Monday, May 24, 2010

Mushroom/Broccoli Raab/Lemon Lasagna. Dig it.

I made this a while ago, and never posted it because, well, I don't typically photograph everything I make, and even when I do, I don't post all of the dishes that I photograph. But when I was reading Cathy Erway's blog here, her amazing looking dish reminded me of my own variation of these flavors. There is just something awesome that happens when you mix lemon zest with broccoli raab. It becomes...alive! The lemony flavors mixed with the bitter broc combine to play fascinating tricks on your taste buds. The mushrooms in this recipe only add to the richness of the dish. I also think the ingredients could be restructured to not be a lasagna but, you know me, I'm really into baked dishes, casseroles and the like. So I made lasagna, inspired by an old Cooks Illustrated recipe for a much different mushroom lasagna.

So here is the ingredient list for this awesome piece of work:
  • 1 bunch broccoli raab, chopped into 1" pieces
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T butter
  • 30 oz cremini mushrooms, roughly diced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/8 t nutmeg
  • fresh parsley, roughly chopped (2 T for cooking w/ mushrooms, 2 T for sprinkling on top)
  • 1/4 c dry vermouth
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 c milk
  • box cooked lasagna noodles, set on a baking sheet so they don't stick (or the no-bake kind will do)
  • 6-8 oz part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  •  1/2 c ricotta cheese
  • zest of 1 lemon
RAAB
Blanch the broccoli raab in boiling very salted water (it should taste like the ocean). Drain and set aside--you won't use it till the layering of the dish. 
SHROOMSAUCE
In a saute pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, stir and cook until unions are translucent. Add the butter to the pan and melt it. Add the mushrooms, and cook until liquid has been expelled and largely evaporated, about 10-15 min on medium heat. Add seasonings and vermouth. Stir, cook another 5 min. Add the parsley, stir. Add 2 T flour and milk. Whisk in pan to create a mushroom sauce. 
CONSTRUCTION
In a 9x9 baking dish, spoon some mushroom sauce to coat the bottom of the pan. Lay out first layer of noodles. Top with broccoli raab, then ricotta, then mushrooms with sauce, and a light sprinkling of mozzarella. Repeat with two more layers of noodles. Atop last layer, sprinkle remaining mozzarella, spray a heavy piece of aluminum foil with oil, cover dish, and bake at 350 for 45 min. Remove from oven, top with fresh parsley and lemon zest. Wowie.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I think this is #100...

I think this may be my 100th post. I am not certain, and honestly it's not a huge deal or anything. I have no "honorary 100th recipe". Nope nope. All I have is my breakfast from yesterday morning. Simple, light, and satisfying. Take it or leave it. And then I have to finish editing this paper.

These are slightly tangy, wonderful light pancakes. I love cottage cheese, and the curds sort of melt, but do not become stringy. The texture is not unlike regular pancake texture, they just feel better than regular pancakes. I made mine silver-dollar sized, because the batter tends to be a bit more watery than pancake batter, and this smaller size flips in one piece more easily than larger ones.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes (thank you Anna Thomas)

2 c small curd cottage cheese
2 eggs
3 T whole wheat flour
dash salt
dash agave nectar
dash cinnamon

Mix all ingredients well. Pour by the 1/4 cup-full into a skillet heated on medium heat, lightly oiled. Cook 4-5 min on each side, flipping when pancake looks a bit dry on the edges.
Serve with maple syrup and strawberries.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Scones of my dreams...

I dreamed about making scones the other night. In the moments before I woke up, I have vivid memory of dreaming about cutting butter into cubes, re-wrapping it, and storing it in the freezer until I was ready for it. In the dream, the butter was being cut for scones--what else?

Because yesterday was Mother's Day, and I had not yet gotten my mother a gift, I interpreted the dream to mean I should make my mother scones. And so I did.

She was gifted with two varieties, both adapted from Nick Malgieri's The Modern Baker, and excellent, excellent baking book (I can't say that about just any book). I made two batches of scones out of one recipe. See below.

The key for scones, in my experience, is to *really, really* not handle them too much so that the butter stays relatively solid, the ingredients mixed until *just* incorporated and no more, until baked. This truly makes all the difference. These scones have the penultimate texture and taste, and I cannot decide which I like more. Try them for yourself!

1 1/2 c flour
1/2 T baking powder
2 T sugar
pinch salt
1/2 t ginger powder
3 T butter, cut into 9 cubes and kept very cold until use
1/2 c crystallized ginger, minced
1/3 c milk
1 egg

Topping: mix 1 T egg white with blanched, slivered almonds, 3 T sugar, 1 T cinnamon.
To make cranberry orange scones instead, halve the amount of ginger powder, and add cranberries instead of crystallized ginger. Add zest of 1 orange to milk mixture.
Mix flour, bp, sugar, salt, ginger in food processor. Add butter. Pulse until mixed, but still heterogeneous mixture. Add ginger. Pulse a couple of times. Beat milk and egg in bowl. Add to food processor. Pulse literally 3 or 4 times, until dough is wet in most spots. DO NOT OVERMIX!!!
Dump dough out onto floured board.
Fold a few times, to mix a bit more. DO NOT OVERHANDLE!! Shape dough into 6-8" circle. With benchscraper or knife, cut into 8 wedges. Top with almond/sugar. Place on silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake on 400 for 14-15 minutes.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Damn Good Sprouted Wheat Bread


I'm not a big boaster, honest.
I typically don't go on and on about how good one of my baked goods is.
But I just cannot hold back. I make a damn good loaf of sprouted wheat bread! I almost forgot, it's made with my darling sourdough, too. This sourdough mama is at a great point. It's healthy, it's mature, and it's able to be used in breads that do not have to taste "sour". This bread, for example, is sweet, not sour, as far as breads go. It's the perfect sandwich or toast bread. Truly.
Not kidding. I'm sitting here, after a long day, eating a toasted slice of sprouted wheat bread, slathered with cream cheese, topped with dried cranberries. The bread has the perfect crumb. It's chewy but not too chewy. It was baked for the perfect amount of time. And it's sweet, but not too sweet. The crust is good crust, too. Sheesh, it's just freakin amazing, what can I say???
And what's more is it's pretty easy to make.
This recipe will give you four mini loaves or one normal typical** size loaf. I made the minis because it's hard for me to finish a whole loaf of bread before it grows mold. So I eat one, then slice and wrap the remaining ones in plastic, then put in plastic bags, and stick in the freezer. It keeps pretty well in there, and then you take out a slice when you want and put it in the toaster.
Enough chatter, though, here's there recipe:

2 c wheat berry sprouts, ground in food processor
12 oz firm starter (see http://bit.ly/9lafSE)
2-3 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c milk
1/2 c water
2 T agave
1/2 T salt
Put all ingredients in a standing mixer OR in bowl if you are mixing my hand.
Mix on speed 2 or 3 (or by hand, and knead for at least 15 min) for 10 minutes. Add flour as needed (this dough tended to be a bit wet; it should be lightly sticky, not like glob onto your hands way sticky). Let dough rest for 5 minutes after mixing for 10 minutes (or kneading for 15), and then continue to mix (or knead) for another 10 minutes. Dough should pass the "window pane test", but if it doesn't, just mix a bit longer and stop. In my experience, it doesn't really matter! Just keep baking and you'll get to know your dough. I promise.
OK. Ball up the dough, and put in lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic and rest and rise 2 hours.
Punch down, and shape, and place into loaf pans. Let rise another hour and a half.
Preheat the oven to 350. Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven. Cool in pan 10 min, then on rack until completely cooled.

**(I say typical instead of normal as a silly joke...ha ha. In my field we don't call kids normal, we call them typical, which is really the same thing, but for some reason they think typical sounds more PC? who knows...enjoy the bread!)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Super Simple Saturday Salad


Tonight I'm starting my sprouted wheat sourdough, but it won't be done until tomorrow evening. I bought wheat berries at the Union Square Green Market from Cayuga Organics. I soaked about a cup of them the night before last thinking I would cook them up for breakfast yesterday morning, but I clean forgot about them. This morning, they were already sprouting! That was fast, I know, but apparently the fresher the grain/bean/seed, the faster the sprout?
I'm really excited about the wheat berries, and you'll see a lot more spring time posts coming now that the weather's changed and the growing season will be in full bloom soon. It's super uplifting.
Anyway, while the dough for tomorrow's bread gets going, I made myself a simple, quick salad for a very *light* dinner. This isn't enough for a full meal, probably, but I'm a true snacker. I had the salad an hour ago, and moved onto cantaloupe now. Next I'll probably dip into the Ben & Jerry's hiding in the freezer. This salad was a good start. Tasty and easy.
I will say, if you don't use really really good bread and better-than-average olive oil, it won't be good. The bread can be a day or two old, but it has to have been good quality. Otherwise you'll just have vegetables in a bowl with some mediocre bread and oil. Not. Tasty. Do it this way or pay the price! That's a threat! Ha!

Simple Saturday Salad for 1
1/2 c diced red peppers
1/2 c diced cucumbers
1/2 a big, ripe tomato, cut into 1/2" cubes, salted and peppered
2 slices good bread, crusts removed, sliced into strips, and then again into cubes
1/4 c crumbled French Feta cheese (the only good kind, come on now)
healthy drizzle of good-quality olive oil (don't lie to yourself, you'll know if it's not good)
squeeze 1/2 of a lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all of the ingredients. Don't dress until you are eating or the bread will get soggy (ew).