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Baked Items

Croissants

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Croissants

Is there anything better than a freshly baked croissant?  I thought I knew what a real croissants were until I went to Paris.  My eyes were opened and they have definitely perfected the true croissant.  I remember in Paris, these gigantic light and airy croissants that was nothing like the croissant you get here in the grocery store.  I will say in the last number of years though you can find some great bakers and pastry shops who are making some great croissants comparable to the parisienne ones.  I am no pastry chef or true baker for that matter, but I do like to dabble from time to time.  I don't have as much experience in baking as I do in savory and maybe that's why I enjoy diving into the baking side of cooking.  This recipe is another from the master pastry chef Bo friberg.  

Croissants

24 oz of bread flour

1 tsp of lemon juice

20 ounces of chilled unsalted butter

2 ounces of compressed yeast or 1 ounce of dry active yeast

2 cups of cold whole milk

2 tbsp plus 2 tsp of sugar

2 tbsp of honey

1 tbsp plus 1 tsp of salt

egg wash

 

For the croissants,

This batch makes roughly 30 croissants.  Work the lemon juice and 2 ounces of flour into the butter by kneading it in a bowl by hand. Then shape the butter into a 5 inch square.  Place it onto parchment and set aside.  If your kitchen is hot place it back in the refrigerator for a few minutes but don't let it get too hard.  In a stand mixer dissolve yeast in cold milk.  Then add sugar, honey, and the salt.  Mix for a few seconds using the dough hook.  Then on low start adding your flour until the dough is slightly firm.  Try not to over mix if possible.  Then place the dough on a lightly dusted table and roll out to a 10 inch square.  Then make sure the butter is smooth consistency and place the butter square diagonally  on the dough.  Then fold in the sides of the dough to seal the butter.  Then turn the dough 3 times. 

To turn the dough roll the dough into a 1/2 inch rectangle. Then divide the dough lightly with the edge of your hand into thirds. Fold one third of the dough over the middle section and then bring the remaining third over the folded section like your closing a book.  Refrigerate covered for 30 minutes.  That is one turn.  Make sure that you brush any excess flour off of the dough.  Then position the dough so the long sides run horizontally, roll the dough to the same size rectangle as before and make the second single turn.  Chill covered for 30 minutes and then make the last turn and let it rest another hour. 

Then take your dough and roll each out into a rectangle about 1/8 inch thick.  Divide the dough lengthwise to make two strips. Make a mark ever 4 1/2 inches on the dough on the top and the bottom.  Using a ruler and a knife cut triangles out of the dough.  Then take the triangles and cut a little slit at the base.  Then roll the croissants starting at the base up to the tip, you can hold the tip to help you roll a tight croissant.  Place the tip on the bottom of the croissant.  Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment.  Then proof the croissants at about 80 degrees for about an hour and half.  If the croissants don't proof enough butter will leak out when baking.  At this point the croissants can be frozen if baking for another time.  When ready to bake preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Then brush the croissants with egg wash.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  Serve and enjoy!

 

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Fresh Bread and Judd's All Natural Truffle Balsamic, and Black Garlic Dressing

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Fresh Bread and Judd's All Natural Truffle Balsamic, and Black Garlic Dressing

Try fresh baked bread with a side of Judd's All Natural Truffle, Balsamic, and Black Garlic Dressing. 

3 1/2 cup bread flour

1 pkg yeast

1 tsp sugar

1 1/2 cup warm water

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp extra olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Mix warm water with yeast and sugar.  Let it stand to activate the yeast for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile mix flour and salt in mixing bowl.  Stir together flour and yeast mixture until a you have formed a smooth dough.  Knead the dough for 5 minutes and then place a towel over the bowl to proof the dough.  After an hour punch the dough down and form into another smooth ball.  Place on a sheet pan and place the towel over the dough to proof for 30 more minutes.  Cut one slash in the bread, drizzle with olive oil and season with a little more salt on top.  Bake for about 20 minutes.  Pull out and lest the bread rest.  Serve with a side of Judd's All Natural Truffle, Balsamic, and Black Garlic Dressing.  Feel free to mix with extra virgin olive oil (not shown in picture)

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Alfajores

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Alfajores

I can remember the first time I had Alfajores.  I was in Lima, Peru about 6 years ago walking down the street near our hotel and this middle aged lady came up to us and asked if we wanted to buy some dulces.  My wife and I are not shy when it comes to dulces (sweets or pastries) so we thought the package of cookies was well worth the 1$ investment.  I bit into them and thought these were the best little cookies ever.  We actually had her write down the recipe for them because I had never had them and thought they were definitely something I didn't want to forget.  Alfajores are pretty basic really, a shortbread dough cookie with dulce de leche in the middle dipped in powdered sugar.  I know there are many different ways to dress the alfajores up but this is the basic way that I had them in South America.

2 cups all purpose flour sifted

1/2 cup powdered sugar sifted

1/4 cup cornstarch sifted

1/4 tsp salt

2 sticks of good butter

1/4 cup of granulated sugar

1 tsp of vanilla extract

1 jar of dulce de leche

1 cup of powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl, flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, and salt.

Using an electric mixer beat butter until soft and fluffy.  Add granulated sugar and vanilla and mix well.

Add the dry ingredients in 3 stages until just blended.  Divide the dough in half and roll into logs.  Refrigerate  for 2 hours and then slice cookies into 1/4 inch cookies.  Place on a sheet pan and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes or just until they just start to get a little color around the edges. Cool for a minute and then transfer to cooling racks.

Once cooled take a knife and apply a good amount of dulce de leche on one cookie.  Then sandwich together the other cookie on top.  Once all of the cookies are done dip or lightly dust cookies with powdered sugar.  They should end up looking and tasting something like this.

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Swiss Chard and Ricotta Frittata

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Swiss Chard and Ricotta Frittata

We have some wonderful swiss chard in the garden that have just gone wild with all the rain we have had in the last month.  Wanting to do something easy and light for lunch today I thought frittata is the way to go.  Frittata couldn't be any easier.  Frittata is basically a quiche without the crust.   All you need is your favorite ingredient like: vegetables, mushrooms, potato's, herbs, cheese, or meat and pour over top a simple custard mixture and bake.  It really is that easy.   I all also had leeks, parmesan, and basil.   So this would be a perfect brunch dish for any Italian kitchen.

Recipe

6 eggs

1 1/2 cup of milk

1 cup of ricotta cheese

1 cup of parmesan cheese

1 big bunch of swiss chard wash and chopped without stems

1 large leek cut in half and sliced

3 tbsp of chiffonade sweet basil

2 tbsp of olive oil

Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

In a mixing bowl add eggs and milk and whisk together.  Add parmesan and ricotta cheese and about a tbsp of salt and black pepper, set aside until ready to use.

In a hot cast iron skillet add olive oil, leeks, and swiss chard.  Cook for about 4 minutes until tender.  Pour over the egg mixture and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until set.  Let it cool for 5 minutes and then serve.

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Lamingtons

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Lamingtons

A few years ago I spent a couple months in Australia and was able to travel up and down the eastern coast.  I loved the Australian dishes such as  meat pies, barramundi (fish and chips), and kebobs.  But a favorite snack was lamingtons,  little sponge cakes dipped in chocolate and rolled in coconut. The first time I ate a lamington, I was on a river boat tour. We were north of Brisbane and the tour guide brought out some lamingtons for a snack.  They were so moist and delicious that we looked for them the rest of our trip everywhere we went.  Some lamingtons are plain and some are filled with jam.   This version of lamingtons are plain but still delicious. 

For the spongecake:

7 large eggs, at 

room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tbsp almond extract

2/3 cup all purpose flour

2/3 cup cornstarch

6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and at room temperature

Chocolate dipping

3 cups powdered sugar

1 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup milk

1 stick unsalted butter

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 lb coconut flakes ( I use unsweetened )

Preheat oven at 350 degrees.

For the spongecake,  add eggs and sugar to an electric mixer.  Mix for 7 minutes or until the batter is pale white with nice ribbons.  Mix in the vanilla and almond extract.  Mix salt with the cornstarch and flour and add slowly to the batter.  Beat the batter until the dry ingredients are incorporated, then blend in the melted butter.  Pour the batter into a sprayed baking dish and bake for about 17 minutes.  ( I use two small square nonstick baking dishes but you can use one larger baking dish).  After the cake is cool it will release easily from the pan.  I trimmed off the edges and cut the rest into small rectangles,  getting 12 from each pan. 

For the chocolate dipping sauce, add milk and butter to a medium hot saute pan and heat to boil or until the butter is melted.  Pour the hot milk into a mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients (except the coconut) and mix.  Let the dipping sauce cool for 3 minutes. Place the coconut in a shallow bowl or pan.   Drop a piece of sponge cake into the chocolate sauce and turn it with a fork to coat all sides, then place the dipped cake into the coconut.  Using your hand, sprinkle the cake with coconut flakes on all sides.  Repeat the process with all the pieces of cake.  Store the lamingtons in an airtight container.

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Gluten Free Pancakes

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Gluten Free Pancakes

For those of you who  have asked for gluten free recipes, I have an easy option for gluten free breakfast pancakes.  The secret to making light fluffy pancakes is whipping the egg whites to stiff peaks.  Most of us prefer light and fluffy pancakes.  When you make pancakes using other flours than wheat,  you need extra help with texture to avoid pancakes tasting like cardboard. When you are not using wheat flour,  eggs and arrowroot provide the binder to hold everything together.  Eggs and arrowroot also help the body and create light texture in this gluten free pancake.   The recipe is suitable for  people who are following Paleo diets.  

Almond meal pancakes

1 cup almond flour

1/2 cup arrowroot or cornstarch

2/3 

cup milk

2 tbsp honey

1 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon 

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 egg yolks

egg whites

 whipped to stiff peaks

Pinch of salt

2 Tbsp butter

Using two separate bowls,  mix dry ingredients in one and wet ingredients in the other ( but not the egg whites).  Combine the dry ingredients with the wet and set aside the batter.  In a stainless steel bowl,  whip egg whites to stiff peaks and fold into the batter.  On a hot griddle or cast iron skillet add a little butter. When it's melted,  add 2 oz of batter for each pancake.  Cook for about 45 seconds on the first side or until you see bubbles on the top of the pancakes and then flip them over and cook for another 30 seconds.  These will be light and puffy.  Adding a third 3 egg white to the whipping will insure very light pancakes.

Serve hot with butter and your favorite maple syrup.  

When you serve these gluten free pancakes  for breakfast your family won't miss the wheat flour.

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Flour-less Chocolate Cake

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Flour-less Chocolate Cake

This is one of the lightest and moist chocolate cakes I have tasted and I don't really like chocolate cake.  Because it has few ingredients, this cake is fast and easy to make.  Once you've made this recipe,  you may want to try varying the cake by adding your favorite spices, nuts, and  flavorings.   For all you lovers of chili spice in chocolate cakes, this one would be a perfect to add to it.

Flour-less chocolate cake

9 oz semi sweet chocolate chips

6 eggs

1 cup sugar

2 sticks butter

1 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp amaretto

1 tbsp cinnamon

Preheat oven 375.

Prepare a spring form pan by lining it with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit the bottom of the pan.  Spray the parchment with nonstick spray and set aside.  Melt the chocolate and butter over a double boiler.  When the chocolate has melted, take the pan off the heat and whisk in sugar. When the sugar has been blended in, whisk in 1 egg at a time until all are incorporated.  Add the vanilla, amaretto, and cinnamon and whisk until blended.  Pour the batter into the spring form pan and bake for 25 to 30 min.  Test the cake by sticking a toothpick into the center, and it should come out clean.   Allow the cake to rest for 15 minutes. The sides of the cake separate from the spring form pan making it easier to remove the form. Slice and serve warm with patron chocolate caramel sauce.  A scoop of vanilla ice cream adds just the right finish.

Sauce

1/2 cup of brown sugar

1/3 cup of butter

1/4 cup of patron chocolate tequila liqueur

2 tbsp of heavy cream

In a small sauce pan,  melt the butter and sugar together until they are both dissolved.  Take the pan off the heat and pour in patron.  Be careful if your working on a gas stove because the alcohol will ignite.  Gently cook off the alcohol and finish with the heavy cream. 

This is an easy gluten free recipe for chocolate cake.

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