Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Homemade Harissa

Over the past year or more I have been reading more and more about harissa.  I never had tasted it, but figured it should be something that I should try.  I have found dozens upon dozens of recipes using harissa as one of the ingredients, but it wasn't until I was reading At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen, that I actually came across a recipe for it.  I was so thankful to actually have a recipe which to base the flavors off of that I knew I would have to make it.  Besides, it contains all things that I already have in my pantry so why would I go and buy something which I could make in a few minutes at home with ingredients I already had on hand.  At any rate, it is a simple spice mixture to make and delicious and as spicy as you want it to be.
Homemade Harissa
Makes about 1/3 cup

1 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
3/4 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoon ground paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more if you like it spicy)
2 garlic cloves, minced finely
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Warm a small skillet over medium heat and toast the cumin and coriander seeds.  This will take about 2 minutes.  Stir constantly until fragrant.  Transfer seeds to a grinder and grind into a powder.  Add add ingredients to a bowl and stir until smooth.  This makes 1/3 cup and will keep in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for about 2 months.  You can also reduce the amount of olive oil to make it more of a paste if that is what you need in your recipe.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Blueberry Brioche

I have read a lot of recipes about brioche.  I have also eaten my fair share of it, though I have never attempted before to make it, let alone a variation of the bread.  But when I saw the cover of Huckleberry, I knew that I would have to make it sooner or later.  I bought the book for a friend of mine as she has more time to bake than I.  Plus, when I have the time, I tend to be experimenting with dinner recipes rather than baking.   I also feel that baking isn't really where I need to spend my time learning as I have been baking since I was quite young.  My grandma lived on the same street, and she would often bake on Saturday morning.  When I was a little older I would bake with her.  She would make a full sized version of cinnamon rolls and then give me enough dough to make a miniature version which was all mine to eat.  So, while I enjoy baking, I really enjoy eating good food, so I spend my time on that endeavor instead of baking.

Blueberry Brioche
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups flour
6 tablespoons sugar, plus more for the top
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft

Place the fresh blueberries on a plate and freeze.  (Frozen blueberries are too watery, so freeze your own from fresh.  I often buy extra berries and freeze them immediate for use during the winter.)  Warm the milk to 105-115 F (warmer will kill the yeast).  Add milk to a mixing bowl and add the yeast.  Whisk to combine.  Add the flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, salt, eggs and egg yolk to the bowl.  Mix on low speed (with a dough hook) until the dough comes together, 1-2 minutes.

Increase speed to medium-low and work dough for 6 minutes.  Push the dough down the sides a few times during the 6 minutes.  Reduce speed to low and add the butter a little at a time over 2 minutes.  When the butter is beginning to be combined, increase speed to medium -high to fully mix in the butter, about 5 minutes.

Dump the dough on a lightly floured work surface and press into a 16 x 10 inch rectangle.  Distribute the blueberries and 2 tablespoons sugar along the top edge and gently roll down toward you into a log.

Place the log on a greased sheet pan, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to overnight.

Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.  Reshape the dough one more time by pressing into a 12 x 6 inch rectangle and cover with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.  With the dough in a vertical position, roll it towards you tightly.  Place in the greased loaf pan, wrap loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for about 3 hours or until double in size.

Preheat your oven to 350 F.  Brush the dough with some milk and dust with sugar.  (Don't let it pool.)  Bake until golden brown - about 45 minutes.  Allow to cool for about 15 minutes in the pan and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Nutty Millet Cookies

When I first read this recipe for millet cookies, I thought that millet was something that only birds ate and squirrels avoided.  I had no idea that people could eat it, but why not?  It is a whole grain and you can find it both ground and as a seed.  Since reading Whole Grain Mornings (from which I adapted this recipe), I have discovered many grains that I have heard of, but didn't really know how to use or incorporate into my baking/cooking.  Also, if you are looking for something gluten-free, millet is one of those you can use in your baking.  It can also toast it to enhance it's flavor.  I did not however toast them in my recipe, but they add a nice crunch to the cookies.  At any rate, try these out.  They are healthy enough to be eaten for breakfast and filling enough to be eaten as a snack.  The raisins add just enough sweetness to take care of cravings.

Nutty Millet Breakfast Cookies
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup ground millet flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup whole millet
1/4 cup wheat bran
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 maple syrup
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, oats, millet, bran, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.  In another bowl, whisk together the melted coconut oil, maple syrup, egg, and vanilla.  Add to flour mixture, folding in with a wooden spoon until incorporated.  Stir the raisins and pecans into the dough until evenly dispersed.  Make sure all of the wet and dry ingredients are combined.  Let dough rest for 10 minutes.

Scoop out about 1-2 tablespoons of dough and form a ball.  (I use a cookie scoop.) Place the balls about 1 1/2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.  Bake until golden brown around the edges and firmed yet still slightly soft in the center, about 10 minutes.  Let the cookies cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  They should remain fresh for 3-4 days.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Kale Chips

Kale...it seems that it has been on everyone's minds lately.  The nice part is that because it is cheap to grow, it is also cheap to buy.  You can usually get a bunch of it for right around a dollar.  It is everywhere...in the grocery stores, farmers markets and restaurants.  For me, I like to eat it occasionally.  It isn't that I don't like it, but it is usually I don't think about it.  I tend to buy arugula or spinach for my salads...in particular spinach in winter as it can be eaten as a salad or cooked down nicely to add some greens to the meal in winter.  While the same can be done with kale, it just isn't my favorite.  However, with the rise of kale has also some the rise of recipes containing it so we find ourselves actually buying it and eating it more than before it was so popular.  One of my favorite ways to eat a bunch of kale is in the form of kale chips.  They are super easy to make and even easier to eat!  All it takes is a few minutes and a little bit of spices and you have your kale chips ready to eat.

Kale Chips
1 bunch of kale
1- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove the thick steams of the kale and tear into bite sized pieces.  Put in a salad spinner and wash well.  Pat dry on paper towels or a dish drying cloth. Toss with about 1 tablespoon olive oil (a little more if it is a big bunch).  Sprinkle the dry seasonings over the kale.  Toss everything together to ensure even distribution of olive oil and spices.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Be sure that no leaves are touching otherwise it will take longer to cook and some will be browned while others are soggy.  Bake for about 10 minutes.  Rotate the baking sheet for even baking.  Bake for another 10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly before eating.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Homemade Cola

Since it has been unusually rainy, it hasn't been as hot.  Normally by this time of the year, it is quite hot and I am reaching for sparkling water for a refreshing and changeable drink.  I love just a glass of sparkling water, but I also appreciate that a syrup can be added for a little flavor as well as making it sweeter if I so desire.  I have been borrowing books from the library as I sometimes do when I have more time.  I came across the book Quench by Ashley English.  English has written a number of different cookbooks focusing on a specific topic.  Since I am somewhat obsessed with making drinks from scratch at the moment, this book was a great read with many non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks which you can make at home.  I have been focusing on the cold drinks and the topic which fascinated me was homemade cola.  We all know what cola tastes like.  It obviously varies from brand to brand, so when I decided I needed to make it, I was interested in all the different things that go into making this actually taste like cola.  Now my husband would disagree that it tastes like other colas, but I think it has just the right amount of cola flavor.  Plus, because I am making it at home there isn't any caffeine in it, which is exactly what I can handle late in the day when it gets somewhat more hot and I want something refreshing to drink.  It didn't take long and it yielded a bunch of syrup which will take care of your cola craving for a while.

Homemade Cola Syrup
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly ground is best for flavor)
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (I used a heaping scoop as I like the flavor)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon citric acid (optional; I didn't have any so I didn't use it)
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon molasses
zest from 1 orange
zest from 1 lime
zest from 1 lemon
 juice from 1 lime (if small, half if larger)
1 inch pieces of vanilla bean, cut lengthwise
1 1/2 cups of sugar
Sparkling water to serve

Combine the water, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, (citric acid if using - it helps to keep it preserved and makes the soda a bit more tart), ginger, molasses, zests from the three citrus fruits, lime juice and vanilla bean in a medium pot.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for about 20 minutes.  Strain the liquid through a cheesecloth to remove any solid particles.  Rinse the pot and add the sugar and the reduced liquid.  Stir until the sugar has been dissolved.

Transfer to a container with a lid and store in refrigerator.  When serving, mix about 3 tablespoons of the concentrate with sparkling water.  (I use about 3 tablespoons with 10 ounces water as I don't like it very sweet.  Add as much or as little water as you like depending on taste.)  Use within about 2 weeks.