Good but not quite good enough

This was my second weekend hauling stuff up to my friends’ place, so that Adam and I can get dinner going while they deal with their baby and we’ll be able to play a board game (this week was Formula D; I did not do so well this time – frustrating, this is usually one of my better games). Lessons learned this week:

  1. They do not own a roasting pan with a lid
  2. pyrex covered with aluminum foil works just as well
  3. When folks have babies, things like pepper, garlic, and other pantry staples may run out without anyone noticing
  4. the legs of the chicken to be roasted goes up. However much sense it may make that the flat side of the chicken should go down
    1. If the pan is full of sauce, it’s okay if the breast side went down instead of up
  5. One day, one day!, I will succeed in making an entire meal that my new vegetarian, gluten-free friend can eat!
    1. first I need to remember all of her restrictions (forgot the vegetarianism this time, arrrrrgh)
    2. challenges are good – they make me grow as a cook

On to what I actually did make: Roasted Chicken in a milk sauce. In the end, the vote was ‘yeah, this was pretty good, but you’ve got other things that take less work and come out even better’. I am wondering if it would have been better with sauce poured on individual pieces – we pulled the whole chicken out of the pan, carved and served. I’m thinking one of those sauce/gravy boats that only see use at Thanksgiving (I’m pretty sure Adam and I don’t have one of those, much less our friends up in Columbia) of the sauce on the table may have been a good thing. ::shrugs:: Oh well, I guess roasted chicken is still safely in Adam’s repertoire 🙂

Roasted Chicken in Milk

Original found JamieOliver.com
Makes 1 whole chicken – maybe 8 – 14 servings?
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 16; Dinners: 2 recipes left

  • 6 lb whole chicken
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • handful of sage
  • 2.5 tbsp orange zest (b/c I didn’t want to zest a couple of lemons, and our orange zest was/is old, so we upped how much we used)
  • 6 cloves garlic, left in their skins
  • 2 1/3 cups milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper – sprinkle a generous amount onto the skin and then rub in with your hands. Heat the olive oil in a pan or pot on the stove, then fry the chicken until the skin turns golden. Remove the chicken and discard the oil. If using a pan, transfer the chicken to an oven safe pot (with lid) or pyrex dish. If using a pot, return the chicken to the pot.
  2. Add the cinnamon, sage, zest, garlic, and milk to the baking dish with the chicken. Roast in the oven for 1 1/2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. If you remember, baste the chicken with the sauce. If not, don’t worry, it’ll come out fine.
  3. Serve

All the eggs -> best French toast I’ve ever had

So let me start this off by saying that this recipe is absolutely not healthy. Especially not with the modifications we made as we went along. But so very tasty.

See a couple friends of ours had a baby. We may have mentioned this before 🙂 But we all still want to play boardgames, Shadowrun, and the other various geeky things we do together. We just… need to work around the baby’s feeding and sleeping schedule. Which will work better if Adam or I cook dinner in their kitchen whilst the baby’s sleep routine goes on. This was the first week we tried this out so, 1) breakfast for dinner, hurray! and 2) most of the prep-work the night before. Basically, just needed to slide the baking dish in the oven when we got there and off we were going. Plus, Adam and I have this bag of bread cubes in the freezer, made up of the left over heels and things of bread loaves. This is totally the type of thing we’re supposed to use them for.

This recipe completely fit all the things we wanted of it – no prep work at gaming, stuck it in the oven and didn’t need to do anything more than pull it out later, served a small crowd and was tasty.

10/10, would cook again. 🙂

I mean, it turned into dessert for dinner, but I cannot fault the protein content for that – not with an even dozen eggs in the recipe. I blame sweet things, specifically the leftover cream cheese frosting from the earlier cinnamon rolls. Seriously, the frosting portion of that recipe made about twice as much as I could pour over the rolls.

Baked Chai French Toast

Original from TheKitchn.com
Makes 12 big servings
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 21; Breakfasts: 2 recipes left

Chai Spice Mixture

  • 1 1/2 tbsp (4 1/2 tsp) ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tbsp ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 ground ginger
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together all the spice mixture ingredients; set aside.

French Toast

  • 12 large eggs
  • 4 1/2 cups whole or 2% milk
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tbsp Chai Spice Mixture
  • 1-2 tbsp butter (for greasing a 13×9 inch pan)
  • 9-10 cups (or just a really big bowl…) of cubed day-old (or more…) bread (challah if you’ve got it)

Topping

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon-sugar mixture
    • OR 1/2 cup brown sugar + 1 1/2 tsp Chai Spice Mixture
  • pinch salt
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter cold and chopped into small pieces

Frosting

  • 4 oz cream cheese, soft
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  1. Whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, and 4 tbsp of Chai Spice mix.
  2. Grease a 13×9″ casserole dish with the butter; layer the cubed bread in the dish and gently press down. Briefly re-whisk the liquid ingredients then pour over the bread in the pan (try to cover all the exposed bread). Cover (preferably with the pan’s lid, but plastic wrap otherwise) and refrigerated for a minimum of 30 minutes, up to overnight.
  3. Heat the oven to 350°F. Make the topping by combining the flour, sugar-spice mixture, salt, and butter; combine until crumbly.
  4. Uncover the pan and gently press the bread down, such that some liquid begins seeping up. Spread the topping mixture evenly over the bread. Bake until the top is golden and crumbly, about 45 minutes.
  5. While the French Toast is baking, make the frosting – beat the cream cheese, milk, vanilla and sugar together. Add more powdered sugar as necessary to get the consistency you like.
  6. Once baked, allow the French Toast to cool for a few minutes. Then slice, pour as much frosting as you like over the top, and serve.

Diet Wrecker

If you’re on a diet or otherwise trying to avoid sweet-stuff, seriously, abandon ship/post now. This one contains ALL the butter. Also sugar. Lots of sugar

Still here? Awesome, let me begin gushing about these cinnamon rolls.

These are not the typical cinnamon rolls with a cinnamon-sugar mixture laced through. These have a spiced cinnamon-brown sugar mix laced in, with cardamom and coriander. I would have used the star anise called for in the original, but a) we didn’t have any left when I thought we did and b) the grocery store didn’t have any on the shelves (what the heck Wegmans, weird place to fail on me).

Very, very addictive. We had a couple friends over for a little dessert party hang out – pretty sure all four of us had at least two rolls each. Which still left an entire pan of more. This, dear readers, is why I irregularly take baked goods into work – my desk is not in the same area as where we usually leave food for everyone. Therefore, no mindless snacking. Not saying I never eat what I bring in. Just, no where near as much as I would if we kept the excess in our apartment.

Fair warning, this is a long recipe, in terms of time. There’s two different dough rises and ingredients should come to room temperature before even starting. Look elsewhere for a quick dessert, but these can be made ahead, frozen, and then finished the day you need them.

Man, I really want another cinnamon roll right now…

Spiced Sticky Rolls
(with Cream Cheese Frosting)

Original from TheKitchn.com
Makes 2 nine inch pans, ~ 24 rolls
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 24; Desserts: 2 recipes left

Dough

  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, lightly warmed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 tsp butter, unsalted, at room temperature (if at all possible)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp (ish) of vanilla extract (pretty sure I accidentally poured in more than a tbsp…)
  • 4 1/2 – 5 cups flour

Filling

  • 3 tbsp ground cinnamon OR 4 small cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom OR cardamom seeds
  • 1 cup brown sugar, dark
  • 1 cup/2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature

Icing

  • 4 oz cream cheese, very soft
  • 1/2 cup milk (or less if you like thicker icing)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, more if desired (for thicker icing)
  1. Dough:
    1. Sprinkle the yeast over the warmed milk and set aside until a bit bubbly, about 5 minutes. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the milk mixture, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, and salt. Add 1 cup of flour at a time until the dough becomes very thick.
    2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and warm, about 7 minutes OR switch the stand mixer to a dough hook and knead until taut and smooth, about 5 minutes.
    3. Wipe out your bowl and lightly oil it. Shape the dough into a ball, place in the bowl, and then turn to get it coated with the oil. Cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and set aside, in a warm place, to rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
  2. Filling:
    1. Grind together any whole spices you are using until fine, then mix in the pre-ground spices. Mix the spices with the brown sugar, then cream the sugar mixture into the butter.
  3. Lightly grease two 9″ cake pans or one 9×13 inch pan. On a floured surface, roll the dough out into a large rectangle, about 14 by 24 inches. You’ll want a big work surface for this. Once rolled out, slather the butter mixture thickly across the dough, making sure to spread it nearly to the edges. Roll up along the long side of the dough, into a taut and tight roll – this works better with two people rolling the dough in sync.
  4. Cut the dough roll into 24 individual rolls – we found our sharp chef’s knife worked better than a bench scrapper. Divide the rolls among the prepared pans, then cover and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  5. Heat the oven to 350°F
    1. Making tonight: Bake until just beginning to brown, about 20 minutes (ours were slightly gooily underdone [still delicious!] at 18 minutes). Drizzle (or douse…) with the icing (described below) and serve warm.
    2. Making ahead: Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from oven and allow to cool. Freeze in their pans or a freezer bag. To finish, allow to thaw in the refrigerator over night and bake in the morning at 350°F for 10-15 minutes. Frost with icing (described below) and serve warm
  6. Icing:
    1. Beat the cream cheese, milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar together. Add more sugar as necessary to achieve your desired thickness/consistency.

Raspberry Danish

Yeah, once again my brain was eaten by a book on Tuesday night which kinda prevents writing a blog post for Wednesday morning… I am really missing having a buffer but haven’t seemed to make the time yet to build one. Warg. Like everyone else, too much stuff going on.

(The book, btw, is Jo Walton’s My Real Children – and yes, I really liked it.)

So, a raspberry danish. Honestly, I think this wasn’t worth the time/work. It looks very pretty but only tastes fairly good. And when needing to plan around 2 different one hour rises plus cutting and weaving time (not all that much time, more brain power expenditure than time expenditure) before the danish ever gets in the oven, the recipe needs to blow me away. This one, the filling okay and the pastry was too sweet for my tastes. I’m sure I could decrease the sugar and find a new filling that I like better (I do like raspberries btw). But the bones of the recipe just don’t seem worth the time

It was very pretty thoughRaspberry Danishes

Raspberry Danish

4 loaves
Original from That Skinny Chick can Bake
Recipe Count – 6 left
Section Count – Dessert Binder:  2 more left, Subsection – Dessert Breads: 1 more

Dough

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 2/3 – 3 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 egg

Filling

  • 2 cups fresh raspberries
  • 3 tbsp sugar, or to taste
  • 1 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbsp water
  1. Combine the sugar, salt, yeast, and 2/3 cup flour in a bowl.
  2. Heat the milk and butter in a small pan over low heat until the butter melts and the mixture is very warm but less than 115°F (check with a digital thermometer – if the milk is too hot, it will kill the yeast). Slowly add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients, mixing until thoroughly combined.
  3. Add the egg and 2/3 cup flour; beat to incorporate. Stir in enough additional flour (about 1 1/3 cups) to make a soft, sticky dough. Knead until smooth, elastic and no longer very sticky (add a bit of flour if necessary). Form into a ball and place in a large, greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  4. To prepare the filling, in a small saucepan, combine the sugar and the berries; mix in the cornstarch mixture. Over medium heat, gently simmer until the sauce thickens, roughly a couple minutes. The raspberries will break down somewhat, but not all of them and not completely. Set aside.
  5. Punch down the dough, then divide it into 4 equal pieces, shaping each into a ball. Working with one dough ball at a time, roll it out on a lightly-floured surface into roughly a 12″ x 15″ rectangle. Spread about a fourth of the raspberry mixture down the middle of the dough. Then on either side of the filling, cut the dough into 1″ wide strips. Fold the strips alternately across the center and then fold over the ends. Transfer to a greased baking sheet then cover the pan with a towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F, then bake until the top is light brow, about 20 minutes.

End result is that no, I’m not keeping this recipe. Also, I’m setting aside the two recipes in my drinks section – they both involve carbonation and learning to deal with carbonation/brewing things is going to be its own learning project. Much like learning to can things will be. So, down to 4 recipes total.

Which means it’s time to start sorting through the pile of bookmarks to recipes, figure out which of the 78 I’ll be copying out. Oy, my hand hurts thinking about it.

Those are no muffins

Apparently rhubarb season is really short in our area – tried finding some at Wegmans for two weeks and nada. Was randomly at Eastern Market last Saturday and the first place asked at said that the season had just passed. But the second place had some out (hurrah visual recognition!) – aaand only took cash. I don’t really carry cash any more but I had a little bit and at $6/lb, only needing a stalk, two bucks covered it. So, very lucky there.

This one was the second strawberry-type muffin I’ve been saving for the summer and I am very glad to a) eat them and b) finally get them out of my binder! I don’t make breakfast stuff too often and am glad I made the time for these.

All that said, these Strawberry Rhubarb muffins (with cinnamon streusel topping) are NOT muffins.

They’re cupcakes.

Seriously, they’re sweet enough to taste like one and I really don’t care if you don’t make cupcakes with fruit or require frosting on top of your cupcakes – these are sweet enough to fit my category description.

Doesn’t keep me from eat one at breakfast though 🙂

Strawberry-Rhubarb Muffins CUPCAKES with cinnamon streusel

12 cupcakes
Original from Cup of Sugar, Pinch of Salt
Recipe Count – 7 left
Section Count – Black Binder:  4 more left, Subsection – Breakfast: 0 (all done!)

Filling:

  • 1 cup strawberries, stemmed & quartered (quartered, then measured)
  • 1 stalk rhubarb, peeled if needed & diced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp water

Muffins

  • 1.5 cups unbleached white flour (if you’ve got your local Glut equivalent, otherwise all-purpose flour is just fine)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly (if it re-solidifies, the microwave on LOW power works well)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup milk

Topping

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cubed butter
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Filling (Can be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated): In a medium-sized pan over medium heat, melt the butter, then add the strawberries, diced rhubarb, and sugar. Sauté until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add the cornstarch slurry and allow to boil. Once mixture has thickened, remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Grease muffin cups or line.
  3. Mix together the topping sugar, flour, butter, and cinnamon with a fork until it looks like coarse sand. Set aside.
  4. Combine the muffin flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. In a separate smaller bowl, combine the melted butter, milk, and egg; mix into the flour mixture.
  5. Fill muffin cups to about 1/3 full then create a small indentation in the middle. Fill with about tbsp of strawberry-rhubarb mixture. Fill remainder of muffin cup with batter (right to the top) and sprinkle with topping.
  6. Bake until golden brown & a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Muffin

That really wasn’t a dough….

It was really more like softened butter mostly held together in a flour structure. I mean technically it was dough and it certainly baked like dough (like it should), but holy gods, that was the butteriest dough I have ever worked with. And I bake a lot! Not pastry chef levels of a lot, but for a home baker? What the [expletive] was I making, you ask?

Brioche

And for those of you who, like me, have/had never heard of brioche before, the Wiki page.

Yes, this one has chocolate. Adam taste tested for me. I don’t think he minded:Adam

Why the [expletive] was I trying to make a pastry involving three different rises (one 4-12 hours long), involving an ingredient that I can’t eat, and enough butter to kill half the cardiologists at the AMA? Well… I’ve never tried brioche before, and Adam is doing a French themed Feastly in July – I claimed the dessert in order to participate (and have an excuse to try more dessert recipes) so brioche seemed appropriate. And I definitely want to try the recipe at least once before serving it to people who’ve paid for a dinner.

Honestly, I think the only reasons this one worked for me on the first go are threefold:
1) I may have mentioned I’ve baked a lot?
2) We own a marble pastry board. Yes, I know that is utterly ridiculous. We put it on our wedding registry figuring that we were just noting things we’d buy eventually. Because I like making lists and this way we could export it and save the idea. And then our family and friends bought out our registry. We were very confused. Highly gratified, don’t get me wrong. But also confused.
The relevant bit being that we own a marble pastry board. Which really did make working with a very buttery dough easier.
3) Adam’s aunt and uncle own a bakery. Which means Adam has watched his uncle transfer very buttery, wet dough from one surface (like a marble board) to another (like a wood cutting board you’re comfortable taking a knife to the dough on). The trick is to lay down one layer of plastic wrap on top of the dough and then roll the dough onto a rolling pin, like you’re rolling up a scroll. … That may not be the best analogy there, but it’s the one I’ve got, so we’re going with that. 🙂 The plastic wrap keeps the dough layers separated, the rolling pin lets you walk the dough to the new surface and then you just unroll. It’s a neat trick. And thankfully one I don’t need to execute very often.

I would not recommend these brioche to y’all. I mean, they’re tasty and interesting. But heck, see above on how I got it to work. And that’s before I’ve mentioned that I started on Tuesday night, left the dough in the refrigerator about 8-10 hours longer than is called for, and finished up on Wednesday night. I’ll probably use these guys for the Feastly, but then I’ll be able to start on a Saturday morning (and I’ll be using an sweetened egg wash on the brioche before putting them in the oven next time). Also, marble  pastry board. Plus I like crazy hard baking challenges. I just don’t, in good conscience, recommend that anyone else try it. Unless you’re a pastry chef – ’cause then you’re probably giggling that I think brioche are kinda tricky.

So, from the Joy of Cooking, 75th Anniversary edition, I present

Brioche au Chocolat

make ~20-30 pastries
Recipe Count – 11 left
Section Count – Dessert Binder:  5 more left, Subsection – Dessert breads: 2 more

  • 1/3 cup warm milk, 105°F-115°F – original called for whole milk and although I used 2%, I would really recommend sticking with that whole milk – it’ll give a richer dough and really, that’s what you should be going for
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (i.e. leave it out on the counter at the start of the recipe and it’ll be soft by the time you need it)
  • Your favorite type of chocolate (dark or semi-sweet recommended)
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten with 1-2 tbsp milk or water, optional (I did not use it this time but will in the future, so am including it here)
  1. Combine the milk and yeast in the bowl you will be mixing in the flour – preferably the bowl of a heavy duty stand mixer. Allow to stand until the yeast is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup flour, the eggs, sugar and salt; mix by hand or on low-speed, gradually stirring in the other 1 cup of flour. Mix until all ingredients are blended, about 5 minutes.
  2. Knead the dough: with a dough hook on low to medium speed for 7-10 minutes or by hand for about 15 minutes. Using a dough hook, the dough should clear the side of the bowl but may stick to the bottom. If kneading by hand, slap the dough down on your work surface, lift half of it up with both hands (it’ll be sticky and part will remain stuck to the surface), and slap it down over itself. Dough is kneaded when it is smooth, elastic, and no longer sticky.
  3. Vigorously knead the butter into the dough until completely incorporated and the dough is again smooth. Transfer dough to a buttered large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm place (75°F – 85°F ideally) to rise until doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Punch the dough down and knead briefly. Refrigerate, covered, for 4-12 hours, until doubled. Do not leave in too long to rise or the dough will taste yeasty.
  5. Punch down the dough and roll out into an 18″x15″ inch rectangle. Cut into 3″ squares and place a generous sliver of chocolate on each square. Fold the dough over the chocolate and, if desired, brush with the egg yolk mixture. Place dough packets on an un-greased baking sheet. Cover with oiled plastic wrap (I used the plastic wrap we used to transfer the dough) and allow to rise until doubled, about 40 minutes.
  6. 15-20 minutes into the rise, start preheating the oven to 400°F.
  7. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Serve when reasonably certain chocolate will no longer burn your mouth. 🙂Finished Brioche

Muffins!

In planning for this week’s food, I checked in my ‘pantry staples’ section and thought maybe I’d try caramelizing a batch of onions in  a slow cooker – store some in the fridge for use this week, the rest in the freezer for slow use over several months. But when Adam’s reaction is ‘… no. nope. no, absolutely not’, well, since he’s the one more likely to use caramelized onions, I’m willing to ditch the recipe. So that’s why the recipe count below is one less than the eagle eyed among you would be expecting.

Back to the drawing board and/or thinking cap I went – wait a minute, it’s berry season around here. There’s strawberries. As you may guess, I like strawberries (and blackberries and raspberries…). And we have this big bag of sliced almonds from our local food co-op / bulk food store. Which makes it the perfect time to try out Muffins

strawberry-almond muffins!

Hurray a switch-up in my mornings!

Strawberry-Almond Muffins

Original from HeatherHomeMode
Makes 14 muffins

Recipe Count – 12 left
Section Count – Black Binder: 6 more left, Subsection – Breakfast: 1 more

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (did I mention the food co-op/bulk food store we go to? Substitute whole wheat or bread flour here at your discretion – the taste/texture will differ a bit, but it’ll work)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder (yep, 1 tbsp – these make fairly fluffy muffins)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (let the butter sit out on the counter for about 10 minutes)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 2 cups roughly chopped and loosely pack strawberries
  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and line or spray with cooking spray a muffin tin.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together both flours, the baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (or by hand – but it’s much easier in a stand mixer). Add the eggs one at a time; beat after each addition until fluffy. Mix in the milk and almond extract.
  4. Add the flour mixture and stir until just blended – the dough will look wet and almost cake-batter like. Fold in the strawberries and almonds.
  5. Fill the muffin cups to the top. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Finish2 Finish1