Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sourdough Pancakes

Now that I have my sourdough starter, I want to do so much with it.  Last night, right before I went to bed, I decided I wanted to try sourdough pancakes.  The recipe was really simple - just proof the starter overnight, add some stuff in the morning, and voila - pancakes!
I'm going to post the recipe, even though I don't recommend it.  I think the batter way way too thin to start with.  Plus, pancake batter is supposed to be lumpy.  It was lumpy when I added the flour and water last night, but not this morning.  I think it would have been better if I only added some flour and water last night, and added the rest this morning.  So it resulted in very flat pancakes.  I started out adding some cut strawberries to each pancake, but that started to get messy.
I don't have any complaints about the flavor - it had a nice light tang.
So it wasn't a complete failure, plus using the starter and replacing some continues to activate it and preserve the "tang."

Recipe: Sourdough Pancakes
1 cup sourdough starter
1cup warm water
1 cup all purpose flour
1 egg
1 tbsp oil
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda

Mix together the starter, water and flour - loosely cover the container and let it sit in a warm place for 8-12 hours.
After the time is up, return 1 cup back to your jar of starter.
To what remains, mix in the egg, oil and sugar.
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
When everything is ready, add the baking soda (it will foam up very quickly).
Pour about 1/4 cup batter per pancake.  Flip when it has started to bubble on top, and the edges look dry.
Eat with fresh fruit and/or syrup.

Caramelized Onion, Zucchini and Goat Cheese Frittata

I have been dying to make a frittata for a while now.  The pots and pans I bought are all oven-safe, so nothing was stopping me.  I bought a basket of mini zucchinis (I should have taken a picture, they were so cute!) at the farmers market last week, and wanted to use them.  I found a recipe that was perfect - zucchini, onions and goat cheese.  I figured I would throw in some fresh rosemary as well.
This turned out pretty well.  I made some changes - I wanted to have more of an egg base to it, so I added more eggs.  I used more zucchini and less onions than the recipe called for.
Now that I've made it, there are a few changes I would make the next time I would make it.  I definitely recommend salting the zucchini and letting it sit in a colander for a while.  I cooked it for a pretty long time, but a lot of water was still retained, so the frittata was soggy on the bottom.  The salt would also give it some flavor.  I've never caramelized onions before, and I had a hard time actually getting them to caramelize.  They got nice and soft and sweet, but didn't turn golden brown.  Another thing I would do is grate some parmesan on top - it would give it a nice golden crust.  And I would probably add more rosemary than I did, to give some extra flavor.  But I think the recipe was pretty good, and very filling.

Recipe: Caramelized Onion, Zucchini and Goat Cheese Frittata (adapted from My Kitchen Addiction)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, halved and sliced
1 tbsp sugar
6 mini zucchini
2 egg whites
5 eggs
1/4 cup cream
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1/4 cup goat cheese, plus extra to sprinkle on top

Heat the olive oil and sliced onions in a skillet over medium-low heat.  Sprinkle with sugar and stir occasionally, cooking the onions until they are golden and caramelized.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg whites, eggs, cream, 1/4 cup of goat cheese, and rosemary.  Set aside.
Use a vegetable peeler to cut the zucchini into long thin ribbons.
Once the onions are just about done, spray a 10-inch nonstick oven-safe skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat.  Saute the zucchini ribbons until they are tender.  Add the caramelized onions, and toss to combine in the skillet.
Pour the egg mixture over the zucchini and caramelized onions.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the broiler.  Uncover the skillet, sprinkle with some additional goat cheese, and broil for an additional 5-10 minutes, until the top is set and the frittata is cooked through.  Serve immediately.

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

After making my strawberry scones, I still had a lot of strawberries left.  One of the first things I thought of making was ice cream.  One problem - I didn't have an ice cream maker!  The night before I went strawberry picking, I ordered an ice cream maker from amazon.  It was actually a great deal, especially after my $20 gift card.
This ice cream is oh so good.  If I was making it for a party, I would have made the graham cracker crust rounds.
I only have a few things I would have changed - mostly just my own technique.  I recommend mashing the strawberries really well.  I wanted to have some chunks still there, but they were so frozen in the ice cream that I think I would have preferred more of a puree.  The original recipe said that the strawberries could be folded into the ice cream, but I think that negatively affected the texture.  As long as there's room in the ice cream maker (there wasn't any left in mine), add it right in the mixer in the last 5-10 minutes.  I made 2/3 of the recipe, and the ice cream base on its own filled my 1 1/2 quart ice cream maker.  Also, make sure the cream cheese is completely at room temperature before using.  I didn't let it sit out long enough, and it didn't mix uniformly into the custard.  Actually, that may have been due in part to the cold custard.  It might be best to mix the custard into the cream cheese when the custard is still a little warm, and then chill that combination before freezing.
But regardless of all of that, the ice cream is so delicious!  I may never buy ice cream again!

Recipe: Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream (from Apple Pie, Patis and Pate)
Ingredients: (I am listing the amounts I used - 2/3 of the original recipe)
2/3 cup strawberries, hulled and quartered
1/3 cup sugar

2 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 2/3 cups whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
2/3 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

2/3 lb cream cheese (I only had 1/2 lb so I made up for the rest with greek yogurt)
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice

Mash the strawberries with the sugar, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until thick and light.
In a saucepan, bring the milk to a gentle simmer.  Add a small amount of the milk to the eggs and stir well, then ad the rest slowly.  Heat over a double boiler while stirring constantly, just until the mixture thickens to coat the back of a spoon.  (Mine never got that thick, but it worked out just fine.)
Remove immediately from the heat.  Stir in the cold cream to stop the cooking, followed by the vanilla extract and salt.  Strain using a fine mesh strainer.
Cool the custard completely at room temperature.  Store in an airtight container and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
Using a wooden spoon or the paddle attachment of your stand mixer, beat the cream cheese (and yogurt, in my case) with the sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice until light and smooth.  Slowly add the chilled custard and mix until smooth.
Pour into the chilled bowl of your ice cream maker, and start churning!
When it is almost set up, pour the sugared strawberries into the machine.
Serve immediately for a soft-serve consistency, or store in an airtight container and freeze.

Strawberry fields forever...

I have been waiting for what I like to call "the picking season" for months.  I'm pretty sure that dreams of ripe strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and cherries are what got me through this past semester.
Last weekend I finally got to go strawberry picking, and it was amazing!  The drive there was really pretty - it's not that far from Charlottesville, but you feel like you're in a different world.  Picking was surprisingly fun.  And their strawberry ice cream was amazing.  (If you live in Cville, you have to go to Chiles Orchard in Crozet.)  Of course my camera battery died after I got one measly blurry picture.
Which just means I'll have to go back.
After picking 3.5 pounds of strawberries, I had to figure out what to do with them.  Besides just eating them, of course.  I had a few salads, this time with the full dressing.  I wanted to do something special though.  And my first idea was to make strawberry scones.  I found a lot of great recipes, and picked one.  They were great!  Really moist, and not too sweet.  I added a little extra sugar (since I figured 3 tbsp might not cut it for my sweet tooth).  I didn't have any cream or buttermilk on hand, so I used light coconut milk instead.  I wanted to use something that had a little fat in it, and the only real milk I had was skim.  It didn't add much of a coconut flavor, but I thought it turned out well.  I cut the dough into 8 wedges, instead of 6, and they were still really big.  Next time I would maybe make two small rounds, and cut them each into 6 wedges.

Recipe: Strawberry Scones (adapted from Confessions of a Tart)
1 cup diced strawberries
1/4 cup + 1/2 tbsp sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed
2/3 cup (cold) light coconut milk
raw sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
Sprinkle fruit with 1/2 tbsp sugar, set aside.
Combine 1/4 cup sugar with flour, baking powder and salt.  Add butter, and use a pastry cutter or 2 knives (or your fingertips) to cut in the butter.  Stir in fruit; then add coconut milk all at once.  Use spatula to gently stir dough until it holds together.  It will be pretty wet.
Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to incorporate dry ingredients.  Be gentle so you don't break up the berries and don't overwork the dough.  Sprinkle dough with flour if it gets sticky.
Pat the dough into a circle 3/4 inch thick.  If any berries peek out, push them into dough.  Cut circle into 6-8 wedges, then transfer wedges to the cookie sheet, leaving at least 1/2 inch of space between them.  Sprinkle with the raw sugar.
Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the tops are beginning to brown and spring back when you push them.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

This is my go-to banana bread recipe.  I love it because it uses a TON of bananas, which both helps to clear out my freezer stash, and gives it a great banana flavor.  I've made it in every size imaginable - standard muffins, mini muffins, jumbo muffins, 9x5 loaf, mini loaves...I think you get the point.  Sometimes I do it with just chocolate chips, and sometimes I do it with cinnamon and pecans.  I got it from this great cookbook called "Muffins" (very appropriate).  I've used the recipe so many times that I should know it by heart, but the book automatically flips open to it.
Oh, and the recipe claims that it makes 12 muffins, but I always fill the batter to the top, and I get at least 18 muffins every time.  This time I got 20.

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins (from Muffins)
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
5-6 ripe bananas, mashed
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips (I didn't have minis, so I used 2/3 cup regular sized chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray (or use liners).
In large bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar.  Add eggs and bananas; mix well.
in separate bowl, combine flour with salt, baking powder and baking soda.
Stir in creamed mixture just until moistened.  Fold in nuts and chocolate chips.
Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Orzo with Veggies

This recipe is really good.  And very simple.  That's about it - you'll have to try it with your favorite veggies.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
5 sundried tomato halves
~ 1/2 cup orzo
1/4 cup feta cheese (mine was tomato and basil flavored)

Cut the zucchini and squash in a large dice.  Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat, add the rosemary, and cook the zucchini and squash until tender.  Chop (or tear) the tomatoes into pieces, add to the veggies.
Salt some water and bring to a boil.  Cook the orzo until al dente.
Toss the orzo with the veggies and the feta, add s&p to taste.

My Adventures with Sourdough

It has been way too long since I've posted anything.  I have no excuse for it.  I've actually done a lot of baking/cooking, and I really need to post what I've made so I don't forget to write about anything.  Somehow, even though class are over (at least until August), I've still been really busy.  That's definitely due to the fact that I jumped right back into things in lab.  The weather has been so gross lately that I figured I would rather be in the lab, being productive.  So lab, combined with a week-long clinical rotation in surgical pathology, has completely worn me out.  I can't really complain though.  And I still had enough time to watch the entire first season of Vampire Diaries last week!  It was really good actually.

But back to food.  I'm going to do separate posts for everything I've made, and I will attempt to do it chronologically.  Not that it makes any difference to you!

A few posts back I talked about receiving a sourdough starter in the mail.  As soon as exams were over, I was very excited to use it!  When I received it, the first thing I did was add 1.5 cups warm water and 2 cups flour (a combination of all purpose and whole wheat flour), and let it sit out at room temperature for 24 hours.  I may be repeating myself from the previous post.  Then I let it sit in the fridge, undisturbed, for one week.  After that I was set to use it!

This first recipe came from the person who sent me the starter.  She's been making it for quite some time now!  It's a great sandwich bread, and doesn't have a typical tangy sourdough flavor.  I'm definitely going to do some experimenting with the starter.  This was a great beginning recipe.

Whole Wheat Sourdough Sandwich Bread
1/4 cup sourdough starter
1 cup warm water
1 cup + 2 tbsp whole wheat flour

1/2 cup warm water
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour, sifted

If your sponge has some liquid on top, stir it back in.
Mix together the sponge ingredients.  Put it in a warm place for 8-12 hours.
After the time is up, stir the sponge (it should be springy from the gluten).
Keep 11 oz to use for the recipe, and mix the rest back in with the starter in the fridge.
Mix the water, sugar, olive oil and salt together until it is all dissolved.  Add this to the 11 oz of sponge.
Add 1 cup of flour to the batter and stir 100 strokes (all in the same direction) to build gluten.
Add the rest of the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well each time until it is incorporated before adding more.  Add only enough to form a ball of dough that is not too sticky.
Lightly flour a surface, and knead the dough for at least 5 minutes.  Add more flour as necessary.
Oil a large bowl.  Form the dough into a ball and rub it against the bowl to coat with oil, and cover the bowl with a cloth or plastic wrap.
Let it rise in a warm place for about 2 hours, or until doubled.  Test with two fingers - if the imprint remains, then it is ready.
Punch it down to remove air.  Fold over edges of dough about five times, going in a circle.  Turn dough over and return to the warm place for 1/2 hour to rest.
Oil and flour a 9x5 loaf pan.  Flatten the dough to remove air pockets.  Roll both side edges to the center, meeting in the middle.  Pinch together really well to seal it at the center.  Fold in the two ends, and flip it over, so the seam is facing down in the loaf pan.  Set it so it is touching the pan on all sides.
Cover lightly and let rise about 1-1.5 hours, until it fills the pan.
Preheat oven to 375.  Bake for 45 minutes.  If it is starting to get too dark, cover with foil.
Thump the loaf on the bottom with your finger, it is done if it sounds hollow.
Remove from the pan immediately and cool to room temperature on a cooling rack.
Don't cut into it when it's still hot, even though you really want to!