Exploding With Flavor

May 26, 2008

I don’t know how many of you do a lot of your shopping online, but I am one of those people that gets rather obsessed with it (not food and toiletries of course, but other stuffs.) I actually do it so often that I have caught myself thinking in terms of online shopping for certain things that might actually be better in person.

My only real complaint with online shopping is the newsletters. Every single store now has their own newsletter that they throw out there. I am sorry, just because I happened to get a friend something from your store two years ago does not mean I want your spam! (Especially considering it does not help me control my spending when I constantly get the godiva newsletters).

Anyways, there are a few that will occasionally catch my eye and a few weeks ago the one from King Arthur  did just that. The title said “Crusty Cheese Bread Recipe…” Do you blame me for jumping to attention? *g* They even had a video showing how to make it! So this was something I knew I had to try and what better time than as the finale for my cheesy memorial day weekend?

Molten Cheesy Bread
Source: King Arthur Flour

1 1/4 cups (5 1/4 ounces) Bread Flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cool water

all of the starter
9 ounces to 10 ounces lukewarm water
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups (14 3/4 ounces) Bread Flour
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) grated Gruyère cheese, or the cheese of your choice

To make the starter: Mix the 1 1/4 cups flour, salt, yeast, and 1/2 cup water in a medium-sized bowl. Mix till well combined. Cover and let rest overnight at room temperature.

To make the dough: Combine the risen starter with the water, salt, flour, and yeast. Knead to make a smooth dough. Place it in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, till it’s nearly doubled in bulk.

Gently deflate the dough, and pat and stretch it into a 3/4”-thick rectangle, about 9” x 12”. Sprinkle with the grated cheese. Starting with a long side, roll it into a log, pinching the seam to seal. Place the log, seam-side down, on a lightly floured or lightly oiled surface. Cover it and let it rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, till it’s puffy though not doubled in bulk. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.

Gently cut the log into four crosswise slices. Place them on two lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets, cut side up. Spread them open a bit to more fully expose the cheese. Immediately place them in the preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the loaves are a very deep golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and cool on a rack. Enjoy!

Breadchick and the other ladies from the Great Cinnabon Knockoff Challenge also made this recently, so you should definitely check out their results 🙂


Wrapped With Love

May 25, 2008

I am one of those people that tends to obsess about things. I am a worrier, but in this case I’m talking about stuff I enjoy. If I have a show that I really like I will buy every season and look things up online. If I have an author that I like (especially if it is a series of books) I will not only get all the books (thank you ebay) but will carefully, eagerly watch their newsletters and alerts for the publication date of their new books (I cannot tell you how much I hate it when those dates get pushed back!)

But books and tv are not the only things I obsess about. When I first started thinking about getting a pasta machine, I looked up every tip and recipe I could find and made many plans for the things I wanted to make. Well finally those plans are back on track and I can make one of my favorite types of pasta.

These aren’t quite as good as ravioli (not as much cheese hehe) but I have always found these cheese filled and beautifully folded bits of dough kinda enchanting. This would definitely go under the title of possibly-too-much-work-to-be-worth-it but I knew this was something I had to try at least once.

I’ve looked at many different instructions, and even found a video with a real Italian grandmother making these things so I’ve taken step by step pictures, just in case one of you find yourself with a few hours to blow and decide to give it a try 🙂

Homemade Tortellini

Pasta Dough
Cheese Blend
Egg Wash

Unfortunately I used the cheese left over from the pizza, and added ricotta, garlic and a few other things so I don’t have exact amounts for you, but you can use the same recipe I used for the ravioli.

Roll out the dough just a little thinner than you would roll it for pasta. Let the dough rest for approximately 30 minutes, then cut the dough into approximately 3×3 inch squares.

Cover all but one square and place it at an angle(like a diamond). Lightly brush the egg wash over the square, leaving one small corner dry.

Take about a quarter teaspoon of the cheese filling, place it at the corner opposite the dry one and begin rolling upwards, stopping at the dry spot.

Flatten it out carefully, making sure to get all the air out.

Pick up the tortellini and holding the cheese-filled part, roll one corner towards the middle and brush with the egg wash.

Roll the other corner in and smooth it carefully to make a good seal.

To cool, boil for a few minutes until they begin to float. Make sure to taste one for doneness before draining. Enjoy

Though this is a lot of work, it’s hard to beat homemade. Just look at the difference with homemade and store-bought.

This is so tasty and cheesy, it’s well worth the effort.

A Slice is Not Enough

May 24, 2008

All of us get kinda sucky, but very necessary jobs when we’re in high school. It is the time when parents stop paying for everything (and you stop wanting to tell them what you’re actually buying) so the need for some sort of cash flow must interrupt our social lives. For me that interruption came in the form of pizza.

The job wasn’t horrible (though I did gain a lot of weight from it *g*) but besides giving me money, it also ended up giving me the desire to figure out how to make the perfect pizza at home, and living in New York just raised the bar that much higher.

I have a decent-but-not great recipe that I have been using for a while for the dough but for some reason I could never get it just right, and of course it always took forever to cook.

Well, I was doing my random blog surfing one day and happened upon this recipe on 101 Cookbooks that sounded awesome and soon realized that I had to try it….and I had to get a baking stone. I now have a brand new baking stone, and can now try it! Horray!

If you decide to try this yourself please note you do need to start the day before you actually want it. And as any pizza dough you can freeze it for later. 🙂

Napoletana Pizza Dough
Slightly adapted from: 101 Cookbooks

4 1/2 cups (20.25 ounces) bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
1 3/4 cups water, ice cold (40°F)
Semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting

1. Stir together the flour, salt, and instant yeast in a 4-quart bowl. With a large metal spoon, stir in the oil and the cold water until the flour is all absorbed. If you are mixing by hand, repeatedly dip one of your hands or the metal spoon into cold water and use it, to work the dough vigorously into a smooth mass while rotating the bowl in a circular motion with the other hand. Reverse the circular motion a few times to develop the gluten further. Do this until the dough is smooth. The finished dough will be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50 to 55F.

2. Sprinkle flour on your work surface and transfer the dough. Prepare a sheet pan by lining it with baking parchment and misting the parchment with spray oil (or lightly oil the parchment). Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces. You can dip the scraper into the water between cuts to keep the dough from sticking to it. Sprinkle flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Lift each piece and gently round it into a ball. Add more flour if the dough sticks to your hands. Transfer the dough balls to the sheet pan, mist the dough generously with spray oil and slip the pan into a plastic bag.

3. Put the pan into the refrigerator overnight to rest the dough.

4. On the day you plan to make the pizza, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator 2 hours before making the pizza. Dust the counter with flour. Place the dough balls on top of the floured counter and sprinkle them with flour; dust your hands with flour. Gently press the dough into flat disks about 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour, mist it with spray oil, and cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap or a food-grade plastic bag. Let rest for 2 hours.

5. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone in the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible. If you do not have a baking stone, you can use the back of a sheet pan, but do not preheat the pan.

6. Generously dust a peel or the back of a sheet pan with semolina flour or cornmeal. Make the pizzas one at a time. Cover your hands with flour including the backs of your hands and knuckles, and lift 1 piece of dough carefully. Very gently lay the dough across your fists and carefully stretch it by bouncing the dough in a circular motion on your hands, carefully giving it a little stretch with each bounce. If it begins to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue shaping it. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss. If you have trouble tossing the dough, or if the dough keeps springing back, let it rest for 5 to 20 minutes so the gluten can relax, and try again. You can also resort to using a rolling pin, though this isn’t as effective as the toss method. I couldn’t toss it but I let it hang and kept rotating the dough, letting gravity stretch it out.

7. When the dough is stretched out to your satisfaction (about 9 to 12 inches in diameter), lay it on the peel or pan, making sure there is enough semolina flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide (I placed it on a sheet of parchment paper). Lightly top it with sauce and then with your other toppings.

8. Slide the topped pizza onto the stone (or bake directly on the sheet pan) and close the door. Wait 2 minutes, then take a peek. If it needs to be rotated 180 degrees for even baking, do so. The pizza should take about 5 to 8 minutes to bake.

9. Remove the pizza from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Wait 3 to 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy.

I hope you try this yourself sometime cause it’s really great an awesome recipe. I have never made a dough that was as soft and pliable. It is ridiculously easy to shape, and I have never made a tastier pizza at home, and I’ve even had worse at a restaurant (though not in NY, of course). I plan to indulge in a lot of cheesy recipes this weekend so I hope you’ll sick around for them. It should be much fun for all 🙂

Love at First Bite

May 19, 2008

Thanks to the lovely Economic Stimulus check I finally have a replacement pasta machine! And this time I didn’t go cheap, I went for the more expensive one with the highest ratings, so hopefully it will last me for many years.

I’ve already done plain homemade pasta on this blog, and wanted to test it straight before doing something special so instead I decided to write about a new sauce. I am absolutely infatuated with this recipe. Seriously, it’s just…awesome. 🙂

This was a recipe done by the Greedy Gourmet several months ago for Presto Pasta Night hosted by Once Upon a Feast. When I saw the recipe it looked good. I thought it might be fun but honestly when I actually got around to trying it, it was love at first bite 🙂 I hope you’ll try it yourself cause even though it’s about as unhealthy as a sauce can get, it is soooooo worth it. This is just as creamy as any alfredo sauce with a zing of lemon that just gives it so much life. 

Creamy Lemon Romano Sauce
Adapted from: The Greedy Gourmet

6 oz Pecorino Romano, finely grated
Grated rind of 1 lemon
12 fl oz Heavy Cream
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic

Brown the garlic lightly in a sauce pan. Mix in the cheese, grated lemon rind and cream.

Heat gently, stirring frequently until all of the cheese has melted and sauce begins to thicken. Season to taste. If it isn’t getting as thick as you would like it, add a little bit of corn starch, dissolved in milk.

Pour over pasta of your choice. Enjoy

I don’t know what it is about this sauce but I really can’t get enough of it. I can’t wait to try it over chicken or something like that. It really is a great recipe.

The Hands-On Approach

May 4, 2008

So a while ago I mentioned that my pasta machine broke. It’s very sad. I missed making pasta enough that I got to the point that I even opened the damn thing up and tried to fix it myself. I thought I got it but of course when I tried to use it again it refused to play nice. *sigh* No problem, once I get that stimulous money I will be buying myself another. 🙂

In the meantime, I still miss making pasta, and friday night it hit me that there were types of pasta that didn’t need to be rolled out! I could make some of that easily! So yesterday I did just that. I made Cavatelli!

It’s an easy enough process, but takes a while so make sure you have the time before you start. It is well worth it though. It’s always so soothing to work with dough.

Source: Eating Cleveland

16 oz. Ricotta Cheese
2 Eggs
1 Pinch of Salt
3 Cups (1 pound) All Purpose Flour

Pour about 2 1/2 cups of the flour into a bowl and make a well in the middle.  Add the eggs and cheese and stiring in circles, mix everything up well. Add more flour it needed.

Dump the dough out onto your work surface and knead it well, working in more flour as needed until you have a soft but not sticky dough. Cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes or more.

Divide the dough into at least eight balls (the smaller the balls, the easier it is to work with so you might even want to make it 16) cover all but one ball of dough. Take the ball you’re working with and roll it between your palms above your work surface, working it into a long thin tube. Once it gets harder to work with like that, place on the work surface and roll out with your palms until you have a long thin tube about 1/4 inch diameter.

Cover and work out the other balls the same way then cut each tube into pieces 1/2 to 1 inch long. 

With a pastry cutter or the flat edge of a butter knife, angle the blade at approximately 45 degrees, then starting at the far edge and pulling the dough towards you, drag the blade across the dough. It should roll up around the edge of the blade. Drop your cavatelli into a well floured pan and continue working till you’ve done all of the dough.

To cook, drop by handfuls into well salted boiling water and cook until it begins to float. Test one before taking them off the heat but fresh cavatelli should only need a few minutes to cook. Enjoy 🙂

The Joining of Two Loves

April 7, 2008

It’s no secret that I love bread. I’ve mentioned it before, and as I love cheese as well, it is understandable that I have a certain weakness for cheesy bread. The lovely soft, chewy texture of bread covered with oozy melted cheese or golden and crusty on top, infusing the bread with the tastes of great cheese. It’s really hard to resist.

This is one of those breads. With great cheese kneaded into the crust, the only thing that could make it better (besides a glass of wine) is melting more cheese on top once it’s done baking and serving it warm. Mmmmmm

This made a beautiful, crusty loaf, and though at first I was thinking a sharp cheddar might have been better, the more I eat, the more I believe the gruyere was the perfect choice.

Cheesy Braid Loaf
Adapted from recipe on Cookie Baker Lynn

1 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
3/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
6 oz gruyere cheese, shredded

Vegetable oil

In a large bowl, whisk the yeast into 2 cups of the flour, then mix in the water, sugar, eggs and butter. Mix well with your hands to make sure all the butter is blended in well, then mix in the salt and as much of the remaining flour is needed to make a very soft, pliable dough. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes until smooth and elastic. Form into a ball and place in a greased bowl, lightly greasing the top. Cover and let rise for 2 hours, or until doubled.

Punch the dough down lightly, dump out onto your work surface, form into a rectangle then spread most of the cheese on top. Fold into thirds like a letter a spread more cheese on top. Repeat until you’ve used all the cheese then knead the dough to work the cheese into it evenly.

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Divide the dough into thirds and roll each segment into a rope, about 1/2 thick, 15 inches wide. Place each of the ropes on a sheet of parchment paper and braid lightly, being careful not to stretch. Pinch and tuck each end under, brush lightly with oil, cover and let rise another hour or so, until doubled.

Carefully transfer the dough and parchment to a cookie sheet and stick in the oven for 5-10 minutes, turn and bake for another 20 minutes until golden brown and a thermometer inserted inside reads 200F. If your loaf is browning too quickly cover loosely with aluminum foil and continue baking until done.

Allow to cool for at least an hour before diving in. Enjoy.

You can definitely cut this like a regular loaf, but I personally think it’s a lot more fun to tear off each of the braided bits. The original recipe also called for cubed chunks of cheese, which gives a more melty bread, but this way, instead of getting occasional pockets of cheese, the whole thing is absolutely infused with it.

Easy, beautiful and delicious, this one is definitely worth making again.

Yes I Put Cheese On My Cheese

February 25, 2008

You might think I was exaggerating on my love of cheeeeeeese when I made the ravioli, but I really don’t. My favorite…okay, the only sauce I really ever put on those tasty treats is alfredo. Yes, more cheese. Other sauces just seem to take away from them. So of course I considered making my typical tried and true alfredo sauce with the ravioli this weekend, but in my little (or not-so-little) cache of recipes I knew I had a recipe for an almost but not quite alfredo sauce I wanted to try and this seemed like a great opportunity.

I love having a good creamy sauce so when I see those words connected to any recipe I will of course perk up and look at the ingredients and everything to see if it sounds like something I might like. More often than not I’ll just make notes on a post-it with the quantities and make up the rest as I go, because a good creamy sauce really doesn’t take that much effort.

Surprisingly this recipe in it’s original incarnation didn’t have any garlic in the sauce itself so working in the comments from other people, and of course garlic, this is what I came up with. A wonderfully sinful Garlic Asiago Creme Sauce. If you like this kind of thing I hope you’ll try this artery clogging recipe at some point cause it really is worth the problems it could cause you in the future 🙂

Garlic Asiago Cheese Sauce
adapted from recipe on allrecipies.com

1 tbl. garlic
1 chicken bouillon cubs
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 cup grated asiago

Dissolve the chicken bouillon cube in the 1/4 cup milk. Pour into a sauce pan, add the garlic and allow to simmer for a few minutes.

Dissolve the corn starch in a tbl. of the heavy cream. Put aside. Add the remaining heavy cream and simmer for a few more minutes. Add the cheese and simmer, stirring frequently until cheese has melted. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add the cornstarch/cream mixture and stir well. Simmer for a few more minutes then remove from heat.

Allow it to sit for a few minutes to thicken slightly then spoon over dish of choice. Enjoy 🙂

garlic asiago cheese sauce on cheese ravioli

This is a very creamy, buttery sauce. You can substitute any cheese you want with this recipe but definitely try the asiago. It’s very mild and rich and works beautifully with the cream.