Friday, July 3, 2009

No Knead Bread

Before the wedding, I saw more than one blog post on bread. Specifically, this NY Times no-knead recipe. Of course, reading about multiple experiences making it is like having your own test kitchen. Then, you're left with the easiest and most efficient method.

Enter the magical Kitchen Aid mixer. Oh, how you make my life easy.

Yes you can make this without it, but seriously it's pretty awesome.

I used 50/50 whole wheat flour and bread flour. Now I can't for the life of me find where I got this brilliant idea. But in general, we buy whole wheat bread, so it only made sense to make it as well. (Note: make sure the bread you are buying lists "whole wheat flour" as the first ingredient. Otherwise, you're just buying really dark white bread.)

There are a lot of different types of flour. When in doubt, or if you just don't care that much, stick with all-purpose. I can't say that the difference is that big.

Step one is to mix everything together and let it rise. This is the worst part, because it takes about a day (and I want bread now!!). But rise it will.

Step two is to put it on your counter and play with it a little, then let it rest. In hindsight, doing this on a cutting board would make way more sense. Next time.


The end.

{edit: I have since made this again for a total of three loaves. It is really, really, really good. It makes me feel all wife-y. And then I went to the nexus of evil (Trader Joe's) and discovered double cream brie. And now I weigh a lot. The end.}

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Blueberry Muffins

The thing that makes me sad about muffins is that they tend to have so, so many calories. Basically, a muffin is a little cake. A little cake innocently looking up at you from its paper cup, telling you it's a viable breakfast option.

Since berries are in season, the SparkRecipes of the day have been berry-related for a little while. I filed away this recipe for blueberry muffins until I was ready and willing to blow most of my pint of breakfast cereal blueberries on it.

Things were going just fine until I started putting the batter into the cups. It had the consistency of ... thick paste (description edited for minimal stomach turning).

"Alright ... 4 stars? Featured in an email? They wouldn't lead me so astray, would they?"

Yes, they look good, don't they? I really wanted to like them. Really. I tried to tell myself I should have been rougher mixing in the blueberries so that they would have exploded and mixed in more, since they're basically the sugar in the recipe.

No. No, no, no. By the time I got to the last one (of which I think some of the blueberries had rotten less than a week later and almost threw up), I caved: they're putrid. They're dry, bitter, doughy, and heaven forbid you take a bite with that one, inevitable bitter blueberry.

No diet is worth that.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I was in need of a nice gift for Father's Day. We haven't gotten all the pictures from the wedding yet, so a photo for his frame (a wedding gift) was out. Cookies were out too, since my dad never worked a job where he required a suit, tie, and calculator, and doesn't golf. And mail-order pies are incredibly difficult to find.


Not long before I got married the big wedding thing to have was Parisian macaroons from this super fancy company in France. And while these are lovely, of course, it was always the same: intrepid bride decides she must have French macaroons at her wedding. Bride discovers international shipping prices. Bride decides to make them herself. Bride chucks it and has regular cake like everyone else (and everyone is the happier for it).

Therefore the only two things these stories have in common are 1) I needed a shippable gift and 2) I wanted to make these cookies.

These cookies are basically air. Fabulous, fabulous air. I've used Martha's recipe before, and it worked out just fine. Unlike the madelines, this time I have better help:

Start with aged egg whites. I don't have proof that the aging makes a difference. Whip the whites until they're "foamy." You must use an electric mixer or you will drive yourself batty. Just trust me on this one.

Next, the instructions say gradually add the sugar. If by "gradually," they mean "dump in all at once while the mixer is off so sugar doesn't spray all over the kitchen," then yes. Do that. This is where you're going to start looking for those infamous stiff peaks, although it'll take a good 5 minutes to get there.

See? Air.

Next, you'll add some sugar and almond flour. Note: despite having made these before, and actually reading about the best way to make these, I never actually read the words almond flour. I read crushed up almonds. So, I went to the apex of evil (Trader Joe's) and got some almond meal. This is why mine look kind of funky and yours will look amazing.

There are some long, drawn out directions on how to bake these. I actually piped them this time, which was a dumb idea. First, my tip wasn't wide enough and the random larger almond chunks clogged it. Second, unless you're working at a bakery, do your cookies really have to be perfect 1" disks? No.

And yes, 1" really is kind of small. They sure don't look that small in the pictures.

Let those hang out for a while. They'll harden, almost like they're already cooked. But they're not! Remember? You let those raw egg whites sit out for 24-36 hours. Gross.

While they're baking for a brief amount of time, you might want to mix up some filling. The possibilities are crazy; a lot of flavors will work with these since they're just a light, sweet little fluff of a cookie. I made up a batch of frosting as I learned from my cake decorating class, because I knew it would ship well. But if you're going to keep them around a refrigerator, a lot more will work.

I made plain white icing and spooned out a bunch to mix with lemon zest and yellow gel. Lemon juice would have been better but I wasn't sure the juice would make it cross-country. Then I scooped out some and mixed in some buttercream flavoring (also for shipping purposes). Finally, I dumped some cocoa powder into the remaining and made chocolate. Sweet, amazing, fudgy chocolate. Guess which one came out the best?

Et voila! Mini burgers!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mmm, homemade beef & broccoli from scratch ...

HA! Just kidding. I used a packet. But it's honestly the best packet ever (and I've tried others).

Hmm. I wonder how hard it is to really make it from scratch ...