Thursday, March 11, 2010

Greek Country Bread

Here's the bread I mentioned in my crostini post. It's great for a beginning bread maker because it's a resilient dough. No, (like me) you might not know if the bread has over-fermented a bit, if it's under-proofed just a wee smidge, or if the loaf has fully tripled in size. But give it a try. Did I mention this dough is resilient? And it's gratifying as heck to go through the process. If nothing else, your kitchen will smell amazing. No worries, though, it'll be good bread! It's "light and billowy" crumb and irresistibly crispy crust will keep you reaching for the bread basket.

Pan de Horiadaki -- Greek Country Bread
from A Blessing of Bread
makes 2 rounds and requires about 5 hours (1 hour active time)

7 1/2 cups bread flour
1 t. instant yeast
3 cups warm water
1 T plus 1 1/2 t. salt
2 T plus 1 t. sugar
2 T. olive oil, plus extra for oiling pans

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour and yeast. Add the warm water and, using a spoon, mix it in just until the flour is moistened and a rough dough forms. Cover the dough and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Mix the dough
  • Using the dough hook, mix the dough on medium speed until it is very smooth, soft and tacky, 10-15 minutes. If it seems too firm, add a Tablespoon or two of water. Add more flour if it's super sticky.
  • Add the salt, sugar and oil and mix on medium speed until the sugar and the salt have dissolves, about 2 minutes. At this point, the dough should tighten up and clean the work bowl. Test the dough by stretching a small portion of it; if you can almost see through it when stretch without shredding, you're good to go. If not, continue to mix another minute. And add more water if necessary.
Ferment the dough
  • Place the dough into a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel. Let dough rise until it has doubled in bulk, about 2 hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
  • Generously oil two 8-inch round cake pans. Divide the dough in half and deflate each, and shape into tight balls. Coat each with oil in the cake pans and cover with plastic wrap. (At this point the dough can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.) Let the dough ferment until it has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour (2 if it's been refrigerated).
Shape and proof the dough
  • Remove rounds from cake pans. Shape them into tightly rounded loaves and put them back in their pans seam side down. Oil tops and cover with plastic. (Again, you can refrigerate for 24 hours.) Let dough proof until tripled in size, about 1 hour (2 if it's been refrigerated).
  • After shaping the dough and while it's proofing, preheat the oven to 400.
Baking the dough
  • When the loaves have tripled in size and remains indented when gently pressed, lightly oil again, and bake for 50-55 minutes. After the first 35 minutes of baking, rotate the pans so the bread browns evenly.
  • When the loaves are done, they should sound hollow when knocked, remove from the oven and cool on racks.
  • Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mashed Potato Cakes

This is a great way to use leftover mashed potatoes. It's a Sara Moulton recipe. She recommends not adding butter or milk, etc. to the portion of potatoes you reserve to make the cakes. But I go ahead and mash all the taters into creamy, buttery bliss and "settle" for cakes that are a bit softer and less (and more!) shapely. These babies got curves..

Serve with roasted chicken , topped with a poached egg or sprinkled with scallions.

Mashed Potato Cakes
makes 8 cakes

2 cups cold mashed potatoes
2 T canola oil
2 T butter
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 t. salt plus additional to taste
1/4 t. black pepper plus additional to taste

  • Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, divide mashed potatoes into 8 portions. Form into 1/2 inch (a bit thicker if using potatoes mashed with butter and milk bc they will soften and flatten more) patties.
  • Mix the flour with the salt and pepper in a pie plate. In a large non-stick or cast iron saute pan over medium-high saute pan heat oil and butter heat oil and butter until it's ripple-y almost smoking.
  • Coat the potato cakes thoroughly with seasoned flour. Add to the hot oil and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until cakes have formed a golden crust, 15-20 minutes. Turn and cook other side until brown, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, if you like. Serve hot. Enjoy!
Note: cakes can be kept for a couple of days in the fridge and reheated for a few minutes under the broiler until hot.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Two-Bite Chocolate Cupcakes

These cupcakes are a great go-to for any occasion. They come together in a snap and, well, they're scrumptious. And they're mini, so go ahead and have two. Happy day!

Two-Bite Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

makes about 40

1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 t. instant espresso (optional)
1 cup boiling water
1 1/3 cups flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla
  • Preheat oven to 350 and line cupcake tins.
  • In a small bowl, combine water cocoa and espresso, stir to dissolve. Cool to room temperature.
  • In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In a large bowl or that of a standing mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add vanilla. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Turn mixer to low and slowly add flour, and then the cocoa. Mix until smooth.
  • Fill lined tins 2/3 full and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. (If you make regular cupcakes, bake for about 15 minutes.)
  • Cool in tins for 5 minutes, move to cooling rack and cool completely before frosting.
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 box confectioners' sugar
1 t. vanilla
2-3 T milk

Beat thoroughly until smooth, adding more milk as necessary.

Note: Go easy on the milk if you are using food coloring because the color will loosen the buttercream.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Clementine Cake

I love clementines. They are easy to peel, have few pits, and are usually super sweet and juicy. I tend to buy them by the crate because I can rip through a few in a matter of minutes. Unfortunately, the last bunch I brought home was a dud. After a couple of hopeful tries, I gave up; the tasteless, dry fruit was just too disappointing. Unable to waste 'good' food and unwilling to eat not-so-good food, I decided to dress up my wan clementines and give them new life... Here's a recipe for clementine cake. It's gorgeous with a dollop of thick Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey.

Clementine Cake
adapted from Nigella Lawson

5 clementines
6 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 cups almond meal (either purchased as flour or finely ground in processor)
1 t. salt
1 heaping t. baking powder
  • In a medium sauce pan, submerge clementines in cold water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 2 hours. Drain and allow clementines to cool to room temperature.
  • Cut clementines in half and remove any pits. Coarsely puree in food processor.
  • Preheat oven to 375 and butter a spring form pan and line the bottom with parchment.
  • In a large bowl, beat eggs and add pureed clementine pulp; mix thoroughly. Add sugar, almonds, baking powder and salt; stir until combined. Pour into prepared pan.
  • Bake 40 minutes. Rotate pan, cover with foil and continue to bake for another 2o minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack.
  • Enjoy!

Place a bowl over the clementines to submerge them, if necessary.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Curried Sweet Potato Latkes

These sweet potato pancakes are a staple in my little home. They are quick to put together (especially if you use a food processor to grate the spuds) and they're just plain old good. Not to mention versatile.. Serve on top of black beans + rice for supper or over greens splashed with sherry vinegar for a nice lunch. Add a dollop of sour cream or eat them straight up. Whatever you do, make a batch! They keep in the fridge and are ready for round two after only a few minutes under the broiler. I'm thinking - as I write - that I might top them with some applesauce for a sweet and savory dessert tonight. Perfect!

Curried Sweet Potato Pancakes
Adapted from Jewish Cooking in America
makes about 20 small pancakes

1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1/2 cup flour
2 t. sugar
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. cayenne
2 t. curry powder
1 t. cumin
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 - 1/2 cup milk
Canola oil, for frying
  • Grate the sweet potatoes coarsely.
  • In a medium bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, cayenne pepper, curry powder, cumin, and salt and pepper.
  • Add the eggs and just enough milk to the dry ingredients to make a stiff batter. Add the potatoes and mix thoroughly. Batter should be moist but not runny. Add more milk if necessary.
  • Heat a couple of Tablespoons oil in either a non-stick or cast iron skillet over high heat until almost smoking. Drop ¼ cup batter into oil and flatten. Fry over medium-high heat 4-ish minutes on each side until golden. Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with a touch of salt and serve hot.
  • Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Crostini with Goat Cheese and Fennel

It's a dreary day here in NYC. Luckily I have a well stocked larder and don't need to venture out into the wet world. I seem to gravitate towards crostini when I'm scrounging around in the cupboards for something to eat (check out my 'Sweep of the Kitch Crostini'). Crunchy chewy bread is just so satisifying, especially when it's topped with pesto, cheese or caramelized vegetables. This particular crostini is loaded with goat cheese, fennel and a pretty little fennel frond for a pop of color. Oh, and the bread is homemade, so check in later this week for the recipe. In the meantime, tell me what your favorite crostini is...

Crostini with Goat Cheese and Fennel

1 fennel bulb, fronds reserved
1-2 T. olive oil
spritz lemon juice, optional
salt to taste
2ish oz. goat cheese
  • Halve fennel lengthwise and cut out the small core. Place each half on flat side and dice in the same way you would an onion.
  • In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add fennel, and stir to coat. Add 1/4 cup water, turn the heat to high and cook fennel until soft. Add more water as necessary.
  • Once fennel's soft, turn heat down to medium-high and allow it to begin to brown. Resist the urge to stir often. Stir only occasionally, after you have added a touch of water so you don't tear the vegetables. Once lightly browned, add salt to taste and lemon juice. The whole process (raw fennel to caramelized) will take about 45 minutes.
  • Spread goat cheese on toast and top with caramelized fennel and reserved fronds.
  • Enjoy!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Classic Hot Wings

For those of you who could care less about Valentine's day, but are lamenting the loss of football Sundays, go ahead and crack open a beer and soothe your broken heart with a batch of these excellent hot wings. This super simple recipe is adapted from Grace Parisi's, check out her variations: Thai green curry, maple-chipotle, etc., at Food & Wine. The active time is all of ten minutes, and you'll be ready to dig into these classically crispy and hot wings in just under an hour. Don't worry, it'll be kick-off time before you know it!

Hot Wings
serves about 4

2 lb chicken wingettes and drumettes
1 t. salt
2 T unsalted butter
2 1/2 T red hot sauce
  • Preheat the oven to 500°. Line a large baking sheet with foil and grease lightly with canola oil.
  • Place chicken on baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and toss with a bit more oil to coat. Spread chicken in a single layer and roast for 45 minutes, turning once or twice, until browned and crispy.
  • In a medium stock pot, melt butter. Add hot sauce and stir to combine. Turn off heat and add cooked chicken; toss to coat completely.
  • Enjoy!