Sunday, December 8, 2013

Book #7: Créme Brülée The Bonjour Way

By Randolph W Mann

I really enjoy this cook book as a source for not just the typical créme brulées.  A huge variety include s'mores créme brulée (ok, what dessert book doesn't have a s'mores variation these days...) , espresso, orange praline, etc..

For the second family Thanksgiving (with W's family) I wanted something not quite the typical pumpkin pie.  Enter pumpkin créme brülée.  Wow, it was delicious.  It is quite similar to pumpkin pie, but even smoother.  The crunchy sugar on top is the perfect touch--I'd be tempted to add that to every pumpkin pie.  

A surprising discovery--I know it says to serve immediately, but a couple ramekins I decided to torch even though they wouldn't be eaten right away.  When I ate one two days later, lo and behold, the crunchy sugar crust had disappeared!!  It was like a light sugar syrup on top.  In the trend with unflattering photos, here is one without the crust!

I searched on this recipe and found many others enjoyed his recipe also as the go-to pumpkin créme brulée.  

Pumpkin Crème Brûlée
Makes 4 servings
1/4 cup canned pumpkin or pumpkin puree
1/4 cup sour cream
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch salt
1/2 cup whipping cream (35% MF)
6 tsp granulated sugar, for caramelizing
Preheat oven to 300º F.  In small mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients except for the hevy cream.  Stir the pumpkin mixture with a small whisk or spoon for a full minute.  Set aside.
Pour the mixture through a fine strainer into a large measuring cup or another bowl. Place 4 (4-ounce) shallow ramekins in a hot water bath. Fill with the pumpkin mixture and place on an oven rack slightly below the middle of the oven.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or less if centers are softly set.
Cool the ramekins in the hot water bath until comfortable to handle. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate from 1 hour to 2 days before using. When ready to serve, remove from fridge and sprinkle 1 1/2  tsp sugar on top of each ramekin and torch to caramelize.
Serve immediately.

Book #6: Fleischmann's Yeast: Best-Ever Breads

I love any Fleischmann's book.  Really it comes down to loving bread, and that fragrant yeast smell that reminds you how fantastic fresh bread can be, not to mention poring over the pages and salivating over all the different forms that most delicious bread can take.  

buy from Amazon.

For Thanksgiving, I made the Classic Dinner Rolls, which can be shaped into a variety of shapes.  I chose knots.  I had just previously that day tried my hand at some whole wheat rolls and they were rising very badly, so I was quite tentative and concerned with this attempt.  Talk about paranoid.  These rolls  turned out fine and my need to rise them extra long was unwarranted.  

I love that the link on the image takes you to an amazon page offering the cookbook for $1000.  A worthy price!

Unfortunately, as always, the Thanksgiving prep was a rush, and when finally sitting down to lunch, did not take the time to take a quality photo--but at least I remembered one.  Here is my artwork, resting atop the rest of dinner.  Not necessarily a flattering shape, but I'm not picky when eating bread!

The recipe is pretty similar to what I found here, but somehow slightly different, I guess modernized?  Like, who needs more than a dozen rolls?  (ME!  If you're going to the trouble to do something as antiquated and time consuming as bake rolls, it had sure better make dozens and dozens!!)

Classic Dinner Rolls

Makes: 11/2 - 2 dozen rolls 
4 to 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 envelopes Fleischmann's® Active Dry Yeast ( 4 1/2 tsp)
1/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup warm milk  (105° to 115°F)
3/4 cup warm water (105° to 115°F)
2 eggs
Poppy or sesame seed, optional

In large bowl, comine 1 1/2 cups flour, sugar, undissolved yeast, and salt.  Gradually add warm milk, warm water, and butter to dry ingredients; beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally.  Add 1 egg and 1/2 cup flour; beat 2 minutes at high speed.  With spoon, stir in enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Grease top; cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 to 24 hours.

Remove from refrigerator.  Punch dough down.  Remove dough to lightly floured surface. Shape as desired. Place rolls, about 2 inches apart, on greased baking sheets (or in other pans as directed). Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 20 to 40 minutes.

Beat remaining egg; brush on rolls. If desired, sprinkle with poppy or sesame seed. Bake at 375ºF for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from sheets or pans; let cool on wire racks. 

KNOTS: Divide dough into 24 equal pieces. Roll each piece to 9-inch rope. Tie loose knot in center of each rope.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Book #5: The Ultimate Slow Cooker Book: Pulled Pork

This is Better Homes and Gardens' version of a slow cooker book.  This time, I tried a Pulled Pork recipe.  It was an interesting idea.  There is a master recipe which cooks the pork with chili sauce and some seasonings.  Once you've made that, there are six other recipes which you can do to mix it up.  For instance, mole pork and green olive quesadillas, shredded pork salad, spicy pulled pork, etc.  It's not clear if the original recipe is meant to be eaten as is or ONLY as a base for the other recipes.  Rather than risk it, since I was preparing for a group, I did one of the add on recipes (apricot pulled pork hoagies to be specific).  I like the idea, for those that actually prepare ahead, and cook for a whole week, they can do one main recipe and then eat it in different ways throughout the week.

The net of the pulled pork was that I was impatient.  After being in the slow cooker for 10 hours (it asked for 10-11 on low), the pork was still not easily pulled.  Since I was counting on it being ready, and I was only able to pull about a third of it, I ended up cutting the rest.  The taste was still great.  Some debate over whether it was too sweet or just right, but I enjoyed the flavors.  I love a good pulled pork and thought it was a good starting point.  I ended up with a ton of liquid left in the slow cooker--I probably should have kept more of it with the meat rather than dump it out.

A fun find--I found a coupon for a free year of Better Homes and Gardens at the back of the book.  Hmm, it expired in 2012, I wonder if I can still swing it.  However, with my love hate relationship with magazines, maybe it's a sign I shouldn't even try!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Book #4: Wild About Muffins by Andrea Clubb

Wild About Muffins by Andrea Clubb

This is one of my go-to muffin books.  After all, when I'm thinking of muffins, there are a ton of cookbooks with muffins in them, but this one has so many variations--even savory, why look anywhere else??  I think this was a bit before the (current) health craze (from 1985), as you may see with excessive amounts of oil or butter.  It does however include many whole wheat and other flour recipes.

Today I made "Blueberry Bran Wheat Germ" muffins.  I was figuring out what to do with my extra bran flakes.  I actually used the cereal and removed the raisins (what is scary than biting into something thinking it's a blueberry and it is actually a raisin...).  I wasn't sure if it was ok to use the flakes, so I tried to crunch them up a bit.  I found as I was mixing ingredients some big brown spots.  I thought I had missed some raisins, but instead, they were clumps of brown sugar.  Note to self: always smush that up first!  What a pain to try to break them up later.

I experimented with a new ingredient today...whey!  It was a byproduct of making ricotta...which, no, I don't do regularly.  I'm taking this food science class online (a MOOC--massively open online course) which Harvard/MIT is nice enough to offer FREE.  I finally did the second lab and made ricotta.  Not too difficult!  (But it sure is easier to buy it...)  Anyways, there were 2 cups of leftover whey afterwards, and I had to search to figure out what to do with it.  I ended up substituting it for the buttermilk in the recipe.  

I also substituted olive oil for the oil.  I probably should have gone with coconut oil instead, the olive oil flavored it a little bit.

Now the recipe says 12-18 muffins.  I don't know how it could ever be 12 unless you have super giant muffin tins as I filled mine to the brim and it was still 19.  Granted the sili-cups were smaller.

Now the final product turned out pretty...

Except when I tried to remove them from the tin...too many blueberries maybe?  This is the crumbled mess it made.  Butter made everything better though.

I went searching for this cookbook to see if it was still for sale.  Then I found this book, with the author's name spelled wrong!  What a letdown to finally publish a book and then to have them spell your name wrong.  I don't know how that could get it out, so maybe it's only a draft.

Since this cookbook is only available from resellers, here's the recipe.

Blueberry Bran Wheat Germ

Makes 12 Large or 16 Medium
Preheat oven to 400 degrees (200 C) and prepare pan.

In large bowl add and combine well:
3 eggs
1 cup (190 g) brown sugar
1/2 cup (125 mL) oil
2 cups (425 mL) buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup (85 g) raw wheat germ
1 cup (60 g) bran

In smaller bowl combine well:
2 cups (280 g) all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups (250 g) whole fresh or frozen blueberries

Combine wet and dry mixtures and fold together gently until just mixed.  Bake at 400 degrees (200 C) for 20 to 25 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool on rack.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Book 3: Joy of Cooking

It has been a pretty slow pace.  Two posts a year?  It's not that I haven't done ANY cooking.  Just that when I have cooked from a cookbook, I've forgotten to take photos, or other nonsense excuses for posting.  I am back with a classic and maybe some new motivation.

So the Joy of Cooking is somewhat of a cooking bible.  I don't end up going to it all that much as I prefer the cookbooks with the tempting photos.  I go to it for those classic American recipes that it does best (except this upcoming recipe may be a bad example, as it's not really American).  I go to it when I don't need a picture to remind me how it's supposed to turn out...lasagna, french toast, pancakes...and Dutch Babies.

I hope you have been lucky enough to have a Dutch Baby before.  They are light as air, eggs puffed up into a dreamy breakfast.  They border on dessert, so it's really an excuse to have dessert for breakfast.  You can top them with powdered sugar and lemon juice for a tart and sweet combo. 

The "Baby" puffs up and then deflates quickly, so you need to serve it right away.  I managed to take a photo of it on the plate, but once I got the powdered sugar & lemon juice on it, I inhaled so no final photo!

I recognize that this is not a flattering photo.  You'll have to trust that it's delicious.  It is also super-fast...what took the most time was waiting for the oven to preheat.  

I'm still struggling to figure out if I feel ok recreating the recipe in my post, since typically you'd have to pay to buy the cookbook instead.  I'm still not, but I can point you to a similar recipe here since I figure that this is somewhat a classic recipe: TasteBook's Dutch Baby  I am pushing the limit of how little butter I can use and just used 3 T for this time.