Wednesday, May 25, 2011

BBB rolls out Stromboli

I ate way too many pizza pockets as a high school student.  And even though that was years and years ago, I still turned toward pizza like fillings for this month's BBB Stromboli challenge.  Pepperoni, italian sausage, basil, mozzerella and pimientos, though next time I would add some sun dried tomatoes.  My hubby says it would be fabulous with marinara dipping sauce too.  ☺  Yeah, I agree with the assessment that this is man food.  Surprisingly, the girls decided they prefer their pizza flat.  They did eat it though and I think they would again especially with the dipping sauce.  The day I was going to make it I started a bit too late and ended up having to stick the dough in the fridge.  It was tough holding that dough back though!  I had to degas it a couple times before bed and stick a heavy bowl on top.  Fortunately it didn't overflow all over the fridge, just peeked out from the edges of the bowl.  I recommend that the dough definitely be at room temp before filling and rolling.  And don't use an airbake baking sheet to bake it or you may end up with an underdone bottom/inside.  I should know better by now, but I just flipped it over and baked a few more minutes.  ☺  

Yeah, I forgot to skewer it too.  Oh well.  I did end up with a small eruption on the bottom, but it was a very tasty one.  The brilliant thing about this particular dish is that you can use whatever fillings suit your taste.  The original recipe calls for smoked swiss cheese, garlic, Prosciutto, pepperoni, and fresh basil.  

adapted from Ultimate Bread by Eric Treuille & Ursula Ferrigno

2 tsp. dry yeast (7 grams)
1¼ c. water (268 grams)
3½ c. unbleached flour (470 grams)
1½ tsp. salt (11 grams)
3 Tbs. olive oil (38 grams)

For the filling and topping:

8 oz. smoked swiss cheese (226 grams)
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz. Prosciutto, sliced thin (226 grams)
4 oz. pepperoni, sliced thin (113 grams)
Handful of fresh basil leaves
~1 tsp. coarse salt
3 sprigs rosemary, stems removed
~1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Sprinkle yeast into 1 c. of the water, in small bowl. Leave for 5 minutes to then stir to dissolve.

Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center and pour in dissolved yeast and the oil. Mix in flour from sides of well. Stir in reserved water, as needed, to form a soft, sticky dough.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth, silky, and elastic, about 10 minutes.  Pour dough in a clean, oiled bowl and cover with clean kitchen towel. Let rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2-2 hours.

Punch down and chafe* for 5 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes.

Shape into a 14" x 8" rectangle. Cover w/ clean towel and let rest another 10 minutes.

Spread your cheeses, meats, garlic and basil evenly over dough. (You can use your own combination of meats and cheeses, or roasted veggies and garlic or whatever you like for filling.) Roll up the dough like a swiss roll, starting at one of the shorter sides, but without rolling too tightly.

Place on oiled baking sheet. Use a skewer or a carving fork to pierce several holes through the dough to the baking sheet. Sprinkle with 1 Tbs. of olive oil, salt, rosemary and pepper.

Bake in preheated (400 degrees F) oven for 1 hour, until golden. Drizzle remaining olive oil over top.  Slice and serve.

*This is the process of forming the dough into a ball by cupping your hands gently around it. Apply a light downward pressure to the sides, while at the same time rotating the dough continuously in a steady, non-stop clockwise motion. Keep doing this until the dough is formed into a smooth and even round shape.  

This will go up for this week's Yeastspotting

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bread is forgiving

I was out of sandwich bread yesterday so I went back to an old favorite recipe and mixed it up just a little bit to use up some special flour I have in the freezer.  Then, right after I threw it all together and it was mixing, I realized I had misread an amount and added half a cup too much flour.  Well phooey.  I suppose I could have just added a couple more tablespoons of water, but I had aging eggs to use up so I figured I'd toss one in to even it out.  (Bread was never hurt by enriching with eggs.)  

Hmmm.  One extra large egg more than evens out half a cup of flour.  I ended up adding about another half cup to get the consistency correct.  I left it a wee bit sticky.  Good thing the original recipe called for an 8x4" pan because I knew I would need the 9x5" after adding all that extra flour!  So I crossed my fingers, loafed it up, baked it off and was very happy with the resulting loaf.  It has a beautiful dark, thin crust with a pillow soft crumb.  Even better, my three year old, who has been picky about crusts of late, happily ate a whole large buttered slice down to the last crumb and commented multiple times that it was very good.  Spelt is very mild and slightly sweet and nutty.  I think I will start using it more often for a portion of whole wheat.  As it is, I am writing this recipe up with the changes I made for my own reference.  I will certainly be making it again.  Oh, and it makes FABULOUS toast.

Update:  Yes, you can indeed get two lovely 8x4" loaves out of this recipe.  Perfect sandwich size and lovingly garnished with flowers by my four year old.  (These two loaves do not have added gluten for those who have been asking if it is necessary.)

Whole Grain Sandwich Loaf

1 ¼ c lukewarm water
2 T sunflower oil or softened butter
¼ c honey
1 extra large egg 
1 c white whole wheat flour
1 c whole grain spelt flour
2¼ c unbleached all purpose flour  (I also used a small portion of white spelt flour for this but that is essentially the same as all purpose and once it is gone I will use regular flour)
1/3 c dry milk
1 T vital wheat gluten, optional
1 T potato flour, optional (it adds moisture, enhances texture and extends shelf life)
1 ½ t salt
I was lazy and used the dough cycle on the bread machine.  Add ingredients in order listed and let her go.  Rise time will be about 1 to 1 ½ hours.  Deflate the dough and shape to fit in a greased 9½ x 5½" loaf pan two greased 8x4" bread pans.  Let rise until just cresting about ½" over the rim, about 45 minutes.  Bake in a preheated 375ºF oven for 30 minutes or until richly brown and hollow sounding when thumped.  Remove the bread from the oven, remove it from the pan and cool on a rack.  For extra flavor and a soft crust, brush the top with butter when you take it out.

Makes 1 huge loaf or 2 more reasonably sized 8x4's
This can go up for this week's yeastspotting!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Gluten free 36-hour Chocolate Chip Cookies

Originally inspired by David Leite's chocolate chip cookies recipe that has the magical 36 hour rest period before baking.  And his was adapted from Jacques Torres.  Normally I make these much smaller, the standard teaspoon cookie scoop which yields about 3" cookies.  For this occasion however, I mega sized them as the original recipe stated.  So about the size of a generous golf ball or approximately 3½ oz.  Since we had need of gluten free options for Easter gathering, I figured on making them presentation size.  They went over very well with both the gluten free and gluten full crowds.  My girls adore them.  The one fun thing about making them this size is the wow factor.  I brought one for my daughter's after school snack when I picked her up.  A passing classmate exclaimed, "Whoa!  Did you see that cookie?  Look at the size of that cookie!"  Of course he remembered himself a few seconds later and amended that he had seen larger.  ;)  I guess little boys don't like to seem too impressed about something.  ☺  At any rate, these are quite good; they have wonderfully complex caramely notes and crisp outer edges with a soft, chewy center.  The way most people like cookies.

About amaranth: it's an interesting flour.  If you stick your nose in the package it smells for all the world like a bag of fresh beets.  Earthy and almost pungent.  I use it in moderation for that reason but you can substitute teff or your favorite gf flour instead.  The oat "flour" adds a crispiness to the cookies that I love and the millet gives a round flavor that enhances just about any baked good.  I do love millet as a corn replacer.  The waiting time enhances that rich flavor and caramel color.  I believe even the original Tollhouse cookie recipe was originally refrigerated overnight in the Tollhouse kitchen.  I read that somewhere, don't ask me for the reference.  I have also read about taste trials at the 12, 24 and 36 hour marks.  Any wait time was good, but 36 hours won hands down.  Try refrigerating your favorite "cream and drop" recipe overnight and see if you don't like the results better.  That is, if you can wait that long.  ☺

 This batch of slightly smaller cookies was made with the teff and flax seed meal options.

36 Hour Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten Free)
1½-3 dozen depending on cookie size

1 cup sweet sorghum flour
1 cup tapioca starch (some people prefer certain brands, if you are used to gluten free you will know yours.  I use Let's Do Organic)
1 cup arrowroot starch (or potato starch)
1/3 cup amaranth flour (or Teff flour)
1/3 cup millet flour
1/3 cup rolled oats, finely ground (make sure it is certified gluten free)
1tbsp xanthan gum or 2 tbsp golden flax seed meal
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup coconut oil, room temperature
¾ cup coconut sugar crystals (palm sugar)
¾ cup light brown muscovado sugar
¾ cup evaporated cane sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup chocolate chips (gf)
¾ cup mini chocolate chips (gf)

Sift each of the flours into a large bowl. Add the xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Combine well with a pastry blender or whisk.  In a large bowl or stand mixer bowl, combine butter, coconut oil and sugars.  Mix on low until combined, then cream at medium speed for a few minutes, scraping down the sides occasionally.   Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Mix in the vanilla.  (Now isn't that just gorgeous - the mirepoix of baking: butter, sugar, eggs.)

Now gradually add the flour mixture, about half a cup at a time to avoid a flour shower.  (Starch likes to travel.)  When the flours are mixed in, add the chocolate chips and give it a quick turn to incorporate.  Fold in by hand if they start to get squished against the bowl.

Now comes the hard part.  Dump the dough out onto a large sheet of saran and wrap it up securely.  Then hide it somewhere in the back of the fridge where darling hubby and the kids will neither see it, nor get into it.  (It's tasty dough so don't let on you've got it hidden.)  Now forget about it for 36 hours.

When your 36 hours are up, pull out the dough and preheat the oven to 350º F.  Scoop large balls of dough (large golf ball sized) and place 6 (Just six) on a parchment lined baking sheet.  (Try to leave the craggy edges of the dough facing up - it will give that crinkly, pleasing appearance in the cookie when baked.)  Bake the cookies for 16-18 minutes until golden brown but still a bit soft in the center.  (For smaller standard cookies, try 15 minutes.)  Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes without moving them.  Then transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Or try one warm, yum!  

Yes, that cookie is almost as big as her head.


They freeze well (most gf baked goods do), but do try to let them thaw to room temp before serving.  I had a full dozen and a half disappear over the Easter party.  I guess they were edible.  ;)
Adapted from gluten free girl and David Leite

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Lemon, Honey and Cardamom Marshmallows

I bought a full pound of decorticated cardamom seeds just for fabulous recipes such as this, as well as Finnish breads.  I do love cardamom.  And I love the ease of these marshmallows because I don't have to make up a batch of marshmallow syrup before hand.  They come together in about an hour if you're familiar with the process, and taste like a lemon bar or lemon meringue pie in a tart little marshmallow package.  Only slightly more exotic.  My girls love these.  Which actually kind of surprises me since they are pretty puckery and a slightly more adult taste I would think.  But they loved the cinnamon mocha marshmallows too.  Both fabulous flavors are creations of the wonderful Eileen Talanian.  Go buy her bookNOW.  It is so worth it.  

Beautifully published and presented with lovely photographs, it makes a great coffee table book too.  Although mine is quite obviously used often and not fit for the coffee table anymore.  I discovered the book a little over a year ago after a long quest to find a corn free marshmallow recipe.  Eileen simply makes her own invert syrup out of cane sugar.  Problem solved.  And in a much tastier way than corn syrup too.  The marshmallows have a wonderful clean flavor with less gumminess and more pillowy softness than with corn syrup versions.  And all that I have tried have been amazingly fabulous.

(This was a birthday party mix of vanilla, strawberry and honey lemon cardamom.)  The strawberry ones tasted like fresh strawberry jam.  Seriously yummy.  But back to the flavor at hand.  I'm passing this one on because it is a great flavor and takes less prep than some of the others.  I love Eileen's method because for regular marshmallow batter, there is no drizzling hot syrup into a moving mixer.  (That said, her marshmallow fluff, which does involve drizzling, is indescribably awesome.)  Just mix the gelatin bloom into the cooked sugar syrup, dump it all in the stand mixer and let her go!  From gelatin soup to marshmallow in 12 minutes or less.  You will need a stand mixer if you value your arms.  And you will need a candy thermometer.  I cannot stress enough the need to calibrate your thermometer for candy making.  Water boils at 212ºF, stick the thermometer in the boiling water and adjust your recipe temp accordingly.  These honey based recipes turn out slightly softer than standard marshmallows so you could go a couple degrees higher if you wanted it more firm.  Honey is also more hygroscopic, so they may tend to get sticky if you don't coat them well enough.  I sometimes come back and do a second dusting and I toss a couple spoonfuls of coating into the storage bag or container.  Don't want these lovelies sticking together now.  Also, I would recommend remembering to zest your lemons before you juice them.  Much easier that way.  ☺  One last tip: honey boils up more than sugar syrup or corn syrup, so use a large enough pan.  I use a 2 quart pan for a half batch.  Nothing worse than a pan of boiling honey and sugar deciding to share half its contents with your burner after you put the lid on...  ;)

Lemon, Honey and Cardamom Marshmallows
from Marshmallows Homemade Gourmet Treats by Eileen Talanian

For the bloom:
3 tbsp unflavored gelatin
2/3 cup strained freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the base:
2 tbsp cardamom seeds (removed from the pods)
¼ cup water
½ cup strained freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup honey
pinch salt
1½ cups granulated cane sugar (I use organic evaporated cane sugar)

Additional flavoring:
1 tbsp minced freshly grated lemon zest

Prepare a pan by coating it with nonstick spray, then wiping it lightly with a paper towel so that only a thin film of oil remains.  (Your pan size will determine the thickness of marshmallow, if you want thicker squares, use a smaller pan; thinner marshmallows, a larger pan.  I use an 8x8" pan for a half batch and they are about an inch and a half thick.) 

Make the bloom.  Place the gelatin in a small bowl and whisk in the lemon juice until smooth.  Set the bowl near the stove.

Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat and toast the cardamom seeds for a minute or 2.  Lightly crush them and put them into a tea ball.

Place the remaining base ingredients into a 4-quart saucepan set over medium-high heat, stirring gently to moisten the sugar.  Bring the base to a boil and put the tea ball into the base, immersing the cardamom seeds.  Turn off the heat.  Cover the pan and let the spice steep in the base for 30 minutes.

Bring the base back to a boil.  Cover the pan and boil for 2 minutes.  Remove the cover, insert a candy thermometer, and cook the base until it reaches 240º F.  Do not stir the mixture once the lid has been removed.  Remove the tea ball and thermometer and gently stir the bloomed gelatin into the cooked base. 

Update: I have found that having the syrup too hot can result in a somewhat gooey or stringy texture in the finished marshmallows because the high temperature degrades the gelatin.  Best to let the syrup cool to around 212º before adding to the gelatin.

Pour the batter into the bowl of a stand mixer and gradually increase the speed to high, beating for 12 minutes.  You can cover the mixer with a clean kitchen towel to avoid splattering hot liquid on yourself.  Remove the bowl from the stand and fold in the zest.  

Pour into prepared pan and smooth with a spatula or wet hand.  Allow to cure for at least four hours or overnight, uncovered, at room temperature.  

When you are ready to cut, lightly sprinkle your work surface with some of the coating mixture and ease the marshmallow slab away from the sides of the pan.  Flip over gently, releasing onto the cutting surface.  

Cut into square or other shapes, or use cookie cutters to cut the marshmallow into fancy shapes.  Toss the cut marshmallows in the coating mix, shaking off any excess coating.  (Use an oiled knife to cut.  Sometimes after the first few cuts, you can let the knife dry with any residue on it and it will work better.  You'll figure it out.)

Place the coated marshmallows in an airtight container, with wax paper between the layers, and leave a corner of the lid slightly ajar.  The marshmallows will keep this way for up to 2 weeks at room temperature.  (They also freeze fabulously.  Just mind repeated thawing on the honey based marshmallows - add more coating to prevent sticking.)

Basic coating:
1½ cups confectioner's sugar
½ cup cornstarch (I use tapioca or arrowroot.  I don't recommend potato as it swells too much and affects the texture.)

Sift the sugar and starch together, or put them into a food processor and pulse until there are no lumps.  Store the coating indefinitely in an airtight container. 

Participating in  Monday Mania at the Healthy Home Economist

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Zucchini Lasagna

 Yes, this is a noodle free lasagna so if it makes you feel better you may call it a casserole.   But if you get the zucchini cooked just right, you almost can't tell there are no noodles and you certainly don't miss them.  This is a really tasty dish.  It went over well in our household even with the hubby who is very picky about low carb options.  And though the tomatoes may push the boundary, it is at least grain free and much less insulin spiking than traditional lasagna.  I also found that the leftovers turn into great spaghetti sauce which went to school in the lunch bag.  By request even!  The trick with the zucchini is to get it almost tender before baking so that the end result will be similar to al dente noodles.  Tender, but not mushy.  Depending on the brand of cottage cheese, the flavor may have some tang to it.  I get two different brands and one is mild and the other quite tangy.  If you don't care for that, try whole milk ricotta instead.  If gluten is an issue, make sure to check the labels on the cheeses as some cottage cheeses may have gluten.  Preshredded cheese has a starch coating but I don't know about gluten.  Hand shredded melts better anyway.  ☺  If you're hankerin' for an italian dish that isn't carb heavy, give this a try!

Zucchini Lasagna
Serves 6

3 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise in about ¼" strips
salted water
½ lb italian sausage
½ lb ground beef (grassfed if at all possible)
½ small onion, chopped
1 can (14.5oz.) diced tomatoes or sauce (my diced tomatoes were very saucy and it turned out well)
1 jar (7 oz.) tomato paste (if you can't find a jar, the 6 oz. can will do)
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried thyme
additional ½ tsp italian seasoning to taste (it will depend on the spiciness of your sausage)
¼ tsp black pepper
1 tsp sea salt or to taste
1 egg
¼ tsp white pepper
¾ cup cottage cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided
fresh basil for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 375ºF.  Break up the meat and brown together with the onion in a large saute pan or skillet.  Meanwhile, cook the zucchini strips in simmering salted water for a couple minutes until starting to get tender.  (Salt the water well or to taste but don't omit - you don't want bland zucchini.)  Drain and set aside.  Add tomatoes or sauce, paste, garlic, spices and black pepper.  Simmer, taste and season to taste with salt and additional italian seasoning if needed.  Simmer until slightly thickened and bubbling.  In a small bowl, combine egg, white pepper, cottage cheese and ½ cup of shredded mozzarella.  In a greased 8x8" baking pan, layer half the meat mixture and top with zucchini slices, cutting to fit if needed.  Add all the cottage cheese mixture and top with the rest of the meat mixture and remaining zucchini.  Bake for 30 minutes, uncovered.  Remove and sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup mozzarella.  Bake for 10-15 more minutes until bubbly and starting to brown.  Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.  Garnish slices with fresh basil.


Adapted from Marg

This post will go up for Monday Mania at the Healthy Home Economist