Monday, December 14, 2009

I have been baking!

I just haven't been posting. How boring, I know. But once again, finals time is here. And anyone who knows me knows finals time means baking time. Last week I made lemon poppy muffins. I would have posted but the recipe I created based on a bunch of different ideas came out slightly too dry and, in my opinion, not sweet enough. Almost a failure, except that they were good! Just not good enough to be called lemon-poppy muffins on my blog.

Tonight, instead of reviewing slides for my in-class presentation of the psychosocial and cognitive effects of chronic illness, particularly heart disease and sickle cell anemia, I am baking simple chocolate cookies. So super simple that I whipped up the dough in 5 minutes, and now it's sitting in the fridge to chill for 30 while I write this post..err.. I mean... work on slides?

Here's the recipe. I'll recap how they came out when they're done, at about 9 pm.

6 T softened butter
2 T oil
1 1/4 c sugar
1 egg
splash vanilla
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 c cocoa
1/4 c cream cheese

In a bowl, cream butter, oil, and sugar. Add egg and vanilla. Beat well. Add all the dry ingredients. Continue to beat. Finally, slowly stir in cream cheese. You can leave it in swirls or fully incorporate it. It's up to you. Toss dough into a container and stick in the fridge for 30 min to chill. 10 min before it's done chillin, preheat oven to 325.

When your dough is chilled and your oven is preheated (or almost there), start scooping. With a regular table spoon, scoop some dough into the palm of your hand, and shape into a ball. I fit about 18 cookies on each tray; the balls don't spread too much, I could have fit more, but I was experimenting. You could probably fit about 24 on each tray. If you want, roll each ball in confectioners sugar. I didn't but I thought about it when they were done.

Bake for 18 minutes on 325 convection. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack.

I have to admit, yesterday, I wasn't so into these. But they got better with a day! The texture is very nice-- somewhere between brownie and cookie. Slightly chewy, slightly dense. Real good.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fall Mushroom Stew

I felt ill all day. I knew I couldn't just up and leave my externship and come home and get into bed, although that was what I desperately wanted to do. I also knew that all I needed was a good rest and some soup. So what did I do? I created the ultimate fall stew.

The recipe I give below is super easy. The entire process requires very little tending-to time once you've chopped all your veggies. The stew turned out great. It wasn't too thick, there was enough broth to coat my aching throat, and although it is chunky in texture, there wasn't too much I really had to chew (which was perfect, because I just was not in the mood to chew!).

Also, I realized when I was putting the leftovers away that this stew looked like fall. Orange carrots, pale yellow parsnips, white potatoes, brown broth reminded me of the season we are in now (although I say it feels more like winter). The recipe here will serve 6, or 1 or 2 with leftovers for lunch!

Fall Mushroom Stew

2 c + 8 c water or stock (I use both)
1 1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1 1/2 T unsalted butter
1 lb sliced button mushrooms
1 leek, white part sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
3 parsnips, sliced
2-4 bay leaves
2 potatoes, chopped
1 c rinsed barley
2 T soy sauce
black pepper and salt to taste

Heat 2 c water or stock to boil. Pour liquid over dried mushrooms in a small bowl. Let sit 20 min. Meanwhile, melt butter in a pot. Add sliced fresh mushrooms and cook, on medium-low heat, until they've released liquid and are cooking down. After about 10 min, add the rest of the ingredients through bay leaves, including the rehydrated mushrooms and their soaking water and the rest of the 8 c water or stock. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30 min. Add potatoes and barley, and simmer until both are done, about 30. Add soy sauce and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Beyond Cauliflower

This recipe was in the New York Times foodie Thanksgiving section. I usually do not "do" recipes straight from other recipes; I find it hard to stick to what is written (problem with authority?). However, for this recipe, I stayed pretty spot on. The results were well received: cauliflower as a vehicle for subtly serious flavors of brown butter, sage, and lemon. With only hints of each main ingredient, this cauliflower is definitely the most Mysterious I've ever had. And the sage salt-making process was beautiful and fun.
I will most likely make the recipe again, but will perhaps experiment with adding other herbs. I'll keep you posted. Check it out:

1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
handful of fresh washed sage leaves (you don't need much- fresh sage is very strong)
1 T kosher salt
2 heads cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 T unsalted butter
1 lemon, zest set aside (a microplane or regular grater works great for zesting; you'll also need the juice, so don't toss it out when you're done zesting!)

Pour olive oil into a small saucepan. Over medium low heat, warm the oil. When little bubbles form on the bottom of the pan, add the sage leaves. Simmer about 2-3 minutes. Pour oil and sage into a small bowl. Remove the sage leaves from the oil; dry them on a paper towel.
On 425, roast cauliflower tossed in fresh sage oil. Keep in oven about 30 min, or until lightly browned. While this is in the oven, prepare brown butter sauce by melting and simmering butter on low. Cook until butter turns brown, smells toasty, and solids are brown. Add lemon juice, stir well. Prepare sage salt, too, while cauliflower cooks. Do this by crumbling the sage leaves in between your fingers and then adding your kosher salt.
When cauliflower comes out of the oven, place in a large bowl and toss with brown butter sauce, zest, sage salt. Season with salt and pepper if needed.