Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Simple Soup

For those of you who say my posts are too long :)

1 tbsp olive oil
a stack of cabbage leaves: 700g or a good 10 or 15 of 'em
1 or 2 white radishs
6 cups vegetable stock
Salt and pepper

1. wash the cabbage leaves and cut them into 1/2 inch strips
2. peel and slice the radish
3. heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed soup pot or whatever deep-ish pot you have
4. sautee the radishes for a few moments on medium heat, then throw in the cabbage. Worry-not, the cabbage will probably be spilling out of the pot, but it will quickly reduce. Stir occasionally for 7-10 minutes, proceeding to the next step when the cabbage has the soft-crunchy balance you prefer.
5. Pour in the stock and let the flavors meld for about 15 minutes.

The french magazine this came from called it "cleansing." I call it light, yummy, and better the second day with noodles in it.

Brioche... or maybe its Challah

I wasn't going to post this because the first time I made it I didn't have internet and decided to try my luck with just adding milk, eggs, and ample honey to my usual bread baking. It wen't well, but really, what do I know about either brioche or challah? nothing. In fact, I don't even know if this technically brioche or challah! But after trying two different "award winning" recipes online that gooed themselves into mediocre unbraided bread, I have returned to this scribbled recipe and intend to stick to it.

...until I rediscover the one from a jewish holiday cookbook I checked out from the saint louis library once upon a time...

Note: when covering bread dough to let it rise, the tighter the seal the more moisture it will keep in. This is better. But even just a kitchen towel will "cover" the dough if you dont want to waste plastic wrap.

Dry ingredients: combine in your largest bowl:
250g white flour
200g country flour
1/2c oats (optional)
1 Tbsp salt

Wet ingredients: combine and let sit for 10 minutes in any little soup bowl:
1 tsp yeast
2 Tbsp honey, more if you like sweet bread!
~white sugar, brown sugar, and probably even maple syrup would work as subsitutions
120g warm water

Mix well, then add to the wet ingredients:
80g warmed milk
2 eggs
2+ tbsp olive oil

Using a wooden spoon or my preferred plain old fork, dredge a hole in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour the combined wet ingredients into the hole. Stir this, knocking in a bit of the flour at a time, until shaggy (meaning: just until the flour is incorporated, but don't worry about it being smooth or even or any of that.)

Leave covered for 5 minutes. Or don't, but it makes the kneading because it will be less sticky.

Pour it all, including extra flour, onto a clean counter and knead well, adding flour if it sticks impossibly to your hands and the counter. Once it becomes beautifully smooth and dense enough to hold a rounded shape, cover again and let sit in a warm place (oven with the light on is perfect) until it has doubled in size. Between 1 hour and two.

With oiled hands, knead the dough for another 30 seconds then shape. Either just shape into your bread pan and slice across the top a few times, or...

Braid: cut the dough into even pieces (3-7 depending on how you braid) and roll them out into long logs. Braid. I will not try to tell you how exactly to do this, but use lots of oil, and if the dough is too moist to hold its shape, dont bother.

To get an even braid on both sides, start in the middle and braid in each direction separately, pinching and tucking the ends together when you arrive.

Place on a sheet of oiled parchment paper, cover with plastic wrap, and let it grow for 30 minutes.

Brush it with butter, an egg yolk, or a spoon of honey mixed in another spoon of water if you want a nice brown coating.

Bake at 205ºC/400ºF for 25-30 minutes. Or 10 more if you think its not done yet.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Pumpkin Pie

Roasted and mashed sweet potatoes are equally wonderful!

100g white flour
50g whole wheat
30g sugar
35g butter, rubbed in
1 tbsp at a time of ice water until assembled

20-30g almond powder (more almond powder is always an option)
1/2 tsp each cinnamon, nutmeg, salt

1. Cut butter into 1/2 inch cubes and stick in the freezer for 10 minutes before starting

2.Stir together the flours, spices, salt, sugar, almond powder. Add the cold butter and rub in. This means wash your hands, dry them, and stick them in the dough. start

3. Use a fork to poke a few holes in the bottom of the crust so that it doesn't puff up while it bakes. For this recipe, a prebaked crust is good - so throw it in at 160ºC for 10 minutes before filling it for the final bake.

~1.5 cups roasted and mashed pumpkin or sweet potato
2 tbsp apple sauce (you can substitue vegetable oil, or probably melted butter)
100g sugar total, 30g of which is best as vanilla sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly ground is yummy
3 egg yolks, 3 egg whites
1/2 c marscapone!!! (substitute with yogurt or buttermilk)
Preheat oven to 375ºF/190ºC

1.Whip together the filling in the following order, mixing well between each step: sweet potatoes, apple sauce/butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, egg yolks.

2.Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the egg whites in a huge bowl and beat them with a wire whip until they form "soft peaks."
The more you whip them, the more fluffy/airy your pie will be. I overdid it the last time I made the pie and while still pleasant, it lacked the dense consistency that I love about pumpkin pie. Here is a great "how to" video. You don't actually need to understand what he is saying, just watch his method!

3.Keep the whip on hand. Pour the batter into the egg whites, whip well, adding the coconut milk last. Pour into baked crust, pop in the oven for 35 minutes at 375ºF/190ºC

Friday, November 25, 2011

White beans and tomatoe (it should have an e...)

"no, not with spinach. no not in that soup. no... Just cook it with some tomatos! No, not with cauliflower soup and beet"

Fine, nice french lady who was trying to help me. I'll cook them with tomatoes.

In an effort to add something to the blog that is neither baking nor sugary, I hereby offer you a few of the dinners we have been eating. Local, in season, and delicious :)

Added bonus, I think they're much easier than my usual baking recipes!!

1-2 cups white beans, soaked in ample water at least over night.
1 onion, chopped
1 can whole tomatos, tomatoes cut up and juice reserved
(or if you have fresh ones, boil them just long enough to break the skins and peel them off)
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp marjoram
salt and cracked pepper
olive oil
The water from cooking your beans, or broth if you're using canned beans.

Open the can of beans. Or cook the soaked beans. This, I'll admit, I have not yet conquered. But it seems lots of water, a tight lid, and a long medium heat are the key - but bay leaves and salt make the difference! Your water should taste like salt water. Make sure to check them often to make sure there is still enough water. Don't drain these into the drain!! When you boil beans, think of it as cooking water as much as beans! The water should be delicious, which will make your final dish a deeply flavored affair.

Maybe an hour? Or there is always canned beans...

Directions: Sautée the onions in the oil - or butter!! Once they start to turn clear, but before they brown, add the spices and stir well. Throw in some garlic if you'd like! Add the tomatoes and the bay leaf. Simmer a few minutes and add the tomato juice and beans and cooking liquid/broth aaaand anything else you think will flavor it. Like olive oil!!!!

Sautee until the acidity from the tomatoes mellows out.

Gets better over the next day or two - good hot or cold or luke warm! over rice and with a fried egg on top is my favorite.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chocolate Fondant: Cake...? Brownie...? Heaven.

Forget everything you ever knew about chocolate cake. Leave your brownie recipes behind. Fudge? psh. Follow this pide piper of chocolate into a fluffy, yet dense chocolate luxury.
Its like laying your head on a firmly packed down pillow and still sinking just enough. But its your mouth. and chocolate.
Or biting into the deep chocolate flavor of fudge, but finding instead a truffle sitting lightly on your tongue
I'll admit that the recipe is slightly advanced, with two non-standard techniques for the usual box-cake lovers, but they are two skills that will really open up your recipe options in the future, leaving you will more fine deserts and more complicated palates of flavor.

200g baking chocolate, or about 7 oz
125g butter, 1/2 cup plus one tablespoon
150g sugar, or 3/4 cup
6 eggs separated
a tad bit of butter and flour for preparing the pan
a pinch of salt for beating the egg whites

a cakepan somewhere around 9x9 inches

*There is lots of wiggle room with the size/shape of your baking pan. I made a half recipe with a bread pan and it was perfect, I made one full recipe and put it in silicone muffin pans, which was great, and even made a half recipe in a 9x9, which was also great, though it made much thinner pieces. So play as you will, and just be conscious to take it out of the oven a few minutes early (really, just a few, once it passes the toothpick test) if it is spread thinner. 15 minutes did it for my half recipe, but my oven is really strong.

1. Take the eggs out of the fridge at least an hour ahead of time and let them warm to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/390ºF and butter and flour the baking pan.

2. Double boil your chocolate and butter, melting until homogeneous. Set aside to cool.

How to: To melt chocolate, people-in-the-know use a double boiler, or a baine marie. It melts the chocolate without changing the liquid ratio. Not to mention, putting your chocolate straight in a pan on the stove will lead to a way-too-thick, gooey texture, often with lovely little chunks to boot.

Instead, heat a pot of water to a low simmer and find a bowl that fits nicely over top of the first, almost or just barely sealing the rim. Put your chocolate and butter in this second bowl. The french actually float their bowls in a low 2 or 3 inches of water, but if you try this be SURE that not a single drop of water gets over the sides of the bowl and into the chocolate! The steam from the heating water in the bottom bowl will heat the second, melting the chocolate gently. Melting the butter with the chocolate also gives you more room for error.

Remove the chocolate as soon as it is 90% melted, or so, and continue stirring. It will all smooth out nicely within a minute or two of pulling it off the heat, ensuring that you dont overcook it.

Alternatively, but not preferably, you can break the chocolate into small chunks, throw it in a microwave safe bowl and add a tablespoon of water per 100g of chocolate. Microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring vigorously with a fork after each 30 seconds until it is almost completely melted. Then stir till homogeneous. If you are using the microwave method, melt the butter and chocolate separately, mixing afterward.

3. Separate your eggs, placing the egg whites in a large bowl for step 3. Mix the sugar with the yolks and once well-blended, stir in the melted chocolate and butter.

4. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the egg whites that you placed in the very large bowl and beat them into soft peaks, or into "snow" as the french call it.
How to: Annoyingly tiring for the arm, and kind of intimidating, but really not that hard if your bowl is big enough. This video (yes, I know its in french, but I am about to tell you the only important parts, and his method is simple and pretty to watch) is a great tutor. And after you learn the technique, you can use it in almost any other baking recipe you have if you want a lighter, fluffier texture! This is also THE secret to French Mousse...

It is important to use egg whites at room temperature. Sprinkle them with a pinch of fine salt (aka table salt), tilt your bowl with your non dominate hand so that the egg whites pool on one side, and begin beating with a whisk at a steady rhythm. Listen to the beat that develops in the video - it is a little slower than I was using when I failed at this method the first couple times. Not quite as vigorous as when you beat eggs for an omelet. Instead, it keeps the egg whites moving, but allows them to pool in the bottom between beats so that you get it all moving together. They should start forming fairly quickly.

There are two versions: soft peaks and stiff peaks. The only difference is that soft peaks form first, and if you keep going, stiff peaks form. If you keep going too far past stiff peaks it all starts to break down. Not good. To test, stop beating and using your whisk, use a scooping motion to lift some of the egg whites out of the bowl. If they barely hold onto the whisk and melt back into themselves in the bowl, its soft peaks. If they pull apart and hold a very distinct peaks, its stiff. Thats what she said.

If there is ANY liquid left in the bottom of the bowl, you are not done. Keep going. In fact, they shouldn't move at all if you turn the bowl upside down.

Alternatively, a hand mixer will do this for you in just a few seconds.

5. Whip the batter from step 3 into the egg whites, pour in the buttered and floured pan, and throw it in the oven for about 20 minutes.

Test to see if it is finished with the toothpick test: stick a toothpick, or a knife, in the middle (stuff is always more cooked around the edges) and if it comes out clean, the cake is done.5. LET THIS CAKE COOL for at least an hour! It puffs up majorly during cooking and you want it to sink way back down before cutting into it. You can see the cool shapes it made in my oval muffin pans when it sank down!

Our consensus was that the larger pans made for better desert because the outside gets flaky, but it is really the fluffy yet fudgy middle that is so amazing. Therefore, cutting squares out of a larger pan yields the perfect chunks of heaven.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Smoked Salmon, Goat Cheese and Zucchini Lasagna

Ill admit, this is a lot of work, but if you make each component in a medium quantity, you will have a TON of lasagna on your hands that you can freeze, or great sauces to make a bunch of leftover meals. And the soft, creamy lasagna with the slight flavor of smoked salmon permeating the entire dish is SO worth it.

Or... just buy your tomato sauce and lasagna (cook before assembling!), and use fresh cream instead of the béchamel. I feel I am obligated to prefer the from-scratch version, but that would cut about 2 hours out of the prep time for this recipe. Hannah's got your back.

Step 1: Make the tomato sauce

1 1/2 white or sweet onion, chopped
2ish cloves garlic, cut up
4-ish tomatoes, diced. Perhaps a can of whole tomatos, diced?
basil leaves
italian seasonings of choice
salt and pepper
a tsp or two of brown sugar and/or baking soda to cut down on the acidity of the tomatoes.

Sauté the onion in butter or olive oil and when they are almost translucent throw in the garlic for a few more minutes. When this is well cooked, but not burning into crisps, throw in your seasonings and give it a good stir before throwing in the tomatoes. Simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes or more until the tomatoes soften into a "sauce" texture. Sprinkle with baking soda and enjoy watching it fluff up (who knew sauces could fluff!?) and then salt, pepper, sugar it until the desired flavor is achieved.

Set aside for layering.

Step 2: Zucchini

1 shallot, thinly sliced
3 medium sized zucchini, diced

So simple. Sauté the shallot in butter or olive oil then add in the diced zucchini over medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon every 5-10 minutes until they are soft with translucent edges.

Set aside for layering.

Step 3: While this cooks, the pasta!

Alternatively, boil lasagna strips, cut into desired shapes, and set aside.

Fresh pasta is really, absolutely wonderful and fairly easy in a lasagna. Since there is practically no cutting/shaping, you don't need an expensive pasta machine and it is also a good chance to practice your dough-making skills before moving up to spaghetti or linguini!

2 eggs
2 cups of flour, or so
a pinch of salt
any fresh herbs you'd like to throw in

There are suggested flours for making pasta and pizza dough, but I enjoy adding density of whole wheat, or the nuttiness of country wheat, etc. As you like!

There are plenty of wonderful online tutorials for making pasta, so I won't pretend to be an expert here, but do google the process if it is your first time. Here is my favorite.

In any case, using a well in the flour and a fork, slowly whip together the eggs and flour

Let sit 20 minutes, covered, to let the flour soak up the moisture.

Knead the dough and roooool out into large sheets, half the dough at a time, making sure to use plenty of flour to keep it easy.

Cut dough into the shapes of the pot you will be using to bake your lasagna, and keeping in mind that it so does not have to be perfect in any way what-so-ever. I suggest making all your shapes before making the béchamel in step 4 because it will start to get lumpy if you leave it sitting while you roll out more dough.

Set aside for layering. (see a pattern here? makes this long and complicated recipe much more manageable...)

Step 4: Assembling

Sauteed zucchini (above)
a chunk of goat cheese
Tomato sauce (above)
Pasta (above)
one package smoked salmon
frozen spinach, thawed, slightly cooked, and salted
béchamel (below) or about 3/4 c cream
swiss cheese, grated (or cheese of choice)

The béchamel sauce in step 5 is finicky and won't stay smooth long after cooking, so its best to set up and start the assembling beforehand, making the sauce only at the last second.

layer the bottom of your baking dish with the following:

1. zucchini
2. chunks of goat cheese
3. pasta layer

Go ahead and assemble your work space with the smoked salmon, cut into strips, the tomato sauce, and any other vegetable layer you want to use (I highly suggest sautéeing and salting some spinach leaves... ahem... I just thawed some frozen ones...), cheeses and lasagna strips.

Step 5: le béchamel

This sauce makes the lasagna, I do believe. It is a basic French sauce, and an unfathomable boon to your cooking repetoire. It inexplicably has that thick, cheesy flavor despite the fact that it is made with butter, flour and milk, and it is eternally flexible for any genre of sauce you want to make. Curry, basil, fish sauce, veggie sauce... n'importe quoi!

50g butter, or a little less than 1/4c
50g flour, or a little less than 1/2c
50cl milk, or about 1/4 a cup
~actually, i've been converting this wrong and adding more like 2 cups of milk, and its great! same thing, but with a lot more of it!

In a sauce pan, melt the butter. Then, while whisking furiously, plop all the flour in at once.

This will create something of a greasy ball of flour that should also be consistant and smooth. This much can be made earlier and set aside.

Off the heat, whisk in the milk one good splash at a time, whisking until it is homogeneous before each consecutive splash. Once all is incorporated and homogeneous, put the pot back on the stove and continue whisking - without stopping! - for about 5 or 10 minutes and all the sudden you will literally feel it start to thicken.

Continue whisking until it is the consistency you desire. As a basic level of reference, when a wooden spoon dipped in and lifted out of the sauce keeps a thick coating, and when swiping your finger across this coating leaves a distinct tract, it is sufficiently thick.

Salt and pepper, and if you want to be french, a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg. I am not french.

Immediately start spooning it into your baking pan over the first layer of lasagna.

Continue layering.

Below is the sequence of layers that I used, but honestly, I don't think you could go wrong, with the one exception of having an uncovered lasagna layer on top. Finish with a veggie layer, and cheese!

(already layered:
zucchini and shallots
goat cheese
lasagna layer)

smoked salmon
swiss cheese
tomato sauce
zucchini and shallots
generous swiss cheese

Bake @ 395ºf (200ºc) for 30+ minutes, uncovered. The time could vary, so go until the cheese starts to brown and the liquid bubbling on the sides starts to subside, leaving a dark edge. I highly suggest these little serving size ceramic cups! They're (imagine the pinched voice) high fashion right now in Paris, but I like especially like them because you can cut out the circles of your pasta with the lids, they keep all the liquid in so they cook perfectly, AND you can just pop them in when your guests arrive and they're done just 20 minutes later!

This recipe makes a TON, so just keep layering till you're out of ingredients, or keep some tomato sauce to the side for pizza, or some pasta for spaghetti night, or just freeze the extra portions!

Sharing: Bagels, Brownies, and Pizza Dough

These recipes need no input from me. The directions are thorough, the ingredients are specific yet supple, and there is the added benefit of sharing some of my favorite sources of cooking brilliance. Oh the wonderful world of food bloggers which is also rich, and diluted. I share these because that perfect recipe is very hard to come by. And each of these is exactly that.

Classic Brownies from Smitten Kitchen

Bagel recipe and tutorial from Peter Reinhart, the modern king of baking, author of The Bread Baker's Apprentice, which I have seen cited in more baking blogs/tutorials/articles than any other source.

This was the most luxurious feeling, perfectly measured dough I have ever touched... simply silky! okay, I need to back away from baking for a few days...

Note: VeganDad has baked through the entire book, making each recipe vegan, which makes him not only a good source for inspiration, but a great place to find substitutions.

I also discovered between Smitten Kitchen and Peter Reinhart's blog that he has been on a "Pizza Quest" to find the perfect pizza. Though I got bored with the site, I tried his Country Pizza Dough last night with absolutely WONDERFUL results. So good I forgot to take a picture. But here is the beautifully smooth dough while rising. Maybe I'll catch a photo later this week on round two. I made a half recipe and got three pizza crusts that are the perfect size to feed the two of us dinner with a side salad.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pumpkin Soup with fall flavored croutons

Think, "pumpkin pie in soup form." Or, a french velouté version of classic American fall cooking.

1 small cooking pumpkin
2 medium sized sweet onions
light cream to garnish
2 bay leaves
and any other bouquet garni herbs you might have around

your bread of choice, preferably the day-old versions that you would probably throw out otherwise

a combination of the following to taste:
pumpkin spice
salt and pepper


1.Use a peeler to skin the pumpkin, then cut it in half and scoop out the seedy middle. Cut the pumpkin flesh into large chunks, preferably in fairly even pieces for easy boiling. Peel and cut in fourths one of the onions.

2. Throw the pumpkin in a soup pot with the quartered onion, the bay leaves and bouquet garni, salt and cover with cold water. Bring this to a boil and simmer for about 10-20 minutes, or until the pumpkin is cooked, testing it with a fork.

3. Drain the pumpkin, preserving the water that the pumpkin was cooked in to add later. Remove the herbs.

4. Dice and sautée the second onion with a tablespoon or two of butter. When the onion is translucent and starts to brown, sprinkle your chosen spices over top, give it a good stir, and throw in the drained pumpkin and onion.

5. About 2 minutes later, add a cup or two of the stock rendered from the boiling of the pumpkin and start blending, preferably with a stick blender. Add more water per your ideal thickness of soup and continue blending until the soup is utterly silky.

6. Return the soup to a low heat and keep it at a low simmer for about 30 minutes. When ready to serve, stir in the cream and garnish with croutons. Never let a soup boil after having added cream/milk/cheese!

Fall Flavored Croutons:
A great way to add layer to this flavor and to use otherwise old-tasting bread!

1. Preheat the oven to about 400ºF or 205ºc. Cut day old bread into 1 inch or smaller cubes using a bread knife without smashing the bread.

2. Toss cubes in a bowl with a good few splashes of vegetable oil and the spices that you also used in the soup. Then spread the cubes on a baking sheet in an even layer.

3. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until browned and the desired crunchiness, tossing the croutons once or twice mid-way through cooking. These will keep for a good couple weeks in an airtight container.

Garnish soup and serve!

My apologies for the sideways photo... I can't figure out how to turn it, or just don't have the patience to figure it out, but thought the photo was worth posting.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Financiers. The yummy alternative for the 99%

Rejecting Wall Street? Eat yummy financiers instead.

The dense, very nutty flavor of these makes them one of my favorite French recipes. It also means I am not sure how to classify them.

This recipe, which is unique in part because it uses honey, comes from a video I recently found from a very cute French chef who, unfortunately, has since closed down his little cafe on the Ile de France to find "new adventures." oo la.

Here is the video if you'd like to see the method, or just brush up on your french, or simply watch cute french chefs at work. And here is the translation.

100g or between 1/2 and 1/3c butter
100g or 1 cup confectioners sugar
40g or 1/3c flour (I like the nutty flavor of alternative flours, such as whole wheat or country blends)
40g or 1/3c almond powder
50g or about 1/5 c of honey
3 egg whites
a pinch of salt (not sea salt!)

Note: You'll notice the guy in the video uses only a whisk for all of the steps listed below. Stick it to the man and tell him that people were cooking long before they had a kitchen appliance for each possible movement of the hand.

1. Put the butter on the stove in a small pot and heat it "au noisette," which means (as far as I have understood it) over a medium flame until it starts to take some brownish color, but not burned!! My guess is that this gives it a nice nutty flavor, but I am yet to confirm it.

2. Mix the sugar, almond powder and flour

3. Sprinkle a pinch of salt on the egg whites and beat them well, but not quite "en neige," which is when they start to fluff up into a foam for mousse or other fluffy deserts. The pinch of salt will help them fluff a little, instead of just becoming the well-beat eggs you would use in an omelet.

4. Whip 2&3 vigorously and add the the honey. Without letting up whipping all of the above, pour in the melted butter. As the butter is hot, and there are raw eggs in the mixture, if you pour it in without stirring, you'll get lovely scrambled eggs in your delicate french desert

5. Leave all this in the fridge for 3-4 hours so it will thicken and be much easier to put in the molds. I have not dared to test this method to see if it is simply easier to get them in molds, or actually helps the recipe... in any case, its convenient for inviting guests!

6. Spoon the batter into a plastic bag, cut off the tip and squeeze it into your molds. You can use almost any size or shape, but you might have to adjust the cooking time. The mold in the movie is meant to give tiny versions that he can serve with coffee, which is usually served after desert in the scheme of courses of french cooking. Mine were in muffin sized, oval silicone molds. Silicone is highly recommended. Probably you should butter the mold if not.

7. Bake for 12 minutes at 185ºC/365ºF

8. Let cool for 5-10 minutes in the molds, then gently remove and serve. I actually liked them better the second day because they have a very dense, nutty flavor that seems to melt into itself.

yields 30 tiny financiers, 8 of these large muffin sized financiers, or whatever. Note: If you're using a metal cupcake pan and there are unfilled sections, fill each empty spot about half way with water. This keeps the temperature of the pan even and the can often do nice things to your baked goods! Its the secret to crunchy-outside-soft-inside bread!

Happy Birthday Karen!
Also pictured here are brownies from the Smitten Kitchen, which is by far the most wonderful food blog I've ever seen, and a "Real Proper Custard" recipe from the BBC that I found to use the 3 egg yolks I had left over from this financier recipe... I suggest upping the sugar to 50g and eating it cold the next day!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fine, Fluffy Muffins: build your own, as healthy as you like!

Muffins have a lot of history, and a lot more chemistry going on! And this is only my second batch, so I'm sure there are improvements to make, but this balance of the basic "muffin making" ingredients has done beautifully in the chemistry of rising a fine, fluffy muffin. There are a lot of substitution options included below, in part because one thing I really hate is a recipe with a long list of ingredients, and lacking one. Or what I hate even more, going and spending a bunch of money just to complete a recipe. Screw that. Substitute!

The build-your-own ingredients are at the bottom so that you can have as healthy (or not) a variety as you choose! Do leave me notes with what works (or not) for you! Muffins are tricky little (sweet) bastards, so I welcome any chance to improve!

Made 16 medium sized muffins in a silicone pan

Note: Read the optional ingredients before starting! I noted where to add them for each one!
Dry ingredients:
2 cups, or 240g flour in total, which you can divide into white and whole wheat (or any other variety) as you like
~ I have this nice country mix at the moment, which already has a light enough consistency to bake on its own, so I used very little white flour, but if you have straight up whole wheat, I would go half and half with white, unless you like that dense wheaty flavor of heavy whole wheat! (I do!)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs cinnamon
*plus the optional dry ingredients of your choice. See below.

Wet ingredients:
70g, or 1/3 cup butter
between 1/2 and 1c or between 100 and 200g crystal sugar (white, or "raw" brown sugar)
~I used less, about 60g, and it was still quite yummy. In fact, with the sugar sprinkled and baked on top, you can make the recipe a lot less sugary and it still has a great sweet taste!

50g, or about 1/3c apple sauce
little less than 1c honey, or 1/2 cup brown sugar (of the American variety)
about 1 cup yogurt or buttermilk (I had some goat cheese half way through processing and no yogurt or buttermilk, so I threw it in and it worked quite well! ...leading me to the belief that most fermented goods, perhaps even milk? will work well.)

Brown sugar for sprinkling on top (notice this is not in the optional category. In fact, its Mandatory!)

Build your own options:
(I suggest all of them, except the egg, which really just didn't seem necessary!)
1. 1/2 - 3/4c, or about 50g oats, stirred into the dry ingredients
2. a handful of almond powder in the dry ingredients (makes everything better)
3. 1 egg whipped into the wet mixture after the sugar
4. nuts, stirred into the dry ingredients, about 1 cup, or a good handful. I suggest walnuts!
5. up to 2 apples, cubed, stirred into the dry ingredients. Big chunks give a great texture!!
6. replace the butter with vegetable oil or apple sauce
7. honey can be replaced with white (or brown?) sugar. Come to think of it, the three are interchangeable.

1. Take out the butter, cut it into little cubes, and leave it out for 30 minutes before cooking with it. (not yet sure if this is really necessary, but all my french cookbooks call for it)

2.Mix the dry ingredients

3. Preheat oven to 450ºF, or 230ºC

4. Cream the butter with the sugar. Meaning, whip till creamy. (whip in your egg here, if you're using it)

5. Stir in honey, applesauce, (or the optional vegetable oil) until homogeneous.

6. Pour all the wet ingredients into the dry and fold in. This means stir gently with a wooden spoon, fork, etc., just until all is incorporated. Overstirring is the easiest way to kill your fluffy muffins (poor things) and have them turn into tough, bready chunks. Instead, stop just as soon as there are not huge wads of dry flour left. Its even okay if there are a couple dry spots in the dough, they get moistened in the baking.

7. Sprinkle generously with brown sugar, wiping off any that spills onto the pan between muffins. That sugar will burn and you will panic thinking you've ruined your muffins, pulling them out prematurely. Sad. DONT SKIP THIS STEP if you are a pastry loving fool, or even feel a slight affection for your muffins.

8. Transfer to your muffin molds. I have an oval shaped silicone muffin pan, which works great because there is no buttering needed. But if you are using a traditional pan, definitely butter them. Even if you are using paper cups, I've read online baking sites tests that say buttering the paper cups is good... I suggest a quality silicone (make sure it can go as high as 280ºC/530ºF or it is cheap silicone that supposedly seeps toxins into your otherwise beautiful muffins)

9. Bake at 450ºF/230ºC for 10 to 12 minutes, then turn the heat down to 400ºF/205ºC for another 5. You know they're done when a toothpick poked in the middle comes out dry.

10. Cool a few minutes in the try, then till cool on a wire rack (I use the tray from my oven... pulled out before its hot, of course)

Random tips:
*stirring fruit into the floured dry mix coats them and keeps them from sinking to the bottom of your baked goods. This recipe is so thick, and stays in the oven such a short period of time, it won't really matter, but this is especially helpful for cakes, etc. where the dough is much thinner.

**Why both baking soda AND baking powder?
In french baking powder is called "chemical leavener," and in researching the difference, I found a wonderful site on the history of baking cakes, and another on the history of muffins in the US and England. SO: it seems that baking soda (bicarbonate) and eggs have been the leavener of choice for a whole lot longer, and baking POWDER was a product of the industrial revolutions ("oooh, look at all the cool things these new chemicals can do!"). With the advent of the baking powder, cakes and muffins became higher, fluffier, and generally more deserty and delicate as we know them. Technically, just substituting baking soda would do the same leavening, but it is very basic, and die-hard bakers believe you should always maintain a very strict balance between acid and basic in recipes... meh. I've read you can simply mix baking soda with cream of tartar

***Why the dry ingredients and the wet? aka: Why should I stir it so little?
For muffins, pancakes, and... I dont actually know what else, one of the best ways to ruin them is to overmix the bater, which gives it a "kneaded" consistency. Kneading is meant to help develop the gluten strands, giving it that stretchy, firm texture which then holds in the gas created by the yeast. This is not what we want in these delicate baked goods. So STIR THESE PASTRIES AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE. Just until there is not too much dry flour floating around. (even that is not so bad, it will get mixed in as it cooks.

****Why cream the butter with the sugar?
In that same history of baking cakes, I learned that early cakes were made fluffy by vigorously whipping the butter with the crystal sugar, which cut little holes in the butter! These little holes filled with air and expanded with baking, making it all lighter and fluffier. All these little details seem to combine for finer baking, though I've skipped one or two of the details in any given recipe and it still seems to do okay.

Good Science of Baking reads:

On the history of Cake Baking

Honestly, just google "history muffins" and you get some awesome quick histories about the movement of muffins from England, where they were breads, to America where they became "quick breads" with leaveners

Other great muffins - many of which inspired this one (especially the first)

I am in love with this woman. This recipe is basically an altered version of her Whole Wheat Apple Muffins, which I chose because I like her simplicity. She requires muffin recipes to require no more than 2 bowls!

Vegan Dad bakes beautifully with no animal products, and has wonderful spicing and substituting ideas!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tarte d'oignon

You, too, can savor sauteed onions with cooked cream in a buttery pie crust. Just pretend you're french and call it dinner.


1 pie crust: pâte brisée
2 HUGE sweet onions, or 3 smaller ones (500g)
~maybe yellow or white onions would work?
1 Shallot - optional
2 Tbs or more butter for sautéing

2 tablespoons of flour
about a cup of milk (I will go less next time)
1/2 cup of cream (again, I will go way less next time, but hey, thats a french recipe for you!)
salt and pepper

optional: grated cheese for toping - a hard white cheese is recommended, like swiss or gruyère

1. Make your crust. I tried a number of fancy recipes recently, but I came back to the fairly simple recipe I posted and linked above from my host mom Estelle. Roll it out, put it in your tart pan (I am using a square silicone cake pan... seems to work fine to me!) Use a fork to punch holes in the bottom and throw it in the oven for about 15 minutes at 180ºC/355ºF

2. Meanwhile, slice all of your onions - and your shallot! not necessary, but its as ubiquitous in French cooking as garlic is in ours, and it really does good things to any savory recipe - into fairly thin rings and turn your heavy bottomed metal pot on a medium high heat.

3. Once its hot, throw in the butter and the onion rings and stir every 2-3 minutes until there is lots of nice browning and the onions have gone limp. Sprinkle the flour over top, stir in and cook for another couple minutes. Then, pour in the milk and the cream, just a big splash at a time, and using your wooden spoon to rub some of the yummy brown off the bottom of the pan. Stop adding the milk/cream when it is as creamy as you'd like it. You can leave it on the heat until it is the thickness you'd like. Salt and pepper.

*probably, the milk is completely optional...

4. Pour the onions into the cooked crust, pour grated cheese over top if you're using it, and pop it back in the oven for about 30 minutes.

Really, seriously a rich dinner. Salad goes nicely with...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Vanilla Sugar

Vanilla sugar is a fairly common ingredient in baked goods in almost every country's cuisine I've heard of, other than the US. SO, this is both an easy way to get an ingredient that you wouldn't necessarily be able to find at home, and more importantly, it makes every recipe more delicious...

C'est simple. Keep a jar of sugar in your cabinet (I mixed raw sugar and white sugar... for no good reason) and every time you finish using a stick of vanilla in a recipe rinse it, let it dry a spell, and stick it into the jar. You can even shred them for good measure. The sugar soaks up the flavor. Voilà. Substitute 10g (a few tablespoons) in every dish you bake (or all of it if you really want a flavor boost), and it adds a nice layer of flavor.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Crème Vanille

Kind of a re-post, as the recipe is almost the same as crème chocolat and crème caramel... but "same same but different," no? Besides, its the details that make a recipe good.

1/2 liter milk
80g vanilla sugar
(use regular sugar if you must, but the more vanilla you pack in, the richer the flavor!)
1 stick of vanilla
1 heaping tsp corn starch
1 egg

~makes 4 servings~

*Slice the vanilla stick in half lengthwise and scrape the vanilla grains into the milk (these grains are what give french vanilla ice cream, for example, those little black specks. Personally, I'm not a fan of the ice cream, but it makes such a better flavor than vanilla concentrate!)

*Add the sugar to the milk and throw in the stick of vanilla that you just scraped. Heat this just enough to dissolve the sugar.

*Cool the milk. Whisk together the corn starch and the egg until there are no lumps

*While continuously whisking the egg mixture, add the milk mixture, pour in a small splash of the milk mixture. If this doesn't leave lumps you can continue to add the milk, a splash at a time until the color is more white than yellow. This is meant to bring the egg up to the temperature of the milk without cooking the egg, leaving scrambled-egg looking lumps in your crème.

*Once all the milk is added, put the entire mixture back over a medium heat and continue to whisk gently. At this point the crème feels more like milk as you stir, giving easily and even splashing. Over the next 5-10 minutes there will be a slow but very noticeable thickening of the mixture into a crème.

*When a wooden spoon dipped into the crème comes out with a coating on it, and when running your finger over this coating leaves a clearly defined track, it is well thickened. Of course, you can leave it on the heat more or less as you like, but it will start to lump if you leave it for too long.

*Pour into serving containers (individual cups, or one big bowl, as you like) and let cool to room temperature before moving to the refrigerator to set.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tofu - recipe #2

Softer. Thats the word that designates this from the first. The process included 18 hours in the fromagerie (cheese maker) which keeps it at a warmer temperature (its this difference in temp that designates cheese from yogurt, by the way). The end result was smoother, much softer tofu with a lighter white color. I went ahead and drained the tofu to see how "firm" it would get, but I think that was a mistake. Seeing as it never really got firm, I am not sure what to do with it. It would dissipate in a soup, wouldn't hold together to stir fry, and isn't a nice enough texture to eat alone.

Conclusion: this process would be perfect if you stop after the aging, sprinkle it with sugar, and eat it as the soft "brain tofu" desert we used to eat in China.

The other lesson: your choice of soymilk is important. If you dont like the flavor of the drink, you won't like the flavor of the tofu.

To make:

Heat 1/2 liter of soy milk to just warmer than warm. Dissolve one heaping tsp of Nigari in 4 tsp of water, stir into the soymilk, and pour it all into the filters that come in the fromagerie (if you don't know what I'm talking about, don't worry about it. It will be clear if you take the plunge with the fromagerie).
Set it to 18 hours on the cheese setting and do whatever it is you do for the 18 hours of the day that you are not making tofu.

Gently remove the filters from their cups, and you will see a whey left behind that is so clear that it looks like water, and a very, very soft tofu inside the filters. This was really where I saw the difference between the two tofus; the whey of the first, faster version retains a yellowish coloring and isn't completely clear. This time there was a complete separation of whey and tofu, meaning there was a much cleaner whey and a lot more tofu!

Place the filters on a plate (it will continue to drain, so the plate is to keep you from having a huge mess on your counter) and let sit for 30 minutes. Drain as much as you'd like through a cheese cloth, but I would suggest just letting it gently strain on its own, without too much squeezing to allow it to keep the soft, jelly texture. Sprinkle with sugar or find some other cool use and tell me about it! I need ideas!

Theory: this would be of great use in vegan recipes because of its texture...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Yogurt: Crème de Marron and Yogurt Tatin

Last week I finally broke down and bought a cuisinart yogurt maker and fromagerie (cheese maker)!!!! Begin frantic cooking.

The recipe for making yogurt at home stays pretty constant, though you have your choice of starters ranging from one cup of industrial yogurt to packets of powdered "yogurt starter." ...and then there are your thickeners, which vary from powdered milk to rennet or magnesium clorate (ide?) to absolutely nothing. But the recipe remains: sterilized milk, a starter stirred in, keep warm for about 8 hours, refrigerate.

But that simple line "keep warm for about 8 hours" can be a pain. I've tried wrapping the bowls in towels, heating pads, leaving the pots in the oven with only the pilot light on. I find them all fairly troublesome, especially when there are appliances that will do it for you. They are available for as cheap as ten bucks, but I opted for the nicer cuisinart because it has a probe to keep a constant temperature AND I can now make various soft cheeses!

The cooked-and-caramelized apples in this recipe are generally considered "apple pie" in the US and "tatin" here in France. Basically it is the same simmer-butter-and-apples, add-sugar-to-caramelize process, but with different crusts and reputations in the two countries. In the US its "down home" or "classic" american, while here it is almost gourmet. Heaven in a crepe... Either way, learning to make the simple basic recipe is SO useful because it can be thrown into so many different desert crusts, cakes, or simply thrown in with yogurt or whipped cream.

The Crème de Marron is another French specialty that these days, most people buy in cans. Marron is actually chestnuts, so this is a sweet paste of chestnuts, and yes, you really can roast them on an open fire. But oh do I suggest making this confection instead. The best part is you can preserve it like jelly etc., and have a year long supply! Thats my plan, but this was just from the first batch, so the blog post will come with the next round. sorry :)

So here we go: this is the recipe that fills my 6 125ml yogurt pots. Increase or decrease to fit what you are using!
The Caramelized Apples
makes just enough to cover the bottom of 2 or 3 yogurt cups. multiply as you like.

1 apple
1 generous pad of butter
about 1/3 cup sugar, brown preferred (it doesn't burn as easily)
a packet of vanilla sugar
dash of cinnamon

*The vanilla sugar is not necessary, but its a great addition to many desert recipes. If they don't sell it where you are you can make it yourself simply by keeping a separate jar of sugar in the pantry with a stick of vanilla in it. You end up with vanilla flavored sugar, which is great for absolutely anything you can think of. Coffee and cakes included.

1. peel and cut up the apple and put it in a pot over medium high heat with the butter. The apple will start to cook down after a few minutes, softening

2. sprinkle sugar over top (including vanilla sugar) and stir in, watching carefully after this point so that you don't burn the sugar. Not only does it stink if you burn it, it sucks to clean. Add the cinnamon. The sugar will start to "blond," which means it is caramelizing

*NOTE: the more sugar you add, the more caramel you will have with your apples. Also, I choose not to use it, but some corn syrup will help keep it soft and gooey and not burnt.

3. at this point, it takes more experience than actual directions to know when it is done (I am sadly not quite adept at this, yet, and often burn my caramel... oh well) but it seems to go a lot smoother with the butter and apples than plain caramel does. The apples will start to puff up and make a slight whining sound like when you sautée potatoes and the inside will soften.

4. when you deem the sugar duly caramelized, the apples duly cooked, and the flavors properly melded, its done! This took about 10 or 15 minutes for my one apple.

Crème de Marron: post coming soon.

Pots of Yogurt

My yogurt maker has 6 pots that come with it, so I put a scoop of the caramelized apples in each of 3, and crème de marron in the other 3.

The yogurt, I must say, is extremely simple once you get the method.

1/2 liter of UHT milk
1 cup of previously made yogurt, homemade or bought
sweetener of choice; I used a couple spoonfuls of sweetened condensed milk
firming agent of choice (not necessary, read online for options. The easiest is a bit of powdered milk or a couple drops of rennet)

NOTE: a quick word on the milk choice. At first I was upset that they didn't have much fresh milk here in France for making yogurt, but it turns out UHT milk is WAY easier. Fresh milk you have to heat to almost boiling to sterilize, and make sure to sterilize all your utensils as well. In addition, it is more prone to leaving pockets of whey in the yogurt and a skin on top.

UHT milk you can buy and use at room temperature with no heating or cooking involved, skipping all of the sterilization, and the product is often more firm! Plus no grose skin on top.

Stir. Pour in the pots, on top of the marron and tatin, place in yogurt maker (or warm oven etc.) for 8 hours. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before eating as they will continue to firm.


Friday, September 30, 2011

Tofu - recipe #1

Tofu is the unknown, magical, oriental secret that we plebian westerners only have access to in hip healthy grocery stores. In China my friends and I would buy what they called "brain tofu" off street venders in little cups with brown sugar and plastic spoons - that variety was softer, almost like a fuller (yet lighter...) yogurt with a bit more "squish." In college we cut and fried it and ate it with broccoli and soy sauce and now Mansour and I throw it in with mozzerella as an afterthought when we thaw soup for dinner. But I've honestly never known where it really comes from.

It turns out tofu-making has a very similar method to yogurt/cheese making (heat milk, add fermenter/hardener, let sit, strain as needed) but the differences in ingredients makes it tofu instead of the cross between sour cream and cream cheese that is fromage blanc. So! Here is the first of the two recipes!

NOTE: the second will require my new fromagerie... which requires for sitting for 18 hoursto plan.

The only special equipment you will need for #1 is a cheese cloth. Nigari might also be a bit annoying to locate, but most crunchy, hippy, healthy-ish stores seem to carry it. In the package it looks like large white fish flakes, but when you touch it it is almost glassy and makes pretty clinking noises when you spill it on the counter (and floor, in my case). Otherwise, over-the-counter magnesium works, too, in the same quantities.

1L soy milk
2 heaping teaspoons Nigari flakes disolved in
4 teaspoons water

Pot for boiling
sieve (like you use to drain boiled pasta, yes?)
heavy pot/pan with a flat bottom, or a large plate you can put some water in (this is just for weight, to put on top of the tofu, so dont worry about it being anything special)
wooden cutting board (eh... probably not required)

Bring the soy milk slowly and gently to a boil. Pour in Nigari dilution and stir minimally. It will start to "curdle" (if we can call it that with soymilk?) almost immediately, which means it will look like really bad sour milk floating in water. lovely. I know.

Leave it for a bit longer as the curdles grow and lump together until there are very distinctly two different substances in the pot; one a yellowed clear liquid and clumps of soon-to-be homemade tofu.

Pour all of this through the sieve that you have lined with the cheesecloth, gather the corners of the cloth and start squeezing to drain the liquid out of the tofu. CAREFUL, though, the liquid that comes out is REALLY HOT. boiling, actually. I ran this all under cold water as I squeezed and still burned myself a little.

This will be the basic shape of your finished tofu, so shoot for "pretty ball." Place the tofu, still in the cheesecloth wrap, on a wooden cutting board and put your heavy pot on top. Leave for 10 minutes, flip, leave for 10 more. This both evacuates more liquid, making it firmer, and gives it a nice flat disk shape.

Gently unwrap the tofu and place it in a tupperwear (or whatever you have) container, submersed in water in the fridge, where it will continue to firm.

It should keep for 3 or 4 days, but keep it immersed under the water!

Okay, I failed on "pretty" this time. BUT ITS TOFU! Also, this is a half recipe, so don't worry, you'll have more than this tiny ball's worth!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Chocolate Rice Pudding

80g sugar
200g milk chocolate (150g will do it for most, but Estelle's husband is a fool for that rich chocolate flavor)
1L milk
100g rice
~ I'd love to try this recipe with sushi rice! Just think... those imagine the thick morsels drenched in chocolate...)

Pan, wooden spoon, serving size containers (I guess you could use a larger pan and scoop out servings, but the way the rice settles, its nice to have your own little cup. You can use recycled tomato sauce jars or whatever you have around.)

1.Heat the first three over medium heat to melt the chocolate and sugar, and then turn the flame way, way down.

2.Rinse the rice 3 times in warm water for good Iranian sufi love, drain as well as you can wet rice and add to the mix.

3.Heat for about 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so to keep the rice from sticking together at the bottom

4.Pour into serving size containers and refrigerate to let it cool and set before serving.

Pictures to come!

**Note** whole grain rice kills this recipe...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Menemen à Mao

Sunday lunch: always a good time to learn a new Turkish breakfast food. Enter: Muharrem (aka, Mao) and his delicious Menemen.

For two or three:

1/2 an onion, chopped
a chunk of green bell pepper, spicy or not, chopped
note: I must admit, I don't know much about the varieties of green pepper, but a lot of turkish food has these smaller, lighter colored bell peppers that have a very distinct, almost spicy taste. Im sure whatever other variety would work, but these definitely give your food a particular flavor
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 beautiful tomatoes
a handful mushrooms (canned works!)
spicy turkish sausage, or whatever variety you'd like
3 eggs

grated swiss cheese to top with
salt, spices of choice - here in France they have "spices of the country" that is a mix of things very similar to Italian blends. Twas yummy
oil to sautée (generous)
~ we used olive oil, but I think other standard oils would be better...

1. sautée onions, garlic and pepper "until they're dead," as the Turkish saying goes (meaning, really well)
2. add the chopped tomatoes, sautee a bit more, then the mushrooms, then the sausage and spices
3. sautée this on a medium heat until it all blends together.
4. when most of the liquid is gone, and it starts cooking onto the bottom of the pan, beat the 3 eggs together and pour in.
5. you will want to fold this together as it cooks, but don't stir too much. Honestly, dont "stir" at all. Have a sense of subtlety and gently make sure the eggs don't burn to the bottom of the pan.
6. the ratio of "eggs to other stuff" is high enough that this will never take on the look of an omelet, so to see when it is done, you'll have to just watch to make sure there isn't any runny eggs left.
7. sprinkle the swiss cheese on top

note: this dish takes some time on the stove. it has to cook down and get the right consistency, so don't rush it!


Afiyet olsun! (bon apetite!)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Toastiest Toast

Some of you may scoff at this seemingly obvious/stupid post. My aunts sure laughed at me when I wanted to write down the recipe. But if there is one thing I have learned from doing this blog it is that no one thinks to tell you things that you think are obvious. They assume, and your directions remain incomplete. Therefore, you have to not just ask how to do things, but WATCH them being done.

And I've never had toast anywhere as good as the toast my grandma and aunts make up in Roanoke, Virginia.

So really, I did this for you.

You need a toaster, sliced bread, butter and an oven.

Obvious: homemade bread is best. "Salt risin bread" is a good second, but I personally have never seen this, but my dad and his 7 siblings sing lure of its existence at Krogers when they were little. Those fresh breads that groceries are starting to sell as if they came from a real bakery are really good options, but I am fairly sure I remember them using plain white store bread and it was damn good.

1.Preheat oven to 215F
2. toast bread in a toaster
3. butter one side generously (or dont, if you think those few calories aren't worth the deliciousness...)
4. throw toast in the oven and wait anywhere between 30 minutes and 3 hours, depending on how crispy toasty you want it. I
-if you don't leave it for long, the bottom (unbuttered side) will be crisp and the top soft from the butter. a good option, in my opinion
- if you wait longer, its all nice and crispy for you.

My aunt always puts in a batch in the morning when we visit, and no matter when you wake up (or even later while you wait for lunch) there is toast, just inside the oven. The best part is that the temperature is so low you can just reach in and grab it when you want!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Stuff a Duck

Okay, this was a chicken, but I am counting it as "how to stuff and bake poultry." Awesome thing to learn, right? Heres to russian roommates in Tajikistan! This girl is a phd at NYU on Russian-Arab relations. And yes, she speaks both languages.)There are more recipes to come from Masha, but most I find hard to transcribe a) because the ingredients are russian and I have very little hope of finding them once I leave this, the land of the former soviet republics, and b) she always says she is "trying" a recipe. But I've wisened up and started taking photos the first time. Worry not.


1. clean poultry and rub the skin and inside with salt and pepper

2. chop up your stuffins - in this case peaches and fresh herbs

3. stuff chicken/duck and put some more around the edges

**use a pan that fits snuggly the size of your poultry**

4. cover

5. bake at ~350F until you start to smell the distinct "cooked chicken" smell

6. uncover and allow to brown

7. cut into it to make sure it is actually cooked

**note: the pan will be FULL of juice by the end of this, especially if you use a lot of fruit. I am going to try to find a way to turn this into a gravy or just thicken it from the start. I do believe my mom can do that, so stay tuned...**

Ingredient ideas:

**Chicken with peaches, fresh mint, and some purple herb from the Tajiki Bazaar... no clue what it actually was, but when fresh herbs are 3-bunches for 25 cent... you just use what smells good and enjoy it! (Pictured here)

**Duck with Apples: halving the apples is enough before stuffing, but dont worry about dicing them up.