Friday, August 19, 2011

All in the Pan Chocolate Cake

For lunch last weekend, I had it in my head that I wanted to make chocolate cake. I fondly remember my mother's Ooey Gooey Chocolate Cake from my childhood and I wanted to make it but then I recalled a fast and unique recipe for chocolate cake from In the Sweet Kitchen. This cake is one of those old timers where all of the ingredients are dumped into a pan and stirred directly in it. Easy peasy cleanup. And, this recipe has no egg in it, making it perfect for vegans. The frosting does involve some sort of mixer but takes no time at all. This was a really successful dessert-- nothing left but a few crumbs. I think I should make a point of making homey cakes like these more often. They're down home, delicious, and non-threatening (nothing wacky in them!) to the average person. I'll just have to remember that the next time I plan a dessert. If you're rushed or just want to try something easy and fun, give it a shot. The recipe calls for regular vinegar but I used red wine as that's what I had and it turned out perfectly.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cinnamon/Chocolate Glazed Vegan Doughnuts

For last Shabbat's dessert, I wanted to make something... different. One of the reasons I was excited to move to a real apartment was to finally be able to have a stove top. You know, real fire instead of the electric burners that don't heat very well. All I wanted to be able to do was fry. (And make pastry cream, but I havent gotten there yet.) Naturally, I decided it was time to make doughnuts. The authentic-deep-fried way. And that's exactly what I did. I opened Lara Ferroni's book and settled on the recipe for the Vegan Doughnuts as I was having a vegan for dinner. (It wasn't that much different than a recipe I would adapt for my parve needs, anyway, so it really was not a big deal.) I made some chocolate glazed (and some with sprinkles, just like when I was a kid!) and some.... Well, I really wanted to make a silan glaze, a la maple. But the silan just tasted off with the powdered sugar, so I kept adding cinnamon to make it a cinnamon glaze and it worked beautifully. I must say.... frying was really fun! So much so that I think I'm gonna try doughnuts again this weekend, this time of the chocolate persuasion. My guests were really shocked and impressed by the doughnuts and thought they were delicious. I snuck in a couple of munchkins and thought they were, too. I realized that they came out on the small and thin side because I might have rolled them a bit too thin. I'm pretty sure people felt more virtuous with the smaller size though. I also reduced the yeast in this recipe from a whopping 3 tbsp to 1 and I think it was still plenty. I also gave this dough an overnight rise, as per my usual. Here's to many more successful frying experiments! These doughnuts are being Yeastspotted!

Friday, August 12, 2011

James Beard's Basic White Bread

Besides for the foods that are totally off-limits to me, I'm not that big of a picky eater so I knew exactly what I wanted to eat before the fast that was observed earlier this week. Bread. With cream cheese and lox. (I think that's me saying I miss my Brooklyn roots.) I wanted an easy, simple white bread so I looked to James Beard's book on bread and made his Basic White Bread. This is a pretty basic loaf, consisting just of flour, water, yeast and salt. I thought his amount of salt, 1 tbsp was way too much for four cups of flour so I cut it down to 2 which was bordering on salty. So feel free to use anywhere between 1 1/2 and 2. The bread rose fast and because of the lack of white sugar and sugar developed during fermentation, this bread had little color. That was fine because the loaf was delicious warm. It was still good the next day, but best fresh and a bit warm, perfect with my favorite sandwich staples. I made the dough in my mixer but feel free to do it by hand, if you're not feeling lazy. The original recipe says that this should be baked in a 9x5 inch pan but I'm glad I used the 8x4 inch because the dough yield wasn't huge and it didn't fill the bigger pan. I tried. This loaf is off to Yeastspotting

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Frozen Ganache Shortbread Bars

I'm sorry the pictures for this dessert aren't better, but this was Shabbat dessert and I couldn't photograph on Shabbat. I was asked to bring dessert for Friday night dinner and thankfully, it didn't take much research to decide on these cookies. This recipe is another one I'm keeping under wraps but use any shortbread base and your favorite ganache to simulate your own version of these fudgy and deliciously cold bars. They were a hit for me and they will be for you, any way you choose to make them. I might try my hand at flavoring the ganache with extract or liqueur and sprucing up the shortbread base to match. The possibilities are endless but all I know is that a cold, chocolate dessert on a hot August day is just the ticket.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Neo-Neopolitan Pizza

During the nine days, there really isn't much to eat besides lots of dairy and carbs. (This week is a vegetarian's dream!) I still stay away from pasta so that wasn't an option. So, I decided to make pizza. Normally, I stay away from that to, but as my food choices are limited and I haven't had a slice of it in ages, I decided to go ahead and make some dough. I've made pizza plenty of times before and posted about it, too but this time I decided to go with a different recipe. I made Peter Reinhart's Neo-Neopolitan Pizza from his latest, Artisan Breads Every Day. What I loved about this recipe is that it makes enough dough for five pizzas and that you can freeze what you don't use right after mixing! I divided the dough into five portions, froze four in individual baggies and threw them in the freezer, leaving the fifth portion to ferment overnight. The next day, I made the sauce recipe that he provided and froze what I didn't use into individual portions. I felt so mommy-like with all this planning ahead! The dough comes together so easily in the mixer, and besides for a stretch and fold, doesn't require much. After it had risen overnight, (and when I was ready for dinner) I stretched the dough out onto a baking sheet and topped with sauce and cheese. I needed to bake the pizza for much longer than I did because I got no color on the sides and bottom, even though it was perfectly cooked. I think I'll bake directly on the stone next time. All in all, it was a delicious pizza and I'm really glad to have more pizza nights in the near future. This pizza is headed to Yeastspotting! Hope everyone has a meaningful fast!
UPDATE: I just made another pizza, baked directly on the baking stone. It made all of the difference. The flavor really comes out of the crust and it is just so delicious. Homemade pizza has never tasted this good. Lesson learned- always use the baking stone. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Plum Hazelnut Frangipane Tart

This is the dessert that I made for Shabbat last weekend- a hazelnut frangipane tart topped with fresh plums. I love the way it turned out. The filling so clearly tasted of hazelnuts while not being too sweet. This is one recipe I'm keeping secret, but here are the pictures anyway. Til next time....

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Irish Dairy Bread

Sunday and Monday were days mostly spent at the base. I've been pretty good at packing food to take with me so that I don't starve in the blistering heat. I finished up the last of the rye rolls on Sunday and was wondering what I could make for the next day that would be fast and easy. Turns out, they didn't let me go until six thirty so making a yeasted bread was out of the question. But then, inspiration hit! Why not make soda bread? All I'd have to do was pick up buttermilk from the supermarket (there's one right next to the CBS!) and voila, in very little time, I'd have bread. Seeing as it's the nine days and all, I might as well take advantage of making dairy bread, right? Right. Anyway, as soon as I walked through the door, I turned on the oven and proceeded to look for a recipe. Almost every recipe for soda bread calls for whole wheat flour which I didn't have around. I did find a recipe for Irish Dairy Bread in the Baker's Companion and that's what I made, but I couldn't help throwing in a tablespoon of caraway seeds. :) Making this bread is much like making scones, but with a much shorter ingredient list. Eating this bread reminded me how much I love buttermilk in things. The slight tang of it is really, really good. The craggy exterior of this bread belies its smooth interior crumb, speckled with caraway seeds. Feel free to leave them out, if you want. This bread is good plain, or eaten with savory goods, such as egg or tuna salad. I'm really glad I tried this type of bread; it's another thing to cross off my baking bucket list.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Brown Sugar Squares

This past Shabbat, I tagged along with a friend for dinner in Nachlaot, the quaint and charming neighborhood right behind the shuk area. I made these plans Thursday night and so when I was asked to make dessert, I felt extremely pressured- no time to research! Thankfully, I found a good choice (more on that later) and went to sleep secure. Come Friday, with dessert already I made, I wondered if people would be allergic to nuts or dislike fruit. So I decided to make something else. Literally on a whim, I pulled out Paula Deen's dessert cookbook and flipped through it. In the cookies and bars sections, I stumbled on what looked like the world's  EASIEST recipe and get this, had no oil or butter in it. Now, I was skeptical. A Paula Deen recipe with no fat in it?! Impossible! I looked for the recipe and found that people had successfully made this recipe. So I did, too. The recipe comes together with no more than whisk and a bowl and yields a very thin, chewy, almost candly-like brown sugar square. I don't even think they qualify as a cookie. I added some chocolate chips instead of the nuts to jazz them up a little. They aren't gonna win you any beauty contests, but for flavor (and ease of preparation) these can't be beat.