Monday, August 29, 2011

Because everyone needs study breaks

Hello there! It has been a while, hasn't it?
I've been really busy with homework, so I haven't had the chance to post anything new. I have been cooking though. I promise.

It was my art teacher's birthday last week.

So, I made him some orange bars. That's right. Orange bars. I was going to make some cupcakes, but some other girl beat me to it.  And, plus, who gets orange bars for their birthday? It was a safe bet.

I found this recipe on Sweet Tooth. What a cute little website. I love that she's a dental student, too.
Anyway, he loved the orange bars--as he should. They were tasty. Click here for the recipe.

So, let's get to the main attraction--crack pie. It's very aptly named. First of all, it is that good. Second of all, just like cocaine, this thing should be illegal.
This is one of those things that you should never make for yourself. The amount of calories in this thing is pretty hardcore. So, you'll most likely end up with a whole pie that you either a) eat all by yourself, or b) feel guilty about eating because you know what's in it. Neither of those are good. So, I think I made the right decision in making this once school has started. That way, I can give some of it away.

For those of you who has not been introduced to this pie yet, here's a brief rundown. The mad genius behind the crack pie is Christina Tosi, the pastry chef and owner of Momofuku Milk Bar in New York. She's a great lady. She just has to be.

The crack pie is very similar to a butter tart, but better. Unlike an ordinary butter tart, the crust for this pie is made from crumbled oatmeal cookies. So, as you're biting into it, you get the sticky and kind of gooey brown sugar and butter filling, and you also get a chewiness that comes from the oats. It's remarkable.

Momofuku Milk Bar's Crack Pie

9 tbs of room temperature butter
5 1/2 tbs of brown sugar
2 tbs of sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup plus 2 tbs of old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup of flour
1/8 tsp of baking soda
1/8 tsp of baking powder
1/4 tsp of salt

3/4 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 tbs of non-fat milk powder
1/4 tsp of salt
1/2 cup of butter, melted
6 1/2 tbs of heavy whipping cream
4 large egg yolks
1 tsp of vanilla

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a medium sized baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Beat 6 tbs of butter with 4 tbs of brown sugar and 2 tbs of sugar in a medium bowl until fluffy. Add egg and beat until the mixture turns pale. Add oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix until everything is nicely combined.
  3. Turn the mixture out on to the prepared baking sheet. Spread out the dough until it comes close to the edges of the pan, and bake for 17 to 18 minutes. Cool on a rack.
  4. Using your hands, crumble the giant oatmeal cookie into a large bowl. Add the leftover butter and brown sugar, and mix with your hands until the mixture is moist enough to stick together.
  5. Transfer the mixture into a 9 inch pie dish and press it evenly on to bottom and up the sides of the dish. Place the dish on a baking sheet.
  6. For the filling, Whisk both sugars, milk powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add melted butter and whisk until combined. Add cream, egg yolks, and vanilla. Whisk until you get a smooth mixture, and pour it into the crust.
  7. Position rack in the center of your oven. Bake the pie for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, or just until the filling is set around the edges but still moves slightly in the center when the pie dish is gently shaken.
  8. Cool the pie for 2 hours on a rack. Chill uncovered overnight.
Yes, you have to wait until the next day to eat this thing. It's well worth it, though.

I was right about this pie being calorie ridden, right? I still can't believe how much butter and sugar went into this thing. Oh, and cream. The cream!

I love that. Don't you? The way the cream kind of makes this rich, white cloud in the brown sugary mixture. I live for that--which is kind of glorious, don't you think? No? Oh. Okay.

The original recipe said that a little bit of bubbles are okay, so I didn't worry too much over them. Plus, I was going to put powdered sugar all over the top anyway.

I've been getting rave reviews from everyone. So, try it for yourself and let me know how it goes. Happy baking! :)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Gruyere Popovers

Wonderful, right? I was so proud of myself for pulling this off using a muffin tin. I saw pictures of different attempts, and most of the popovers either didn't rise, or only rose about 1/2 inch.
I have quite a bit of milk left in the fridge, and I honestly thought that this would use up most of it. Nope. I think I need to make some kind of curd or cream some time soon.

Surprisingly, I don't have a smart story about popovers. I've never made popovers before, and neither has my mother. So, I got nothin'.
I found this recipe on Bon Appetit. I've been cooking a lot of recipes from there nowadays. I feel a little odd. Anyway, the recipe is fairly simple. Not a lot of fuss. That's why I liked it in the first place.

Gruyere Popovers (adapted from bon appetit)

2 cups of flour
1 1/4 tsp of salt
2 cups of whole milk
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups of grated Gruyere
A little bit of butter
  1. Place two 12-cup muffin pans and one 6-cup muffin pans in the oven. Preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Sift flour and salt into a medium bowl. Then, heat the milk over medium heat until it reaches about 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Then, gradually whisk in the warm milk. Whisk in the flour mixture just until everything is combined. The batter may still be slightly lumpy. Please avoid over mixing!
  4. Remove the hot muffin pans from the oven, and brush every other cup with butter (generously). If you don't bake the popovers in every other cup, they won't rise properly. So, please just wash a couple of extra pans. It's worth it.
  5. Use a measuring cup to pour 1/4 cup of batter into the greased muffin cups. You should have exactly the amount of batter to make 16 popovers. Then, top each of the popovers with 1 1/2 tbs of cheese. Bake them for about 40 minutes. DO NOT PEEK. They'll deflate. Once they are done, remove from the pan immediately to cool.

As you can see, I was lazy. I did not get out an extra pan. And, see? Half of them didn't rise properly. So, trust me; I know what I'm talking about. As far the taste, they were all great. They're like huge profiteroles. Except cheesy. And, I had an urge to sop up some sort of sauce with it. Is that wrong?

I did have one problem, though.

I had cut the recipe in half and made only eight popovers. Seven of them turned out like that--bottomless. I only got one perfect popover out of eight. So, to get a dozen perfect ones, I would've had to make... 96?

Look at that one perfect popover. It even has an ass. If any of you know what I did, or didn't do, that caused this, please put it in a comment. Sharing is caring.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Back to life, back to reality...

You know that song, right? The one by Soul II Soul?
Is it stuck in your head now? Good. School's starting on Monday.

I had a hankering for cake. Not like the gooey, super rich, slathered-in-icing type of cake, though. I wanted a simple cake. Nothing fussy. I wanted something my grandmother or my mother would make. Rich, but not too sweet. I found a recipe at Bon Appetit for a yogurt pound cake. It sounded awesome.

I honestly didn't expect on making a post out of this. I wanted cake, and so did my uncle. I was just going to make it, and eat it together tonight. I didn't even take any pictures before I baked the cake.
But, as I was making it, it reminded me so much of the yellow cake my mother would make. My grandmother made the recipe, I think. My mother came from a low-middle class family, and sometimes, they just didn't have a lot of money lying around come the children's birthdays. So, my grandmother would bake their cakes, and my grandfather would go out and buy them something nice.
It's lovely that something so great came out of fairly difficult times. I think that's why it's so beautiful in the first place.

Yogurt Cake with Honey Glaze (adapted from bon appetit)

1 1/2 cups of flour
2 tsp of baking powder
1/4 tsp of salt
1 cup of plain yogurt
1 scant cup of sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp of orange zest
1/4 tsp of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
about 3 tbs of honey
1 tsp of water

  1. Position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Generously butter an 8 1/2 inch loaf pan, or a bundt pan. Or, you can just use an angel food cake pan like I did.
  2. Into a bowl, sift flour, salt, and baking powder. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, sugar, yogurt, orange zest, and vanilla. You can use a whisk, but I used a hand mixer to speed up the process.
  3. Then, gradually whisk in the dry ingredients. I didn't dare use a mixer for this part. I tend to over-mix my batter sometimes.
  4. Fold in the oil using a spatula. Then, transfer the batter on to the prepared pan, and place the pan on a baking sheet. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 
  5. For the glaze, put the honey and water in a microwave safe bowl, and pop it in the microwave for about 20 seconds. After the cake is done baking, put it on a cooling rack, and brush the hot glaze over it. Let the glaze cool and set before cutting.

The smell of orange and vanilla wafted out of the oven. It was nice. Do let the glaze set properly. If you don't, you'll end up with a nice pound cake with a soggy crust. If you do, you should have a sticky, slightly crunchy crust around the soft, spongy cake.

Happy baking.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Peach and Ginger Flaugnarde: An Ode to Summer

I hate summer. Especially summer time in the South.
It was around 105 degrees Fahrenheit this afternoon. Absolutely unnecessary and uncalled for. I don't care if it really is just God hugging us closer.

Why an ode to summer then?
Well, I've read other bloggers going on and on about how a clafouti is just a must-have for the summer. It's almost sacrilegious to be a foodie and not eat it at least once during this season. Too bad I couldn't find any cherries at the store. But, I did find peaches. And, that works, right? You would think so. But, no. Because a clafouti is strictly made from cherries. So, I made a flaugnarde instead.
Other than the type of fruit being used, I honestly don't get what the difference is between the two. It's pretty much the same thing. Really.

I guess that still doesn't explain my ode to summer. So, I'm just going to go right out and say this. This is my desperate attempt at hanging on to my break. School's starting on the 15th, and I'm already getting kind of depressed. I thought that maybe this would keep me in summer mode.

Anyone here know Presidents of the USA? They had a song called "Peaches". You know, I'm movin' to the country, I'm gonna eat me a lot of peaches? No? Come on, no 90s baby here?

Well, I was thinking of that song as I was making this. It's a nice little song. And, I have feeling that it's not at all about peaches...

I found the recipe here. I was immediately intrigued. Peaches and ginger? That's classic.
It was supposed to be made with yellow peaches, but I couldn't find any at that day, and I didn't really feel like using nectarines. So, I decided to use the white peaches. I like them. They're pretty.

Peach and Ginger Flaugnarde

3 to 4 peaches
100 ml of whole milk
25 ml of cream
3 eggs
60 grams of sugar
35 grams of flour
2 cm of grated fresh ginger (that's about 1 inch, folks)
3 tbs of cold butter

  1. To prepare the peaches, fill a large bowl with boiling water, and another large bowl with ice water. Cut one peach in half (like in the previous picture) and plunge it into the hot water for one minute. Take it out and place in the ice water bath for one minute. Then, gently peel back the skin. Using a pairing knife would be very helpful. Cut each of the halves into four. Now, prep the other ones.
  2. For the batter, beat the 3 eggs. I used a hand mixer, but a nice whisk should do the job just fine. Add milk, cream, the grated ginger, and sugar. After the sugar is all combined, add the flour and beat just until everything is combined.
  3. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Grease a tart pan or a baking dish generously with butter. What's the point of making this if you're going to let it stick to the pan, right? Now, pour in the very liquid batter. Arrange the peaches in the baking dish. 
  5. Cut the cold butter into 1 cm cubes and place evenly around the dish. Sprinkle some extra sugar on top, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
The thing does deflate. Don't worry. That's just the way it is.

I love that little bit of pink on the peaches. So pretty. I feel so healthy for eating all this fruit.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Chicken Tandoori...supposedly

I've always been kind of freaked out by the red chicken. I mean, I eat it, but I had no idea what was on that chicken. Is it food coloring? Is it some kind of spice? Does the tandoori oven turn it red? No idea.
So, since I had some garam masala lying around in the cupboard, I thought I might as well learn how to make it.

Some people actually use red food coloring. I was surprised. The traditional recipes, however, use annatto seed paste--otherwise known as achiote. I usually see achiote in Latin American dishes, so I was really surprised when I read about this. But, being the amateur that I am, I don't have that in my cupboard. I mean, really, I don't ever use it for anything. Therefore, my chicken was not red. It just looked like roast chicken. It smelled ten times better than regular roast chicken though.
Creepin' on the chicken...
I've gotten very addicted to bon appetit lately. What a great magazine. I spent a whole day online last week, looking at their recipes. What great pictures they have!

bon appetit's version
I don't know what the heck they did to make it look that way. I love the tinge of orange on those chicken.

Easy Tandoori Chicken (adapted from bon appetit)

1 cup of plain, whole-milk yogurt
1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro, or 2 tbs of dried
3 tbs of oil
1 generous tbs of garam masala
2 to 2 1/2 tsp of salt
1 large garlic clove, smashed
8 pieces of chicken thighs (Man up; use dark meat.)
1 medium-large red onion (I like red onions better.)

  1. To make the marinade, mix yogurt, cilantro, oil, garam masala, and garlic. Set aside.
  2. The original recipe asked for 2 tsp of salt mixed into the marinade. But, I like sprinkling the salt directly on the chicken so that I know how much salt each chicken is actually getting. So, do it whichever way you like.
  3. To marinate, get a gallon-sized Ziploc bag and place the chicken pieces and the marinade inside. Get as much air out of the bag as you can and seal it. Move it around with your hands so that each piece of meat is covered with the yogurt mixture. Leave it in your fridge for 24 hours.
  4. When you are ready to roast, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Slice the onion into 1/8 to 1/4 inch slices, and spread on to a rimmed baking sheet. Lay the chicken pieces on the onions and roast for about an hour, or until juices run clear when the biggest piece of meat is pierced with a knife.

See, told you. It looks like regular roast chicken. I love the color on that skin though. I think Ina Garten would be proud. Now, just serve the chicken with the sweet, roasted onions, and maybe a little bit of rice. That sounds like a wonderful evening.

Bon appetit, y'all.