Thursday, December 22, 2011

Things I Love Thursday: Dec. 22, 2011 - Chrisanukkah Edition

Yes folks it's that magical time of year where Chanukah lights its way through Christmas. The first night was this past Tuesday and though I haven't made latkes yet, you can bet this combo holiday will be full of good food and good cheer. I've always celebrated both, but if you celebrate one or the other or neither, I hope you have a great end of December, holidays or no.

So I haven't made my traditional latkes yet, but I might also have to make these! Oh wow, do they ever look delicious.

The Wall Street Journal Features Kenny & Zuke's Deli: As a part of our holiday meals, Aaron has been working on some brisket to make corned beef for reubens. One of the best reubens in Portland is available at K&Z and New York's love for Portland is well documented, so I am not surprised by this article. It's nice to see that some of the best NY deli in America is right here in Portland. And can I give a shout out to the pastrami fries? Because holy crap, they are so good.

Eating Local Cookbooks: I think cookbooks are a great gift for foodies - it's filled with possibilities and yummy ideas. A couple I have noticed recently -  Farm Anatomy (check out the cool illustrations here) and the Green Market Baking Book. All about cooking and eating locally and being better to our world through food. Sounds like a complete win to me.
Food Gifts That Matter: Mark Bittman, as always, is totally on the ball about gifts for your foodie friends - especially those that want to do something good. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is a group my dear friend Amy has worked with before and Heifer International I mentioned in my last minute gift guide last year. All of these are worthy causes and well worth your consideration.

Homemade Goodies: I can't tell you what I made this year because I haven't given them all out yet, but I can tell you that it was fun to make, made my house smell really good, and looked really pretty when decorated. I will attempt to remember to post about them. Just know that they were good. I also had a really enjoyable evening this past weekend making holiday cookies with my girlfriends. I am terrible at decorating cookies, but it is still fun. Especially when you can make a Christmas Moose. Or Christmas Vader.

Speaking of Christmas Vader, for the Star Wars baker/chef in your life, check out all that Williams-Sonoma has to offer. I already have the aforementioned cookie cutters and the cupcake stencils (featured in the blog here)
Pumpkin Buttermilk Scones: Sounds perfect for fall/winter/spending a lot of time indoors with family & friends.

Cocoa + Christmas Movies: Spiked or no, what better way to enjoy your favorite Christmas films like Love Actually (an annual tradition for me), Elf, Home Alone, or Die Hard (yes, it is a Christmas movie. With explosions). Make your own cocoa mix to make it really special or splurge on some of the good stuff.
(potatoes gotta do what potatoes gotta become latkes)
I'm also loving: the crazy amount of meal planning Aaron and I have done; how excited I am to actually eat all of those; holiday cookies from friends; holiday liqueurs (!) from friends; gelt, even when it is impossibly hard to open; buying stocking stuffers (hint: it's mostly candy because duh); making Jamie jump up and down because of a Packers beer coozie stuffed with gummi bears; the smell coming from the Widmer Brewery on a cold night; winter cocktails (hot toddies, I'm looking at you); grinding my own cardamom; library holiday parties; food + family + friends.

What are you loving this week? 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Jam Muffins

Wow, I made these a long time ago. And they were messy. And pretty good. But messy. Have extra homemade jam that you have no idea what to do with? Want to make them too? Follow along!

Jam Muffins from Serious Eats:

Makes 12 muffins

¾ c. all purpose flour
¾ c. white whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
¾ c. milk
¼ c. vegetable oil
1 Tb. vanilla
1 egg
¼ c. honey
½ c. jam

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray 12 standard-sized muffin tins with baking spray, or line them with paper liners. Combine the flours, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine.

In a separate bowl, combine the milk, vegetable oil, vanilla, egg, and honey. Whisk to combine, making sure the honey is fully dissolved.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just enough to combine. It will be lumpy. Add the jam, and fold the mixture a few times to distribute it, but leave the mixture streaky. Portion the mixture evenly into the muffin tins. I topped mine with extra jam, which turned out to be kind of a mistake because the jam leaked a lot and I had to scrub my poor baking stone that was sitting underneath the muffin tray. Sad.

Bake at 375 degrees until the muffins are browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
Remove the muffins from the pan and cool completely on a rack.

Like I said, these a pretty good, but very messy. Be careful with your jam mixing. I thought they also tasted a little gritty, so really make sure you get your dry and wet ingredients well mixed. I might fiddle with these some more, but if nothing else, it’s a great way to use jam.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Caramel Apples

When it first started to feel like fall in Portland, my friend Sarah invited a collective of us ladies over for caramel apple making and wine. Now that it is feeling very much like fall and almost winter (where's the snow Portland? It should feel all the way like winter now!), I highly recommend this activity.

Caramel Apples:

1 package caramel candies, unwrapped (or homemade caramel...mmm....)
6-8 apples (lean toward the tart side)
Sea salt (optional)
Parchment paper for covering your plates

Melt up your caramel. When it cools a little bit, dunk in the apples. We discovered that this worked really well in a partner system: one person dunks and turns while the other spoons on more caramel. Place on plates covered in parchment paper. Sprinkle with sea salt. Refrigerate until you can't stand it anymore and then eat them. Sticky, gooey, and wonderful.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Things I Love Thursday: Dec. 15, 2011

Man, I need to get photos into some of my posts. They are all prepped and ready to go, but then I got in early to this game and with working 3 jobs and all, I don't want to do anything else. Blogging? Feh! But I have time right now to tell you about food stuff I love before I go home, drag myself to the gym, and then go pew pew pew for too many hours.

Speaking of jobs and my field of work, I love that there is such a thing as a wine librarian. I am not at all qualified, but man, this is so cool! And yes, there is such a thing as a food librarian too. The best part of this whole field? The -brarian part. You can add that on to anything! Foodbrarian. Cupcakebrarian. See? Awesome.

Jameson Select Black Reserve Barrel: Also in the world of adult beverages, Serious Eats reviewed this new version of Jameson that just sounds delightful. Spendy, but the holidays are worth something special, aren't they?
The Holiday Finger-Food Combination Generator: Food + infographics = one happy foodie librarian. Thanks Slaven for the tweet on this one! Also this is helpful if you do have a last minute party...or just want to play around with weird or amazing food combos in snack form.
Jewelery That Looks Like Food: Love sushi? How about a bracelet of California rolls? Ice cream makes for a fun necklace. This necklace is sold, but kind of rad. I'd probably try to eat it all the time and then be disappointed. And then maybe confused as to why I thought I was wearing a cracker around my neck. Also out of stock, but fun are these toast earrings. All fun ideas for the foodie in your life (including yourself) for now or whenever.

One Shooter Sandwich and a Guinness Please: Holy crap meat-a-pa-sandwich. Convenience! From Britain! Also, a whole loaf of bread and two steaks.
(cake + penguins? Yes please!)
In other meatastic news, I give you - The Year in Burgers! Sure, it's mostly about chains, but it also talks about Wahlburgers! Have I not mentioned this place before? Yeah, so as it turns out this year Mark and Donnie Wahlberg opened up a burger joint. Yeah. If that's not rad, I don't know what is.

Burger King is Where You Can Eat Bread Crumbs With a Piece of Meat Inside: More burgers! Or - Dinosaur Comics explains Burger King and I laugh so hard I snort. Are you not already reading Dinosaur Comics? Why not? T-Rex has opinions about things and they are funny! Also - dinosaurs!
Edible Gift Wrap: Yes, this is a thing. You make it yourself. And it is AWESOME.

A Swedish Winter Smorgasboard: A fun and interesting way to fight the winter blues. Aquavit now just makes me thing about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series (have you read it? You should read it), but I also love gravlax and ginger cookies. I also shared this because two things happen when I hear the world smorgasboard. The first is that this song gets stuck in my head. And then I just think about the Swedish Chef doing his thing. It's all fun.
(instructions here)
I'm also loving: seeing Cake Spy (aka Jessie Oleson) at Crafty Wonderland (did you buy her book yet? You should buy her book); coming home to pizza after getting super wet walking home in the rain; that snap/ping when your jars seal; also, not really hurting myself when canning. Total bonus.; slow cooked everything; finding out its cookie day at work when you get there hungry; surprise dinners at Russell St. (do I link there every TILT? probably. It's good, y'all); homemade dinner + football with my faves; trying new sausages from Sheridan's (also I place I link to frequently; friends asking me food questions; @StephenAtHome - "This Norwegian butter shortage is the worst international food crisis since they devalued the chocolate euro." (ILY Stephen Colbert).

What are you loving this week? 

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Things I Love Thursday: Dec. 8, 2011

Today's TILT is dedicated to my good friend Corey and her fiancé Brian since the visa stuff has finally worked out and he'll be in America on Sunday. Congratulations to you both and welcome to America Brian. We're glad to have you.
What's more American than a roast turkey sandwich with cranberries? I want to eat this right now. I have not yet been to Lovejoy Bakers, but now I will definitely need to make a point of going there. The rest of the menu also sounds fantastic.

Favorite Cookbooks of 2011: I haven't posted anything from David Lebovitz in awhile, which is sad because his writing is so wonderful. I love the way he describes some of these cookbooks - makes me want to jam more into my already crowded shelf. These are some unique cookbooks as many of them seem to tell a story along with their recipes. Good gift ideas in here!

How to Deal with Baker's Block: Aside from just buying more and more cookbooks and creating a never ending list of recipes you will probably never see the end of? Yeah, this is good advice. Sometimes just hitting that old recipe you know you can do so well brings the pride back into it. When I pull a perfect loaf of challah out of the oven or make cookies from a recipe I have basically memorized? Baking life feels good! Baking for friends also helps.
2011 Food Trends I Can Agree With: I posted this for one reason and one reason only - pimento cheese. Kirst and I are already well aware of how amazing this Southern appetizer really is. One of the commenters even says to get it at our favorite place to eat it - Russell St. BBQ. Corey is already a fan of the 'q so we'll just need to get Brian on board.

Speaking of food trends, Alton Brown (one of my fave celebrity chefs) has a great piece about why he's against food trends. It's not that they are bad, per se, but it's awesome to just make food because it's all kind of magical.
Gruesome Body Parts Made Out of Bread: Lisa sent this to me some time ago and it is super creepy. And intriguing. But also really, really creepy. And maybe a little punk rock? But mostly creepy.

Snakes and Lattes: Here's a link that's been sitting in my reader for some time now. Oops. But doesn't this place sound awesome? Look at that wall of games! If I'm ever in Toronto, I am seeking this place out.

You know what would be great to sip at a place like that? Numi's Holiday Chai.I'm a sucker for chai and I love Numi teas, so this sounds like absolute perfection to me.
I'm also loving: wine nights with Kirst, somehow made better by talking about work stuff and cover letters; honey crisp apples; spicy ramen bowls; mulled apple cider; all warm drinks right now; "'Do you spike your eggnog? With what' 'I put whiskey in my glass and then sort of wave it near the eggnog. That counts, right?" -Amandarama via Serious Eats; Aaron making OMG alfredo with pasta from Pastaworks; how many kitchen items are always on my gift wish lists; how much more tea I seem to drink when I have company; making new baking buddies; "forcing" chocolate cake on people; whiskey club; seriously, why are honey crisp apples so delicious?

What are you loving this week? Seriously, I want to know. Comment away.  

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

I love Joy the Baker. A lot. This was an interesting baking experience for me because the first of these cakes I didn’t love and that surprised me. The problem was in the rolling. I didn’t roll the cake quite tight enough and it tasted really bready and not appley enough. The second one, which was devoured with my girlfriends while watching Sex and the City 2 (cocktails required. It’s BAD.), was much better. And that’s not just the cocktails talking. Do what she says and make two. And roll them tight!

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake from Joy the Baker:

Makes 2 cakes

For the dough-
2 ¼ tsp (1 package) active dry yeast
¼ c. warm water, about 105 to 155 degrees F.
big pinch of sugar
6 Tb. granulated sugar
¾ c. (1½  sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ tsp. ground cardamom
½ tsp. salt
3 large eggs
4½  to 5 cups all-purpose flour
1 c. warm whole milk, 105 to 115 degrees F.

For the filling-
3 large apples, peeled and cut into small cubes (Honey Crisp for life!)
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
¼ c. brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. cornstarch
½  tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
pinch of salt

For the Streusel:
½  c. all-purpose flour
½ c. brown sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt
pinch of cardamom
3 Tb. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg and sugar for brushing and topping the dough before baking

To make the dough, in a small bowl, mix together yeast, warm water and pinch of sugar.  Stir together until yeast is dissolved and set aside for 10 minutes.  Yeast will foam up. 

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, add the sugar, butter, cardamom, and salt.  Blend on medium speed until pale in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Stop the mixer, scrape down the bowl, and add eggs and 1 cup of flour.  Blend on medium speed until thoroughly incorporated and creamy, about 1 minute.  Stop the mixer and add 2 cups more cups of flour, foamy yeast mixture, and warm milk.  Blend in medium speed until the flour disappears.  Mixture will be very wet. Add 1½  to 2 more cups of flour.  Blend until the flour is almost incorporated.
Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface.  Knead for 5 to 8 minutes by hand.  Dough will be glossy and just slightly sticky.  Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rest in a warm place for 1½ hours, or until doubled in size. Sometimes if my house is too cold, I’ll put the oven on warm. That usually works.

While the dough rises, make the apple filling and the streusel.

To make the apple filling, toss together diced apples, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, nutmeg and salt.  Leave at room temperature and set aside until ready to use.

To make the streusel filling:

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and cardamom.  Add butter and, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture.  Break up the butter into the mixture, until thoroughly incorporated and crumbly.  Set aside.

Continue on with the dough. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. I didn’t do this, but even though the pans for pretty messy, they cleaned up easily enough in hot water.
When the dough has doubled in size, dump it out onto a lightly floured work surface.   Use a large knife or a bench knife to divide the dough in two.  Roll each dough piece into about a 10×14-inch rectangle.  Sprinkle with half of the streusel mixture.  Add half of the apple mixture over the apples.  Add a bit of the apple juices too. 

Starting from the longest side, begin to roll the dough.  This isn’t like a cinnamon roll, you don’t have to roll it into a super tight swirl, but as I noted, make it pretty tight or it will be too bready.  Fold in about 1 1/2 to 1-inch folds.  Keep the seam on the bottom.

Repeat the same steps for the second piece of dough.

Carefully lift roll onto the prepared baking sheet. Now is a great time to freeze or refrigerate the coffee cake  dough for later baking. If you decide to freeze the dough, place it in the fridge to thaw the evening before you’d like to bake it.  Once it’s thawed, slice it according to the above directions.  Allow to come to room temperature, and allow to rise for another 30 minutes beyond that.  Wash with egg and sugar, then bake. This is what I did with my second loaf.

If you decide to refrigerate the dough, simple take it out of the fridge, slice according to the above directions.  Let come to room temperature, then allow to rise for 30 minutes beyond that.  Brush with egg and sugar, then bake.
Take a pair of clean scissors and slice into the dough leaving about 3/4-inch of dough still attached.  Slice at 1-inch intervals.  Carefully begin to curve the sliced dough into a semi-circle/horseshoe shape.  If some of the apple juices escape, that’s ok.  Cover with a towel and let rest in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Brush dough with egg wash and sprinkle with raw or granulated sugar.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.
Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.  Best served warm with cocktails.  Coffee cake will last, well wrapped at room temperature, for up to 3 days. I think we may have made it through most of the movie. Maybe. I think this would be a great addition to a brunch potluck, especially if you make two and keep one in the freezer. Bam! Instant brunching. 

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Things I Love Thursday: Dec. 1, 2011

Rabbit, rabbit.

Hey guys, how are you? I'm back with a new TILT. I've been hesitant to do one because the last one I did (for Halloween) ended up compromising my blog. Yeah. Serious business. I only noticed because I was trying to change my Twitter profile and it wouldn't let me use a website with known malware. And then Chrome wouldn't let me look at it. I was all oh no and then deleted some stuff and tried to do some Google Site stuff and got really frustrated and left it alone and the next day it was fine. This is what you get for hot linking I guess. Anyway, I'm back at it! And hopefully without any nastiness this time.

Happy December y'all!

The Sriracha Lover's Ultimate Gift Pack: I already entered, so you can too. I meant to blog about this cookbook about a billion years ago, but never did. I think I was waiting to do a holiday post about it or something. Anyway, sriracha is rad and so is free stuff. I always put way too much in my pho and end up a big snotty mess by the end of the meal and also looking like I'm dying, but it is so good! PS: I love pho. In case you were wondering where to take me for a not sexy dinner because of the aforementioned snot.

What School Lunches Looks Like in 20 Countries Around the World: Not gonna lie, the Swedish lunch just makes me think of IKEA. Also, really want to eat the French school kids food, but that's not really a surprise. Also, rice is wonderful and a big part of a lot of school lunches.

Overcompensating on the Olive Garden: hahaha. Also, I hate the Olive Garden. Except for those damn breadsticks and that salad dressing. Fortunately I don't live near one and I can usually defeat that craving with good food near me. And now that I think of it, I've only been there twice. No worries.

The Simpsons "Foodie Episode": I haven't actually seen this yet, but the clip is hilarious. And I am a food blogger or whatever.

How to Make the Perfect Grilled Cheese: I don't know about everyone else, but this time of year is all about soup for me and what's great with soup? Grilled cheese sandwiches. I think I make a darn good one, especially since I found the superfrico recipe, but even with basics, it's good to have hints to perfect your technique. Plus an excuse to make many grilled cheeses? Count me in.
Bodum Coffee and Tea Maker: I can't find it on the original site anymore, but look how cool it is! It's like caffeinated science!

How to Quickly Cook Pasta: This does in fact change everything. And yet Aaron and I made mac and cheese last night and cooked the noodles the old way. But still! I know about this now and can possibly speed up my pasta cooking to pasta eating time! Might help me make Bolognese Machiavelli (PS: read this. It's hilarious. Here's a preview: "Perhaps, in a dark place without witnesses, the tomato shall meet with the knife.").

The Cider Press Guide to Drinking Sidra in Spain: You guys, I've been to one of these places! Casa Mingo, specifically, in Madrid. Twice, actually. Once at the beginning of the trip and once at the end. I was told to drink sidra before my trip and I was so glad I did because it is delicious. I want to go back to Spain and drink so much more. And you know, see stuff. But mostly drink sidra.
I'm also loving: kombucha with chia seeds (why were you not in my life earlier?!); drinking with like a grown up (matching wine glasses make me more grown up, right?); having a lovely Thanksgiving with my friendos; seriously, deviled eggs for breakfast; creative use of leftovers; kale, dear lovely kale; hot toddies because it's cold out and that makes it better; Plan B: burgers; bagels with peanut butter; drooling over desserts online with Kirst; comté cheese (thanks Corey!); pumpkin seeds; @stephenathome - "Just learned the one thing you can't use Americone Dream for: getting out ice cream stains :("; wishing IKEA kitchens were my kitchen; plotting future kitchens; liking my kitchen anyway.

What are you loving this week? Seriously, I want to know. Comment away.  

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Reuben Dip

 November is usually a big month for me posting recipes. This one - not so much. In my defense I've been very busy. And when I'm not busy, I've been very lazy. I'll try to make it up to you in December. This Saturday my friend Chelsea is coming down from Seattle so we can start test driving wedding cakes for Corey. And my parents are coming to visit for Chrisannukah, so there should be some good stuff from that.

This recipe comes from my dear friend Lisa and Aaron and I made it shortly after his second batch of corned beef was done. It is perfect for parties and especially perfect for parties that involve watching football. Lisa made this on Monday and shared while we watched the Saints win at a house full of Louisiana natives and had bellies full of gumbo. This is all about getting good quality corned beef (homemade if you can get it).

Reuben Dip from Noble Pig:

Makes enough for at least 6 snacky football fans

½ lb. diced corned beef
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
½ c. sour cream
1 c. swiss cheese, grated
1 c. sauerkraut, drained well
1 Tb. ketchup (we subbed out the ketchup for Aaron’s Russian dressing)
1 Tb. spicy brown mustard
Rye crackers or toasts for dipping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Place in a greased baking dish (we used a brownie pan) and bake until dip is browned and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Serve warm.

This is so good. It’s the reuben sandwich you can share.

Friendsgiving Roundup

I hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving. I spent the majority of my time eating or in my pajamas and often times, both. I went on an epic walk with Amy, ate too many sweets, watched a lot of movies, got mad at Ted Mosby, and had a good time. Oh, and I made stuff too. What I learned from this go around:
  • Deviled eggs are a part of a great Thanksgiving breakfast. Especially impromptu deviled eggs just because you feel like it after a friend suggests it.
  • Everyone loves taco dip.
  • A double recipe of stuffing needs double the amount of people to make. Also, there will be a lot leftover.
  • Everyone loves brownies. For days. And for breakfast.
  • Sharing recipes is awesome.
  • Thankskilling leads to great Thanksgiving toasts.
I hope it was as fun for you as it was for me!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


The last month and a half have been crazy for me. I started a new job (as a librarian!), which has meant lots of trainings, and have been working on-call as a reference assistant at another library and finishing up my student job. Busy! (hence the lack of posts) This year for Thanksgiving is unlike my years past. I won't be spending it with family (other than Aaron, who is married to me and counts as family, and Amy who is basically family), but with friends. And I'm not hosting! It feels weird, but in a good way.

But if you thought I wasn't going to make massive amounts of food, you would be very wrong. Though it won't be anything like last year in the quantity of stuff, it is similar in what I am making. I do enjoy making new things, especially for this blog, it's going to be a lot of the same (and maybe one new thing). For dinner, my contributions include:
At this point I have made the first three items and have started prep on the last two. I made the pie dough on Monday and roasted my pumpkins yesterday. I made the caramel last night and had a similar problem I did last year with the caramel being too thin. I think it might be an issue with the recipe itself. This time I simmered it on low for another 15-20 minutes until it came to the consistency I wanted. I had Aaron quality check it and his response was "Can I have more?", so I think I got it.

I hope you all have a happy and wonderful Thanksgiving with your families, families of choice, friends, and anyone else.

If you have time, tell me your food plans! I'm a librarian foodie - I love food information!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Ginger Ale Redux

Last year I made ginger ale for the first time. It was good, but not quite as bubbly as I would have liked. Recently I finally got around to following Nicki's suggestion to use champagne yeast instead of regular granulated yeast.
Yeah, I wish I had done it sooner. It was so bubbly and still delicious. Just look at all those bubbles! If you're going to make ginger ale, I highly recommend using champagne yeast. You can get it at homebrewer supply stores, like F.H. Steinbart.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Gooey Butter Cake

This is another recipe inspired by a number of delicious experiences at Russell Street BBQ. We used to always get the big sundae and share it with the table. That was before gooey butter cake came into our lives. It’s usually only available on the weekends and when it is, the eyes of our party always light up. Seriously. It is that good. I bookmarked SmittenKitchen’s version long before I had ever had the RSBBQ version and totally forgot about it. Because I have so many recipes bookmarked, I recently decided to look through and find some that I either wanted to make soon or just delete. Enter butter cake and the realization that I could make it on my own time. Any time. And now you can too. And should.

Gooey Butter Cake from Smitten Kitchen:

Yields at least 16 to 20 servings

For the cake-
3 Tb. milk, room temperature
1¾ tsp. active dry yeast
6 Tb. unsalted butter, room temperature
3 Tb. sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 large egg
1¾ c. all-purpose flour

For the topping-
3 Tb. plus 1 tsp. light corn syrup
2½ tsp. vanilla extract
12 Tb. (1½  sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ c. sugar
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 large egg
1 c. plus 3 Tb. all-purpose flour

Confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling.

To make the cake dough in a small bowl, mix milk with 2 tablespoons warm water. Add yeast and whisk gently until it dissolves. Mixture should foam slightly. It might only be a teensy bit. It’s okay.

Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and salt. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat in the egg. Alternately add flour and the milk mixture, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition. I followed Deb’s advice and switched to a dough hook at this point to beat dough on medium speed until it formed a smooth mass and pulled away from sides of bowl, 7 to 10 minutes. The dough will still be very soft.

Press, stretch and nudge dough into a greased  9-by 13” baking dish at least 2 inches deep. Use a glass or ceramic one. It works better. Cover dish with plastic wrap or clean tea towel, put in a warm place, and allow to rise until doubled, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. To prepare topping, in a small bowl, whisk corn syrup with 2 tablespoons water and the vanilla. Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat in the egg. Alternately add flour and corn syrup mixture, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition.
Spoon topping in large dollops over risen cake and use a spatula to gently spread it in an even layer. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, cake will rise and fall in waves and have a golden brown top, but will still be liquid in center when done. It didn’t look golden brown at 30 so I went to 35, though I  think absolute perfection was somewhere in between. Allow to cool in pan before sprinkling with confectioners’ sugar for serving.
Yeah, it’s good. A friend of mine commented she liked my crust better than RSBBQ. I don’t know if I is better, but it is so much fun to make at home, so easy, and so delicious.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Flavored Lemonades

It is definitely fall and I love that. The weather lately has been perfect: crisp, clear, and just the right temperature for boots, scarves, and walking in fallen leaves. With all the sunny weather, though, lemonade is still a lovely idea. And if you’re not into autumn, these lemonades can remind you of the warm days of summer.

Flavored Lemonades modified from Not Your Mama’s Lemonade via Chef Carol Dearth, Sizzleworks Cooking School:

1 c. sugar
4 c. water
2 Tb. fresh lavender buds
2 Tb. fresh rosemary

Combine 2 cups of water and ½ c. sugar with each flavoring agent in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Cover and let steep for 30 minutes to infuse the flavors. Strain the syrup.  Mix in with lemonade to taste. Garnish with a sprig of lavender or rosemary. You can also use 12 fresh basil leaves or 3 tablespoons freshly grated ginger as flavoring agents.
These are fun and very herbal. The color looks so cool and I love the taste. These also work really well for cocktails. Remind yourself of summer or just enjoy some tasty lemonade because tasty lemonade works any time of year.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Reuben Sandwiches

It seems a little weird to post sandwich recipes (I know I’ve done it before) because sandwiches are flexible and easy to make. These are also easy, but man, so worth posting a recipe. Even if you don’t like big hunks of meat (like me), you may want to give these sandwiches a shot. They are classic deli style and wonderful. And make the Russian dressing. It’s just not the same with thousand island.

Reuben Sandwiches from Lobel’s Meat Bible:

Serves 2

½ lb. thinly sliced corned beef, at room temperature
3 Tb. corned beef cooking liquid
4 slices Jewish-style rye bread
4 Tb. Russian dressing, plus more for serving (recipe follows)
3 oz. good quality Swiss cheese, thinly sliced, at room temperature
1 c. sauerkraut, drained and blotted dry, at room temperature
4 Tb. unsalted butter

Russian Dressing:

Makes about 2/3 c.

½ c. mayonnaise
¼ c. chili sauce or ketchup
½ tsp. prepared horseradish
½ tsp. fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tb. minced red onion
1 Tb. minced dill pickle

Moisten and heat up meat if you are making the sandwiches later than right after the beef is done. You can do this in the oven or the microwave if you’re sando craving is killing you.

Smear one side of each bread slice with 1 tablespoon of the Russian dressing. Dive the cheese between two of the slices. Neatly top each portion of cheese with half of the hot corned beef, followed by half of the sauerkraut, distributing them just to the edges of the bread. Top with the two remaining slices of dressed bread.
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in an 8-10” heavy skillet over medium-low heat. When the foam subsides, add the sandwiches, cheese-side down, and weight them regularly with the back of a spatula. You want to compact the sandwich without crushing it. Cook gently until the first side is a rich golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes.
Remove the sandwiches to a plate and melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Return the sandwiches to the skillet and cook the second side, without weighting them, until golden brown and the cheese has melted. Flip the sandwich back and forth a few more times to completely melt the cheese without burning the toast, if necessary. This also crisps the first side, which can get soft. Cut the sandwiches in half with a sharp knife. Serve with more Russian dressing on the side, if desired.

And a pickle! You need to have a pickle. These are SO (!) good! Kirst is a meat fan and I think she went to meat sandwich heaven.   

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Deli Rye Bread

If it’s one thing I have learned from my deli cookbooks, it’s that delis and Jews are not messing around when it comes to portion sizes. I love rye bread and if you do too, you’ll still need some friends to get through this delicious, gigantic loaf. I made this for reubens specifically, but this bread is wonderful for all sorts of sandwiches. You may just want to make half as much.

Deli Rye Bread from Deli:

1 package (or 2¼ tsp.) dried yeast
2½ c. warm water (100-115 degrees)
2 Tb. kosher salt
1 Tb. caraway seeds
3 c. rye flour
1 c. mashed potato (1 medium potato)
5-6 c. unbleached all purpose or bread flour

Combine the yeast with warm water in a large bowl. Stir with a fork or small whisk. Add the salt and caraway seeds. Stir in rye flour, one cup at a time, the potatoes, and the white flour, one cup at a time, until a soft dough is formed. Starting with the flour I was using my stand mixer with a dough hook.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead vigorously for 20 to 25 minutes. You can get a lot of kneading done in the stand mixer, which is what I did. Either way, you want the dough to become smooth, nonsticky, and elastic. Knead in up to 1 cup additional flour, if necessary (hence the 5-6 cups). Let the dough rest while you wash, dry, and grease the bowl. Knead the dough a few more times, form into a ball, and place it in the bowl. Turn it to coat with oil. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and put ina  warm, draft-free place to rise until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1½ hours. It has risen sufficiently when you can gently poke a finger into the dough and the hole remain after a few minutes’ wait.

Flour your first and punch down the dough. Knead a few times, then shape into a round, plump loaf and place it on a large, cornmeal sprinkled baking sheet (or your awesome baking peel to later put on your baking stone. That is all awesome).   Cover with a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm, draft-free place to double in bulk. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
When loaf has doubled, slash it lightly in two places with a sharp knife. Brush it with cold water. Bake it from 1 to 1½ hours (mine was done in 1), until a knuckle rap produces a hollow sound. Brush with water twice during the baking process. Let cool thoroughly on rack.
And then make sandwiches! This had one of the best crusts I’ve ever gotten on a bread. The addition of potatoes was a surprise to me, but this bread really works. Next time though, I’m going to half size. Or maybe just make more people come over and eat bread with me.

Tomorrow is the reuben sandwiches this all was for.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Corned Beef

Aaron is a library volunteer and as such, he comes home with a variety of books. Not too long ago Lobel’s Meat Bible began to live at our house. After drooling over a number of recipes, Aaron decided it was high time he corned his own beef. There was a beef brisket sitting in our freezer from the farmers market that just needed that extra love. He went down to Sheridan’s and talked to the meat guys and got some great curing salt. And then it was off to making the beef. We had a little over a 2 pound brisket, so Aaron halved the recipe below. It managed to be done in perfect time for Kirsten to come over and have some. I like surprising my friends with food.

Corned Beef from Lobel’s Meat Bible:

Serves 8-10

1½ c. kosher salt
½ c. brown sugar
4 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 recipe corned beef pickling spice (recipe follows)
1 oz. pink curing salt
5 lb. fatty beef brisket
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 rib celery
1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped

Corned Beef Pickling Spice

Makes about 1/3 c.

¾ tsp. mustard seed
¾ tsp. coriander seed
½ tsp. fresh, coarsely cracked black pepper
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
¼ tsp. ground ginger
18 allspice berries
10 whole cloves
5 cardamom pods, cracked
3 bay leaves, crumbled
1 1½” long cinnamon stick, cracked into small pieces
Combine all ingredients and store tightly until use.

Put the kosher salt, sugar, garlic, thyme, pickling spice, and 1 quart water in a 6 to 8 quart pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Remove from the heat and let the mixture steep for 5 minutes. Stir in the curing salt to dissolve, add 3 quarts of cool water, and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours.
Put the brisket in a lidded, high-sided, food-grade plastic or metal container just large enough to contain the meat. Pour in the cooled curing liquid to cover the meat, weighting it with small plates, if necessary, to keep the beef submerged beneath the brine. Cover and refrigerate for 5 days, turn the meat over after 2 to 3 days.
Remove the meat from the liquid and place in a pot large enough to just contain it (reserve the curing liquid for now). Rinse the meat in two or three changes of water and drain. Strain the herbs, spices, and garlic from the curing liquid and discard the liquid. Add the spice to the pot with the meat and cover by 2 inches of water. Add the onion, celery, and carrot and bring to just a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to maintain the barest possible simmer, and cook until very tender but not yet falling apart (a carving fork should slide easily into the meat), 3 to 4 hours.
Carefully transfer the corned beef to a cutting board and, using a sharp knife, slice thinly across the grain. Serve each portion moistened with a few tablespoons of the cooking  liquid (reserve enough cooking liquid to reheat any remaining beef).

But we didn’t just eat this. Oh no. We made reubens. Coming up tomorrow? The rye needed for that special sandwich. Later this week I’ll post the sandwich recipe. They are so good that Aaron recently bought another 3 pound brisket and we had reubens again. And then corned beef hash. And then something else we’re making today that I’ll post soon.

If you’re interested in doing something very homemade, this recipe is well worth it. It tastes so much better than the stuff you buy at the store.
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