Tuesday, September 30, 2008

kuchen, or a breakfast cake.

Yes yes, I have returned home. Our trip to Las Vegas and Los Angeles was nice, but it's good to be home with leaves that are starting to change colors and a bit of a coolness in the air. Plus, I am ready to start regular baking again and have some ideas in my head for adorable sweets.

This morning I awoke to a rather empty kitchen, since we had used up or gotten rid of all our dairy and produce before we left. We were all quite hungry for breakfast, so I began searching for very simple baking recipes that could be eaten in the morning without much guilt. I came across one for a coffee cake, or kuchen, that I could throw together quickly, so I messed up my very clean kitchen and made us all a very sweet breakfast.

The cake can also be topped with fresh fruit of your choice in addition or instead of the honey glaze (although I wouldn't leave it out- it's delicious)

Quick Coffee Cake or Kuchen: altered from The Joy of Baking


For cake batter
1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2/3 cup regular or soy milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For honey glaze
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup regular or soy milk
1 unbeaten egg white
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup crushed nutmeats
1/2 teaspoon cardamom


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9" square or round pan.
Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. With an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in the 1 egg, milk, and vanilla extract. Add the sifted ingredients to the butter mixture and stir until smooth. Spread into prepared pan.
To prepare honey glaze: Cream the sugar and butter, blend in the egg white, and add the rest of the ingredients.
Spread glaze over unbaked cake batter. Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and then turn onto a plate and let cool.

Monday, September 29, 2008

lamb stuffed peppers.


Well, it's been a little quiet around here. But, Summer is back in town, so hopefully we'll be making some treats this week. I've got a few plans for the end of season heirloom tomatoes I've been seeing around town. But, that's for a whole different post! Tonight, I made dinner.

My mom has a few raised beds in her backyard, and this year she had a pretty decent haul of anaheim peppers. They're mild and slightly sweet- they are the "green chiles" you get when you buy one of those tiny cans of diced green chile peppers. This weekend I brought some home and started mulling over what I'd do with them. My first thought was of course, chile rellenos! But hey, let's not be too predictable. I started poking around on recipe websites and I came across one for ground lamb stuffed peppers. Simple enough for me, and we almost never eat lamb, so it was something different from our usual chicken and veggies fare.


This was a food experiment, and like most of my food experiments, it was somewhere between a hit and a miss. Sure, it tasted good- really good, actually. But the whole time I was eating it, I couldn't help thinking about all the things I could do to improve upon it for the next time. This is the first time I've ever cooked lamb (except for grilling lamb skewers at a restaurant where I used to work) but it was ground, so I wasn't that worried about getting it perfect. The flavors were really good but my husband and I agreed that it was missing... something. I don't know, I didn't want to go overboard so I didn't go crazy with seasoning, but it definitely could have used a little heat, especially considering how mild the peppers were. Our verdict was that it was very tasty, but if we were going to make it again, we'd use red bell peppers instead of a smaller chile, and we'd add a little heat to the stuffing, maybe in the form of red chili flakes or some kind of sauce.


Here's how I made it:

You need:
A couple of peppers you'd like to stuff. Try bell peppers!
1/2 a pound of ground lamb
1/2 a red onion
a few cloves of garlic
Fresh tarragon
Myzritha cheese (a greek sheep's milk cheese)
Maybe some red chili flakes? A little bit of oregano?

Then you should:
For anaheims, slice the peppers down one side and pull out the ribs and seeds. For a bell pepper, just cut off the top and pop out the ribs & seeds. place on a sheet of parchment paper and drizzle lightly with oil. Roast at 400ºf until skin begins to char and blister. Remove from oven and set aside. When cooled, remove skins.

Saute lamb with diced onion & garlic, season with salt and pepper and a teeny pinch of oregano. Add chili flakes if you want. Cook until meat is just done, then set aside. When cooled, stir in grated myzritha and fresh tarragon.

Get your sides ready- I served these over a bed of rice pilaf, but my husband said he would have preferred some cous cous (I don't really like cous cous. We bicker over it a lot.) or lentils, but that's just because we eat a lot of rice and I think he was in the mood for something different. I started my rice before I started anything else so it'd be done when I started putting it all together.


I made little parchment paper boats (mostly for cuteness) and filled the bottoms with pilaf. Then I just filled the peppers with the meat mixture. I tossed it all under the broiler for a minute to make sure it was all hot and to get a little bit of crunch on top, and that was it. If I were going to use bell peppers, I might layer rice on the bottom and meat on top, I don't know. So much more room to work!

Hey, do you want my pilaf recipe while I'm thinking about it?

2 cups of white rice
a small handful of broken-up spaghetti sticks
1 white onion, diced
5 cloves of garlic, diced
3 cups of (homemade!) stock
and for tonight's, I also added a handful of frozen peas and some crushed walnuts.

Saute onions & garlic 'til glassy, throw in rice & spaghetti. Toast until noodles begin to lightly brown, then add stock. Bring to a boil, stir and cover.

So anyway, if you are feeling adventurous, improve upon my recipe please, and feel free to share your results.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

print sale!

Things have been very busy around my house the last few months, and I probably haven't mentioned here, but I've been featured in a few different art shows. Since most of my work revolves around this blog these days, I've been showing almost exclusively food photography! That means I have a stash of photographs that have been featured on this blog just laying around my house. I have 3 prints up on etsy right now that I'd love to get rid of, if anyone needs a little fresh kitchen decor. You might remember the following images from previous posts:

156 applecro

and of course, the magic cupcake bush:

So, if you're in the mood, swing by my etsy shop: http://alicialynn.etsy.com and help me clean out my closets! I have another show coming down at the end of this month, and when it does, I'll be listing whatever hasn't sold on my etsy page as well, so keep your eyes peeled.

For Portland readers- you can see my prints in person right now at the Coffee Plant on SW 8th & Washington, or through the month of October at Valentine's on SW Ankeny.

Monday, September 22, 2008

peanut butter frozen yogurt. (late night food.)


Well, I don't think I need to explain TOO thoroughly. We had a friend over for dinner, and dinner turned into beers. After the first few were tossed back, somebody said something about a peanut butter milkshake, and then people kept bringing it up. "I need a peanut butter milkshake! Someone make me a peanut butter milkshake!"


So, I got crafty and did the next best thing. I pulled out a quart of plain yogurt, a jar of peanut butter, and a honey bear. Into a bowl, I plopped a few large dollops of yogurt, a few large dollops of peanut butter, and squeezed a decent amount of honey. I whisked it all together, and then into the ice cream maker it went. I cranked it and cranked it for a few minutes until it was about the consistency of a firm milkshake, and then I spooned it into tiny bowls and sliced up some bananas on the side. A crowning achievement? Maybe, but I was a lot more excited when I remembered that I had chocolate-covered pretzel balls in the cupboard. What we ended up with was a delectable, lightly sweet dessert that was totally healthy (I mean, lowfat yogurt! Come on!) and super yummy.


House guest approved.

chocolate chip apple cake.

I am out of town in Los Angeles right now which means that Alice and I are quite far apart for the week, resulting in less posts from my end since she is my personal food photographer. I will still be baking a bit while I am down here (I find it rather impossible to ever take a break from it), and if I can take some decent pictures, I will make sure to fill you all in.

The above cake was the result of two things that occurred one day last week. Firstly, I woke up with an intense chocolate craving, the kind that couldn't be ignored. I knew that I had to bake something with a strong chocolate flavor. Secondly, Alice mentioned that she wanted to photograph something Autumn-inspired. The result? A chocolate chip apple cake made with cocoa for an extra chocolatey kick. It is not a combination of flavors that one would usually think of mixing together, but they worked together wonderfully. The warm apples and warm chocolate chips melded together and created what I think to be ultra deliciousness.

Apple Chocolate Chip Cake


1 cup butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups apples - peeled, cored and finely diced
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour one 9 or 10 inch tube/bundt pan.

In a large bowl cream the butter or margarine with the sugar. Beat in the eggs then add the water and the vanilla.

Stir the flour, cocoa, baking soda, ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg together. Beat this mixture into the creamed mixture. Stir in the chopped apples and the semisweet chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

4. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the cake tests done when a toothpick is inserted near the center. Transfer to a rack to cool.

*Note: I topped this with a very basic brown sugar glaze made just by combining 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup of butter, and 1/4 cup of milk in a small saucepan and boiling it for about 2 minutes. Just pour it over your warm cake and enjoy.

Friday, September 19, 2008

kidney bean salad.

I think I forgot to mention that Summer's going to be out of town for the next week and a half- so you're all stuck with me, ha! The downside of this of course, is that I don't really bake, so if you're here looking for sweet treats, you might have to hold out for a few more days.


So, last night I scrambled around the kitchen trying to get dinner ready in time for us to eat and rush out the door to see the swifts. We ended up finishing too late to get out there in time, but they keep up the show 'til the end of the month, so I hope to see them soon. Dinner ended up being a simple meal of spaghetti and steamed broccoli. Tasty, but where's the darn protein? All my chicken was frozen. I stuck my arm in the cupboard, and it came out holding a can of kidney beans. Kidney beans? Why do we even have kidney beans? We never eat them with anything! Usually it's either black beans, pinto beans, or garbanzo beans. What can I say, we're not a very beany family. Then, inspiration suddenly struck. When I was done throwing it all together, I ended up with this spur of the moment, TOTALLY tasty cold bean salad, and I felt satisfied knowing that we weren't just chowing on empty carbs & tomato sauce for dinner.


Kidney Bean Salad:

1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed.
1 medium-sized, ripe tomato, diced.
A handful of scallions, chopped.
1 small clove of garlic, crushed
Heaping teaspoon of stone ground mustard
A drizzle of olive oil
A splash of balsamic vinegar

Stir to combine rinsed beans, diced tomato, chopped scallions, and crushed garlic in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together mustard, olive oil, and balsamic. Drizzle over bean mixture and stir to coat.

The raw garlic and mustard give it an awesome bite. Usually when I whip things together at the last minute, it turns into a disaster, but this was really tasty and I'm filing it away for another meal. This would also make a rad pot luck side, or travel well for a picnic!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

golden pineapple fried rice

My husband, dear sweet man that he is, is not a very demonstrative person. It is part of his laid back personality, and I've come to terms with it in the years we've been together, even though I'm more... hysterical, I guess. We balance each other out, right? That's why I was so surprised that he kept asking me, "Did you blog that fried rice yet?" He probably asked me like 5 times today! I shouldn't have been so surprised, though- that fried rice was so, so delicious, I've been having a hard time forgetting about it too.


The idea for this dinner came from the same place that roughly 95% of our meals come from- "Oh, we have to eat this before it goes bad." In this case, it was the other half of that massive hunk of tri-tip beef we took camping. It was kind of a down-to-the-wire, eat it now or throw it away kind of deal, and we sat at the kitchen table, brainstorming for awhile when I saw the little light click on above Jason's head. DING! Pineapple fried rice!

Jason tells me that this is a sort of a cross between a golden curry and standard pineapple fried rice, but the results were- oh my god you guys, they were amazing. I've been sort of on a not-so-strict diet the last few months (most people are surprised to learn that I barely nibble on Summer's sweet creations), mostly consisting of eating smaller portions and exercising. It's going great, but I was peeved when I COULD NOT STOP EATING this meal. I ate a larger portion than I probably should have at dinner, and then later I ate half the leftovers before I went to bed. Then, I woke up at 7 a.m. and ate the other half for breakfast. DAMN. After eating dinner, I looked lovingly into my husband's eyes and said, "Honey- that tasted just like it came from a food cart." To hoity toity folk who don't understand the glory of roach-coach food, that might sound like an insult, but at our table it was high praise.


Okay, enough hype- here's the recipe that Jason wrote down for me. It's kind of labor intensive, so make sure you have at least 3 plates laying around to reserve things and then add them back in.


1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium sized carrot, diced
1 cup of peas (we used frozen)
2 eggs, scrambled
1 handful of chopped cilantro
2 1/2 cups cooked jasmine rice
1/2 to 1 lb. meat or tofu
3/4 cup pineapple juice
1 1/2 cup pineapple chunks
1/2 cup tamari
2 tbsp. yellow curry powder

To Cook:

1. Cook meat or tofu, set aside.

2. Cook scrambled eggs, set aside.

3. Cook onion, carrot, pea, garlic, & pineapple chunks, set aside.

4. Fry rice for 1 minute

5. Add the veggies back in.

6. Add pineapple juice, tamari, and curry powder.

7. Add meat, egg, & cilantro

8. Garnish with cashews, green onion, & cilantro.

He also added a note at the bottom that says *MAKE SURE WOK IS HOT!!!

That's it. Add oil as needed for each ingredient, of course. I can't guarantee that this is a "traditional" way to make fried rice, but I will tell you that every single bite of this dish was amazing. Even our 2 year old gobbled the whole thing down. The best thing about it is that it's easy to make vegan- all you have to do is replace the meat with tofu or tempeh, and omit the eggs. (or use crumbled tofu for eggs and tempeh for "meat.") This recipe served 3, but it probably could have served 4 or more, depending on whether or not you made a side dish. And, now I'm hungry again. Dangit.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

perfect shortbread.

One of my favorite things to do with my time (besides baking of course) is thrift store shopping. Although Portland thrift shops can be rather picked over when it comes to cool vintage clothing and kitschy household items, there is usually a ton of fabulous kitchen supplies for very low prices. While perusing one of my favorite neighborhood shops the other day, I came across some very adorable individual baking molds that I just couldn't resist, especially since they were marked half off, making my wallet only $2 short.

The next morning I sat in the kitchen trying to figure out what I should do with them. At first I decided to make madeleines and even started making the batter, but then I thought that the spongy consistency wouldn't hold the design of the molds. So I started over and went for a basic shortbread (oh, how I love shortbread with afternoon tea). I crossed my fingers after the little tins came out of the oven and was relieved to see that the small pineapple marking actually showed up quite nicely. What's next for these cute little pans? I'm sure I'll think of something.

Sweet and Perfect Shortbread


1/2 cup butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon rose water (optional)
1 cup all-purpose flour


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.. Prepare a 9-inch round or square cake pan (or shortbread mold) by greasing it with butter.

Cream butter in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the confectioners' sugar, vanilla and optional rose water. At low speed of mixer, begin adding flour slowly (mixture will be thick). Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface, and knead until thoroughly mixed. You should have a smooth, stiff dough. Press the dough into the prepared pan or shortbread mold, and prick entire surface with fork.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. It should be nice and golden. Cool for 10 minutes, then loosen edges with knife and invert pan onto cutting board. Shortbread may be coaxed out by tapping edge of pan.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

campfire cakes (!!!)


I guess it betrays a little bit of my nerdiness if I admit that I've been excited about blogging these cakes for ages. The first time Jason told me about this recipe, my mind was blown, and I couldn't wait to try it. It's not really a recipe, I guess- just a method for cooking. It's the easiest thing ever, but I never in a million years would have thought of it on my own.


It's a simple setup- some oranges (we had enough batter for at least a dozen oranges!), a box of cake mix (mmm... yellow cake), a knife, a spoon, and some tinfoil. And a camp fire, obviously.


Cut the tops of the oranges off, and scoop out the guts. I asked Jason if you could mix the orange pulp in with the cake batter, and he said that it's not a good idea, because the batter might not set up very well.


I ended up drinking the juice that was squeezed out of the orange cuts, it was pretty delicious. Anyway, hollow them out like little pumpkins and reserve the tops.


Fill the oranges up almost to the top with cake batter, and put the top back on. Carefully wrap in heavy duty foil, and throw it into the hot part of the fire.


I think we waited a little more than 5 minutes, a little less than 10. We turned them a couple of times with tongs. After a few minutes, pull them out of the fire, unwrap, and eat a little cake!


This is awesome for so many reasons, right? First of all, I love any miniature foods, or individual serving foods, or anything that is tiny. I don't know if it's a hormone thing or what, but mini cakes, tiny pies, whatever- I go nuts over that crap. So these little cake-filled oranges are seriously adorable to me. Secondly, cake while camping! And finally, delicious! The oils in the orange peel flavored the cake with a hint of citrus, and honestly, for all the awesome homemade stuff Summer bakes around here, I'm a real sucker for cake from a box.


I know it's getting a little late in the season for camping (we froze our butts off!) but if you manage to get out, seriously- I don't even think I have to tell you to try this.

camp food: part 2. (batter blaster.)


Oh man, what is there to say about Batter Blaster? I don't want to do an all-out product endorsement here, but this stuff is pretty hilarious. This product (that I sadly have received no compensation for mentioning, boo hoo. Gimme some money!) was first brought to my attention by my friend dalas verdugo (whose name is legally spelled lowercase, dudes) after he posted a video about making Batter Blaster pancakes. I had forgotten all about it until we were shopping for our trip and I spotted some sitting on the shelf, a single lonely can left. Jason was like, "Uh, really?" I assured him that dalas and friends had vouched that it's pretty good, and according to their literature, it's all organic and like, basically as eco-friendly as food in a can could get. We were sold, so we grabbed the can and our first morning out, we made some pancakes.


You know what? Not bad. Not something I'm going to keep in my kitchen for everyday use, either- but if you are camping or someplace where you don't want to have to mix your own pancakes, then damn! It's pretty handy. You just squirt it directly onto a hot griddle, and uh- well, that's pretty much it. We probably would have eaten a lot more if our crappy ikea spatula hadn't melted on contact with the hot pan, what the hell? Jason had to use 2 forks to flip the pancakes, something I don't think I would have been able to pull off.


Final verdict: easiest way to make pancakes on a camping trip. Will eat again. Hooray for Batter Blaster! (And is anyone else grossed out by the name "Batter Blaster" or what?! Sounds mildly pornographic to me.)

camp food: part 1.


Well, our trip to the coast was basically pretty awesome. I can't think of anything more colorful than that to describe it. Watching my son run around the camp site, try to help us start the fire, etc. it was all pretty great. But, as with most trips, my favorite thing about it was the FOOD. We thought about what we'd eat on our trip for weeks, but when it came down to the wire, we just scrambled around and picked up a bunch of random, delicious-looking stuff.


I don't get to go to the big downtown farmer's market very often, because I usually work on Saturday mornings, but I took the day off for my son's birthday last weekend and we picked up some goodies for our trip. A pint of padron peppers (a Portland foodie favorite- I'm seeing them everywhere) to snack on, a handful of amazing heirloom tomatoes that got sliced into sandwiches and eaten plain or sprinkled with flakes of sea salt, and some lovely ears of triple-sweet corn.


The padrons were quickly blackened on a hot cast iron skillet, then sprinkled with sea salt. Most padron peppers are rather mild, with the occasional hot one. Every single pepper in our pint was BLAZING HOT. They were good, but difficult to eat.


Of course, the corn was grilled. I love a slightly blackened char on my grilled corn. I didn't even bother to butter mine, I just inhaled it.


Our big protein of the trip was this massive hunk (this is only half, we saved the other half for this week!) of tri-tip beef that Jason marinated in whiskey and barbecue sauce, and then grilled a few hours later.

Usually when I go for a picnic or do something that requires me to really plan my meals out in advance, I end up not wanting to eat what I've planned to eat. Like, suddenly a pre-made sandwich just doesn't seem as delicious, or that hummus you packed just isn't appetizing anymore, right? But this trip was great. I just snacked on my homemade bread, sliced tomatoes with sea salt, and little hunks of fresh mozzarella. Everything was delicious.

We came home a little early because we forgot one of our sleeping bags and it was wicked cold on the coast at night, but I'm glad we got to take out kid out and live out our fantasy of having a backyard for a day and a half.


Monday, September 15, 2008

a rustic pear tart.

Last week, my sister-in-law dropped off a massive bag of pears that were picked from her mother's pear tree. Since many of them seemed like they might take a turn for the worst soon, I decided to throw together a tart using the ones that needed to be used immediately. I am rather in love with rustic pies and tarts, made free-form with no pan or need for perfection, mainly because they are simple and have a nice old-fashioned feel to them.

What I really need to say about this tart is that it was amazing. I brought it over to my friend's apartment where we sat on his carpet happily eating it until our stomachs were very full. The combination of the toasted almonds, sweet pears, and thick syrupy filling made for quite a delectable dessert. And I must tell you- the crust is just as good as Martha's.

P.S.: Don't mind the messy appearance of the crust. There was a bit of breakage, but the taste completely made up for it.

Rustic Pear Tart: from Taste of Home


1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
2 to 3 tablespoons cold water
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons dried grated lemon peel
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 medium ripe pears, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg white
1 teaspoon water
1 tablespoon coarse sugar
Glaze (optional)
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted


In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt; cut in butter until crumbly. Gradually add water, tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball. Roll out to a 14-in. circle. Transfer pastry to a 14-in. pizza pan.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, almonds, flour, lemon peel and cinnamon. Add pears; toss to coat. Spoon over the pastry to within 2 in. of edges; dot with butter. Fold edges of pastry over pears. For topping, beat egg white and water. Brush over pastry; sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake at 375° for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown.

For glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar, milk and vanilla. Pour over warm tart. Sprinkle with almonds. Cool on a wire rack. Store in the refrigerator.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

seed bread


It might be a mild exaggeration to say that no-knead bread changed my life, but it definitely changed the way I look at baking. Until I became a mom and decided to really dive into being domestic, I never put any thought into baking bread or really baking anything at all. But ever since I made that first flawless loaf of perfect, crusty no-knead, I really feel awakened to the idea of making my own bread. I can't help it! It's SO EASY, you literally cannot screw it up.

We're heading out tomorrow to the Oregon coast to go camping for a couple of days, and I'm so excited! I decided to bake us a loaf of fresh, healthy bread, so we'll have something hearty to snack on. The recipe is completely straightforward and totally easy.


All I did was prep bread dough according to the famous no-knead recipe posted in the NY Times, but I added a few handfuls of different types of seeds- black sesame, poppy, sunflower, and flax.

To make:

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting (I used 2 cups all-purpose flour, and 1 cup of whole wheat flour.)
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water ( Dude, wtf- just say 1.5 cups or something. This hurt my brain so bad the first time I read it. I was like "5/8 of a cup? HOW MUCH IS THAT?" have I ever mentioned I am a high school dropout? And that numbers make my brain lock up like a bike wheel with stick in the spokes? Yeah. ), and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.


And that's it. My favorite baking recipe of all time, because it requires so very little effort to get such very good results. My bread is soft, chewy, and crispy on the outside, and full of crunchy, delicious seeds. I can't wait to take it camping with me.

Speaking of camping, we hit the farmer's market this morning in preparation and we picked up a pint of padrons, some delicious sweet corn, and a handful of beautiful heirloom tomatoes. I'm excited about the meals we have planned, and I'm going to blog about them all when I get back! Woo hoo!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

strawberry "bandana" tart.


When Summer sent me the link to this recipe, I couldn't resist getting my hands all over it. She's the resident baker here at Bread & Honey, and not just because she owns a sweet Kitchenaid mixer. She lives and breathes baking, and for me it's more of a cute hobby. On the other hand, she often gets so excited about creating and eating whatever sweet confection she's prepared, some of the details can be lost to in the rush to deliciousness. I am the fussy one, constantly fiddling with this or that edge, styling the food for each shot, etc. It worked out perfectly- Summer tossed together a beautiful dough and filling, and I carefully decorated the cover. Of course, it didn't stay perfect for long, the egg wash settled into the delicate marks I'd made in the dough, and the sticky strawberry filling bubbled out through the holes and stained the crust. So, it just goes to show that being fussy doesn't always count for much.


This recipe comes directly from Martha Stewart's website, and Summer tells me that this dough is the go-to dough for any tart or crusty, flaky pastry.


(Makes one 9-inch tart; serves 8 to 10)

For the crust ("Pate Brisee")
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/4 sticks (18 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add butter, and process until mixture resembles coarse meal. With machine running, add water until dough just holds together. Divide dough in half, and wrap each half in plastic. Refrigerate at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days).

For the filling:
8 cups strawberries (about 3 pounds), hulled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch

All-purpose flour, for dusting
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
Fine sanding sugar, for sprinkling

1. Combine strawberries and sugar, and let stand 1 hour. Drain, discarding liquid. Add cornstarch to berries, and stir.

2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out half the dough into an 11-inch square. Fit into a 9-inch square fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, pressing dough gently into sides. Prick bottom with a fork. Spread strawberry mixture over dough. (Note: don't overfill, or you'll end up with a drippy tart like we did!)

3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out remaining dough into an 11-inch square. Cut out shapes as desired (keeping at least a 2-inch border). If dough becomes too soft to work with, refrigerate until firm. Carefully place dough over filling, and trim any overhanging dough. Press edges to seal.

4. Whisk together egg and water, and brush egg wash over top crust. Sprinkle with sanding sugar.

5. Place tart on a baking sheet, and bake 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake until filling is bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes. If crust browns too quickly, cover with parchment paper and then foil. Let cool completely before unmolding. Cut into squares, and serve.


Of course, as with any recipe, we had to slightly improvise. Summer only had a circular tart pan, so I came up with a design based on a bandana I happened to have in my bag. Summer has these awesome little leaf cookie cutters (actually, I think they were fondant cutters) that looked just like the paisley design on my bandana! I slopped a couple of the placements on accident, but overall I thought it looked rather pretty. I was kind of sad that it didn't look as perfect when it came out of the oven, but if you're just going to shovel it in your mouth anyway, what's the big deal?


Tag-team baking rules, even if it makes it kind of tricky to take photos (and keep our kids from killing each other or breaking everything in the house). The best part was cutting into it after Summer & I enjoyed our Top Model night- a new Wednesday night tradition where we get together and heckle Tyra Banks. (Oops, I mean Tyrabot.)