Wednesday, December 23, 2009

No Knead Bread is so very delicious!

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This bread is almost effortless to make because it requires no kneading. Instead, the dough is allowed to slowly rise over a long period of time. Then it is baked in a preheated covered cast-iron pot, which helps produce a crispy, bakery-style crust on the finished loaf.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 3/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp. chopped lemon zest
1 1/2 cups water (cold tap is fine)
Cornmeal as needed

In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt, rosemary and zest. Add 1 1/2 cups water and stir until blended; the dough will be shaggy and very sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at warm room temperature (about 70°F) until the surface is dotted with bubbles, 12 to 18 hours.

Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle the dough with a little flour and fold the dough over onto itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.

Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or your fingers, gently and quickly shape the dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel, preferably a flour sack towel (not terry cloth), with cornmeal (I used flour). Put the dough, seam side down, on the towel and dust with more flour or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise until the dough is more than double in size and does not readily spring back when poked with a finger, about 2 hours.

At least 30 minutes before the dough is ready, put a 2 3/4-quart cast-iron pot in the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F. I doubled this recipe and it fit well into my 8 quart Le Crueset.

Carefully remove the pot from the oven. Slide your hand under the towel and turn the dough over, seam side up, into the pot; it may look like a mess, but that is OK. Shake the pan once or twice if the dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the loaf is browned, 15 to 30 minutes more.

Transfer the pot to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Using oven mitts, turn the pot on its side and gently turn the bread; it will release easily. Makes one 1 1/2-lb. loaf.

Adapted from Sullivan Street Bakery (New York City) and Mark Bittman, "The Secret of Great Bread: Let Time Do the Work," The New York Times, Nov. 8, 2006.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Peppermint Meringues with Dark Chocolate Ganache

Happy Christmas! Stripey Peppermint Meringues with a Dark Chocolate Ganache, oh yeah! I made these for the girls that like something fat free, or almost. It would have been fat free excepting the small bit of chocolate ganache filling these pointy hat sandwiches. Oh, they are so yummy! Three egg whites is only enough for about forty of these, and they're small so I'll have to make another batch. I had to use the big picture because they're small. a 013

Want a recipe? Here you go!

Stripey Peppermint Meringues

3 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
red paste food coloring
piping bag
3/4 cup heavy cream
6 oz dark chocolate (that's half a bag of chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 250F. Mix the egg whites with the sugar over a bain marie until you reach the ribbon stage. Ribbon stage is when it looks more opaque than translucent and also there is no granular texture, and it's kind of ribbon looking when you sway the whisk. Drop a bit on your finger and test it. Don't stick your finger in there, it's just a little yucky to do that. Remember darlings, I'm still a biologist! Then mix using wire whipping attachment until cooled. Add in peppermint extract. Using a piping bag and a star tip, paint the inside of the bag with red paste food coloring. Pipe out 1 inch size meringues and put into the oven for 1 1/2 hours, then turn off oven and leave it until it's completely cool. You can make the ganache and leave it all until the next day. No, seriously, leave it! It takes forever for it to set and will just drive you mad. Fill another piping bag with ganache and a round tip, pipe a little ganache on the flat side of a meringue and then press a second one onto it. Let them sit a bit to set and munch away!
Oh, yeah, it makes about 40 sandwiched pointy hats, you know, because you need two of them.

Irish smoked salmon chopped salad

Michael's cousins Breda and Anne made this salad when I first went to Ireland back in 1998. I still love it, and you'll see it in Cork but I never saw it on a menu in the North. Maybe it's a Cork thing, I don't know. a 003

Irish Smoked Salmon Chopped Salad

Red onion
Scallions (green onions)
Romaine lettuce (or whatever kind you like)
2 roma tomatoes
smoked salmon (Lox)
2 teaspoons of mayonnaise
white pepper

Chop up all the ingredients to equal sizes, about a quarter inch put into a big bowl and then add the mayonnaise, salt and white pepper to taste. It's good if the lettuce is a little wet from rinsing as it lightens up the mayonnaise. It's so good!

Breda and Anne didn't use avocado, but I live in California, so it's ubiquitous and I love it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas Chocolate Walnut Toffee!

Beth came over last night to knit and I made Chocolate Covered Walnut Toffee!

So here's the thing about making toffee. You really have to whisk it! You're creating an emulsion with the butter and molten sugar, and it won't get there if you aren't working hard to mix it well with a whisk. I tempered the chocolate, and that is very lovely and delicious Lindt semisweet baking chocolate. I didn't toast the walnuts but next time I think I will. Even though it's absolutely freezing here these days I was impatient to wait for four hours and put the whole thing in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning I flipped it and broke it up.
Foamy stage
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it's toffee!
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Toffee poured into the pan
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Walnuts before I chopped them up
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Tempered chocolate
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Spreading the chocolate
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Here's the toffee before it went into the fridge.
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Chocolate Walnut Toffee for Christmas!
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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Apple Croissant Pudding

I made an Apple Croissant Pudding tonight. I was thinking did I want a chocolate one or an apple one, and decided for apple. More fiber! So it's a health food. ;-)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Hats, because Baby it's Cold Outside!

It's that time of year when it gets freezing cold in San Francisco! Plus I love the song, "Baby it's Cold Outside". If only my sweet baby could sing, we could do a duet. Anyhow, I digress. I've been working on many projects at the same time.

Here's what I have and they're Christmas Presents. I seriously doubt anyone reads this blog but me, and maybe Beth and Jaye. And the hats are for other people, so I guess... I could say...who is getting what.. but NOOOOOOOO! You'll have to wait! I can't take chances on you messing up the Christymas!

But my camera battery is getting charged so I can't load any pictures up just yet.
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