Saturday, August 22, 2009

ohhh, look at that swirly-goodness

So I came back a few hours ago from seeing Julie & Julia with my mom. Wow, what a great movie!! Anyone who lives to eat should see this movie. And it definitely made me reevaluate my career goals. Hmmm, culinary school after grad school, anyone?? ;) To create my own culinary nutrition degree? To be a....personal chef?? Hmmm, you never know. :)

So the next bread I tackled from the Epic Sandwich Cookbook? Cranberry Currant Bread! Now, I really don't know what kind of sandwich this would work well with. It seems to me that it's best as a dessert-like thang that you heat up in the micro or toaster oven.

The cool thing about this bread is the realllly good cranberry-currant-cream cheese filling that gives it that classic jelly roll-look. After that mixture was made on the stove top, it got smeared over the rolled out whole wheat bread dough.

And drizzled over the bread dough before the cream cheese? Maple syrup. And in my case, real maple syrup that my mom had bought when we were in the UP this July. Ohhhh yeah. It doesn't get much better than that, huh?

Oohhhh, Giada-shot.....aka picture with low-cut shirt. ;)

Rolling up this puppy was definitely an adventure. I almost feared that the cream cheese filling was going to explode out since there was so much of it.

But fear not! The bread came out marvelously. However, since I made this bread for Mike, I never got a taste of it would be just slightly rude to give a loaf a bread with a slice already cut from it. ;) I did get pictures of it, though, thanks to Mike's mom. These last two pictures are hers....she's not too shabby with the camera, huh?

Cranberry, Currants, & Cream Cheese Bread
From "Beautiful Breads & Fabulous Fillings"

1 tbsp. butter
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups dried currants (I pretty sure this is a fancy word for raisins....)
16 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup plus 3 tbsp, maple syrup
1 egg
2 tbsp. water

Basic Whole Wheat Bread - WARNING: These measurements make 4 LOAVES. I halved it and used one portion for this recipe and the other for a plain whole wheat loaf.
2 tbsp. yeast
5 cups warm water
2 cups warm milk
2 cups warm half-and-half
3/4 cups brown sugar
2 sticks butter, melted
3/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
18 vups whole wheat flour
3 1/2 tbsp. salt
1 egg
2 tbsp. water

Prepare Basic Whole Wheat Bread: Generously grease a large bowl and set aside.

In a very large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water, milk, and half-and-half. Let stand for 5 minutes, or until the yeast is foamy. Add the brown sugar, butter, honey, and vanilla to the yeast mixture and mix well.

In another very large bowl (or stand mixer), combine the whole wheat flour and salt. Slowly add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix well. If you're using a stand mixer, knead for 3 to 4 minutes. If you're kneading by hand, turn the dough onto a floured countertop or board, and knead for 4 to 7 minutes. Keep the dough moist for a soft, tender bread.

Place the kneaded dough in the prepared bowl. Place the bowl in a warm, dry place and let the dough rise for 60 minutes.

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the cranberries, currants, cream cheese, and 1/2 cup of the maple syrup. Mix well and cover. Let simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Generously butter 1 9-inch loaf pan. Roll out a softball-size piece of the dough from the Whole Wheat Bread recipe (one-quarter of the batch) into a 9x11-inch rectangle so that the long side is perpendicular to your body.

Spread the remaining maple syrup over the dough. Then spread the mixture in the skillet evenly over the dough.

Tightly roll the dough into a loaf, rolling away from your body. To hold in the filling, fold the outer edges of the dough as you roll.

Place the dough into the prepared loaf pan seam side down. Place the pan in a warm, dry place and allow the dough to rise for 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Beat together the egg and water to make an egg wash. Brush the egg wash over the dough. Make three diagonal slits - deep enough to see the filling - across the top of the loaf.

Bake for about 1 hour. Remove the loaf from the pan and tap the bottom of the loaf. If it sounds hollow, it's done. If not, continue to bake, checking every few minutes. When the loaf is done, return it to the pan, remove from the oven, and cool for 30 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan and transfer it to a wire rack. Cool for another 30 minutes before slicing.

Yield: 1 loaf

Saturday, August 15, 2009

what?! concord GRAPE bread?!

Oh hello, fair readers. So for those of you who don't know me in real-life (and most of you do....), here's me mid-mix during the making of the Concord Grape Bread, aka The Purple Monstrosity. If there's one thing I've learned from making bread out of this new cookbook, it's that mixing with your hands is so SO much fun. All that squishy, ooey, gooeyness just makes you feel like you're five again, making mud pies in your back yard. I don't know about you, but some days, I would just love to be five again....having no worries, except for how you're going to evade that scary green vegetable on your dinner plate. The heck with this up and coming entrance into Real Persondom. ;)

What a delicious ooey gooey mess.

So the moment I saw this recipe, I knew that it was made to be the bread for a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Grilled, of course. For the record, PB&B always must be grilled. It's the only way to get those peanut butter juices a flowin' and for the banana's natural sugars to come out and get all gooey and delicious. And then the bread gets warmed and crispy from the butter (or spray butter, if you will) schmeared all over before grill-age. Oooohhhh. Oh, so good. Yes, I may have had a love affair with a PB&B sandwich once....or twice. We go wayy back.

The cool thing about this sandwich is that it is kind of like a peanut butter and jelly banana sandwich, thanks to the grape bread. Crazy, kind of mind-blowing, right?! I like the idea of two sandwiches in one. :)

And here it is, my beautifully delicious grilled PB&B sandwich on grape bread. It was really strange to see purple bread being baked, to say the least. But appearances are usually deceiving, and this bread came out really well. It's more like a sweet bread (think banana bread-like) that's good for dessert or a snack. Or in a sweet sandwich. :)

Concord Grape Bread
From "Beautiful Breads & Fabulous Fillings"

1/2 tbsp. yeast
1 cup warm vanilla soy milk
4 oz. boysenberry yogurt
16 oz. jar Concord grape jelly
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 stick butter, melted
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tbsp. salt

Generously grease a large mixing bowl and two load pans and set aside.

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the soy milk. Let it stand for 5 minutes, or until the yeast is foamy. Add the yogurt, jelly, powdered sugar, and butter and mix well. In another large bowl, combine the flour and salt.

Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well with your hands. This dough is EXTREMELY wet! Transfer the dough to the prepared bowl. Place bowl in a warm, dry place and allow the dough to rise for 60 minutes.

Separate into two portions and transfer each portion into the prepared loaf pans. Place the pans in a warm, dry place and allow the dough to rise for 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and bake the bread for about 1 hour.

Test for doneness: if the pan sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, the bread is done. If not, continue to bake, checking every few minutes. When the loaf is done, remove from oven and cool for 30 minutes. Remove the loaves from the pan, and transfer them to a wire rack. Cool for another 30 minutes before slicing.

Yield: 1 loaf

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

delicious birthday gift, part 2

So prepare yourselves for a slew of sandwich-inspired recipes in the very near future. First recipe attempt from Margaux Sky's "Beautiful Breads & Fabulous Fillings"? Homemade peanut butter....wahoo!

First step was food processing-up the peanuts, and they actually "stood up" along the side of the food processor. Very strange.

And as you continued and added olive oil, it eventually got creamy after a few minutes.

Yum. I really love peanut butter. I will always have a soft spot for Jiff, but this stuff has no chemicals and tastes like you're nom-ing on a dry roasted peanut. And the best way to eat peanut butter, you ask? With a banana, of course. :)

Nut Butter
Taken from "Beautiful Breads & Fabulous Fillings"

8 oz. unsalted peanuts, almonds, or cashews - if you use salted nuts, reduce salt to 1/8 tsp.
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt

Place the nuts in a blender or food processor and blend for about 2 minutes or until the nuts cling to the sides of the machine.

Turn off the machine, and add the oil and salt.

Turn it on, and blend for 1 minute more, or until creamy. If the mixture seems dry, add a little more oil and process until it's the consistency you like.

Store any extra nut butter in an airtight container in the redrigerator.

Yield: About 1 cup

Monday, August 10, 2009

a delicious birthday gift

Isn't it beautiful?! And delicious, too. This was my gift from Michael for my 22nd birthday, along with a sandwich-inspired cook book - more to come about this at a later date. But anyway, this was so good, it nearly put my dessert-creating skills to shame. Hmmm, this guy might be up to no good....hehe.

Anyway, this was SO SO good, and it wasn't even chocolate!! Mike added ground-up almonds to the shortbread-like crust, which made it really great. And then there was this cream cheese layer and a limeade-esque layer. To top it off, it was also a Paula Deen, Butter Queen recipe. You can't get much more delicious than that.

And I was going to take a picture of it in slice-form, but I remembered to do that right as I was placing the last bite into my mouth. Whoops. Maybe next time. :)

chocolate cinnamon coffee cake

Have I mentioned yet that I am convinced Mark Bittman is a Baking God? So far, everything I have made out of his cookbook, "How to Cook Everything", has been a hit. So it is no wonder that this coffee cake came out realllllly delicious, too.

The walnuts were chopped up, and then drenched in this flour, cinnamon sugar, and butter mixture. This recipe didn't have chocolate chips in it, but I decided to add them because I was in the mood for chocolate. And I am so glad I did because the chocolate part of the coffee cake got rave reviews.

Ohhhh....the cookbook kind of has an eerie glow to it, huh? Maybe it was because I baked this around 1am. For the record, baking after midnight is the best time to bake. The kitchen is free and cleaned, and I get to bake in my PJs...aka U of M PJ-shorts and an old running t-shirt from the high school days. This way, I don't get flour on my clothes for the day. Because who cares if I go to bed with flour and chocolate drippings all over my t-shirt? :)

Quick Coffee Cake
From Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Anything"

1 stick butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cups walnuts or pecans
2 tsp. baking powder
1 egg
3/4 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Combine 3 tbsp. of flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tsp. of cinnamon, and 3 tbsp. butter with the nuts. Set aside.

Combine remaining 2 cups of flour, the baking powder, salt, adn the remaining 1/2 cup or sugar, 1 tsp. of cinnamon, and 5 tbsp. of the butter, cut into bits, in a bowl. Mix well with a fork or electric mixer until all of the flour is coated with some of the butter.

Still on low speed, beat the egg into the butter-flour mixture, then the milk until blended. Pour half the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle over it about half the streusel mixture. Sprinkle chocolate chips over streusel. Add the remaining batter, then the remaining streusel.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Devour.