I made that!

Back to the Basics

Posted in Don't BUY it, MAKE it!, I Like Salt Too, The Creamery by brandi on February 28, 2011

Some things are so simple that I hesitate to share. But today, I’ve got a little snack that is making me a very happy girl. It is inspired by a dinner I had at Frankie’s on my last visit to NYC, and I can honestly say that it was the most memorable thing I ate there. The “it” I keep mentioning was a bruschetta, with a giant mound of fresh ricotta on top, drizzled with honey and a healthy shower of black pepper. I was in heaven. Sure, I’ve been known to sing the praises of ricotta to anyone willing to listen, particularly the homemade kind (because let’s face it, most of the stuff you get in a tub at the grocery store tastes like canned air). The truth is, I try to work in fresh ricotta whenever possible: gnocchi, galettes, pasta, cakesfritters, we’re even serving a ricotta and blood orange dessert at Delancey right now. I LOVE RICOTTA. But even I sometimes have a bowl of delicious fresh ricotta in my fridge and the feeling of “there’s nothing to eat in the house”. I will say this no more, because the “honeyed and peppered ricotta cracker” is my new go-to. Try it, you’ll see what I’m talking about. I made them last night for the Academy Awards and I think I might have eaten 10 while no one was looking.

While the first time I tasted this combo was on bruschetta, I’m now a convert to serving it on crackers. And when I say crackers, I would hope it’s obvious at this point in our relationship that I’m talking about homemade ones. I know it sounds annoying to make your own crackers, especially after I just smacked down store-bought ricotta. But if I can find the time while working at Delancey and starting a new business, then I swear, you can do it too! Did I mention that it’s actually quite soothing? The dough is super easy, and I’ve found that I can make rather large batches in my KitchenAid mixer, freezing for later what I don’t need at the moment. Then whenever I need crackers, it’s as simple as rolling them out and baking them fresh!

I’ve been tweaking this recipe for over a year, getting the balance of flours and salt just so, and I’m feeling pretty good about it. But feel free to adjust to your own personal taste! The sea salt is great with the ricotta and honey topping, but I would never turn down a cracker with seeds and other yumminess. Get crazy, you’ll thank me! My one piece of advice: resist the urge to pull them out too early, this is your chance to get back at all those pasty bland crackers at the store. Color is flavor my friends!

Olive Oil and Sea Salt Crackers Recipe:

Yield: 50 crackers

1 lb AP flour

6.75 oz semolina flour

4.5 oz whole wheat flour

2 1/4 tsp salt

1 3/4 cups warm water

3/4 cup olive oil

extra olive oil and sea salt for topping crackers.

- Whisk together the flours and salt in a stand mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook. Mix the water and olive oil and add to the flours. Mix the dough at medium speed for about 5 – 7 minutes, until smooth. The dough should be just a bit tacky, but not difficult to work with. Add a bit more water or flour if needed.

- When you are done mixing, shape the dough into a large ball and rub with olive oil. Place in a bowl covered with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour to relax the gluten.

- Preheat your oven to 475 degrees.

- Cut the dough into equal-sized pieces roughly the size of a billiard ball and flatten.

- Using a pasta machine, roll into a flat strip of dough, starting with the widest setting and working your way up to number 5. Lay the sheet of dough on a floured surface and cut into whatever shape you like. Set on a parchment lined baking sheet and brush each cracker heavily with olive oil. Top with sea salt and bake until golden.

- Cool completely.

Ricotta Recipe:

6 1/2 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

2 cups cultured buttermilk

1 TBSP salt

- Combine everything in a large pot and cook over medium heat. When the mixture forms curds and the whey separates and becomes clear, turn off heat. Let it for 30 minutes for the curds to strengthen.

- Set a strainer over a container and line with 2 layers of cheesecloth. Pour ricotta onto cheesecloth and let strain until a desired consistency is reached.

- Stir in salt.

Happy Birthday Carrot Cake

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Celebrating with Cake! by brandi on February 14, 2011

I will admit that I haven’t spent much time on this post. Things are busy (are you as tired as I am of hearing me say that?), but there’s always time for a birthday cake. (Happy Birthday Katie!) This is a cake recipe I’ve been dying to post, mostly for the selfish reason that I want it available to me online whenever a cake emergency arises. So here you are, with completely unspectacular photos, a spectacular carrot cake. This cake recipe comes from Molly, who I am realizing has quite good taste in cakes. This one might possibly be the most perfect carrot cake. Moist, tender, not at all too sweet as they sometimes are. And a complete cinch to throw together.

For the frosting I tweaked Molly’s recipe a bit, because I wanted something a bit more tart and sour. So being the obvious person that I am, I added sour cream. And lots more lemon juice. This particular cake I made for my friend Katie to take to a dinner, so I didn’t even get to eat a slice. That was hard, and I will probably have to make another one all for myself.

CARROT CAKE WITH LEMONY CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

yield: 1 (8-inch) 3 layer cake

Cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

¾ tsp ground ginger

1 ½ cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

4 large eggs

½ cup unsweetened applesauce

3 cups finely grated peeled carrots

1 cup pecans, chopped

- Position racks in the top and bottom third of the oven, and preheat to 325°F. Lightly grease 3 (8-inch) round pans with butter. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper.

- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Whisk well to blend.

- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the sugar and oil until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well to incorporate after each addition. Add the applesauce, beating to mix. Add the flour mixture, and beat to incorporate, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula if needed. Add the carrots and the pecans, and beat briefly.

- Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Slide the pans into the oven and bake until the cakes begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35-45 minutes. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes; then turn them out onto the rack to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 lb cream cheese, RT

5oz butter, RT

1 cup sour cream

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 TBSP lemon juice

1/8 tsp salt

- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Sift in the powdered sugar, and beat on low speed until incorporated. Add the sour cream, vanilla, lemon juice and salt, and beat well to incorporate. If the frosting is lumpy from the sugar, bump the speed up to medium-high and beat the crap out of it.

In case you haven’t already met: The Crack Pie

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Certified Pie Ninja by brandi on February 1, 2011

So January was kind of a big month for me.

Construction for my new business, The Pantry, is in full swing. We’ve got all of the walls and ceiling ripped out of our space, and now begins the moment of building rather than destroying. We have a beautiful landscape plan (dreamed up by the talented crew at Fresh Digs), 3 sore backs’ worth of scavenged garden pavers, and lots of beautiful edibles in our future. We just launched our brand new website (check it out!), courtesy of the fantastic Wandering Works Design Co., as well as our first bit of press in Seattle Magazine. I am positively giddy. And if that weren’t enough, last week me and John took a trip to NYC, where we first met 8 years ago, and got ourselves engaged. Wow. Talk about a fun year ahead!

So to celebrate good times, as well as my trip to Momofuku Milk Bar on my first day as a fiancée, I give you the Crack Pie. If you haven’t heard of the Crack Pie, I am so happy to be the first to introduce you. Possibly the most famous slice of pie in Manhattan right now, it is a force to be reckoned with. It’s sweet. It’s salty. It’s oaty. Dare I say it’s over the top. It was exactly what was called for last night.

The crust. The crust is so much fun. It starts with a pretty straightforward oatmeal cookie dough. You press it into a sheet pan until it’s pretty thin. I actually found it a bit sticky to work with and ended up rolling it between parchment sheets.

You bake it until you have one gigantic golden brown oatmeal cookie.

Then you break it into crumbs and toss it with butter and brown sugar, to form an oat cookie pie dough.

That gets pressed into a pie pan, really tightly to prevent leaks.

Then the filling is poured in and the whole thing goes in the oven to set.

And Oh. My. It is insane. Kind of like pecan pie, without those pesky pecans. Wrapped in a crunchy oatmeal cookie. I will admit now that I made two. Friends came over last night and helped me devour the first pie. The second, well I’m regretting that one. It’s just too much crack for this little one. I suspect some staff at Delancey will be finishing it off if John doesn’t read this and hide it before I get there.

CRACK PIE RECIPE (Christina Tosi, Momofuku Milk Bar):

Oat Cookie Crust

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

4 1/2 oz unsalted butter, room temperature, divided

5 1/2 TBSP (packed) golden brown sugar, divided

2 TBSP sugar

1 large egg

3/4 cup plus 2 TBSP old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 tsp (generous) salt

- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper; coat with nonstick spray. Combine 6 TBSP butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 2 TBSP sugar in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat mixture until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, about 2 minutes. Add egg; beat until pale and fluffy. Add oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Turn oat mixture out onto prepared baking pan; press out evenly to edges of pan. Bake until light golden on top, 17 to 18 minutes. Transfer baking pan to rack and cool cookie completely.

- Using hands, crumble oat cookie into large bowl; add 3 TBSP butter and 1 1/2 TBSP brown sugar. Rub in with fingertips until mixture is moist enough to stick together. Transfer cookie crust mixture to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Using fingers, press mixture evenly onto bottom and up sides of pie dish. Place pie dish with crust on rimmed baking sheet.

Filling

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

1 TBSP nonfat dry milk powder

1/4 tsp salt

4 oz unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly

6 1/2 TBSP heavy whipping cream

4 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Powdered sugar (for dusting)

- Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Whisk both sugars, milk powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add melted butter and whisk until blended. Add cream, then egg yolks and vanilla and whisk until well blended. Pour filling into crust. Bake pie 30 minutes (filling may begin to bubble). Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Continue to bake pie until filling is brown in spots and set around edges but center still moves slightly when pie dish is gently shaken, about 10 minutes longer. Cool pie 2 hours in pie dish on rack. Chill uncovered overnight.

- Sift powdered sugar lightly over top of pie. Cut pie into wedges and serve cold.

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