Sunday, December 31, 2006

Blackberry French toast

1/2 loaf day-old French baguette bread, sliced into rounds
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
dash cinnamon

2 cups blackberries
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp powdered sugar

Mix eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon. Dip bread rounds in egg mixture, letting soak for about a minute on each side.

While waiting, pour blackberries, lemon juice, and powdered sugar into a saucepan. Heat slowly, crushing berries gently to release juices.

Place rounds in hot skillet (med-high heat). Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until golden and brown around edges.

Serve warm, topped with blackberries.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Carrot cake

Super moist and rich, this cake is even better after being refrigerated overnight.

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

Mix separately, then add:
4 beaten eggs
3/4 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla

3 1/2 cups grated carrots OR 2 1/2 cups grated carrots and 1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup chopped nuts (opt)3/4 cup raisins (opt)

Pour batter into greased 9x13 pan. Bake 40-50 minutes at 350 degrees until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool, then frost with cream cheese icing. Sprinkle icing with cinnamon or pumpkin spice. Decorate the center of the cake using a think slice of carrot (use a carrot peeler) and thin, short pieces of zucchini for a green carrot top.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Cake doughnuts

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
3 eggs
about 4 cups flour

oilfor frying
powdered sugar for dusting

Mix dry ingredients together.

Beat sugar and sour cream until light and well mixed. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add just enough flour to form a soft dough. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for 20-30 minutes.

Roll dough on a floured surface to 3/4 inch thick and cut with floured cutter (or if you don't have a doughnut cutter, cut around the bottom of a glass to get a circle and cut out a center hole). Do not handle the dough more than necessary or it will become tough.

Heat oil to 350° F. Fry doughnuts in oil, turning once, until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels and roll in sugar.

Makes about 2 dozen

Monday, December 11, 2006

Blackberry streusel muffins

1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups frozen blackberries

Streusel topping (recipe below)

Grease 12 muffin cups, or line with paper cups.

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. In a seperate bowl beat the egg, then add milk, oil, lemon juice and vanilla, mixing well. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients' bowl. Stir until just moistened - lumpy batter is good. Stir in blackberries.

Spoon batter into muffin cups until 2/3 full. Sprinkle streusel topping on each muffin. Bake in preheated oven at 400 degrees for 18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Streusel topping:
3 Tbsp flour + 3 Tbsp brown sugar + 1/2 tsp cinnamon + 2 Tbsp butter + 2 Tbsp chopped nuts

Mix until crumbly.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

French 'boule' bread

Back to the promised No-Knead Bread. It's really not news since it's been covered in over 200 blogs now, but in case you haven't heard - listen up. It all started when Mark Bittman, known as The Minimalist, of the New York Times wrote about a recipe for a yeast bread that didn't require kneading. Hence the name. The fact that it didn't require kneading didn't really pique my interest that much since I enjoy making bread. But those photos. I couldn't resist a recipe that apparently produced such a good looking French style 'boule' loaf. Especially since one thing I would tell people moving abroad (or to Fort Benning) is to get out and taste the local food, then learn how to make it yourself. I tried making a baguette once. The results were...ehh.

Three ingredients

But this was different. This simple recipe truly captures the taste, texture, and rustic appeal of the 'boules' from the boulangerie on the corner. Who knew it only took three ingredients and water? Oh, and 20 hours. That's right. It rises twice - once for 18 hours, then for another two. I timed how long I was actually spending hands-on to make the bread: 4 minutes the first day + 11 minutes the second day. That includes the commute from living room to kitchen to preheat the oven and check on it a few times.

The key to this recipe is the long rise time and high heat baking. A quick note on high heat cooking. Be sure your bakeware can handle it. The lid on my dish cracked after about five minutes at full heat. Fortunately, it's easily replaced here. But keep that in mind as you choose your baking dish.

Stirring until just mixed

Here are the ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
11/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups water

For instructions, go here. You can even watch a how-to video here. And once you get the fever, read this follow-up article on variations and tips.

18 hours later

So who should make this bread?
- Anyone looking to impress friends.
- Anyone who loves French bread or wants to know what the real thing tastes like.
- Anyone afraid of traditional yeast recipes.
- Anyone making a sandwich today and French toast tomorrow. (Since there's no oil or preservative ingredient, it only keeps for about two days max.)

After second rise and a dusting of flour

Who should not make this bread?
- Anyone wanting to learn how to make yeast breads. It's a great starting point and confidence booster (and did I mention delicious?) but won't teach you what you 'knead' to know. (I crack myself up.)

Fresh out of the oven

A very big merci to Jim Lahey, the owner of Sullivan Street Bakery on West 47th Street in Manhattan, who shared his recipe with Mark Bittman. You did a very good thing.