Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Black and White Wednesday # 72-A Lovely Space for Creating Food Memories

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I'm spending the week taking care of the grandchildren while my daughter travels and son-in-law is working. While the 3 year old napped, I used my iPhone to shoot some sepia photos of their lovely kitchen,  dining room, collection of cookbooks and super espresso machine. These images were shot with the Camera +, a sepia filter added in Pro HDR, and finally a diptych made in Diptic.
These images are my contribution to BWW #72, this week hosted by Simona of Briciole. Created by Susan, of The Well-Seasoned Cook and now managed by Cinzia from CindyStar Blog, BWW is great event to share one's black and white culinary images.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Classic Croissants-We Knead to Bake #2

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Within walking distance of our holiday apartment in Bruges was a small bakkerij which usually sold out of croissants before 9am and as I was the early bird in the group, I had the delightful job of buying the croissants for our breakfast. Traditional croissants, chocolate-filled, almond paste filled, savory croissants-they were all wonderful! I have many memories of my travels, but the croissants in Bruges stay firmly planted in my foodie brain. They were beyond my talents to make, I thought, until Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen chose Classic Croissants for---

Although having never made them before, the step-by-step directions along with Aparna's photos guided me through process with confidence. Aparna tweaked and fine-tuned the original recipe from Jeffrey Hammelman's recipe at Fine Cooking and I have to say her adaptation is brilliant. Success with croissants comes with patience and time as the croissants take three days to complete, however, most of that time, with the exception of a lot of dough rolling, is spent either in the refrigerator or the shaped croissants proofing in the pan. I have no step-by-step instructions since my kitchen is in an upheaval as I am going out of town, but I've included Aparna's recipe and a few of her tips. You might also find this video-Making and Baking Classic Croissants very helpful. My second batch of croissants were filled with a Biscoff spread which you might know of as Speculoos spread.  More filling ideas here

Some tips that might help:
1. Ensure that your butter is cold – cold enough that it is pliable enough to smoothly roll out; not hard (or it will break) or soft (it will melt). If the butter is too hard and breaks while rolling out the dough, you will not get the layers in the croissants.

2. Do not over-knead / develop the dough too much, too much gluten will not help during the lamination process. The lamination process itself is a kind of stretch and fold anyway and will strengthen the dough. So keep to the 3 minutes the recipe says. You want a soft dough, not an elastic one.

3. When you cover the butter square with the dough, make sure you seal the dough well, otherwise the butter will leak out when you roll out the dough, and there’s no way you can manage to put the butter back in. You will also end up with butter leaking during the baking.

4. Always, always make sure your dough and butter inside it are cold. I cannot stress the importance of this enough. Once the butter has melted, it is difficult to get the dough to produce layers because the dough tends to absorb the butter and will make greasy croissants. So, while working with the dough, or when rolling it out, if at any point you feel the dough becoming warm and soft, put it back in the fridge immediately. Also work as quickly as you can so the butter stays cold.

5. During the lamination of the dough (rolling and folding repeatedly), chill the dough in the freezer and NOT the fridge. The overnight refrigeration is to be done in the fridge NOT in the freezer. Resting the dough is an important part of the croissant making process.

6. Plan ahead and make sure you do all this when you have the time for it. You will need more time than you think you, believe me. You cannot leave this and attend to something else, unless you want to set yourself for failure!

7. You also need a lot of patience to keep rolling out the dough with just enough pressure to stretch it. The rolled out dough before shaping should be somewhere between 1/4” and 1/8” thick.

8. Make sure your dough is shaped with straight lines and square-ish corners. All the time you are rolling your dough out, keep this in mind. This way you will minimise waste of dough. More importantly, the edges where there is no butter would get folded in during lamination and affect your layers. So trim off those bits if you have any of them.

9. Keep lightly flouring your work surface (not too much), just enough to keep working smoothly without tearing the dough. However, dust with a light hand or you could end up adding more flour than desirable.

10. Do not be tempted to fold more than three times. A fourth fold will give you more layers, but thinner butter layers between them, and your croissants will not puff of as much as you would like them to.

11. And most important, as funny as it sounds. If you like to and do wear rings on your fingers like I do, take them off while working with this dough and the dough will thank you! Rings have a habit of inadvertently tearing the dough. If the butter comes out, patching it up by dusting a little flour can help but doesn’t always work.

Classic Croissants
(Adapted from Jeffrey Hammelman’s recipe at Fine Cooking)
For the dough:
4 cups all-purpose flour, and a little more for dusting/ rolling out dough
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp cold water
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp cold milk (I used 2%)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
40gm soft unsalted butter
1 tbsp plus scant 1/2 tsp instant yeast
2 tsp salt
For the butter layer:
250 gm cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup of cold milk (or 1/8 cup of cream + 1/8 cup cream) to brush the dough
Or 1 egg for egg wash

Day 1:

Make the dough (and refrigerate overnight)
Combine all the ingredients for the dough in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. You can also use a food processor with the plastic blade, or do this by hand.
Mix everything on low speed for 3 minutes, scraping the sides of the mixing bowl once if necessary. Then mix further on medium speed for 3 minutes. Lightly flour a 10-inch pie pan or a dinner plate. And place the ball of dough on this.
Gently shape the dough into a flat ball by pressing it down before storing it in the fridge, this makes rolling out next morning easier. Making a tight ball will strengthen the gluten which you do not need. Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour and wrap well with plastic so it doesn’t dry out. Refrigerate overnight.

Day 2:
Make the butter layer
The next day, cut out 2 pieces of parchment or waxed paper into 10” squares each. Cut the cold butter into 1/2-inch-thick slabs. Place these pieces on one piece of parchment/ waxed paper so they form a 5- to 6-inch square. Cut the butter further into pieces as required to fit the square. Top with the other piece of parchment/ waxed paper.
Using a rolling pin, pound the butter with light, even strokes. As the pieces begin to stick together, use more force. Pound the butter until it flattens out evenly into a square that’s approximately 7-1/2”. Trim the edges of the butter to make a neat square. Put the trimmings on top of the square and pound them in lightly with the rolling pin. Refrigerate this while you roll out the dough.

Laminate the dough
Unwrap and lay the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Roll it out to a 10-1/2-inch square, and brush off the excess flour. Take the butter out from the refrigerator —it should be cold but pliable. If it isn’t refrigerate it till it is. This so that when you roll out the dough with the butter in ti, neither should it be soft enough to melt, or hard enough to break. Unwrap the butter and place it on the square of dough in the centre, so that it forms a “diamond” shape on the dough.

Fold one flap of dough over the butter toward you, stretching it slightly so that the point just reaches the middle of the butter square. Bring the opposite flap to the middle, slightly overlapping the previous one. Similarly repeat with the other two so that the dough forms an envelope around the butter. Lightly press the edges together to completely seal the butter inside the dough to ensure the butter doesn’t escape when you roll out the dough later.

Lightly flour the top and bottom of the dough. With the rolling pin, firmly press along the dough uniformly to elongate it slightly. Now begin rolling instead of pressing, focusing on lengthening rather than widening the dough and keeping the edges straight.

Roll the dough into an 8” by 24” rectangle. If the ends lose their square shape, gently reshape the corners with your hands. Brush off the excess flour. Mark the dough lightly equally into three along the long side. Using this as a guideline, pick up one short end of the dough and fold 1/3rd of it back over the dough, so that 1/3rd of the other end of dough is exposed. Now fold the 1/3rd exposed dough over the folded side. Basically, the dough is folded like 3-fold letter before it goes into an envelope (letter fold). Put the folded dough on a floured baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze for 15 to 20 minutes to relax and chill the dough.

Repeat the rolling and folding, this time rolling in the direction of the two open ends (from the shorter sides to lengthen the longer sides) until the dough is about 8” by 24”. Once again fold the dough in thirds, brushing off excess flour and turning under any rounded edges or short ends with exposed or smeared layers. Cover once again with plastic wrap and freeze for another 15 to 20 minutes.
Roll and fold the dough exactly in the same way for the third time and put it baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap, tucking the plastic under all four sides and refrigerate overnight.

Day 3:
Divide the dough
The next day, unwrap and lightly flour the top and bottom of the dough. Cut the dough along the longer side into halves. Cover one half with plastic wrap and refrigerate it while working on the other half.

“Wake up the dough up” by pressing firmly along its length with the rolling pin. Don’t widen the dough but simply begin to lengthen it with these first strokes. Slowly roll the dough into a long and narrow strip, approximately 8” by 22”. If the dough sticks as you roll, sprinkle with flour.
Once the dough is about half to two-thirds of its final length, it may start to resist rolling and even shrink back. If this happens, fold the dough in thirds, cover, and refrigerate for about 10 minutes; then unfold the dough and finish rolling.

Lift the dough an inch or so off the table at its midpoint and allow it to shrink from both sides and prevent the dough from shrinking when it’s cut. Check that there’s enough excess dough on either end so that when you trim the edges to straighten them, you have a strip of dough that is 20’ inches long. Now trim the edges so they’re straight.

If you’re good at “eyeballing” and cutting the dough into triangles, then forget the measuring rule, marking and cutting instructions. Otherwise, lay a measuring rule or tape measure lengthwise along the top length of the dough. With a knife, mark the top of the dough at 5-inch intervals along the length (there will be 3 marks in all). Now place the rule or tape measure along the bottom length of the dough. Make a mark 2-1/2 inches in from the end of the dough. Make marks at 5-inch intervals from this point all along the bottom of the dough. You’ll have 4 marks that fall halfway between the marks at the top.
Make diagonal cuts by positioning the yardstick at the top corner and the first bottom mark. Use a pizza wheel/ pie wheel or a bench scraper and cut the dough along this line which connects each top mark to the next bottom mark and then back to the next top mark and so on. This way you will have 7 triangles and a scrap of dough at each end.

Shape the croissants

Now work with one piece of triangular dough at a time. Using your rolling pin, very lightly roll (do not make it thin but only stretch it slightly) the triangle to stretch it a little, until it is about 10” long. This will give your croissants height and layers. You can stretch it by hand too, but if you don’t have the practise, your stretching could be uneven.

Using a sharp small knife, make a 1/2- to 3/4-inch-long notch in the centre of the short side of each triangle. The notch helps the rolled croissant curl into a crescent.

Place the triangle on the work surface with the notched side closest to you. With one hand on each side of the notch, begin to roll the dough away from you, towards the pointed end.
Flare your hands outward as you roll so that the notched “legs” become longer. Roll the triangle tight enough but not too tight to compress it, until you reach the “pointy” end which should be under the croissant.

Now bend the two legs towards you to form a tight crescent shape and gently press the tips of the legs together (they’ll come apart while proofing but keep their crescent shape).
Shape all the triangles like this into croissants and place them on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet leaving as much space between them as they will rise quite a bit.

Proof the croissants

Brush the croissants with milk (or a mix of milk and cream). If you use eggs, make an egg wash by whisking one egg with 1 tsp water in a small bowl until very smooth. Lightly brush this on each croissant.
Refrigerate the remaining milk/ milk+cream (or egg wash) for brushing the croissants again later. Place the croissants in a cool and draft-free place (the butter should not melt) for proofing/ rising for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. They might need longer than 2 hours to proof, maybe as much as 3 hours, so make sure to let croissants take the time to proof. The croissants will be distinctly larger but not doubled in size. They’re ready if you can see the layers of dough from the side, and if you lightly shake the sheets, the croissants will wiggle.

Bake the croissants

Just before the croissants are fully proofed, pre-heat your oven to 200C (400F) in a convection oven or 220C (425F) in a regular oven. Brush the croissants with milk/ milk+cream (or egg wash) a second time, and place your baking sheets on the top and lower thirds of your oven (if regular) or bake one tray at a time in the convection oven.
Bake them for about 15 to 20 minutes till they’re done and golden brown on top and just beginning to brown at the sides. In a regular oven, remember to turn your baking sheets halfway through. If they seem to be darkening too quickly during baking, lower the oven temperature by 10C (25F). Cool the croissants on the baking sheets on racks.

Serve warm. This recipe makes 15 croissants.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Lemon Biscotti-Biscotti al Limone

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Although my lemons did not come from Sicily where lemons have been grown since the 10th century, this recipe for lemon biscotti did.  There is a saying that lemons are not real lemons unless they are from Sicily, however this crunchy biscotti is nevertheless very fragrant using just plain supermarket lemons. Loaded with grated lemon zest and lemon bitters, the lemon flavor is in every bite as well as in the lemon icing drizzled over the  flat sides of the biscotti. Another recipe from one of my favorite Italian cookbooks, Italian Country Cooking-The Secrets of Cucina Povera which I am slowly working my way through.  I would serve these biscotti with lemon ice cream for a dessert, as a teacake for afternoon tea or with a glass of Vin Santo.

Lemon Biscotti
Ingredients for the Biscotti:

3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature, plus 1 extra for wash
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup light olive oil
peeled zest of 3 large lemons, finely chopped
1/2 cup milk
4-8 drops lemon bitters

To Make the Biscotti:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine the flour, baking and salt and sift into a bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend the 2 eggs until foamy. Gradually add sugar, blending constantly, until the mixture is very thick and very pale yellow, about 3-4 minutes. Blend in the oil and then lemon zest.

Add the lemon bitters to the milk.To the bowl of the mixer, add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk and ending with the flour. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and divide into 4 equal parts. Shape them into logs, about 1-1/4-inch thick. Place the logs 2-inches apart on one of the baking sheets. Mix the extra egg with 2 teaspoons water and brush over the logs. Bake until they are golden and firm, about 25-30 minutes, turning the baking sheet back to front halfway through the baking time.

Remove from oven and cool on a rack for about 10 minutes. Leave the oven on. Using a bread knife, cut the logs diagonally  into 1/2-inch thick slices. Lay the slices on the baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Turn the slices over and bake another 15 minutes, or until golden on both sides.  Cool on wire racks before icing. Makes about 48.

Ingredients for the Icing:

2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4-1/2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
4 drops lemon bitters

To Make the Icing:

Combine all the ingredients. Drizzle over biscotti. Store in airtight container.

Freshly squeezed lemon juice

The black and white lemon photos above are my contribution to
BWW #71 hosted this week by Shruthi of Food and Clicks. Black and White Wednesday was created by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook and is now managed by Cinzia of Cindy Star Blog.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Mushroom Soup (Hubová Polievka) with Rye Bread

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A combination of cremini mushrooms, potatoes and smoked bacon makes a hearty, yet light enough to serve as a first course.  Adding a jolt of flavor to the soup is shiitake mushroom powder quickly made in a coffee grinder. This mushroom  powder elevates this humble soup to the sublime.  Top the soup with a dollop of sour cream and serve with homemade rye bread. Although the cremini mushrooms are flavorful, this soup needed more mushroom flavor which you get from dried mushrooms. In fact, the original mushroom soup recipe uses only dried shiitakes to make the soup.

Our culinary journey of the countries of the European Union continues with Slovakia, a totally landlocked country surrounded by  the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south. Slovakia is indeed a melting pot of culinary flavors. As there is no real Slovakian cuisine as the food varies from region to region and is based on traditional customs and peasant or provincial cooking. Pork is the most popular meat followed by poultry products. Cabbage and potatoes rank high of the list of vegetables consumed as well as eggs and dairy products. The national dish may well be bryndzové halusky, little potato dumplings with bacon and Bryndza, a soft sheep milk cheese . With this recipe Terry from Crumpets and Co leads us through Slovakia as our "B" month  in the European Union Culinary ABC.

Mushroom Soup (Hubová Polievka)
Recipe Adapted From Slovak Cooking

1/4 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms, rinsed and dried
1 ounce dried mushrooms, rinsed or 8 ounces fresh, rinsed and patted dry, sliced
5 cups salted water
3 large white potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 slices, smoked bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons sour cream

Grind the dried shiitake mushrooms in a spice grinder until finely ground. You should have about 3 tablespoons. Set aside while preparing soup.

Add water to a large soup pot, add mushrooms and potatoes and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer. Meanwhile fry the bacon until crisp. When done, remove the bacon to a plate. Pour off most of the fat, add the flour, stir and cook for 1-2 minutes, then add to the pot along with the cooked bacon. Simmer until potatoes and mushrooms are soft. Add 1-3 tablespoons of the mushroom powder. Stir in sour cream, if desired: Stir to combine. Adjust seasoning. To serve, pour into soup bowls, top with sour cream and chopped green onions.

Eastern European Potato-Rye Bread

Makes four-1-pound loaves, easily halved or doubled

3 cups lukewarm water
1-1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (1-1/2 packets)
1-1/2 tablespoons salt
1 cup mashed potato
1-1/2 tablespoons caraway seed, plus additional for sprinkling on the top crust
1 cup rye flour
5-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Cornmeal for pizza peel
Cornstarch wash (recipe follows)

  1. I halved the recipe and prepared the dough in a bread machine. Add ingredients to the bread machine pan according to manufacturer's instructions for your machine. Process on the dough cycle. When the cycle has completed, remove dough to a floured surface. Divide in half.Let rest 5 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Allow to rest and rise on a cornmeal-covered pizza peel for 40 minutes.
  2. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat oven to 350°F, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler pan tray on a lower shelf.
  3. Using a pastry brush, paint the top crust with the cornstarch wash and then sprinkle with additional caraway seeds. Slash the loaf with deep parallel cuts across the loaf.
  4. Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone. Pour 1 cup hot tap water into the broiler tray and quickly close the oven door. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until browned and firm. Allow to cool before slicing or eating.
Cornstarch Wash
Blend 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch with a small amount of water to form a paste. Add 1/2 cup water and whisk well with a fork. Microwave or boil until mixture appears glassy, about 30-60 seconds on high. The wash will keep refrigerated for two weeks. Discard if it has an off smell.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Easy Crispy Homemade Hash Browns

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My hash browns are not as easy as opening a package of frozen ones, but if you make these, you will most likely never buy the supermarket frozen ones again. There's hardly a recipe for them as I have made them for years. Unadorned except for salt, pepper and chopped chives, they fry up in less than 10 minutes if you have baked the russet potatoes ahead of time, cooled and then refrigerated them until ready to grate. Even the peel is grated along with the potato adding to its nutritional value. One medium potato along with the skin has about 110 calories-no fat, no sodium or cholesterol. More information here.

Hash Browns
Serves 4

4 medium baked potatoes, grated skin included
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large non-stick skillet
Chopped chives to garnish

Heat oil  in non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add potatoes in one layer. Let cook 3-5 minutes, turn and cook, turning occasionally until  most all of the potatoes are golden brown. Don't turn too often and they will become mushy instead of crisp.

Add In's-diced onions, sautéed, diced ham, shredded cheddar or favorite cheese.

More recipes for hash browns:

Southwestern Hash Browns
Sweet Potato Hash Browns
Crispy Hash Browns

Please do not use images or text without my permission. Crispy Hash Browns

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Company Cinnamon Toast

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Heavy cream makes these crunchy,  baked cinnamon-sugared toasts a special treat for teatime or for breakfast or brunch. This is the second recipe (first one here) I've posted from the 40 year old cookbook, "Informal Entertaining Country Style" by the food editors of Farm Journal Magazine, first published in 1877 and still in print today. Not only was the magazine a prime source of information for farmers, but back when I was growing up on our farm, the magazine had a wealth of recipes for entertaining using many of the foods grown in our large vegetable gardens.  This particular recipe was designed for friends who drop by unexpectedly, (which many did as it was the custom in a farming community). In just a few minutes, a guest could enjoy these toasts hot from the oven along with a cup of hot tea, especially welcome in the winter.

Simple Afternoon Tea

Company Cinnamon Toast

6 slices good bread, 1" thick
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon (in retrospect, I would decrease this to 1 tablespoon)
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Trim crust from bread and cut each slice into 3 strips. Mix cinnamon and sugar together in a shallow dish. Pour the cream in another shallow dish. Dip the bread strips in cream to coat both sides. Brush strip tops with butter; sprinkle all sides with the sugar/cinnamon mixture to make a thick covering.

Place the bread strips on a rack in a shallow baking pan (this keeps them from sticking to the pan). Bake in a hot oven (400 degrees F. for 20 minutes. Serve hot. Makes 18 strips.
Cinnamon Toast and Tea

The two monochrome images here are for Black and White Wednesday #70, hosted this week by Alex from Food4Thought. For those of you unfamiliar with this event, you can read about it on Susan's blog, The Well-Seasoned Cook. Susan, BWW's creator has since handed the management over to Cinzia of CindyStar Blog. Both Susan and Cinzia are highly talented photographers and exceptional cooks.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Banana Ginger Cake with Brown Butter Frosting-Secret Recipe Club

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There are many recipes for banana bars, cakes and the like, but the brown butter frosting on the banana bars piqued my interest while I browsed Julie's lovely blog,  A Little Bit of Everything. The browned butter enhanced the flavor of the confectioners sugar frosting and was a perfect embellishment for the delicious banana cake. It's group B's reveal day for The Secret Recipe Club. I was given Julie's blog to choose a recipe to make for this day and you can imagine how hard it was to choose a recipe from a blog entitled "A Little Bit of Everything". I was amazed not only at the collection of dishes that Julie has posted, but at her impressive My50 list of recipes she intended on preparing on her blog. 

There wasn't anything I could do to change the banana bar recipe as it was too delicious to fool with. Ginger and bananas have a special affinity, so ground ginger was added to the batter and chopped crystallized ginger decorated each cake square. I give you Julie's tantalizing banana cake-

Banana Ginger Cake with Brown Butter Frosting

1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1-3/4 cups ripe bananas, mashed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cups chopped walnuts (optional)

Brown Butter Frosting

1/2 cup butter
4 cups confectioners sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons milk
Chopped crystallized ginger, optional

For the Cake:
 Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour a 15x10 jelly roll pan( I used a 9x12). In a large bowl with a mixer, cream sugar and butter until smooth. Add eggs one at at time, mixing well before each addition. Add sour cream, mashed bananas and vanilla extract. Add flour, baking soda, salt and ginger. Mix just until flour is incorporated. Stir in walnuts, if using.

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake 20-25 minutes (35-40 minutes with a 9x12), or until golden brown. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack.

For the Brown Butter Frosting:
Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil, swirling occasionally. Allow the butter to turn a delicate shade of brown. Remove from heat.

Add the confectioners sugar, vanilla extract and milk. Whisk together until smooth. It should be thicker than a glaze, but thinner than a frosting. Spread the frosting over the warm bars. Yield 2 dozen (15x10) bars. Sprinkle chopped crystallized ginger over each square, if desired.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Weekend Herb Blogging #370 Roundup

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If you are looking for recipes to celebrate Valentine's Day, look no further! In this Weekend Herb Blogging #370 roundup, a full meal or a dessert social awaits you. A breakfast roasted applesauce lassi, three tantalizing desserts-two rich and lovely chocolate desserts along with a crispy sweet fried Italian pastry, a tangy blood orange salad dressing and a spice rubbed roasted chicken. Read on for a glimpse into the world of these talented cooks and photographers. 

It's always a pleasure to participate and host WHB. Thanks goes to Kalyn for creating this very popular seven year long event and to Haalo for expert management. 
Angel Wings
Cinzia-CindyStar Blog
"It's Carnival time and as usual, we always delight us with some typical sweet Italian pastry that's specially made for this occasion-sweet deep-fried pastry"..... And I love to share it with friends as well, it's almost a tradition for us to gather and enjoy a day of frying and chatting, making huge baskets of galani to bring home and make the family happy---."

Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles
Janet-The Taste Space
Toronto, Canada
"It might be comforting to know that there are no sweets in the house. However, I know that isn't true. I just need to be more creative. There are sweets that just need to be discovered. -----A super simple recipe---rich and fudgy, these bites delivered. I loved that it made a small batch and each piece was satisfying."

Applesauce Lassi
"I've been making kefir at home for 13 months now. I prepare it in various ways, in particular to prepare lassi for my husband's breakfast (colazione), strawberry or peach lassi.------ One day that I had no suitable fruit available, I decided to use roasted applesauce. The result was applauded and therefore, this has become the classic winter lassi."

"---with Valentine's Day occurring next week, something a bit sweet and decadent seems to be in order.  For me, I've found the answer in these gooey raspberry brownies."

Creamy Blood Orange Salad Dressing with Honey and Mint
Susan-The Well-Seasoned Cook
"The magenta-maroon juice, made pale with cream, sparked with surprising distinction, holding its own against the bold vinegar, mustard and raw alliums. That the recipe pulled together in a matter of minutes, made it all the more attractive. Blood simple, I call it."

Baharat Roast Chicken with Brussels Sprouts and Carrots
Lynne-Cafe Lynnylu
"An exotic rub permeates this plump, juicy roasted chicken served on a bed of cumin-spiced rice with sautéed Brussels sprouts, carrots and golden raisins. Freshly ground black pepper and sweet paprika form the base of the Baharat rub with cumin, coriander, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom rounding out the flavors."

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Baharat Roast Chicken with Brussels Sprouts and Carrots

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An exotic rub permeates this plump, juicy roasted chicken served on a bed of cumin spiced rice with sautéed Brussels sprouts, carrots and golden raisins. A North African spice mix, Baharat is traditionally used to season lamb, but is a flavor booster for other meats, poultry and vegetable dishes as well.  Freshly ground black pepper and sweet paprika form the base of the Baharat rub with cumin, coriander,  cloves, cinnamon and cardamom rounding out the flavors. The mint seasoned yogurt is similar to a Labneh, a middle eastern yogurt cheese made from whole-milk Greek yogurt. Unseasoned, Labneh can be used in the place of cream cheese.

Inspired by coriander and sumac roast chicken with chickpeas and hazelnuts featured in the February issue of Sunset magazine and with many of the ingredients for the Baharat rub on hand, I fashioned a new dish using Brussels sprouts, carrots and a cumin spiced rice. The dish was a big success with my family and I hope you will enjoy this eclectic roast chicken meal.

Baharat Roast Chicken with Brussels Sprouts and Carrots

3 tablespoons Baharat spice rub (recipe follows)
1 teaspoon salt
1 whole chicken  4 to 4 1/2 pounds
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 lemon, quartered
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
10 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chicken broth
Hot cumin rice for six (recipe follows)
Plain whole-milk yogurt seasoned with dried mint and top sprinkled with Baharat seasoning

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Rub the chicken with 1-1/2 tablespoons oil. Combine the salt and the Baharat spice mixture, rub inside and out of chicken. Put lemon and onion in cavity. Set chicken breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan. Secure wings with toothpicks and tie legs together loosely with kitchen twine.

Roast chicken 45 minutes, then baste with pan juices every 15 minutes or so until a leg joint wiggles easily or to a temperature of 165 degrees F.

In heavy skillet, heat remaining 1-1/2 tablespoons olive over medium heat. Saute Brussels sprout until lightly browned about 3 minutes, add carrots, saute 1 minute.  Add raisins and chicken broth and cook until sprouts are tender when pierced with a sharp knife. Season with salt and pepper. To serve, spread rice on a platter. Arrange Brussels sprouts and carrots over the  hot cumin rice and place chicken on top. Serve with yogurt.

Cumin Spiced Rice

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup white rice
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups chicken broth, or water

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy pot over medium heat, add rice, onion and ground cumin. Saute, stirring frequently until rice is slightly browned. Add chicken broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook over 12-15 minutes until liquid has evaporated and rice is tender. Keep hot.

Baharat Spice

2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine all ingredients. Store in a covered container away from light. Makes about 1/2 cup.

This is my contribution to WHB #370 hosted by yours truly. Weekend Herb Blogging was created by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen and is now managed by Haalo of Cook (Almost) Anything Once.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Monday, February 04, 2013

Weekend Herb Blogging #370 Announcement

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I'm pleased again to be hosting this long running event which was begun by Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen and is now managed by Haalo of Cook (Almost) Anything Once. For those of you not familiar with this event, the rules are here.

While hosting or participating in WHB, I have seem some amazing dishes cross my computer screen from super talented  cooks and food photographers from all over the world. I hope you will share your recipes and photos in WHB #370.

Please send your entries with WHB #370 in the title to lynnylu AT gmail DOT com with the following information:

Your Name
Your Blog Name/URL
Your Post URL
Your Attached Photo (maximum width 400 px)

Entries are due on Sunday, February 10, 2013 by 3pm Utah, USA time and the roundup will be posted on Monday, February 11. I haven't decided what I will be making for this event, but it will be a dish which features Baharat, a seasoning used in not only in traditional Arab cuisine, but also in Turkish and Iranian foods.

Image shot with iPhone 5, Hipstamatic GSQUAD lens and Sugar film, then taken into CS5 removing the black border around the image and creating a storyboard. After experimenting with several lens and filters in Hipstamatic, this combination seemed to photograph food better than other combos.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 
Gadget by The Blog Doctor.