01.31.11

Lemon squares

Posted in baking, dessert, food at 1:15 am by wingerz

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The Meyer lemon tree in our backyard has been calling out to me for the past few weeks. Today I harvested 10 lemons and doubled-up this recipe (that’s right, i used 18 eggs). I love lemon curd; I really should make it more often because it is amazingly good. I made the curd in a double boiler since I’m paranoid.

Lemon squares
from The ATK Family Baking Book

Crust
1 1/4 cups (6 1/4 ounces) all purpose-flour
1/2 cup (2 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces and softened

Filling
7 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 cup (7 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup grated fresh lemon zest (about 4 lemons)
pinc salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
3 tablespoons heavy cream
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat to 350 degrees. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with a foil sling and grease the foil.
2. Crust: Process the flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt together in a food processor to combine, about 3 pulses. Sprinkle the butter over the top and pulse until the mixture is pale yellow and has the texture of coarse sand, about 8 pulses. Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared pan and press into an even layer with the bottom of a measuring cup. Bake the crust until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes.
3. Filling: While the crust bakes, whisk the egg yolks and eggs together in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the granulated sugar until combined, then whisk in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt. Add the butter and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens slightly and registers 170 degrees, about 5 minutes. Strain the mixture immediately into a bowl and stir in the cream.
4. Pour the filling over the warm crust. Bake the squares until the filling is shiny and opaque and the center jiggles slightly when shake, 10-15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
5. Let the bars cool completely in the pan, set on a wire rack, about 2 hours. Remove the pars from the pan using the foil, cut into square, and dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

08.30.10

Blueberry scones

Posted in baking, food, home cooking at 12:12 am by wingerz

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These scones are awesome. They’re more work than the cream scones but it’s definitely worth it. I made these for our day care teachers when they came over for a home visit. I hope they bought Camille a few extra hugs.

Blueberry scones
from ATK’s Family Baking Book

16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), frozen whole (you’ll “only” use 10 tablespoons of butter total)
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (about 7 1/2 ounces), picked over (see note)
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces), plus additional for work surface
1/2 cup sugar (3 1/2 ounces), plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Score and remove half of wrapper from each stick of frozen butter. Grate unwrapped ends on large holes of box grater (you should grate total of 8 tablespoons). Place grated butter in freezer until needed. Melt 2 tablespoons of remaining ungrated butter and set aside. Save remaining 6 tablespoons butter for another use. Place blueberries in freezer until needed.
2. Whisk together milk and sour cream in medium bowl; refrigerate until needed. Whisk flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest in medium bowl. Add frozen butter to flour mixture and toss with fingers until thoroughly coated.
3. Add milk mixture to flour mixture; fold with spatula until just combined. With rubber spatula, transfer dough to liberally floured work surface. Dust surface of dough with flour; with floured hands, knead dough 6 to 8 times, until it just holds together in ragged ball, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking.
4. Roll dough into approximate 12-inch square. Following illustrations, fold dough into thirds like a business letter, using bench scraper or metal spatula to release dough if it sticks to countertop. Lift short ends of dough and fold into thirds again to form approximate 4-inch square. Transfer dough to plate lightly dusted with flour and chill in freezer 5 minutes.
5. Transfer dough to floured work surface and roll into approximate 12-inch square again. Sprinkle blueberries evenly over surface of dough, then press down so they are slightly embedded in dough. Using bench scraper or thin metal spatula, loosen dough from work surface. Roll dough, pressing to form tight log. Lay seam-side down and press log into 12 by 4-inch rectangle. Using sharp, floured knife, cut rectangle crosswise into 4 equal rectangles. Cut each rectangle diagonally to form 2 triangles and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet.
6. Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon sugar. Bake until tops and bottoms are golden brown, 18 to 25 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool 10 minutes before serving.

07.11.10

Cooking with a newborn (blueberry pie)

Posted in baking, food, home cooking at 1:24 pm by wingerz

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As some of you know, Jen gave birth to our beautiful Camille two weeks ago. I’ve still been trying to keep Jen (and, transitively, the baby) well-nourished. The number of ingredients has gone way down; basically everything (lamb, salmon, zucchini, red peppers, asparagus, broccoli, tomatoes) gets a sprinkle of olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper. The slow-cooker has also gotten some use – chicken soup and “barbecued” beef brisket.

Yesterday Joy came to visit so we were a bit more ambitious – made a delicious blueberry pie. The new oven is way better than our old one – baked goods come out with a better brown. The pie was amazing.

Best Blueberry Pie
from Cook’s Illustrated

Make a double crust according to this recipe.

6 cups fresh blueberries (about 30 ounces) (see note)
1 Granny Smith apple , peeled and grated on large holes of box grater
2 teaspoons grated zest and 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
3/4 cup sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca , ground (see note)
Pinch table salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 large egg , lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water

1. Remove 1 disk of dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to 12-inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side. Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Leave dough that overhangs plate in place; refrigerate while preparing filling until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.
2. For The Filling: Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on oven rack, and heat oven to 400 degrees. Place 3 cups berries in medium saucepan and set over medium heat. Using potato masher, mash berries several times to release juices. Continue to cook, stirring frequently and mashing occasionally, until about half of berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 8 minutes. Let cool slightly.
3. Place grated apple in clean kitchen towel and wring dry. Transfer apple to large bowl. Add cooked berries, remaining 3 cups uncooked berries, lemon zest, juice, sugar, tapioca, and salt; toss to combine. Transfer mixture to dough-lined pie plate and scatter butter pieces over filling.
4. Roll out second disk of dough on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to 11-inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Using 1 1/4-inch round biscuit cutter, cut round from center of dough. Cut another 6 rounds from dough, 1 1/2 inches from edge of center hole and equally spaced around center hole. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll over pie, leaving at least 1/2-inch overhang on each side.
5. Using kitchen shears, trim bottom layer of overhanging dough, leaving 1/2-inch overhang. Fold dough under itself so that edge of fold is flush with outer rim of pie plate. Flute edges using thumb and forefinger or press with tines of fork to seal. Brush top and edges of pie with egg mixture. If dough is very soft, chill in freezer for 10 minutes.
6. Place pie on heated baking sheet and bake 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake until juices bubble and crust is deep golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.

06.14.10

Cinnamon Rolls

Posted in baking, food, home cooking at 1:51 am by wingerz

cinnamonrolls

For the past eighteen months I’ve had to make do with quite a small kitchen. It’s got a tiny dishwasher, a small fridge, a basic stove, and not a ton of counter space. A lot of our favorite appliances (even the stand mixer) get hidden away in closets or cabinets when they aren’t in use. It’s a far cry from the granite countertops and island in our old condo. But it’s most definitely been serviceable, and I’ve learned to be more efficient with my space and dish usage.

Sunday dinners have been the highlight of the week thanks to the year-long farmer’s market (as opposed to the June-October one in Somerville). One completely new skill that I’ve picked up over the past year is baking – from bread to fruit desserts to pastries. To celebrate our last weekend here I made four dozen cinnamon rolls today. I’m just now realizing that my upstairs neighbors probably hate me for running the oven all last summer too.

This recipe is from the ATK Family Baking Book. It’s actually a pretty easy recipe; the stand mixer and yeast do most of the work for you. Mine deserves a break after running non-stop for about an hour.

05.17.10

Pastries

Posted in baking, food, home cooking at 2:03 am by wingerz

croissant
danishbraid

I haven’t been blogging much lately but that doesn’t mean that our kitchen has been quiet. A few months ago I started making pastries. Our butter consumption has skyrocketed and I think my work pals will die young, but at least we’ll be well fed.

Launching yelp.fr inspired me to tackel chocolate croissants. They turned out to be easier than I thought to make (lots of resting time), but they might be the best thing that’s ever come out of our kitchen. The Danish braid was quite tasty too – I made five of them (two apricot, one cheese, one strawberry, and one cherry).

The recipes are a bit too long and don’t make much sense without the diagrams, so I’m leaving them out. They’re both from ATK’s Family Baking Book.

02.08.10

Strawberry shortcake

Posted in baking, dessert, food, home cooking at 1:06 am by wingerz

strawberryshortcake

Wow, the farmer’s market still has strawberries. Wasn’t expecting to have them all winter long. This was dessert tonight, and I’d definitely make it again.

Rich and Tender Shortcakes with Strawberries and Whipped Cream
from Cook’s Illustrated

Topping
3 pints fresh strawberries , hulled; 1 pint crushed with potato masher or fork, 2 pints quartered
6 tablespoons granulated sugar

Shortcakes
2 cups bleached all-purpose flour , plus more for work surface
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar for sprinkling
1 stick unsalted butter (8 tablespoons), frozen
1 egg , beaten
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon half-and-half
1 egg white , lightly beaten

Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream , chilled (preferably pasteurized or pasteurized organic)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Mix crushed and quartered berries with sugar in medium bowl; set aside while preparing biscuits (or up to 2 hours).
2. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position; heat oven to 425 degrees. Mix flour, salt, baking powder, and 3 tablespoons sugar in food processor, pulse to combine. Add cold butter that has been cut into half-inch pieces and continue to pulse until the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal flecked with pea-sized bits of butter. Pour the mixture into a bowl; stir in the egg and half-and-half with a rubber spatula until the mixture comes together.
4. Pat dough into 9- by 6-inch rectangle, 3/4 inch thick. Cut dough into six pieces (original recipe says to cut into 2 3/4″ rounds, but I don’t own a biscuit cutter). Place 1 inch apart on small baking sheet; brush dough tops with egg white and sprinkle with remaining sugar. (Can be covered and refrigerated up to 2 hours before baking.) Bake until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Place baking sheet on wire rack; cool cakes until warm, about 10 minutes.
5. Chill nonreactive, deep, 1- to 1 1/2-quart bowl and beaters for a handheld mixer in freezer for at least 20 minutes. Add cream, sugar, and vanilla to chilled bowl; beat on low speed until small bubbles form, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium; continue beating until beaters leave a trail, about 30 seconds more. Increase speed to high; continue beating until cream is smooth, thick, and nearly doubled in volume, about 20 seconds for soft peaks or about 30 seconds for stiff peaks. If necessary, finish beating by hand to adjust consistency. (Can be transferred to fine sieve or strainer set over measuring cup and refrigerated up to 8 hours).
6. Split each cake crosswise; spoon a portion of berries and then a dollop of whipped cream over each cake bottom. Cap with cake top; serve immediately.

12.31.09

Pecan Pie

Posted in baking, dessert, food, home cooking at 1:16 pm by wingerz

pecanpie

I’m surprised that I’ve never posted a pecan pie recipe. It’s a staple of Liao holiday celebrations. I like this recipe a lot because it has a ton of maple syrup instead of corn syrup. Of course, it doesn’t mean that it’s any less sweet, and it also doesn’t mean that I like pecan pie.

Maple Pecan Pie
from Cook’s Illustrated

4 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
3 large eggs
1 cup maple syrup , pure, preferably Grade B or Grade A dark amber
1 1/2 cups whole pecans (6 ounces), toasted and chopped into small pieces

1. Prep a pie crust like the one for the pumpkin pie.
2. Melt butter in medium heatproof bowl set in skillet of water maintained at just below simmer. Remove bowl from skillet; mix in sugar and salt with wooden spoon until butter is absorbed. Beat in eggs, then maple syrup. Return bowl to hot water; stir until mixture is shiny and warm to the touch, about 130 degrees. Remove from heat; stir in pecans.
3. Pour mixture into warm shell; bake until center feels set yet soft, like gelatin, when gently pressed, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer pie to rack; let cool completely, at least 4 hours. Serve pie at room temperature or warm, with lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

12.27.09

Snickerdoodles

Posted in baking, dessert, food at 2:05 pm by wingerz

snickerdoodles

Accidentally left out some of the sugar so my snickerdoodles weren’t that sweet. Still pretty good though; I’d probably make them again. Supposed this is an ATK recipe but it’s nowhere to be found on their site. I used this snickerdoodle recipe which claims to be from ATK.

My snickerdoodles didn’t flatten out that much.

Chocolate chip cookies

Posted in baking, dessert, food at 1:58 pm by wingerz

cccookie

Given their ubiquity, you’d think that chocolate cookies would be easy to bake. Unfortunately I’ve been somewhat terrified of making them due to several bad experiences, most likely resulting from using butter that wasn’t at the right temperature. Some recipes also suggest refrigerating the dough for 36 hours, but who has time for that?

I’m a big fan of this recipe, even though I overbaked the cookies by a few minutes the first time I made them. They’re chewy and have a nice toffee flavor thanks to the browned butter. Also, because I was lazy I baked two batches at once, even though the recipe calls for baking one batch at a time.

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
from Cook’s Illustrated

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces) (see note)
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (see note)
3/4 cup chopped pecan or walnuts, toasted (optional)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.
3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.
4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)
5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

12.07.09

Pumpkin Pie

Posted in baking, dessert, food, home cooking at 1:09 am by wingerz

pumpkin pie

In a Thanksgiving mood, I baked three of these and took them to work. I haven’t eaten all that much pumpkin pie but I thought this was pretty good – almost a pumpkin custard pie. Would probably make them again, especially since I still have one can of pumpkin in my pantry.

This is a pretty fool-proof recipe. Only thing I would have done differently is to give the crust a few more minutes to brown.

Pumpkin Pie
from Cook’s Illustrated

1. Prep a single pie crust (all-butter, vodka), fluting the edges. Remove pie pan from refrigerator, line crust with foil, and fill with pie weights or pennies. Bake on rimmed baking sheet 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights, rotate plate, and bake 5 to 10 additional minutes until crust is golden brown and crisp. Remove pie plate and baking sheet from oven.

2. For the Filling: While pie shell is baking, whisk cream, milk, eggs, yolks, and vanilla together in medium bowl. Combine pumpkin puree, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in large heavy-bottomed saucepan; bring to sputtering simmer over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to simmer pumpkin mixture, stirring constantly and mashing yams against sides of pot, until thick and shiny, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Remove pan from heat and whisk in cream mixture until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl, using back of ladle or spatula to press solids through strainer. Rewhisk mixture and transfer to warm prebaked pie shell. Return pie plate with baking sheet to oven and bake pie for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees and continue baking until edges of pie are set (instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175 degrees), 20 to 35 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack and cool to room temperature, 2 to 3 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.

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