Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bread Book

I highly recommend the book: "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day."The name is a little over-simplified as you can guess, but it's definitely faster than most traditional bread baking methods and the results are as good as any bakery I've bought bread at. Nice thick crunchy crust with a soft, dense interior that tastes great. I don't think I'll be using my bread machine much anymore.

The book focuses on the fact that pre-mixed, high moisture dough keeps well in the fridge.

Basically, you mix together the ingredients, no kneading. You let it rise for 2 hours at room temperature. Then you can either bake it right away, or refrigerate it for up to 7-10 days. If you make enough, you can have fresh bread daily, with just a brief 40 minute resting period before baking.

They include great tips and tricks and explain the properties of various types of flours, why kneading isn't necessary, why you don't need to "proof" yeast or need a starter dough. Their recipes range from peasant loaves, to rich breakfast dough and flatbreads, all with variations.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Frozen Chocolate Banana Pops

I miss ice cream and I've gotten a little tired of coconut and soy based ice creams and sorbets, so I'm trying to be creative and find other ways to satisfy my cold sweet tooth, that don't involve dairy.

I don't think these need much explanation, but here's the basic recipe:

Lollipop sticks

-Cut up your bananas into desired size, insert lollipop stick and freeze.
-Melt chocolate and dip/spread over banana. It's best to use a thin coating, otherwise the chocolate will just break off in chunks when you bite it. The chocolate will harden almost immediately, which is good because you won't need to find a way to prop it up while it sets, but you'll also have to work quickly.
-Sprinkle with peanuts.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

"Brioche" (non-authentic bread machine version)

I always feel like I'm cheating when using my bread machine. In this case, all it's doing is making the dough, but since I'm not doing the physical labor, I feel inferior.

This recipe came with my bread machine. While it's called "brioche," and it's got eggs and tastes great, it's not what I'd call authentic. It's still a great recipe, but if you're expecting the golden yellow of challah inside, or that very distinct texture, this won't have that. This gives you nice dense, soft bread, similar to dinner rolls.

Makes 12
Place the ingredients in the following order in your bread machine (wet to dry):
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs
2.5 cups flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt (I suggest slightly more if you use unsalted butter)
1/3 cup butter, cut into small pieces
1 tsp active dry yeast

Egg Glaze:
1 egg, beaten
4 tsp water

-Set to dough setting. My machine takes an hour and 45 min.
-Divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll into balls and allow to rest for 20 min, covered with plastic wrap
-Place in greased brioche cups, or muffin tins. Brush with egg glaze
-Bake for 15 minute or until till tops are golden brown

Thursday, January 13, 2011

One way to use your Takoyaki pan: Scallion Balls!

I adore scallions, this is one way to honor them....

This is a pretty simple one:

• chop scallions
• mix in some flour and water
• add one egg

(When I asked Yukio "how much of what??" He said "Just make it right")

So here's what it looks like:

Ok got it.

So now heat the pan. He put one burner on top of the other so it's not too direct to the flame.

Throw some water on the pan to know when it's ready. NO OIL

Spoon them in alittle more than half full and wait about 2 min until the edges shrink alittle and turn brown, flip them over to the other side with some kind of poker.

That's it! Quick and easy.

We found that drizzling some Okonomiyaki sauce, Mayo, alittle hot sauce if you like, and sprinkled with this mixture in a shaker you can buy at any Asian mart. This one happened to be seaweed and sesame- there are many different combonations that would work. It DO think the balls need to be dressed with some kind of sauce...

Oh yeah and pink pickled ginger!!!!!!!!

Green Tea Mochi Cake with Red Beans

Matcha is a powerful and tasty finely-milled green tea used in tea ceremonies in Japan.
It boosts energy and metabolism, is an anti-oxidant, and is found in many ice creams, shakes, pastries, also mixed with salt to flavor tempura! (and of course Pocky)

Matcha is what I put into my cake used to celebrate a friend's birthday in New York.

Next time you're at your local Japanese grocery, pick up some Mochiko (gluten-free rice flour), Matcha, (usually in a small can), and some red (azuki) beans. (if you're lazy you can buy a can of sweetened paste, but I'm cheap and I already had some dry ones sitting in the cabinet.

So here we go:

• 16 oz Mochiko rice flour (or can substitute for any brand of glutinous rice flour)
• 1 cup butter
• 2 cups sugar
• 1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
• 4 eggs
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 2 teaspoons vanilla
• 1 1/2 tablespoons matcha green tea powder

1. Cream the butter with sugar. It helps to melt the butter a little first.

2. Mix in the evaporated milk to the butter/sugar mixture.

3. Mix eggs into the mixture.

4. Mix in the rice flour, baking powder and vanilla.

5. Mix in the matcha green tea powder.

6. Mix in the red beans.

7. Pour mixture into a 9 x 13 pan.

7. Bake for approximately 1 hour at 350 degrees.

8. Let cake completely cool, allowing the mochi to set, before cutting and serving.

I decided to make my own red bean paste, so soak overnight, leave some beans whole for mixing into batter, reserve some for the paste, (just add sugar to taste)

I chose to put a layer of paste in the middle (after baking)

• 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
• 4 teaspoons matcha powder
• 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
• 4 tablespoons butter, softened
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• optional, mix in some red beans, I did.

I smothered it with the frosting after cutting and brought half cut skewers for easy access in a dark drunken environment..

I wish it looked prettier, but it had to be portable. No time for nice presentation, but I'm sure you can make some serious art with this recipe!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Spinach Tofu Pockets (vegan friendly)

A friend of mine was kind enough to host an event at her apartment in Brooklyn where we learned how to make eco-friendly cleaning products. In return, I made some vegan snacks. I altered my spinach feta pastry recipe, so if you plan to make the non-vegan version, just use feta instead of tofu and ignore the cumin and coriander. The photo above is using regular pie crust dough, which browns, unlike the vegan recipe, which will remain pale.

Makes roughly 16 pastries:

Filling (this can be made a day ahead and kept in fridge):
1 pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed

1/2 onion,
1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp cumin seeds

1/8 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp ground cumin

Salt/pepper to taste

1/4 pkg of silken tofu, drained

1/8 tsp nutmeg

oil for sauteeing

-Sautee onion in oil till soft.
-Add spinach and spices. Cook till excess water from spinach has evaporated.
-Add tofu and continue cooking for another 10 min.
-Set aside to cool completely, or refrigerate. The filling MUST be cool, or you'll run into problems when filling and folding.

Pastry (vegan version. Can substitute with regular flaky crust recipe and use water to seal edges)
2.5 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup veg shortening (chilled)

oil for brushing on top

This was quite a bit of trial and error. If you are used to the way regular flaky pastry dough feels, this will feel too wet and smooth. It also lacks the elasticity of regular dough, so when folding it over your filling, there's a good chance it will crack. Just be patient and experiment with the thickness of the dough when rolling it out. You can try to use water to fix cracking.

-Mix shortening with flour till smooth. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
-Preheat oven to 350. Grease a baking sheet
-Roll out dough on a floured surface and cut 4.5" circles (at this size I was able to make roughly 16 pastries). Fill with a tablespoon of spinach mix. Fold over filling and press edges together.
-Brush pastry with olive oil
-Bake for 30 min. These won't really brown, since they don't have milk or egg wash on them.