Wednesday, February 23, 2011

good ol' granola

The winter season is almost over (thank goodness!!!) but the cold and bitter temperature sure keeps me busy baking in the kitchen. Plus it's a sure fire way to warm up the house and permeate it with a smell that will put pounds on you way before you even eat it. 
But granola is healthy, right???

I've been making this granola recipe for years!!! I have given it away as gifts and have even shared it with my family and friends. It's no secret.....

I admit I've done my share of tweaking to it, but if you want to try the real deal, check out Alton Brown's granola recipe here. AB adds raisins to his, not my fave, but I have sprinkled in bittersweet chocolate chips and dried sour cherries when I want to make it seem more like a "treat". 

Our favorite way to devour these chunky-crunchy-almondy nuggets is to layer it with Greek yogurt and a berry compote.


3 cups whole rolled oats ***do not use Quick or Instant***
2 cups sliced almonds
3/4 cup dried unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 275°. Line a rimmed 18 x 13 inch baking sheet with a Silpat mat. ***If you don't have one of these, not to worry, you can use your "naked" baking sheet or line with parchment paper***

Dump everything into a large bowl. Mix thoroughly. ***I use your kitchen's best tool....clean and dry hands*** 

Spread out onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Stirring every 15 minutes for even baking and browning. ***Sometimes I cheat a little and stir every 30 minutes***

Cool completely on baking sheet. ***If you have decided you wanted to add a little dried fruit, now is the time. Sprinkle your desired fruit on top of warm granola and give it a little stir. Cool completely. For chocolate lovers, wait until the granola is completely cool before tossing in chocolate chips or better yet...plain M&Ms.***

Sunday, February 20, 2011

homemade bagels

Everything - Sesame - Cinnamon Raisin

I know what you're thinking.....homemade bagels??? 
Yes...I am SO serious!!! 

Again, my apologies for posting a fairly difficult and a tad bit time consuming recipe, but these bagels are SO GOOD that I don't have any words to describe them....Just trust me, I've made them several times and they are THAT good!!!

Homemade Bagels
adapted from The Fresh Loaf
Makes 14 - 16 bagels

1 teaspoon instant yeast
4 cups bread flour ***You can also substitute all-purpose flour***
2 1/2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
3 3/4 cups bread flour (or all-purpose flour)
3 teaspoons kosher salt
3 teaspoons malt powder or 1 tablespoon of malt syrup, honey, or brown sugar ***I only use malt powder***
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon honey and/or 1 tablespoon sugar for the water bath
1 tablespoon of baking soda also for water bath

Toppings/mix-ins for the bagels - sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried onion (soak and dehydrate first), dried garlic, fresh cracked pepper, pretzel salt, cinnamon, raisins

egg wash - 1 egg plus 1 teaspoon of water - beaten ***If you want a nice golden brown look to your bagels, I highly recommend doing this. Otherwise they'll look colorless and insipid*** 

Day 1
Make the SPONGE. In a large bowl combine flour and yeast. Add water. Stir until well blended. Cover with plastic wrap and then let rise for two hours. 

After two hours, add the additional yeast into sponge. Add only three cups of flour and all of the malt powder, salt, and sugar. Mix until a ball forms. ***This will be extremely hard to mix in the bowl. At this stage I dump it out onto the counter to mix and knead at the same time*** Gradually incorporate the remaining 3/4 cup of flour and knead for 10 minutes. ***This is a mighty fine workout for your arms*** Dough should be stiff but well blended.

Split the dough into fourteen pieces and roll into balls. ***I split mine into sixteen*** Cover with a damp cloth or damp paper towels and place on a baking sheet or your countertop, lightly dusted with flour. Let rest for 20 minutes.

After the 20 minute resting period, roll each dough ball into a 10-inch rope, fold over a 2-inch overlap and pinch together. ***If you're wanting cinnamon raisin bagels, gently flatten dough ball, sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon on top and a couple of teaspoons of raisins. Pinch dough together. Follow the directions of rolling into a rope and shaping*** Continue rolling together with your fingers until the ring is smooth and even. There should be a 2-inch hole in the middle when you're done. Arrange each one on 2 slightly oiled baking sheets.

Cover the rings with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 - 30 minutes before stashing them in the fridge overnight.

Day 2
Preheat your oven to 500°. Place two racks in the upper third and lower third of your oven.

Take the bagels out of the fridge. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add sugar and or honey to the water. Add baking soda.

Gently lower a few bagels at a time in the boiling water and boil for a minute or two on each side, and then place onto a lightly oiled baking sheet. Immediately after taking each one out of the pot, while the dough is still wet, sprinkle on your desired toppings. ***I brush mine with an egg wash before sprinkling on toppings. This enhances browning***

Bake in the oven for 6 - 10 minutes, and then rotate the sheets and bake for another 6 - 10 more minutes. ***If you have a convection setting on your oven, you can turn this on to help in browning*** 

***These bagels are irresistible straight out of the oven!!! We get super fancy and top them off with all kinds of stuff.....***

- Cream cheese, a slice of tomato, thinly sliced red onions, capers, fresh cracked black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil
- Spicy garlic smear - cream cheese, Sriracha to taste ***We like it spicy!*** and a sprinkle of garlic salt
- Jalepẽno scallion smear - cream cheese, finely chopped pickled or fresh jalepẽno (seed and ribs removed), finely chopped green onions and S&P to taste
- Peanut butter & concord grape jelly
- Almond butter & strawberry jam
- Butter and cinnamon sugar or honey

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

multigrain bread

I wish I could remember where I got the recipe for this incredible loaf of bread so that I can give credit to where credit is due. I often jot down recipes on random pieces of paper without acknowledging it's source. 

Before I started baking my own bread, the idea of it seemed daunting and "why bake your own bread when the health food store around the corner has a pretty delicious one already?" Well, after you make and bake THIS delicious loaf, you will soon be telling yourself just the opposite.....

***This bread freezes beautifully! Wrap in parchment paper and plastic wrap and place it in your freezer. Defrost in your refrigerator a night before consuming***

Multigrain Bread

Makes 2 9 x 5 inch loaves

6 1/4 ounces (1 1/4 cups) 7 grain hot cereal mix *** I use Bob's Red Mill 8 Grain Hot Cereal***
20 ounces (2 1/2 cups) boiling water
15 ounces (3 cups) all-purpose flour
7 1/2 ounces (1 1/2 cups) whole wheat flour
4 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted & cooled
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon salt (table salt)
3/4 cups pumpkin or sunflower seeds (optional)
1/2 cups oats (quick or whole)
(2) 9 x 5 inch loaf pans ***You can buy the disposable pans in the baking aisle at the grocery store***

1. Place cereal mix in a bowl of a stand mixer. Pour boiling water over it and stir occasionally until the mixture cools to 100 degrees, about one hour. ***If you don't have a thermometer, the mixture should feel quite warm to the touch*** In another bowl, whisk together flours.

2. Once grain mixture is cooled, add honey, butter and yeast. Stir to combine.

3. Attach bowl to the mixer fitted with a dough hook. On LOW speed, add flour 1/2 cup at a time. Knead until ball forms, 1 1/2 - 2 minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and rest for 20 minutes.

4. Add salt and knead on MEDIUM LOW until dough clears the sides of bowl, 3 - 4 minutes. If it sticks, gradually add more flour, 2 - 3 tablespoons, and continue to knead 5 minutes. ***Add seeds and mix for 15 seconds*** Transfer to a lightly floured surface and hand knead in seeds (if using) and dough forms a smooth, taut ball. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise 45 - 60 minutes.

5. Place oven rack in the middle position. Spray pans with a non-stick cooking spray. On a lightly floured surface, gently pat out dough evenly into a 12 x 9 inch rectangle. Cut in half. Start to roll into a jelly roll, starting with the end farthest from you. Pinch seam. Spray roll with cooking spray and roll in oats. Place into prepared pans, seam side down. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 30 - 40 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove plastic wrap and place pans onto a baking sheet. There should be 4 - 5 inches between them and the walls of the oven. Bake until internal temperature reads 200 degrees, 35 - 40 minutes. ***For those of you who do not have thermometers, bake for 40 minutes*** 

6. Carefully remove from pans. ***I use my oven mitts to do this step*** Cool on a wire rack for at least for 3 hours (yeah, right!)

If only we had smell-a-vision.....This bread tastes and smells so good, it's hard to resist eating just one slice....

Saturday, February 12, 2011

mounds of almond joy

So this post is not about a type of dough or batter, but just homemade joy!!! ALMOND JOY!!!!! (with sprinkles of Maldon Salt)

I've had this recipe saved on my desktop for months, plus my husband also likes to forward me recipes in hopes I might make them and in honor of Valentine's Day these were just begging to be made. I'll be totally honest and say that these aren't the easiest candies to make, but the ingredients are simple and maybe things you might have in your pantry already (well, at least I do!).

Enough chat and back to making joy!

Almond  Joy
this recipe is adapted from a great food blog I follow joy THE BAKER.
makes 26 -30 candies

7 ounces (1/2 can) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1 1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
50 - 60 raw almonds
about 20 ounces (1 1/2 bags) semi-sweet chocolate chips ***I used 1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1/2 bag of bittersweet chocolate chips*** 
Maldon Salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350°. Spread raw almonds out onto a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

In a medium bowl, mix together sweetened condensed milk, powdered sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Stir in both of the coconuts. The mixture will be thick. Place the mixture in the freezer for 30 minutes. It's easier to work with when it's a little cold.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove coconut mixture from freezer. With clean hands, shape one tablespoon of coconut into a little log about 2 inches long and 3/4 inch thick. ***I roll it between my hands and the log shape happens naturally*** Place the log onto the lined baking sheet and continue to roll out the rest of the coconut mixture. ***Washing your hands between shaping 6 - 8 pieces helps them not get too sticky*** Press an almond on top of each coconut log. ***We LOVE almonds so I placed two almonds on top of mine*** The almonds might not completely stick, but that's OK...Place baking sheet into the fridge to chill while you melt the chocolate.

***I skipped this step and melted my chocolate in the microwave. If the chocolate gets thick while you're working with it, nuke for 15 seconds*** Place a medium pot with 2 inches of water over a medium flame. Bring the water to a simmer. Place chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl and place bowl over the simmering water. Stir the chocolate as it melts. Turn off the flame once chocolate has melted but keep the bowl over the hot water.

Remove the coconut candies from the fridge. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper. Dip fork into melted chocolate. Place one coconut almond log onto chocolatey fork. Using a spoon, pour melted chocolate over log. Tap or shake the fork several times on the edge of the bowl to release some of the excess chocolate. Scrape the bottom of fork along the side/edge of bowl and place candy onto parchment lined sheet. ***I used a skewer to help me get the candy off of fork*** Repeat until all the candy is coated. ***I sprinkled Maldon Salt on top of mine at this stage because I felt it needed just a little bump of salt*** If chocolate gets too thick, just turn on the flame and heat slightly.

Let dipped candies harden in the fridge for 45 minutes. Store in air tight container @ room temp.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

crack pie

That's right....This pie is SO ADDICTING it's like crack!!! 
Well, so they say it is.....

Pastry chef, Christina Tosi, of David Chang's Momofuku Milk Bar in New York City is the mad genius behind this insanely tasty creation. I'm often asked, "What's your favorite bakery in the city?", and Momofuku Milk Bar is at the top of my list and hands down one of the best places to add to your waistline. I wanna give props to bon appétit magazine for featuring Tosi in their September 2010 issue. 
Because now I am totally addicted to crack.....pie.

Crack Pie
10 to 12 servings 

oat cookie crust
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
5 1/2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar, divided
2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt 

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
6 1/2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar (for dusting)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13 x 9 x 2-inch metal baking pan ***I use a regular cookie sheet for this step*** with parchment paper; coat with nonstick spray. COmbine 6 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons brown sugar and 2 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat mixture until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, about 2 minutes. Add egg; beat until pale and fluffy. Add oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Turn oat mixture out onto prepared baking pan; press out evenly to edges of pan. ***if you're using a regular cookie sheet press out to roughly a 13 x 9 inch rectangle*** Bake until light golden brown on top, 17 to 18 minutes. Transfer baking pan to rack and cool cookie completely. ***I get rather impatient at this stage and I transfer cookie to a cold cookie sheet and I place it in the freezer for 15 minutes***

Using hands, crumble oat cookie into a large bowl; add 3 tablespoons butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar. Rub in with fingertips until mixture is moist enough to stick together. ***But if you're like me and a little lazy, dump everything into a food processor and pulse until cookie resembles wet crumbs*** Transfer cookie crust crumbs to a 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Using fingers, press mixture evenly onto bottom and up sides of pie dish. ***Press crust about 1 1/2 inches high. It should look quite shallow*** Place pie dish with crust on rimmed baking sheet.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Whisk both sugars, milk powder and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Add melted butter and whisk until blended. Add cream, then egg yolks and vanilla and whisk until well blended. Pour filling into crust. Bake pie for 30 minutes (filling may begin to bubble). Reduce oven to 325°F. Continue to bake pie until filling is brown in spots and set around the edges but center still moves slightly when pie dish is gently shaken, about 20 minutes longer. Cool pie 2 hours in pie dish on rack. Chill uncovered overnight. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; keep chilled.

Sift powdered sugar lightly over top of pie. Cut pie into wedges and serve cold. Or if you live in my household....just eat with fork and crack on!!!!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

buttermilk blueberry pancakes

If you're into waiting for a table (minimum wait 45+ minutes) while you drool over diners diving into their Sunday brunch, by all means, go to Clinton Street Baking Co. & Restaurant where the fluffiest buttermilk blueberry pancakes can be found. I came across this recipe by the way of Let Her Bake Cake and I also added my own touch of vanilla extract just to bump up the deliciousness. 
I've tried several times to get a table at Clinton Street Baking Co. and because I was aching to eat these cakes, I imagined this recipe seemed to be the closest to the real deal.....

Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes

2 large eggs (separated)
220 milliliters (1 scant cup) buttermilk
5 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
190 grams (scant 1 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup fresh blueberries

1. WET INGREDIENTS - Separate the eggs so that the yolks go into a large bowl and the whites into another "clean & grease-free" bowl. Add the buttermilk, melted butter & vanilla extract to the egg yolks and give them a whisk to combine.

2. DRY INGREDIENTS - In another bowl, mix together all-purpose flour, kosher salt, baking powder & baking soda. Set aside.

3. With a hand-held electric mixer or whisk, whip the egg whites to soft peaks.

4. Add the WET INGREDIENTS to the DRY INGREDIENTS and stir lightly until combined. Some lumps are OK. Do not over mix! Fold in the EGG WHITES until just combined. It's OK if some of the whites aren't fully incorporated.  

5. Rub a non-stick pan or griddle with a pat of butter and heat over medium-high heat. ***At this point you can decide if you want large, medium or small pancakes. I like small ones and I use a 1 1/2 diameter scoop or you can use a tablespoon or 1/4 measuring cup*** Pancakes are ready to flip once a few bubbles appear on the surface and the tops are starting to go dull. Just before they are ready to flip, sprinkle a few blueberries on top of each pancake. Flip and cook another minute or two.

If you're cooking for a crowd or just you and your beloved, keep them warm by placing a cookie sheet or oven-safe plate into a low temperature oven while you cook the remaining batter. Once in the oven, I keep them especially warm by covering them with a metal bowl.

Clinton Street Baking Co. serves their pancakes with a warm maple butter which I believe is a combination of warm maple syrup and melted butter.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

almost no-knead bread

When I say that this bread is EASY to make, I mean it!!! It. Is. So. Easy. Although you do have to think ahead of time, 8 - 20 hours, from when you want to smother it with butter and float into carb heaven. The original recipe of this amazing loaf is adapted from Jim Lahey's Sullivan Street Bakery and this version comes by the way of America's Test Kitchen.

Almost No-Knead Bread
An enameled cast-iron Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid yields best results, but the recipe also works in a regular cast-iron Dutch oven or heavy stockpot. Use a mild-flavored lager, such as Budweiser (mild non-alcoholic lager also works). The bread is best eaten the day it is baked but can be wrapped up in aluminum foil and stored in a cool, dry place for up to 2 days.

Makes 1 large round loaf
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (15 ounces), plus additional for dusting work surface
1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (7 ounces), at room
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mild-flavored lager (3 ounces)
1 tablespoon white vinegar

1. Whisk flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add water, beer and vinegar. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours. ***I sometimes place my bowl in the oven (cold and OFF setting) with a pot or bowl of hot water to aid in the proofing stage. Especially if your kitchen/home is as cold as it is outside***

2. Lay a doubled sheet of 12 x 18-inch parchment paper inside a 10-inch skillet or large bowl and spray with nonstick cooking spray. ***At this point, you can also dust with flour, wheat germ, cornmeal or oats*** Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into a ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet/bowl and spray surface of dough with non-stick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, 2 hours.

3. About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven to rack to lowest position, place a 6 to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid that has a metal handle, not plastic) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and using a razor blade or very sharp knife, make a one 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch deep slit along top of dough. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. ***Many of you may not have an instant-read thermometer. You will probably be baking it more towards 30 minutes*** Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. 

Thank you America's Test Kitchen for providing the Step-by-Step illustrations.

Step-by-Step: Almost No-Knead Bread

MIX: Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a spatula.

REST: Leave the dough to rest for eight to 18 hours.

KNEAD: Knead the dough 10 to 15 times and shape it into a ball.

LET RISE: Allow the dough to rise for two hours in a parchment paper-lined skillet.

BAKE: Place the dough in a preheated Dutch oven and bake it until it's deep brown.

Step-by-Step: Bread Sling