Processing

I have a food processor! Hooray!

It’s a 3-cup processor with a pulse button. Simple, efficient, and small enough to fit in my kitchen cabinets (where real estate is at a serious premium right now).

Bonus: it was on sale at Tar-zhey.

Action shots coming soon, of course.

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Oh Aubergine

I have a new favorite sandwich.

I noticed that the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day book has a selection of recipes meant to go with the breads, including sandwiches. This is my variation on the Aubergine Tartine.

The Recipe: Eggplant, Brie, and Red Pepper Sandwich
adapted from a recipe found in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day
Serves: one
Time: approximately 30 minutes

two lengthwise slices of eggplant, about 1/2″ thick
half of a red pepper, sliced into strips (about 1/3 cup)
a handful of sliced onions (about 1/4 cup)
2 tsp minced garlic
4 tbsp brie or other soft cheese
two slices sourdough (or your favorite) bread
olive oil
salt
pepper

Do This

Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil (on both sides) and season with salt and pepper. Arrange on a foil-lined baking sheet, and pop into the broiler (on low, if you have multiple settings) for five minutes. Take the baking sheet out, and carefully flip the eggplant slices. Broil for five more minutes, or until the slices are soft and lightly browned.

Multitasking time: while the eggplant slices are in the broiler, drizzle some olive oil into a sauté pan, and sauté the onions, red peppers, and minced garlic for as long as the eggplant is broiling — or until they’re soft, but for me, this timed out perfectly.

Spread brie onto each slice of bread. When the eggplant is done in the broiler, stack the slices onto the bread, and top with the onions/peppers. Add a slice of romaine lettuce if you prefer, and close the sandwich.

If you used an oven to broil the eggplants, it should still be hot. Put the sandwich back on the baking sheet that you used for the eggplants, and slide it into the oven for two or three minutes. If you didn’t broil the eggplant in an oven, preheat your oven to 350 just before assembling the sandwich.

Enjoy the sandwich while it’s still warm and melty.

So…I’m officially sold on this Five Minutes A Day concept. I know, I know, it’s been less than a week, and new love is always the most exciting, but I can’t see myself getting tired of this anytime soon. The master recipe is way simple, and has me hooked on fresh baked bread — the baking stone is kind of living in my oven right now, and I’m excited to try out different bread recipes. This sammich recipe? Sealing the deal.

Very Cordial Berries

I found these filled, chocolate-dipped strawberries over at Parsnip and Pear, and decided that they were a must-make. And now, they’re a must-make-again.

I made a few small changes to the original recipe, mostly because the oranges at Whole Foods were totally unimpressive and the clementines were fabulous. Also, sometimes I can’t read, and I added in an extra half tsp of vanilla. The cream filling is still lick-the-sides-of-the-bowl worthy.

The Recipe: Chocolate-Dipped Stuffed Strawberries
(adapted from Nikki’s recipe posted at Parsnip & Pear)

as many large strawberries as you can find (or a pint)
1 cup chocolate chips or chunks
1/2 package (4 oz) cream cheese
1/2 package (4 oz) neufchatel
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp clementine zest
2 tsp fresh squeezed clementine juice
splash of light rum

Do This

Wash the strawberries, and slice off the tops. Using a paring knive, hollow out each berry until they’re readily stuff-able. Side note: if anyone has a more efficient way to hollow strawberries, I would love to know what that is. I broke a few berries with the knife, and we’re not even going to talk about how poorly the melon baller worked.
Using your mixer, whip together the cheeses, sugar, vanilla, zest, juice, and rum until it’s all smooth and fluffy and looks like clouds with zest floating in them.

Try not to consume the creamy filling just yet. Put at least half of it into a piping bag fitted with a small tip (I used a #7 round), and pipe into the hollowed strawberries. Not your mouth. Yet.
Place the filled strawberries on a tray or foil-covered cutting board (it works really well!) and slide into the freezer until hardened.

Melt chocolate chunks in a metal bowl set over a pot of water on the stove. Using a toothpick (or your hands) to hold each strawberry, dip the bottoms of the strawberry in the chocolate as far as possible and place onto the tray to set.
When each strawberry is dipped, place tray in fridge until chocolate is set. Remove toothpicks, and serve.

Alternately (and especially if you still have lots of creamy filling left and you don’t want to waste it), pipe some filling in/on other fruits.

I sliced up a nectarine, and it went very well with the cream. The only other fruit I had on hand was that bag of clementines, so I opted out of using the rest of the cream filling tonight, but I’d love to pair this cream with blackberries, raspberries, peaches, and probably some non-fruit things like pound cake.

Or pipe it directly into my mouth.

Okay, So It Takes More Than 5 Minutes

From start to finish, the artisan bread isn’t exactly the 5-minute deal that the book’s title implies, but I am so in love with how the bread tastes that I am completely unbothered by this. And, to be fair, the authors do clear up the whole 5-minute thing in the book — it’s 5 minutes of active work and a bit more time for rising, resting, baking, et cetera.

Time breakdown for my 5-minute-a-day bread:

Ingredients mixed together: 10:25pm
Dough rises in plastic container for 2+ hours: 1:26am
Dough is retrieved from fridge: 12:51pm
Ball of dough rests on pizza peel: 1:07pm
I remember to preheat oven: 1:47pm
Dough slashed and placed in oven (after extra rising time): 2:07pm
Bread retrieved from oven: 2:39pm
Delicious bread sliced and consumed: 3:26pm

Total time from start to finish: 17 hours 1 minute
Total time spent on bread today: 2 hours 35 minutes

I suspect that things will go much more smoothly (and faster!) next time I bake. I dragged things out by forgetting to preheat the oven. And sleeping.


The best thing since…well, you know.

Of note: I need a good bread knife. I used a steak knife to slice this because apparently I didn’t feel a need to own serrated blades before this.

My favorite thing about this bread is the moist, chewy interior. The so-called “custard crumb” effect that the authors described is surprisingly not difficult to achieve — I got it in my first try! The recipe is delightfully simple, and possibly fool-proof: I’m one to make every possible mistake (like not putting enough cornmeal on the pizza peel, or forgetting to preheat the oven), and my loaf turned out just fine, if a bit mis-shapen.

There’s a St. Louis Bread Co. Right By My House

It’s less than a quarter mile away, and they have a delicious green tea lemonade. Despite this, I opted to stay at home today and bake my own artisan bread.


As you can see, I was generous with the flour dusting.

I used the master recipe from Artisan Breads in 5 Minutes A Day, and here it is, fresh out of the oven. It’s not the nice, perfect round shape it’s supposed to be, but that’s my fault for way underestimating how much cornmeal to put on the pizza peel — there was a fight, and it involved a spatula and a wooden spoon, and the end result is a lumpy football-shaped loaf of bread. I also burned my hand pulling it out of the oven, but that’s standard.

It smells fantastic, though, and the second it’s cool enough to slice, I’m going to devour it. And later, I might share my notes.

Ap-peel-ing

Newest addition to my kitchen: an Epicurean pizza peel.


I’d post a photo of mine, but it’s currently holding onto a ball of dough.

It’s dishwasher safe. Yay! Also, it’s made by a company that specializes in cutting boards, which almost makes me wonder if I can use it in that way…just kidding, I have too many cutting boards. This can just be a pizza peel.

Thanks, Viking guy who helped me pick this out!

Dark Chocolate Raspberry. And Sprinkles.

So, those thin-mint imposters are actually dark chocolate raspberry cookies. I just really enjoy those sprinkles, which is why they look so similar.

The recipe:

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cookies
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder (I like Hershey’s Special Dark)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 teaspoons raspberry extract

Chocolate Topper
1/3 bag semisweet chocolate chips
pinch of salt
assorted sprinkles

Do This
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer on low speed, cream butter and sugar, then add in egg, vanilla, and raspberry extract. Slowly add dry ingredient mixture; mix until combined. If the dough is clumpy because of the mixer, use a spatula or large spoon to mash it down. If the dough is sticky, roll it up in plastic wrap and refrigerate until it’s manageable. 15 minutes did the trick for me.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool partially (until they aren’t too hot to touch), and remove from baking sheet. Cool on a wire rack, or if you don’t have a wire rack, on a dinner plate.

While the cookies are cooling, melt down some semi-sweet chocolate chips with a pinch of salt. Either set up a double-boiler or balance a metal bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Don’t do it in the microwave — this has tragic consequences that I’d rather not talk about. As the water boils underneath, the chocolate will melt. Stir the melty chocolate, remove from heat, and spoon onto the cookies. Add sprinkles if desired. Cool on a wire rack over paper towels; the bonus to this is that any excess chocolate will drip off right onto the towel and generate less mess.

Serve the cookies once the chocolate is set. Milk and champagne are both appropriate for washing down the cookies.