Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Eggplant with Creme Fraiche and Tomato Sauce

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This may be the beginning of an end. I started this blog as a way of cataloguing the new things I was trying and learning and trying to learn. And then, maybe a year or two in, I started to write to an audience of others. And to make things and share them on behalf of those posited peoples. And then-then, life came in, we moved (twice), and time was different. And I began to write here, again, mostly as a way of fixing the memory of some thing that I had cooked and wanted to cook again. And my audience became my future self and I became that future self who came here for recipes that my past self had kindly recorded.

In other words, I think this blog isn't for you anymore. So, it might not be for being anymore at all.

It's been good, though, you know? So good. And I have learned. And I'm still learning. And I'm thankful to you for eating and cooking with me all these years.

So, here's one last recipe, that fits the cool weather that keeps hanging on. My friend Liz made a version of this a few weeks ago and I don't even usually like eggplant but this. This, I love. That's something I've only just learned.

1 large eggplant
salt
8 ounces creme fraiche
1/2 teaspoon finely minced rosemary
2 tablespoons minced chives
about 28 ounces of your favorite tomato sauce
parmesan cheese

Preheat your oven to 375° F.

Slice the eggplant very thinly crosswise (on a mandoline, perhaps). Sprinkle it generously with salt and set it in a bowl while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Stir together the creme fraiche, chives, and rosemary (or maybe you have some other herbs around? Use those!)

Pour a little tomato sauce in the bottom of a wide baking dish. Arrange half the eggplant slices on top. Drop rough teaspoon-fulls of the creme fraiche mixture on top and then kind of spread it around. Cover with more tomato sauce. Repeat this process with the rest of the eggplant, finally grating lots of parmesan cheese all over the very top-top.

Bake for, oh, about 30 minutes until browning and bubbling.

(& see you around, ok?)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Brioche-Style Rolls

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Oh, it is still winter in this world. So, get out the butter and spend a few hours protecting yourself from the harsh cold of March's broken promises.

Unrelated, but maybe, while you're at it, listen to Come on Pilgrim (cover image NSFW) over and over and remember what it felt like to be a teenager driving around on country roads, thrifting all the best thrifts.

Brioche + Pixies. Combine. Cure for winter.

1 cup milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (or one packet)
1 tablespoon sugar
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons cold butter
2 eggs at room temperature
oil or butter for greasing the pan
1 egg, beaten with a bit of water

Heat the milk until it's only barely warm against the inside of your wrist. Add to the warmed milk the yeast and sugar and swirl or stir this just a bit. Allow this to sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Whisk together the flour and salt. Then, cut the cold butter into the flour mixture with a food processor, or by hand, by pinching it between your fingers in the flour.

If you're doing this in a food processor, add the 2 eggs and pulse to combine. (You can also use a stand mixer or a spoon/your hands to work the eggs into the flour.) Finally, add the milk mixture, and turn the food processor on until a sticky ball forms. Turn the dough out onto a floured counter and knead until the dough is smooth, no longer shaggy. (Or, add the milk to the mixture and knead it with your mixer's dough hook/by hand until a similarly smooth ball forms.)

Place the dough in a large mixing bowl and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Allow it to rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours.

On a floured working surface, divide the risen dough into 16 pieces. Grease two muffin pans. Then, divide each of your 16 pieces of dough into three. Roll these small pieces of dough in your hands to form little balls, and place three of them into each of the muffin cups.

Cover loosely with parchment paper and plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise again ("proof"), for 45 minutes or so. Preheat your oven to 375° F.

After the "proofing" stage, paint your rolls with the egg wash and bake until browning, about 20 minutes.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Chocolate Stout Cake (revisited)

Instead of dyeing something green this weekend, share a little beer with this cake

(My version uses whole wheat pastry flour. All versions are chocolatedelicious. I would like to eat all the versions now, thanks.)

Luck to you dear readers. Spring will come again spring will come again this year.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Whole Wheat Vegan Pumpkin Bread

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I got busy. I got sick. I baked this. It's vegan.

I'm still too sick to offer up its deserving superlatives. But it does deserve. And it's a proper ushering out of winter. Goodbye last of pureed pumpkins past! It's March. Let's all get our hopes way, way up.

1 tablespoon ground flax seeds (sometimes sold as flax meal)
3 tablespoons water
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup grape seed or canola oil
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
(You could put some chopped dark chocolate in here too, you know, if you feel like it)

Preheat your oven to 400° F. Line or grease a standard bread pan or bundt pan.

In a small sauce pan, bring the water to a boil. When it boils, add the ground flax seeds and lower the heat to medium low. Simmer for about 3 minutes, until thickened, whisking occasionally.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices.

In a larger bowl, whisk together the sugar, flax mixture, oil, and pumpkin puree.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring to mostly combine. Toss in the walnuts and finish stirring until all is just incorporated.

Bake for about 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If the top is browning too quickly, cover with foil and finish cooking. (Baking time may vary a bit depending on which pan you use).

Monday, February 18, 2013

Blueberry Cornmeal Waffles

Blueberry Cornmeal Waffles

I got a waffle maker for my birthday some 100 months ago. And then I made some 1000 waffles and loved them each. Loved them all the way to, and through, their supersession by another, a later, an even-superior-er waffle.

This one may be the peak of peaks, though. The end of waffle history.

I mean, really. This. You should try it. Really.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup cornmeal (medium ground)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups shaken buttermilk
4 tablespoons grape seed oil
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup blueberries

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, oil, and eggs.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Carefully fold in the blueberries.

Spoon the batter into the middle of your waffle maker. Try to get it perfect, get it just so the batter extends exactly to the edge of the waffle maker and not beyond. But, never make it out of those excesses and lacks whose inevitability cannot be avoided. Don't worry about it. Eat these hot of the griddle. They lose something in the wait.

Makes about 10 waffles.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Applesauce Brownies

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I made these brownies because the internet told me to. Specifically this rose-washed experiment in image-based thought control. The brownies, you see. I couldn't stop seeing them.

They're adapted from this recipe, which claims they are "more virtuous" than... an unnamed object of comparison which you are supposed to conjure up on your own. Than... brownies made of factory-farmed bacon and conflict diamonds. Than... dog fights in your grandmother's study. Than... some questionable alternative that, once conjured, makes these healthy.

And let's get things straight. These aren't healthy. I mean, come on. (Some) whole wheat flour and applesauce alongside most of a stick of butter isn't exactly leafy greens. But the seed is anyways planted. See what the internet did there? 

I don't care if brownies are healthy. Let's just care if they are delicious. Which these are. They're the best brownies I've ever made. They are dense and deeply chocolate. I sprinkled some black sea salt on top because, probably, way back, they internet also told me to do that, but now I tell myself: this is a thing I like. Yes. 

The original recipe called for an 8 x 8 inch pan, which I used, and these grew tall in that pan, which, fine. But I also have these memories from my real human life of the brownies my mom would bake that were low, not tall, and that memory-driven preference is persuasive, so maybe a bigger pan next time. If you go that route, take warning. The cooking time will decrease. 

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus additional for greasing the pan
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour 
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup raw sugar
1/4 cups unsweetened applesauce
1 large egg
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
coarse sea salt (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350° F. Grease an 8x8 inch square pan. Line the greased pan with overhanging parchment paper.

Place 6 ounces of the chopped chocolate into the just-melted butter and let it sit there, melting, while you prepare the remaining ingredients. (The pan should be off the heat).

In a smallish bowl, whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, applesauce, and egg.

Whisk the chocolate and butter mixture together until smooth. Stir the chocolate into the applesauce mixture. Finally, fold flour mixture into the chocolate mixture and stir until just combined.

Pour batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate and coarse sea salt, if desired, on top. Bake for approximately 40 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center of the brownies comes out clean.

Let the brownies cool in the pan, on a rack. Then slice. Or, you know, don't wait because brownies.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Bruschetta Pizza

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We had to use up some tomatoes the other day. And you know that it is winter, and so, tomatoes are made of tears and tasteless foam. Or, something like that.

It was also Friday, I think. And Pizza Friday! Pizza Friday, which I've surely mentioned at some point, is a holiday invented by 8-years-ago-us, in our basement apartment on Bergen Street that featured Civil War era shutters and upstairs ungrateful-child/parents-just-don't-understand civil warring. We had no money. I had no job (for a while). The place on the corner put sesame seeds on their crust and brought us a giant cheese pizza for only ten dollars. Pizza Friday was a major luxury. Pizza Friday feels like nostalgia now. These things have a waxing and a waning.

Anyway, this was a new Pizza Friday pizza, that packed January's tomatoes with flavor and then cook-coaxed even more flavor out of them. So that, by eating's time, these were umami threat level severe. In other words, I loved this pizza.

Pizza Dough

3 cups all purpose flour (or 1 1/2 cups whole wheat/1 1/2 cups AP, as pictured)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 packet active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 and 1/8 cups warm (not hot) water
4 tablespoons olive oil

In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the yeast, sugar, and water. Let that sit for about five minutes, until the yeast begins to foam. Stir at the end to dissolve if necessary.

Whisk together the flour and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer. Swap out the whisk for the dough hook and turn the machine on at medium-ish speed. While it runs, pour the yeast solution, followed by the olive oil, into the flour mixture. Leave the machine on, increasing the speed eventually, until the dough forms a ball around the hook and pulls away from the sides of the bowl mostly cleanly. Turn the machine off, peel the dough from the hook, and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap.

Allow the dough to rise in the covered bowl for at least one hour at room temperature.

Makes two pizza crusts.

Bruschetta Topping
2 small tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
leaves from a sprig or two fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried basil (or, oh, a tablespoon fresh chopped)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
salt + red pepper flakes to taste

While the dough is rising, combine all the bruschetta toppings in a small bowl. Allow this to sit until the dough is ready.

Preheat your oven to its hottest setting at least 30 minutes before cooking.

Pizza
1 prepared pizza crust (uncooked)
fresh mozzarella
bruschetta topping
2 tablespoons chopped fresh arugula

Roll out half the above prepared pizza dough on a clean, floured work surface.

Top with fresh mozzarella (as much as you like!)

On top of that, spread the bruschetta mixture. You might want to use a slotted spoon to do this to cut down on the liquid that makes it onto the pizza.

Bake the pizza for about 10 minutes, or until the crust and cheese are beginning to brown. If the pizza seems a little juicy, try broiling it for just a minute or so at the end to cook off some of the liquid.

When the pizza is ready, sprinkle with arugula, slice, and serve.