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
thyme
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.

Foccacia
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
paprika

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.


Siopao-Daring Baker's Challenge

Filled with seasoned ground pork, onions and ginger.
Where a Siopao or a Bao start and a Kolache end I'm not so sure. How about a Piroshki? Maybe a Calzone? They are all yeast doughs wrapped around deliciousness. Yes, they can be savory and sweet. I might have to make all of them to see really why they are different. Egg in the dough? Rising times? It will be a hardship, but I'm willing suffer in the name of science.

Why I made these in particular is because I've lurked too much on the Daring Baker's Challenge and if I don't participate again they are going to kick me to the curb.

 The dough is straight from Julie E's recipe. I only needed 4 cups of flour and my dough was fairly dry.
Dough balls, each weighing in near 3 ounces, unfilled.

Dough
1/4 ounce (2 teaspoons) active dry yeast (1 packet )
1-1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons butter cut into little pieces
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
1 egg for egg-wash for the buns

Filling
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil

1 small yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger minced
1 lb ground pork 
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons sugar

Salt and white pepper to taste

1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
1 green onion, minced 

In a stand mixer combine the yeast, water, sugar, butter and salt. Allow the yeast to get foamy. Add the flour. Mix until combined. Cover the bowl and allow it to sit 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Cut into 12 equal sized balls roll tightly.
The dough filled and waiting to rise.
Starting with the ball you rolled, press flat. I used a rolling pin. Is that cheating? I don't know but that's how I roll. Haha. The dough is like pizza dough. Use about 1/4 cup room temperature or cold filling. Pinch the sides together and place seam side down on a lined cookie sheet. Repeat with all the dough and filling.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 1 hour. Preheat oven 350 degrees. Brush with egg and bake 20-25 minutes.

To make the filling:
In a large skillet brown the onion in the oil. Add the garlic and ginger. Sautee 2 minutes. Add the pork, cook until brown. Add the sauces, sugar, salt and pepper. Adjust the seasoning to your liking.
Thicken with a cornstarch slurry. (Add the starch to the water and that solution to the pork and cook until clear.) Add the minced onion, cool.

These are the perfect size to pack for lunch. My daughter is not a fan of the sandwich, but these, these she loves. What's your non-traditional lunch idea?
Warm out of the oven.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Best Biscuits-Southern US Biscuits

Quick and delicious biscuit!
I love a quick bread. Mostly because it's bread and it can be made quickly then I can pop it into my mouth.
We were talking about the ability to whip something up out staple ingredients in the kitchen being a blessing or a curse. You know if you can make a delicious biscuit or cookie with what is on hand, how do you not give into that whim and make yummy stuff all of the time. It's a curse! The real answer is you control what you eat like everyone else.
It really is a blessing to be able to cook. This recipe should be in everyone repertory. The basic cutting flour into fat is good thing to know how to do. See pie crust.

Biscuits
2 cups white flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven 400 degrees.
Start making these 30 minutes before you're going to eat them.
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2401/2038698008_257432eabf.jpg
Pastry Cutter
In a bowl combine the dry ingredients, toss briefly. Cut the shortening into the flour mix. I use a pastry scraper, you can use a pastry cutter, which most people have kicking around in the back of a drawer. If you have neither you can use two butter knives to get the job done. Two knives will take a little more time. If it's cool outside and your quick and light with your touch you can rub the butter into the flour. All of these techniques do the same thing, which is evenly incorporate the fat into the dry mixture. 

Create a well in the mixture and pour all of the milk in at once. Quickly mix together. The dough will be fairly soft. Fold it onto itself 6 or 7 times. Do not knead like a yeast bread. Dump onto a floured surface, fold one last time in half. (This is where your biscuit will split with a fork once it's out of the oven.) Pat it into a disc that's one inch thick and cut. Use a round metal cutter (or a glass with a very thin lip) or if you don't mind squares and want to be even quicker, cut with a knife. Put them on a parchment lined pan, spaced about an inch apart, and pop the pan into the oven for 25 minutes.

Make 6 giant biscuits or 9 modest sized ones.

This is a good recipe to riff from. Add chives and parmesan cheese; brush with garlic butter.  Add sugar and cinnamon and call it a scone. Use buttermilk instead or use part sour cream for your milk. The ratio of flour, fat and milk is what you want to keep as closely to as possible.

What are your "whip it quickly together" recipes?