Monday, February 13, 2012

Everyday Crepes


Ah, home food! Ain't I a lucky duck?! I grew up with this for breakfast. Light crepes with not-too-sweet mixed berries (or rosewater infused fresh strawberries in the summer), soft peaks of whipping cream, and a drizzle of real maple syrup. It actually doesn't take that long; you can do most of the prep the evening before if you want to. I make this when I don't know what else to make. You don't need to have much in the house, and if you're missing a component, it is no big deal. My father and I are both fans of crepes with nothing on them but loads of maple syrup!

Ingredients:

2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups of milk
4 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Berries, Fruit, Whipped cream (homemade please!), and syrup (no Madame Butterfat's please!)

1. Put all of the ingredients in a blender and whirr away! It will be filled to the top so if you need to, stir in the last 1/2 cup of milk at the end so you don't splatter. At this point the batter can be refrigerated overnight. It is actually better if you let it. But, if you're anything like me, and don't plan your breakfasts too well, it can be used right away too.

2. Heat a large pan on medium low heat. I like using a nonstick pan and wiping a little oil on it. Once the pan is hot, pour some of the batter in the pan and swirl it around until it makes a thin film. It should cook until it is no longer wet, and with a little unsticking of the edges, it can be lifted off of the pan. The bottom can be white to slightly browned, it is up to you. I don't like mine to brown. If you want to flip them you may. I don't usually find it necessary.

Now comes the fun. My mom likes the fillings rolled in her crepes; I like them on top. We often have frozen mixed berries at hand for smoothies. I will either let them thaw in the fridge overnight, or I'll put them in a pan with a spoonful of sugar and make a little sauce. Sliced strawberries with sugar and a splash of rosewater are also amazing with these. For a last minute breakfast, these can be very exciting.

Brioche Tart


Yet another wonder from my Baking with Julia book, this deceivingly complex tart has a brioche crust and creme fraiche filling. It is brought to life by dried fruit poached in a dry white wine vanilla carmel, and covered with a carmel white wine zabaione. It is a pretty special dessert. Adam loved the richness of the poached fruit; I actually preferred this tart with oranges instead. But, no matter what fruit I can think of with it, this tart would be delicious.

The recipe it is a bit involved, but if you wanted to, you could make the components from different recipes and compile a tart much like this one.

1. You begin by making a brioche dough, keep it chilled and roll in into a circle. Inside of a flan ring, or the ring of a 10 in. springform pan, create a crust with edges for filling. Let it rise until it has doubled.

2. Mix one cup of creme fraiche with one egg. Dimple the bottom of the crust with your fingers so it won't bubble, and spread the cream in it. Sprinkle it with sugar until the sugar is no longer absorbed by the creme.

3. Bake the tart at a 275 degree oven until it is golden.

The tart alone, I had some crimping trouble, my brioche was a little too dense!

Top this tart with a light zabaione and the fruit of your choice. It is really special.

Potato Bread from Heaven!

"I'm obviously intelligent, and yet, I simply cannot decide what to make!"
There are so many wonderful bread recipes out there, sometimes I get confused and cannot decide which to make. This time I needed something to go with a split pea soup made with ham hawks. The soup was full of flavor, but was in need of something to dip. I decided on a potato bread from my new baking recipe book. Not only was it remarkably fast and easy, it was also pretty, had a nice crust, soft crumb, and full flavor that stood up to the soup. Adam and his brother loved this bread, and so did I!


I failed to take a picture of the sliced bread, but just make it! It's the best!

Ingredients:

1.5 lbs peeled and quartered russet potatoes boiled until soft and fully cooled and dry (drained)
4 teaspoons salt (it seems like a lot, but it is right)
1/2 warm potato cooking water (we want that starch)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast, I like SAF Yeast
2 tablespoon olive oil
4 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (5oz equals about a cup)

1. Let the yeast bloom in the potato water.

2. Mash the potatoes until smooth, add the olive oil and the yeast mixture.

3. Mix in the flour and salt. The recipe assured me that the dough would be dry at first. Was it ever! It will soften up and get wonderfully smooth the more you knead it. Don't believe me? Try it! Knead for about ten minutes after the dough begins to look uniform.

4. Let the bread rise at room temp for 20 to 30 minutes until it doubles in size.

5. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. I used a baking stone in the bottom rack as the recipe outlined.

6. Divide the dough and roll it into the above shape. (see the recipe book Baking with Julia for more detail). After shaping, let the bread rise for 20 minutes.

7. Spray the oven down with water, and bake the bread for 40 to 50 minutes.

This bread is GOOD!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

French Apple Tart


I made this beautiful tart! I can't believe it! This is the first of many amazing things I've made from the Baking with Julia cookbook. The apples and crust of this tart are baked separately, it is then topped with thinly sliced apples, dusted with egg whites and sugar, and baked until golden.

It begins with a simple unsweetened pie crust. The fact that the crust had salt and no sugar worried me, but it actually was delicious with the taste of the apples. I then cut up seven or so apples, and tossed them with sugar, a pinch of cinnamon, 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs (I used a slice of homemade brioche), and some flour. I baked them on a jellyroll pan until they were soft, let them cool a little, and mashed them lightly leaving some lumpy texture. Once the filling and separately baked crust were completely cooled I filled the crust. Then I covered the filling with very thinly sliced apples, and baked the tart until it was golden and irresistible.

I think this gives you the idea without giving out the recipe directly from the book. I'm sorry if it gets frustrating that I'm not posting actual recipes, but I'm having so much fun with this book! I just cannot stop. Plus, the pictures are soooo pretty!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My New Book: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan


I bought this book two days ago, after flipping thru it at a friend's house, and I'm hooked! It's a must have for all bakers! It has breads, pastries, plated desserts, and more. It is a compilation of recipes from many famous chefs and cookbook authors, and is supposed to by like Julia Child's television series by the same name. The directions are straight forward, the recipes must haves, and the photos stunning. My only criticism is that the book doesn't always tell you what the steps of a recipe are supposed to look and feel like, and it doesn't give enough detailed photos on technique. Overall I think it is one of the best baking books I've picked up in a while. I know I'll be posting many recipes from it shortly!