nlbarber: (Default)
Cinnamon Apple FlatbreadBreakfast this morning was this Cinnamon-Apple Flatbread, which is both on the King Arthur Flour blog and recipe collection. It was very good despite being re-heated after being baked yesterday afternoon. The recipe calls for 3 hour-long risings--this is not a recipe I'm going to get baked before breakfast. Or brunch, even. I'm not a fan of maple syrup (heresy to those of you who are, I know) so I used golden syrup instead with the boiled cider, and about half the amount under the assumption that I'm going to want things less sweet than most printed recipes. It's definitely a keeper. One big attraction of this recipe is that it can use unfed sourdough starter. I'm in the club that hates to throw away that cup of starter at each feeding, and will add this to my options for using it instead.

In the blog comments someone suggested trying this with cheese on top instead of the cinnamon-syrup mixture. That sounds very promising, and may be my next experiment. I was also thinking of trying it as a pizza base (also a KA suggestion) but got sidetracked by another sourdough pizza dough recipe for unfed starter (OK, mine got fed yesterday, but I'll used unfed *next* time) and the dough is rising for dinner.

Pi Day!

Mar. 14th, 2010 05:24 pm
nlbarber: (cake)
Younger niece called to make sure that I was aware that it was Pi Day (I'd let it slip my mind, actually) and to ask what I was doing about it. I invited her over, we went through a stack of recipe clippings, and settled on Chocolate Caramel Hazelnut Pecan Tart. Several other options were inviting, but she declared that to be Pie it must have a crust, and for Pi Day, it had to be round.

The crust is chilling before being rolled out and baked, then we'll make the caramel ganache for the filling.
nlbarber: (Default)
IMG_0311 Supper last night: smoked turkey chowder and bacon cornbread muffins (baked in a popover pan) Southern style, which started out from this Peter Reinhart recipe.

To all those recipe-description-writers whose entries I browsed by looking for this recipe: any cornbread recipe with THREE KINDS of sugar (white, brown, and honey) ain't "slightly sweet". To a Southerner, cornbread takes no sweetening at all. I left all the forms of sugar out, upped the butter a little to compensate, and baked it in a popover pan. Moderately successful, but I think it would need more tweaking from a better cook than I to deal with the removal of the sugars, plus my palate can't tell what difference soaking the cornmeal in buttermilk overnight made and I think I prefer my cornbread without corn kernels added. Next time I'll probably just stick crisp bacon crumbles on my standard cornbread, which is Martha White's Cotton Country cornbread mix made with an egg. <g>

IMG_0310The turkey chowder is my second batch of the season, as the first batch was mostly devoured while the family was gathered for Thanksgiving. I didn't get enough, so made another batch with some smoked turkey necks.
nlbarber: (Default)
Today was the big prep day, hopefully keeping tomorrow less hectic. We eat the big Thanksgiving meal in the middle of the day, so advance work the day before helps avoid getting up at 4 AM to start cooking on the day.

Today's output: the Turkey Orloff is all assembled, and will just need 30 minutes in an oven to heat and brown the cheese. The dough for the lemon butter crust rolls is in the fridge, ready to be shaped, and the lemon butter to brush on them is in there too. Pumpkin cheesecakes, baked in my new mini-cheesecake pan, are done, as is the bourbon caramel sauce and the lightly candied pecans that will top them. Younger niece came over and tackled the chocolate pecan pie, which we then consumed with dinner this evening. I did grilled chuck roast for tonight's dinner, but younger niece did latkes, and sister-in-law did the veggies, salad, and grilled chicken for those who are reducing their beef consumption.

Older brother, t'other sister-in-law, and one of the two nephews in that family arrived in early afternoon--brother and sister-in-law drove down from Durham, NC, and nephew flew in from Rochester, NY. The other nephew in that family is in Madrid, taking advantage of having a friend doing a study tour there.

Older brother is in charge of Pie, even though I usually make at least one dessert and niece stepped in this year with the chocolate pecan. (Which was really good, incidentally--traditional pecan pie is really too sweet for most everyone in the family. The bittersweet chocolate really offsets the sweetness.) The plan: coconut cake (a Shirley Corriher recipe for an almost-soggy, moist cake. Black-bottom pie. Pumpkin pie. You can infer that Pie has become a family-defined term for "desserts served at Thanksgiving.

After dinner, he took over my kitchen and made the coconut cake and the black-bottom pie, while I prepped brussels sprouts for tomorrow's brussels sprouts with bacon and walnuts, then helped by blind-baking the crust for the black-bottom pie. Tomorrow morning one of us will do the pumpkin, trying to get it done before the casseroles and the rolls fight for oven space.
nlbarber: (heavenlycakes)
New posts for the Heavenly Cake bake-along are up on my "cake blog". If you're using a feed reader, you might have seen the Catalán Salt Pinch Cake here, or the first version of it. I thought MarsEdit had eaten the post, when it actually had sent it to LJ, not Blogspot. Oh, well.

Woody's Lemon Luxury Layer Cake

Catalán Salt Pinch Cake
nlbarber: (heavenlycakes)
I've joined one of the myriad Internet groups that bake with each other--someone or the group picks a recipe, and everyone bakes it. In my case the project is to bake all the cakes in Rose Levy Beranbaum's new cookbook, Roses's Heavenly Cakes. I've been a Beranbaum fan for a long time--my shelves hold the Cake Bible, the Bread Bible, the Pie and Pastry Bible, plus some of her smaller cookbooks, too (call 'em the non-biblicals). One family standard, a roast chicken stuffed with spicy (think jalapeño) matzoh brei is from one of those.

The way this particular bake-along works is that the leader, Marie of breadbasketcase and heavenlycakeplace picks a cake a week, and announces the schedule a few weeks in advance. If you want to be part of the bake-along, you commit to baking at least 2 cakes a month. (Not that there are consequences for not making it except perhaps having your blog taken off the list of links.) And then you blog about it, preferably on Mondays, when Marie posts her blog entry. The first 10 of us to sign up got free, signed copies of the cookbook as a bonus. Marie baked her way through the Bread Bible back in 2006, but without company--that was the start of her breadbasketcase blog. She started on Heavenly Cakes before it was published (Rose sent her an ARC), and then she and Rose announced this bake-along right around the publication date.

I decided to set up a separate blog for it--I have been posting cooking and baking here, but there's lots of other stuff too, not of interest to the other cake-bakers. If anyone wants to check out the cakes I've done so far (5 of 'em, I think), my blog for it is Bread&Cake&More. I will probably put most cooking and baking posts over there from now on, but will try to remember to make a note here when a post goes up there.
nlbarber: (Default)
Last night, younger niece wanted to make a dessert. We ended up with Cooks Illustrated's Chocolate-Chunk Oatmeal Cookies with Dried Cherries, though made almost half the size they specified. Really yum. Probably not as yum as the recipe we lacked the time and ingredients for that has a pound of chocolate to a half cup of flour, but still yum. The chocolate cookies will get tried another day...

Tonight's dinner was Apricot Honey-Glazed Turkey Thighs, a crockpot recipe I got from Ben Hensperger's "Not your mother's slow cooker cookbook", with a side of this Mushroom Casserole from 101 Cookbooks blog. Both very good, though I didn't get the turkey sauce reduced and thickened quite enough. Will do both of these again. I'll probably do the mushroom dish as a vegetarian entree sometime when I'm cooking for just me.
nlbarber: (Default)
Actually, I got home Thursday--older brother is in Moultrie with Daddy until Sunday, when we hope he will feel OK about being on his own. The oncologist appointment has been set for January 30, and sister-in-law will probably make the down-and-back trip to bring Daddy up here for it. I must finally get the guest room cleaned up again....

I went in to the office on Friday morning for a meeting, postponed at my request from Tuesday when I was on my way to Moultrie. It should have taken about an hour--maybe less. But with the guy running it, it took 2 and a half hours, and ended without anyone having action items or any sort of timeline for the next steps. So glad this guy isn't my supervisor!

Today was much more fun. I Jazzercized this morning (boy, I'm going to have to work at getting back in shape....and the JazzerThon is next month), went to the grocery store, then called younger niece over and we made Triple Ginger Cookies. Ours spread out more than Heidi's and the first batch was a little underdone...but these are really good if you're a ginger lover. We're also working on the right amount of salt to sprinkle in with the turbinado sugar for the coating to get that little sweet/salty bite we both like.

Tomorrow niece will return to make her birthday cake, one of 3 she generally gets every year. There's the devil's food cake her grandma makes on or near the actual birthday (Dec. 30), while she's in Arizona visiting. Then there's a 'family' birthday cake, and a cake for her birthday party. Tomorrow's baking will be the family cake, but niece has chosen a pie: Grand Canyon Pie from Beranbaum's Pie and Pastry Bible. It's a chocolate cookie crumb crust, a layer of bittersweet ganache, a layer of fresh raspberries, a layer of chocolate chip whipped cream, all topped with cocoa meringue 'boulders'. Supposedly the effect will be the layers of the Grand Canyon. I just finished baking the cocoa meringue--the rest will be tackled tomorrow.
nlbarber: (Default)
Thanksgiving came off very well. The menu for the big meal, which we have in the middle of the day, was just as planned, and followed in the evening by turkey and rice soup that was supposed to be turkey chowder, but I completely forgot to add the milk at the end. Oh, well, it was fine as a non-chowder. I supplemented mine with an angel biscuit and smoked turkey, others did variations on sandwiches with bits of leftovers from earlier meals, and then we all had Pie.

More on Pie, and the downtown festival, etc.... )

Friday's activities )

Tomorrow we'll do a little more of the chores-and-shopping before the Georgia-Georgia Tech football game starts at noon. I'm assuming we'll have lunch in front of the TV, then I plan to hit the road after eating (and will listen to the game as I drive). Brother and s-i-l will watch the game in Moultrie before starting home.
nlbarber: (Default)
I have a sourdough starter, which doesn't get used much as the process for making real (no added yeast) sourdough bread is so lengthy, I rarely plan far enough ahead to do it. So every now and then the starter must be fed, hopefully before it gets that blackish stuff on top. The feeding procedure is to throw away a cup of starter, then add more flour and water (fresh food!) and stir it up, then let it get bubbly again before you use it.

But throwing away the old starter seems like such a waste, and not just to me. Hunting around on the King Arthur Flour site I uncovered a few recipes to use the unfed starter, and tried 3 of them. One is sourdough waffles, which I've now made a couple of times in both plain and blueberry versions. Very good indeed, and not too sweet, which we all prefer. This recipe does require mixing up part of the ingredients the night before to let the sourdough flavor develop, but I can usually handle that. (Recipe, but the next time I may try this slightly simpler one)

Next up was sourdough popovers. (Recipe) These also work extremely well, though there's very little sourdough flavor. That's OK--hot crispy popovers are fine just as they come. I used several as a base for creamed chicken.

Last attempt was a crumpet recipe buried in a set of instructions for reviving a mostly dead starter. This was much less successful, at least if you wanted crumpets. While baking they never got the very bubbly texture of crumpets, and sure enough, the finished product was more like a pancake than a crumpet. Not a bad pancake if you like 'em thick, but not a crumpet.

Next time the starter needs feeding, I may tackle the sourdough chocolate cake, though that one needs a fed starter...
nlbarber: (Default)
Last weekend was the first time I delved into Small-Batch Baking by Debby Maugans Nakos, purchased in July. (Don't think I start using most of my cookbook purchases so promptly....some of them have been on the shelf for years and never yet been cooked from. One of these days I'll go purge the collection again.)

The concept behind Small Batch Baking is recipes that make only 2 or 3 servings. Ideal for me if I didn't often share with the folks next door, but even then it looks like the 2-3 servings can be stretched to 4 easily (me plus the 3 kids), and to 5 (include my brother) or even 5 plus a taste (for sugar and carb sensitive sister-in-law) for some recipes. Or we could always double a recipe if it was particularly good.

Experiments with pictures behind the cut )
nlbarber: (Default)
I've been baking a challah every Friday (when we're all in town) for sister-in-law's Shabbat for quite a while now--I guess since I blogged about the decline in quality of the frozen-dough ones she'd been using. After a couple of experiments, I settled on a recipe I found on the 'Net, called Grandma Rosie's Fabulous Challah, and made it several times after modifying it to use instant yeast, be kneaded in my KitchenAid (I'm not one who finds hand-kneading soothing or stress-relieving), and cut in half. The original made 3 challahs, so this gave me one large challah. After that recipe and technique felt solid, I experimented with adding whole-wheat flour, and then cut the recipe in half again to get to the size loaf we want for 6 people some of whom try to restrict their bread intake.

I'm enjoying this regular bread baking--it gives me a much better feel for how the dough should look, and a better appreciation for the natural variations that humidity, room temperature, and such cause. And we're getting a pretty good challah, in my biased opinion.

The standard is now a mostly whole-wheat challah, braided with 6 strands. I was using 2 3-strand braids, one smaller and stuck on top of the other, but that seems to be a method to make the 3-strand braid look more complex, which is to say, more like a 6-strand braid. And given that my smaller braid would sometimes slide sideways as the loaf was rising, and given that I can now do the 6-strand braid without referring to my notes, 6 strands it is. Next week I guess I'll get to try my hand at a round challah for Rosh Hashanah.

The recipe )

My habit now is to make the dough first thing Friday morning (I don't work on Fridays), around 8 or 9 AM. I may let it sit on the counter a while to start rising, but it soon gets stuffed into the fridge for the day. Around 4 PM I take the doubled dough out, braid the loaf, let it rise, and bake it so it's ready before our usual 6:30 dinner time.

Pi Day

Mar. 14th, 2008 11:29 pm
nlbarber: (Default)
I took my younger niece out after dinner to buy a mini pie, in honor of Pi Day. Her older sister wanted to eat pie but wasn't willing to make the trip to get it, so will have to live with what came home (chocolate banana, from Whole Foods). Both parents declared that they had done all the driving they were willing to do for the day, so I agreed to make the trip.

And this brings to mind the Thanksgiving pies, all 6 or 7 or whatever it was, and how we taught my 8 y.o. nephew about pi using pie. We actually told him he couldn't eat pie until he knew about pi--he didn't seem to take this threat all that seriously, but still quickly memorized the definition, and 7 to 10 digits of the number. And we measured (sloppily) the circumference and diameter of several circular objects (including a pie), did the calculation and arrived at something in the vicinity of 3. He found this procedure disappointing when it didn't come out closer to 3.14159.

Ah, it appears it was only 5 pies at Thanksgiving, if you don't count the tartlets we made to use up the extra chess pie filling. The 4 in this picture, plus a black bottom that was still in the fridge. And the memory goes faster every year--what did we make? Deep dish apple, buttermilk chess, the dark chocolate thingy that wasn't as good as I'd hoped, and ____. Something else chocolate, perhaps? Maybe chocolate chess.
nlbarber: (Default)
Most of today has been consumed by, preparing...another birthday cake for younger niece. Party (and cake) history of late )
This cake goes away from the decorated-party-cake type to looks-like-it-will-taste-marvelous territory. It's a Chocolate Raspberry Bavarian, from Chocolate by Nick Maglieri. Cake description, and the hockey puck first attempt... )
Oh, yes, final touches. After the kitchen marathon I was not inclined to cook dinner, so I headed to Mama Fu's for Thai green beans with beef, then to the grocery store for fresh raspberries for garnish. Egad! Those berries cost $5.99 for each 6 oz. container--and I wanted 3. I decided I was committed and spent the money, but that's well past my usual choke point for berries. I generally buy raspberries when they're going for $2-$3 for those little containers.

Week's end

Feb. 9th, 2008 10:21 pm
nlbarber: (Default)
Today has been...blah. Perhaps I'm coming down with a cold, perhaps it's just an allergy attack, but the nose has been dripping steadily, ignoring the antihistamine I've thrown at it. I slept too little last night (got caught up in Chima's YA The Wizard Heir), dragged out of bed in time to make breakfast and get to the 9:30 Jazzercise class, then came home, showered, finished the book, ate some soup for lunch, and took a nap. Until about 4 PM. So much for Saturday.

Yesterday was better, with the usual errand-running, Weight Watchers, and stuff. I again baked a challah (missed last week due to the Denver trip, though my nephew asked if I'd baked one when I went over for supper less than an hour after getting home) this time with part whole-wheat flour. Traditionalists may shudder, but I like both the benefit of some whole grain, and the extra flavor. I cooked the entree for the usual Friday night joint dinner next door, a Cooks Illustrated recipe called Glazed Pork Chops with Asian Flavors. Came out very well-flavored and moist, though it did require fairly careful attention for the 30-40 minute preparation time. I will try their other flavor variations on this recipe, too.

I was supposed to get a perm yesterday, but my hair stylist called to say her husband and 2 sons had the flu--despite getting the shot. It seems the strain going around Atlanta was not in this year's vaccine. We've postponed the perm a week, and the cut-and-color another week beyond that, and I will try to eke out the last of the curl with mousse and hair spray.
nlbarber: (Default)
The goal was to make a challah for this evening's dinner next door, as sister-in-law tries to do something toward observing Shabbat. She had been using Kineret frozen challah dough to have a freshly baked loaf, but the last few she's baked have been tasteless--none of the eggy nature of a good challah. We concluded Kineret has changed their recipe.

I experimented with a couple of challah recipes a few months ago (well, maybe it was last winter), but this time went to Beranbaum's The Bread Bible since I've been using it lately. So maybe this bread-baking wasn't the smoothest I've ever done... )

In my Web searching this morning, I also spotted a revised challah recipe that Beranbaum had posted, using a sourdough starter and a simpler mixing technique. Maybe I'll do that one next week. Moral: go read Real Baking with Rose before starting to bake from her books. There might be an improved version on the blog...
nlbarber: (countertop)
Let's see...Saturday was the Decatur Book Festival. Sunday was catch-up-in-the-house day. But then, today was too. There's always a backlog in the house.

weekend puttering )

Pretty quiet Labor Day...
nlbarber: (Default)
Over on [ profile] pegkerr's LJ arose this thread on craving cream tea. And [ profile] aome posted a recipe for Gingerbread Scones in the comments, and that hit several of my weaknesses: ginger, gingerbread, scones, and bread in general.

So, younger niece and I made scones this evening. Haven't eaten one yet (this was a post-dinner baking project), but they aren't what I expected: more like a somewhat drier than normal, flat gingerbread, and none of the biscuit/scone character. Good gingerbread flavor, though, judging from the crumbs I nibbled on. The dough was wetter than it should have been (Atlanta's high humidity, probably) and I couldn't cut it into wedges for baking--that may have cause some of the difference.

I'm hoping I can find that jar of lemon curd in the pantry, and I'll have a very indulgent breakfast for the morning. Then I'll be off to the Decatur Book Festival for most of the day.
nlbarber: (Default)

Chocolate Cloud Cake and the Forest Lizard Bowl

The birthday cake came out well--maybe not quite as dramatic as intended (I think I overbaked it slightly so the middle didn't fall as much as the recipe seems to indicate) but wonderful eating nonetheless. I used the optional Grand Marnier and grated orange rind, but if I do it again I think I'll try it without, or perhaps just with cognac as a flavoring. The orange is just a little too much there.

I also used only 2/3 of the whipped cream called for, in the interests of saving a few calories without a great sacrifice. Not that I can't eat gobs of whipped cream, you understand, but I can also cut back on it without feeling horribly deprived. And as you can see on a picture of a slice of cake, there was still quite a cloud of cream.

The cake is being guarded by my forest dragon bowl, made by my cousin Hat and given to me when we visited last month. I haven't decided if the bowl will live in the kitchen permanently, but for the moment it's providing a wonderful decorative touch to the back counter.

nlbarber: (Default)
I made the wonderful, and reliable, barbecued chuck roast, grilled medium rare. (Recipe handed down from my mother.) Sister-in-law provided salad, roasted cauliflower, broccoli, and pasta for them that wanted it. And for dessert I made strawberry shortcake--the shortcakes were Richard Sax's "Buttermilk-Almond Biscuits" from his Classic Home Desserts, with piles of fresh strawberries and a moderate amount of freshly whipped cream (we're all watching our weight).

The biscuits are the cover picture on my copy of the cookbook--looks like there's a new dust jacket now and it's now one of 3 photos.


nlbarber: (Default)

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