3.31.2009

Bread Baking Day 18

Kiwi and Coconut Muffins


breadbakingday #18 - last day of submisson April 1Bread Baking Day 18 is hosted by Mansi from Fun&Food Blog and the chosen theme is "Quick Bread". I prepared some kiwi and coconut muffins from FoodBlogga out of my Bookmarks file. They come together pretty easily and are a perfect quick treat. A bit of crunch from the toasted coconut, not to sweet in taste and nicely moist from the kiwis. If you don't polish off the whole batch right away, they keep well right on the countertop. Do not cover them, or maybe just use some gauze cover to keep insects away if you make them in the summer, or the muffins turn soggy.

Kiwi and Coconut Muffins

Source: Kiwi and Coconut Muffins by Susan from Food Blogga

Ingredients:
2 kiwis, finely diced (about 3/4 cup)*
2 cups all-purpose flour (or half AP and half whole wheat)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup light coconut milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large egg and 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon orange zest
3 tablespoons orange blossom honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup toasted sweetened shredded coconut

Topping:
3 tablespoons sweetened shredded coconut

Method:
Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Spray a 12 mold regular size muffin pan with cooking spray. Peel kiwis. Dice and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk together coconut milk, melted butter, and eggs. Add the orange zest, honey, and vanilla extract, and whisk until just combined. Add to the flour mixture, and stir quickly until well combined. Fold in the kiwis and toasted coconut. Spoon the batter evenly into the 12 molds.
Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with 3 tablespoons shredded coconut.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for 5 minutes before removing each muffin and placing on a wire rack to cool.

* Use kiwis that are ripe yet still somewhat firm. If they're squishy, then they'll be too watery in the muffins. Also avoid adding more than 3/4 cup as it could make the batter too wet.

3.28.2009

Dinner and a Movie - Moonstruck

Peppers and Cheese Focaccia





The featured film for this month's Dinner and a Movie is Moonstruck chosen by Susan at Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy. I decided to try a focaccia inspired by the Italian Bakery in the movie. It turned out very nice. Next time I might fold an extra cup of diced peppers into the dough before spreading it on the sheet pan.


Peppers and Cheese Focaccia

Source: Peppers and Cheese Focaccia by Nicole Weston of Baking Bites

1/4 cup finely diced onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups water, warm (100-110F)
4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup bell peppers, chili peppers and/or jalapenos, thinly sliced
olive oil and sea salt, for topping

In a small frying pan (nonstick or with a bit of olive oil added), saute onions and garlic until tender, about 5-10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment(or a large bowl, if you prefer to mix by hand), combine active dry yeast, water, 2 cups of the all purpose flour. Stir well, then beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Blend in salt, egg and onion/garlic mixture. Add 1 additional cup of flour and beat at medium speed for 1 minute. Stir in the cheddar cheese and remaining flour, and mix until the batter forms a thick sticky dough (it will be more wet than many bread doughs). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Set the dough in the refrigerator to rise overnight (12 hours) or simply let it sit on the counter to double in size at room temperature (about 2 hours). Both options will work, so choose what fits into your schedule.
Turn dough out into a lightly greased 10×15-inch jellyroll pan. Using your fingertips, press the dough out to spread it into the corners of the pan. If your dough was refrigerated, let it warm up for 15 minutes so that it is easier to work with.
Preheat oven to 350F and let dough rise, covered with a clean dishtowel, for 30 minutes.
Brush dough lightly with olive oil, top with sliced peppers and sea salt. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until bread is lightly browned. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

Serves 8-10 (or 4-6 if you use it for sandwiches)


Head over to the round-up page to see what other dishes were inspired by this movie.

3.27.2009

Daring Baker March Challenge

Lasagna of Emilia-Romagna

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge. I had wanted to make some home-made pasta for quite some time and the March Challenge gave me the kick-start to finally get out that rolling pin. As I have only a small casserole, I decided to make a half batch of lasagna, and a full batch of ragu to eat during the following week.

Mise en place for the ragu (sans milk and olive oil)

I started by making the ragu on a Saturday for the lasagna to be served for lunch dinner on Sunday. (hint: this recipe demands a serious investment of time) Cutting the meat by hand seemed like a good idea to give the lasagna some texture. Which it really did. There were no problems with disturbing the pasta sheets either, but that is probably due to my not-as-thin-as-might-be pasta.

Pasta dough

On Sunday I made the pasta dough which came together easily, aided by an additional egg. Rolling the pasta by hand requires a fair bit of work area, so clear your benchtop in advance. (But don't bother to clean your kitchen floor, as you are sure to end with some flour or scraps of pasta on the floor.) The dough was very flexible and wouldn't tear. But I didn't really try to stretch it to read-through thinness. Holding it up to a window and being able to clearly make out the spinach bits against the surrounding dough was enough, as the day was already progressing fast.


Drying the pasta

I used a laundry rack covered with cling-film to dry (or rather temporarily store) the pasta. You can actually see a learning curve from my first try on the top-right to the last piece at the bottom. After cooking a bit of pasta for testing, blanching in an ice bath and subsequent drying on paper kitchen towels, there was some white-ish goo on the pasta. The main batch of the pasta I let just drip-dry from my hands after the cooling step. The assembly went smoothly. I was a bit short on the bechamel, maybe I made it to thick. Also be generous on the nutmeg, as the flour will absorb some before the taste becomes noticeable in the final dish.

Lasagna straight from the oven

For baking I covered the lasagna with some parchment paper as there was no tinfoil in the house, frantic last minute search or no. (I could have sworn I bought a new package just a couple of days ago.)

Will I make lasagna by hand again? Probably not. Even though it's not an overly involved recipe, it just uses up to big a time-slot. Will I make hand-made pasta again? Oh, absolutely. Using a pasta rolling machine it should be possible to get a meal on the table in say 75 to 90 min (including the 30 min dough rest) which seems pretty do-able on a weekend. I enjoyed the ragu with some sour cream and store-bought pasta on the next two evenings.

Thanks a lot to our three hosts this month for presenting us with this excellent baking/cooking/ oh-what-the-heck-it-was-fun Challenge.

Head over to the Daring Bakers Blogroll for the fabulous results of my fellow Daring Bakers. Maybe you would also like to come over to the spanking new Daring Kitchen and say hello.

3.23.2009

Lemon Day

Super Lemon Ice Cream

Lemon Day - last day of submisson/abgabeschluss April 2Zorra has asked for some inspirations for handling the surplus of lemons from the two lemon trees in her garden. Any suggestions can be submitted to the Lemon Day blog event.
Given my recent fascination with home-made ice cream and the fact that the book is sitting on my knees right now for typing down the recipe, you can easily guess where this is going. Why, home-made lemon ice cream of course. As lemon and pistacio are my two favourite kinds of ice cream that was an easy decision to make. This ice cream has a very rich, fruity lemon taste. Quite unlike the spicky sour taste I know from store-bought ice creams (super market as well as local ice cream stores), which was an interesting new experience. Maybe next time I will try a yoghurt-lemon combination to add some tang.


Super Lemmon Ice Cream

Source: The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Ingredients:

2 lemons, preferably unsprayed
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
1/2 cup (125 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)
2 cups (500 ml) half-and-half (one measure cream plus one measure milk)
pinch of salt

Method:

Zest the lemons directly into the vessel you are using.* Add the sugar and blend until the lemon zest is very fine.** Add the lemon juice and blend until the sugar is dissolved. Blend in the half-and-half and salt until smooth. Chill for 1 hour. Churn in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.

* Since one needs to use three lemons to get the required amount of juice,
I used the zest of all three.
** If you have a food processor or blender with a cover for the mixing bowl be sure to use that cover. Otherwise your whole countertop will end up with a fine dusting of sugar. Trust me on this. ;)

3.17.2009

BBD 17 - Reloaded

(Still) Rustic Potatoe Bread

I was a bit disappointed with the qualities of the potatoe bread which I made for Bread Baking Day 17. But as the kind commenters pointed out, making bread requires perseverance and a bit of trial and error. So I ordered some flour from the Adlermühle in Balingen to give it another go. As Bread Baking Day 18 is already on the radar, I decided last Friday evening to act quickly and made another half batch of the rustic potatoe bread. In addition to using a new brand of flour, I placed the bowl with the dough for the second rise on the (turned way down) radiator in the living room which really seemed to kick the yeast into action. I think I might have splashed the oven a bit more generously with water too. This time I think this bread was a success and a step in the right direction.

(Btw. that's a "genuine" picture up there. I tried to let Photoshop do some auto-magic, but the crust would look totally charred.)

3.12.2009

Raisin Cake

Raisin Cake

Here is another little cake I made in January to test-drive my new 7 inch Bundt pan. Raisin cake is one of the first cakes I remember having eaten as a kid, when visiting my grandparents on Sunday afternoons. It has a nice balance between being dense while still being a bit fluffy. I wasn't very fond of the raisins in those days, but it seems, as with wine, this is something you come to appreciate when you grow up. (Man, that last sentence makes me feel old. ;) )

When using a Bundt pan it helps to sprinkle the greased pan with ground hazelnuts or sliced almonds. This will let the finished cake slide easily from the pan and in case of the almonds give the outside a crunchy texture. Looks pretty too.

Raisin Cake

Source: Das grosse Buch vom Backen, (literally, "The Big Book of Backing")
I don't think there is an English edition of this book, which was published in the mid-eighties as a collaboration of severeal food companies, hence the margarine in the original recipe. I got my copy for a fiver from Buch Gourmet , a shop specialising in current and antique cooking books, when I happened to be in Cologne last summer. They also have an English web site to some extent.

Ingredients*:
250 g margarine **
250 g sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar (about 1 tsp)
lemon zest
4 eggs
500 g all-purpose flour
1 sachet baking soda
1/8 l milk
250 g raisins
1 Tbsp flour (for coating the raisins)
50 g almonds, chopped
butter to grease the pan

* For a normal size Bundt pan. I halved this recipe for the 7'' pan.
** I used butter instead.

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 175-200°C [sic]* / Gas mark 2-3. Whisk margarine until fluffy. Add sugar, vanilla sugar and zest. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well in between. Sieve together flour and baking soda. Alternatingly add flour and milk in small portions. Wash and dry the raisins, dust them with flour. Fold in raisins and almonds. Transfer dough to a well greased Bundt pan.
Bake for 60-70 min in the lower half of the oven. Remove cake from pan. Let cool on a wire rack. Dust with confectionars sugar (optional).
* I set the oven to 180°C.

3.08.2009

Stock; ice cream; new kitchen

Maple Pecan Ice Cream

I first made home-made stock last fall, prompted by this post written by Lolo from VeganYumYum. Making stock is really simplicity itself. You take some veggies (Lolo sums it up best: "If it's clean and fits in the pot, it can go in."), put these in the largest pot you have, fill up with water. Simmer for two hours with closed or slightly ajar lid, simmer one hour more without a lid for reduction. Strain. Let cool. Freeze in portions convenient to your use. If you haven't, do give it a try.
The first batch had been used up, so I planned on making some more. I had also planned to take a picture of a water glas with straight sides filled with the beautifully coloured stock, streaked by some rays of sun light. But, alas, it was gray and rainy all weekend and the stock went into the freezer without a photo session.

To make up for the lost picture, I decided to make some ice cream as a treat. I had found a recipe for maple pecan ice cream, which Clotilde of Chocolate & Zuchini had blogged about only some days ago. This ice cream fits perfectly in early spring. The nuts and the caramel of the maple syrup give it a wintery taste, and the zing of the creme fraiche reminds you of sunny spring days, when there is still some crisp coolness in the air.

This weekend also featured the start of a new website for the Daring Bakers. There are shiny new forums and functions to play around with, new logos (you can see one of a whole bunch on the right side panel) and very soon there will also be a group of Daring Cooks tackling Challenges on the stovetop. So if this sounds enticing to you, and/or you have been lurking around some DB blogs pondering to join (and Sitemeter tells me there are such people ;) ) head on over to http://www.thedaringkitchen.com/ and join the fun.

3.04.2009

Chili-Walnut Brownies

Chili-Walnut Brownies

Before spring catches on in earnest, (and my kitchen will switch to all-out ice cream mode :) ), I wanted to give these kinda wintry Chili-Walnut- Brownies a try. I slightly overbaked them, but thebrownies were still a bit moist with full chocolaty taste and just a hint of chili. Overall a recipe to come back to next winter. Both the amount of sugar and chili are meant more as guidelines than precise directions. Tweak them with your and your guests palate in mind.

Chili-Walnut-Brownies

Ingredients

230 g semi-sweet couverture *
100 g walnuts
3 eggs, medium sized
220-270 g sugar **
salt
3/4-2 tsp dried chili flakes***
180 ml oil ****
seeds from one vanilla pod
90 g flour
30 g cocoa powder
100 rasped chocolate
1 Tblsp confectionars sugar

Source: Barbaras Spielwiese
Original Source: Living at Home 11/2004 (German edition)

* I used 300g couverture, but didn't add the rasped chocolate.

** 270 g is the amount in the original recipe. Barbara has lowered this value to 220 g, which were still to sweet for her taste. I used 180 g of sugar. This will let the chocolate taste stand out. I think I wouldn't change this value, should I make these again.

*** I used one (generous) tsp of ground chipotle chilis from Frank&Schuster. I found the chili taste a bit faint. Next time I would use two tsp or a bit more.

**** I used sunflower oil.

Instructions

Chop couverture and melt in a water bath. Chop walnuts. Whisk eggs, sugar and salt with a hand mixer until very smooth. Grind chili flakes. Whisk chili, vanilla seeds and oil into the mixture. Continue mixing. Subsequently add couverture, flour and cocoa. Fold in walnuts and rasped chocolate.

Transfer dough to a sheet pan covered with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 180°C. Bake for about 30 min in the lower half of the oven. Cake should be still moist on the inside. Let cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with confectionars sugar. Cut into rectangles.