Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Whole Wheat and Oat Bread with Golden Raisins

I think that no matter how much bread I bake, I’ll always get a little nervous about it. You never know how much it will rise or how long it will take to rise or how it will look when you cut into the finished loaf. It makes bread baking exciting. Yes, waiting for hours for dough to rise is exciting! I said it. This is another loaf from Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes. It’s made with sourdough starter that’s mixed into a liquid levain the night before the dough is made. The dough is somewhat dense with whole wheat flour, oats, and golden raisins, so a scant bit of commercial yeast is used as well. The process was fairly quick with just under two hours for bulk fermentation before the loaves were shaped. With added fruit or nuts in bread, I fret the whole time it’s baking about whether or not the add-ins will be well-distributed in the end. I didn’t want to cut into a loaf and find most of the raisins clustered on one side. That added suspense as the baked loaves cooled and crackled when they came out of the oven. I told you bread baking is exciting. 

I always take my starter out of the refrigerator and give it a double feeding before I plan to use it. I tend to give it a small feeding once it comes to room temperature, and then a regular-size feeding about 12 hours or so before I’ll be using it. For this bread, a small amount of starter was mixed with bread flour and water to form a liquid levain 12 to 16 hours before the dough was mixed. To start the dough, oats were soaked in water for a few minutes before bread flour, whole wheat flour, water, commercial yeast, and the liquid levain were added to the bowl of the stand mixer and mixed with the dough hook. After the mixture came together, I left it to sit, covered with a towel, for about 15 minutes. Then, I added salt and a little more water and mixed for a few minutes before adding the golden raisins. I turned the dough out of the bowl, kneaded it for a few minutes and then placed it in a wide, oiled bowl which I covered with plastic. After one hour, I gave the dough a fold and turn in the bowl, and left it to ferment for about another hour. The dough was then divided into two pieces and shaped into round loaves. The loaves were covered with a towel and left to rise for an hour. I was able to fit both loaves on my baking stone, so they baked together for 45 minutes total with steam for first ten minutes. 

In this book, Jeffrey Hamelman writes “well-made breads never possess their finest aroma or flavor until they have cooled completely.” So, I waited. And, wondered. Finally, when I cut into a loaf I found those big, golden raisins speckled all about the bread just as they should be, and the crunchy crust gave way to a tender crumb with subtle nuttiness from the whole wheat and oats. The anxiety had ended for another delicious bread adventure. 

I’m submitting this to Yeastspotting where you’ll find some seriously well-made bread.

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Chickpea Samosas with Spicy Mint Sauce

I’ve wanted to try making samosas for years. Those crispy, little nuggets full of fluffy, mashed potato, maybe some peas, and spices are a favorite of mine. I always have at least one with whatever else I order at Indian restaurants, but I’d never worked up the courage to make them at home. Then, I saw this version with chickpeas, carrots, and some minced green chile in the filling and the accompanying recipe for the dough that seemed easy enough, and I was inspired to give it a shot. This is from Savory Pies by Greg Henry. The book, of which I received a review copy, includes Appetizer Pies, Main Course Pies with both meat and seafood options as well as vegetarian, and Hand Pies. There’s an Asiago Mac-n-Cheese Pie with Potato Crust that sounds delightfully decadent, pretty little Tomato Caprese Tarts with Chive Oil, a Shaved Asparagus Galette with Mascarpone and Jarlsberg, and Baked Egg Shakshuka in dough-lined bowls that I want to try. I approached the samosas with a one-step-at-a-time mindset. I knew this was going to take some time, and I didn’t want to feel rushed. I made the dough and the filling a day in advance, and then I formed the samosas and fried them the next day. I realized right away that forming samosas is not a natural talent I possess. The dough is easy to work with, and the instructions for filling each piece of it are clear, but I wasn’t producing good results. My first few might have been the ugliest samosas of all time. I found this video which I replayed repeatedly as I continued filling pieces of dough and never got close to producing the tidy little packages seen in it. Thankfully, once fried and golden, the look of them doesn’t matter at all. 

The dough is a mix of flour, semolina, and salt that is stirred into a bowl with water and vegetable oil. After incorporating all the flour, the dough is then kneaded until smooth. It was wrapped in plastic and chilled. For the filling, peeled chunks of potatoes were boiled, drained, and returned to the pan to be heated again to remove excess water. Then, they were mashed and combined with curry powder and butter. In a large skillet, cumin seeds were added to hot oil followed by minced onion and finely diced carrots. Ginger and minced green chile were added and briefly cooked before that mixture was added to the potatoes. Last, rinsed and drained canned chickpeas, thawed frozen peas, and chopped chives were added to the filling. I refrigerated the filling overnight before proceeding. The next day, the dough was divided, rolled into little circles, each circle was cut in half, and each half was filled. The most important thing is to be sure the edges are sealed, and this dough is very easy to seal as it’s pinched together. The samosas were fried in batches and left to cool. The sauce was a quick puree of mint, cilantro, onion, lime juice, serrano chile, a pinch of sugar, and water. 

The recipe makes a lot, and I went ahead and fried them all at once. I’ve since pulled leftovers from the freezer and reheated them in the oven which worked very well. The crunchy crust and fluffy potato filling topped with the spicy, herby sauce were well worth the effort. I’ve learned I’ll never be a pro samosa maker, but I’m thrilled to have finally made these at home. 

Chickpea Samosas with Spicy Mint Sauce 
Recipe reprinted with publisher’s permission from Savory Pies

This is India’s version of street food perfection—a hand pie, of course. Every culture has one, but there’s something about Indian samosas that has led the way in a worldwide surge in street-food culture. 

makes 32 

Spicy Mint Sauce 
2 cups lightly packed fresh mint leaves 
1 cup lightly packed cilantro sprigs 
1/2 cup minced onion 
1 1/4 cups water, divided 
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice 
1 teaspoon minced serrano chile 
1 teaspoon sugar 

Dough 
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling 
2 tablespoons semolina 
1 teaspoon kosher salt 
Pinch of ajwain seeds (optional, may be found in Indian markets or online) 
2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
3/4 cup water 

Filling 
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks 
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed 
1 teaspoon Madras-style curry powder, or more to taste 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 
1 teaspoon vegetable oil 
1 teaspoon cumin seeds 
1/2 cup minced onion 
1 small carrot, peeled and finely diced (about 1/2 cup) 
1 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger 
1 teaspoon minced mild green chile 
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained 
1/2 cup frozen peas 
2 teaspoons minced fresh chives 
Freshly cracked black pepper, as needed 
Peanut or canola oil as needed for frying 

To make the mint sauce, combine the mint, cilantro, 1/2 cup minced onion, 1/2 cup water, lime juice, serrano chile, and sugar in a blender to form a rough purĂ©e. (The sauce may be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated, covered. Bring to room temperature to use.) 

For the dough, in a medium bowl mix together 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, semolina, 1 teaspoon salt, and ajwan seeds (if using). In another bowl mix together the oil and water. (Don’t try too hard—you know what they say about oil and water.) Stir the flour mixture into the oil mixture in 3 or 4 increments, mixing well between additions. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough, using more flour as needed until you have a smooth but fairly stiff dough. Press your thumb in to check—there should be almost no bounce-back in the indentation. Wrap in plastic and set aside to rest at room temperature at least 1 hour. (The dough may be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated, covered. Bring back to room temperature before continuing.) 

For the filling, place the potato chunks and 1 teaspoon salt in a large saucepan. Add just enough water to cover by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until the potatoes fall apart when poked with a fork, about 20 minutes. Drain and return to the hot, dry pan. Turn the heat to low and cook, uncovered, shaking the pan often to evaporate as much water from the hot potatoes as you can, about 4 minutes. Let cool somewhat, then push through a ricer into a large bowl, or use a masher or fork. Stir in the curry powder and melted butter. Set aside. 

Heat the vegetable oil in a large cast-iron or other heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds. Once they begin to pop, add the onions and carrots. Cook until softened, stirring often, about 6 minutes. Stir in the ginger and mild green chile; cook about 1 minute. Set aside to cool somewhat, then add to the potatoes. Stir in the chickpeas, peas, and chives. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Set aside. (The filling may be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated, covered. Bring to room temperature before continuing.) 

To assemble the samosas, on a lightly floured surface form the dough into 16 balls, about 1 3/4 ounces each. Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll into 6-inch rounds, a generous 1/8 inch thick; cut in half to create half-moons. Spoon a generous 2 tablespoons filling in the center of a half-moon; lightly moisten the dough edges with water, using your finger. Lift 1 corner and fold halfway over the filling at a 45-degree angle, aligning the straight edge down the center. Press lightly to seal the dough along the outer edge. Repeat with the other corner, creating a neat triangular packet. Pinch or crimp any openings shut. Repeat to form 32 small samosas. 

Fill a medium straight-sided pot with 4 inches of oil and heat to 365 degree F. Fry the samosas in batches, rolling them around in the oil until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Use a slotted heatproof spoon to transfer them to a paper towel–lined plate as they finish cooking. Serve hot (but not too hot) with the mint sauce. 

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cinnamon Baked Doughnuts and Mexican-Style Chocolate Sauce

Kurt may not agree with this assessment, but I don’t think I have very many baking pans. I don’t have every possible size for cakes or tarts, and I really only have a few pans that are for specific things like madeleines or snowman-shaped cupcakes. Of course, I want every baking pan I ever see, and I imagine I’ll use all of them enough to justify them taking up storage space, but only very occasionally do I actually add to the small collection. I’d considered getting pans for baked doughnuts for ages, and when I saw the Cinnamon Baked Doughnuts in Barefoot Contessa Foolproof, I had to do it. In that book, the baked doughnuts are served with hot chocolate. We weren’t having hot chocolate weather when I made these, and I’d just read about several lovely chocolate sauces in Modern Sauces. So, I opted for Mexican-Style Chocolate Sauce instead of a hot beverage to accompany the doughnuts. The chocolate sauce has espresso, cinnamon, Kahlua, and some pure chile powders that give it depth and interest. Paired with the light and cakey, baked cinnamon doughnuts, it made for a delightful dessert.

Making the batter for the doughnuts is as easy as it gets, but the most important instruction is to fill the doughnut cups in the pans three-quarters full. Yes, I learned that the hard way. After mixing the dry ingredients in a large bowl, the wet ingredients in a smaller bowl, and stirring the wet into the dry, don’t overfill the pans. If the cups have too much batter, you won’t have holes in your doughnuts. I got it right on my second try. After baking, the doughnuts cooled for a few minutes before being tapped out of the pans. Then, they were each dunked into melted butter and then dipped into cinnamon sugar. You could dunk and dip both sides, but I only did one side for each doughnut. The chocolate sauce is simple to make and can be stored in the refrigerator and reheated as needed. Chopped dark chocolate, or feves as I used, is placed in a bowl. Cream is brought to a simmer in a saucepan. Off the heat, sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon, vanilla extract, almond extract, Kahlua, chile powder, and a pinch of salt are added to the cream. The cream is then poured over the chocolate which is whisked until smooth. You can use whatever pure chile powder you prefer, and chipotle is suggested. Instead, I used a big pinch of ancho powder and a little bit of cayenne. You’ll want to taste and add small pinches of chile powder until you’re happy since the richness of the cream flattens out the chile flavor. I wanted a subtle earthiness from the ancho and just a slight tingle from the cayenne. It took a few added pinches and taste tests to get it just right. Serve the chocolate sauce in small cups for dunking the doughnuts or for pouring the sauce on top of them. 

Buttery, cinnamony doughnuts are ideal vehicles for this rich and flavorful chocolate sauce. After this, I think my new baked doughnut pans will be getting plenty of use. And, now I have to ponder my lack of mini Bundt pans and possibly do something about that. 

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Roasted Carrot Soup with Dukkah Spice and Yogurt

Some people get earworms, songs stuck in their head, and can’t think of any other music because of that tune that won’t go away. I have this issue with recipes instead of music. Is that a recipeworm, foodworm, brainworm? I don’t think I like any of those names for the condition. I’ll keep working on that. This soup was one of those recipes that took up residence in my head and wasn’t going to leave. I saw it in the December issue of Bon Appetit and thought of it every time I saw carrots. It’s an incredibly easy soup to make, but this is one of those times when simple is perfect. You roast chopped carrots and then puree them with vegetable broth, and that’s the soup. But, what makes those carrots especially tasty is the melted butter that’s drizzled over them before they’re roasted. The power of butter to elevate flavor is a marvelous thing. I happened to have a few spring onions that had just arrived from my CSA, so I roasted and pureed them with the carrots which added one more layer of flavor to this simple soup. Then, it’s all about the garnishes. A nice, little dollop of thick yogurt and a sprinkling of dukkah, and this was a recipeworm, for lack of a better name, that was worth having. 

To make the dukkah, you toast shelled pistachios in a dry skillet and then let them cool on a plate. Next, you toast sesame seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, and peppercorns in the same skillet. I chopped the pistachios by hand and ground the spices and sesame seeds with a mortar and pestle with some salt before combining them. This spice and nut mixture can be made in advance and stored at room temperature. The carrots were peeled, cut into big chunks, and placed on a baking sheet. I trimmed spring onions, cut them in half and tossed them on the baking sheet with the carrots. Just two tablespoons of butter was melted and drizzled over the vegetables before they were roasted in the oven for about 25 minutes. The roasted vegetables were transferred to the blender and pureed with vegetable broth. The puree was reheated in a large saucepan before being served with thick yogurt and the dukkah. 

This soup with the toppings is delicious all by itself, and I discovered it’s also a very good soup for dunking grilled cheese sandwiches. I’m glad this stuck in my head until I finally tried it. Now, I need a better name for this condition. Any suggestions? 


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Little Gianduia Turnovers

I have two questions for you. Have you ever made a “quick” puff pastry? And, have you made homemade gianduia, also known as homemade nutella? I can now highly recommend you try both. At some point a few years ago, I wrote off the possibility of “quick” puff pastry. I had tried a couple of different recipes and ended up with pie crust each time. There were no puffy layers as seen in “real” puff pastry. I decided the “quick” versions were a myth. They didn’t work for me. All of that changed when I gave the concept one more try with this recipe. It’s from the book Canal House Cooks Every Day, and I received a review copy. This is a full-size book full of the same kinds of beautiful and doable, seasonal dishes for which Hamilton and Hirsheimer are famous. I made the Green Lasagne with Tomato Sauce and Fresh Ricotta around the holidays, and the spinach pasta with red sauce was as pretty as it was delicious. There are summery recipes I look forward to tasting like Tomatoes all Dressed Up for Summer with mayonnaise and fresh herbs. And, the photo of the platter of Deviled Eggs with various toppings like smoked salmon, preserved lemon rind, and harissa has inspired me for Easter brunch. But, I have to tell you how the Simple Puff Pastry recipe has changed my life. I’m now a believer. The “quick” version really can work. 

This is vastly faster than making a traditional puff pastry, but it’s still necessary to chill the dough at three points in the process. You start with exactly two ingredients: a stick of butter and a cup of flour. You work the butter into the flour in the same way I usually do for pie dough. Slices of butter are squeezed into the flour and stretched into thin pieces while mixing with your hands. Water is added and worked into the mixture until it holds together. Then, the dough is wrapped and refrigerated for 30 minutes. Next, the fun begins. You roll and fold to begin forming layers of butter. After two times of rolling and folding, the dough was chilled again. Then, rolling and folding is repeated before chilling the dough one last time before using it. I just let my mind wander for a moment over all the possibilities for hors d’oeuvres, tarts, desserts, whathaveyou now that I have this trusted recipe. I’m easily distracted that way. While the puff pastry chilled, I made the filling. I toasted hazelnuts, and I can never find skinned hazelnuts, which means that I toast them and rub off the skins with a towel. The toasted nuts were ground to a paste with a pinch of sugar in the food processor. The hazelnut paste was stirred into a mixture of melted chocolate with cream and butter. After filling all these little turnovers, there will be plenty of gianduia leftover for slathering on toast or eating with a spoon. 

I expected these little pastries to be enjoyable. Buttery dough filled with gianduia couldn’t really be a bad thing. What I didn’t expect was light, airy, puffed, and layered pastry like this. It was completely irresistible. Needless to say, there will be much, much more Simple Puff Pastry in my future. 

Little Gianduia Turnovers 
Recipes reprinted with publisher's permission from Canal House Cooks Every Day.

Makes 8 

We make our own puff pastry and if we’re not using the dough right away, we’ll roll it out, gently fold the sheets into thirds like a business letter, wrap them up, and store them in the freezer so the delicious buttery dough is ready to use at a moment’s notice, relatively speaking. The pastry defrosts in the time it takes to heat up the oven, so a batch of cheese straws or a savory or sweet tart can be put together quite spontaneously. These dainty (Gianduia) turnovers came to our rescue once when dessert had been left as an afterthought. Not a bad save. Serve them at dinner or, if something sweet is your thing in the morning, at breakfast. 

1 recipe Simple Puff Pastry or 1 sheet store-bought puff pastry 
Flour 
1/2 cup of Gianduia 
1/4 cup heavy cream 
2–3 tablespoons granulated sugar 
Powdered sugar 

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. 

Lay the puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface and dust the top with a little flour. Roll the pastry out to a ⅛-inch-thick rectangle. Cut the pastry into eight 3-inches squares. Spoon 1-2 teaspoons Gianduia just inside one of the corners or quadrants of each pastry square. Brush the edge of the pastry with some of the heavy cream. Fold the pastry in half over the Gianduia, forming a nice little triangle or turnover. Crimp the edges together. Repeat with the remaining pastry squares and Gianduia. 

Arrange the turnovers on the prepared baking sheet at least 1 inch apart. (The turnovers can be frozen at this point and baked later, if you like. Once they are frozen solid, transfer them to a resealable plastic bag. They’ll keep in the freezer, frozen, for up to 1 month. They do not need to be defrosted before continuing with the recipe.) 

Brush the turnovers with some heavy cream and sprinkle each with some of the granulated sugar. Bake until puffed and golden, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly before dusting with powdered sugar. Serve warm. 

Simple Puff Pastry 

Makes one 10 — 12-inch sheet 

Traditional puff pastry—the classic French dough for leaflike, flaky napoleons, turnovers, and cheese straws—requires an involved process of rolling, folding, and turning a sheet of dough with a cold block of butter to create upward of 730 thin, uniformly even layers. In this simplified recipe, also known as “rough puff” because it’s more rustic and the layers may rise unevenly when baked, the butter is worked into the flour as for a traditional pie dough. The dough is then rolled, folded, and turned several times, giving it flakiness when baked. It is a wonderful substitute for classic puff pastry, is easy to make, and inspires great confidence, even in a novice baker. Use salted Irish butter or another European-style butter with a high fat content for the best results. 

8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold salted butter, preferably Irish or European-style high fat butter, cut in 1/4-inch-thick slices 
1 cup all-purpose flour 

Measure out the ingredients for making the dough: the slices of butter; ice water; a 1-cup measuring cup for dry ingredients with the flour. Mound the flour on a clean work surface (marble is ideal because it’s cool and smooth). Scatter the butter slices over the flour and sprinkle some of the flour over them to coat them. Using your fingers, work the butter into the flour, squeezing the flour into each slice of butter until the mixture is crumbly and full of thin, soft chips of floury butter. Gather the flour mixture into a mound again. 

Sprinkle 6 tablespoons ice water over the flour and butter, using a dough scraper to pull back any water that dribbles away from the mound. Lightly work the flour-butter mixture together, folding the edges toward the center with the dough scraper until it begins to hold together but is still a shaggy mass with large streaks of butter. Gather the dough together, shaping it into a 1-inch-thick square block. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Dust the dough with flour and roll it out on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin to make a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle (about 4-8 inches); there will be pieces of butter visible. Starting with a short end of the dough, fold the dough into thirds, like a business letter. Repeat the rolling and folding steps once more. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap; refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Dust the dough with flour and put it seam side down on the floured work surface. With the rolling pin perpendicular to the seam, roll out the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle (about 4-8 inches), squaring the edges with your hands. Fold it into thirds again. Turn the dough seam side down. Repeat the rolling, folding, and turning process 2–3 more times, rolling the dough out to a 1/2-inch thickness each time and dusting it with flour as necessary. The dough should be supple and smooth. Fold it into thirds. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days before using. 

Gianduia 

Makes about 2 cups 

We slather this creamy chocolate and toasted hazelnut spread—our purer, more flavorful version of Nutella, the commercial brand available throughout the world—on warm toast for breakfast. It’s part of what makes our Gianduia and Caramel Tart so delicious. (We’ve found that it also tastes sinfully good with Oreo cookies, but let’s just keep that our little secret.) 

1 generous cup (5 ounces) skinned hazelnuts 
Large pinch of sugar 
8 ounces semisweet chocolate 
1/2 cup heavy cream 
4 tablespoons salted butter, cut into pieces 

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the hazelnuts out on small baking sheet or in an ovenproof skillet and toast them in the oven until they are a deep toasty brown, about 15 minutes. Remove them from the oven and set aside to cool completely. Grind the hazelnuts with the sugar in batches in a food processor to a fairly smooth, buttery paste. 

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof medium bowl set over a pot of simmering water over medium-low heat, stirring often. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the cream and butter. Stir in the ground hazelnuts. The gianduia will thicken and become soft and peanut butter–like as it cools. It will keep at room temperature in a covered container for up to 2 weeks. 

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Fried Eggs with Chard and Saffron-Red Pepper Hollandaise

I realized the other day that I categorize cooking in a few different ways in my head. There’s the day-to-day cooking that can be done on autopilot. And, there’s cooking from a recipe when I just need to check quantities but otherwise pretty much know what to do when. Then, there’s the exciting stuff that makes me think “now I’m really cooking.” Making sauces falls squarely in that last category. I received a review copy of Modern Sauces by Martha Holmberg, and I can’t seem to put it down. The instructions throughout the book take the fear out of making serious sauces. There are helpful tips, suggestions of what to look for as the sauce cooks, and ways to rescue a sauce that isn’t turning out quite right. The chapters are organized by type of sauce, and those include Vinaigrettes, Herb Sauces, Tomato Sauces, Vegetable Chile and Nut Sauces, Butter Sauces, Cream Sauces, Mayonnaise Sauces, Hollandaise Sauces, Gravy Jus and Pan Sauces, Sabayon Sauces, Custard Sauces, Fruit Sauces, Caramel Sauces, and Chocolate Sauces. There are recipes for several versions of each type of sauce which are followed by recipes for dishes incorporating those sauces. I’ve already made several things from the book, and there’s so much more I can’t wait to try. I want to drizzle the Honey-Ginger-Tangerine Sabayon over fresh strawberries, and I want to add the Fresh Orange-Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette to an arugula salad with grilled shrimp. I already made the Braised Vegetables in Charmoula and the Jalapeno-Lime-Ginger Butter Sauce with stir-fried vegetables. It’s amazing how just a small bit of sauce with big, bright flavors can change a dish. After reading the Chocolate Sauces chapter, I declared that I needed to try each and every version. So far, I’ve only gotten to the Mexican-Style Chocolate Sauce, and I’ll tell you more about that soon. First, I have to mention this lovely spin on a classic which is Saffron-Red Pepper Hollandaise. 

Classic Hollandaise is a beautiful thing, and adding the flavor and color from roasted red peppers, orange juice, and saffron took it to another level. In the book, the sauce is included in an eggs Benedict kind of dish made with sauteed Swiss chard and a fried egg stacked on toasted foccacia. I changed it up just slightly by leaving out the bread and adding a couple of slices of smoked salmon below the egg. Making the sauce requires a couple of easy steps to get everything prepped and ready for the final whisking action. Butter was melted and left to sit so the milk solids could fall to the bottom of the pan. Meanwhile, roasted red peppers were pureed with olive oil. I used a food processor which didn’t result in a perfectly smooth puree, so I strained the mixture and set it aside. Then, you’ll want to have your eggs separated and some orange zest ready. In a heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan with water, you start by warming orange juice with saffron threads. The egg yolks were added next and whisked into the juice. By whisking as the yolks slowly cook, they start to thicken. The recipe includes clear information on what to look for and how long each step should take. Once the yolks were just thick enough, the melted butter was slowly added off the heat while still whisking and the milk solids were left in the bottom of the pan. Last, pepper puree, orange zest, and hot sauce if desired were added, and the sauce was tasted for seasoning. The sauce can be kept warm in the top of a double-boiler while frying the eggs and making the rest of the dish. 

I loved everything about this sauce from making it, to its pretty orange color, to its decadent, orange and saffron flavor. I’m not quite ready to make Hollandaise on autopilot, but I’ll definitely be making it again soon unless I get completely distracted by the Caramel chapter first. I have a feeling this book is going to be spattered and stained from lots of use. 

Saffron–Red Pepper Hollandaise 
Recipes reprinted with publisher’s permission from Modern Sauces

I doubt if any Provencal cook has ever made this version of hollandaise, but I liked the way the flavors in it conjured up a south-of-France feeling as I made it, so I’m projecting a Provencal connection here. Use a nice, fruity extra-virgin olive oil to extend the Mediterranean note.This sauce begs to be served with seafood, especially hot and sizzling from the grill, and it’s crazy good on a gutsier version of eggs Florentine. Jarred Spanish piquillo peppers are excellent in this sauce. You’ll need about three peppers. Or, you can use regular jarred roasted red peppers, in which case one medium pepper should be sufficient. And, of course, you can roast and peel a fresh pepper. 

Makes about 1 cup/240 ml 

1/2 cup/115 g unsalted butter 
2 oz/55 g roasted red peppers 
2 tbsp fruity extra-virgin olive oil 
2 tbsp fresh orange juice, plus more if needed 
1 tbsp water 
Kosher salt 
Large pinch of saffron threads (about 15 threads) 
2 egg yolks 
1/2 tsp lightly packed finely grated orange zest 
1⁄8 tsp hot-pepper sauce such as Sriracha 

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Don’t stir as it melts. You want the milky solids to fall to the bottom and the butterfat to float to the top. Keep warm. 

In a food processor, combine the red peppers and olive oil and process until a smooth puree forms. You want to emulsify the oil with the peppers; the mixture should look creamy and combined. 

Pour water to a depth of 1 to 2 in/2.5 to 5 cm into a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Rest a medium stainless-steel bowl in the pan over (not touching) the water. Put the orange juice, water, ¼ tsp salt, and saffron into the bowl and let sit over the heat for a few minutes so the saffron infuses the liquid. When you can smell the saffron, add the egg yolks and start whisking. As the bowl heats up, the yolks will begin to thicken. Whisk vigorously, scraping around the bowl with a heat-resistant rubber spatula from time to time so that bits of yolk don’t get stuck and overcook. Beat until thick and frothy but not quite fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. The whisk will start leaving a clear space on the bottom of the bowl. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk for another 30 seconds or so to stabilize the sauce and let the bowl cool down. 

Continue whisking as you slowly drizzle in the warm melted butter, taking care not to add too much of the milky-watery layer from the bottom of the pan. As you pour and whisk, make sure the yolks are accepting the butter and the yolks and butter are emulsifying. If the sauce looks at all broken or “curdly,” stop adding butter and just whisk for a few seconds. Only resume adding butter once you’ve whisked the sauce into creaminess again. Once all of the butter has been added, whisk in the pepper puree, the orange zest, and hot-pepper sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, hot-pepper sauce, and orange juice if needed. If possible, serve right away. 

Fried Eggs with Garlicky Chard and Saffron-Red Pepper Hollandaise 

Note: For my version, I skipped the toasted bread and added slices of smoked salmon before topping with a fried egg. I also never bother to boil chard before sauteing.

Here is another recipe created by my friend Matthew Card. It’s a riff on eggs Florentine (eggs Benedict but with spinach instead of Canadian bacon or ham) and, like every dish he makes, it is turbocharged with flavor. It would also be delicious with any of the other sauces in this chapter, so feel free to experiment. Avoid using a hard-crusted bread here. If you can’t find focaccia, substitute something tender and flavorful, such as brioche or a soft Italian loaf. Peppadew peppers, which originated in South Africa, are sweet, tangy, and only modestly hot. They are pickled and sold in jars in the deli section of well-stocked grocery stores. 

Serves 4 

Kosher salt 
1 large bunch Rainbow or Bright Lights Swiss chard (12 oz/340 g), leaves and stems separated and stems cut crosswise into slices 1/4 in/6 mm thick 
4 tbsp/60 ml extra-virgin olive oil 
3 cloves garlic, minced 
Pinch of Espelette pepper or red pepper flakes 
1/2 cup/80 g thinly sliced jarred roasted red pepper 
4 tsp minced pickled Peppadew pepper 
4 large eggs 
4 pieces focaccia, toasted 
1 cup/240 ml Saffron–Red Pepper Hollandaise 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the chard leaves (not the stems) and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain, rinse well with cold water, and squeeze out as much excess water as possible. Chop coarsely and set aside. 

In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, heat 3 tbsp of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chard stems and a large pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned, 6 to 9 minutes. Add the garlic and Espelette pepper and cook, stirring, until very fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the cooked chard leaves, roasted pepper, and Peppadew pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the flavors are blended and the chard is hot, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and cover to keep warm. Do not rinse the pan. 

Break each egg into a small teacup. Return the frying pan to low heat and add the remaining 1 tbsp oil. Carefully slide the eggs from the teacups into the pan so they stay whole. Season them with salt, cover the pan, and cook until the eggs are just set, 2 to 3 minutes. 

Place a piece of focaccia on each plate, divide the chard mixture evenly among the focaccia, top with an egg, and then spoon a generous blanket of the warm hollandaise over the top. Serve right away. 

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Monday, March 4, 2013

Guinness Brownies with Butterscotch Fudge

I’ve mentioned my to-try stack of recipes, but there’s actually more than one stack. There’s the physical stack of pages cut from magazines, there’s also a list of links I keep in Evernote, and there’s a board of recipes to try on Pinterest. It’s a little crazy to have to look in three places for ideas I know I put somewhere as a reminder to myself, but I usually eventually find what I’m looking for. A couple of weeks ago, I was searching for new-to-me brownie ideas. We were getting ready to attend an annual party, and more often than not, I take brownies to this party. This time, I wanted to change it up and take brownies with a twist of some kind. I wasn’t finding anything earth-shatteringly unique in my books. That’s when I remembered I had stored the link last year for this Guinness Brownies with Butterscotch Fudge recipe from The Little Epicurean. I admit, it’s the butterscotch fudge that grabbed my attention as butterscotch always does, and the pretzels on top just made me more intrigued. The recipe makes a lot of brownies in a nine- by thirteen-inch pan as opposed to the typical brownie recipe size of baking in an eight- or nine-inch square pan. So, this was perfect for a party. 

Making the brownies is an easy process that starts with melting chocolate with butter and then adding granulated and dark brown sugar. That mixture is then transferred to the bowl of a stand mixer, and eggs are added and mixed in one at a time. Flour, cocoa powder, and salt were sifted together and then added to the batter alternating with Guinness. Last, chocolate chips were folded in before pouring the batter into a parchment-lined baking pan. After the brownies baked for about 30 minutes and cooled, the butterscotch fudge frosting was made. Butter was melted with dark brown sugar in a saucepan. It was left to simmer for a couple of minutes, and then salt was added off the heat. With a stand mixer, confectioners’ sugar, cream, and vanilla were mixed, and then the butter and sugar mixture was incorporated and mixed until smooth. The fudge frosting was spread over the cooled brownies, and pretzels were added on top. 

Explaining that these brownies were Guinness brownies was all most people needed to hear before grabbing one or two. And, the addition of Guinness did bring about a lovely, tender, cakey brownie. The sweet butterscotch fudge frosting and the salty, crunchy pretzels on top were ideal embellishments. The tray of brownies was empty long before the party ended. 


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