I made that!

F*ck it, Let’s fry some sh*t.

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Because, like, I'm Italian, sort of by brandi on April 5, 2009

And by sh*t I mean cheese. And by cheese I mean ricotta, as in all the leftover ricotta from 2 weeks ago. It’s been sitting in the fridge taunting me, and I had no plans for it. As usual, I made way too much. But sometimes when you need to pull a quick dessert out of thin air, leftovers like that save the day. There was a potluck that needed a dessert, and I didn’t have much time for cooking & baking. I was gazing into my fridge looking at what I already had and remembered seeing a recipe for zeppoli, or Italian ricotta fritters. I found it and realized that these guys were a cinch to make. And well, I do have an unhealthy obsession with deep frying. What can I say, it makes me happy.

I made my batter (which really just involved mixing the wet stuff, mixing the dry stuff, and then mixing them together) in like 10 minutes.

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Then I dropped spoonfuls of the batter into my hot oil and fried them for 2-3 minutes.

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And then I dusted them with powdered sugar!

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But I was feeling the need to dip them in something sweet. So I made a quick and dirty raspberry jam sauce. Perfect!

zeppoli

ZEPPOLI:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup whole milk ricotta

1/4 cup milk

2 large eggs

3 tablespoons sugar

1 vanilla bean

vegetable oil for frying

powdered sugar for dusting

– Heat 2 inches oil in a heavy saucepan until it registers 360°F.

– Whisk together flour, baking powder, lemon zest, nutmeg and salt in a bowl.

– In another bowl, whisk together ricotta, eggs, sugar, milk and vanilla bean seeds, then whisk in flour mixture.

– Working in batches, drop tablespoons of batter and fry, flipping occasionally, until deep golden, about 2-3 minutes per batch.

– Transfer to paper towels to drain.

– Dust generously with confectioners sugar.

– Dip and enjoy!

RASPBERRY SAUCE

1/2 cup raspberry jam (without pectin if possible)

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1-2 teaspoons sugar (depends on sweetness of jam)

– Just stir it all together!

Bagels! and Cream Cheese!

Posted in I Like Salt Too, Playing With Yeast, The Creamery by brandi on April 4, 2009

When I see a sticky white bundle of cloth dangling in my kitchen, I know good things are coming.

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As I have mentioned a few times, I do love a good cheese making session. Not that there’s much work on my end, I just like seeing that slow curding and draining process going on. Yesterday I made a yummy spreadable cream cheese, because, well, I’ve got some spreading to do. Me and Pantea are throwing a brunch party today, and while she will dominated with her delicious shirred eggs and veggies dish, my contribution will be loads of carbs and fat. Also known as bagels and cream cheese.

I’ve been wanting to make bagels forever, but it just seemed like one of those all day long projects, and then we would have stacks of bagels lying around. Since I’m way to obsessed with working my way through my vegetable box every week, AND I’ve been trying to ease John out of his carb addiction, it just seemed wrong. So I’ve been waiting, patiently, biding my time before pouncing on a good brunch invitation with my (hopefully) beautiful bagels.

So…we begin. bagels. I’m using the recipe from Peter Reinhardt’s “Bread Baker’s Apprentice”, Mostly because I think it’s a rad book, but also because it’s the only breadbaking book I own. I started with a sticky sponge (in breadspeak, a sponge is like a mini batch of your dough that you let rise for a bit before adding the rest or your ingredients, to add flavor) that I let hang out until it was all bubbly and magical cauldron looking.

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Then I added the rest of the ingredients: flour, yeast, salt and malt syrup. Bagels are meant to be quite chewy, which requires a lot of kneading to build up all that gluten. And because they’re going to be boiled, bagels begin as a super stiff dough, which is easier to knead by hand, and can be a bit of work on your kitchen aid mixer. I started the kneading in my machine, but chickened out after 5 minutes or so when it started grunting. I finished the kneading by hand, basically kneading until I could stretch a piece of it out with my hands without it tearing.

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Then I portioned it into future bagel sized chunks.

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And poked little holes in them! Let us not discuss my shaping skills, they are…er…in progress.

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Then I let my little guys rest for a bit, and rise until they could float in water. Once they were nice and floaty, they were ready to spend the night in the fridge.

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I got up this morning pumped for my little bagel adventure! I cranked up the oven and brought a pot of water to boil. I boiled my bagels in batches for 1 minute on each side and then put them back on the sheet pan. I sprinkled them with sesame seeds, poppy seeds and sea salt while boiling the rest.

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Then I baked them!

bagels

So Cute and most definitely brunch-worthy!

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Homemade Crackers!

Posted in I Like Salt Too by brandi on April 1, 2009

Last night was a light dinner, a mediterranean mezze if you will. I keep doing these lately, I’m gonna be burned out by the time summer rolls around and traditional mezze ingredients are actually in season. But they’re so goooooood… Anyways, I’ve been trying out different cracker recipes and this time I finally think I got it right. I REALLY want to conquer the cracker. Fresh crackers are just so lovely, way better than anything you could get packaged. And I like being able to spice them up to compliment whatever I’m serving them with.

I was being indecisive about which direction to take the flour in, so I ended up doing a mix. I just bought a bag of freshly milled (right in front of me!) local whole wheat flour from Eatwell Farm and knew that HAD to go in. And I saw a few recipes calling for semolina flour, so wanted some of that too. But I didn’t want it to get too crazy, so I wanted a bit of all purpose flour, as a base. I totally made that up, but it seemed to have worked, so I’m going with it.

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Crackers are super easy. You literally mix your flour(s), water, oil and salt. Then you knead them until they’re nice and stretchy, like 5-10 minutes (depends on how gluten-ey your flour of choice is). I cut them up into some manageable chunks and let them rest for a while, to relax all that gluten I created.

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Then I just ran each chunk through the pasta machine, until I got strips that were around 1/16″ thick. It was the simplest thing I’ve ever done with my pasta machine! Then I started loading my strips up with all the Mediterranean(ish) spices that I had: cumin seeds, ground coriander, ground paprika, sesame seeds, sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. I smashed them all in, to keep them from falling right off once baked.

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Then I baked the dough for around 10 minutes at 400 degrees, just until they looked all browned and crispy.

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And they were perfect (you know, in the way an ugly kid is perfect only to their parents). Not that they were ugly… I’m just saying that I’m glad someone invented the word “rustic”. I broke my strips into chunks and dipped them in Pantea’s fresh made hummus & some feta with fresh herbs. One word: Yum.

RECIPE:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup semolina flour

1 cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup olive oil

1 cup water

2 tsp salt

– Mix it all up and knead it by hand or in a machine for 5-10 minutes, until it’s nice and stretchy.

– Cut it into 8 pieces and let sit (covered) at room temperature for an hour or two, to relax.

– Run each piece through a pasta machine, starting at the thickest setting and work your way to the 4th or 5th setting, depending on how thin you want your crackers.

– Lay the dough sheets on a parchment covered baking pan and spray with water to moisten. Then sprinkle whatever you like. Get crazy. It’s a cracker – it can do anything. At this point, if you are going for a more “refined” cracker, you an use a pizza wheel to cut out geometric (or not so geometric, who am I to judge) shapes.

– Bake at 400 for roughly 10 minutes, but keep checking after 8 minutes, because it goes from perfectly toasty to burnt really fast.

– Let cool completey before breaking up into hand dipping size.