Therapeutic Biscuits

March 27, 2008

Everyone has a different name for those Pillsbury biscuits-in-a-tube. In my family, they were always called thump biscuits. It’s a fun name and of course accurate, since more often than not you have to thump them against the counter to get them to pop.

Since I started this blog I have not even remotely been tempted to buy those, so rest assured that is not what this recipe is about. No, these are BETTER than thump biscuits, because it’s made from scratch and you’re not just thumping a carton against the counter, you’re gonna beat the actual dough! How fun is that??

I think that’s actually one of the things I love most about making bread. You can work out all your frustrations. I’ve seen recipes that you have to slam it against the counter, this one you have to give it a good beating, and of course we can’t forget the wonderfully satisfying process of kneading. Bet you didn’t realize just how violent bread making could be. 🙂

I found this recipe on For the Love of Food (the host of the Taste & Create I just did). It was actually a recipe that she had adapted from another blog, and now it’s adapted here as well. I don’t think these will replace the buttery biscuits I made last month, cause I am kinda proud of how much I did to perfect that recipe but these were damn good and will be high on my list.

Buttermilk Biscuits
adapted from recipe on For the Love of Food

2 cups flour
1 tbl baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt
5 oz butter

3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add the butter in smaller chunks and cut together with two knives or pastry cutter until it resembles coarse crumbs with some pea sized pieces. Then, add the buttermilk and mix in, once it gets too sticky, use your hand to mix.

Spread a thin amount of flour on your work surface and roll your dough into a ball.

Now comes the fun part. Thwack the dough with the rolling pin a few times then fold it in half. Close your eye, take a deep breath, visualize those who have annoyed you lately and…Thwack! Thwack! Thwack! Repeat the process until you’ve done it about ten times and all the days frustrations have passed.

Roll the dough out to about 1/2 inch thick or so and cut with whatever you want (knife, cookie cutter, biscuit cutter, glass, etc.) Go through the fold-and-thwack-and-cut process with the remaining dough until you’re done.

Place them on a baking sheet with the sides touching so that they rise up and not out. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve warm, and enjoy!

These came out incredibly soft and tasty. I (as always) added a little extra sugar cause that’s just me, but you can adjust it according to your own tastes. The process of making them was almost as good as using a dammit doll!

Also, the very last bit of dough I shaped into a flatish-round with my hands since it was too small to cut and I actually liked how that looked after baking than the cut ones. It’s all a matter of taste but…and please excuse the pun…no matter how you cut it, these are sure to turn out great.

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Taste & Create VII: (Kahlua) Hot Chocolate

March 23, 2008

 

I realize I’ve already done two other blogging events this month, and even without all of them it’s been a busy one, but this is always fun stuff. Especially this one, which I have really been looking forward to. The Taste & Create Event is a monthly blogging event by our wonderful host of For the Love of Food in which you get paired up with another food blogger, pick a recipe from their posts, make it and blog about it. There were 52 participants this month, and this is my entry.

My partner…actually partners, as it is a blogging couple, have a blog entitled We [Heart] Food. It’s a pretty great blog with healthy recipes, many that are healthy twists on old favorites and playful banter between the two.

There were so many recipes to choose from, and I am sure it will surprise no one that the two I was most drawn to were the (Almost)-Good-For-You Chocolate-Chip Cookies and their Kahlua Hot Chocolate.

I want to slowly easy into using wheat flours, so this time around I chose the hot chocolate. I’ve kept it pretty much the same so it’s just as healthy as they had it, with only a change the type of liqueur as that’s what I happened to have.

I gotta say, it’s hard to believe this thing os so non-fat/low-fat. It’s an easy recipe and perfect to relax with after a stressful day, or simply a cold, rainy spring day. And now it’s mostly guilt free too! 🙂

I actually made it twice, because I wanted to keep it as true to the original recipe as possible for the first time, but I really wanted to try it with white chocolate as well.

(Kahlua) Hot Chocolate
Source: We [Heart] Food

5 ounces dark chocolate, cut into small pieces, plus extra for mug rims
chopped mixed nuts (peanuts and hazelnuts)
3 cups 1% milk
1 cups fat-free half-and-half cream
sugar

1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup Kahlua
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
grated chocolate

To prepare the mugs, heat extra chocolate in a double-boiler until melted and smooth. Dip the rims of each mug into the chocolate, and then roll in chopped nuts. Refrigerate until ready to fill with the hot chocolate.

 

Heat the chocolate, milk and half and half cream over medium heat in a heavy saucepan, stirring until the chocolate has melted.
Whisk until the mixture is hot and frothy. Add in sugar if desired. Add in the Kahlua and vanilla; contine to whisk until the mixture is hot. Remove from heat.

Pour into prepared mugs and top with whipped cream. Garnish with shaved chocolate.

I have a pretty strong sweet tooth, and didn’t think this needed any sugar so you might want to taste it yourself before adding any. For the liqueur I used Dark Chocolate Liqueur for the dark chcolate and creme de cacao with the white chocolate. I imagine you can use anything you want with this and it’ll still come out great. I also used dark chocolate nestle’s crunch for the rims 🙂

Whatever you do with yours, enjoy 🙂


A Taste of Yellow: Sunny Caramel Cupcakes

March 22, 2008

With so many different foundations and charities out there, it’s always hard to choose which ones to support. Do you go with the big ones that already have a huge backing and are more likely to make a bigger difference with the money? Or a smaller one that can really use even the smallest amounts?

It’s a hard decision, but one of the ones I try to support is the LiveStrong Lance Armstrong Foundation. It’s one of the bigger ones out there (you see the LIVESTRONG bands everywhere now), but his story, coming back from a tough battle with cancer to not only succeed, but to completely dominate his sport, is incredibly inspiring.

So when I saw there was a food blogging event created by Barbarah of Winos and Foodiesto support this foundation I knew I had to join in. Barbarah is asking all bloggers to participate in the blog event A TASTE OF YELLOW by making a dish containing some type of yellow food in memory of those we have lost and those still fighting cancer.

The deadline for this event is April 19th, 2008, and the roundup of all entries will be posted on LiveSTRONG Day, which falls on May 13th this year. If you want to participate simply cook and blog about some type of yellow food and send a picture and a link to Barbarah. This is blog is about my small contribution.

I wanted to make something that could bring a smile to anyone. Something happy and sunny, that would bring thoughts of spring. The season that at least to me, represents changes, and new beginnings. I saw this recipe on Katie’s Kitchen for caramel cupcakes, and I knew it was perfect. Hopefully these sweet treats will usher in a nice warm spring, and I dedicate them to everyone out there fighting cancer, with the hope of many more springs to come. 

Caramel Cupcakes
Source: Katie’s Kitchen 

125g butter, chopped
100g white eating chocolate, chopped coarsely
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup golden syrup
2/3 cup milk
1 cup plain flour
1/3 self-raising flour
1 egg

Preheat oven to 325F

Combine butter, chocolate, sugar, syrup and milk in a saucepan; stir over low heat until smooth. Transfer mixture to a bowl, cool for 15 minutes.

Whisk sifted flours then egg into mixture.

Divide among cupcake tray and bake for 30 minutes for standard size cupcakes. Move to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

I tried to make an Italian Meringue for the icing but it didn’t really turn out and I didn’t have enough eggs to try again so I just used a whipped cream frosting. Just whip some cream until it’s nice and thick and peaks begin to form then add a box of instant pudding. I chose french vanilla.

 

Frost the cupcakes by either spreading it with a knife or pipe it on. Make or buy some fondant, roll it out as thin as you want it then using cookie cutters, cut out as many flower shapes as you want. If you want to do layers of different sizes, brush some water on one side of the smaller one to seal the two pieces together. Place on cupcakes as desired.

Just a few notes about the recipe. It calls for golden syrup and self rising flour. According to Wikipedia, golden syrup is used as a substitute for honey for those who can’t eat honey, and it’s much like corn syrup. You can use either if you can’t find it in a store, or you can order it on amazon.

As for self-rising flour, if you don’t have any you can make it easily by mixing 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt. Just make sure you mix it well.

As for these cupcakes, they are really easy to make and have a wonderful, subtle caramel flavor. They are definitely worth trying.

There is still plenty of time to join in this event and it really is well worth it. Give it a try if you get the chance.


An Old Favorite

March 19, 2008

I found out early last week that after the convention on saturday I was going to be joining my friends for their weekly/semi-weekly gaming night. This is a first for me, joining anyone for this kind of thing, but they’re really a great group of people, so I knew it would be fun and of course, I wanted to bake something special for them (I did not expect my tart to last long enough) 🙂

Now, I could have gone the easy route and just baked two tarts, but I wanted to try something else so out came my cookbooks and cache of recipes.

I actually considered making the same chocolate chip cookies I made last month, especially considering it would be nice to get some more input on them, but my dear friend Dean is not a big fan of chocolate (he doesn’t hate it, but it’s just “alright”) so I wanted to make something he might actually like and decided to go with one of the next best things…cinnamon!

I do not know anyone that doesn’t like snickerdoodles. They’re sweet, they lack chocolate so that covers those poor people with allergies and those that just don’t care for chocolate (yes, it’s shocking but there are people like that out there), and they’re fun to say! This is a classic cookie and one of my favorites.

The recipe came from my Magnolia cookbook. They are the ones that make the cupcakes everyone raves about. I have been a little intimidated about trying the cupcake recipes yet (I promise to try one later this year) but the cookies are all great. btw, some @#$@# in the bookstore ripped out a few pages of the book and I didn’t notice until I tried to look them up! If anyone has the book and is willing to mail/fax/email me the missing pages I would love you forever 🙂

Okay, enough already, on with the fun stuff.

Snickerdoodles
Source: Magnolia Cookbook

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
2 tbl milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

6 tbl sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

In a small bowl, combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, milk and vanilla and beat well. Add the dry ingrediets and mix thoroughly. Wrap the dough in saran wrap and chill in the refridgerator for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350F

Mix the remaining sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Crop the dough by rounded spoonfuls onto cookie sheets, leaving several inches between them. Keep in mind these spread more than most. Sprinkle generously with the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned.

Let the cookies cool on a wire rack for as long as you can wait. Enjoy.

This is really the kind of cookie that can please anyone, and they always seem to go so fast! It’s amazing that something lacking chocolate can still be so wonderful.


Pie Day and My Naked Pie

March 14, 2008

Raise your hand if you know what today is. That’s right! 3.14(159265) and that makes it Pi Day (or pie day).

During my random blog surfing last month I stumbled upon Evil Chef Mom’s blog about Pie Day (you can read that blog here). At that point there were already 15 people signed up to bake a pie for this happy day. I personally can’t think of anyone that doesn’t love pie of some sort, and as much as I love puns and plays on words as well, I just had to join in.

I even knew right away what I wanted to contribute to the event. Most people who spend a lot of time in the kitchen have a cache of recipes that they want to try eventually. Not just a pile of cookbooks, but recipes that have actually caught their eye, their imagination, or immediately elicited drool. This one, a tart with a cookie crust, and gooey caramel under a brownie-like layer is understandably something I have been dying to try for quite a while but things kept happening to prevent it.

First, I was planning to do this as a thanksgiving treat for myself but at that time my money was too tight to buy the ingredients I needed. Then I realized I didn’t have the right pan and had to budget for that, and so on, and so forth. You get the picture. Well finally the pan had arrived so I was just waiting for a good opportunity to make it.

Then came Pie Day! And as it is right before I meet up with my friends for a big convention, I can now finally bake my topless pie. Such a yummy naked contribution. 🙂

bite or pie

I am really happy I finally did this. It came out beautiful and is just as tasty as it sounds. The brownie top layer was chewy and super fudgy and the caramel was so warm and sweet and creamy, I would have crawled into it if I could have.

caramel pie

Double Chocolate Caramel Brownie Tart
adapted from recipe found on Cookingclub.com

Dough
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
7 tablespoons butter, chilled, cut up
1 egg, beaten

Filling
20 caramels
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk, divided
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (6-oz.) pkg. semisweet chocolate chips, melted

1. Place flour, sugar, cocoa and baking powder in large bowl; whisk well to blend. Add butter and cut with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some pea-sized pieces. Add 1 egg; beat 30 seconds or until dough just begins to form. Form dough into flat round; cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. (Dough can be made up to 2 days ahead.)

2. On floured surface, knead dough to soften slightly. Roll dough into 12-inch round 1/8 inch thick; place in 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Run rolling pin over top of pan to trim dough. Refrigerate 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat oven to 350°F. Line crust with foil; fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges begin to set. Remove foil and weights; cool on wire rack while preparing filling.

4. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Place caramels and 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk in small saucepan; heat over medium-low heat until melted and smooth, stirring occasionally. Pour over crust and spread evenly.

5. In medium bowl, stir together remaining sweetened condensed milk, 1 egg and melted butter. Add melted chocolate chips; stir to combine. Pour over caramel.

 chocolate pie

6. Bake 35 minutes or until top is dry and center is set. Cool on wire rack 30 minutes; refrigerate at least 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I wasn’t quite happy with the crust the first time I tried it (yes, I have made this twice in the last week lol) so I added two teaspoons of sugar and two tablespoons of butter the second time around. The dough was much easier to deal with but I haven’t tasted it yet. Up to you if you want to try it the original way or my way. It has a crisp, cookie-like texture and plenty of chocolate either way, but it was a little hard to work with because it was a little crumbly even before it was baked and my major sweet tooth thought it needed a touch of sugar.

chocolate caramel tart

Other than my little change to the crust this thing is great. As soon as we cut into the second one I’ll let you know how the revised crust turned out. In the meantime, enjoy, and Happy Pie Day 🙂


One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato…

March 10, 2008

Yes, more potato bread 🙂

My friends and I are going to a big convention this weekend, and since we’re all pretty much broke we decided that bringing food instead of buying was the best idea. And of course, I offered to make bread for sandwiches! I have been torturing my dear friend Dean with pictures of all of my bread for a while now, so he was pretty excited with the idea.

Last month I made a recipe for potato bread. I considered using this one for my friends, since it was something I had been playing with for quite a while. A tried and true recipe, but while tasty, it felt like cheating. Even though I was doing it by hand, it used just potato flakes instead of real potatoes since it came from a bread machine cookbook. I don’t mind cheating once in a while. Shortcuts can be very good. But I wanted to make REAL potato bread and give them something great.

I have two new recipes to try this year and this is one. The other one had reviews from people who had actually tried it (since it was one of those Daring Bakers things I am sure you have seen around) but the reviews seemed rather mixed so I decided to be a little safe and go with this one first.

 

This is a real hearty bread. Wheat flour would make it even more so, but I honestly don’t think it needs it. This is nothing like the potato bread you’ll find in stores, but it’s great and super soft. Perfect for sandwiches or just munching on. I personally think it might need a little sugar, but other than that it’s great. I’ll let you know what my friends think when they try it. In the meantime…

Hearty Potato Bread
Source: A Year in Bread

2 cups water*
5 1/2 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
8 ounces mashed potatoes**
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt

*You’ll use the water from boiling the potatoes for this. You can use regular water but this will be better
**Peel and cut a little more than 8 ounces so you can make sure you have enough

1. Peel and cut potatoes and boil for approximately 30 minutes, or until soft enough to mash. Measure out 8 ounces of potatoes, and two cups of water, plus a little more on the side in case you need it. Mash the potatoes in the potato water and allow to cool until approximately 100F.

2. Add the bread flour and yeast to the potato/water mixture. Add the butter and mix until well combined. Mix in the salt.

3. Spread the all-purpose flour onto your work surface and begin to knead the dough, adding more flour/water as needed. This will be a very slack dough but keep working it until it’s soft and supple.

4. Grease a large (very large, this is a huge loaf) bowl and put the dough in, greasing the top of the dough. Cover the bowl and let rest for approximately an hour, or until doubled in size. Punch down, cut the dough in half and let rest for a few minutes. Form two loafs and put them in greased loaf pans. Cover and let rise another hour, or until doubled in size.*** Preheat oven to 375F.

5. Cut two or three slits in the top, lighlty flour the tops and bake bread approximately 20 minutes. Turn and bake for another 15 minutes or until tops are golden brown and a thermometer inserted inside reads 200F.

6. Turn out loaves onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Cut and enjoy 🙂

Like any bread, you don’t have to bake these in loaf pans. You can free-form these loaves easily, and I will probably do so next time I try it. I might also add a tablespoon or so of sugar, but it is still great without it.

*** This made HUGE loaves. I put about 8 ounces of dough aside so I could try it, make sure it was good before sharing a new recipe with people and it STILL overflowed my loaf pans. You might want to make three small loaves, or two loaves and a small baguette or something like that.


Disaster

March 10, 2008

So Saturday I was in the middle of making my roasted garlic pasta when disaster struck. The stupid pasta machine stopped working! It just won’t turn anymore 😦

I am gonna try to get it fixed or replaced but it’s got me a little bummed as I haven’t had it all that long.

I saved the dough, so once I am done pouting I will try to roll it by hand (though that is not an easy task)

In the meantime, I can tell you that the dough was wonderfully infused with the scent of roasted garlic. I am sure it would have tasted even better. If you want to try it out yourself you can check out the blog on Kittens in the Kitchen where I originally found it.

I will probably post an actual recipe later today because even though most of my weekend sucked (the pasta machine wasn’t the only trouble) not everything turned out badly.