Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Spiced Apple Strudel

When I was deciding on the layout of my new kitchen, I wanted a big island in the middle of the room. I didn’t want a cooktop or a sink or different levels on this island. I wanted the biggest, flat work surface I could fit. I wanted space for racks of cooling cookies, space for rolling out long sheets of fresh pasta, and space to someday stretch out a big piece of dough for strudel. I finally got around to trying my hand at that last item on the list. I received a review copy of Cathy Barrow’s latest book When Pies Fly: Handmade Pastries from Strudels to Stromboli, Empanadas to Knishes. And, when I saw the recipe for Spiced Apple Strudel, I knew that was the first thing I had to make. I’ve had lots of fun baking from her previous book, Pie Squared, and this new one has even more ways to enjoy pie. In the new book, there are rustic galettes, hand pies, little snack-size pies, tarts, empanadas, kolaches, knishes, and more. All of the above are presented with both sweet and savory options. It’s clear that Cathy Barrow has spent a lot of time working on pies given the details included throughout the book. First, all the options and flavors are inspired. The recipes for types of dough and how to use them are thoughtful. And, the fillings are created to work well specifically with the type of pastry being made for the recipe. She writes in the introduction: “a filling’s flavor can be overwhelmed by the richness of the pastry. I found that the smaller the pies became, the more I had to make the fillings dynamic to deliver big taste.” So, following these instructions is going to result in delicious pies, but they also lead you to new possibilities with whatever ingredients you may have on hand. For instance, the Hot Crab Dip Galette got me thinking about an artichoke and spinach dip galette. The Mocha Cream Hand Pies look like the best pop-tarts ever made. The Sunday Lox and Schmear Tart would be amazing for a brunch party. Crispy Samosa Cigars are filled and rolled spring roll wrappers that are fried and served with cilantro chutney. Now, I was determined to attempt the strudel, but I was worried about the outcome since this was my first go at it. I decided on a back-up plan just in case. If my strudel dough didn’t stretch, or if it all fell apart as I tried to roll it, or if it just didn’t look good from any angle, I was going to make the Antipasto Stromboli for this post. The stromboli is made with homemade puff pastry, and it’s filled with all the delicious things that might appear on an antipasto platter. I was almost sad when I didn’t need to resort to the back-up plan. But, I’ll circle back to that recipe another time. 

Planning ahead is required since making the strudel dough requires a bit of extended kneading, and then it needs to rest in the refrigerator overnight. At the beginning of the Strudel, Puff, and Phyllo chapter, there’s a detailed introduction to working with strudel dough and how to stretch it complete with photos. The apple filling is classic, but there are also some lovely savory options including a Kale, Mushroom, and Gruyere Strudel. For the apple version, butter was melted, and bread crumbs were added and toasted. Sliced almonds were also toasted and added to the bread crumbs. A lemon was juiced into a large bowl, and apples were thinly sliced and tossed with the lemon juice. Sugar, rum, cinnamon, and nutmeg were added to the apples, and the mixture was tossed to combine. The dough was coming to room temperature while the filling was prepped. To make the dough, you stir together flour and salt in a bowl. Oil is added and stirred in with a fork, and then water is slowly added while stirring. Next, you mix with your hands until the dough begins to feel smooth. The dough is then transferred to a lightly floured surface and kneaded for 10 minutes. Yes, keep kneading for all of 10 minutes before letting the dough rest for 30 minutes. After resting at room temperature, the dough is sealed in an airtight container and refrigerated overnight. Then, the fun of stretching begins. You’ll need a linen or cotton cloth that’s at least 24 inches by 28 inches. The cloth should be placed flat on a work surface and generously floured. The strudel dough should be removed from the refrigerator one hour before using it. When it’s at room temperature, the dough is flattened and floured. Using a rolling pin, it’s rolled out to about 10 inches square. Then, you lift the dough with fists under it, spinning a bit like stretching dough for pizza, and let the weight of the dough stretch itself. You continue to lift and stretch in all directions until the dough is very thin and measures 20 inches by 24 inches. The bread crumb mixture was spread across the stretched dough. Next, the apple slices were lifted from the bowl while leaving the liquid behind, and the slices were placed along one short edge in a log shape. The dough was then lifted and rolled while using the cloth. The sides of the dough were tucked in, and the shape was kept as tight as possible. The strudel was transferred to a baking sheet with the cloth, and the cloth was removed. The top and sides were brushed with melted butter before baking. Last, the liquid from the apples was reduced to form a syrup that was served with the strudel. 


Stretching the dough was a fun challenge. Of course, there were a few rips and tears. But, it was so much more successful than I worried it might be. Once the strudel is rolled and baked, none of those tears are visible. The layers bake into crisp, flaky deliciousness. And, that reduced apple syrup was the best sauce to accompany it. I’ve checked off one more kitchen adventure from my to-try list, and I’m ready for the next one. 

Spiced Apple Strudel 
Recipes reprinted with publisher’s permission from When Pies Fly: Handmade Pastries from Strudels to Stromboli, Empanadas to Knishes

Apple strudel is a heavenly pastry to serve to a crowd. It smells like autumn should. Once the sugar hits the apples, they will begin to get juicy, which makes strudeling a little more challenging, so work quickly and with purpose. Feel free to omit the nuts, or substitute pecans or walnuts, according to your particular tastes. I like this just as much with firm, slightly underripe pears as I do with apples. Or try substituting quince for some or all of the apples for a heavenly, slightly pink delight. heavenly, slightly pink delight. 

1 recipe Pulled Dough for Strudel 
4 tablespoons (55 g) unsalted butter 
1⁄2 cup (60 g) dry bread crumbs 
1⁄2 cup (43 g) sliced or slivered almonds 
Juice of 1 lemon 
1 1⁄2 pounds (680 g) firm apples like Granny Smith, Pink Lady, or Pink Pearl 
3⁄4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar 
3 tablespoons (45 ml) spiced dark rum 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 
3 tablespoons (42 g) unsalted butter, melted 
Powdered sugar for decorating 

Bring the strudel dough to room temperature for 1 hour before stretching, keeping it wrapped until ready to use so it will not dry out. Place the oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment. 

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add the bread crumbs, stir well to coat with the butter, and toast until scented and golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape the bread crumbs into a small bowl and wipe out the pan. Place the almonds in the pan, shaking and turning them over medium heat for 3 or 4 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Stir the almonds into the bread crumbs. 

Juice the lemon into a large bowl. Peel the apples, slice in half, and core (I use a melon baller); then slice into half-moons no more than 1/8 inch thick. Add the apple slices to the bowl and gently stir around in the lemon juice so they will not brown. Add only 1⁄2 cup of the sugar, the rum, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the apples and gently stir together. I use my hands. 

Prepare the work surface and stretch the strudel dough to 20 by 24 inches, until it’s possible to “read a newspaper through it” or some close approximation of that idea. The whole process doesn’t take long at all, just 5 minutes or so, once you’ve done it a few times. 

Pat the stretched dough into shape and then, using scissors or your fingertips, tear or cut away the thick edges and discard. 

Spread the bread crumb mixture generously over the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Scatter the remaining 1/4 cup sugar over the bread crumbs. Transfer the apple filling to the dough, using your hands and leaving any liquid behind in the bowl. Shape the filling into a log about 2 inches from the shorter edge. 

Begin rolling by lifting and pulling the bare 2-inch edge of the dough over the apple log. Tuck in the sides and, using the strudel cloth, lift and roll the strudel into a right log with the thin layers of strudel dough encasing the filing. The goal is to make this log firm and tight, not loose and sloppy. 

Use the cloth to transfer the strudel to a prepared baking sheet, seam side down. 

Brush the top and sides of the strudel with the remaining melted butter. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, shower with powdered sugar, and slice and serve. 

If serving later, reheat for a few minutes in a 350 degree F oven. 

Pulled Dough for Strudel 
Strudel dough is not rolled out with a pin, but stretched. Because of this, the dough needs to be very elastic, requiring well-developed gluten, which means active, extensive kneading. Kneading can be tiresome, so do as generations of Germans, Austrians, and Alsatians hav done, and slap the dough on the counter with vigor instead. Just lift it up and slap it down, turn, fold, and do it again. And again. In fact, most classic strudel dough recipes include the direction to lift and slap the dough on the counter 100 or more times. It’s a great way to get out that daily grr, and a good workout for the arms. But if you aren’t feeling the slapping, you can knead in the usual way, folding and pushing the dough away from you, and then turning it 90 degrees and continuing the fold and push and turn action for 10 minutes. Alternatively, put the organized dough ball in the stand mixer with the dough hook, and let the machine do the work for 10 full minutes. I like the dough slapping; it feels more authentic. 

1 1⁄4 cups (150 g) all-purpose flour 
1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt 
3 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil 
1⁄3 cup (80 ml) cool water 

In a wide bowl, using a table fork, stir together the flour and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the oil. Gather the flour into the oil with the fork. Pour in the water slowly, continuing to use the fork to incorporate the flour, until the dough is shaggy and wet. It will look impossible and you will be unhappy with me, but please persist. 

Let go of the fork, lightly flour your hands, and work inside the bowl to gather the dough (which, admittedly, is more like batter). Just lift and turn, fold and lift, and unbelievably the dough will begin to feel silky and smooth and come together after 5 minutes or so. It’s a miracle. 

Move the dough ball onto a very lightly floured counter and knead for 10 minutes; or slap it vigorously 100 times (see headnote); or place the dough ball in the stand mixer and, with the dough hook in place, let the mixer knead the dough for 10 minutes. 

Lightly coat the inside of a ziptop bag with cooking spray and place the dough in the bag. After a 30-minute rest on the counter, seal the bag and refrigerate overnight before stretching the dough. 

Strudel dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days and cannot be successfully frozen.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Rosti with a Green Salad on Top

I’m all for encouraging more people to cook their own meals at home. So, I was delighted to see the newest book from the Canal House team: Cook Something: Recipes to Rely On of which I received a review copy. This book is full of simple, classic dishes that home cooks can learn from and use to build confidence in their cooking skills. Hirsheimer and Hamilton of Canal House describe themselves as “salt and pepper cooks.” They like to stick to the basics of great flavor pairings and highlighting the deliciousness of the season. While there is simplicity to their approach, the results of their recipes are always stellar. Over the years, I’ve accumulated several favorite recipes from Canal House books. I recall in the early days of reading their work, I noticed the frequent use of preserved lemon which I loved. A salmon salad and a lentil dish, both with preserved lemon, come to mind. I remember a lemon-butter sauce that was perfect for sockeye salmon. It was their recipe and technique for making a quick puff pastry that finally sold me on the concept. It’s the only way I make it now. I’m also a devoted fan of their quick cioppino, and it was their lasagne with fresh-made spinach pasta sheets that was one of our favorite Christmas Eve meals of all time. This new book sticks to their tried-and-true cooking point of view with recipes for all sorts of meals, sides, starters, and desserts and even a Grilling chapter that made me want to stock up on hardwood charcoal. Right away, you see their knack for flavor pairings with all the suggested toppings for deviled eggs like asparagus tips and preserved lemon(!); smoked salmon, black pepper, and fresh dill; and sliced cherry tomato, olive oil, pepper, and fresh basil. Likewise, there’s also a delectable list of toppings for small toasts or crackers to serve as appetizers such as roasted red peppers, capers, and currants; blue cheese and watercress mash; and lima bean and lemon mash. I should mention the photos show how deliciously lovely each of these looks. The soups chapter distracted me since we’ve had some chilly weather. I was pulled in by the description of a simple dinner involving the Hearty Squash and Bean Minestrone with a Green Sauce made from arugula served with warm bread and had to recreate it for a Sunday dinner at home. And, it was the photo of the Caramelized Apple Galette that made me try that recipe too. But, it’s the Salads chapter I want to tell you more about today. The Rosti with a Green Salad on Top was an ideal combination of flavors and textures with a lemony-anchovy dressing and a generous garnish of smoked salmon. 

If you just saw the photos of the salads in the book, you would think “those look so great with beautiful ingredients that have been simply plated.” But, when you read about how the salads are made and then look at the photos, the whole story becomes apparent. That straightforward tomato and fennel salad is actually a warm salad with peeled, fresh tomatoes that were briefly sauteed in olive oil just to warm them. The fennel was sauteed longer until tender and topped with lemon-anchovy vinaigrette, and the two were plated with a nice slab of feta. Little details of putting each salad together make each one special. For this salad on rosti, I had some local potatoes that I grated and mixed with chopped green onion and salt and pepper. The grated potato mixture was cooked in melted butter and pressed into flat cakes. Each cake cooked for a few minutes per side. I made the salad with arugula and opted for the Lemon-Anchovy Vinaigrette that’s made with supremed lemon segments. The lemon juice was caught in a bowl while cutting the segments. Chopped anchovies, olive oil, and crushed red pepper flakes were added, and the lemon pieces were broken up while stirring the vinaigrette. The option of adding a “flourish of silky smoked salmon” made this a meal. 


Like every Canal House recipe I’ve ever made, this one was a winner. I get excited to cook as I flip the pages, see the photos, and read the great ideas. I’m not surprised that the variations on Loose Ravioli have inspired me, but I didn’t expect to want to attempt Duck a L’Orange. There’s something for everyone and for every occasion here. 

Rosti with a Green Salad on Top 
Excerpted with publisher's permission from Cook Something: Recipes to Rely On Copyright © 2019 by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton, photographs by Christopher Hirsheimer. Used with permission of Little, Brown and Company, New York. All rights reserved. 

Rosti is a Swiss potato pancake. A big russet potato on the kitchen counter was our inspiration. 

Grate 1 large, peeled, russet potato (about 1 pound), on the large holes of a box grater into a bowl. Add 4 chopped scallions, and season with salt and pepper. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes, pressing them into a flat cake. Fry until golden, about 10 minutes. Cover the skillet with a large plate and flip the skillet and the plate over so that the rösti is cooked-side up on the plate. Add 2 tablespoons butter to the skillet and slide the rösti back into the skillet. Fry until golden, about 10 minutes. While the potato cake finishes browning, toss bibb lettuce, radicchio, and parsley leaves in Another Anchovy Vinaigrette. Divide the rosti between dinner plates and pile the salad on top. Add a flourish of silky smoked salmon for garnish. —serves 2–4 

Lemon-Anchovy Vinaigrette  
A lighter, brighter option for all Caesar salad lovers. This vinaigrette involves supreming the lemon, a French technique (they always know how to refine things) that removes the peel and the pith, then cuts the juicy fruit out from the membranes. This method works well with all citrus fruits. 

makes about 2/3 cup

2 lemons 
4 anchovy filets packed in oil, drained and finely chopped 
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Using a sharp knife, cut off and discard all the peel and white pith from the lemons. Working over a medium bowl, cut lemons along sides of membranes to release the segments into the bowl. Squeeze the juice from the membranes into the bowl, and discard the membranes. Stir in the anchovies, oil, and crushed red pepper flakes, breaking up the lemon segments against the side of the bowl with a spoon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Apple-Peel Slaw

I have a new approach to cooking to tell you about today. What if instead of shopping for a list of ingredients for one recipe you shopped for ingredients you really like that you’ll prep and use in multiple dishes? That’s the idea in The Nimble Cook: New Strategies for Great Meals That Make the Most of Your Ingredients by Ronna Welsh of which I received a review copy. Each chapter introduces a type of ingredient such as Aromatics, Leaves, Summer Fruits and Vegetables, Fish and Shellfish, etc. Then, each ingredient has a “starting point” or way to prepare it, and that creates several servings of the base ingredient. Next, each starting point is used in various “explorations” that offer ideas for that prepped ingredient to become a component of a different dish. The goal is for you to have lots of starting points on hand and then be able to create meals from those leftovers. Welsh also includes lots of ways to use parts of ingredients that might ordinarily go to waste. For instance, I was right away inspired by the idea to blanch chopped leek greens and then use them in a pesto with dill. When I bring home locally-grown leeks, they tend to have long, lovely leaves that I never had a use for in the past. Another starting point I appreciated was the roasted radicchio that could be stored in the refrigerator until needed; served with a vinaigrette as a warm salad; and any leftovers could be added to a sandwich with roasted eggplant. That makes me want to have a supply of roasted eggplant just waiting for me in the refrigerator. The recipes all reference various “starting points” with page numbers so you can easily flip to the instructions. It wasn’t until I got to the page about Confit Duck, which came right after the page about searing duck breast and the suggestion to stockpile fat from cooking breasts to use for confit, that I got excited about the roasted peppers from way back on page 137. When I read page 137 the first time, I was focused on the bell peppers being roasted and didn’t think too much about the Roasted-Pepper Breakfast Sandwich that was an optional “exploration” for the peppers. But, when I saw the suggestion for using leftover duck confit in that breakfast sandwich, I became a lot more interested in the peppers. And, that’s kind of the idea of the book. The ideas are there to get you inspired to cook what you like and have multiple directions to take what you’ve cooked. I want a supply of Wine-Pickled Garlic Cloves for relishes and for topping shellfish, and Cheese Stock made with leftover rinds to use in risotto or soup, and Roasted Lemons for dressings or to mix with seared kale. And, I want to flip back through this book when I need ideas for ingredient parts that tend to become scraps. Using all of the parts is what attracted me to the Apple-Peel Slaw. And, I thought it would be a great fall dish with grilled vegan bratwurst. 

In the book, the Apple-Peel Slaw is presented with two options. There’s a sharp slaw and a creamy slaw. I went the sharp route. I used the peels from mostly red and one green apple. The apples themselves went into a crisp that became breakfast for a few days. I left the peels in water with lemon juice as I worked. The peels were then cut into very thin strips. Rather than slicing red onion, I minced it as I do. The dressing was a mix of red wine vinegar, capers, Dijon mustard, salt, and olive oil. The apple peels and onion were placed in a bowl, and whisked dressing was poured over top and tossed to form the slaw. 


The mustardy-red wine vinaigrette with pops of flavor from the capers was a great match for the sweet apple peels. Sweet, savory, and salty flavors were all there. This is a great, light side dish for grilled sausages of any kind. I’m actually looking forward to having leftovers of everything now. There are so many possibilities for using every ingredient. 

Apple-Peel Slaw
Apple-Peel Slaw, Two Kinds is excerpted from The Nimble Cook: New Strategies for Great Meals That Make the Most of Your Ingredients © 2019 by Ronna Welsh. Illustrations © 2019 by Diana Vassar. Reproduced by permission of Rux Martin Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. 

MAKES 2 CUPS 
Any apple peel can work for these, but the skin from a crisp and tart apple, like a Gala, holds up best. These slaw recipes are interchangeable; both are delicious on toast with good cheddar cheese, alongside chicken salad, in a sandwich with grilled sausage, or any place you might serve a more typical cabbage slaw. 

Peels from 3 pounds apples  
Sharp Slaw: 
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and minced 
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 
Coarse kosher salt 
1/4 cup excellent olive oil 
1/2 cup very thinly sliced red onion 

Creamy Slaw: 
1 large egg yolk 
2 1/2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and minced 
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar 
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard Coarse kosher salt 
1/4 cup excellent olive oil 
1/2 cup very thinly sliced red onion 

Cut the peels into very thin strips. 

To make the sharp slaw: Whisk the vinegar, capers, mustard, and a pinch of salt together in a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsified dressing. Put the peels and onion in a large bowl and drizzle in the dressing bit by bit. Toss to coat, keeping the slaw light. You may have dressing left over. Taste for salt. 

To make the creamy slaw: Whisk the yolk, capers, vinegar, mustard, and a pinch of salt together in a small bowl. Whisk in the oil, a drop at a time, to make a creamy dressing. Put the peels and onion in a large bowl and drizzle in the dressing bit by bit. Toss to coat, keeping the slaw light. You may have dressing left over. Taste for salt. 

Serve either slaw right away, or refrigerate, covered, for up to 2 days. If necessary, retoss with a little of the reserved extra dressing.


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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

BBQ Chickpea-Quinoa Bowls

When someone declares that cookie recipes are her pride and joy, I’m going to pay attention. I didn’t realize the food blog Two Peas and Their Pod has 200 recipes for cookies on it. But, I did know the blog author Maria Lichty also has a new cookbook, and I received a review copy. Of course, there is a chapter just for cookies. There’s a lot of other great food too, and I got distracted with the mix of vegetarian and omnivore dishes on my way to the cookies. The book and the blog are about a couple that loves to cook for their little boys, extended family, neighbors, and friends. The recipes they share are tested, family favorites. And, they really do love cooking and bringing people together around good food. Right away, I found some of my favorite flavors in the book. The Sweet Potato and Kale Hash, Raspberry-Lemon Scones, and Green “Hulk” Smoothies stood out in the Breakfast chapter. The hearty soups like Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Chowder and Mushroom-Farro Soup had me looking forward to cooler days. I’m marking the page for the Kale and Wild Rice Salad with Maple Mustard Vinaigrette for a Thanksgiving menu contender, and I can’t wait to try the Sweet and Spicy Tofu with Zucchini Noodles right away. Now, about that cookie chapter: there are Our Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies, Mega Monster Cookies, Lemon-Almond Cookies with Lemon Glaze and more. The one that called out to me, though, was the Toasted Coconut White Chocolate and Macadamia Cookies. I’ve never added coconut to white chocolate-macadamia cookies or thought to toast it first. That’s a must-try. Before I could pre-heat the oven for those, I first set about making the BBQ Chickpea-Quinoa Bowls. 

I had local corn and tomatoes from my CSA, and the timing was right for this dish. To begin, the canned chickpeas were rinsed and drained before being mixed with olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. The seasoned chickpeas were baked for about 30 minutes until crispy. After roasting, they were tossed with some barbecue sauce. Meanwhile, I charred the corn a bit on a grill pan and chopped the tomatoes, cabbage, avocado, and lettuce. The dressing for the bowls was a spicy ranch that I took in a vegan direction by using cashew yogurt. The yogurt was mixed with lemon juice, minced jalapeno, minced garlic, chopped garlic chives, and salt and pepper. Cooked quinoa was placed in bowls and topped with the fresh vegetables, the barbecued chickpeas, and drizzled with the dressing. 


I love crispy, roasted chickpeas almost as much as I love popcorn, and the addition of barbecue sauce was a delicious idea. The flavors were a great match for the corn, tomatoes, and avocado. This could become a weekly lunch meal for me. But, now I’m thinking I haven’t been baking enough cookies lately.


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Monday, September 30, 2019

Coconut Turmeric Flatbreads with Basil Cashew Spread and Grilled Squash

It’s possible that I’ve never met a flatbread recipe I didn’t want to make. They’re too fun to ignore. Whether it’s tortillas, roti, yeasted flatbread or not, forming the breads and cooking them on a hot griddle never fails to make me happy. Today’s flatbread is from Rachel Ama's Vegan Eats: Tasty Plant-Based Recipes for Every Day of which I received a review copy. Made with coconut yogurt and turmeric, I couldn’t resist this one. At first, it reminded me of the Zanzibari Sesame Bread I made from The Food of Oman book. That flatbread was made with coconut milk, but it was yeasted. Here, it’s a quicker dough leavened with baking powder. But, before I tell you more about it, there’s a lot of other stuff in this new book I want to mention too. Right away, I tried the Spiced Chickpea Waffles. I had seen a version of falafel waffles in The Berkeley Bowl Cookbook last year and now had to try them. The version in this book is vegan and a bit lighter, and I liked the idea of topping them with olives and tomatoes. I served them first with a cucumber, olive, and tomato salad on top. Then, with extras that were stored in the freezer, I served them with sauteed sweet potato greens, slow-roasted tomatoes, fried eggs, and a pesto-yogurt sauce. I also tried the Miso-Glazed Aubergines which resulted in tender, sticky, spicy, delicious eggplant pieces. The book is full of flavorful, plant-based dishes with some English, Caribbean, and African influences. There are dishes for every meal and desserts and drinks as well. The Caribbean Jackfruit Fritters bring ocean flavor with nori flakes rather than fish. And, the Crispy Jerk Barbecue Tacos are made with oyster mushrooms. There are also pastas, curries, stews, and sweet treats like the Griddled Cinnamon Pineapples with Salted Caramel. For the dish shown here today, I mixed and matched. I took some of the elements of the Griddled Courgette and Pepper Salad with Rocket and Pine Nuts and put them on the Coconut Turmeric Flatbreads with Basil Cashew Spread. 

So, let’s start with the flatbread. Unsweetened coconut milk yogurt, self-rising flour, ground turmeric, baking powder, salt, and chopped garlic chives were mixed in a bowl. The dough was then kneaded until smooth and divided into pieces. I went for smaller breads, and divided my dough into six pieces rather than four as instructed. Each piece was flattened into a round with a rolling pin and then cooked on a hot griddle until puffed and browned. The Basil Cashew Spread was made with soaked, raw cashews. The drained cashews were placed in a blender with water, garlic, lemon juice, basil leaves, and salt and pepper. The mix was pureed until smooth. I grilled some sliced yellow squash and sweet peppers. Each flatbread was topped with a schmear of basil cashew spread, some grilled vegetables, and a few arugula leaves. 

The coconut milk yogurt made the flatbreads incredibly tender. They were easy to pick up and fold around the toppings. And, the pretty yellow tint from the turmeric was nice to see. They would be delicious with all sorts of toppings or fillings. I’ve been enjoying lots of vegan eats from this book, and there’s more I still want to try.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Vegan Coconut Ice Cream and Vegan Banana and Nut Butter Ice Cream with Granola

I love eating ice cream any time of year, but during a particularly hot summer like the one we’re having, it becomes necessary as a food source. And, yes, I could enjoy a meal of just ice cream. I received a review copy of Jude's: A celebration of ice cream in 100 recipes just in time for the hottest part of summer and got to enjoy reading about frozen treats and tasting some of them. I loved learning how this ice cream company began. The current owners are brothers, and their father began the business in 2002 in their barn in Hampshire, England. The business is named after their mother. From the beginning, the focus was on achieving the best flavor by using the best ingredients including milk from a nearby farm. Soon, their ice creams were chosen by chefs for restaurant menus, and they were sold across the UK in supermarkets. There are classic and intriguing flavors, dairy-free options, and frozen desserts, toppings, and cocktails. Some flavors that caught my eye include the Honey Fig and Thyme Ice Cream, Matcha Ice Cream and Black Sesame Brittle, and the Beetroot and Ginger Ice Cream. When I first flipped through the pages, I was sure my first stop in the book would be the Summer Peach Sorbet, but then I read a suggestion about topping scoops with their granola and became fixated on that instead. For more elaborate desserts, there are two roulades. One is the Dark Chocolate and Vanilla Roulade, and the other is the Vanilla Arctic Roll with Apricot Creme Fraiche Ice Cream. You’ll also find tarts, cakes, and brownies to go with ice cream and even Mini Caramel and Guinness Floats. But, I kept thinking about that granola. It’s made with buckwheat kernals, sesame and pumpkin seeds, and coconut. I thought it would be a good, crunchy counterpoint to the Vegan Coconut Ice Cream. Then, I couldn’t resist making the Vegan Banana and Nut Butter Ice Cream too since it’s so easy. 

I started by making the granola, and the recipe is similar to my usual granola. This one is made with coconut oil and honey, and in addition to oats there are buckwheat kernals. Sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and unsweetened coconut were also added along with salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. After baking until golden and crunchy and then cooling, dried cherries and raisins were to be added. I left them out to keep the mixture completely crunchy. And, I now intend to always add buckwheat kernals to any granola I make. For the Vegan Coconut Ice Cream, a little coconut milk was mixed with cornstarch to form a paste. Then, coconut milk was heated with coconut cream and maple syrup. The cornstarch paste and salt were added, and the mixture was stirred until thickened. It was then cooled and refrigerated overnight before being churned in an ice cream maker. I added a small splash of rum just before churning to prevent the ice cream from freezing too solidly. The Vegan Banana and Nut Butter Ice Cream was a quick puree of frozen bananas, peanut butter, almond milk, and confectioners’ sugar. The mixture was transferred to a container to freeze, and needs to be left at room temperature for 15 minutes or so to soften a bit before scooping. 

I served a scoop of each ice cream in a dish with dried banana chips on the banana ice cream, and granola on the coconut ice cream. Now that I’m writing about them, I’m craving them both again. I have my ice cream machine’s canister in the freezer as I type and am about to leave to gather ingredients. I can’t go much longer with no ice cream in the house. 

Vegan Coconut Ice Cream 
Recipe reprinted with publisher’s permission from Jude’s Ice Cream and Desserts. 

This vegan ice cream is so easy to create at home. It’s unexpectedly creamy, with a fresh coconut flavour that makes your mind instantly wander to tropical islands. We’ve used cornflour for extra smoothness and love serving it with toasted coconut flakes, which give nutty taste and texture, but if that’s not your thing, simply serve it straight up. 

SERVES 6 
MAKES 1 LITRE (1 3/4 PINTS) 

1 x 400g (14oz) can coconut milk 
1 tablespoon cornflour 
300ml (1/2 pint) coconut cream 
175g (6oz) agave syrup (or honey, for a non-vegan option) 
1/4 teaspoon fine salt  
Handful of coconut flakes, toasted, to serve (optional) 

Combine 1 tablespoon of the coconut milk with the cornflour to make a paste. Gradually add a further 2 tablespoons of the coconut milk, stirring constantly. Pour the remaining coconut milk into a saucepan over a low heat with the coconut cream and agave syrup. Bring slowly to a simmer, then stir in the cornflour paste and salt. Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring constantly until slightly thickened, then remove from the heat. Cover the pan, cool and chill in the refrigerator overnight, or if you don’t have time, for at least 2 hours. 

Pour into an ice-cream machine and churn to a soft set following the manufacturer’s instructions, or until the blade stops. Spoon the soft ice cream into an airtight, freezer-proof container and put in the freezer for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight, until firm. Remove from the freezer and allow the ice cream to soften for 5–10 minutes before scooping. Serve with toasted coconut flakes, if using.

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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Brioche

As a long-time fan of Martha Stewart, when she raves about a cookbook I pay attention. I noticed on Instagram that she had mentioned Baking at République: Masterful Techniques and Recipes by Margarita Manzke a couple of times. Specifically, she mentioned baking the brioche from this book and how delicious it is. Naturally, upon receiving a review copy of the book, I had to try the brioche. There are chapters devoted to some of the basic recipes that are used for several types of baked goods. Brioche is the first, and after the master recipe for brioche dough, there are several examples of how to use it including Brioche Fruit Tarts, Brioche Bread Pudding, Cardamom Sticky Buns, and more. Other chapters offer master recipes for Pain au Lait, Croissants, Kouign Amanns, Pate Sucree, Pate Brisee, and Pate a Choux. And, there are delightfully decadent recipes for using all of those types of dough. Following those chapters are ones for Muffins and Scones, Cookies and Bars, Cakes, Custards Puddings and Cream, and Basic Components. The Chocolate-Hazelnut Paris-Brest, Creme Brulee Cheesecake Tarts, and Mini-Chocolate Bundt Cakes all nearly distracted me from my intent to make the brioche first. But, I stayed on track. Now, in the days prior to tackling the brioche recipe, my trusty stand mixer of about 18 years had started acting a little funny. It didn’t seem to like operating at the lowest speed, but it was working at all the higher speeds. I was sure I could get through the dough making for this recipe by avoiding the lowest speed and working with the weirdness. Onward I went with letting a pound of butter warm a bit out of the refrigerator, cracking nine eggs, and getting the milk and locally-milled flour ready to go. And, the mixing got off to an ok start, but as soon as the dough became a bit heavy with the flour my mixer just stopped working at any speed. I was completely offended. How could it do this to me after all these years? How did it know I had all these ingredients ready to be used for a big batch of sticky, messy dough that really, really would be best made with a mixer? I didn’t seriously consider throwing out all the butter and eggs for even a moment. Instead, I started devising a plan for mixing all that butter in by hand without getting the butter too warm from my hands. Did I mention this was a big batch of sticky, messy dough? My kneading method involved using a bench scraper in one hand while turning and kneading with the other hand. After a few turns, I scooped it all into a bowl and refrigerated it for a bit before repeating. I wasn’t at all sure that this would turn into any kind of edible bread, but I was going to bake whatever became of it. 

It wasn’t particularly helpful to be reminded by others that we didn’t always have mixers. There must have been a time when this dough was made by hand. After everything was mixed, more or less, the dough was left to rise for 30 minutes before being turned and left for another 30 minutes. After the second rise, it was refrigerated overnight. I really believe the slow, cold rise overnight saved the dough. It was a smoother, lovelier dough the next day. To make the loaves, the dough was divided into four pieces, two dough balls were placed in each of two loaf pans, and they were left to rise again for about an hour and a half. After being brushed with an egg wash, the loaves were baked until deeply browned. 

Amazingly, the result was outstanding. Tender, buttery loaves were delicious sliced and served with blueberry jam. I also made very thick-cut French toast inspired by the book. I still have the second loaf in the freezer awaiting an occasion for a savory French toast with slow-roasted tomatoes. My old mixer and I have since parted ways after learning that a repair was unlikely, and a newer model has taken its place in the kitchen. I have lots of recipes to try with it!

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