Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Avocado Berry Salad with Poppyseed Dressing

 
Our lettuce is doing beautiful in the garden.  That means fresh picked salad for lunch.  Today I departed from the normal chopped salad and went with a more bistro type fare with a dressing I don't normally make.  I like poppy seed dressing, but I've been playing around to come up with a version that has enough tang to balance out the sweet, and not too sweet overall.  I am happy enough with this one not to fiddle anymore.  This is a very satisfying lunch salad because of the pecans and avocado, but it would make a fabulous dinner salad, just by adding some sliced, herb grilled chicken on top, or salmon.

Salad for One
increase servings as desired

2-3 leaves fresh butter lettuce
2-3 leave fresh red leaf lettuce
4 strawberries, sliced
small handful blueberries
small handful pecans
1-2 tbsp chopped red onion
1 green onion, chopped
½ ripe avocado, sliced
mandarin oranges for garnish

Layer ingredients as desired.  You can make a pretty presentation or toss it all together if time is of the essence.
Drizzle with 1-2 teaspoons of dressing right before serving.

Poppy Seed Dressing
makes 1 cup

3 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp honey
1½ tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp dried onion flakes
¾ tsp sea salt
½ cup oil - if you can find it, use ¼ cup lemon infused olive oil and ¼ cup regular olive oil or sunflower oil
pinch fresh lemon zest (optional)
1½-2 tsp poppy seeds

Add vinegar, juice, honey, mustard, onion, salt and lemon zest, if using, to a blender.  Blend until the onion is broken down to little pieces, about 30 seconds.  With the blender running, stream in the oil slowly and steadily.  Add poppy seeds and give a pulse to combine.  Transfer to a serving bottle and refrigerate until ready to use.  Keep in the refrigerator.


Friday, May 1, 2015

Epic Sticky Buns with Sourdough Starter


I have previously posted a recipe for sticky buns in tribute to an awesome lunch lady from my youth.  Today I tweaked her recipe just a bit, combining it with a KA recipe for sourdough buns.  The result was a sticky bun worthy of my memories!  Even better than the original batch.  They were light, fluffy, tender and perfectly flavored with just the right amount of sticky.  The kind of bun where you unwrap it slowly from the outside and savor each round closer to the center.  Sticky perfection.  Yes, I am super happy with this recipe.  Partly because it is yet another way to use my awesome new sourdough starter from the Gold Rush.

Sourdough Sticky Buns
makes 12

Dough:
½ cup sourdough starter (fed or unfed)
3 cups light spelt flour
2 tsp instant yeast
3 tbsp sugar
1¼ tsp salt
1 egg
4 tbsp softened butter
½ cup water (use 2/3 c if using all purpose flour)

Filling:
3 tbsp butter, very soft
2-3 tbsp sugar

Sticky layer:
6 tbsp butter
5 tbsp honey
¾ cup light brown muscovado sugar

Melt and stir together the ingredients for the sticky layer in a saucepan until mixture is fully incorporated together.  Pour into the bottom of a 9x13" pan and set aside.

Combine all of the dough ingredients in a large bowl or mixer and knead to make a soft and slightly sticky dough.  Let rest for 5 minutes and knead one or two more times until smooth.  Allow to rise, covered, for 1½ - 2 hours until almost doubled in bulk.

Knead a couple times to deflate the dough and place on a lightly greased work surface.  Use your fingers to gently push and pat the dough into a rectangle about 12x16".  Spread the dough evenly with the very soft butter.  Then sprinkle with a light coating of sugar.

Roll up the dough from the long side into a log.  It will be soft, just work carefully.  Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces and place, cut side down, onto the sticky layer in the pan.  Cover and allow to rise for about an hour.  The dough will be very soft and puffy and they will have expanded to touching.  Preheat the oven to 350ºF when they are almost ready.  The dough is forgiving, I had to pop mine in the fridge for 20 minutes to run up and get the kids from school so it wouldn't over rise.  It still had terrific oven rise as well.

Bake the buns for 22-25 minutes until lightly browned.  They won't brown quite as much as regular buns because of the sourdough, but still a bit more than other sourdough recipes because of the extra sugar in the dough.


Remove pan from oven and let sit for 5 minutes.  Then invert them onto a platter or lined board.  While they are amazing slightly warm, don't give yourself a sugar burn digging in to them too fast!  Store tightly covered.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

BBB - Romanian Easter Buns



This month the Bread Baking Babes went with an Easter themed bread, although it can also be found at other special occasions.  The original recipe was for a filled braid but I was struck by how much the dough reminded me of a previous BBB recipe: Ensaïmadas.  Those were such a treat that I decided to try to combine the two ideas and recipes, ending up with a filled, coiled bun instead of a braid.  And then I saw in the host kitchen's post that the Romanian version is sometimes shaped as a large coil.  Perfect.  I used only part spelt this time to ensure my dough could handle being rolled out so thin with filling.  Here is the recipe with my changes in red.


Romanian Easter Bread
makes 1 loaf or 12 large buns

3½-4 cups flour (500 g half all purpose, half white spelt + ¼ cup to make workable + 1 spoonful sourdough starter)
1½ tsp active dry yeast (2 tsp instant)
½ tsp grated fresh lemon zest
2/3 cup milk (200 ml milk, scalded)
4 tbsp unsalted butter (2 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp olive oil)
¼ cup sugar (50 g)
½ tsp salt (1 tsp salt - and I would recommend that amount)
2 eggs

Filling:
1/3 cup water (105 g water)
1/3 cup sugar (195 g light brown muscovado sugar)
1 cup finely ground almonds (or walnuts, poppy seeds, etc) (300 g ground pecans)
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest (or use orange zest) (¾ tsp fresh lemon zest)
½ teaspoon cinnamon (1½ tsp cinnamon)

Glaze:
1 egg beaten with 2 tbsp milk (omitted - used a powdered sugar drizzle instead)

Combine flour and yeast in a bowl or stand mixer.  Scald the milk and add in the butter, sugar, salt and zest.  Mix until butter is melted and let cool to lukewarm.  Add cooled milk mixture and eggs to flour to combine.  Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes until smooth.  (Spelt requires less time.)  Cover dough and allow to rise until double, about an hour.  Punch dough down and divide into three (12) pieces.  Roll each into a 7x16" rectangle.  Spread each with a third of the filling, leaving a margin around the edges and roll up as for cinnamon rolls on the long side.  Seal edges and ends and braid the rolls together.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Let rise until double, about 30 minutes.


For buns, shape each of the 12 pieces into a ball and let rest for 30 minutes.  Flatten them and then proceed to rolling.


Roll each ball into a long, flat oval and spread with filling.  I used 2½ tbsp per roll and spread each with ½ tsp softened butter before the filling as well.


Roll up from the long side so the rope will be long enough to coil around.


Pinch the edges to seal.


Set aside as you continue to fill and roll.


Coil and place the buns on two parchment lined baking sheets.

Preheat oven to 365ºF.

Allow buns to rise until puffy and almost double.  Brush on glaze before baking if using a glaze.

Bake for 14-16 minutes until golden brown.  (Bake braided loaf for 40 minutes)


Cool on wire rack.


Make a simple powdered sugar glaze with a cup of powdered sugar and 1-2 tbsp of milk to thin to desired consistency.


Enjoy!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Sourdough Blueberry Muffins - Quickbread Style


I already had a recipe for blueberry muffins that the family loved.  But I just came into possession of a new sourdough starter with roots going back to the gold rush.  And it is already doing wonderful!  I really wanted to keep it happy since it perked up so quickly after I received it.  It hadn't been fed for two months and still was doing amazingly great.  So I have been on a mission to use it and keep it happy.  We did a batch of our favorite chocolate waffles, added a bit to a loaf of granary bread to get the consistency perfect, and then I decided to try a muffin recipe.  Now while my kids love sourdough, I don't really prefer noticeable sour flavor in certain baked goods.  Since this recipe only made a few muffins, I thought it was a perfect trial.  I was very pleased with it, even before baking them.  I used tall muffin cups and got 6 huge muffins.  For standard baking cups or an unlined tin, I would suggest making 8 muffins.  There is no sour flavor since the sourdough just acts as the acidic activator for the leavening.  It's just like a quick bread.  They have great texture and an awesome crust.  Sublime with butter spread inside but delicious plain as well.


Sourdough Blueberry Muffins
makes 6-8 muffins

1 cup sourdough starter (fed recently)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup melted butter
1 cup light spelt flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
½ cup sugar
½ cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 400ºF.  Combine the sourdough starter, egg, vanilla and butter until fully mixed.  In a separate bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients, then toss in the blueberries.  Mix the dry ingredients with blueberries quickly and carefully into the wet mixture, taking care not to over mix.  Scoop batter into lined muffin cups.  Bake for 20-22 minutes until golden brown and done.

Eat them warm, eat them cool, add butter or not.  Just enjoy!  And keep your starter happy!


Friday, April 3, 2015

Brown eggs and natural dyes? Yes you can!


A couple years ago I did a post about natural Easter egg dyes.  They turned out great and only took a few hours of prep and soaking combined.  This week, a friend asked if the technique would work with brown eggs.  Good question.  I thought it would and since we always get pastured brown eggs from the farmer I figured I would try it out.  So here are my notes for doing brown eggs.

The method is the same.  Four cups of foodstuff chopped up (I used my food processor) into a quart of water, 3 tbsp for the turmeric which is dried spice.  Onion skins go a long way so you might even get away with 2 cups especially with the brown eggs.
Red/Pink:  Beets
Orange:  Yellow Onion skins
Yellow:  Turmeric
Green:  Red Cabbage + Turmeric
Blue:  Red Cabbage (For more navy blue tones, add blueberries)
Violet:  Red Cabbage + Beets

To make the dyes, use 4 cups of chopped or grated (beets, cabbage, onion skins) with one quart of water and 2 tablespoons of vinegar.  Turmeric is 3 tbsp powdered spice per quart.  Bring to a boil, then cover and keep at a hard simmer for 30 minutes.  Strain the dye into a bowl and mix in 1 tablespoon of salt.  Let cool until not steaming, then soak your hard boiled eggs for 30 minutes in the dye.  For all colors except red, rinse and set on a napkin to dry.  The colors will intensify somewhat when dry.
One thing I added this year, mostly because they were freezer burned because R left them uncovered in a bowl in there for weeks, was ¾ cup frozen blueberries to the red cabbage mixture.  I wanted to boost the blue a bit for brown egg dying.

Big Tip #1:  Heated dye works better.

Big Tip #2:  Multiple coats are your friend for the reds.

So for the red/pink, I did the normal 30 minute soak and then took them out carefully to set on a napkin to dry.  Really, additional coats after that can just be dipped in to get the best coverage and set to dry again.  There will be a prettier side and a not so pretty side.  I reheated the dye when it cooled off and did a few more coats.  I think there were at least 10 dunks to get what you see in the picture, but it only takes a second to dunk and set out.  Remember not to rinse the reds or purples.

For the orange, I had enough dry onion skins to fill a 2 Qt pan.  Those eggs I only soaked for 10-15 minutes since the dye looked very concentrated.  You will want to check on them every 5 minutes or so after 10 minutes.

The yellow also only soaked for about 15 minutes.  These eggs you will want to rinse since the turmeric leaves a powdery residue.  Be careful!  Turmeric stains big time.

The green turned out a little different because I didn't mix the dyes like last time, I did a double soak.  First in blue, then in yellow.  I think I like the mix better, but I still got some nice mossy greens.  Those two eggs were different browns, the one in front a very light brown.  The one in back really took the blue dye more.

Blue was an easy and straight forward soak.  I gave it another 15 minutes with reheated dye to get them nice and saturated with color.

Lastly were the purples.  Starting with a nice saturated blue soak, then a shorter soak in the red and a few extra coats of red added on to dry.  Same technique as for the plain red.  No rinsing when done.

I think the brown eggs turned out great and actually look almost the same as the white eggs with natural dyes.  Perhaps a smidge darker and more of a saturated color effect.  They did take a little bit more time to get the results I wanted.  But I didn't have to worry about getting eggs I wouldn't normally buy.  So there you go.  If you want to try brown eggs for dying, it works just fine!


Oh yes, here are the eggs straight from the farm.  Occasionally there are some that are a bit lighter and I tried to choose the lightest ones for the green.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Guilt Free Chocolate Pudding - No cook


The search continues for a cooked, corn starch free pudding.  But in the mean time, I found this amazing recipe in Danielle Walker's Against All Grain meals made simple cookbook.  It is a beautiful cookbook with large glossy photos and appealing recipes, not to mention make ahead options, nutrition facts and grocery lists.  She also has some great chocolate custard style pudding and fudgesicle recipes on her website that are cooked egg custard style.  S and I loved them but they were too rich and dark for R.  But this recipe, this uncooked, almost sugar free recipe is fantastic.  I can say yes to this treat any time without feeling like I am giving the kids something unhealthful.  It is high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.  Heads up, you really need a high speed blender to get this super silky smooth like regular pudding.  Otherwise the chia seeds can leave a little bit of gritty texture.  In the original recipe, the only sweetening is from pitted dates.  And it is great just that way too, but I found that I liked the roundness that just a tablespoon of maple syrup gave to the flavor.  Even my picky hubby thought the taste and texture was just about perfect.  Now that is a win!

Healthful No Cook Chocolate Pudding
serves 4-6

1 can (13.66 oz) coconut milk 
½ cup hot water
4.5 oz pitted dates (I used Medjool; Deglet Noor, which are smaller, would be around 18 dates)
½ cup raw cacao powder (I used fair trade cocoa powder)
¼ cup chia seeds
1 tbsp melted coconut oil (the mix gets hot enough you don't have to have it melted)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp maple syrup (optional addition not in original recipe)
¼ tsp sea salt
dark chocolate shavings, coconut flakes or berries for garnish

Put everything in a high speed blender and process at high speed until completely smooth.  Danielle says for about 45 seconds but I let it go a couple minutes to get ultra smooth.

Pour/scoop into serving dishes, cover and chill for at least 6 hours or overnight.

 This is straight out of the blender and still warm and you can see how thick it is already.

Garnish with chocolate shavings or berries if desired.

Or get fancy and pipe it into a fancy serving goblet.  Garnish optional.

This mixture also makes fabulous fudgesicles!

Freeze overnight in dixie cups or a popsicle mold and enjoy!  My kids like peeling off the dixie cup paper.


Monday, March 30, 2015

BBB Granary Style Loaf


The BBB hostess invited us to have fun and play in the sandbox with this recipe, originally meant to be used with a proprietary flour grain blend your can find in England.  While it is available by mail order though spendy, she encouraged us to experiment with what we had or could find and just have fun with it.  Other options included sprouted flours and malted wheat flakes.  Now I have purchased those in the past from King Arthur, though they don't always have that import in stock.  But I decided against an order since I don't use them enough.  What I did have was sprouted oats.  Well, malted wheat flakes are sprouted and rolled...  So are these.  Good enough for me.  And I already had some barley malt for flavor.  In the end I loosely followed the two King Arthur recipes that My Kitchen in Half Cups referenced.  And I still ended up tweaking it right up until baking.  Sandbox play indeed.  Here is the recipe as I made it.  Check out the original post to see her different versions!  This got thumbs up from my eldest as she ate a nice fresh piece with butter.  I can't wait to try it toasted.


Granary Style Loaf
makes 1 loaf

¾ cup lukewarm water (reduced from 1 cup because I was using mostly spelt)
1 tbsp barley malt syrup
½ cup sprouted rolled oats (used instead of malted wheat flakes)
75 g sprouted wheat flour
75 g whole spelt flour
150 g white spelt flour
½ tbsp instant yeast
1 tbsp softened butter
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp sourdough starter (added after overnight rest)

Dissolve barley malt syrup in the water in a mixing bowl.  Add in sprouted oats or malted wheat flakes.  Mix in remaining ingredients except sourdough starter.  I used my stand mixer and the paddle attachment.  My dough was firm by design to accommodate the spelt.  Allow to rest and rise overnight in a covered bowl.  Next morning, work in the sourdough starter and a couple teaspoons water if necessary to achieve an elastic dough that is only slightly sticky.  Form into a loaf and place in a buttered loaf pan to rise until almost doubled.  (I also brushed the top with softened butter while rising.)
Bake in a 375º oven for 35-37 minutes until golden and registering at least 190º in the center.  Mine finished at 204º.  Allow to cool before slicing.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Light and Fluffy Coconut Cream Pie - no corn starch required!


Happy Pi Day of the century!  It's so hard when you are the only coconut cream pie lover in the house.  I think my kids might try this but I'm not sure.  My other pie loving cohort moved two time zones away.  This pie is a fusion of a chiffon and a cream pie.  I love it because it is corn free and I prefer it to a thick and heavy pudding pie.  You do still make a custard, but it is lightened twice.  Well, lightened in texture, not in calories, this is still a very rich pie!  The coconut milk in the custard gives it more coconut flavor too.  I tried out this recipe for the pie crust (Alan's pie pastry) and it turned out great.  That was even using spelt flour which is very finicky in crust and tends to turn out tough because the protein is so water sensitive.

Toasted Coconut Cream Chiffon Pie
12-16 servings

1 tbsp gelatin
½ cup sugar
3 eggs, separated (or 3 egg yolks and the equivalent of 3 powdered whites, reconstituted)
1 can (13.66 oz) coconut milk (I prefer Thai Kitchen)
Pinch salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
¼ tsp cream of tartar
1 pint heavy whipping cream, divided
1 tbsp powdered sugar
1 (10 inch) pie shell, baked and cooled (use your favorite recipe or even store bought)
½ cup shredded coconut, toasted
¼ cup flaked coconut, toasted (for garnish)

Combine sugar and gelatin in a 2 Qt saucepan.  Blend egg yolks and coconut milk together and add to sugar mixture.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture boils.  Remove from heat and stir in salt, vanilla and ½ cup shredded toasted coconut.  Chill in the refrigerator or an ice bath, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens and mounds up slightly when dropped from a spoon.  

Beat egg whites or reconstituted dried egg white and tartar until stiff peaks form.  Fold into custard.   Whip 1 cup heavy cream until stiff.  Fold into mixture.  Pile into the cooled pie shell and refrigerate while you make the topping.

For the topping, whip the remaining cup of cream with the powdered sugar until stiff peaks form.  Stabilize with ¼ tsp gelatin dissolved in a bit of cream if desired.  Add at the soft peak stage.  Scoop or pipe onto the edge of the pie as desired.  Sprinkle the toasted coconut flakes over the whipped cream.  Refrigerate for a few hours to fully set.  

Enjoy!
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