January 4, 2011

I feel like this should be my grandmother’s recipe. But it isn’t. I found it in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison. A babka, from my understanding, is a cake made with a rich yeast dough, and filled with various things. In this case, almonds, cherries, etc.

I started with the dough. It is a simple yeasted sweet dough, with a bit of sugar, sour cream, butter, and eggs. I mixed it with my mom’s Polish dough whisk, which is my new favorite kitchen tool. By far! The way that it incorporates the wet and dry ingredients is almost magical, and so much easier. I think it has to do with the way the wire is shaped. And the handle is lovely to hold, too. So well thought out!

I set the dough aside to rise, in a buttered bowl, covered with a tea towel. In a cold room, as I was going out for a little bit too long. I never seem to be able to match up my rising and baking times with when I can actually be home to let the dough rise, shape, bake, etc…

I made up the dough and filling, went out for a bit, and returned to a balloon of dough in my red bowl. It punched down nicely, and I shaped it into a large rectangle.

The filling is made up of finely chopped toasted almonds, chopped dried cherries, an egg, sugar, vanilla and almond extract. Oh, and butter!

I spread out the filling and sprinkled the cherries on top.

Then rolled the entire thing up into a log, and made a crescent.

And covered with a tea towel and set to rise again. This time more quickly, right above the fire.

And then into the oven. Bakety bake bake bake. I was tired, so I set the oven timer and went to bed, thinking that I would wake up when it dinged. I am not sure that I did… When I got up, it was still cooking, and ‘nicely browned’ on the top.

This years babka might be a little bit drier and crisper than last years, but still quite yummy. I need to have some coffee for it!

three types of crab

September 25, 2010

When I told my mom the other day that I was going to make crab apple jelly, her response was that I could make crab apple syrup by stirring my finger around in sugar water. Hrmph!

I went out and picked some crab apples anyways (with my friend Ayni!), and we brought them home, peeled them, and processed them for jelly. We were debating quite a bit as to whether we should make jam or jelly, or butter, or sauce. I am not too much fan of jelly, as I like the fruit in the product. Most of the recipes that I saw for crab apples however were for jelly, so I decided at least once I would have to make it.

We picked a lot of apples, and had quite a pot of juice after straining the fruit. I split up the juice and sugar into three pots, and added some thyme to one, some rosemary to the second pot, and left the third one plain. Then I set out to boil the liquid (sugar, herbs, and fruit) until the fruit set. I boiled the plain version way too long, and the resulting jelly was rather clumpy.

The thyme jelly was boiled a little bit less (but still too much) and wast moderately clumpy. The rosemary was boiled just right, resluting in a firm-ish looking jelly, with a bit of jiggle to it.

Also, I squeezed the juice bag as I was extracting the juice (NOT RECOMMENDED for state fair competition jellies) so my jelly is cloudy. But I didn’t have to wait for 8-12 hours for all the juice to slowly drip out…

These jars of jam are intended for use with my dad’s savory herb cheese biscuits. I am imagining a layer of butter, and then a thin spread of herbed crab apple jelly!

I drove up to visit Swati in Minnesota last night. Just about the first thing we did Saturday morning was go and pick blueberries. We wanted to bake a pie, and figured that we should use what was fresh and pick-able.

We got to the berry patch around ten, and apparently it was a busy day, and we were late! Fortunately they found us a row to pick berries, and we got going. We noticed that there were more berries on the bushes to either side of us. After we finished our row, we went back to the house to ask for another one, and they said there weren’t any, and to look in our row for more berries…we took the opportunity to jump a few rows over and RAID.

We got a lot more berries that way, browsing the vacant rows.

When we got home, we promptly ate berries with cream. Then we baked a pie.

We ate pie for dessert, then for breakfast. With vanilla ice cream.

experiments in sour

April 27, 2010

A friend gave me a jar of sourdough starter a few days ago. It came well fed, and I stuck it in the fridge for a few days, a little afraid of the contents.

I have made sourdough things in the past (friendship bread, etc), but not for a long time. My friend’s starter came from King Arthur Flour company, and is supposedly nice and old. To turn the starter into bread, there are a few steps. It seemed a little tricky the first time, but I think that I can get the hang of it.

The first step is to feed the starter. I fed mine, and then let it sit out to proof. When it is proofing, little bubbles begin to appear on the surface and a bit of foam builds up.

I set my fed starter out for about 4 or 5 hours. It was cold yesterday, and I think that this slowed things down a bit. But it did eventually foam, bubble, and start to smell nice and sour.  I took out 2 cups of proofed starter to make my loaf of bread, and stuck the rest back in the jar in the fridge for next time.

Then I added the proofed starter to flour, sugar, oil, and salt to form the dough. After mixing and kneading, I set the bread in a slightly warm oven to rise. It was taking a while, so I left it overnight. First thing in the morning I shaped the loaf, and popped it back in the oven to rise until doubled in bulk…it took a little longer then I thought, so I handed the loaf over to my mom (I had to go to work..).

She put the bread in her oven, in a preheated cast iron stewpot. Baking bread in a covered pot in a hot oven creates a nice crispy crust. Something about the more consistent temperature, and the moisture being trapped in the pot (I think).

The finished bread was nice and crispy on the outside, a little flatter than the regular yeasted bread that I make, and smelled a little like alcohol. And it wasn’t too sour, which my mom liked. I am excited to keep trying this recipe, changing things here and there to perfect it!

sunday eating

April 18, 2010

Asparagus Crepes with Smokey Pink Sauce

Warm Quinoa Salad with Cilantro, Lime, and Olives

Spiced Banana Pear Crepes with Star Anise and Vanilla

Lemon Lime Water

I have been in a banana mode recently, so after the crepe batter was mixed and in the fridge to wait, I prepared a crepe filling of spiced bananas and pears.

I put some butter in a tagine on the stove top, and added star anise and vanilla. Then bananas, pears, and pear butter for sweetener. And a dash of cinnamon! For extra liquid, I added a little juice from the pears. Oh, and a little lime zest and juice. I stirred the mixture on the stove top for a few minutes, and then placed it in a low oven (325 degrees) for about an hour.

Meanwhile….asparagus time!

I picked what we had in the garden, and washed the ends and sliced them for crepe filling number two. I sauteed the asparagus in a little butter and a tiny bit of water, until they were a vivid green. Then I set them in a dish in the warm oven.

Skye made the crepes, which had a little cornmeal and whole wheat flour (one third of the total flour used). The mixture was a little different, but turned out well. We were having issues with the burner heating unevenly, but by the end of the project, after all the crepes were made, we seemed to figure things out.

To top the asparagus, we made a white sauce with tomato paste (a pink sauce I guess), to which I added a dash of smoked paprika and some cheese. We also added some fresh chopped parsley.

In addition to the crepes, I made a warm quinoa salad, with cilantro, lime, olive oil, olives, and cubed cheese. Simple, quick and slightly warm. I served the salad on lettuce leaves, which we used to scoop up the salad and make little bundles.

For dessert, we had sweet crepes. The bananas and pears cooked down, and were warm and mildly sweet, and the star anise was delicious! The flavors brightened with a little squirt of fresh lime.

Because it was such a beautiful day, we set up a table outside in a sunny section of the yard. The table was made out of one of my plant shelves (now empty as the plants have moved outdoors) and the chairs were logs.

After lunch we went for an adventure in the woods, looking for mushrooms (which we still didn’t see…), and other things. We did see a coyote, the bluebells, and other interesting things…

monkey bread

March 29, 2010

My fingers smell like butter, cinnamon, and sugar. I kind of like it.

I just (with the help of a friend) rolled 64 balls of dough in butter, sugar, and cinnamon to bake some home-made monkey bread.

I have one memory source of monkey bread. My best friend’s grandmother used to serve it to us when we would go over for a visit. My guess is that she bought it at the supermarket, but I can’t remember 100%. We would sit in the rounded booth table in the kitchen, eat monkey bread, and discuss grandmother like topics (of which nothing comes to mind…).

When my friend Danielle posted about monkey bread on her blog, I decided that I had to make some. I got the recipe from (suggested by Danielle) and it was clear, and very easy to follow. I have a ledge in my kitchen and I set my computer right up there and follow away. The only problem is if I have to scroll down a page with my sticky fingers…

Monkey bread is made with a yeasted dough that is cut into little sections (64 according to my recipe), rolled into balls, and dipped into butter…

and then brown sugar and cinnamon.

Then the balls are placed into a bundt cake pan,

set aside to rise again,

and then baked.

This is a morning bread, but if you were to make it for breakfast, you would have to wake up at around 4am? Too early if you ask me!

So it was an evening bread, eaten by the fire with fingers and napkins. With plenty left over for the morning!

Cleaning out the fridge this morning I found some eggs, two bananas, and 1/4 tub of sour cream. I put them all together, along with flour, sugar, butter, etc., and made crepes with banana sour cream filling, flavored with Haitian vanilla!

I made a basic crepe recipe. I wasn’t sure if I would have any guests over to help eat, so I made the full 2 egg batch, and ended up with quite a bit left over.

The filling was 1/4 cup sour cream, some sugar, and a dash of vanilla. I thinly sliced two bananas, and stirred them up into the mixture.

Into each crepe I put a little filling, and then folded it into quarters.

And ate crepe after crepe standing up in the kitchen next to the stove…while attending to the pan and the next crepe in line…

Sometimes when there is no one else there to talk to or sit down with, I end up eating while standing…especially when the food is buttery crepes filled with tangy, creamy, vanilla scented bananas!