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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Bread-making is the most relaxing and rewarding use of my time, I’ve decided. Without much effort, today I produced two perfect loaves of cinnamon-swirl raisin bread, and then promptly devoured several slices. I couldn’t imagine a better Thursday morning!

The delicious recipe is from Apartment Therapy’s The Kitchn, and I recommend that you click on over to their site for better pictures and more in-depth directions. The recipe is below.

Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Bread:
(makes two loaves)

  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 Tbs active dry yeast
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 5 1/2 – 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 large egg beaten with 2 teaspoons warm water

In a small bowl, soak the raisins with hot water, letting them plump for at least 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. Toss the raisins with a few tablespoons of flour to absorb any residual moisture.

Pour a cup of warm water into a large mixing bowl, and sprinkle the yeast on top, letting it sit for a few minutes before stirring to fully dissolve the yeast in the water.

Stir in the milk, melted butter, and salt into the mixing bowl, then add 5 1/2 cups of flour and knead to form a shaggy dough. If the dough is really sticky, add a little bit more flour. I had to add at least 1 1/2 cups of flour. You’ll know the dough is ready when it forms a ball without sagging and quickly springs back when poked. Gradually add the raisins to the dough, and make sure they are mixed in well.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour. (I put mine in the oven with the light on.) Meanwhile, combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and beat together the egg and water in a second bowl.

Once the dough has risen, divide it into two pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough out on the counter. It should be slightly less wide than your bread pan and as long as you can make it.

Brush the entire surface of the dough with egg wash, then sprinkle generously with cinnamon and sugar. Starting at the end closest to you, roll up the dough. When you get to the top, pinch the seam closed. Transfer the loaf to your loaf pan seam-side down. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Let the loaves rise until mounded over the top of the pan, about 30-40 minutes.

Brush the top of the dough with some of the remaining egg wash, and bake at 375° for 40-45 minutes until golden brown. Allow them to cool completely before slicing. Enjoy!

Dinner tonight was a last hurrah of summer: miniature slider burgers on homemade buns, served with sweet potato fries, carrots, and a plum from the produce stand.

It was the second time I’ve made the buns (this week!), and Rebekah and I both agree that the only way we’ll ever eat a sandwich again is if it’s on one of these buns.

Sandwich buns:
(Adapted from here; makes 16 buns)

  • 3 1/2 cups flour (I use 2 cups whole wheat flour, and 1.5 cups all purpose white flour)
  • 2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 3 Tbsp. nonfat dry milk
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm milk

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and knead until you have a soft, smooth dough. If you need to, add some more flour. Shape the dough into a disc, place it in an oiled bowl, cover it with a towel, and let it rise in a warm place for about an hour or until it doubles in size. (I put mine in the oven with the light on.)

Once it has doubled in size, gently deflate it, and divide the dough into 16 equal pieces. Round each piece into a smooth ball, and arrange the buns in lightly grease 9″ round cake pans, 8 buns to a pan. Let them rise, covered, for another hour, until they’re crowded against one another and quite puffy.

Uncover the buns and bake at 350 degrees for 22 to 24 minutes, until golden brown. Remove the buns from the oven and brush with the melted butter.

For our burgers, we shaped small patties and seasoned them with salt and pepper. We grilled them on the George Foreman grill, and added melted sharp white cheddar cheese, mustard, ketchup, lettuce, and tomatoes from the produce stand.

The recipe for sweet potato fries is from here. I’ve tried several different recipes for them, but I like this mixture of paprika and cinnamon, and I think the method of coating the fries in a plastic bag is the best way to ensure even coverage. Rebekah and I opted for softer fries, so we kept an eye on them and took them out of the oven before they became too crispy.

In two days, it officially will be autumn, and to celebrate, I made two pumpkin pies tonight. Here’s my go-to pumpkin pie recipe (adapted from here), with the lovely pie plate courtesy of Haley Smith.

Pumpkin Pie:
{makes one 9″ pie}

  • 1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree*
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup evaporated milk, undiluted
  • 2 Tbs water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust
  • For topping: some heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar

(*Since they didn’t have pumpkin puree at Aldi’s this morning, I looked for it at County Market, but they only had it in industrial-sized cans which cost about $9 and include enough pumpkin to make eight pies. I bought a can anyway, which gives me an excuse to make pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin chocolate chip bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin everything!)

In a medium mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, salt, spices, and flour. Add eggs and mix well, and then add evaporated milk, water, and vanilla. Once it’s all mixed together, pour the pumpkin filling into a pastry-lined pie pan. (You can make your own crust, but tonight I just used premade refrigerated pie crust from Aldi’s, which actually turned out pretty well.) Bake at 400° for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° and bake for another 35 minutes, or until center is set.

For the topping, I whipped some heavy whipping cream in my stand mixer until it had soft peaks, and then whipped in some powdered sugar until it tasted just right (it’s up to you!). It’s the perfect garnish pumpkin pie, and keeps well in the refrigerator for a day or two, but it’s so delicious that you’ll have a hard time keeping it around that long!

Tonight my roommate Rebekah and I enjoyed a hearty minestrone soup, which took us fewer than three minutes to prepare this morning! This is a family recipe that calls for six cans and a crock pot. Although it’s not the most impressive meal, it’s a delicious soup that is perfect for this fall weather, and it goes well with sweet cornbread.

1-2-3 Soup:

  • 1 can of Rotel (it adds a nice kick)
  • 2 cans of beans (I used Great Northern beans and Kidney beans)
  • 3 cans of Campbell’s minestrone soup, undiluted
  • 1 lb cooked ground beef (optional; I didn’t use it so that I could have a vegetarian dish)

Put all of the ingredients in the crock pot, stir, and cook on low for 3-5 hours, or until hot.

When she sent me the recipe, my mom wrote, “This recipe is so flexible that I don’t think you can mess it up.  Daphne uses 1 can of beans and 2 cans of Rotel.  Katherine has substituted shredded chicken and turkey.  I’ve used kidney beans and Daphne’s recipe calls for ranch style Texas beans.  If you have leftover corn, peas, pasta, etc., you can add that.  Find the one you like best, or make it different every time!”

Today I’m going to highlight the culinary prowess of my good friend and fellow RA, Jarrett Yu. Last night Jarrett decided to make apple pie, and he agreed to share the recipe with you, which he adapted from here. I can vouch for its deliciousness, since Jarrett very kindly gave me a warm slice!

Jarrett with his apple pie

Apple Pie:

1. For the crust:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup butter (I actually only used ¾ cup because it’s sort of expensive)
  • ¼ cup ice cold water

Mix all of the dry ingredients together.  Don’t get mixed up with the “tsp” and “tbsp” abbreviations, I accidentally put 1 tablespoon of salt in my crust, a little salty, but it turned out fine.  Next, add the butter.  It’s supposed to be chilled in the fridge a little, and you’re supposed to use a pastry cutter or fork of some sorts, but I like using my hands.  Cut the butter up into little chunks and knead it into the dry mixture, using your fingers to press the butter in. You will have this dry flaky dry stuff.  Add the water in little amounts slowly while you are kneading, and a dough will start to form.  Keep adding water until you have a malleable dough mixture.  You don’t have to use all the water; in fact, you probably won’t need to.  Once you have a good dough ball, stick it in the fridge for about 30 minutes or so.

2. For the apple filling:

  • About 8 apples or so (it depends on the size of the apples and how much apple pie you want)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1-3 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice if you have any, but not needed

Slice all the apples into small chunks, however you want.  You can peel them or leave the skin on if you would like; you can also take out the cores if you’d like, but that is also optional.  Put all the sliced apples in a bowl and pour the lemon juice over them to prevent oxidation (browning for non-science majors). Mix in the sugar and cinnamon; add a little bit more cinnamon if you’d like because cinnamon is the greatest.

3. Assembly of the pie:

First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Split the ball of dough you made into two separate balls.  Roll them each out into flat circle about the size of your pie dish, kind of like you are working with playdough, and make the bottom one a little bigger than the pie dish.  Lay the first layer onto the pie dish carefully so it doesn’t rip.  Fill the crust with the filling you just made.  Sprinkle a little flour into the mix.  This is supposed thicken the filling, so if you want thick filling, put more flour in; if not, then don’t.  Lay the second flat circle gently over the filling.  Pinch the edges of the crust so they stick, poke holes on the top so air can get through, make it look pretty.  I made a lattice top so that it could look pretty, and it’s not very hard; I just followed this website’s instructions.

Lastly, put the pie in the oven for 20 minutes.  When that’s done, leave it in the oven and lower the heat to 350 degrees for 35 minutes or so until the pie is nice and juicy.  Cool the pie and share it with everyone.

Last night after I got out of Media Ecology, I had some extra time and wanted to try a new recipe, but I was determined to avoid using my computer, so instead of checking out one of my favorite recipe sites for inspiration, I turned to this magnificent cook book, a gift from my boyfriend. After browsing for a few minutes, I found a recipe for scones that looked scrumptious and (equally importantly) only required ingredients that I already had, so I gave it a try. Oh my goodness – they were SO delicious! Although scone dough can be challenging to work with, the recipe is straightforward and the results are absolutely worth it.

This scone looks a bit like a stingray, but I promise it's delicious!

Scones:
(makes eight)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 12 slices
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup raisins (or other dried fruit), soaked in water to cover for 30 minutes, drained, and patted dry
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Put the cold butter slices on top of the flour mixture, and then use a pastry blender to cut through the mixture until the butter is about the size of peas. Add the milk and combine until there is no loose flour at the bottom of the bowl. (If there is, you can add just a little bit more milk.) Fold in the raisins, and be careful not to overwork the dough.

Dump the dough out onto a work surface (I put the dough on a floured pastry cloth that I keep in my refrigerator) and roll it into a thick rope with your hands (it will be like a shaggy mass). Flatten it a little bit and use a bench knife to cut it into eight triangles. (Does this sound too vague? Just make them scone-sized! They’re like sweet, triangular biscuits.)

Transfer the scones onto an ungreased baking sheet, about an inch apart.

I put my scones in the freezer for about ten minutes before I bake them (it helps make them nice and flaky). When you’re ready to bake them, put them in the oven and turn it down to 350 degrees. (You preheat it to 375 because you lose about 25 degrees every time you open the oven door.) Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

The weather has been unbearably hot lately, so when I found this recipe, I knew it would be perfect. The combination of chocolate, peanut butter, and coconut is nearly irresistible, and adding the frozen bananas, which taste like vanilla ice-cream, seals the deal.

Frozen banana bites:
(recipe from this site)

  • 2 large bananas, cut into bite-sized pieces (5-6 pieces/banana)
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • Coconut flakes (mine were sweetened, but you can use unsweetened)
In a small bowl, combine the chocolate chips and peanut butter, and microwave for one minute. Stir until smooth. Dip the banana pieces into the chocolate/peanut butter mixture, and make sure they are completely coated. I found that it’s easiest to do this if you put the banana pieces directly in the bowl, and remove them with tongs.  Lay out the banana pieces on wax paper, sprinkle with coconut, and freeze for at least one hour. So easy!