Baker’s Notes – Scratch Baking Co. Muffins with a Twist

One of my new favorite publications is Baker’s Notes put out by Scratch Baking Co. and designed by MORE & Co., the same group that designed Sugar & Salt, my new cookbook.  The layout is a playful mix of daily snipets that allow a peak through the window of a baker’s life and serious tutorials on everything from simple muffins to laminated dough, one of the apexes of the baking world.

After an early morning start (What you thought I’d just go back to sleeping in after summers of waking up at 4:30am every morning?  Yeah, not so much.) while leisurely sipping my coffee, I alternately watched the sky turn from inky to gloamy to sparkly and read my latest copy of Baker’s Notes.  Even though I don’t run a bakery, but more an inn on the water, I felt a collegial sense of connection with those who wake up very early in the morning to serve others coffee and breakfast.

It’s only natural that I would, then need to start the day by baking something inspired by this crew.  English muffins was the first round and then Cranberry Strawberry Muffins the second.

Cranberry Strawberry Muffins

Cranberry Strawberry Muffins
Inspired by Baker’s Notes Issue No. 3, Nance’s Muffins.  Using frozen strawberries will make it easier to stir the berries into the batter without having it turn bright pink.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar, plus extra for the topping
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup plain yogurt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1 1/2 cup frozen strawberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a 12-cup muffin tin (or line with muffin liners).  Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt into a large bowl.  Using a pasty knife, cut in the butter until the mixture becomes a fine crumble.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the yogurt, eggs and vanilla.  Stir until just combined.  Gently add the cranberries and strawberries.  Fill the muffin tins two-thirds full of batter and sprinkle extra sugar over the top with a spoon.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the edges come away from the tins and the center is cooked through.

Serves 12

Annie
Another happy morning

Baker’s Notes – Scratch Baking Co. Muffins with a Twist

One of my new favorite publications is Baker’s Notes put out by Scratch Baking Co. and designed by MORE & Co., the same group that designed Sugar & Salt, my new cookbook.  The layout is a playful mix of daily snipets that allow a peak through the window of a baker’s life and serious tutorials on everything from simple muffins to laminated dough, one of the apexes of the baking world.

After an early morning start (What you thought I’d just go back to sleeping in after summers of waking up at 4:30am every morning?  Yeah, not so much.) while leisurely sipping my coffee, I alternately watched the sky turn from inky to gloamy to sparkly and read my latest copy of Baker’s Notes.  Even though I don’t run a bakery, but more an inn on the water, I felt a collegial sense of connection with those who wake up very early in the morning to serve others coffee and breakfast.

It’s only natural that I would, then need to start the day by baking something inspired by this crew.  English muffins was the first round and then Cranberry Strawberry Muffins the second.

Cranberry Strawberry Muffins

Cranberry Strawberry Muffins
Inspired by Baker’s Notes Issue No. 3, Nance’s Muffins.  Using frozen strawberries will make it easier to stir the berries into the batter without having it turn bright pink.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar, plus extra for the topping
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup plain yogurt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1 1/2 cup frozen strawberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a 12-cup muffin tin (or line with muffin liners).  Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt into a large bowl.  Using a pasty knife, cut in the butter until the mixture becomes a fine crumble.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the yogurt, eggs and vanilla.  Stir until just combined.  Gently add the cranberries and strawberries.  Fill the muffin tins two-thirds full of batter and sprinkle extra sugar over the top with a spoon.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the edges come away from the tins and the center is cooked through.

Serves 12

Annie
Another happy morning

Why Salt Ahead?

This menu is one that became a column somewhat recently, but the link will expire soon, so I post it here for you instead.  It might make a nice entertaining menu for a smaller group of people – maybe for a Sunday night meal or if you are feeding guests from out of town.

The original idea for this recipe came from a technique used by Judy Rodgers of Zuni Café.  She salts all of the meat and some of the vegetables as they come into the restaurant, giving days, rather than minutes for a deeper flavor as opposed to simply a surface salting.  It’s a form of dry-salting and actually allows retention of moisture rather than a drying out of the meat.

Here’s how it works.  The chemical reaction that takes place is called osmosis, which is the moving out of or into cells – in this case, salt, moisture and aromatics.  At first, salted meats do leach liquid which is where the still popular idea that “salting ahead of time dries out meat” comes from.  But then, the reverse begins to happen and the moisture that returns to the cells is now flavored with salt, making the cells more resilient to heat and promoting juiciness and tenderness.  The salt actually goes to work on the proteins and “opens them up” allowing them to hold more moisture.

This technique is most dramatic with large, sinuous cuts of meat where the surface area to weight is lesser.  The amount of salt used on these cuts will look too heavy handed initially, but will produce a well seasoned, not salty, succulent slice of meat.

For smaller and more tender cuts of meat such as chicken breasts or in this case, the pork tenderloin, less time and salt is required.  This method is also forgiving.  If you change your mind and decide to have something else for dinner, it will wait another day.  In addition, if you found you over bought at the grocery store and are worried about a few things going before you have a chance to use them, this is also a good technique for extending the life and freshness of your purchases.  Salting is a time honored method of preservation used for centuries, although we are talking about using considerably less salt in this method.  Keep in mind that this won’t bring back from the dead what should be given a “go directly to the garbage” ticket.

I used locally raised pork for this recipe which usually means the tenderloins are smaller due to the smaller size of the pigs when slaughtered.  In the grocery store, they typically come 2 to a package and are 12 to 16oz. each.  I find that if sliced on the bias as you would flank steak, that a full 6 to 8oz. portion per person is not necessary.  This will then serve 6 to 8 people instead of the 4 to 6 listed below and it’s possible to stretch to 10 to 12 if you plan to serve another side.  If you can only find the tenderloins packaged in twos, either save one for another meal or increase the rest of the ingredients by two.

This recipe would also be great with a blue cheese aioli or another cold and creamy blue cheese sauce.

Pork Tenderloin with Toasted Walnuts, Sage and Blue Cheese
2 small pork tenderloins or one large, about 1 pound, silverskin removed
two generous pinches of sea salt, with a grind the size of kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon canola or peanut oil
several grind of fresh black pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup lightly packed sage leaves
pinches of salt for both the sage leaves and walnuts
1 cup whole walnuts
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 oz. crumbled blue cheese

The day before you plan to serve the tenderloin, lightly sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil.  Return to the refrigerator until ready to cook.  They can be salted 24 to 48 hours ahead.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the canola oil to the pan.  Carefully add the tenderloin and season with black pepper.  Sear on all sides for 10 to 15 minutes or until an internal read thermometer registers 145 degrees.  Remove from the pan to a platter and let rest.

In the same pan, add the olive oil and then the sage leaves.  Spread them out so that they are all touching the bottom of the pan and remove with tongs when they darken and become crisp, about 1 minute.  Lightly salt and set aside on a serving platter.  Again with the same pan (being frugal on the water and the dishwasher), add the walnuts and stir until the outsides begin to brown lightly, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove from pan to the same platter that holds the sage, lightly salt and set aside.  Once more with the same pan, on medium-high heat, add the butter.  Swirl until the butter has bubbled and then begins to brown.  Pour over the sage and walnuts and toss gently.  Slice the pork with a diagonal cut 1/4 inch thick and place on top of the walnut and sage mixture.  Sprinkle all with blue cheese and serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6

Roasted Carrots, Red Onion and Kale
Curly or Russian kale will get a little crispy on the edges in this recipe while Lacinato kale (the longer more wrinkled variety) will wilt more like other greens do.  Both are delicious.
1 1/2 pounds carrots, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus another 1/4 teaspoon for the kale
several grinds of fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus another 2 tablespoons for the kale
1/2 bunch of kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  On a large roasting pan, drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper over the carrots and onions.  Use your hands to coat evenly.  Roast for 1 hour or until the carrots are tender and the onions are beginning to brown.  Add the kale and drizzle with more oil salt and pepper.  Stir well and roast for another 20 minutes or until the kale is bright green and a little crispy on the edges.

Serves 4-6

Crispy Pasta
Like many things delicious, this recipe was invented through necessity, not creativity.  There are times either at home or on the boat when what I thought we had in the way of supplies, turns out to be less than originally planned (say, hypothetically eaten during a late night watch by a ravenous 20 year old deck hand who works hard all day and is still growing into his 6’4” limbs) and I need to move to plan C.

This will also work with leftover dried pasta, but is terrific with the homemade.  This is an intentionally loose recipe intended for the vagaries of the amount of leftover pasta with which you find yourself.  The amount of onions in this recipe is intended for 4-6 people, but if you want to increase or decrease the amount of pasta, then do so accordingly with the onions.

a handful of cold cooked pasta per person
1 cup caramelized onions (about 3 cups before you cook them down)
1-2 tablespoons grated Parmesan per person
salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Toss the pasta with olive oil in a roasting pan.  Place pan on middle shelf in oven.  Bake until the edges crisp up and turns golden brown.  Toss with the rest of ingredients and bake for another 3 to 5 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Annie

Bagels by Julia

Because what could be better than homemade bagels?  I must confess that years ago, before I had the hang of making bread by hand, I attempted bagels.  It’s a sure thing that when someone uses the word “attempted” that the results perhaps were not stellar.  And by not stellar I mean shriveled, wrinkley and hard as stone.

However, when I walked into Neal and Kathy’s house, of the Kitchen Gardener and Duck Fest Extraordinaire, and saw a mountain of gorgeous bagels that Kathy had baked herself, I was again imbued with a determination to try again.  Kathy uses Julia Child’s recipe and so I followed suit.  Now I’m not sure that I’ll ever want to buy bagels again (sorry bagel store down the road) and I’m working on the logistics of making them for breakfast on the Riggin.  How does bagels and lox for 30 people sound?

This recipe is not a beginners recipe, but rather one for someone who’s already successfully kneaded and baked a loaf of bread.  What I’ve done here, because the original recipe by Dorie Greenspan is so long, is to give the measurements and  ingredients and paraphrase the instructions.  Dorie’s full directions are fleshed out wonderfully in Baking with Julia and if you don’t have a copy, I’d recommend it to anyone who has an interest in baking beautiful breads and pastries at home (or on a boat!)

 

Bagels by Dorie Greenspan and Julie Child

Ingredients:
Because the work involved is not insignificant, I’ve been at least doubling the recipe for my family of four.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups tepid water
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 tablespo salt
6 cups high-gluten flour, bread flour or if you have to all purpose flour

Combine the yeast, water and sugar and let the yeast dissolve until creamy.  Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time and stir until incorporated.  When the dough is soft and sticky and wanting to be in a ball, turn it out onto a board and knead for 5 to 6 minutes.  Transfer the ball of dough to a bowl brushed with the melted butter and brush the top of the dough too.  Cover with plastic wrap and rise until double, about 1 hour.

Deflate the dough by pressing your fist into the center of the dough and then chill for four hours or over night.  When you are ready to bake the bagels, preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with kitchen towels, dusting one with flour.  Bring a stockpot of water to a boil and add 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon baking soda.

Transfer the dough to a floured board and cut into 10 equal pieces.  Shape into balls by pinching all edges together.

Press your index finger into the center and work into a bagel shape with the hole about 2 to 2 1/2 inches wide (it will shrink as soon as you stop working the dough).  Place on the floured towel and repeat.  To keep all dough that you aren’t touching from forming a crust, cover with kitchen towels.

In batches, transfer the bagels to the boiling water with a slotted spoon or carefully with your hands.  Boil on each side for 1 to 2 minutes. 

Remove with a skimmer or slotted spoon to the baking sheet/unfloured kitchen towel.  Work quickly as they’ll stick to the towel.

Transfer the bagels to a clean, dry baking sheet and brush bagels with a glaze of 2 large egg whites and 1 teaspoon cold water.  Try not to get the glaze on the baking sheet as it will cause the bagels to stick.  Sprinkle with whatever toppings you love.

Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and toss ice cubes onto the bottom of the oven or into a baking pan to create steam.  A squirt bottle of water also works as long as you steer well clear of the oven light.  Turn the oven down to 450 degrees and bake for 25 minutes.

Turn off the oven and leave the bagels for another 5 minutes.  Open the oven door for another 5 minutes and then remove the pan.

Inhale.  Breathe.  Get out the cream cheese, cured salmon, capers and dill.  You’ll never go back to store bought.

Annie
Can’t wait to share these with you this summer!

Baked Bakery’s Root Beer Bundt Cake

Chloe’s birthday was earlier this month.  The cookbook Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito was hanging around on loan from Sharon and after thumbing through it, Chloe decided to try the Root Beer Bundt Cake for her cake.  Report:  E said, “OMG, the frosting is not only good, it’s stick your head in the bowl and lick the whole thing good.”  Round, big eyes on the girls after their first bite.  I think it was a hit.

Even though the recipe called for making the cake the night before, which required, of course, an individual trip to the store for root beer rather than waiting for the planned trip the following morning, it still didn’t have enough root beer flavor for me (after having sat overnight).  However, I think this is easily remedied by adding a teaspoon of root beer extract (concentrate is all that our local grocery store carries).  And while the cake is deep, dark chocolate terrific, an equally terrific find was the Capt’n Eli’s Root Beer I bought to go in it.  Made in Maine by Shipyard Brewing Company, it’s made with wintergreen oil, anise, vanilla and cane sugar (not corn syrup).  While I was making the cake and Jon and the girls were cleaning up the kitchen we all shared a bottle – just enough cold, sugary and dancing on the tongue to suffice as a mini dessert.

Another recipe I’m dying to try is Baked‘s Sweet and Salty Cake.  I’ll report on that in the near future.

Root Beer Bundt Cake
Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

Cake:
2 cups root beer (do not use diet root beer)
1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon root beer concentrate (my addition)

Frosting:
2 oz. dark chocolate (60% cacao), melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup root beer (I ended up using more – maybe even another 1/4 to 1/2 cup more.  Perhaps this was because I mixed by hand rather than in the food processor.)
1 teaspoon root beer extract (my addition)
2/3 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

To Serve:
Vanilla ice cream

Cake:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Generously spray the inside of a 10-inch bundt pan with nonstick cookng spray; alternatively, butter it, dust with flour, and knock out the excess flour.

In a small saucepan, heat the root beer, cocoa powder, and butter over mdium  heat until the butter is melted.  Add the sugars and whisk until dissolved.  Remove from the heat and let cool.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together.

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until just beaten, then whisk them into the cocoa mixture.  The batter will be slightly lumpy – do no overbeat, as it could cause the cake to be tough.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for  35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a small sharp knife inserted into the cake comes out clean.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.  Gently loosen the sides of the cake from the pan and turn it out onto the rack.

Frosting:
Put all the ingredients in a food processor.  Pulse in short bursts until the frosting is shiny and smooth.

Use a spatula to spread the fudge frosting over the crown of the bundt in a thick layer. Let the frosting set before serving, with the ice cream on the side.

Annie

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Making Honey – The Secret Life of Bees

I was given the book The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd and just as the book was coming to a close and had completely enveloped me in the romance and spirituality of owning bees, the opportunity came for us to own our own bees. In the past, I’d been so daunted by the arrival date of bees coinciding so closely with our sailing date that I’d all but given up on having our own honey and resigned myself to only envying our friends who have been able to make it work.  Hoping for a small, precious jar doled out sparingly and only for the most special of occasions like a perfectly made baguette or a ginger and toasted almond scone.

One phone conversation and my whole attitude went from resignation to delight.  It began with Rebecca The Fabulous asking if she could store a new hive of hers on our property and ended with us hosting two or three hives this summer, one of them being ours.  They will come from Erin at Overland Apiaries.  Rebecca has ordered all of the gear, requested already established, over-wintered queens, which is apparently important, although is news to me, and will be on site all summer long while she tends to the happy lettuce and tomatoes in the garden.

There are a couple of videos on the Overland Honey site on keeping bees.  So interesting.  For example, before I watched, I didn’t know that almost all of the bees in a colony are sister bees and they do all of the work.  The few males in the hive are there to mate with other queens.

Courtesy of Briget Ganske/Salt Institute for Documentary Studies.

Annie
Happy scones are in my future!

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In Defense of Food – Michael Pollen and Other Favorite Writers

On our weekend in Boston, I discovered the bookshelves of Emily, friend and author of Too Many Cooks: Kitchen Adventures with 1 Mom, 4 Kids, 102 New Recipes ~ A Memoir of Tasting, Testing, and Discovery in the Kitchen. She was kind enough to humor me when one book turned to a few and then turned into this stack of heaven.

I find it a little depressing and a lot exciting that I’ve not read all of the these books.  How is that possible with as much reading as I do?  I any event, it’s everything I can do to sit and my desk and write instead of rationalize my way to the couch with two or three of them to start.  The thoughts in my head travel the route of, “Reading about cooking and food is research.”  And, “Even accomplished professionals should require themselves to discover the new and interesting about their given occupation.  I’m an accomplished professional.  I push my self to discover the new and interesting.”  The couch is getting closer ….

Annie
In literary heaven.  Thanks, Emily!

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Ed the Former Monk has a Cookbook

9781570620898
Who knew?  Turns out "Ed the Former Monk" mentioned in a former post on Cheesy Garlic Bread is actually Edward Espe Brown and he has a cookbook and an interesting story.  Diane, a reader of my PPH column let me know that he is the author of the Tassajara Bread Book among others.  He was a monk, stopped being a monk and then opened a wonderful bakery and restaurant in San Francisco.  The whole story is in his bread book apparently, which I have now read.  Then, I realized that he has a connection to Wendy Johnson, whom I also posted about earlier and who wrote Gardening at the Dragon's Gate. Connected, we are all so connected.

This is exactly why, when you create a recipe or pass one on, you give credit.  It never hurts you, to give credit to someone else for their part in your work.  It doesn't diminish your creativity one bit and it keeps the history of the recipe alive. 

Annie

© 2008 Anne Mahle

Currently Reading – The Hungry Planet: What the World Eats

HPCoverIso
This book is an original way of viewing our global eating habits.  Husband and wife team (photographer and writer) team up to photograph 30 families with their entire weekly intake laid out on their kitchen tables.  An unusual family portrait to be sure and much easier to arrange than an earlier project which involved photographing families with all of their worldly possessions laid out in front of their homes.  And an NPR interviewed Faith d'Aluiso and Peter Menzel the authors of Hungry Planet:  What the World Eats.  The interview is great and the book even more so.

Annie
Pondering the bigger picture

© 2008 Anne Mahle