Thursday, July 16, 2015

Salted Butterscotch Cookies

It's an internet chain reaction.

I have a blogger fan-girl crush on Lorraine at Not Quite Nigella.

You don't need to scratch too deeply on this blog to see where I make what she makes. Mostly because our baking brains are aligned and that's no small thing. Plus she's a prolific, professional, perfect food blogger; a little personal stuff, a well tested recipe with accurate directions, beautiful photos and an engaging question to the reader at the end. She also says "howdy do" on my modest little blog every now and then.

Today at work it was suggested that I sweet talk my boss for a small favor (adjusting my schedule). It was in jest of course and I said I would ask politely but that's about the best I was going to do. But the boss has a sweet tooth and I have a penchant for baking and it will make for good laughs all around if I bring cookies while mentioning the schedule.

Lorraine's blog came across my email and the recipe has everything I want in a cookie. That means I have most of the ingredients and the portioning can happen quickly. No rolling and using cookie cutters for a Thursday evening project. 5 minutes later I was in the kitchen mixing up a batch. I've changed a few things for ease in an American kitchen. e.g. I used a 4 ounces of butter not 3.5 because it's just easier.

She calls these Swedish Butterscotch Cookies and they are buttery and crispy like a Speculoos but a million times easier to make. They are baked in a loaf/log and cut into strips once out of the oven, like biscotti, but with out the second round in the oven.

Salted Butterscotch Cookies

1 stick butter, 4 ounces, softened butter
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup, + 1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
kosher salt, but I wanted sea salt

Preheat oven 350 F oven.

In a food processor because I didn't want to bother with getting the mixer out, blend butter, honey and sugar until fluffy. Scrape sides. Add vanilla and blend. Add flour and baking powder, pulse the processor.

Divide in two, roll into a log, then press. I rolled my lightly with a bottle, just to get rid of finger ridges. Sprinkle with salt.

Bake 18-20 minutes. Cut into strips when they are just out of the oven. Cool then bribe your colleagues.

A Very General Asian Pork Marinade

My daughter's favorite meal is seared pork, blistered green beans and rice. The rice is optional as is the pork. However everyone else would like more than a plate of green beans for dinner.

I had a huge pork loin sitting in the freezer and the google twitch to find something different than my go to teriyaki marinade. This is sorta what I found. The cumin is an outlier as far as my typical fare. I mean I use it for Indian, Middle Eastern, Mexico and below (Central and South American) food. Also some Spanish dishes. This was good though. I wanted to capture it for future use.

I'm totally known for shooting from the hip while I cook and NEVER ever getting it just the same again later. Most times that's okay unless I struck upon something fantastic. This was fantastic.

Asian Pork Marinade

1 bunch of green onions, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch of ginger, peeled and minced
2/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon chili paste
1 teaspoon cumin
3.5 pound pork loin, cut into skinny strips.*

1 large onion, cut in strips

2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons water

oil for searing.

Combine all the ingredients in a ziplock bag. Squish it around to cover all the pork, squeeze out the air. Marinate at least 4 hours up to 24.

Heat a heavy skillet. Add a touch of oil and meat drained of the marinade (reserve the marinade). Cook the pork in batches. Move the pork to a shallow dish once it is cooked. After you've cooked all the pork, wipe the pan clean. Add a little more oil and reduce the heat to medium. Cook onions until soft. Add the reserved marinade. Cook until it's simmering. Thicken with cornstarch and water slurry. Add pork back to the pan to cover with sauce. Serve.


*I use pork loin in the small cut because pan searing the meat, it needs to cook quickly and still be tender. If you used a more marbled cut of pork you'd need to cook it low and slow to make it tender. You could combine a the marinade with pork shoulder cut into chunks and braise it or put it in slow cooker. I'm just not much of a slow cooker appliance lover.




Saturday, July 11, 2015

Gazelle Horn Cookie-Moroccan

There are so many beautiful cookies in the world. I can get lost on the internet looking at different cookie recipes. I came across these stuffed cookies on a French language website and kind of got sucked down a hole looking for recipes in cups and ounces not in metric.

What I learned is that sometimes they are rolled in powdered sugar, sometime rolled in sesame seeds, sometimes dipped in orange blossom water...

There's a problem however with trying to create a cookie you've never seen in real life or tasted or even had a conversation about with someone who has. How do you know if you are even close? It's pretty much just a leap of faith.

And I never did find a recipe that was in Empirical measures. I did however convert one. That's what I've got here.

Just a note about the orange flower water it is a flavor that is different than orange zest or orange juice. As the name indicates it is very floral. When I smell it straight out of the bottle it seems almost soapy probably because it's a smell used in soap in the USA. But it is mellower once it is added to other ingredients and adds a dimension to the cookie that is lovely. I went low on my use of it too in this recipe. The one I converted used 0.25 cup in the nut filling and no orange oil. I wimped out thinking my family might not like that as well.

Gazelle Horn Cookie like you might find in Morocco

Dough

2 cups flour
0.5 cup sugar
0.5 tsp. salt
2 eggs
0.75 cup butter, room temperature and cut into pieces
0.25 cup orange flower water (from a Mediterranean grocery)

Filling

2 cups blanched almonds
1.25 cup sugar
0.25 cup butter
1 tablespoon orange flower water (more if you'd like and omit the oil)
1 dram orange oil
0.25 tsp. cinnamon

powdered sugar for rolling

For the dough pulse the ingredients in a food processor 30 seconds after the dough comes together, about a minute total. Form into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap; chill for at least an hour. It will be soft.

For the filling pulse the nuts into a fine meal. Add the remaining ingredients, but do not over process, don't make almond butter. Scrape the sides of the bowl a few times. It should hold together if you squeeze it. If not add a tablespoon more of butter.

While the dough is chilling form the nut mixture into "horns" about the size of your pinky, using about a tablespoon of the mixture. Press it against a glass to get a nice semi-circle that is fuller in the middle and tapered at the ends. You should get about 36 of them.

Using a glass to shape the filling
Portion the dough into 20 pieces, roll into a rectangle that is wider half an inch wider and 3 times longer than your semicircle sized nut crescents. Place the crescent on the lower third of the dough.
The size of dough compared to the filling.
Lift the top over the crescent and press the dough around the filling. Press an edge around the filling.
Fold over and press. 
Cut the excess dough off using a knife or like me an antique ravioli cutter. (It is the favorite thing passed to me by someone I love.) Be sure to seal the nut mixture in the dough, it will bubble out while baking if not. You'll use the scrap dough for the remaining 16 cookies. Be gentle with the scraps so you'll have tender cookies.

Trim excess dough. 
Set on a parchment lined cookie sheet and let sit an hour. Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Score the cookies with fork or some other pokey tool in a decorative manner just before putting them in the oven.

Bake 15-18 minutes until just golden on the bottom and the dough looks dry.

Remove to a cooling rack. Toss in powdered sugar when cool enough to handle.

These are indeed a fussy cookie. Sometimes you want something fussy, right?

Will you make something you've never seen in real life? How do you explore recipes?

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Charlottes Sweet and Otherwise.

Individual Blueberry Charlotte Royale 
I know two little girls named Charlotte and they both go by Charlie. They are both little spit-fired darlings who will change the world some day. They came before Her Royal Princess so I do believe the parents were simply smitten with the name. How do you pick a child's name?

The Daring Baker's Challenge was about making Charlottes. Which are basically about an inner filling and an outer layer. I would say cake and mousse, but they can be savory. My Guacamole Zucchini Charlotte is an example.
Blanched zucchini and diced tomatoes. 

Smooth guacamole made with cream cheese, cumin, lime and cayenne. 


There is a Royale, which has slices of roll cake lining a dome shaped pan, filled and topped with more cake. It is served inverted and sliced.

The Russe, which has a round Lady Finger wall and cake bottom filled with delicious cream. There is typically a wide ribbon festooned around the cake.

Then there is the savory Charlotte. It's hard not to think 1952 Jell-o mold with celery and cottage cheese, but they really are an elegant presentation. In this day when it's a nice touch to scrape the pre-made hummus out of the plastic container into a dish or when the fanciest thing on the pot luck spread is the cheese log rolled in nuts, a Charlotte is breathtaking. Oh, I'm delighted to be invited and I'd never say a thing to anyone, I promise. But it doesn't hurt to try a little.

The Charlotte Royale I made was formed in individual spring form pans. I made a roll cake with blueberry filling and blueberry mousse.

I didn't get a Russe made by the end of the month, time got away from me.

Do you potluck regularly? Do you theme the meal or fly loose and fancy free? Are you more the dinner party type?







Friday, June 5, 2015

Magic Dust Seasoning

Looking for more spice mixes. This one is intriguing.

0.25 cup nutritional yeast
1 T. granulated garlic
1 T. whole cumin seeds toasted and ground
1.5 t. sea salt
1.5 teaspoon sugar
0.5 teaspoon gochugaru (Korean red pepper)

Put in salad dressing or on poultry

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Lamingtons

Successful Lamington 
The Daring Baker's Challenge challenged me once again.

This was a fun history filled baking adventure. Apparently Australia and New Zealand have had some knock out, throw down punches over where the recipe was created but most people put it to Australia. And it's named after a historic figure who wanted cake that didn't sully his fingers. Imagine, to have a cake named after you. Wouldn't that be a thing?

Regardless the challenge for me was getting the guys covered in chocolate without them falling apart. I had to use my experience in cake making to go after a well crafted, not too soft cake, because some cake just doesn't take kindly to handling.

Generally the Daring Bakers give you 100% failproof recipes, but there was debate over cornflour/cornstarch and how the Aussies' might be different than the American's. I didn't want to risk it. This time the challenged allowed for using any recipe, so long as it was dipped in chocolate and rolled in dessicated coconut. So I went after a few. My first go round was a disaster. I will not being sharing pictures.

The one you see pictured below is the Joy of Baking.com Lamington recipe. I doubled mine to make a 13x9 sized cake, tall. Below are the  measurements I used:

For the cake

3 cups flour
Twenty-four Lamingtons! 
1 tablespoon baking powder
0.5 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup milk

Frosting

4 cups (1 pound) powdered sugar
0.33 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
3 tablespoons butter, melted
0.5 cup milk

1 pound dessicated grated (not sweetened, shredded) coconut

13x9 pan, lined with parchment and sprayed. Preheat oven 350 degrees.

In a bowl mix flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a stand mixer cream butter and sugar thoroughly. Add vanilla. Add the flour and milk in third, alternating between the two and scraping after each addition. Mix for an additional minute.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a tester comes out cleanly.

Cool. Cut into 24-2 inch cubes.

Combine the powdered sugar, cocoa, melted butter and milk in a bowl. Put over water on the stove to double boil. The frosting should look like thick syrup.

Put a wire rack over a cookie pan (more to control the mess). Pour coconut into a shallow dish. Using 2 forks plop the cake into the frosting and turn it quickly to cover all 6 sides of the cube. Pull it out, balancing on a fork and allow it to drip briefly. Place it in the coconut and using 2 other forks, flick the coconut up onto the cube. Roll it around until all 6 sides are well coconutted. Place on rack to dry.

Once dry you can individually wrap the cakes. Chill until they are ready to eat.

And a shout out to my co-worker Paul Ross, an Australian man who took 20 minutes out of his very busy day to chat up Lamingtons and all the details a person might need to make them successfully. He gave these a passing grade, so I'll take it!

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
Directions:
Mix together all spices in a bowl. Transfer the spices to a clean container with a tight-fitting lid. Store up to six months.