Tag Archives: breakfast

Croissants

Ready to Proof

Each year, as I write down my list of resolutions for the upcoming months, I section off a portion of the items to tackle in a “Food” category. They typically range from specific projects, to broad scope themes such a portion control, to monthly challenges and a general overall reminder to not be afraid to try new things. As days pass, I return to this list and make notes of tasks I’ve accomplished, or at least those I’ve worked on – the later is something I highly recommend. It can be a bit dispiriting to look back at the list at the end of the year and see nothing completed, but if there’s a note that says “hey, I tried” it’s not nearly as depressing. At least that’s what I tell myself every time I see the “let’s get in shape this year” bullet point.

One of the food challenges that has been on my New Year’s Food Resolutions list for longer than I care to admit (okay, fine, since you asked, I think we’re on the third year) has been a baked good with its own recognizable shape – Croissants.

After watching the much beloved Julia Child work her magic on The French Chef via Twitch with her croissant recipe, I realized the process may not be as challenging as I had built it up in my mind to be. With an arsenal of cookbooks in my kitchen, I decided upon using Sarabeth Levine’s recipe as my guide. Croissants are a bit time consuming, but what I found the most challenging during the entire process was making sure I had my timing down in terms of what day I would make the dough for what day I wanted to bake the goodies off. Ultimately, timing was on my side, and these were the perfect Easter morning delicacy! Given that this was my first time trying my hand at croissants, I may adjust my baking time on my next go-round — the finished product was a bit too browned for my liking, although that might also be due to their rather diminutive size. Still, another checked item off the ol’ resolutions list and another success from Levine!

Baked Croissant

Croissants
Adapted from Sarabeth Levine’s Sarabeth’s Bakery: From My Hands to Yours

Croissant Dough
Makes 2 batches of croissants

Détrempe
2 ¼ teaspoons dry active yeast
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups whole milk
1 ¾ cups bread flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
1 ¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour, sifted
1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Beurrage
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into tablespoons
2 tablespoons bread flour

*Make the dough at least two days before using

  1. To make the détrempe, sprinkle the yeast over ¼ cup warm milk (105° to 115°F) in a small bowl. Let stand until the yeast softens and begins to bloom, about five minutes. Whisk well to dissolve. Pour into the mixer bowl of a stand mixer, then add the sugar. Add the remaining 1 cup cold milk.
  2. Mix the bread and pastry flours together. Add 2 cups of the flour mixture and the salt to the bowl of the stand mixer with the yeast and milk mixture. Attach the bowl to the mixer and fit with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed, adding enough of the remaining flour mixture to make a soft, sticky dough. Do not overmix. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface, knead a few times to smooth the surface, and shape into a ball.
  3. Dust a half-sheet pan with flour. Place the dough on the pan and cut an X about 1-inch deep in the top of the ball to mark it into quadrants. Sprinkle with flour on top and refrigerate.
  4. Immediately make the Beurrage. In a clean mixer bowl with clean paddle attachment, add the butter and beat on medium speed until the butter is almost smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the flour and continue beating until the mixture is smooth, cool, and malleable, about 30 seconds more. Transfer the butter to a lightly floured surface and press any remaining lumps out with the heel of your hand, and shape the butter into a 4-inch square. Place the beurrage on the half-sheet pan next to the détrempe and refrigerate all together for about 15 minutes.
  5. Flour the work surface again. Place the dough on the work surface with the end of the X at approximately 2, 4, 7, and 10 o’clock positions. [For a visual on the dough making process, I highly recommend looking into Sarabeth’s cookbook, as she has fantastic step-by-step photos and I neglected to take any.] You will notice four quadrants of dough between the crosses of the X at the north, south, east, and west positions. Dust the top of the dough with flour. Using the heel of your hand, flatten and stretch each quadrant out about 2 ½ inches to make a cloverleaf shape with an area in the center that is thicker than the “leaves”. Use a tapered rolling pin to roll each “cloverleaf” into a flap about 6-inches long and 5-inches wide, leaving a raised square in the center. Using the side of the rolling pin, press the sides of the raised area to demark the square.
  6. Place the butter in the center, on top of the dough square. Gently stretch and pull the north-facing flap of dough down to cover the top and sides of the butter square, brushing away excess flour. Now stretch and pull the south-facing flap of dough up to cover the top and sides of the butter square. Turn the dough so that the open ends now face north and south. Repeat folding and stretching the now north- and south-facing flaps of dough to completely cover the butter, making a butter-filled packet of dough about 6-inches square.
  7. Dust the work surface with flour. Turn the dough so the four folded over flaps face down, with the open seam facing you. Dust the top of the dough with flour. Using a large, heavy rolling pin held at a slight angle, lightly pound the top of the dough to widen it slightly and help distribute the butter inside the dough. Roll the dough into a 17-by-9-inch rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds, like you would fold a letter, brushing away excess flour. This is called a single turn. Roll the rectangle lightly to barely compress the layers. Transfer to a half-sheet pan and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  8. Lightly flour the work surface again. Place the dough on the work surface with the long open seam of dough facing you. Dust the dough with flour. Roll the dough out into a 17-by-9-inch rectangle. Fold the right side of the dough 2 inches to the left. Fold the left side of the dough over to meet the right side. Fold the dough in half vertically from left to right. This is a double turn, also known as a book turn. Roll the rectangle lightly to barely compress the layers. Transfer to a half-sheet pan and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  9. Repeat rolling and folding the dough into a final single turn (see step 7 for a reminder). With the long seam facing you, cut the dough in half vertically. Wrap each piece of dough tightly in plastic wrap, then wrap again. Freeze for at least 24 hours or up to 4 days.
  10. The night before using the dough, transfer the frozen dough to the refrigerator and let thaw overnight, about 8 hours. Once defrosted it will begin to rise, so make sure to roll it out immediately.

Egg Wash

Croissants
Unbleached all-purpose flour, for rolling the dough
½ recipe Croissant Dough, thawed overnight or for 8 hours in the refrigerator
1 large egg, well beaten
You will also need: two large kitchen bags, two tall glasses, and very hot water

  1. Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper. Dust the work surface well with flour. Place the dough on the work surface with the open seam of the dough facing you. Dust the top of the dough with flour. Using a large, heaving rolling pin, roll out the dough into a 16-by-12-inch rectangle. Don’t press the dough too hard; let the weight of the rolling pin do much of the work. If you change the position of the dough while rolling, it is important to keep track of which side contains the seam.
  2. Turn the dough with the seam facing you. (If you’ve lost track, look carefully as the sides of the dough – you should be able to discern it, even though it is faint.) Using a pizza wheel and a yardstick, neatly trim the rough edges. Cut the dough in half lengthwise to make two 16-by-6-inch rectangles. Fold each rectangle into thirds, place on a half-sheet pan, and refrigerate uncovered for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove one piece of dough from the refrigerator. On the lightly floured work surface, unfold the dough strip and gently roll, allowing the weight of the rolling pin to smooth the creases created by folding the dough. Using a pizza wheel, starting at the top left corner of the strip, cut down to make a half-triangle with a 2-inch base; set aside. Measure 3 ½-inches from the top left corner of the strip and make a notch with the wheel at this point. Cut down diagonally from the notch to meet the bottom left edge of the dough strip to make another triangle with a 3 ½-inch base. Continue cutting, alternating diagonal cuts, to cut out 6 triangles. The last cut will also yield a half-triangle with a 2-inch wide base.
  4. Place a triangle with a 3 ½-inch base on the work surface with the base of the triangle facing you. Stretch the bottom slightly so it is about 5-inches wide. Pick up the triangle. With one hand, hold the dough triangle at the bottom and stretch it with your other hand until it is about 7-inches long. Return the triangle to the work surface. Starting at the bottom, roll up the triangle, and finish with the tip underneath the croissant. Place on one of the prepared half-sheet pans. Curve the croissant by bringing the two ends closer to each other, crossing the two ends over each other and pressing together if needed. Repeat rolling the remaining dough triangles, placing them on the half-sheet pan with decent space between them. Overlap the two 2-inch base half-triangles at their long sides and press the seam together. Roll up as described for the large triangle and add to the half-sheet pan. Alternatively , gently stretch the 2-inch base half-triangles into modified triangles, with a large base and small tip, and roll as described for smaller, slightly odd croissants.
  5. Repeat cutting and rolling croissants with the second half of the dough. Once all croissants have been cut, shaped, and set on the two half-sheet pans, choose a warm place in the kitchen for proofing. Slip each pan into a tall “kitchen-sized” plastic bag. Place a tall glass of very hot water near the center of each pan. Wave the opening of each bag to trap air and inflate it like a balloon to create “head room,” being sure that the plastic does not touch the delicate dough. Twist each bag closed. Let stand until the croissants look puffy but not doubled, 1 ½ to 2 hours.
  6. Meanwhile, position the racks in the center and top third of the oven and preheat to 375°F. Remove the glasses from the bags, then the pans. Lightly brush the croissants with the beaten egg. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway. Reduce the heat to 350°F and continue baking until the croissants are crisp and golden brown, about 10-15 minutes longer, rotating the pans halfway through. Serve warm or cool to room temperature, if you’re able to resist the flaky goodness.

Flaky Goodness.jpg

Time Keeps on Slipping…

It seems like I keep losing track of time lately. I could have sworn it was barely February and suddenly the month is almost over. My plans for getting my applications to graduate schools in by Thanksgiving took a nose dive as I am still trying to pull everything together. A couple of days this past week I wondered when Mardi Gras was and had been contemplating making a King Cake for such occasion, only to get online today to find out today was, in fact, Mardi Gras.

On occasion, time actually can work in your favor. I woke up to my alarm this morning and a friendly reminder that I had a dentist appointment just before noon. Before long it was time for me to head out the door and after a rather thorough brushing (is it just me, or do you spend more time than usual on your teeth just before a dentist visit?) I grabbed my bag and took off to my car. I slung my bag over to the passenger seat, put my keys in the ignition, and turned.

Silence.

A quick call to my Dad, who knows more about cars than I will ever pretend to, confirmed that the battery was probably dead and in order for the car to start I would need a jump. With no one home to give said jump, my only option was to call the dentist’s office and reschedule.

Suddenly I found myself with a sizable chunk of time free, so what to do? Bake! What did you think I was gonna do? Shine my shoes? Actually…they are looking a little worn…

Although it isn’t the best season for them, when I saw plums at the store this weekend I knew I had to get some and make something delicious with them. This super tasty dream was made true with a little help from Dorie Greenspan. See, I called her up and said “Plum cake?” and she came running over to dance around my kitchen while we made tonight’s dessert and belted it out along with Adele, who had just happened to also stop by…at least that’s how I wish it had happened. In reality it was just me, a bunch of plums, and a pinch of cardamom.

The resulting cake is sweet, succulent, and slightly spicy. It is juicy from the plums, which add their own depth of flavor and offer a bite as well. The actual cake is moist, soft, and intriguing from that hint of cardamom. Dorie mentions having it with coffee as an early morning treat and, after the taste I had tonight, I am looking forward to a slice for breakfast tomorrow!

Dimply Plum Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup flavorless oil, such as canola or safflower
Grated zest of one orange
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 purple or red plums, halved and pitted

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan, dust the pan with flour, tap out the excess, and put the pan on a baking sheet.
2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and cardamom together.
3. Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a hand mixer in a large bowl), beat the butter at medium speed until soft and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition. On medium speed, beat in the oil, orange zest, and vanilla. The batter will look very light and smooth, almost satiny. Reduce the mixer to low-speed and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated.
4. Run a spatula around the bowl and under the batter, just to make sure there are no dry spots, then scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Arrange the plums cut side up in the batter, jiggling the plums a tad just so they settle comfortably into the batter.
5. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is honey brown and puffed around the plums and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and let cool for 15 minutes – during which time the plums’ juice will return to the fruit – then run the knife around the sides of the pan and un-mold the cake. Invert and cool right side up.

Recipe adapted from: Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours

Peachy Keen

It’s cold. I mean really, it’s cold. Our thermometer thing-a-ma-jig says it’s 52 degrees outside. Brr. Actually, this Friday it is being reported that the HIGH for the day is 50!

Oh Alaska, way to have temperatures 20 degrees colder than the rest of the country.

Summer ends fast up here. Then there’s fall, or what we call fall. The air is crisp and chilly, the leaves are turning yellow, and the occasional bush is turning orange or red, while the pine trees remain evergreen. Hehe, get it?

I love it. Dad, Smidget and I have discovered a new bike bath through the city and it is absolutely beautiful. Especially right now, during fall in Anchorage.

The only problem is the length. Not only does summer end fast and suddenly it’s fall, but fall only lasts a short while before the ground starts to get frosted and termination dust (local phrase for that white fluffy stuffs that starts falling after the frost) settles on the mountain tops and oh, I don’t want to even think about it!

Can fall last longer here? I love fall. I NEED it.

But even though it is starting to become fall here doesn’t mean we can still have some summer!

Yesterday the sun was out, and it was almost too warm to be wearing a sweatshirt. Lots of people were out enjoying the weather, we even got to use the grill again before it gets too cold to keep the back door open. As a partial tribute to the end of summer, but more so a way to use some of the summer fruits that will be disappearing off store shelves soon, I found a great recipe for this fancy toast topping.

Peach Butter

Peaches (I recall using between 5-7)
1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar (or brown sugar)
Pinch or cinnamon

Peel and de-pit the peaches (I find peeling easier if you stick the peaches in hot water for a bit first).
Cut peaches into bits, then put in medium size pot. Add the water, sugar and cinnamon. Keep peaches on the heat for 10 minutes.
Using either an immersion blender or a regular standing one, puree the mixture until desired consistency (it will be fairly thin).
Cook in a crock pot/slow cooker for 10-12 hours, or overnight on LOW heat. Also, this is important, don’t put a lid completely on. You don’t want to steam the peaches, you want to cook them. So either cover with a splatter guard or use spoons or something to keep the lid off the crock pot.
Honestly, just keep it in the low crock pot until it gets to your desired consistency.
Don’t forget to stir it.
Boil canning jars and lids with seals. Put peach butter into the jars and close them, they should seal on their own.
Spread on toast, waffles, pancakes, mix into yogurt, or even top ice cream and enjoy!

Recipe adapted by: Katrina Runs for Food

Yeah, that jar there that is looking empty? It’s gone. All gone. It’s good stuff. A bit of summer for all year round, to go with those frozen raspberries!

Berry Bounty!

There are a lot of tell-tale signs that summer is ending up here in Alaska. The sun rises later and it sets earlier, making the days seem half as long and twice as hectic as you try to get things done before dark. The air gets colder and, while the rest of the country has seen temperatures above 100°, you begin to miss the highs of 68° (or in the 70s, if you’re lucky) that are now fading into the 50s. School buses start roaming the streets and you no longer want to be driving between 1:00pm and 3:30 when the roads are teeming with teens and parents with youngins heading back home after a day spent in class. Fall and Halloween décor starts popping up in the stores in town, and in some extreme cases even Christmas lights.

I mean, I love Christmas, but it just turned into September. Can it wait a bit?

At my house, however, the end of summer is shown by one very big, green, leafy, and fruitful thing. The arrival of the raspberries on the raspberry bush.

Over the past three or so weeks we have gotten so many raspberries that dad goes out picking and comes back with a fairly large container overflowing with red sweets every day. We have so many raspberries we have run out of things to do with them! Well, not really, but we don’t seem to have the energy to do a lot of stuff with them.

Plus we have lots of leftovers. Like, three to four different kinds of soup. All made this week. Oh, and the farm veggies from our CSA share. Those kinds of left overs. Things to eat up instead of making stuff with raspberries.

That isn’t to say we haven’t tried doing things with the berries. We made a raspberry sauce the other morning for our waffles. Used practically two days’ worth of supply for a small bit of sauce. And boy, was it tasty.

After a while, the berries overrun us and we are forced to do something before they start to go bad. That’s where proper raspberry storage comes in.

And that is our topic for today folks!

When it comes to small berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc.) it is possible to freeze and hold on to them to use later in the year. That is what is in the frozen section of stores after all. Frozen berries. Also, frozen pizzas, fish sticks, ice cream…oooooohh…ice cream…

Sorry, lost train of thought. Where was I? Oh yes, freezing berries.

According to Alton Brown (if you don’t know who he is shame on you, Google him) it is important with small berries to freeze them individually. Does this mean you have to freeze them one berry at a time? Yes. Is it difficult to do when you have a broken freezer? Yes. Am I kidding? Yes.

Well, kidding about the first one. We do have a broken freezer, the one connected to our fridge. We call it The Upper Chill Chest. Cause it’s just kinda chilly. It will keep food colder than our fridge, but won’t freeze water. So that’s what the big chest freezer in the garage is for!

In order to freeze each berry individually all you really need to do is place some parchment paper on a cookie tray (one with sides, preferably, or a jelly-roll pan as it’s traditionally called) and place it flat in the freezer. Make sure they don’t touch each other as they tend to get feisty and pick fights which end you will berry pieces and bright red all over. Erm, ok, actually make sure they don’t touch so the freeze un-stuck together. Lay them out, one layer, not touching, on that cookie sheet you have prepped and stick them in the freezer so they lay flat and don’t roll around everywhere.

Once all the berries are frozen, get a plastic freezer baggie and make sure to label the bag with the contents and the date (this is important for anything you freeze so you know what is inside and when it was made, otherwise you’ll end up with extremely questionable things in your freezer. Trust me.) and stick all your berries in the bag. Put that bag in the freezer until you really need a berry fix. Say, December.

That’s all there is to it! This technique works well for, as I said, any small berry whether homegrown or bought at the store or the farmer’s market.

Soon you, like us, will have enough bags of berries in our freezer to last until next end of summer! So now it’s your turn! Go out there and freeze some berries for the off season! Go! Hurry!

While we wait for your berries to freeze, here are some pictures of our raspberry bush!

Looks like we’ll have even more berries soon! How are yours coming?

A sweet Saturday morning

In my quest to create delectable, delicious, delightful goodies, I flipped through some of Smidget’s gigantic cookbook collection (I’ve only been though a few so far and so many things have been marked to make!) and found something rather enjoyable-My perfect Saturday morning.

It starts off with a cup of hot coffee, my first attempt at knitting socks, which is actually going quite fantastically, and my new goody. Lemon-Anise Biscotti.

I have always loved biscotti, the crunchy twice-baked cookies remind me of sophomore year of high school when my friends and I would travel to this little greenhouse/gift shop down the street from school  called Bell’s. We would sit in the greenhouse cafe and drink blended ice coffees and eat biscotti while talking about boys and classes, I think I even still have some video of those days, although I think all photo footage has disappeared. One of my friends would bring paper, pen, and eraser and would draw the five of us sitting at the table, and many an inside joke were created around those tables under the pale sun shining through the greenhouse ceiling. Since then, a few of us have become coffee fanatics and realized actually how poor the coffee was a Bell’s, and the group has stopped going. Although Smidget and I have gone there a lot over the years, especially around the holiday season to purchase more Snow Village, the times I went with my friends will forever be in my mind. Especially the time we, as a joke, bought a book on How to Be A Lady and the saleswoman told us “hope it works!” I think they got tired of having teenagers running out near the china. A friend of mine from back then suggested we go again fairly recently, and it’s too bad she’s all the way in Washington because I wanted to hug her so hard I would practically smother her just for suggesting it. Perhaps we shall journey to Bell’s again, and perhaps, this time, photo footage will survive.

Until then, all I can do is try my hand at my own biscotti, which seemed to be a bit over done but even Smidget has admitted to enjoying them. Now I’ll just have to try new flavors and include some chocolate!

Lemon-Anise Biscotti

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon minced zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon anise seed

Directions:

Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or spray it with non-stick spray, or my personal favorite, use a Silpat.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

Whisk the sugar and eggs in a large bowl to a light lemon color; stir in vanilla, lemon zest, and anise seed. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the egg mixture, then FOLD until the dough is just combined. (I forgot to read the fold thing, and started to whisk before realizing my mistake and switching to folding, hence the bold)

Halve the dough and turn both portions onto the prepared baking sheet. Using floured hands, quickly stretch each portion of the dough into a rough 13×2 inch loaf. Place the loaves about 3 inches apart on the baking sheet; pat each one smooth.

Bake until the loaves are golden and just beginning to crack on top, about 35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place it on a wire rack.

Cool the loaves from 10 minutes; lower the oven to 325 degrees. Use a wide metal spatula to transfer the loaves to a cutting board.

With a serrated knife, cut each loaf diagonally into 3/8 inch thick slices. Lay the slices about 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheet, cut-side up, and return them to the oven.

Bake, turning over each cookie halfway through, until crisp and golden brown on both sides, about 15 minutes. Transfer the biscotti to a wire rack and cool completely.

The biscotti can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Adapted from The New Best Recipe cookbook.

It’s just one of those mornings…

Busy day today and coffee is much needed.

Ask any true Alaskan where to get coffee in Anchorage and they will say “Anywhere that has Kaladis.” Or at least they should. We’re very big on local products: locally grown food, handmade jewelry, even locally roasted coffee, which is what Kaladi’s is all about. There is a few other coffee places around that are more familiar to non-locals, such as Starbucks, but no one goes to those places as much as they go to any Kaladis-serving cafe.

There are also a lot of those little drive up places on the side of the road, driving from my house to where I worked one summer, depending on the route, you would pass at least three or four of those little shacks. And most of them serve what? Kaladis.

I also love Kaladis because they sell their stuff to take home, or to school in NY, not just their fantastic mochas or cranberry-raspberry tea drinks, aptly nicknamed by friends, A Kick In The Face.