Monday, April 28, 2008

What to do with Phylo

I really had no idea what to do with my extra phylo dough after making the tomato phylo tart.
I mean, what else do you do with it? So when I got home from school I told my mom that I would make something for dessert. I had nothing planned, just hoping for some inspiration. Wile going through everything in the fridge, I spotted the phylo again, and this time It occurred to me that I could do some sort of fruit pastry! Why didn't I think of this before? So I basically just threw it together without any directions. It turned out really yummy, just like mini apple pies! The phylo made it really interesting because it was so incredibly flaky.
But, wow was some grueling work. It took literally forever! Because the phylo is incredibly thin, you have to take each tiny triangular sheet and individually brush it with melted butter and sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar. 150 some odd sheets later you could pop them in the oven.

Would you think I'm crazy if I told you that making a traditional apple pie would have been less time consuming? Well in the end it was worth it, and ended up being a great way to use the extra Phylo!

Apple Phylo triangles

(All of these directions are approximate)

  • a couple of tablespoons of butter melted (or as much as you need for brushing
  • A couple of tablespoons of sugar plus cinnamon sugar for sprinkling
  • Phylo dough cut into squares
  • Apples cut into slices

Cut your apples into slices them take about a tablespoon of sugar and toss the apples in it. Take the triangles of phylo and lightly brush them with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Lay them on top of each other. I stacked about 12 sheets and then piled a couple pieces of apple on it, then covered it with 5 more sheets of phylo that had been lightly brushed with butter and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Mmm Chocolate Chippers!

Is there anything better than freshly baked cookies? I think not. Whenever we have company, or I'm simply bored, I make cookies. But what is the best chocolate chip cookie recipe? Everybody thinks that their cookies are the greatest, but it seems that we are always at an impasse. Some like them soft and gooey, others likes them flat and crispy. And the ever elusive soft and gooey in the middle, and crispy on the edges. My brother had some friends over, so I decided to try out the cooks illustrated version! Well technically these are the "Liz classic" cookies. Anyways, they were a total hit! All of them were gone at the end of the night. Who said cookies aren't the perfect bon-fire food!

The brown sugar gives it that classic homemade taste, wile the walnuts give it that slightly nutty flavor. I gotta tell you, I'm not generally a nut fan, but they give these cookies such an irresistible flavor! I don't like large chunks of nuts, so I used this chopper thing that turns these nuts into almost like a powder, so you get the nut flavor without the nut chunkies! Its the best of both worlds! For me, the hardest part about making cookies, is to not eat all the dough! I think that it is always better than a baked cookie!So if you are in need of a sure fire cookie recipe to try, these are great! They are a really deliciously crisp on the outside, yet remained soft and perfect in the middle.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cooks Illustrated
Liz aka Baking Brunette ; )

  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter softened
  • 1 cup of brown sugar (darker brown sugar will yield a browner cookie)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp water
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup nuts( I used 1/2 cup because I don't like too many nuts, I also chopped them very finely, almost to a powder)
  1. Adjust oven racks to upper and lower middle positions and heat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk flour, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. By hand of with an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes on medium power. Add eggs, vanilla, and water. Beat until combined about 40 seconds.
  3. Add dry ingredients and beat on low speed until just combined, 15-20 seconds. Add chocolate and nuts. Stir until just combined.
  4. Drop batter by tablespoons on ungreased cookie sheets, spacing dough about an inch apart. Bake reversing position of cookie sheets half way through baking to insure even browning. Bake until light golden brown, and the edges are beginning to crisp, 8-10 minutes. Cool on sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
  5. Store in an airtight container if your resistance holds up ; D

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Orange almond Biscottis

Hey! Its so great to be back. My vacation was great! Unfortunately, when I got home, I realized that my computer is busted. Doh. Well, guess that I will have to post on my mom's laptop till we get another computer. When everything gets straightened out I will have some cool pictures to show you! Ok, now for the good stuff. Me and my friend Liz made these orange almond biscottis. Like isn't midnight the perfect time to bake? We thought so, and it turned out awesome. These are the best biscottis ever. It was fun and simple to make too! These cooks illustrated recipes that I have been trying never cease to amaze me! The ingredients are really simple, and great! I have never made biscottis before, its a good thing that Liz is a biscotti pro!
These toasted almondsmade the kitchen smell amazing!After making the dough, you shape them into these cool logs. The dough tastes as good as the finished product, watch out!
Then you bake them once, them cut them, then bake them again!
I cant even begin to explain to you how simple and amazing these are. And, they are pretty much healthy ; )
Me and Liz cut them into small biscottis, so that you can eat a couple, instead of eating one huge one! That way, you think that your eating more, but your really not. Hehe.

Orange Almont Biscotti
Cooks Illustrated
Compliments of Liz

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 tbs unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 3/4 of a cup of whole almonds with skins toasted, cooled, and chopped coarse
  • 2 tbs minced orange zest (zest from like 2 oranges)
  1. Adjust middle rack to center of the oven and heat to 350 degrees.
  2. Whisk flour, salt, baking powder in a medium bowl. Either by hand, or in mixer, cream butter and sugar together until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then extracts.
  3. Stir in almonds and zest. Sprinkle dry ingredients into egg mixture, then fold until just mixed.
  4. Halve dough and turn each portion onto oiled cookies sheet covered with parchment. Using floured hands, stretch dough into a roughly 13x2 inch log. Pat each dough shape to smooth it. Bake turning pan once until loaves are golden, and just starting to crack on top, about 35min.
  5. Cool the loaves for 10 min.Lower oven temp to 325 degrees. Cut each loaf diagonally into 3/8 inch slices with a serrated knife.
  6. Lay the slices about 1/2 inch apart, and return to the oven. Bake turning over each cookie half way through baking untill crisp and golden brown on each side, andout 15 min all together.
  7. Transfer to biscottis to a wire rack and cool completely( Biscottie can be stored in airtight container for up to 2 weeks).

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A little something special**

Now, I wanted to leave you all with something spectacular. Spring break is here, and I'm going to Virginia Beach! So, I will not be able to post for a week or so. I know that you have seen a lot of bread before, and probably some bread that looks like the picture above. Don't be fooled. I hate to pick favorites, but I have to say that I am partial to this bread! I think that it was the second bread that I have made from the bread bible, and probably the best ever. This is the softest bread I have made, and has the most tender crumb ever. It has a rich and buttery taste too. Every couple of weeks my mom requests this bread, it is her favorite. I think that it is everybody's favorite! Hehe. This bread is not that difficult to make either. The directions can be a little intimidating though. . .

Its nice to have all of this clarification, but yeah. . . it is a little long.
I have made this bread so many times now that I don't have to read the directions, just make sure I add the right amount of ingredients. It is fun to work with the dough, it is silky soft. You can probably tell that I made the bread at night, because of the tint of my pictures. Its just that, when the need for fresh bread hits, resistance is futile. I HAVE to make it. now. So as usual, I cant wait for it to cool properly because everyone in the house is hovering over it. Yohann finally goes, "well are we going to cut it open, or just look at it all night."Right now as my mom glances over my shoulder, she's telling me wants me to make another batch of this bread for our 12 hour car ride tonight and tomorrow. When I get back I will have lots of pictures of the beach for you to see! : D
Basic soft white sandwich loaf
The bread bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

  • 2 1/4 cups plus 2 1/2 tbs all purpose flour.
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tbs + 1tsp honey
  • 3/4 tsp instant yeast
Make the sponge. In a mixer bowl or other large bowl, combine the flour, water, honey, and instant yeast. Whisk until very smooth, to incorporate air, about 2 minutes. The sponge will be the consistency of a thick batter, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.

Flour mixture:
  • 2 cups + 3tbs all purpose flour
  • 1/4 dry milk
  • 3/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 9 tbs butter softened
  • 2 1/4 tsp salt
-->Make the flour mixture and add to the sponge. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour (reserve 1/4 cup if mixing by hand), dry milk, and instant yeast. Sprinkle this on top of the sponge and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow it to ferment for 1 to 4 hours at room temperature. (During this time, the sponge will bubble through the flour blanket in places: this is fine).

-->Mix the dough.

-->Add the salt and butter to the bowl and, with a wooden spoon or with your hand, stir until all the flour is moistened. Knead the dough in the bowl until it comes together, then scrape it onto a lightly floured counter. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, enough to develop the gluten structure a little, addind as little of the reserved flour as possible to keep the dough from sticking. Use a bench scraper to scrape the dough and gather it together as you knead it. At this point, it will be very sticky. Cover it with an inverted bowl and allow it to rest for 20 minutes. (This resting time will make the dough less sticky and easier to work with).

-->Knead the dough for another 5 minutes or until it is very smooth and elastic. It should still be tacky enough to cling slightly to your fingers a little. If the dough is still very sticky, however, add some of the remaining reserved flour, or a little extra.

-->Shape the dough and let it rise. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and cut it in half. Shape each piece into a loaf; the exact size is not important at this point. (A long side of the dough should be facing toward you). Dimple the dough with your fingers to deflate any large bubbles. Fold over the right side of the dough to a little past the center. Fold over the left side of the dough to overlap it slightly. Press the center overlap section with the side of your hand to seal the dough. Starting at the top end of the dough, roll it over three or four times, until it reaches the bottom edge of the dough: with each roll, press with your thumbs to seal it and at the same time push it away from you slightly to tighten the outer skin. As you roll and press, the dough will become wider. If it is not as long as the pan, place both hands close together on top of the dough and, rolling back and fourth, gradually work your way towards the ends, gently stretching the dough. For the most even shape, it is important to keep a tight skin on the surface of the dough and not to tear it. If you want the edges of the loaf to be smooth, tuck the sides under. Place the loaves in the prepared loaf pans; the dough will be about 1/2 inch from the top of the pans. Cover them with a large container, or cover them loosely with oiled plastic wrap, and allow to rise until the center is about 1 inch above the sides of the pan, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. When the dough is pressed with a fingertip, the depression will very slowly fill inches

-->Preheat the oven. Preheat the oven to 350F 45 minutes before baking. Have an oven shelf at the lowest level and place a baking stone or a baking sheet on it, and a cast-iron skillet or sheet pan on the floor of the oven, before preheating.

-->Bake the bread. Quickly but gently set the pans on the hot baking stone or hot baking sheet. Toss 1/2 cup of ice cubes into the pan beneath and immediately shut the door. Bake for 50 minutes or until medium golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean (an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will read about 210F). Halfway through baking, turn the pans around for even baking.

-->Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack, for as long as you can manage ; )

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A dinner well done

A wile back I was watching TV, one of my favorite food shows was on, Barefoot Contessa. She was making these scallops, which looked pretty good. Then later of that week, my mom bought some of those large scallops. I have never made scallops before, so that was the recipe I made. It was really great! The scallops had a really nice flavor, and were just the perfect dinner. My favorite part to any meal is the carbos though, or in this case, the rice. Now, I know what your thinking, rice? Wow this girl must be more blonde than we thought. But seriously, this is the best rice ever. My Persian aunt taught me how to make rice the way that she was taught as a child. It is sort of a project, but you will be amazed at how great your rice is. The key to amazing rice is to use long grain Basmati rice. Then you put it is a bowl, and rinse it under water until the water that you drain is clear. You take a large pot and fill it with lots of cold water and season the water with salt. Add the rice to the cold water and bring it to a boil. Now this is a very crucial part. You boil the rice just until it is done, but not completely done. If you don't check it for a wile, and the rice gets over cooked, and the water looks murky. . . then the end result will be gummy, not fluffy and amazing. So once your rice is tender, take it off the stove and drain the rice in a colander. Take your pot and drizzle some oil on the bottom, then add the drained rice. Cover the pot with a clean dish towel, the cover tightly with the pot lid. Return to the burner, and turn it to low. Let it steam for about 10 min, or more. When it is done steaming, the rice is fluffy, and perfect. The bottom will be crispy, almost like fried rice. So yummy! Before my aunt taught me this, my mom used to make minute rice. After trying the real stuff, I won't let my mom make minute rice anymore! The Basmati is just so fragrant and delicious! So this rice combined with the Scallops was completely divine!

Sorry my rice directions are so scatter brained. If you have any questions, feel free to ask away : D

Scallops Provencal
Barefoot Contessa

1 pound fresh bay or sea scallops
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dredging
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup chopped shallots (2 large)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 lemon, cut in 1/2
If you're using bay scallops, keep them whole. If you're using sea scallops, cut each 1 in half horizontally. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss with flour, and shake off the excess.

In a very large saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter over high heat until sizzling and add the scallops in 1 layer. Lower the heat to medium and allow the scallops to brown lightly on 1 side without moving them, then turn and brown lightly on the other side. This should take 3 to 4 minutes, total. Melt the rest of the butter in the pan with the scallops, then add the shallots, garlic, and parsley and saute for 2 more minutes, tossing the seasonings with the scallops. Add the wine, cook for 1 minute, and taste for seasoning. Serve hot with a squeeze of lemon juice.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Phylo Tomato Tart

This post is very long overdue. Because of my baking frenzy, this post was delayed, but I'm excited to finally share it with you. the Noble pig suggested this recipe for easter, and it looked so yummy, I knew that I would make it. I have never worked with phylo dough before, and when I went to the grocery store to get it, the idiots that worked there were no help. I asked the manager where I could find the phylo dough. He was like "The what?" I told him that It was like a pastry dough in thin layers. He was completely befuddled. I was like well, where do you keep the pastry stuff. Then he told me that he wasn't sure. Then I asked him where the sushi rice is. Again, he didn't know. How is he manager and not know where anything is!? Well evidently, I found the dough after inspecting every freezer shelf in the whole darn store. Gee thanks price chopper. But I must say that it was totally worth it. I made it on easter day, with the help of my beloved easter gift. A baking mat! Yay! Now my mom won't yell at me for using so much parchment paper! The phylo dough was like nothing I have ever worked with before. It was thin like tissue paper. I used a mandolin to cut my onions and tomatoes thinly and precise.

You have to brush each layer of phylo with butter, and sprinkle it with cheese. Then you layer the top with cheese, tomatoes, onions and a sprinkle of thyme.After you bake it, the phylo gets crispy and golden brown. I don't know what it is, but this tart tastes so amazing. Its crazy that simple ingredients yield such a stunning result! It was so good, that after the first one came out of the oven, I made another one. Tee hee hee.
Everybody loved it, and it was gone after like 5 min. I still have a lot of phylo left, so I'm going to make this again, and again. : D

Filo Tomato Tart
The Noble Pig
adapted from Sunset Magazine

**Cut tomatoes very thin so juice evaporates while baking, or dough will be soggy.**(use a mandolin)

7 sheets filo dough, thawed
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
7 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 cup very thinly sliced red onion
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
8 Roma tomatoes, cut into 1/8-in.-thick slices
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray paper with cooking-oil spray. Lay 1 sheet filo on paper and brush lightly with a little melted butter. Sprinkle all over with 1 tablespoon of Parmesan. Repeat layering 5 more times (with filo, butter and Parmesan), pressing each sheet firmly so it sticks to sheet below. Lay the last filo sheet on top, brush with remaining melted butter, and sprinkle on remaining 1 tablespoon Parmesan.

Scatter onion across filo, top with mozzarella, and arrange tomato slices in a single layer, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with thyme and salt and pepper to taste.

Bake until filo is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, then serve.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Foodie blogroll + Yogurt cheese

So I just joined the foodie blog roll. Have you joined yet? Well if not, I would. Why you might ask? Well, Its a really cool blog roll just for us foodies! It also might get you a bunch of new readers, and you might just stumble upon a couple of new blogs yourself! There are three conditions, first is that your blog has to be at least a month old with 5 posts. Second is that your blog must be 80% food. Third is that you have to put the blog roll somewhere on your sight where people can see it! So if you want to join this awesome blog roll, click here.. . .
What does baking Blondie do at 12 at night? Well, she makes yogurt cheese of course. I mean, what else is there to do when your bored and just had lots of caffeine? lol : ) I saw this recipe on Elle's New England Kitchen, and was then inspired to try it. It just sounded really cool. So at the grocery store I had to pick up some yogurt without gelatin. So I had trouble finding low fat yogurt without gelatin. All either had gelatin, or pectin. So the only one that I could find was Activia. Now you too can regulate your system in 2 weeks! Lol. So that night I decided to give it a try. I wanted to use basil in it.You are supposed to use a cheese cloth so that the water will drain out wile it sits in a colander, but I didn't have one. So I used multiple coffee filters instead. Hehe. Let me tell you, it was not pretty. So, Elle tells you that you can be really creative in this recipe, I decided that I might as well stick to the recipe, instead of making drastic changes.I got the basil from Svens basil plant.So you add flavorings, then as I said, put it in a cheese cloth(or a coffee filter, if your stupid like me) in a colander in a bowl, so that it can drain, turning into a cheese of sorts. Caffeine starting to wear off, I tucked my future cheese in the fridge with care.You wait overnight, and Poof! Instant Yogurt cheese! How cool!This had a really fresh taste to it, and was really creamy. I especially like how it was sort of fun to make. It was almost like an experiment to me. I was like. . .is it going to work? How will it be? I'm not going to lie, I was excited. I really need to lay off the caffeine lol.

Lizzie's Yogurt Cheese (savory version)
Elle's New England Kitchen

32 ounces (2 lbs) Lowfat plain yogurt

Herbs of your choice (I typically use oregano and basil, but a mix of your favorites, or even a blend like herbes de provence or a cajun or italian spice mix would work, about 1 tablespoon of each)

Minced garlic (optional, to taste - I like about 4 - 6 cloves)

Sea or kosher salt (about 1 teaspoon)

Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Chopped sundried tomatoes (optional)

Chopped kalamata (or your choice) olives (optional)

In a large bowl, mix together yogurt, salt, pepper, herbs, and whatever optional ingredients you want. You can also do the mixing right in the yogurt container.

Prepare a large strainer over a pot to catch the water from the yogurt. Line the strainer with cheesecloth, making sure that it overlaps the strainer and can be pulled up.

Drape the excess cheese cloth over bowl.

Let sit over night in the fridge.