Sunday, April 26, 2015

Creole Seasoning Mix

I love when I combine two recipes to get one thing I really love. 
Years ago I started making my own celery salt. I was inspired from this blog.
Then on the Daring Challenge Cook's edition they had make your own spice blends, The Creole caught my eye. Then I thought "Oh I can use the celery salt!" I also used Hungarian Sweet Paprika, because you know, I'm Hungarian by half. 
Guess what you'll be getting for Christmas. This and the Peanut Coconut Caramel Popcorn. 

Basic Creole Spices
Preparation time: 5 minutes
2 tablespoons (30ml) (33gm) celery salt
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (7 gm) sweet paprika
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (18 gm) coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (6 gm) freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (7 gm) garlic powder
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (7 gm) onion powder
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (4 gm) cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (1½ gm) ground allspice
Makes ½ cup
Mix together all spices in a bowl. Transfer the spices to a clean container with a tight-fitting lid. Store up to six months.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Beet Tarte Tatin-Or Skillet Upside Down Puff with Beets

Apple Tarte Tatin
The Daring Bakers Challenge once again encouraged me to try my hand at something I've never done before. A Tarte Tatin!

The challenge for March 2015 is a tart developed by the Tatin sisters in France. What one does traditionally, is combine sugar and butter in a skillet until it caramelizes and then cook apple quarters in the caramel. Once that's all bubbly and delicious it is topped it with a round of puff pastry and baked until the pastry is brown. After, the creation is flipped over onto a plate and served.

Yeah, it's scary to flip a 350 degree cast iron skillet filled with molten sugar and apple goo. But it can be done and I did it. Actually mine was particularly gooey with too much liquid from the apples. So I tried it again savory style with beets, onions, thyme, goat cheese and Arugula.

Beet Tarte Tatin

Beet Tarte Tatin is terrifically pretty.
Rough Puff Pastry
5 small beets
1 onion, diced
1 shallot, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
0.5 teaspoon salt
pinch white pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
juice of 1/2 of a lemon

2 ounces goat cheese
1 fist full arugula

Clean beets, wrap it foil, bake with the seam side up for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Allow to cool in foil. Peel and cut into fat disks.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
In a 9 inch cast iron skillet saute onions and shallot in oil. When brown add sugar.  Stir often scrapping the bottom of the skillet. Add salt, pepper, thyme. Add beets and toss best you can. arrange tightly in the bottom of the skillet, pulling some of the onions on top. Cut beets into pieces to fit between circles. Sprinkle with lemon juice.

Roll the puff pastry and cut into a 10 inch circle. Lay the pastry over the top of the beets, using the back side of a paring knife handle or other utensil tuck the puff into the pan, between the beets and the sides of the pan. Make slits in the pastry to vent steam. Bake for 40 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Remove from the oven. Let stand 5 minutes, flip onto a plate which is larger than the skillet. Dot with cheese and top with arugula. Cut and serve.

I'm excited for the upcoming Daring Baker's challenges. This has been super fun.
Beets with Goat Cheese and Arugula is a classic and delicious.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Short Bread Fans or Fans of Short Bread

Fans, the decorative edges can be done with a fork.
Making short bread in the shape of fans is a traditional way of forming the cookie.  I think baking them scored keeps the edges from drying out. And it's quick to make four fatty cookies, flatten them then score with a fork. They really are not at all fussy.

I have a friend who when she is under the weather I make her these short bread fan cookies, well because my friend is fans of short bread. Plus I always have the ingredients on hand.

Short Bread Fan Cookie

1 cup butter, room temperature
0.25 cup cornstarch
0.5 cup powdered sugar
1.5 cup white flour

kosher salt for sprinkling (optional).

Preheat oven 350 degrees. In a stand mixer or in a bowl with a hand mixer combine the butter, cornstarch, flour, and powered sugar. Start with a light touch and low speed because the ingredients are easily going to fly. I used to beat the sugar into the butter first, but found it's not necessary. It will seem as if the ingredients are dry and powdery for longer than it should, but stick with it. As the butter warms up the crumb gets moister. Stop mixing when you can form a pinch of the dough into a ball easily.

About a half cup of dough is needed per large cookie.
On a parchment lined cookie sheet make four big cookies. Press the tines into the outside half inch of the cookie to be decorative. I used a wavy cookie cutter for the pictured cookies. Score each cookie into 8 wedges, using a fork. Sprinkle lightly with salt if you are using it. Bake for 15-18 minutes, when the edge of a cookie is tan and the centers no longer look oily. Remove, cool, and cut with a sharp knife along the score marks.

Cooling on the parchment, waiting to be cut apart.
Share with friends or hoard for yourself.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Beefy Wine Stew or Beef Bourguignon

Twenty years ago I fell in love with beef cubes cooked in wine. I can't remember where I saw the recipe probably a cooking magazine. It is definitely not the kind of thing my parents would have cooked. There wasn't wine in the house. Beer? Yes, but wine? Nope.

So it was quite a revelation to me to cook with stuff, let alone drink it. Anyway, this has become my tried and true way to go about cooking the stew. It's not Beef Burgundy because that's actually a thing. I used a Tempranillo in this go round.

Beef in Wine Stew
.25 pound bacon, cut into 1inch pieces
2 pounds beef cut into cubes
kosher salt
1 pound mushrooms, quartered
2 onions
1 shallot
2 carrots
2 cups red wine
2 cups chicken broth
white pepper

In a big cast iron skillet fry the bacon until crispy. Remove the bacon, and pour off the fat. Reserve the fat. Toss the diced beef generously in kosher salt. Add 1/3 or 1/2 of it to the skillet to brown. Don't over crowd the pan. Brown on 4 sides best you can. Remove the beef and deglaze the pan with some wine. Scrap the wine and bits into a bowl, save. Cook the remaining meat and deglazing the pan and using a bit of the bacon fat for the next go round. When the meat is cooked, sautee the onions in the skillet. Just after they lose their water, add 1/4 cup of wine. Sautee until it's reduced nearly gone. Reserve the mushrooms separately from the beef and bacon. Add the last bits of bacon grease and onions to the skillet. Cook 8 minutes or so. Add the shallots and carrots. Cook 5 minutes more then add back to the skillet, the meats and the wine deglazing liquid, add thyme and white pepper. Add chicken broth. Most everything should be under liquid, but just.
Place the skillet in a 350 degree oven and cook covered for 2-3 hours. Check that it isn't running dry, add water if needed. Reduce the heat to 275, add the mushrooms and cook for an additional hour. Remove the lid for the last 30 minutes to reduce the liquid. Serve over mashed your favorite starch.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Rough Puff, Who knew?

Rough puff pastry in a skillet topping caramelized apples.
This is new to me and I'm totally in love with the process. I do like to make pie crust and I do like to make puff pastry, and this is a beautiful marriage of the two.

A rough puff pastry is quicker than layered puff to make AND it uses FROZEN butter! I know caps lock on two words. I must be seriously excited. One of my biggest work arounds is having my butter frozen when I want to bake. I keep pounds of it in the freezer (oh don't judge) and regularly forget to pull it in time.

So with this recipe you grate the frozen butter. I used my food processor because I can't imagine not losing some knuckle skin if you tried to grate slippery butter on a hand grater, plus it would get warmed. And the key for this recipe and all pastry is the cooler the better!

Here it is:

13 tablespoons butter
1.25 cups all purpose flour
.25 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold water

Grate the butter. Using a large bowl, which is cool, combine the butter, flour and salt. Quickly rub the flour into the butter. I start with a scraper and move to using my hands for the last little bit. When it's well combined, add the water. It should be moist enough to force into a ball.

Take the ball of dough and shape it into a rectangle. Do a series of 5 triple folds with the dough either consecutively or let the dough rest between the 3rd and the 4th. Let rest an hour before you use it.

This is the crust for a Tarte Tatin I'll be making eventually. Cheers.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies (Aren't they all?)

I used to sell these cookies. Then I lost the recipe. Then I went looking on the web for the recipe, and I can tell it when I see it because the baking soda in water is a total outlier to cookie making, and I couldn't find it. After hours of searching I found it in a book on my shelf. I had it with me all along. In case I forget again, I thought I'd put it here. Because this is becoming my repository of favorite tried and true recipes, plus new ones I love.

This comes from the Wooden Spoon Dessert Book by Marilyn M. Moore. It is by far the single most used baking book I own. If you see a copy pick it up. 
I use this book all the time!

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
.75 cup white sugar
.75 cup brown sugar
.75 teaspoon salt
.75 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 teaspoons baking soda, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
1.5 all purpose flour
3 cups old-fashioned oats (uncooked)
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment.
In a stand mixer cream the shortening with with vanilla, sugars, salt and cinnamon. Scrape sides and mix until the sugar grains are barley visible. Add the eggs one at a time. Scrape in between. Stir in the baking soda and water mixture. Add the flour. Once it's incorporated add the oats. Lastly stir in the raisins. Scoop onto sheets, leave room for spreading. Bake 11-13 minutes.

This have a distinctive crunchy and chewy texture. Both in one cookie.  They are terrific.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Hey 1995: Here's Your Foccacia

I remember when I was first introduced to foccacia. It was 20 years ago and it was delicious. The current flat bread fad would do well to remember it's forefather. Sometimes fluffy has a place that crunchy bread or fatty crackers just doesn't fill.

So here's a foccacia I recently made one night after work for an early evening pot luck. You can make this, rise it and be out the door in less than 90 minutes.

1.5 cup warm water
4 teaspoons instant active dry yeast-bread machine yeast
1 tablespoon sugar or turbinado sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup high gluten flour (or use all purpose, I just happen to have both.)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
6 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt
black pepper

In the bowl of a stand mixer place warm water, yeast and sugar. Add two cups of flour, salt and 2 tablespoons of oil. Mix lightly. Add the remaining cup of flour. Mix for about a minute until you have a cohesive ball of dough. It will be a little sticky. Add 1/4 cup of flour if needed. Remove the bowl from the stand, and paddle from the bowl. Pour a little oil over the dough and move the mass around the bowl until it is coated lightly with oil.
Oil a 13x9 cookie sheet well. Manipulate the dough into a rectangle and spread it out on the sheet the best you can. It will be a springy. Stretch the dough without ripping it. Cover with a clean dish towel and leave to rise 40 minutes.
Preheat oven 275 degrees. 
Remove the dish towel, make dimples in the dough with your finger tips, pushing the dough into the corners of the pan. Press your fingers to the bottom of the pan, without poking holes completely through. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the dough, as evenly as possible. Distribute the oil best you can with your fingers without deflating the dough too much. Sprinkle with sea salt. black pepper and paprika. Now you'd add other flavorings, cheese and caramelized onions for example. Put bread in oven and bake 35 minutes. Up the heat to 350 and bake 5 minutes longer. Or bake at 350 for 25 minutes.  Pour over the remaining olive oil. Remove from the pan to cool. Cut into squares and serve.