Friday, September 30, 2011

sweet honey-raisin challah

Happy new year, friends! My old friend M first found this recipe and I've made it a few times over the last few years, and decided it's basically foolproof. J and I made it last night, and it was massive -- far bigger than a dinner plate -- and wildly delicious.

Thanks, Diana! She recommends plumping the raisins beforehand by covering with hot water or brandy or fruit juice and letting sit for 3 to 5 minutes. (She also has bread machine variations and a few others on her website.)


1 tsp. granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 packages (1/2 oz./4 1/2 tsp./14g) instant yeast or bread yeast
7 to 8 cups bread flour (approximately)
1/8 tsp. powdered saffron or a pinch of saffron threads (optional)
2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (4 oz./8 tbsp./113g) butter or margarine, melted (or 1/2 cup vegetable oil may be used)
3 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups golden raisins, plumped *(See below on How to Plump Raisins)

Egg Wash:
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten and mixed with 1 tsp. sugar and 1 tbsp. water


1. In a large mixing bowl, stir the 1 tsp. sugar into the 1 1/2 cups warm water. Sprinkle in yeast and stir well; let stand until frothy or foamy, about 10 minutes.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in 7 cups of the flour, saffron (if using) and salt. Add honey, the 1/3 cup sugar, melted butter (or vegetable oil or melted margarine, if using), whole eggs and egg yolks; stir until dough forms.

2. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding enough of the remaining 1 cup flour as necessary to prevent sticking (you may need to add more flour if your dough is still too sticky. Add in one tablspoon at a time until the dough is cohesive). Place dough in a greased glass or ceramic bowl, turning to grease dough all over. Cover bowl with greased plastic wrap or a warm damp kitchen towel; let dough rise in warm draft-free place until doubled in size and indentation remains when dough is poked with 2 fingers, about one hour or so. Punch down dough, transfer dough to work surface, let rest for 10 minutes, then knead in raisins (if using).

3. To Make Round Crown Loaf:
Roll out dough into a 30-inch (76 cm) long rope. Holding one end in place, wind remaining rope around end to form a fairly tight spiral that is slightly higher in the center of dough. Transfer dough to a greased rimmed baking sheet.

4. To Make a 4 rope Braided Loaf:
Divide dough into quarters; roll each quarter into 18-inch (45 cm) long ropes. Place side by side on a greased rimmed baking sheet; pinch ropes together at one end. Starting at pinched end, move second rope from left over rope on its right. Move far right rope over 2 ropes on left. Move far left rope over 2 ropes on right. Repeat until braid is complete; tuck ends under braid.

5. Cover crown loaf or braid loaf with plastic wrap or damp kitchen towel; let rise in warm draft-free place until doubled in size, about one hour.

6. Egg Wash:
Stir egg yolk with 1 tsp. sugar and 1 tbsp. water; brush over loaf (s).

Bake in center of 350°F/180°C oven until deep golden brown and loaf sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool on rack for 15 minutes before slicing.

Makes 1 "generously" large loaf or 2 large loaves

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Knock-Off Killer Brownies

For those of you who read PW, she posted this recipe for Knock You Naked brownies which are a knock-off of DLM's Killer Brownies. Normally I do not use a box mix for anything outside of making Paula Deen's butter cake but 1.) I wanted to take something to work for our training session yesterday and 2.) I haven't had a Killer Brownie since before we moved from Dayton and 3.) they come together quickly. In fact, these brownies were served at my bridal shower in Ohio.

Anyway, I made this even easier on myself and not only used cake mix but also used Fleur de Sel caramel from Trader Joe's. Here's the recipe:

1 box german chocolate cake mix
1 stick butter, melted
1.5 C toasted pecans, finely chopped
1/3 C evaporated milk
1 jar caramel sauce
1/3 C chocolate chips
powdered sugar for dusting prior to serving

Preheat oven to 350 and butter an 8x8 pan. Grease well or you'll have a devil of a time cleaning it later. Also, you can double this recipe and bake in an 9x13 pan but be sure to put a foil-lined baking sheet underneath in case of overflow (I had a bit). Mix together cake mix, butter, pecans and evap. milk. Press half into the bottom of the baking dish and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and pour over caramel, sprinkle with chocolate chips and if you are me, add a few handfuls of shredded coconut. Roll or pat out remaining dough to fit the baking dish (it's easier than trying to drop evenly placed and sized blobs) and press on top of caramel and chocolate. Be careful because your baking dish is going to be hot. Return to oven and bake another 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool and then refrigerate. Try to show restraint because PW is right, you need to cool and chill these before trying to cut them or the caramel will just leak out everywhere. Before serving, sprinkle generously with powdered sugar and cut into squares. These are quite decadent and small pieces will feed many.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

swiss chard hash & eggs

I have a ridiculous swiss chard surplus from the garden. This year is the first time I've grown chard, and I didn't realize that after you cut it, it grows back, like spinach! Ah, the magic of leafy greens.

So I've been trying to think of creative ways to use it, and one of the best I've found, inspired by this blog post, is to make a sort of hash.

Chop tons of chard -- like, seriously, way more than you think is reasonable -- and dice the stems pretty finely, separating them out from the leaves. Heat some olive oil on low in a skillet and throw the stems in first, with chopped garlic and onion. (I like red onions the best for this because they make it sweet.)

After a minute or two, throw in the leaves.

When everything is soft, make little holes/nests in the chard mixture, so the bottom of the skillet shows through. Turn the heat up to medium. Spray a little more oil into each nest, so nothing sticks.

Crack one egg into each nest and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet and cook for about five minutes, depending on how firm you like your yolks.

Unveil and eat with toast!

Israeli couscous tabouli

I'm usually not crazy about tabouli because I don't like the taste of bulgur, for some reason, so using Israeli couscous was a nice substitute. We had friends over for dinner last night and served this with stuffed green peppers, and we made the filling out of couscous, chicken sausage, onions, peppers, Parm and oregano.

(Loosely based on this Food Network recipe.)
  • 1 package Israeli couscous, about 1 1/2 c dry
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • a big glug of olive oil 
  • generous servings of chopped herbs to taste; we used a blend of cilantro, oregano and mint 
  • a few shakes of zatar (optional but good)
  • 6 ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • bunch of scallions, chopped
Bring a medium-size saucepan of water to a boil over medium heat. Add the couscous and cook until al dente, 7 to 8 minutes. Drain the couscous, run cold water over it for a few seconds to prevent clumping, and set aside to cool.

Combine lemon juice, olive oil, zatar, and salt and pepper. Shake or whisk to combine.

In a large serving bowl, mix together the couscous, herbs, tomatoes and scallions. Toss with the vinaigrette and season to taste. Allow it to sit for at least a half hour so the flavors can marry. [I like that phrase. "I now pronounce you tabouli! you may kiss the herbs!"]

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Chicken chili

This is adapted from Skinny Taste

1 onion, chopped
1 16-oz can black beans
1 16-oz can kidney beans
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
10 oz package frozen corn kernels
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes w/chilies
2 1/2 tbsp cumin
3 tbsp chili powder
2 1/2 tbsp paprika
2 1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
24 oz (3-4) boneless skinless chicken breasts

Place chicken in crockpot, then add beans, onion, chili peppers, corn, tomato sauce, and spices on top and cover. Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours.

Fry bread

I made this tonight to have with chili, as an alternative to our usual cornbread.
So, so tasty. And super simple.
We all broke ours into pieces, and then stuffed the air pockets with the chili and ate sort of like a pita.
Certainly not something you can eat all the time -- because it is fried dough -- but a totally good treat.
I'm not even going to bother to transcribe the recipe, because I want you to go read all about fry bread at the Smithsonian. And then I want you to make some. We had a nice discussion at dinner tonight about how the Native Americans eat this, and then we got sort of serious about why they first made this -- reservations and how the government used to give them crappy food and how this is really food borne out of necessity. Gaby probably internally rolls her eyes and thinks "can't I just eat the tasty bread in peace?"
Too bad she's stuck with us.

whole wheat chocolate chip skillet cookies

You guys, this is chocolate chip cookie (really chocolate chip pie) nirvana. It's what those huge cookie cakes from the mall should taste like.

And I went a little overboard with the undercooking -- I love cookie dough and underdone baked goods in general, so I took this out after about 30 minutes instead of the 35-45 that Heidi suggests. It wasn't enough and the cookie was really kind of soupy (although delicious!)... until I put it in the fridge, still in the skillet overnight. Then the nirvana hit and it was sort of like just-barely-cooked solid dough. You. guys. So. good.

Next time, though, I'll leave it in the oven for another 5 minutes -- I would have been nervous to serve it to anyone when it was that uncooked. (Note that it didn't stop me and Jared from eating the entire thing ourselves over the course of not very many days.)

3 cups whole-wheat flour [I used 2 c whole wheat pastry flour and 1 c AP)
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
8 ounces / 225 g (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces [I used Earth Balance sticks]
1 cup / 5 oz / 140 g dark brown sugar
1 cup / 7 oz / 200 g sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 ounces / 225 g bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped into 1/4- and 1/2-inch pieces [I used Ghiardelli 60% semisweet chips]

Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C degree oven, with a rack in the middle. Butter a 10 (25cm) or 11-inch (28cm) ovenproof skillet, one that is at least 2-inches (5 cm) deep. [I sprayed with that Pam flour baking spray.] If you're unsure, measure, because if you use a too small skillet, you'll have a messy overflow.

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl.

In another large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and the sugars. Mix just until the butter and sugars are blended, about 2 minutes using the mixer on low speed. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl along the way. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each is combined. Mix in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the bowl and blend on low speed until the flour is barely combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Add most of the chocolate to the batter. Mix just until the chocolate is evenly incorporated. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then scrape the batter out into the skillet, pressing it out into an even layer. Sprinkle any remaining chocolate across the top, and casually press it into the dough a bit, just enough that it isn't riding directly on top of the dough.

Bake the cookies for 35-45 minutes, or until until the dough is a deep golden brown along the edge, and the center has set. Remove from oven and let cool a bit before slicing into. Cute into wedges or small squares.

Makes one large skillet cookie, which you can cut into as many cookies as you like.

Monday, September 05, 2011

old bay cod cakes

Made this for Old-Bay-loving J's birthday this year, along with the Old Bay version of the magic corn and bean salad and some fresh green beans from the garden. Mm.

Be forewarned: It makes about six small cakes, and we finished the whole thing just the two of us. If you're feeding more than two, I'd double.

1/3 cup white wine
2 large sprigs parsley
1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 pound cod [I used the flash-frozen stuff from Wegmans, which I think is excellent, thawed in the refrigerator for a day]
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
1 teaspoon old bay [I used more like a tablespoon]
1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/4 cup panko
1/4 cup mayonaise
1/2 cup flour

Combine 1 c water with the wine, the sprigs of parsley, and the peppercorns. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. [the original recipe has you do this with a steamer attachment, which I don't have. also, my cod was still slightly frozen, so I wanted it to go directly into the boiling water-wine mixture.]

Put in the fish and turn the heat down slightly, cover and poach for 8-12 minutes, until the cod flakes easily.

Transfer the cod to a large mixing bowl and set aside until it’s cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, in a small frying pan over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the red onion and cook until beginning to become translucent. Add the garlic and half of the parsley, and cook another 4-5 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, some freshly ground pepper, the Old Bay seasoning, and the smoked paprika. Cook another minute, then remove from the heat.

Shred the cod into small pieces and remove any bones. Add the onion mixture, the panko, the mayonaise, and the remaining chopped parsley. Stir to combine, then taste for salt, adding more as needed.

Form the mixture into 6 even patties. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 8.

On a shallow plate, combine the flour with a good pinch of salt and a couple grinds of hot pepper.

Film a large frying pan with about 2 tablespoons of oil and place it over medium heat. Sprinkle a tiny bit of flour in; when it sizzles, you’re ready to go.

Gently place each cod cake in the flour, flipping to coat, then put it in the pan, taking care not to crowd. (if your pan is small, do two batches). Cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes, then carefully flip each cake with a thin metal spatula and cook another 3-4 minutes until the second side is golden brown.

a foodie's delight

J and I went to Blue Hill Farm for our anniversary, the foodie-est thing we've ever done and the best meal I've ever had. And now I want to figure out how to make wheatberry pudding and half-dehydrated peaches and egg yolk carbonara and lots of other things.

We posted about it on our wedding website; go forth and read if you so desire!

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Stuffed peppers

6 bell peppers
1 lb turkey
1 1/2 cup cooked rice
1 can flavored tomatoes (I used fire roasted with garlic)
1 t worcestershire sauce
2 T ketchup
1 t black pepper
1/3 cup water

Use as many peppers as you can get in your crockpot, but this is how many I can get in my 6 qt. oval crockpot.
Cut the tops off the peppers, clean them out.
Mix turkey, rice, tomatoes, worcestershire sauce, ketchup, pepper together. Fill peppers and put the tops back on.
Put peppers in crockpot. Carefully add water to the bottom (do not pour on top of peppers).
Cook on high for 4-6 or low for 8 -- you want the peppers to be nice and soft, but not falling apart, and the turkey to be cooked through.