Saturday, January 28, 2012

The daring bakers: scones


Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!
And she did a wonderfull job. But she tried out many batches, so it was a lot of work. Thanks Audax, they were great.
I've thought a long time what to make inside the scone. Cream of course, but something fruity is also delicious. So I made cranberry compote.
It's a recipe from Sarah Ravens book: Food for friends and Family. It combined great with the fluffy scones.
Because we were with five of us, one scone wasn't eaten right away (that wasn't fair). The next day it wasn't that great (too hard), so a reminder: eat them as soon as you can (we prefer warm ones).

Scones (I've made 6 of them):

- 1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour;
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) (10 gm) (⅓ oz) fresh baking powder;
- ¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) salt;
- 2 tablespoons (30 gm/1 oz) frozen grated butter (or a combination of lard and butter);
- approximately ½ cup (120 ml) cold milk;
- optional 1 tablespoon milk, for glazing the tops of the scones.

Preheat oven to very hot 475°F/240°C/gas mark 9. Triple sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. (If your room temperature is very hot refrigerate the sifted ingredients until cold.) Rub the frozen grated butter (or combination of fats) into the dry ingredients until it resembles very coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces if you want flaky scones or until it resembles coarse beach sand if you want tender scones. Add nearly all of the liquid at once into the rubbed-in flour/fat mixture and mix until it just forms a sticky dough (add the remaining liquid if needed). The wetter the dough the lighter the scones (biscuits) will be! Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, lightly flour the top of the dough. To achieve an even homogeneous crumb to your scones knead very gently about 4 or 5 times (do not press too firmly) the dough until it is smooth. To achieve a layered effect in your scones knead very gently once (do not press too firmly) then fold and turn the kneaded dough about 3 or 4 times until the dough has formed a smooth texture. (Use a floured plastic scraper to help you knead and/or fold and turn the dough if you wish.). Pat or roll out the dough into a 6 inch by 4 inch rectangle by about ¾ inch thick (15¼ cm by 10 cm by 2 cm thick). Using a well-floured 2-inch (5 cm) scone cutter (biscuit cutter), stamp out without twisting six 2-inch (5 cm) rounds, gently reform the scraps into another ¾ inch (2 cm) layer and cut two more scones (these two scones will not raise as well as the others since the extra handling will slightly toughen the dough). Or use a well-floured sharp knife to form squares or wedges as you desire.
Place the rounds just touching on a baking dish if you wish to have soft-sided scones or place the rounds spaced widely apart on the baking dish if you wish to have crisp-sided scones. Glaze the tops with milk if you want a golden colour on your scones or lightly flour if you want a more traditional look to your scones.
Bake in the preheated very hot oven for about 10 minutes (check at 8 minutes since home ovens at these high temperatures are very unreliable) until the scones are well risen and are lightly coloured on the tops. The scones are ready when the sides are set.
Immediately place onto cooling rack to stop the cooking process, serve while still warm.

Cranberry Lime compote:

- 350 gram fresh cranberries;
- 50 gram dry cranberries;
- grate and juice of 1 lime;
- 2 tablespoons of light brown sugar;
- 6 tablespoons port;
- 3 anise stars;
- 1 cinnamon stick.

Put all the ingredients in a large pan. Heat the pan on medium heat and bring it to boil, while stirring. Lower the heat and simmer for about 12-14 minutes. Put the mixture in a bowl and let it cool down in the refrigerator. Remove the anise and cinnamon and warm the compote before serving.
The compote will last for five days in the refrigerator.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

FFwD: Broth braised potatoes


It's been a while since I blogged my last post. It has been such a busy time. My seeds must be ordered and I must know for sure which ones I'll choose. It's not that easy. And I want to grow without pesticides. So I have to look for solutions for pests and sometimes I have to find the companion plant which has to go with the vegetable I would like to grow in order to avoid a pest. And they have to be ordered as well. Can you get the picture?
And worst of it. I've just done February, March and April, the busiest months have to be done. But I'm not going to complain much more. I do love it, but it is a lot of work to seek everything out. It is possible though that my blogging level is a bit low for some time.
I've grown my first crop (for this year) though: My own cup of cress. That was an easy one. Nice to eat with a sandwich of cheese.
But that's not why I was blogging today. For French Fridays with Dorie we made broth braised potatoes. It tasted so delicious. You should try it out. Something else with an ordinary potato.
I can't help wondering how it would taste with my own potatoes though. So I'm certainly going to try this one out another time. The rest of my family loved it to, although my husband (a real potato lover) also likes normally cooked potatoes.
It's definitely a real festive potato recipe, and full of taste.

If you want to see what the other cooks made of it, you can look on:

Have a nice weekend!

Friday, January 13, 2012

FFwD: M. Jacques Armagnac chicken

It's friday again and so I've tried a new recipe (for me) from Dorie Greenspans book: French Fridays with Dorie.

This time the recipe involved a whole chicken, surrounded with nice vegetables and potatoes. The chicken should be laying in Armagnac. I didn't have any Armagnac, but brandy was a good substitute Dorie wrote, so I took that bottle.
Also the chicken should be placed in a casserole with a lid. I've got casseroles, but not big enough for a whole chicken with veggies. So I folded the baking dish in aluminium foil. And maybe that's why the end result wasn't as it supposed to be. The chicken should bake for an hour and I put my chicken in the oven for even more than an hour and it still wasn't baked completely. So at the dinner table, I did have to put everything back and bake for a little more.

For the sauce which was supposed to go with the chicken, I've added abricots. Dorie advised plumbs, but I didn't have that in my pantry (looks like I've said that a few times before in this post). I supposed abricots got an extra flavour which could be quite nice and I was right.

And now for the recipe. For me this was not the best recipe from Dorie even not the nicest chicken recipe. But I loved it to try it out for once.

If you want to see what the other Dorista's made of it, than you can find it back on: www.frenchfridayswithdorie.com.

PS.: Have you seen that "tuesdayswithdorie" is starting to bake through a whole new book. As you might read before I couldn't participate the last time, because the group was already closed. They start in february in the book: baking with julia.
I've registered myself already (I don't want to be late again). Are you also going to participate?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Salted butter cookies


My new years resolution (one of them) is to eat as healthy as possible. But something sweet is definitely on our daily menu (but not to often). But when we eat it, I want to eat this as pure as possible. Without E-numbers, colouring liquids etc.
That's almost impossible to find in a grocery. And if you find it, it costs a fortune. As you know by now, I'm a fan off Dorie Greenspan. She writes delicious recipes. So I wanted to try a cookie recipe, which I missed in the last year of French Friday with Dorie, because I was late with applying to this group.
But I read a lot of positive reactions about this recipe.
So I wanted to give it a try. Dories original recipe was made of one big cookie. I didn't dare that. There would be a fight on a regular basis between my boys which one would get the biggest (in their opinion). So I decided to take a cookie cutter, and they are supposed to be the same size (and it worked quite well).

My boys were smelling the cookies in the living room when I was baking them, and they didn't leave my site until they were cold enough to eat. That's definitely a good sign.
And they liked them a lot.
So I got a new recipe for making cookies. Hope you enjoy it also.

Salted Butter Break-Ups (adaption of the recipe courtesy of Dorie Greenspan, Around My French Table)

- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 3/4-1 teaspoon sel gris or kosher salt
- 9 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 18 pieces
- 3-5 tablespoons cold water
- 1 egg yolk, for the glaze

Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Drop in the pieces of butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal—you’ll have both big pea-size pieces and small flakes. With the machine running, start adding the cold water gradually: add just enough water to produce a dough that almost forms a ball. When you reach into the bowl to feel the dough, it should be very malleable.

Scrape the dough onto a work surface, form it into a square, and pat it down to flatten it a bit. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill it for about 1 hour. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months.)

When you’re ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Remove the dough from the fridge and, if it’s very hard, bash it a few times with your rolling pin to soften it. Put the dough between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper and roll it into a rectangle that’s about 1/4 inch thick and about 5 x 11 inches; accuracy and neatness doesn’t count for a lot here. Take your cookie cutter and cut the cookies out of the dough. Transfer the cookies to the lined baking sheet.

Beat the egg yolk with a few drops of cold water and, using a pastry brush, paint the top surface of the dough with an egg glaze. Using the back of a table fork, decorate the cookie in a crosshatch pattern.

Bake the cookie for 25 minutes, or until it is golden. It will be firm to the touch but have a little spring when pressed in the center — the perfect break-up is crisp on the outside and still tender within. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and allow the cookie to cool to room temperature.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Mojito-Melon skewer


We had an new years party and should bring something with us to eat. I wanted to make something different, but had to little inspiration. So I planned to make a wrap. Knowing I probably wouldn't be the only one, but you have to make something. At that moment the author of the sis.boom. (blog!)  made her top 10 of recipes who did get the least attention on her blog. She thought they deserved some more. And that's were I found this recipe. Frozen Mojito-Melon skewers. Perfect, unique and really tasteful. And at the right moment. What else can I wish for.
As it seems for melons. Normally there are plenty of melons at the grocery stores. And now? Not one.
After three stores I got only two of them, but that was enough for me (I'm sorry Marc, I know you like melons but you're to young for this ones!).
This recipe is an adaptation from the book "on a stick" from Matt Armendariz. Sis.bloom. thought it was the perfect skewer to bring to a BBQ.
I know that it's also a perfect skewer to bring to a new years eve party. I didn't freeze the mojito-skewers as was written in the recipe of sis.bloom, because it's already freezing outside (ahum), but it is cold.
My husband thought it was a pity to throw away the marinade afterwards. I offered him to drink it, but he refused, so eventually after two batches of melon, I threw the marinade away.

For the (very easy recipe) you need:
- juice from 6 limes;
- 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lime zest;
- 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar;
- 8 sprigs of mint;
- 1 1/2 cups white rum;
- 2 melons;
- sticks.


Arrange the wedges of one melon in an baking dish. Make the mojito mix: Place all ingredients plus 1 cup water in a blender and pulse until the mint is finely chopped. Pour the mixture over melon wedges and refrigerate 1 hour.
Pierce each melon wedge with a pop stick, and arrange in a bowl.
Use the marinade for the second melon.

Friday, January 6, 2012

FFwD: bubble-top brioche rolls


This week the recipe chosen from Dorie Greenspans book: around my French table was: bubble-top brioche rolls.
And due to the holidays my kids had vacation, and they love to help. Luckily this recipe was easy, so the youngest one helped. He kneaded the dough, cut the dough, rolled the little balls and I finally baked them (He's just three, so that's a littlebit to dangerous). And  offcourse he ate the brioche rolls. And they tasted very good. He was complimented a lot by all of us.
For the good baking of the recipe of course, the recipe was from Dorie and that's the start.
But for a three year old a very good job.

This is a recipe I'm going to make a lot more in the near future. A real sunday morning tread. The rolls were fluffy, creamy and had the right taste. And they looked great.
Also it was a very easy recipe. The only trick (I hadn't seen it until Thursday, when I wanted to finish this recipe) is that the dough should rest overnight.
So we made them for the lunch on Friday instead of Thursday. I already baked bread for Thursday so that wasn't a big problem at all.

Next week we're blogging about monsieur jacques armagnac chicken (sounds great isn't it?), but if you want to know what the other FFwD-cooks made of this recipe, you can look at:

Have a nice weekend.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Dutch donut


The first photo looks like I'm enjoying beer. I don't. It's one of the few drinks I don't like at all. Never did either. But it's great to use in Dutch donuts. Dutch donuts is a treat we eat at new years eve. You can buy them everywhere that day. But this year we, with help of my husband and childeren, made them ourselves.
Plain ones with no additions and Dutch donuts with raisins and apple.
We took them to my family and the bowl was almost empty at 12 o'clock.
We enjoyed playing games and even had (a little bit) fire works.
The reason for the fireworks was that my oldest and I were doing groceries for the Dutch donuts. He saw someone with fireworks and also wanted some. We agreed to keep it small.
So for the first time ever I entered a fireworks shop.
Because not everyone likes the hard noise of the fireworks exploding in your neighbourhood and I wanted to keep it as safe as possible, I thought I was smart and bought rockets instead of firework pots. My brother and husband laughed when they heard the story. They told me the rockets were unsafe as they don't always go sky high (and indeed two didn't).
So my lesson for next year: firework pots (I won't forget that one).

So a bit late, but for everyone a very happy new year to all of you and your loved ones.

And now for the recipe, for the plain ones just keep the raisins and apple out.

Ingredients (all roomtemperature):
- 1 kg plain flower;
- 750 mL beer;
- 50 mL milk;
- 2 eggs (L);
- 30 gram dry yeast;
- 50 gram unsalted butter;
- 30 gram sugar;
- 15 gram salt;
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon;
- 300 gram raisins;
- 1 apple in small parts;
- 3 - 4 liter sunflower oil.

Wash the raisins and leave them in a small bowl, just below water level for about 1 hour. Melt the butter on low heat. Warm the milk to 37 degrees Celsius. Stir the yeast in the milk. Mix the flour, the salt and sugar in a bowl and stir the eggs, one by one, through. With a whisk mix the beer through the dough, bit by bit. Stir until all lumbs are gone. Add the milk-yeast mixture, the butter and cinnamon and mix well. Add the raisins and the apple and stir slowly with a wooden spoon for a few minutes.

Wet a towel with handwarm water and lay this over the bowl. Let the dough rise for about one hour. Heat the sunfloweroil to 180 degrees Celsius.

After this hour whisk gently with a wooden spoon through the batter.  With two spoons make small balls and spoon this in the heated oil.  Fry the donuts for 3 minutes at each site. Layer paper towels in a colander and spoon the donuts in it, to get rid of excess oil.
Sprinkle the donuts with powdering sugar before eating.