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Archive for August, 2012

Ah, vacation… We had the best time ever hanging out with the family, riding bikes, enjoying the mountains.  However, I found myself missing the kitchen.  In fact I started having a serious baking withdrawal… Naturally, since we got back, I made 5 sourdough loafs of bread, 2 chocolate cakes, chocolate chip cookies, pitas, and naan… all in less than a week.

The old chocolate cake has been such a huge success, I decided to try a Russian version found in the winter’s Fine Cooking issue.  The potato adds a bit of moisture and keeps the dough fresh for up to 4 days!    Enjoy!

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SWEET RUSSIAN CHOCOLATE BRAID

INGREDIENTS:

Dough

  • 1 ½ cups plus 3 tbs unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 3 tbs water
  • 1 very small potato, peeled, boiled until tender, and forced through a sieve (to yield ¼ cup)
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tsp vanilla powder
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 3 tbs sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 tbs cold unsalted butter

Filling

  • 1 cup Pastry Cream (recipe below)
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 large egg, beaten

DIRECTIONS:

Make the dough. In a small bowl, mix 3 tbs of flour and yeast and water.  Let sit for about 10 minutes till foamy.  In a stand mixer combine the remaining ingredients, add the yeast mixture and mix until the dough is smooth for about 8 minutes.  It will be very sticky.  Dump the dough on a floured surface and knead with your hands for a couple minutes adding a little bit of flour to make it firmer. Transfer the dough in a large container, seal with plastic wrap, and rise for about 3 hours.

Make ahead.  Instead of letting the dough rise, you can place it in a plastic bag and refrigerate for up to 4 days.  Pull it out of the fridge and let it stand for 3-4 hours in room temperature before proceeding to the next step.

Make pastry cream (see recipe below) right after the you mix the dough to give it enough time for cooling down.

Shape the braid. Line a heavy baking sheet with parchment.  Roll the dough on a floured surface into a rectangle about 13×16 inches and about 1/8 inch thick.  Apply the chilled pastry cream over the dough and sprinkle with chocolate chips.  Roll it into a 16-inch cylinder.  Transfer to the baking sheet.  Cut the cylinder in half lengthwise and arrange both halves parallel to one another with a cut side facing up.  Wrap them around each other starting in the middle, pinching the edges of the braid together. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for another 35-45 minutes.

Bake. Preheat the oven to 350⁰F/175⁰C.  Position the rack in the center of the oven. Brush the beaten egg over the braid. Bake until golden brown for about 40 minutes.  Let cool on a rack for 1 hour before slicing.

As you see on the picture below, we couldn’t wait, so the chocolate is still melting under the knife!Yummm!

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PASTRY CREAM

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla powder
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 tbs all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 large egg yolks

DIRECTIONS:

Whisk vanilla, sugar, flour, salt, and egg yolks. Warm up milk just until a skin forms.  Add milk to the mixture in a thin stream, whisking constantly.  Transfer back to heat and cook until the mixture is thick and glue (for about 5 minutes) constantly steering it with a wooden spoon.  Place a plastic wrap on top of the cream and refrigerate until ready to use.

 

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I love bread, I cannot lie. Our neighbors seem to enjoy it too. For months now I have been successfully trading bread for smiles, car washes, window cleaning, wine, and mmmmm my favorite nopales salad. Here is the loaf that has been really popular lately.

It’s a modification of my favorite Tartine recipe.  The natural leaven makes it taste amazing even several days after it was baked.  Try this bread fresh while still warm – and you are in danger of eating the whole loaf in one sitting.

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RYE BREAD

INGREDIENTS:

  • 200 g leaven
  • 800 g water (75⁰ F/ 25⁰ C)
  • 270 g whole-rye flour
  • 830 g unbleached bread flour
  • 20 g salt

Yields 2 loafs

DIRECTIONS:

Day 1: make leaven – combine 200 g water, 1 tbs of sourdough starter and 200 g unbleached all-purpose flour.  Mix well, loosely cover the top of the container with a plastic wrap, and let ferment overnight.  Discard the rest of the starter.

Day 2: Test the leaven: it’s ready if a tsp of it dropped in the water floats.

Once the leaven passes the floating test, combine all ingredients but salt and mix in a stand mixer with a dough hook.

Cover the mixing bowl with plastic and let rest for 25-30 minutes.

Save leftover leaven – it’s now your starter.

After the first rest, add the salt, and mix it well into the dough.  Let rest for about 3 hours, turning the dough upside down with wet hands twice during the first two hours.

After about 3 hours, when the dough has increased in size, dump it onto a floured surface and separate into two equal parts.

Working with one half at a time: with a bread scraper fold the dough edges in to form a ball.  Let rest, seams down, on a floured surface for about 25-30 minutes, covered by plastic or a floured towel.

Next, working with one half at a time, place it face down on a floured surface.  Carefully fold the edges with your hands slightly pressing them into the remaining dough: starting by carefully stretching the bottom edge and folding it to meet the opposite end; repeating with left, right, and finishing with the top edge. Form a loaf.  Place a loaf in a proofing basket, lightly sprinkled with rice flour, lined with a floured tile, face down, seam up.

Put the baskets in plastic bags and refrigerate for 8-24 hours.

To bake: place an iron pot with the lid in the oven and preheat the oven to 500⁰ F/ 260⁰ C.  Dump the loaf into the preheated pot, seam side down. Cover with the lid, and bake the bread in it for 20 minutes at 475 ⁰ F/ 245 ⁰ C.

After 20 minutes remove the lid and let bake for 25 more minutes.

Let chill on a wire rack or eat while it’s hot.

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We just spent a wonderful week in Frisco, Colorado.  Yes, Frisco!  Don’t ever say it in our home town – San Franciscans despise the name!!!  Colorado folk, however, had no problems with it what so ever!  Frisco proved to be one of the friendliest beautiful little towns! The weather! Ah, The weather! It was unforgettable!  You, people, who have summers wouldn’t understand!

So, coming back to San Francisco was a bit of a shock, and I had to make some winter food – I just felt like pulling out the slow cooker – it’s so cold here!  

This dish, though different, is inspired by the Three Clever Sister’s dal.  I have been making chickpeas for years, but the crock pot idea never came into my head until I made their recipe!

 

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INDIAN CHOLE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups of chickpeas soaked overnight
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, minced
  • 2 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1-inch piece ginger, minced
  • 1 14 oz can of coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1.5 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS:

Blend all the ingredients but chickpeas in a food processor or a blender until liquid. Wash and drain chickpeas, place them in a slow cooker, pour the blended mixture over and cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 4-5.

Make ahead: we usually make double or triple of this recipe, since we love it.  Let it cool, and store chole in freezer-safe zip-lock bags in the freezer for up to 6 months.  

I served my chole with pita bread. The recipe was copied (for the 5 or 6th time already) from one of my favorite bloggers, Christina at De La Casa.

 

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I grew up in a pretty swampy area on the border with Finland where even apples wouldn’t ripe. The parents dutifully shipped me to my babushka every summer, so I get some vitamins in me (a.k.a. so my parents get some time off).  But when I would return back from babushka’s there would be a whole world of nutrition waiting for me in the woods.

Cranberries, blueberries, red huckleberries, and mushrooms – we picked them all up by ourselves and brought home to cook and to preserve with. No farmer-raised stuff – all wild!

 

It is so cold in San Francisco this week, I felt like making this chilly autumn kind of meal.  These mushroom patties go very well with mashed potatoes or roasted vegetables.  I made a spicy artichoke sauce to go with it, but for a fresher feel I would also recommend this cilantro sauce.

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MUSHROOM PATTIES

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500 g fresh mushrooms
  • 40 g second-day bread
  • ¼ – ½ cup milk
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled
  • 4 tbs ground flax seed
  • 1 tbs bread crumbs
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Soak the bread in milk.

Wash the mushrooms and put them in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Drain the mushrooms and process them twice through a meat grinder.  Also process the onion and soaked bread.

Add flax seed, salt, and pepper and mix well.  Form patties out of the mixture and roll them in bread crumbs.

Make ahead: you can freeze the patties for up to 6 months.  Place them on a cutting board, and leave in a freezer for 30 minutes before transferring to a freezer-proof zip-lock bag.

Fry on medium high heat in oil.

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ARTICHOKE SAUCE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 tbs olive oil, divided use
  • 8 artichoke hearts, cooked
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbs goat cheese
  • 3 sun-dried tomatoes
  • Leaves from 5 stems of thyme + more for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Chop the onion and caramelize it on a medium-hot pan with 1 tbs of olive oil.

Process caramelized onions and the remaining ingredients in a food processor.  Add more olive oil of the mixture is too thick.

Warm up (but do not boil) before serving.

 

 

 

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