Saturday, May 30, 2009

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

What to do with a big container of strawberries? Make ice cream, of course! Actually, this is a frozen yogurt from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop. As you can see, it freezes up pretty perfectly after a couple of hours in the freezer, and it is really delicious. The yogurt adds a nice tang, and the strawberry flavor comes through very well. Summer in a bowl!

Although David recommends whole-milk French or Greek yogurt, I used a low fat Greek yogurt with no troubles. The frozen yogurt is great on its own, but I think it would also be really tasty with some shortbread cookies.

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt (adapted from David Lebovitz)
Makes 1 pint

8 ounces strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vodka (I used grapefruit vodka as it's what I had on hand)
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Put the strawberries in a bowl with sugar and vodka and gently stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for about 2 hours at room temperature. Stir the mixture every 30 minutes or so.
2. Pour the strawberry mixture into a food processor. Add the yogurt and lemon juice and pulse until smooth.
3. Pour the ice cream mixture into a 2-cup measuring cup, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Freeze in your ice cream maker.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Artos: Greek Celebration Bread

Week 2 of the BBA Challenge brings Greek Celebration bread, an enriched bread with fruits and nuts. The original recipe added a bunch of spices, but I left them out since I'm not a huge fan of spiced breads (unless, of course, it's cinnamon raisin!). Instead, I added lemon zest (from 1 Meyer lemon--next time I'd add more), 2 ounces ground almonds, chopped dried pluots (a delicious gift from my Aunt Jane), and chopped whole almonds.

Overall, the bread was tasty but not my favorite style of bread. It definitely made a huge loaf, so I gave some away to friends. My favorite way to eat the bread was spread with Fromager d'Affinois, a soft French cheese similar to Brie, but with a more interesting flavor (in my opinion). It was also tasty with strawberry jam.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

May Daring Bakers: Rhubarb Strudel

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers. What a great choice! I would never have attempted homemade strudel dough myself, but it was actually extremely easy! Stretching the dough by hand was intimidating, but the dough was strong and pliable, making it a pleasant task.

You can check out the original recipe on the hosts' blogs (linked above) or in the bookitself. I ended up making a rhubarb filling instead of the suggested apple filling (a permitted substitution this month!), and it was really delicious. I used David Lebowitz's roasted rhubarb recipe, which is tart but very yummy. I did find it to be very liquid-y, so I drained it in a paper-towel lined colander before filling the strudel.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream Cupcakes + Giveaway

I made these ice cream cupcakes for a barbecue at our house a few weeks ago. The ice cream is strawberry balsamic, from a recipe at Tender Crumb. It had absolutely amazing flavor: ultra creamy, bursting with strawberries, a little tang from the balsamic vinegar and creme fraiche. It was also very easy to mix up, as it's Philadelphia style rather than custard-based. The amount below makes a little over 3 pints, and was a bit too much for my ice cream maker, so you may want to reduce the quantity depending on your machine. You can use regular balsamic vinegar if that's what you have, but since we had a nice white balsamic in the cupboard, I thought it added a delicate flavor and didn't interfere with the pink color of the ice cream.

The ice cream is paired with angel food cupcakes based on the devilish angel food cake from Sherry Yard's Desserts by the Yard. I couldn't find a tube pan (although I do think we have one), so I decided to bake up the angel food cake in cupcake tins. They turned out a little flat (I think I under-filled the tins), but were really delicious! These little cakes are very sweet, though, so I definitely think they're best paired with a less sweet accompaniment like this ice cream.

I'm also giving away a copy of Desserts by the Yardin honor of my 200th post (which I totally missed celebrating as this is #210)! I ended up with two copies of this cookbook after a snafu with Amazon (I ordered it used and never got it, so I ordered it new and then the used one finally came), and because I wasn't responsible enough to return one of them on time, I'm giving the extra away to a lucky reader (U.S. addresses only, please)! This cookbook has all sorts of recipes from simple (Quintissential Chocolate Chip Cookies, Honey-Glazed Spago Cornbread) to fancy (Ginger Cream Tartlets with Poached Figs and Persian Mulberries, Triple-Silken Pumpkin Pie, Lime-Scented Floating Islands with Yuzu Curd Ice Cream), with absolutely gorgeous photos to boot.

Here's how to enter: You can get up to three entries to the contest by posting separate comments below (see details). You must leave either your blog address or your email address so that I can get in touch with you if you win.

1. You get one entry just for posting a comment! Very easy.
2. You can get a second entry by posting about this contest on twitter, and leaving a link to your tweet in a separate comment.
3. Finally, you can also get an entry into the contest by baking either a recipe from this blog or a recipe by Sherry Yard and blogging about it. Just post the link to your post in the comments section!

The contest will be open until June 1, and then I'll pick a random number to decide the winner! Good luck to all. Now, here are the recipes!

Angel Food Cupcakes (adapted from Desserts by the Yard by Sherry Yard)
Makes about 15 cupcakes

1 cup plus 2 T cake flour
1 cup plus 2 T sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
9 large egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and still hot

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter the bottoms only of your cupcake tins, being careful not to grease the sides.
2. Sift together the flour, 1/2 cup plus 1 T of the sugar, and the baking powder.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites on low speed until they begin to foam. Add the cream to tartar and 1 T sugar, and continue to beat while gradually adding the rest of the sugar. Beat the whites until they form medium-firm peaks. Add the vanilla seeds and continue beating while quickly streaming in the hot butter (it helps to have a stand mixer or a partner for this step).
4. Very gently fold in the dry ingredients.
5. Divide the batter among the cupcake tins, filling each about 3/4 full. Place each tin on a larger cookie sheet or half sheet pan to protect the delicate bottoms of the cupcakes, and bake until the tops are lightly browned and a tester comes out clean (about 20 minutes).
6. As you take the tins out of the oven, cover each with a clean cooling rack and flip upside down so that the cupcakes can cool upside down (this should prevent them from falling). When the cupcakes are cool, gently remove them from the pans and serve with ice cream.

Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream (adapted from Tender Crumb, original recipe here)
Makes about 3 pints

1 1/4 lb. fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced
1/2 cup plus 1 T sugar
2 T white balsamic vinegar
2 T grapefruit vodka (or any flavored or plain vodka)
1/2 cup creme fraiche (or sour cream)
1 1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Mix together the strawberries, sugar, balsamic vinegar, and vodka in a large bowl. Cover and let stand at room temperature for about an hour.
2. Pour the strawberry mixture into a food processor. Add the creme fraiche and heavy cream and process until just combined, with small chunks of the strawberries still remaining. Taste, and adjust for sugar and vinegar as needed. It should pretty much make you swoon at this point! Remember that the ice cream will taste less sweet when frozen, so take this into account when adjusting.
3. Chill the mixture, then freeze in an ice cream maker.
I'm also entering these cupcakes in the Ice Cream Cupcakes roundup hosted by Cupcake Project and Scoopalicious! Make sure to check back there in early June for a roundup of ice cream cupcakes.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Back in Business: Anadama Bread!

Thanks for all your computer-related well wishes! While my new computer isn't here quite yet, my friend Sarah has kindly lent me her old laptop (she just got a new one) to use in the meantime--yay, Sarah! I probably won't be blogging at top speed until my new computer gets here, but I'm definitely back. :)

My new project is baking through The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart along with a group of over 200 other bakers from around the world! It's a big project, but I'm so excited to be part of it. I love this book, but I've only made a few of the breads from it (they can be a little intimidating!). This project is the perfect thing to kick my bread-baking butt in gear and try some new breads. Thanks so much to Nicole from Pinch My Salt for thinking up this crazy idea and doing some serious organizing.

Our first assignment was Anadama bread. It's a New England bread that's slightly sweet from molasses and cornmeal, and it's absolutely delicious! It was soft, flavorful, and pretty much the perfect bread for peanut butter and jelly. I will definitely be making this one again. Even better, when I told my mom about making this bread, I found out that this used to be one of my great-grandmother's favorite breads! So, this one is dedicated to Grandma Ada and to reviving old family recipes.

I won't really be posting recipes from the book here for obvious reasons (since we're making every recipe in the book, I would basically be reproducing the entire thing on my blog!), but I may post a few if I make significant changes that I want to remember. Otherwise, I'll just disucss my experience with the bread, post some photos, and encourage you all to go out and get this really terrific book! I made just a few changes to the recipe this time: I used half honey since a strong molasses flavor isn't really my thing; I used half bread flour and half AP, and I added about a teaspoon of vital wheat gluten to the mix.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Computer-Related Hiatus

My computer died, and while all my files are backed up and a new computer is on the way, it will be a while before I can sort through all my photos and reinstall Photoshop. So, sadly, things will be quiet around here for a couple of weeks while I deal with all this computer-related annoying-ness. Sorry about that, and see you all in a few! :)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pasta with Roasted Fennel-Tomato Sauce

This is an easy and delicious pasta recipe that involves one of my favorite vegetables: fennel! And roasting fennel is one of my favorite ways to prepare it, so this dish is pretty much amazing. It's also a nice dish because it reheats really well the next day. Next time I might add some Italian sausage, browned in a separate skillet and tossed with the pasta just before serving.

I'm sending this recipe off to Presto Pasta Nights. Be sure to check out the other entries at Family, Friends, & Food on May 15, and don't forget the creator of Presto Pasta Nights, Ruth at Once Upon a Feast.

Pasta with Roasted Fennel-Tomato Sauce (adapted from The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper)

2 fennel bulbs, cored and thinly sliced
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
8 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1 T whole fennel seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 can (14 ounces) whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
1 pound shells or another smallish pasta

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Toss the fennel, onion, garlic, chili flakes, fennel seeds, salt, and pepper with the olive oil in a roasting dish and roast, tossing once or twice during cooking, for 15 minutes.

2. In the meantime, bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta until almost al dente. Reserve some pasta cooking water when you drain the pasta.

3. After 15 minutes of roasting, stir in the crushed tomatoes. Roast 5 to 10 minutes more, until the fennel is tender and starting to brown.

4. Toss the drained pasta with the veggies and Parmesan, adding some pasta cooking water if necessary until the sauce is loosened and coats the pasta. Serve immediately, with more cheese.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

French Onion Tart

The theme for this month's You Want Pies With That? is Family Favorite Pie. The assignment was to take a favorite family recipe and translate it into a pie. Fun! I chose French onion soup, which has long been a favorite in my family. My grandmother used to make it, and my mom and I love to make it together, too. French onion soup was also one of the first real recipes I cooked on my own in college, so it holds a special place in my heart.

This tart contains many of the same flavors as French onion soup, with lots of sweet caramelized onions and Gruyere cheese; in the pie, the croutons are replaced by a fantastic (and super easy) pie crust. This is absolutely one of the easiest pie crusts I've ever made, and I will definitely use it again. I baked it in a 10-inch springform pan so I could get the sides tall enough to hold all the filling; you could also use a 10-inch quiche pan if you have one. The onions take a while to caramelize, but they are so worth it. Add in cream, eggs, and cheese, and you have a recipe for French onion soup in pie form! The tart is very rich, so I'd recommend serving it with a side of veggies with a bit of acid (we had broccoli from the garden with lemon juice squeezed on top; a salad with vinegar-y dressing would be excellent as well).

French Onion Tart (adapted from Fine Cooking)

2 T vegetable oil
2 T unsalted butter
4 medium onions, very thinly sliced
1 tsp granulated sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
A tiny pinch nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
2/3 cup grated Gruyère
1 partially baked tart shell in a 10-inch springform pan (or a 10-inch quiche pan) (see below)

1. Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet. Sprinkle the sugar into the pan, and then add the onions. Sauté over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the onions start to soften. Lower the heat and continue to cook the onions until very soft and evenly browned, stirring frequently, another 30 to 40 minutes. The onions should be very soft and look almost "melted": if they start to get darkened or crispy, turn the heat down. When the onions are nicely browned and soft, transfer them to a strainer and drain the oil.

2. Heat the oven to 375°F. Place the springform pan on a baking sheet.

3. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and cream. Whisk in 3/4 tsp salt, a scant 1/2 tsp pepper, and the nutmeg. Add the drained onions and half of the cheese and whisk until everything is well combined. Fill the prepared tart shell with the onions and custard. Top with the remaining cheese and bake until the tip of a knife comes out clean and the top of the tart is puffed and brown, 40 to 45 minutes Let cool for at least 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Tart Dough (adapted from Fine Cooking)

6 3/4 oz. (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose unbleached flour
1/4 tsp plus a pinch of table salt
4 1/2 oz. (9 T) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
4 T ice water

1. Combine the flour, salt, and butter in the bowl of a food processor. Using short pulses, process until the mixture resembles oatmeal. Add the ice water and pulse quickly until the mixture begins to form a ball. Remove the dough and gently flatten the ball into a smooth disk about 1-1/2 inches thick. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, at least 1 hour.

2. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to a circle of about 14 inches in diameter. Transfer to a lightly greased springform pan and press into the bottom and sides. Cut around the top of the dough so that there is an even edge.

3. Prick the dough with a fork all over, and then freeze at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

4. Line the pie shell with foil or parchment and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 12 minutes, then remove the weights and foil and bake an additional 6 minutes. Cool until needed.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sourdough Cornmeal Loaf

Last weekend, I had some sourdough starter all ready to go but no inspiration. So, I turned to my housemate, who suggested a sourdough bread made with cornmeal, a combination she's enjoyed at a local bakery. I couldn't find a recipe anywhere online, so I ended up adapting King Arthur Flour's basic sourdough bread to incorporate cornmeal. I also added some vital wheat gluten to give the bread that extra bit of fluffiness despite the cornmeal, which worked out perfectly. The bread had a nice, even crumb but wasn't heavy at all. The finely ground cornmeal added just the right amount of texture and flavor. It was excellent with cheese or honey, or just on the side with dinner. Feel free to add more flour or water as needed to get a workable but still somewhat sticky consistency--these are just the amounts that worked for me. You also might want to add a bit more sweetener to the dough depending on your preference; 1 T makes a perfectly delicious savory bread that goes well with everything, but a bit more honey would be excellent too for a sweeter breakfast loaf.

Sourdough Cornmeal Loaf (adapted from King Arthur Flour)
1 round loaf

1 cup (8.5 ounces) sourdough starter
1 1/2 cup (12 ounces) lukewarm water
2 1/2 tsp salt
1 T sugar or honey (or more for sweeter bread)
2 tsp instant yeast
2 3/4 cup (11 ounces) unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, more as needed
1 cup (6 ounces) finely ground cornmeal
2 T vital wheat gluten

1. Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Briefly mix to combine, and then knead to form a soft, smooth dough. Add more flour or water as needed so that the dough clears the sides of the bowl but just sticks to the bottom.
2. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 90 minutes.
3. Shape the dough into a round loaf. Place on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover and let rise until very puffy, about 60 minutes. Slash the top, and bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and hollow-sounding. Cool on a rack.

Check out other yeast-y goodies at YeastSpotting.