January 29, 2012

Pizza with Broccolini = Amazing.

I only have one photo to prove my point.

I only have one photo because I never expected to love this pizza so much. I didn’t expect it to be something I would end up talking about.

But, oh, how I did. And boy, how I have.

I was intrigued enough to make it because the recipe came from a restaurant Zach and I went to in San Francisco last year, Delfina. And the broccoli rabe it called for made it feel healthy-ish. And, for more practical reasons, we had some fresh pizza dough to use up.

So, I made it.

It was interesting. After sautéing the broccolini (I used broccolini instead of broccoli rabe) in lots of garlic and crushed red pepper, I made the white sauce. You pulverize half of the fresh mozzarella the recipe calls for. You chop the other half, and mix it in with the pulverized moz. Then you add little splashes of heavy cream and buttermilk, some freshly grated parmesan, and some salt and pepper. The recipe didn’t say to do so, but when you top the pizza dough with the cheese mixture, you do have to drain it off a bit. It’s pretty liquid-y. You have to be very cognizant of how much liquid you’re putting on the dough. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a run-off mess. Use your judgment; you’ll see what I mean.

Okay, so this pizza came out of the oven and I started to suspect that it could be amazing (at which point, I ran to get my camera). And it was.

It was creamy, salty, tangy, spicy, doughy and comforting.

It was so good that I made it again the next night. And loved it even more than I had the first night.

It’s amazing.


Truly amazing.

You need to make it.


January 15, 2012

Today's Brunch: Ugly Donuts + Pretty Quiche

My winning streak with dough ended today with some really ugly donuts.

I’ve made donuts before to great success, remember? Well, I used a different recipe today to make some Vanilla Custard Filled Donuts. And I’ll say it again. I made some really ugly donuts.

I suspected last night when the dough was incredibly sticky that trouble might be in sight. But I decided to have a little faith in the recipe (plus it was 9 pm and I was losing steam fast). This morning I thought I was in the clear. With the help of a well-floured surface, I was able to roll the dough out and stamp out my circles and o’s. The circles and o’s rose nicely. They were quite nice until I tried to pick them up off the baking sheet and place them in the frying oil. At that point, the second I touched them, they shrank back into shriveled messes, only to be more malformed when I actually picked them up. See? I’m not lying.

The only saving grace was that they tasted good (or at least that is what hubs and my kind friends told me). And I have to admit, rolling some in sugar and dipping others in chocolate helped them out a bit. Just a bit. The whole experience made me start pondering how an ugly donut shop would do in Minneapolis. I would eat an ugly donut. And I did. 2 actually.

But anyway.

I also made this quiche, and luckily it treated me better than my donut dough. This has become one of my favorite things to make for brunch. It’s delicious, it’s easy, and it seems to be a crowd-pleaser.

It’s a Leek, Asparagus, and Corn Tart. It starts with leeks and corn sautéed in butter (yum). It has some nice snappy asparagus in it. It gets sprinkled with Gruyere not once, but twice. And over it goes a silky custard made of eggs, egg yolks, cream, nutmeg, and lots and lots of freshly chopped chives.

Mmm. I’m wanting a piece as I type.

Leek, Asparagus, and Corn Tart
Adapted slightly from The Sono Baking Company Cookbook by John Barricelli

1 refrigerated pie crust
½ bunch asparagus, top third one, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 leeks (dark green parts and root ends discarded), sliced in half lengthwise, cut into ½ inch slices, and cleaned
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 cup frozen corn kernels
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
1/3 cup chopped chives
Grated nutmeg
2/3 cup grated Gruyere

Cook asparagus in small pot of salted boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove from water and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.

Heat butter and olive oil in large sauté pan over medium heat. Add leeks; season with salt and pepper; sauté covered for 10 minutes. Add corn; sauté for another 3 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 425. Place pie crust in glass pie dish.

Whisk together eggs, egg yolks, milk, cream, chives, nutmeg, ½ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper.

Sprinkle half of the Gruyere over pie crust. Spread leek mixture across pie crust in an even layer. Add asparagus. Pour egg mixture over the filling. Sprinkle with remaining Gruyere.

Bake for about 40 minutes, until crust and top are golden brown and custard is set.

Cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

January 8, 2012

Raisin Swirl Bread, Minus the Raisins

The kneading continued this weekend.

I made this Raisin Swirl Bread, minus the raisins. So I guess I made Swirl Bread. I have decided that I really don’t like raisins, especially in baked goods. And I had a sort of revelation about it this weekend when I pulled the raisins out of my cabinet. Guess what, I thought to myself? I’m an adult and I don’t have to put raisins in my Raisin Swirl Bread if I don’t want to.

So, I skipped them. Zach ended up being really sad about this, it turned out (I never would have guessed).

I was dying to make something from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking book, and I knew I best not make cookies or cake or anything like that. Because I get weighed every four weeks now. And I have an even healthier appetite now than I did before I got pregnant. And I didn’t spend my first trimester sick and losing weight. My baby is getting plenty of calories. And so am I.

Bread felt like a happy compromise. It would give me something to bake. But I’m a little less tempted by bread than I am by cake and cookies. And the second I saw this recipe, it reminded me of the Pepperidge Farm Cinnamon Raisin Bread that my mom used to buy once in a while when I was growing up. I loved that bread toasted and buttered.

And I loved this bread even more toasted and buttered. And the best part? I didn’t have to pick out the raisins from the swirl.

It was a satisfying recipe to make. The dough came together easily. It rose like it was supposed to. It smelled all yeasty and homemade bread-y. It was fun to roll out, smear with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon, and roll up. It puffed up when baked just like a loaf of bread should.

I was surprised at how tender the bread turned out. It was almost falling apart at the swirl when I ate it this morning. But in a good way. Not in a messy way, I promise.

If I had been looking to consume more calories, I would have used it to make the Sugar-Crusted French Toast that Dorie also includes a recipe for next to this recipe. But it’s all about moderation, my friend Dorie. At least for now.

Raisin Swirl Bread, Adapted slightly from Baking by Dorie Greenspan

For the bread:

1 packet active dry yeast
¼ c sugar, plus a pinch
1 ¼ c warm whole milk
4 tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
¾ tsp salt
1 large egg
¼ tsp vanilla
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
3 ¾ to 4 cups all-purpose flour

For the swirl:

1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tbsp unsalted butter, room temp

Put yeast in small bowl; add pinch of sugar; stir in ¼ c of the warm milk. Let rest for 3 minutes; stir.

With stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine remaining 1 cup of milk, butter, remaining ¼ c sugar and mix on low speed for 1 minute. Add salt, egg, vanilla, and nutmeg. Mix for another minute. Add the yeast mixture and beat on medium-low for 1 minute. (I was relieved when Dorie said in the book that the mixture will look curdly at this point.)

Add 2 ¾ c flour. Mix on low just until combined. Swap the paddle attachment for the dough hook. Add another cup of flour; beat the dough on medium for 2 minutes. If the dough doesn’t come away clean from the sides of the bowl, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time, until you have added an additional ¼ cup. Knead the dough for 3 minutes in the mixer. Dough will still be very soft.

Place dough in large buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and place bowl in warm place to let rise until doubled in size, about 1 ½ hours.

Wrap ball of dough in plastic wrap; place in freezer for 30 minutes.

Butter a 9x5 inch loaf pan.

Mix together the sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa.

Roll dough out on large surface dusted with flour until it’s a 12x18 inch slab.

Smear the dough with 2 tbsp butter; then sprinkle with the cinnamon mixture evenly. Starting with the short side, roll the dough up fairly tightly.

Tucking the ends under, place the dough into the pan. Cover loosely with wax paper; let rise in warm spot for 45 minutes.

Brush the top of the loaf with the remaining 1 tbsp butter, melted.

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes. Cover loosely with foil tent. Bake for another 20 minutes, or until loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.

Let cool on wire rack for 5 minutes in pan. Then remove from pan and continue to let cool.

January 1, 2012

Bonne Annee!

I remembered something funny today as I was making this Pissaladiere as part of our New Year’s snackies.

Every time I knead dough, I can’t help but think about the pottery classes I used to love in high school. My junior year, there was a kid named Michael in my class (he was a freshman) who was one of those kids who pretended like he was too cool for school. And because of this, he never mastered how to center the ball of clay. Which means you can't get very far in pottery. So, he obviously had great difficulty getting any assignments complete. But what made me laugh was that he used to dig around in the huge slip buckets for other peoples’ rejects, take them out, and try to clean them off an pass them off as his own. I am quite sure our teacher was totally on to this. But to this day, it makes me laugh when I think about it.

But back to food…

I haven’t cooked in a while since we were out East for a week and at our friends’ house for dinner last night, so I decided today that I’d make Zach and I some tasty apps for dinner. We had some roasted shrimp cocktail (why do people only eat shrimp cocktail for New Year’s?). And then I made this Pissaladiere.

A Pissaladiere is a French pizza of sorts. It's basically fresh dough rolled out, topped with lots of caramelized onions, anchovies if you're into them, and good black olives.

I have a passion for caramelized onions. I think they are good in so many different contexts. On top of hamburgers. In quiches. Mixed with pasta. On dough, like they are for this Pissaladiere.

And I love making caramelized onions. Once you get past the peeling and slicing of the onions (I made the mistake of using a bag of small onions…which made the process take too long), the actual cooking of them is totally satisfying. They smell good. You visually see them changing. They are pretty much fool proof; they always turn out perfectly. These particular ones were jazzed up just a bit with some fresh thyme.

Once they are done doing their caramelizing thing, you put them on top of some fresh rolled out dough. You “artfully” arrange some good Provencal black olives on the top as Ina tells you to do, and you bake.

And what you end up with is a delicious addictive appetizer that is all of the following:

Different from the normal apps you always see
So yummy
Easy (albeit time consuming)
And cheap!

It’s actually pretty perfect. And a great way to ring in the New Year.

Pissaladiere (Recipe adapted slightly from Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris)

¼ c olive oil
2 lbs yellow onions, halfed and sliced into ¼ inch slices
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 ¼ tsp salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
2 garlic cloves

1 ¼ c warm water (100-110 degrees)
2 envelopes rapid rise dry yeast
1 tbsp honey
3 tbsp olive oil
4 c flour
2 tsp salt

Corn meal
12 Provencal black olives, pitted

For the topping, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the rest of the topping ingredients and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn heat down if onions begin to begin to brown a lot. Take garlic out, chop it, and add it back in. Continue cooking mixture for 15 minutes. Set aside.

For the dough, combine the water, yeast, honey, and olive oil in the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attachment. Add 3 cups of the flour and the salt; mix on low speed. Add in the remaining cup of flour, and mix the dough on low-medium for 10 minutes. Remove dough from bowl and knead it 12 times by hand. Form it into a ball; place in a well oiled bowl. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes. Dough will double in size.

After 30 minutes, divide dough in half. Roll both pieces into balls. Place the one you’ll use on a sheet pan; cover with the towel; let sit for 10 minutes. (You will have an extra round of dough that you can freeze.)

Preheat oven to 450.

Roll out the dough into a 10 x 14 inch rectangle. Place on baking sheet sprinkled with corn meal. Top with onions. Scatter the olives aross the top. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.