until moistened.  Do not overmix!
  6. Carefully remove hot skillet from the oven (hint:  use your silicone handle doohickey if you have one!).
  7. Pour batter into the skillet - place it in the center of the oven.
  8. Reduce oven temperature to 425°F.
  9. Bake until centre is firm and a cake tester, skewer or toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.  For me, this was 25 minutes.
  10. Turn out immediately (use the doohickey!) onto a cooling rack.  If your pan is well-seasoned and you melted the butter in it ahead of time, it should just fall out with no sticking.  Yay for cast iron!
  11. If you’re the patient type, allow to cool 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
  12. Yum!

Spontaneous Bagels!

These are actually based on this yummy mall-pretzel copycat recipe, which I’ve made a lot, but I made a couple of changes to turn them into bagels.  First, I doubled it… that’s not really a change.  I mixed it in the food processor, which was great.  I also subbed malt syrup for the brown sugar to make it more bagel-y, and added a tsp of salt per recipe, because there’s none in the original.

They had a nice long rise because I started them in the early afternoon before we went out to a 2-hour kids’ class.  I made the holes a bit differently from usual – started with 100g boules and, with a well-greased finger, poked a hole into them which I expanded over several iterations until there was more hole than bagel (I can’t stand cake-y bagels with skimpy holes!).

Nice big holes… ready to boil!

DSC04669 (800x600)

Added the last of the malt syrup (boo hoo) to the boiling water, along with a bit (2-4 tbsp?) of baking soda.  This is a terrible pot for boiling in, because it can only take 3-4 bagels at a time. (One – not shown here – got squashed as it went in, which immediately and permanently twisted it into a figure 8.).  Boiled about 1.5 minutes…

DSC04671 (800x600)

Now out on the pan for poppy seeds!  I could only fit 6 on a pan because they were quite large and puffed up a bit more from the boiling step:

 DSC04670 (800x600) 

Baked 12 minutes at 500… perfect!

 DSC04672 (800x600)

They were a bit weirdly “moist” around the bottom, which I’ve never experienced before, but all in all, fresh, delicious, and not too involved.  I would like to investigate how the boiling time affects the final texture, though I’m not sure exactly what texture I’d be hoping for, ultimately.  I’ll know it when I taste it.  I do know these were a darn sight better than most of the “bagels” available here in Toronto (which are actually just bread-in-a-circle – blah).

Served with a simple bean soup that everybody raved over… ah, the simple things.

Do you have a go-to bagel recipe???  Or a bread that involves several steps… that are SO worth the extra work?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Awesomeist Birthday BreadLand Cartoons <3

Oh my goodness… I have the most gifted, artistic husband in the whole entire universe.

Here, for your delight and perusal, are his awesome Birthday in BreadLand Cartoons:

JFER_P1 JFER_P2 JFER_P3

Nothing more I can say.  Though I love how I’m sleeping bareheaded but modestly be-ticheled in the (full-colour!) dream sequence…

To all my loyal readers, happy birthday from me!  Thank you for giving the gift of reading my blogs and (if you haven’t already) Liking my ever-expanding MamaLand Empire!!!

A few other Blogs we Might Like Together