I made that!

A dinner roll to be thankful for.

Posted in I Like Salt Too, Playing With Yeast by brandi on November 29, 2010

Oh Thanksgiving. What a fantastic day. A day fully devoted to food. And in my world, slippers and board games. I’ll admit that there were some culinary blah moments: leaky pie crust, not quite right brussels sprouts, a realization that even spending a lot of money on a locally raised heritage bird does not make turkey taste better than the side dishes. But there were some super happy moments: playing the train game, cauliflower caramelized in browned butter with pears and hazelnuts, and most important – Parker House dinner rolls. Yes, just like July 4th.

It was one of those serendipitous moments a month ago, when I was debating about what to serve with Thanksgiving dinner – my usual biscuits, a loaf of brioche, a nice crusty bread. My Saveur magazine came in the mail and I landed on the article where Tom Colicchio shares his recipe for Parker House rolls. I was immediately sold. I grew up on delicious rolls, or at least I think I did. No one actually made them from scratch in my family, so I’m not sure where I got the flavor memory of a delicate, buttery, yeasty roll. But it’s in there and that recipe was tickling that memory. And, my people, they were GOOD. So good in fact, that I made them again the day after Thanksgiving, to make sure I wasn’t blinded by Thanksgiving buffet hysteria.

First I made the dough. I let it rise in the warmest corner of my house and then shaped it into little balls.

I brushed the little balls with clarified butter and let them rise some more, until puffed and filling the pan.

I brushed them with even more butter and baked them until golden. While still hot I brushed them with…even MORE butter and sprinkled them with sea salt.

And then me and John started eating them, one by one. I think these little guys will find a happy home on my Christmas dinner menu…

PARKER HOUSE ROLLS RECIPE (Tom Colicchio, printed in Saveur magazine):

3/4 cup milk, heated to 115°

1 tsp active dry yeast

1 tsp barley malt syrup (I was out and used brown rice syrup)

2 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp salt

1¼ oz unsalted butter, softened

¼ cup clarified butter

Fleur de sel, to garnish

– Stir together the milk, yeast, and malt syrup in a large bowl and let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Add to the milk mixture along with the softened butter and stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, 5–6 minutes. Transfer dough to a bowl that has been lightly greased with clarified butter and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit until nearly doubled in size, about 1 hour. Uncover and punch down dough. Cover and let sit until puffed, about 45 minutes.

– Heat oven to 350°. Portion dough into sixteen 1 1/2″-diameter balls, about 1.1 oz each, and transfer to a greased 8″ cast-iron skillet or 8″ x 8″ baking pan, nestling them side by side; cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Brush with clarified butter and bake until puffed and pale golden brown, 20–22 minutes. Transfer to a rack and brush with more clarified butter; sprinkle each roll with a small pinch of fleur de sel and serve warm.

NOTE: They definitely want to be eaten within the first few hours of being baked, straight from the oven if you can manage.

Fig Newtons!

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Don't BUY it, MAKE it! by brandi on November 22, 2010

Ummm… I know what you’re thinking. “Brandi: It’s November, Thanksgiving time. For crying out loud, it’s SNOWING in Seattle today, and you’re talking about figs.” It’s true, I’m terribly not of the season today. But you see, these figs — albeit from California — they were THERE. Left over from a fantastic dessert we were running at Delancey a few weeks ago, they were all lonely in the fridge, obviously uncomfortable sitting next to the pears and Meyer lemons, knowing their time was over. So I took them home to show them some respect. And by respect I mean I made fig newtons.

Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I went bonkers for fig newtons as a kid. The Nabisco kind were regular visitors in my lunch box and I was loyal to the fig flavor, even though I didn’t know what a fig was. As my palette grew up, the fig newtons were left behind. I tried them again a few years ago and had one of those “Have these gotten worse, or am I a complete food snob now” moments. I figured their time was finished and moved on. Until this summer when Pastry Studio (my pastry blog hero) wrote about them on her blog. I bookmarked it for a later date and promptly forgot. Until those lonely little figs called out to me.

First I made a food processor dough with some whole wheat flour in the mix, as well as some milk.

I let the dough chill while I got to work chopping up those figs.

I cooked the figs into a jam flavored with vanilla bean, honey and lemon.

Then several days later I finally got back around to assembling the little guys. I rolled out the dough into a long rectangle and smeared on some of the jam.

I folded in the edges to enclose the jam.

And sliced it into little newtons.

I baked them with a little sugar on top until they were nice and golden.

And then I stacked them up and took pretty pictures with Molly’s camera (thanks Molly!), because I accidentally left mine in San Francisco. Her lens is much better than mine and I now have camera envy. But back to the fig newtons. Oh. My. They were perfect. And that dough! Pastry studio, you just rocked my dough world.

FIG NEWTONS RECIPE, inspired by Pastry Studio:

Yield: 24 cookies

Dough:

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup AP flour

1/3 cup sugar

2 TBSP brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

6oz cold butter

1/4 cup whole milk

Filling:

1 lb 2 oz figs

3 TBSP water

1/4 cup honey

3 TBSP sugar

1/4 vanilla bean

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp lemon zest

1 tsp lemon juice

– Place the flours, sugars and salt in a food processor and process to combine. Cut the cold butter into small cubes and add to the dry ingredients. Pulse the mixture until the butter is in very small pieces. Add the milk and pulse until the mixture begins to look more like dough and less like sand.

– Shape the dough into a rectangle and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least an hour.

– Slice open the vanilla bean and rub the seeds into the sugar. Cut the stems off the figs and chop into small chunks. Place them in a saucepan with the water, honey, vanilla sugar, vanilla bean pod, salt and lemon zest. Cook on medium heat until the mixture comes to a simmer. Lower the heat and cook the fruit slowly and gently for about 15-20 minutes or until the fruit is jammy, stirring every few minutes and adding a bit more water if necessary to prevent scorching. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice. Remove the vanilla bean pods and use an immersion blender to pulse a few times to smooth out large pieces of fig. Store in the refrigerator until completely chilled.

– When everything is chilled, remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured board. Slice lengthwise into 3 strips. Rewrap 2 of the strips and place back in the fridge. Dust the top of the dough lightly with flour and roll out to a rectangle measuring 12” x 4”. Work quickly, running an offset spatula under the dough to make sure it isn’t sticking to the board and dusting lightly with flour whenever necessary. When you have the finished rectangle, place the dough onto a parchment lined baking tray in the fridge. Repeat with the other 2 pieces of dough. Chill the rolled dough in the fridge for another 10 minutes.

– Remove one rectangle from the fridge and lay back on the floured board. Spread some of the fig jam lengthwise along the center of the dough. Gently lift the dough sides over the fruit. Cinch the edges together to completely seal the jam. Use your hands to press down slightly on the dough to smooth out the jam within. It’s ok if some oozes out the ends. Cut into slices and place on a parchment lines sheet pan. Chill in the fridge while you repeat with the other 2 strips of dough. Once finished, chill for another 30 minutes.

– Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle the bars with sugar and bake for about 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 and bake until nicely browned, about 20 more minutes.

– Remove from the oven and cool completely.


The Ultimate Wintery Nuts

Posted in All Things Pork, I Like Salt Too by brandi on November 8, 2010

First, an announcement.

I’m starting a business!  And not just any business, I’m starting my DREAM business! I’m teaming up with Brandon Pettit, owner of Delancey (were I am the pastry chef) and the super talented Olaiya Land, who runs Olaiya Land Catering and teaches classes in Delancey on closed nights to open up a community kitchen called “The Pantry at Delancey.” We’re blowing out the wall behind Delancey and building an awesome kitchen. Think rustic. Yet urban. Think 16′-long farm table. Jars of pickles and jams lining the walls. The idea is to get people around the table, cooking, learning, and talking. We’ll host family-style dinners, teach hands-on cooking classes with an emphasis on craft, provide locally sourced catering, host community events and begin making the cheese and curing the meats for Delancey. It’s just too much good stuff. I would send you to a website, except it isn’t finished yet. Until it is, you can find us on facebook. So know that while I have slowed down a bit on my blogging, it is only because things are HAPPENING!

Now, about these nuts. They are my new favorite wintertime crack. I developed the recipe for Delancey over the summer, when we were opening a patio and tinkering with the idea of bar snacks. They were quite a hit until the weather turned warm, when their dark spiciness started to look silly next to a fresh tomato salad. So we pulled them for the duration of the warm weather and just this week brought them back. I. love. them. So much that I want to share.

You start with a good mix of nuts. I like almonds, cashews, pistachios and pecans, but you can try any mix you like. Except the pecans are a must. They have a density that fits this kind of candying like peanut butter to jelly. I usually throw in some extra of those, to make up for the ones I end up snacking on.

I made a syrup out of water and sugar and brought that to a boil. I then added the nuts, along with the spice bomb and let them simmer away for a bit.

Then I strained the nuts out of the syrup and roasted them.

Until they were nice and deeply caramelized.

Then began the fun, candying some bacon to throw in the mix. Because what’s the point of spiced nuts without some pork?

I coated bacon with brown sugar and roasted it until the sugar was dark and caramelized.

I tore the bacon into chunks and tossed it with the nuts. And I’ve been munching away since…

SPICED NUTS WITH CANDIED BACON RECIPE:

2 TBSP vegetable oil

3½ cups sugar

3 cups water

4 cups raw nuts

1 TBSP + 1 tsp salt

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp cumin

⅛ tsp cinnamon

⅛ tsp allspice

1½ tsp cayenne

12oz sliced bacon

1½ cups brown sugar

– Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

– Coat a baking sheet with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

– Combine the sugar and water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium high and add the nuts, salt and spices. Bring up to simmer and cook for 8 minutes.

– With a slotted spoon, remove nuts from pot, shaking off excess liquid. Spread onto the oiled baking sheet. Reserve the liquid for future batches of nuts.

– Roast in the oven until browned, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

– Lower oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicon mat. Sprinkle half of the brown sugar onto the silicone mat. Place the bacon onto brown sugar and sprinkle on the remaining brown sugar.

– Roast for about 25 minutes, flipping bacon 3-4 times, every 7-8 minutes. The bacon should look caramelized. Remove from oven and use tongs to lift the bacon onto a clean tray. Cool completely.

– Chop bacon and toss with nuts.

– Taste for salt adjustment.

Chili Verde!

Posted in All Things Pork, I Like Salt Too by brandi on October 10, 2010

Oh tomatillos. They are everywhere. In my kitchen at least. It was a pretty full harvest from my garden and now I am elbow deep in them while trying to find the best salsa recipe. But before that, let me tell you about my most favorite stew. Chile Verde it’s called, and I just go bananas for it. There’s tomatillos, chiles, pork, cilantro… it’s a delicious thing. Since Seattle is slightly lacking in the Mexican food department, I’m long overdue for a bowl.

I started by roasting the tomatillos under the broiler with some garlic.

Then I roasted until black some chiles over the flame of my stove.

Lots of pork was diced up.

And browned in a wide shallow pot. Afterwards some onions were added to get nice and soft.

Then I pureed those toasted tomatillos, garlic and chiles with some fresh jalapenos and cilantro.

I added the puree to my pork and onions with some chicken stock and let her simmer for 3 hours. And then we ate ourselves silly.

CHILE VERDE RECIPE:

2 lb tomatillos

6 garlic cloves, not peeled

3 Anaheim or Poblano chiles

3 Jalapeños, seeds removed, chopped

1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped

4½ lb pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 to 2-inch cubes

Olive oil

2 small yellow onions

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 TBSP dried oregano

3 cups chicken stock

– Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well. Cut in half and place cut side down, along with 6 garlic cloves, on a baking sheet. Place under a broiler for about 5-7 minutes to lightly blacken the skin. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

– Roast the Anaheim chiles over a gas flame or under the broiler until blackened all around. Let cool and remove the skin, seeds, and stem. Roughly chop.

– Place tomatillos, skins included, into a food processor. Remove the roasted garlic cloves from their skins and add them. Add chopped Jalapeño peppers, Anaheim chilies, and cilantro. Pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed.

– Season the pork cubes generously with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed dutch oven over medium high heat and brown the pork chunks well on all sides. Work in batches so that the pork is not crowded in the pan. Using tongs, lift the browned pork out and place in bowl. Set aside.

– Pour off excess fat, leaving 1 or 2 tablespoons. Place the onions in the same dutch oven and  season with salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until limp, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute. Add the pork back to the pan. Add the oregano, the tomatillo puree, and the chicken stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to a slight simmer. Cook for 2½ – 3 hours uncovered, until the pork is tender.

– Adjust the seasoning to taste with salt. Serve with rice and warmed flour or corn tortillas.

Nutter Butter Cookies

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Don't BUY it, MAKE it! by brandi on September 29, 2010

Give me a recipe that starts with cooking oats in butter and vanilla bean and you’ve stolen my heart. Throw in some peanut butter and you’ve convinced me to make cookies, something I rarely feel inclined to do.

It had been a while since I made a Nancy Silverton recipe, and now I feel the need to pull all her books off of my shelves and hit the kitchen with a vengeance. Seriously, she might be my pastry hero. Top 5 at LEAST. This cookie recipe came from her Sandwich book, a book I might never have paid attention to had it not been for her take on Nutter Butters.

As mentioned above, I started by toasting oats with butter and a vanilla bean.

I mixed those into a pretty straight-forward peanut butter cookie dough.

I rolled and stamped out little discs that I popped into the fridge to chill before baking.

While those were baking I made the filling, a salty, buttery, peanut fluff.

And then it was the best assembly line one can imagine. The funny thing is, these cookies actually get BETTER as they age. The first night I had them after a Monday night family dinner, with some ice cream. They seemed rich and intense, almost to the point of turning me off. I couldn’t eat a whole one and considered sending them away with my friends just to get them out of my house. The next day though, either I was hungrier or they mellowed out because I devoured one in 15 seconds flat. And they were so much more tender. So from now on, I’m making these little ones the day before I actually need them. And I’ll definitely keep them oreo sized next time.

NUTTER BUTTER COOKIES RECIPE (by Nancy Silverton)

Yield: 36 cookies

Cookies:

12oz unsalted butter, cool

1 vanilla bean

2 cups quick cooking rolled oats

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

¾ cup chunky peanut butter, I prefer JIF

2 ¼ cups AP flour

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp salt

– In a medium sized skillet, melt 4oz of butter over medium heat. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Toss the seeds and the pod into the butter along with the oats. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly, until the oats are lightly toasted and golden brown. Transfer the oat mixture to a bowl, discarding the vanilla bean pod, and chill in the fridge.

– Place the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and whisk together. Set aside.

– In a stand mixer, cream the butter on medium speed for a minute with the paddle attachment. Slowly pour in the sugars and continue creaming until the mixture is light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the peanut butter and mix just until combined. Lower the speed and add the chilled oats, mixing until just combined.Turn off the mixer and add the flour mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together in a ball.

– Roll the dough into 2″ balls, or use a scooper to scoop out individual portions and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Slightly flatten each cookie and use a knife to score each cookie with criss-cross patterns. Chill the dough for about 15 minutes.

– Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the cookies for 18-20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. They should be lightly browned. Cool completely.

Filling:

3oz butter, cool

1½ tsp salt

6 TBSP powdered sugar

1 cup + 2 TBSP natural chunky peanut butter

– In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and salt on medium speed for about a minute, until the butter is softened.

– Add the sugar and peanut butter and mix another minute to combine.

– Assemble and Enjoy!

Grape Jelly

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Yes We Can! by brandi on September 18, 2010

Every now and then a fruit just makes you stop and take notice. Such was the case with these grapes. Blueberry grapes they’re called, and they literally taste like bubblicious grape bubble gum. Popping one into my mouth for a taste in the grocry store actually had me giggling, they’re THAT good. I bought a few pounds immediatly and ran home to make jelly.

It was my first time making jelly, and I was super excited. Not because I am particularly fond of jelly, but just because I had never made it. And grape jelly, well that’s just as classic as it comes. I started by cooking the grapes down with a bit of water, while smooshing them with a potato masher. Then I poured that hot mess into a strainer lined with one of John’s old t-shirts. It drained for about 10 hours.

I then boiled the liquid with lemon juice and pectin until I had a nice set.

And it worked! It’s translucent and jiggly and perfect! I’ve been eating grape jelly and peanut butter sandwiches like they are going out of style and I suspect I’ll be buying more of these magical blueberry grapes….

GRAPE JELLY RECIPE:

1x (2 quarts)

2 1/4 lb grapes

2/3 cup water

1 lb 4oz caster sugar

3 TBSP lemon juice

3 oz liquid pectin

– Put the grapes and water in a saucepan and smash them with a potato masher. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. The grapes should be very soft. Smash the grapes some more.

– Pour the mixture into a strainer lined with thin fabric (I used a worn t shirt) and allow to drip for 8-12 hours. Do not press the mixture or the jelly will be cloudy.

– Pour the drained liquid into a saucepan and add the caster sugar and lemon juice. Heat over low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil, add the pectin and cook over medium high heat for a 3-5 minutes, until the jelly has set.

– Ladle into hot sterilize jars and seal.

Lemon Fluff for Miles

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Celebrating with Cake! by brandi on September 8, 2010

Disclaimer: These photos blow. The recipe however, quite spectacular. After weeks of thinking the photos too ugly for the blog, I relented, after requests were made for the recipe. Because seriously, this cake is worth sharing, ugly photos and all.

The cake I speak of is the Lemon Icebox Cake. In some circles (like my grandmother’s) it’s a classic that makes people get all misty-eyed. In my circle, it’s more of a novelty, as in “What’s an icebox?”, “Is the cake made of ice?”, that sort of thing.

Meredith, my friend of many months in Seattle, was leaving us. After a year of lawyering it up in the soggy Pacific Northwest, she had a job back in San Francisco waiting for her. I was sad, as she got me through many a rainy day while we were still learning our way around. It’s the rare person that is up for anything (hike? bike ride? lake swimming? bike ride to a hike that ends in lake swimming?). But mostly I just fed her. So for her last meal I wanted something special.

She’s mildly obsessed with lemons, so I considered recreating one of my first desserts at Delancey: Meyer lemon budino with anise caramel syrup, candied pistachios and shortbread. It made sense to end an era with the dessert that started it. But then I remembered this article in Fine Cooking magazine. It was one of those articles where two chefs classically recreate or reinvent a recipe. This had Rose Levy Beranbaum recreating a classic lemon icebox cake. It literally had me drooling. And it looked long and complex, two words that occasionally make my ears perk up in a recipe. So it was decided. Meredith’s last meal (with me) in Seattle would end with a lemon icebox cake.

There were a lot of eggs involved.

First I made an angel food cake, another food item I’ve been hoping to scratch off my list. I’ve heard stories that they were difficult, that the cakes sunk into nothing. I do love a good cake challenge. I started with a fluffy white meringue.

Into that I folded the tiniest amount of flour possible. I spread the batter into an angel food pan (courtesy of Molly, because I have limits to my cake pan collection).

It baked until it was golden and splitting. I pulled it from the oven and hung it upside down to cool. I know. Upside down. I suspect this is what keeps it from sinking, since it’s pretty well adhered to the pan.

Then I made some lemon “fluff”. That involved making a lemon curd that I then folded with whipped cream, that I then folded with gelatin laced meringue.

By the time that was ready my cake had cooled and was ready to be de-panned. I trimmed off the top and sliced it into four discs.

Then back into the angel food cake pan they went, layered with the lemon fluff. From there it was 12 hours of chilling in the fridge while I nervously fretted about how the hell I was going to get it out.

Somehow, it came out. That somehow involved propping it on a wine bottle and flipping everything onto a serving tray. It was a bit theatrical. But it was worth it for sure. Walking out to the table in the backyard carrying this gigantic jiggling mound of yellow fluff I felt like some kind of cake goddess. And it only took me about 16 hours.

LEMON ICEBOX CAKE RECIPE:

here.

The only change I made was to not grease the pan before baking the angel food cake. Multiple sources confirmed that greasing the pan was a no-no.

The Best Shredded Dessert There Ever Was.

Posted in All Sugar All The Time by brandi on August 31, 2010

Years ago, while in architecture school, I had a roommate named Mimi. Well, actually her name was Omelmominin, but we called her Mimi. She was from Oman, and I have her to thank for introducing me to Middle Eastern desserts. Mimi didn’t cook much, but her mom did. And when her mom decided to spend a summer with us, I was ecstatic. I can still remember clearly the day I came home from work and started grinning ear to ear when I opened the door and smelled deliciousness being made in the kitchen. I almost lost it when I actually got into the kitchen in time to see Mimi’s mom pulling a pan of steaming hot baklava out of the oven. Having only ever seen it in restaurants and grocery stores, it never occurred to me that an actual person could make it for themselves (I was so young then…).

The real surprise though, came next. Because after she sat down the baklava, she pulled out a pan of what looked to me like cooked noodles. It was called konafa, and this my friends, is what I am here to talk about. That dessert stuck with me. It’s a rare one to find outside of the middle east, and even rarer to find one that tastes good. When done right, it is pure creamy bliss. Unfortunately there’s not much of a Middle Eastern population in Seattle, making it even harder to find than in San Francisco. It is meant to be eaten fresh from the oven, so really, I just had to make it for myself.

I started with the pastry, called konafa or kadaif. It can be hard to come by, you’ll probably have to get it from a Middle Eastern grocery store. Since it’s sold frozen, it will require some advance preparation so it can defrost in the fridge for 24 hours beforehand. The first step is to spread it out and unstick the strands that are all mashed together. I found this part to be particularly fun. Afterwards, I set the pastry back in the fridge.

Then I made the cream filling and the syrup that would be poured over the baked konafa. For the filling I cooked milk with rice flour and sugar, straining it afterwards to remove the lumps. The only change I made from the recipe from Claudia Roden was to use rose water in place of the orange blossom water. This was what Mimi’s mom used and I was going straight for nostalgia.

Then I spread half of the pastry (that I had tossed in melted butter) in the bottom of 2 pie pans.

On top of that I spread the chilled cream filling. I topped it with the other half of the pastry.

And then I baked the konafa until golden brown. I poured the cold syrup all over it and sprinkled on some pistachios.

And me and my friends dug in. It’s an odd flavor at first, but after a few bites something happens to the taste. I found that it got sweeter (though not too sweet) and the rosewater started to mellow. It was exactly how I remembered it. Mimi has been back in Oman for several years now, but I like to think that she and her mom would be proud.

KONAFA RECIPE (Claudia Roden):

Syrup:

2 1/4 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups water

2 TBSP lemon juice

2 TBSP rosewater or orange blossom water

– Bring the sugar, water and lemon juice to a boil for about 8 minutes, then remove from heat and stir in the rosewater. Leave to cool, then chill in the fridge.

Cream filling:

2/3 cup rice flour

5 cups milk

1/4 cup sugar

2/3 cup heavy cream

– Mix the rice flour with some of the milk to make a smooth paste. Bring the rest of the milk to a boil, then add the rice flour paste, whisking the milk as you do so to minimize clumping. Immediately turn the heat to very low and let the mixture thicken for about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir occasionally without scraping the bottom of the pan so as not to pick up any burnt bits.

– Add the sugar and stir well. If lumpy, strain. Leave to cool, then add the cream and mix well. Chill in the fridge.

Pastry:

1 lb konafa (also called kadaif) pastry

8oz butter, melted

2/3 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped

– Place the pastry in a large bowl and separate the strands as much as possible. Pour the melted butter over the pastry and, with your fingers, work it in very thoroughly, pulling out and separating the strands so that they don’t stick together and are coated with butter.

– Preheat the oven to 350.

– Spread half the pastry at the bottom of a two 8″ round pie pans. Spread the cream filling over and cover with the rest of the pastry.

– Bake for about 45 minutes, then raise the temperature to 425F and bake for another 15 minutes, until the pastry starts to brown. Remove from the oven. Immediately pour the cold syrup over the hot konafa and sprinkle with the chopped pistachios.

– Before serving, run a knife around the pie to loosen the sides. Slice it up and enjoy!

The eggplants have arrived!

Posted in I Like Salt Too by brandi on August 19, 2010

Eggplants. They rock.

It took me a while to discover this. Mostly because of texture. An eggplant really has to be cooked down to its last dying breath before I want anything to do with it. Too few minutes in the oven and I might as well be chewing on a waterlogged Nerf ball. But those few minutes of cooking later and I’m feasting in eggplant heaven. And what better to way to pulverize an eggplant’s spongey texture than with baba ganoush.

First things first, roast the eggplant. I roasted it over the flame of my stove burner. This adds the smokey flavor that makes baba ganoush taste like baba ganoush. I roast it until it is completely mushy, practically falling apart. The softer you get it over the flame, the more buttery the puree will be. If you lack a gas stove, then it’s possible to roast in the broiler, but it won’t be as tasty.

Then I let the eggplants sit in a sealed tupperware for 15 minutes or so. The idea is to steam them a bit more and to allow them to cool down enough to handle. Resist the temptation to let them cool completely, because this too will result in a less smooth puree.

Once finished steaming I peel their purple skins off.

I put them (sans stems) in the food processor with tahini, lemon juice,  minced garlic, salt and pepper. I let it puree for a few minutes. The result should be smooth and fluffy. Taste for salt, because every eggplant is different, you know? From here you want to let it sit for a while in the fridge. 4 hours is sufficient, 12 hours is better. Think of it like a soup, it just needs a little time to have all of its flavors meld together. Right before serving I like to stir in some fresh parsley and top it with toasted pinenuts. No photos of that today though, because well, we ate it too fast. It happens.

BABA GANOUSH RECIPE:

2 medium or 3 small eggplants

1/2 cup tahini

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup lemon juice

fresh cracked black pepper to taste

1 tsp salt

fresh parsley

toasted pine nuts

Blueberries!

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Don't BUY it, MAKE it!, Yes We Can! by brandi on July 21, 2010

They’re here!

Have I mentioned lately that I have a thing for blueberries?  Beautiful, blue, bloomy blueberries…

This time of year I turn into a bit of a berry monster. The first couple weeks of berry season I tend to gorge on berries until I just can’t take any more. Then I stop just long enough to panic about their eventual disappearance. In response, I make jam. Lots of jam. I’ll make so much jam that I panic again and start giving it away. Then as I work my way through a couple of jars, I’ll start wishing I hadn’t given so much away. I’ll panic yet again, and if there are still berries around at this point, I’ll probably make more jam. You know, just in case I run out in January. So far this summer I’ve made a sun-cooked strawberry rhubarb jam, a black raspberry jam, and now, this absolutely perfect blueberry jam. It’s so straightforward that it seems silly to even share the recipe. But that’s its genius. Beneath all that obviousness is a jam that is so perfectly spreadable and so… blue. I’ve already eaten it on toast, biscuits, crepes and pound cake. And it’s only been 4 days.

Note on blueberries: With all jams, it is super important to get the best fruit possible. If you don’t want to smash your face into a pile of it, then it’s probably not jam worthy. Yes, it should be that good. I used Billy’s blueberries, arguably the best blueberries in the Puget Sound area.

BLUEBERRY JAM RECIPE:

2 lb 8oz (6 baskets) blueberries

2/3 cup water

2 lb sugar

juice of 3 lemons

1 package of Certo liquid pectin

– Put the blueberries and water in a heavy pot. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. The fruit should be quite soft.

– Lower the heat and add the sugar and lemon juice. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Turn up the heat and boil for 5 minutes.

– Add the pectin and boil for another minute or 2, until it has set. I test for set by spooning the jam onto a plate that has ben stored in the freezer. I place it back in the freezer for 10 seconds and then press my finger to it. If it wrinkles, the jam is done.

-Ladle into hot sterilized jars and seal. If you’re storing it at room temperature, it’s a good idea to process them. It’s ready to eat the next day.