Saturday, May 28, 2016
Happy Memorial Day Weekend, everyone! If you aren't celebrating it at the beach, I'm sorry to hear it. The temperature has finally stayed above 70 degrees, and I've been doing cartwheels in my backyard to celebrate. Robbie and I will both be working, but we enjoyed our first warm weekend of the year our own way. Last night we made a dinner consisting of oysters, steamed mussels, and seared scallops, and tomorrow morning, we'll be doing yoga on the beach. We decided to make tranquility the theme of our weekend.
Now that it's finally warmed up, it's time to open up the windows, put on a Vampire Weekend record and start cooking my favorite summer foods. I'm especially excited to visit farmers markets and pick-your-own farms to get the best ingredients to share on here. To start summer off, I decided to make pretzels. For many of you, pretzels might make you think of autumn and Octoberfest, but for me, pretzels instantly take me to summer and the boardwalk. Even though they make you a target for seagulls, they still make the best treat on the beach.
I usually make all of my breads for the week in one day. When I went to make pretzels, I had also planned on making a loaf of rye bread. It occurred to me while I was feeding the starter to make both that rye flour would be a perfect addition to the pretzels. The trademark caraway seeds that normally appear in rye bread instead made their way into the cheddar cheese dip. Using a sourdough starter, rather than yeast, means waiting a little longer for dough to rise, but embrace it! Cover your dough and step outside for a few hours!
Sourdough Rye Pretzels + IPA Cheddar Dip
For the pretzels:
1 1/2 c of unfed sourdough starter
1 c dark rye flour
2 c AP flour
1 c lukewarm water
1 tbsp of salt (not iodized, preferably mineral rich)
Coarse sea salt
1/2 c baking soda
For the cheddar dip:
1 tbsp grassfed butter
1 tbsp AP flour
2 c grassfed milk
1/2 c IPA
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp of ground caraway seeds
1 c grassfed cheddar
Mix the sourdough starter, rye flour, AP flour, water and salt together in a large bowl. If there is any excess flour, add extra water, a tablespoon at a time, until all the ingredients are incorporated into the dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead the dough by folding it onto itself and pressing down with the heel of your hand. Continue for 15 minutes. Move the dough back into the mixing bowl, cover, and let it rise until it has doubled in size, about 2-3 hours.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Begin to bring 10 cups of water in a wide pot to a boil over high heat.
When the dough has finished rising, punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 12 equally sized pieces. Roll each piece between your hand and the work surface, until it is 18 inches long, with tapered ends. Twist the ends around each other once, and fold it back on itself to make the pretzel shape. Move the pretzel on top of a piece of parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
When the water has come to a boil and all of the pretzels are twisted, add the baking soda to the boiling water. Reduce the heat on the water to medium, and place the pretzels, two to three at a time, in the water upside down. After 20 seconds, flip the pretzels and cook for another 20 seconds. Remove them and place them on a towel to remove excess water. When all of the pretzels have been poached and drained, move them to a greased baking sheet, and sprinkle liberally with coarse sea salt. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until they have reached a deep brown color. Cool on a wire rack.
While the pretzels bake, begin the cheese dip. Melt butter over medium heat in a cast iron skillet. Once it begins to bubble, sprinkle in the flour, whisking constantly. When they have completely mixed, begin adding milk, whisking constantly. Turn the heat up just under medium high and continue to whisk. As the milk begins to bubble, add the IPA, caraway seeds, and mustard. Increase the heat to medium high. When the mixture reaches a boil, lower the heat to medium low and begin to add the cheddar cheese, whisking as you incorporate more cheese. Remove from heat, and serve!
at 3:48 PM
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
If you're reading this, I hope your experiencing better weather than we are here in New Jersey. April showers have spilled into May, and I think I've seen the sun shining once in the last two weeks. Normally Robbie and I would be spending all of our time off outdoors, but jumping in rain puddles in my Hunter boots is only so fun for so long. The bright side to this overcast tale is that it inspired us to visit the Amish market in Williamstown. During this trip it came out that Robbie dreams of being Amish, and tried to figure out how he could join their community. While he fantasized about barn raisings and quilting, I wandered around the bakery and bookstore.
When I find myself surrounded by old cookbooks, I have to rely on Robbie to exercise self control for me. If I didn't, I would need a second bedroom just to store all of the ones I would buy. This time, though, Robbie was just as excited. Stuck between two books from the 1970s on dieting was an old Pepperidge Farm cookbook. A few of the recipes were advertisements for their products, but most were completely from scratch. So many old cookbooks are almost useless because the techniques are so dated, but a lot of what I have planned next for the blog was inspired by this cookbook.
I combined and altered a few recipes from the book to make a banana cream tart. As a kid I loved this dessert, I got one every year on my birthday in place of a cake. I almost bought one at the bakery in the Amish market, but I already had two apple dumplings and a loaf of bread in my hands. I decided to use my new cookbook to satiate this childhood craving. I decided to roast the bananas and use browned butter in the custard to give the whole dish a more nutty, caramel flavor. I added spiced rum to the whipped cream, because this dish isn't for 10 year old Patrick. Instead of using store bought graham crackers, I baked my own. It was saddening to bake them just to crumble them up, but they made a nice treat while the crust baked and the custard set.
Brown Butter Banana Cream Tart:
For the crust:
1 1/2 c finely crumbled graham crackers
3 tbsp maple syrup
6 tbsp melted grass-fed butter
1/4 tsp of cinnamon
3 bananas sliced in half, widthwise, and again, lengthwise
For the custard:
2 cups of milk
1 tbsp of grass-fed gelatin (We used Great Lakes)
3 tbsp of grass-fed butter
1/4 c maple syrup, divided
4 egg yolks
For the whipped cream:
1 1/2 c heavy cream
3 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp spiced rum
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the graham crackers, maple syrup, butter and cinnamon for the crust in a medium sized bowl. Work the ingredients with your hands until the crust comes together. Press the crust into a 9" tart pan until the entire pan is lined with a thin layer of crust. Using the bottom of a drinking glass to press will get an even thickness. Line the bottom of the crust with sliced banana. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool completely in the tart pan.
While the crust bakes, begin the custard. Whisk the gelatin and 2 tbsp of maple syrup into the milk, and let sit for 5 minutes to allow the gelatin to bloom. Add the mixture to a double boiler. Heat this mixture over medium heat.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook for an additional 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. The milk solids in the butter should go from white to brown, and the butter will take on a nutty aroma. When the butter has browned, add it to the milk in the double boiler. Bring the milk to a boil.
While the milk comes to a boil, whisk the egg yolks and the remaining 2 tbsp of maple syrup in a stand mixer. When the milk has reached a boil, turn the heat off and begin slowly adding it to the egg yolks a ladleful at a time, whisking on medium-high the entire time.
Once all of the milk has been incorperated, move the custard back into the double boiler. Cook over medium, while whisking constantly. Once the custard has thickened, but not boiled, remove it from the heat. Allow it to cool to room temperature.
Spoon the custard into the cooled crust and move it to the refrigerator to set, about two hours. Near the end of the two hours make the whipped cream topping. Whisk the heavy cream, maple syrup and rum in a stand mixer on medium speed until you have a firm whipped cream.
Remove the tart from the refrigerator once the custard is completely set. Using an offset spatula, carefully spread small scoops of whipped cream over the top of the tart. When you have a smooth, even layer of whipped cream, sprinkle the top with cinnamon.
at 2:03 PM
Sunday, May 1, 2016
Happy May Day, everyone! I hope someone reading this is having a bright, sunshine filled day. Unfortunately our May Day is filled with rain, so we won't be dancing around a maypole or making flower crowns. As much as I enjoy a good excuse to hide under a quilt and watch old movies, I would have preferred to spend today laying in the sun drinking may wine.
I learned about may wine from Martha Stewart, obviously. Before bed I like to watch Murder, She Wrote and 1990's Martha Stewart on YouTube. If there were DVD's of her original show, I would buy them all up immediately. When you've watched as many episodes as I have you realize just how much she recycles ideas. She usually updates them or adds some twist, but a traditional German may wine makes an appearance in every spring special.
Traditional may wine is made by infusing Riesling with sweet woodruff, which is a super aromatic flower. For a few reasons, I didn't go the traditional route. I'm personally not a fan of sweet white wine. When I drink white wine, I want it to be light and crisp with subtle flavors. I decided to use Robbie's and my favorite Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa. I didn't get to use sweet woodruff, because it's impossible to find unless you're growing it yourself. Instead I added the dried elderflower from the April birthday cake I made a few weeks ago. If your looking for elderflower, check out the post; there are a few tips on where to find it!
To make sure the wine doesn't oxidize, it's best to infuse the wine cold. This also allows you plenty of time to control how floral you want the wine. After one week, you'll taste the subtle flavors on the back end. A second week of rest will give you much stronger flavors. Once you've made it, step away from the computer, put the phone down, step outside, and marvel at nature.
1 bottle of Sauvignon Blanc
1/4 c dried elderflower
Combine wine and elderflower in an airtight container. Refrigerate. After a week, taste the wine. If it has reached the desired floral flavor you like, enjoy! If not, refrigerate another week. Go outside, and enjoy!
at 2:53 PM