Monday, January 28, 2008


Making waffles has become a weekend tradition for us. I will make a whole batch and then freeze the leftovers for breakfasts during the week. We usually heat them up in our toaster oven but you can also thaw them out in the microwave and then briefly put them back on the waffle iron to re crisp and they taste like they were just made. I recently made a few small changes to the recipe that I usually use and it made them even lighter and crispier than before. This recipe is very versatile for the flours you use. As long as the total is 2 cups you can mix and match with whatever you have on hand (white flour, whole wheat, buckwheat, flax, cornmeal, oat bran... you get the picture). I think the combination below that I have come up with is a winner!

Whole Grain Waffles (makes about 4 waffles in our Belgian waffle maker)

1 cup spelt flour (or whole wheat pastry)
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/4 cup oat flour
1/2 cup stone ground cornmeal
1 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
3 tbs oil or melted butter (I used hazelnut oil)
1 tsp vanilla

Mix all the dry ingredients together whisking to combine. In a separate bowl mix all the wet ingredients. Heat the waffle maker while combining the wet and dry ingredients together. Let the batter sit while the waffle maker heats up, to give the dry ingredients a chance to absorb the liquid. Grease your waffle maker as needed and put about 1/2 of a cup of batter onto the waffle maker (depending on how big it is you may need less or more). For those waffles you plan on freezing I leave them a little bit on the light side (since they will be reheated/ cooked again) and I also immediately cool them off on a rack (as opposed to keeping them warm, causing them to slightly dry out).

Thursday, January 24, 2008

No Knead Bread

I originally had seen an article in the NY Times by Marc Bittman about bread that pretty much does all the work itself, called no knead bread. This is quite appealing for home bakers because it produces a very well hydrated bread that is chewy and a lot like the artisan loaves you can buy. The closest you can come at home using a standard oven. The trick is using a cast iron pot or a dutch oven with a lid, and heating the pot in the oven and then putting the bread into it, and putting the lid back on. This helps to get the a nice golden crunchy crust to form that you normally get from a professional deck oven.
I was reintroduced to the idea when I was over at a friends house and she made it for dinner, and it was GREAT.
So last weekend I thought I would give it a try, using all whole wheat flour to see what would happen. I included some vital wheat gluten which will help to keep the bread from getting so dense and hopefully produce results comparable to what I had experienced with all white flour. It was very easy, required very little attention and as you can see from the picture, was quite successful. It actually, almost didn't make it into the oven, I was keeping it in the oven during most of the 18 hour fermentation period since our house has been so cold lately. I knew putting this into the oven could possibly result into a disaster later on (like forgetting to take it out of the oven before pre heating it... :). So low and behold, I was preheating the oven for some pizza I was making (will post that soon) and I had it as high as it could go and about 10 minutes later I started to smell plastic! I quickly pulled it from the oven, and took off all the plastic (which luckily hadn't gotten near the dough yet) and then took the temperature of the dough to make sure it wasn't too hot yet (yeast is dead after 140 degrees, but you don't really want to get anywhere near that until you are baking it). Luckily it was only at 70 with a pretty crusty top. So I peeled the top off, and proceeded with the recipe which still turned out great, just a little bit smaller than it would have been. I won't bother writing all the directions down, the article (link below) provides great step by step directions but I did want to post my ingredient modifications... by all means if you prefer white bread or want just a little wheat you could use the printed recipe directly or probably substitute 1/3 of the flour with whole wheat flour and no other modifications. The only thing I would do differently next time is add some more salt, my bread came out a little bland. I will be trying this again soon and will post how much salt I end up putting in (probably 1 3/4 tsp instead of 1 1/4 tsp).

No Knead 100% Whole Wheat Bread
adapted from New York Times article by Mark Bittman (which was adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery)

3 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups water+ 1 TBS
3 TBS vital wheat gluten

Try it and let me know what you think! This is by far the easiest and most low maintenance bread I have made at home with such great results!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

SHF #38 Brownie Bites

This is my first time participating in a blog event. I love the idea of everyone sharing their posts and look forward to this as a path of inspiration. It is inspiration that fuels my posts. For this event the theme was baking with candy (store bought). For me I don't eat a whole lot of candy, and when I do it's usually homemade... but I do have a few favorite flavors that I was inspired by. First it was malt balls- I love malt! My first attempt was a chocolate oatmeal cake topped with malt balls but for several reasons this was a bit of a flop, I'll get back to that and come up with a post worthy recipe later (probably without the malt balls) and then my second thought was little brownie bites with toffee and dried cherries in them. It was a toss up between toffee and mint (not with the cherries) so I decided to divide the batter and try both. I love small individual portions, so I was inspired to use my mini muffin pans instead of a larger one (bite size can be a curse if you continue to consume more than a few in one sitting because you don't always realize just how many you pop into your mouth). The inspiration came from a low fat chocolate fudge cookie from Alice Medrich's Bittersweet , a great book to check out.

Brownies (24 mini muffin size or 1 8x8" pan)

2 1/2 oz(5 TBS) unsalted butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup low fat plain yogurt
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup malted milk powder

additional add ins:
1/2 cup dried cherries (soaked for 20 minutes in water and drained)
1/2 cup toffee pieces

peppermint patties cut into small chunks depending on the size you'll need a few patties, enough for one chunk per muffin or enough to cover a layer in the brownies. I would spread half the batter in the pan, place the chunks evenly over the surface and put the rest of the batter on top.

or 1/2- 1 cup of any other add in you want (chocolate chips, nuts, coconut, malt balls, a layer of jam (layered as you would the peppermint patties)

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add cocoa powder and take off heat. Stir until combined. Add both sugars and stir. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring between additions, then stir in salt and yogurt. Sift flour and in a separate bowl mix the baking powder, flour and malted milk powder and add this to the chocolate mixture. Mix just until you no longer see any flour. If you choose to stir in your "add in's" add them now or layer them as you are putting the batter into the pans. Make sure you grease your pan well and if using a square pan, line it with parchment (makes it easy to get them out of the pan later)
Bake the 8x8" pan at 350 for 15-20 minutes
Bake the little cupcakes at 375 for 15- 20 minutes. Take brownies out of the pan about 10 minutes after coming out of the oven to prevent them from sticking to the pan.

* Make sure to not over bake the brownies, since they are low in fat they can dry out quickly- you want to make sure they stay fudgy. What you want to see when you insert a skewer into the middle is that it comes out fairly clean with a few moist crumbs attached (not with runny batter).

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Egg Salad

I had some silken tofu leftover from the chocolate mousse so I thought I would try it out in some egg salad, replacing some of the mayonnaise. Success again! You would have no idea it's in there (my husband didn't), only that it's exceptionally creamy and light. I would assume you could use it in deviled eggs as well, helping to replace some of the mayo and egg yolk. The picture may look a little odd, we only had a little bit left by the time we took the picture so we had to get creative

Egg Salad (enough for 3 sandwiches)

6 hard boiled eggs
1/3 cup silken tofu
2 tbs low fat mayonnaise or miracle whip (whichever you prefer)
1 tbs yellow mustard
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs chopped pickle (dill or sweet, whatever you like)
1 tbs chopped green onion (the dark green part)

Peel the eggs and cut them in half. Set aside 1 yolk for another use (or throw it out) put the remaining 5 yolks in a bowl and mash. Add the tofu through the salt and if you have it, use your immersion blender or a small food processor to thoroughly blend the mixture (this aids in the creaminess), if you don't have any of these you can mash/ mix with a fork and then maybe a whisk?. Fold in the egg whites (which have been chopped into little pieces) and the pickle and green onion. Check for seasoning and add a little more salt or pepper if needed.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Yellow Split Pea Soup

I had gotten a request for a good soup and this was one I really liked. It's nice and hearty but lightened by the addition of the corn.

Yellow Split Pea Soup
4-5 slices bacon
2 cloves garlic
1 medium sized onion
1 large (or 2 small) carrots
1 large yam
8 leaves of fresh sage (1 heaping teaspoon chopped)
1 1/2 cups yellow split peas
1 1/2 tsp cumin
2 cups (approximately) corn
5-8 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Cut the bacon into thins strips. Cook in dutch oven or soup pot. Cook until the bacon is nicely browned and a lot of the fat is rendered. Take the bacon out of the pan and reserve for either garnish or adding back into the soup at the end. Drain off most of the oil from the pan, leaving about 1 tbs. Cut all the vegetables into about a 1/4 " dice- it's only soup, it doesn't need to be perfect just all about the same size. Put the vegetables into the pan (which should now be on a medium low heat) and continue to cook until they begin to soften. At this point add about 1 tsp of salt. Add the sage, cumin and split peas and cook for a few minutes until it becomes fragrant. Now add your stock and you can add only 5 cups if you like your soup really thick or 8 cups if you like it thinner... you can always add more as it cooks if you need to. Even with the 8 cups as the split peas cook they will thicken the soup. Put on a simmer and cook until the split peas are tender, adding the corn towards the end of cooking. Check the soup for seasoning, it will need a little black pepper and probably some more salt. If the soup tastes flat and doesn't seem to have a lot of flavor add salt a little at a time until it does, you can either add all the bacon back in or you can use it as a garnish for the top. This soup freezes well.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Chocolate Biscotti

For this biscotti I used spelt flour in place of all purpose. I try to put in whole grain flours whenever possible, and I have found I really enjoy them in cookies especially chocolate cookies. The cocoa powder complements the earthiness of the flour and you usually pick up on the little bits of grain from the flour and it gives it a nice texture. If you haven't done much baking with whole grain flours I would recommend going slowly by substituting 1/3 to 1/2 of the white flour with whole grain flour (and there are a lot of different ones out there). For cookies it doesn't affect them much, some other baked goods might become heavier, more dense or may need a little more moisture. I have found spelt, since it is relatively low in gluten, works really well in baked products, as well as whole wheat pastry flour. They both have a lower protein content which means less gluten is going to be formed which means the product will be more tender. So feel free to use all purpose flour or a combination or if you have been baking with whole grain flours already, try with 100% whole wheat and see what you think. Even though these are a treat that doesn't mean they can't provide some nutritional benefit.

Chocolate Biscotti
(adapted from Baking From My Home To Yours by Dori Greenspan)

2 cups spelt or whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 TBS instant espresso
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
6 TBS butter (soft)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs (room temp)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup nuts (I used almonds but you could use anything)
4 oz bittersweet chocolate

Pre-heat the oven to 350. Sift all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Cream the butter and sugar together as best you can, the mixture will be pretty crumbly. You can add one of the eggs to help and then continue mixing until it is well creamed. Add the other egg and vanilla. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry adding the nuts and chocolate about 1/2 way through. At this point it will be very stiff and you can switch to using your hands if you prefer. After everything is mixed in, you want to divide the dough in half and form two logs about 2 inches wide and 1 inch high. You may need a little flour on your hands to prevent the dough from sticking to them. Place the logs on a sheet pan that is lined with parchment or greased. If you want, you can sprinkle some coarse sugar on top before putting it into the oven. Make sure the logs have enough room between them to expand (about 2 inches). Bake them for about 20-30 minutes until they feel firm to the touch (gently press in the middle). Take them out of the oven and keep it on, but let the logs cool for 20 minutes or so then carefully (with a serrated knife) cut into slices. You can do it on a strong bias if you like long, bigger biscotti (about 3/4" wide) or you can cut straight across if you want smaller ones- up to you . Lay them back onto the sheet pan and return them to the oven for the second bake about 10-15 more minutes until they feel semi dry and firm to the touch. Once the cookies are cool you want them crunchy, so if you discover they aren't cooked enough you can always return them to the oven and dry them out a little further.

*I'm sure you've seen other biscotti recipes and you'll almost always see variations attached, because it is such a flexible cookie you can have any sort of chocolate or nut or dried fruit or spice you want to it. Make sure you keep the "add ins" to about the same amount listed here or less, so the cookies have enough batter to hold them together. The smaller the nuts are chopped the easier it is to cut the cookies.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


I had been wanting to make some granola for quite a while, and always seem to run out of time and then see the bulk bin at the grocery store on sale (there's a good low fat apple cinnamon granola we like) and give in and this cycle has been going for some time. Finally we had been out of granola for quite a while and I had the time to make some! I also had a large container of pear butter I have been wanting to use up. I went on a pear and apple butter making spree a while a go and managed to can most of it but I had a container in the refrigerator I had wanted to use. Despite all the recipes I had that I wanted to try out I thought it might work to use the pear butter as a binder, and it did! It ended up making a really nice granola. I know it is easy to make your own but I was reminded of just how easy it is and really how little time it actually took. You want to make sure to use a good quality apple butter (maybe one without high fructose corn syrup... Granola is so flexible as far as what you put in it. You could use all oat flakes as well instead of the combination of barley, oat and triticale. You can also use any kind of nut and fruit combo you want.

2 cups rolled oat
2 cups barley oats
2 cups triticale oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup ground flax
1 cup pear or apple butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
4 cups add ins (dried fruit, nuts- I used almonds, hazelnuts, raisins, golden raisins, dried cherries)

Pre heat the oven to 300. Mix together the oats, barley and triticale along with the flax and coconut. In a separate bowl combine the pear butter, maple syrup and spices. Pour this over the dry ingredients and mix until it looks like everything has been coated. Spread this out over 3 greased sheet pans (some can sit in the bowl if you are short on sheet pans). Bake for probably about 30 minutes or so. You really are looking to see that the oats are golden and that once taken out of the oven, and when it cools, it is crunchy. You can test this by taking a little bit off the sheet pan and letting it cool for a moment on the counter... and if it seems like it's pretty crunchy once it's cool to the touch, then it's done. To ensure that it gets cooked enough keep cooking it as long as you can before it gets too brown. While it's cooking you want to stir about every 10 minutes or so to make sure all the granola gets moved around. If you don't you'll end up with some nice and crunchy (the stuff on the edges) and then some that's pretty soggy (the stuff that's right in the middle). After all the granola is baked and fairly cool then you can add the dried fruit and toasted nuts (toasting them brings more flavor out). I don't think I really measured this, just a hand full of this and a hand full of that.... so if 2 cups total looks like too much to you, don't add it all in or if you like a lot of stuff in your granola, add more. Enjoy!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Sweet snacks

If you have never tried candying your own zest- you're missing out! It is so much better than anything you can buy (and I've used a lot of commercial product) and it's so easy. I think the fact that my husband (who doesn't like any sort of citrus zest in his food) went crazy for them says volumes about how good they can be! There are several different options after you candy the zest. You can keep hang on to it for various recipes (holiday breads, Florentines and other cookies) or you can dip it into chocolate and keep it for a nice little sweet snack to have after dinner or with a cup of coffee. I know it's a little late this year, but it also makes a nice addition to all the edible holiday gifts that are exchanged (every year I send out care packages to close family).
You can easily save the peel in the refrigerator until you have a enough to candy (you want at least a few pieces of citrus worth) I used three oranges for this recipe and it gave me quite a bit. You can however, use any citrus you want- grapefruit, lemons (especially Meyer lemons), limes, tangerines, kumquats and last but not least, citron. I would probably keep each batch to one kind of citrus for fear of flavors mingling but then again maybe that wouldn't be a bad thing :).
For this post,I used oranges.

Candied Zest
Start by peeling the citrus. You want to aim for long wide sections which you can later trim down to neater, thinner strips. You can have a lot of pith on at this point, you want the zest as thick as you can get it so it doesn't fall apart as it cooks. At this point the zest will last well wrapped in the refrigerator for about a week or so (if needed, it is ideal to candy it while it's still freshly peeled). Once the zest is peeled, cover it with cold water in a saucepan and bring to a full rolling boil. Drain the water off and repeat this process two more times. It is important to blanch the zest with fresh water each time because this is what is going to remove all the bitterness and leave you with the sweet citrus flavor. After it has been blanched three times, at this point if you want, you can trim the strips down into whatever size you want. It will depend on what you are going to do with the zest. If it is going to be diced later on for a recipe, then don't bother trimming, but if you want them to be uniform in size for serving on it's own or dipped in chocolate, you want to trim it now (a good size is 1" long by 1/4" wide). Also remove any extra pith or bits of pulp stuck to the strips. You do want to leave some pith, ideally maybe 3/8 to 1/4 of an inch. Next you are going to need to make a simple syrup, which is equal part sugar and water, which the zest is going be candied in. For the three oranges I used 2 cups sugar and 2 cups water. If you are using more zest you'll need to make more syrup. A good guide is to make sure all the zest in completely submerged in the syrup by about 1/8- 1/4 of a inch. Then bring the syrup to a boil or until the sugar is totally dissolved and add the zest and then make sure it comes to a boil and turn it down to a low simmer.

This will now cook for 1 hour- 1 1/2 hours. What you're looking for is to see that the zest is fairly translucent and if you take a piece out and trim off a little sample, it shouldn't taste bitter at all but be sweet and cooked through with the sugar. Once it's done drain off the syrup while it's still hot and lay out the zest on cooling racks. At this point you want to let it dry out a bit so it's not quite so sticky. I ended up leaving mine out uncovered overnight. At this point you can store it for later recipes (it can also be left in the syrup and stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks) or you can roll it in sugar and leave it plain or dip in chocolate. I chose to dip mine in tempered chocolate (you can also just use melted chocolate but you'll have to store it in the refrigerator) .

In the picture at the beginning of the post you will see a dish next to the zest and that is what are called Mendients and these are simply little rounds of tempered chocolate topped decoratively with different dried fruits, nuts and candied zest, or anything else you can think of. This is a lot like chocolate bark only small bite size and more attractively arranged. They are so simple but so good. The combination in the picture is dried cherries, hazelnuts and candied orange. These are great for entertaining in place of or as part of a dessert course. They're also a nice little treat to put out with afternoon tea or coffee. I had leftover tempered chocolate from the orange so I quickly made a few. The only trick is you want to place little mounds of chocolate on parchment and then when it's partially set, arrange your toppings and gently press them down into the chocolate.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Sweet Endings

As promised here is the finale to our anniversary dinner. I had been wanting to try this "special" chocolate mousse out and to see if my lovely husband would be able to detect it's ingredients. I knew if he didn't taste it, you really couldn't taste the difference. The special ingredient would be tofu. I don't really think this is anything revolutionary, I've seen recipes for it before but I recently had a conversation with a colleague of mine about it, and she was saying how easy and great it was- that you really couldn't tell the difference. I paired this with a crunchy chocolate peanut butter layer and served it with a leftover berry compote I had made for some pancakes the morning before. I would imagine this would also be very good with hazelnut paste, or another nut butter (instead of peanut butter). When baking desserts at home I try to scale down the portions so we aren't eating it for a week straight (or being tempted by it). I do love to freeze things and I suppose this would probably freeze well- anything with higher amounts of sugar and fat usually does pretty well- depending on the ingredients. I'm sure you'll hear more from me in the future on freezing tips (tip #1 invest in a food saver- one of the greatest tools in my home kitchen). So for this purpose, I cut this recipe down and used a little 6" spring form pan I had, but this recipe could easily be doubled to make a bigger one. I made quite a thick base, which also could be thinner allowing for more mousse, and in retrospect it is a little hard to cut/ eat so less of it would make it more user friendly.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse Torte (serves 4 in a 6" pan)

Peanut Butter Base:

1/3 cup peanut butter (I used all natural freshly ground without any problems so any would work)
1 TBS oil (I used hazelnut but anything that was fairly neutral or a nut base)
3.5 oz melted milk chocolate, melted to room temp
1/2 cup + 2 tbs feullitine (hard to find outside of a professional kitchen- it's kind of like crushed up sugar cones) or you could substitute crushed up sugar cones or cornflakes.

Put the peanut butter and oil into a mixing bowl whip until lighter in color. Pour in the melted chocolate and mix until almost all incorporated, then fold in the feullitine. Pour into a dish or springform pan or ring mold that has been lined with plastic wrap(for easy removal) smooth out the top and make sure it evenly covers the bottom. Put in the refridgerator to chill- to speed up the process put it in the freezer

4 oz dark chocolate (use good chocolate you like, the flavor really comes through)
3 oz silken tofu
2 tbs maple syrup (this is optional or can be adjusted depending on how sweet the chocolate is you are using)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Melt the chocolate in the microwave (very slowly) or on a double boiler. Put the silken tofu in a bowl with the maple syrup and vanilla and use an imersion blender to smooth out the tofu (or alternately you could do all this in a blender). Add the chocolate and use the imersion blender just until completely mixed in. Do not mix too long and make sure the base is ready to go because this mousse sets up fairly quickly. Pour into the mould and smooth the top. Place back into refridgerator for atleast 1 hour to fully set up. Remove the mould and use a very hot knife when cutting through to serve.

I have also entered this into Art You Eat #1 - Chocolate Theme, just in time for Valentines Day!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Cranberry Cornmeal Muffins

We often have muffins around, I like them as a healthy quick and easy snack. Because they are around often, I like to make them as healthy, and try to incorporate as much fiber as I can. I have quite a few favorites I like to use, but this is a new recipe that turned out nicely. As time goes on I will post some of the other recipes I like, but for now this recipe turned out to be a great way to use up some left over cranberries. As with all muffin recipes,they are very flexible and any other berry could easily be substituted.

Cranberry Cornmeal Muffins (makes about 15 smaller muffins or 12 larger ones)

3/4 cups spelt or whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup stone ground cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 tbs ground flax seed
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbs oil or melted butter
1 1/2 cup cranberries (you can chop them or keep them whole)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Mix all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix the wet ingredients (buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and oil) to combine and pour into dry ingredients. Continue mixing until almost all mixed in, and add the cranberries and fold just until all the dry ingredients are no longer visible. At this point while you are greasing the muffin tins let the batter sit 10-20 minutes. By letting the batter sit it gives it a chance for all the liquid to be absorbed by the dry ingredients, which will make the batter thicker and easier to scoop. Fill the muffin tins 1/2 - 3/4 full and bake until the muffin springs back when gently pressed in the middle. Rotate the muffin tins half way through baking to help bake evenly. After taking out of the oven let them cool for 5-10 minutes and turn them out onto a cooling rack until completely cool.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Anniversary Dinner

On Sunday it was our one year anniversary. It was a quick year, but filled with great memories. I decided to make dinner and since we were going to be busy all day working on projects I thought I would keep it simple and fun with a few appetizers and some wine. I made coconut shrimp and little shao mai dumplings. I'll post the dessert tomorrow.

Coconut shrimp is one of Ryan's favorite appetizers and maybe one of the only ways he likes to eat shrimp. There many ways to make coconut shrimp but I prefer to use a beer batter and then dip the shrimp in coconut before frying. I find that it gives a more consistent coconut crust.

Coconut Shrimp (enough for about 24 large shrimp)

Beer batter:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
6 Tbs lighter beer (you don't want to use dark)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg white
about 2 cups coconut (your choice- sweet or unsweetened)
Oil for frying (about three inches in the bottom of the pot)
24 large shrimp peeled and deveined
Mix together batter and put the coconut in a shallow bowl or on a plate. Heat the oil to about 365 degrees (use a thermometer to keep temperature consistent). Make sure the shrimp are fairly dry and dip it into the batter shaking off excess and then put it into the coconut, sprinkling some on top (they're easier to handle once coated with coconut) and turning once or twice to make sure they are thoroughly coated. Place the finished shrimp on a lined sheet pan and continue with all the shrimp before starting to cook them. At this point they can sit for an hour or two before cooking them (refrigerate them) because you want to fry them right before serving. Once ready to fry cook only 6-8 at a time so the oil doesn't get too cold and they have some room around them. Fry them until a nice golden color- by then the shrimp will be cooked through. Place them on some paper towels to catch all excess grease and keep warm while frying the rest. I served these with a pepper jelly combined with pineapple. It was about equal parts pineapple and pepper jelly blended together and briefly heated.

The other appetizer was an open faced dumpling. They can be filled with a variety of fillings and are very good and easy to make. I have also included a soy based dipping sauce but you'll see in the picture I used hoisin sauce instead (given the limited time) . I used a bamboo steamer to cook these. If you don't have one of these, they're a great way to steam food and are fairly inexpensive.

Shao Mai Dumplings (makes about 60 small dumplings)
1 egg white
2 tbs ginger
1 tbs garlic
1 tbs sesame oil
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs cornstarch
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup diced water chestnut or jicima
1/2 thinly sliced scallions
1 1/2 lbs ground turkey breast (or you can also use pork or a combination of both)

60 won ton wrappers cut into a 2 1/2- 3" rounds.

Mix all the ingredients (except the won ton skins) together . Have a small dish of water near by. Cut the wrappers and make sure to keep them covered after they are cut because they can dry out very easily. Using about 2 tsp- 1 Tbs of filling mound it in the middle of the wrapper and using a wet finger moisten the edges of the wrapper. To shape the dumplings make a little ring with your thumb and first finger and gently use those two fingers to shape the dumpling. You want to make sure the pleats at the top are secure so it doesn't loose it's shape. After it's fairly shaped put it down on the cutting board so that you flatten out the bottom and then squeeze the "neck" (where all the pleats come together at the top) and it's OK for some of the filling to rise out. As you shape the dumplings, put them on a lined tray and when you are done forming them, they can sit for about 4 hours (as long as they are well wrapped and refrigerated) or so until you are ready to cook them. To use the steamer( it works best with a wok) heat about 3 inches of water in the pan and before setting the steamer over the water (which should be boiling by then). Line the steamer trays with parchment(you can also use cabbage leaves if you have some around) put the dumplings in the steamer- you want to make sure they are evenly spaced out (this may have to be done in shifts) and put the lid back on and place the steamer over the water and they should steam for 6 minutes. Garnish with more thinly sliced scallions and serve warm.

Dipping sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
3 tbs rice wine vinegar
2 tsp sugar
2 tbs chopped scallions

Mix everything except the scallions in a small sauce pan and briefly bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar and then pour into a bowl and once cool add the scallions.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Nothing is better than a fresh loaf of bread. Next to it in the picture is some pear butter I made earlier on in the season, and I'm sure this is going to make one killer peanut butter sandwich with my freshly baked bread!
I got this recipe from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking page197. I love whole grains and try to sneak them in whenever I can but sometimes, especially with yeasted breads sometimes a little white bread flour is necessary to achieve the light airy texture

Honey Oatmeal Sandwich Bread
1 1/4 cups (10 oz) boiling water
1/4 cup (1 oz) nonfat dry milk
1 cup (3 1/2 oz) rolled oats
2 tbs (1 oz) unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup (3 oz) honey
1 cup (4oz) whole wheat flour
1 2/3 (7 oz) bread flour
2 tsp instant yeast

Combine the first 6 ingredients and let sit until room temperature. Put into a mixing bowl and mix with flours and yeast. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated and let the dough sit 5 minutes so the flour has a chance to absorb some of the liquid. Mix the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Place in a clean bowl and let rise until double (about 45 minutes) and then gently deflate and place in the bowl for a second rise until double (about 20 minutes). Turn out on a lightly floured board and roll out to about 1/4 inch with the width matching that of the length of the loaf pan. Roll dough towards you and make sure to secure the seam. Place dough into a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan and let rise until the dough rises above the pan by about 1 inch. Brush egg wash on and bake in a preheated oven at 350 until a dark golden brown, covering with foil if needed and temping the loaf if unsure of doneness. The temperature should read 190 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Fresh cinnamon rolls, a healthy way to start off the day!

I teach how to make great cinnamon rolls, but not the kind you want to start off a healthy day with. I love sweet breads with the flavor of cinnamon and raisins so I wanted to find a healthier more whole grain version of cinnamon rolls. I found one in King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking cookbook that I liked a lot. They are called Dark and Dangerous Cinnamon Buns. I have a filling that I really like and so I paired the dough for these rolls with a cinnamon raisin filling and left them at that. Sure the frosting gives it a more finished appearance and maybe some would argue is the best part, but it also just adds more unneeded sugar. As much as I like sweet things, the older I get, the more sensitive I become to sugar and the effects it has on my body.

Whole Grain Cinnamon Rolls
3/4 cup plus 2 TBS (7 oz) water, cool
1/4 cup(2 oz) orange juice
1/4 cup (1 oz) nonfat dry milk
1 1/2 tsp salt
5 TBS (3 3/4 oz) honey
1 egg yolk (the white will be used later in the filing)
4 TBS (2 oz) unsalted butter, soft
3 1/2 cups(14oz) whole wheat flour
1/2 cup(1 3/4 oz) old fashioned oats
heaping 1/2 cup (1 1/4 oz) dried potato flakes
2 teaspoons instant yeast

Combine the dry milk with the water and orange juice and stir to combine, then whisk in the egg yolk and put into mixing bowl. On top of that add the salt and all the rest of the ingredients, ending up with the yeast on top. Mix the dough until everything is mixed in and let it sit for 5 minutes giving the flours a chance to hydrate. Then turn the mixer on and mix the dough using the dough hook until the dough is smooth and well developed. Put that into a clean greased bowl and let this rise until it doubles about 45min to 1 hour. While the dough is rising, you can make the filling.

Cinnamon Raisin Filling
3.5 oz almond flour or powder (just finely ground almonds)
2 oz brown sugar
1 oz maple syrup
2 oz (about 2 ea) egg whites
.33oz (10 grams) cinnamon
1.67oz (50 grams) golden raisins (sprinkle on before rolling the dough- don't mix into the filling)

Measure everything into one bowl and stir until well combined. Spread onto rolled out dough (when ready)and then evenly sprinkle on the raisins.

After the dough has about doubled turn the dough over in the bowl and gently deflate by pressing down on the dough and in turn fold all four sides of the dough in and turn the dough back over. This just redistributes the yeast and temperature and prepares the dough for a second rise. Let it rise again until double (this should only take about twenty minutes)
Turn dough onto a clean dry surface and roll out into a 12x16" rectangle. Spread the filling over the rectangle leaving one of the longer edges with a strip of no filling about 1/2" wide so when the dough is rolled up the filling won't be oozing out the roll. Start rolling with the long side that has filling all the way to the edge. Don't roll too tightly, but make sure the roll isn't so loose it looses it's shape. Roll all the way up and make sure the seam is sealed (you may need to gently pinch it with your fingers) and put the seam side down on the cutting board and cut the log into 16 equal pieces (the slices will be about 1" wide) place them in a pan or on a sheet pan (you would need a greased 9x13"pan or 12" round pan, or a sheet pan if you prefer that they stay separate). Put the pan in a warm spot and preheat the oven to 350 and then place the rolls in to bake when they have just about 1 1/2 times the size they were before(this will take about 1-1 1/2 hours) Bake until golden about 25- 30 minutes