Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Detour ~

~ Frosty Christmas 2009 ~
It was a beautiful day, inside ourselves it was warm and content.


Sign off on blog

Monday, December 28, 2009

Virginia's Raisin Pumpernickel Bread ~

Today is my mother's birthday.  This is her recipe, I have the sheet of paper where it's written in her hand.  I used to love looking at her writing.

Raisin Pumpernickel Bread ~

2 pkgs. dry yeast 
1 1/4 c. warm water - 110 degrees
1 c.each of rye flour and whole wheat flour
1/4 c. molasses
2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 T. instant coffee powder
1/2 tsp. salt
About 1 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. raisins (she used more)

Egg wash or flour for dusting

  • Mix yeast with water, mix and let stand five minutes
  • Add rye flour,  1 c. flour, cocoa powder, coffee powder, salt
  • Add dry mixtures to yeast, mix.  Let sit for ten minutes.
  • Add additional cup of flour, kneading or using dough hook and mixer.  If kneading, avoid adding too much more flour.  Knead for a while.  Let sit for ten minutes.
  • Add additional 1/4-1/2 c. flour if needed.  Leave the dough slightly tacky.
  • Let rise in a greased bowl until double in size, approximately an hour. 
  • Punch down dough.  Shape into a ball, set on a baking sheet using either cornmeal or parchment.  Let rise until double.
  • Use the eggwash or dust with flour instead. Slash.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30-40 minutes.  Test by thumping the bottom for the hollow sound.
Review & additional notes ~  I used unbleached flour and rye flour because it's what I had on hand.  It needs the whole wheat, for the extra flour, use bread flour if you have it.   I added 3/4 c. raisins.  I added 2/3 c. chopped walnuts.  I think it needs some changes. Take the yeast down to one package or 2 1/2 tsp., which changes rise time.  Bump up the salt to 1 tsp.  Add a couple tablespoons of sugar. Bake at a higher temperature, 375 degrees, 40-45 minutes, check at 40.

My mother.  She was an excellent cook and a very good baker.  Virginia Helen.  Gini.  

She is the Eskimo in me.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Pink & Minty Gingerbread Home

~ Peppermint snowfall ~

~ Minty Landscaping ~

~ Knock, knock. Burnt gingerbread tiles ~

~ Her minty frosty backside ~

~ Nighttime ~

~ Yep, I'm still beaming ~

The December 2009 Daring Baker's Challenge ~ Gingerbread houses! Wheeeeeee! This month was hosted by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. A very fine seasonal choice, Ladies.

I don't recall ever making a gingerbread house in my life. I state that as if I am 83 and recalling Christmases past. In reality, I'm 46, perimenopausal with young children. I'm happy to remember I like gingerbread.

This is a spice dough. I was out of ginger. Oy, I'm only a baker, ya know. A slightly disorganized one. I can't say I was crazy about the recipe I used, but I have no intention of eating this house. I might shellac the darn thing and bring it out every year. (kidding) I'm listing the recipe because it's what I do. The recipe matches the post, excitement or not. It was easy to fall apart after rolling, challenging to transfer to a baking sheet. It's easier if you roll it out on parchment, then cut. Because every challenge has good in it, here is what is nice about this rather finicky bakes up very nicely, hardens beautifully, it's a sturdy dough, hard rather than crisp, if rolled thin.

The dough ~

5 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1 c. sugar
1 c. butter
1 c. molasses
1/2 c. water
1 tsp. vanilla

  • Mix dry ingredients.
  • Add butter, sugar, molasses, water and vanilla. Mix using paddle attachment.
  • Chill overnight.
  • Roll out thinly, 1/8" if you are comfortable with that.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 12-16 minutes depending on size of cut out. Longer if rolled thicker.
  • Let cool completely.
Icing ~

1 lb. 2 oz. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. creme of tarter
2 1/2 Tablespoons merigue powder
3 oz. water

  • Add water to merigue powder, mix well.
  • Add creme of tarter, mix well.
  • Add powdered sugar.
  • Mix on lowest setting for a few minutes.
  • If you continue to mix this after it becomes fluid and creamy, it will get stiffer, which is a nice and different consistency. The back of my gingerbread house shows the difference, frosting rather than icing or flooding consistency.
I glued the pieces together with caramel. This can be found here, it sure was handy instead of using stiff royal icing as glue, quicker and only one person needed to hold pieces. I halved the recipe.

I'm actually proud of my little gingerbread home. I think I was beaming...I still might be.

Merry Christmas ~ it isn't over yet!

Toodles ~

Friday, December 25, 2009

Cardamom bread ~

Foodie Friday!!!

We all have our fine qualities, don't we? When I make cardamom or saffron bread at Christmas time, I am often reminded of my fine qualities...the other ones, 'cuz perfectly braided loaves ain't one o' them. I have a beauty standard that I hold up to in this niche, braided bread made by Dana. She is a dear woman. I've never had a better tasting and better looking loaf of challah from anyone else since having the joy of tasting her bread. She turns out a loaf better looking than any professional I've come across, I wish I had a picture to share. I think I'm simply reminising what a good heart she has, like Christmas itself.

This is a basic egg-dairy-fat bread. Like challah or brioche, a sweet rich dough classification. You have some options here, lessen the sugar or spices, change out the butter for oil, change out the spice, use yolks for more yellow. Depending on where you live, this dough will vary in rise time. When I lived in the South, in less than an hour my dough would double, then I'd do a triple rise for more flavor. If it's dry and cool in your area or if you are just plain frugal and keep a cool house like me, double rise time could take a couple hours. I tend to stop at seven cups of flour, while it's still slightly tacky. I perfer a lighter dough. There isn't much humidity around the high desert, so seven works well for me. Again, when I lived in the South, I used much closer to eight.

Christmas Cardamom bread ~
A Swedish-Eskimo tradition

5 tsp. yeast
1/2 c. water - 105 degrees
A pinch of sugar
1 1/2 c. milk, whole or evaporated
1 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 T. freshly ground cardamom
1 T. vanilla
4 eggs
7 c. flour - you might need more
1/2 c. melted butter or oil

  • Proof the yeast in the water and pinch of sugar. Let sit 5-10 minutes
  • Warm the milk to room temp or slightly warmer.
  • In a mixer or bowl, combine sugar, eggs, spices, vanilla. Add yeast mixture.
  • If using oil, add now. If using oil, wait until after the next step.
  • Add four cups flour and mix. Add butter at this point. Let this sit for 15 minutes.
  • Add the rest of the flour, mix with dough hook or knead by hand. Put in a greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled.
  • Divide dough into three portion. Divide each portion into three smaller portions and roll out each into a strand 20"-24" inches. Braid.
  • Cover each braid with a cloth and let rise until double.
  • Brush each with an egg wash, sprinkle with pearl sugar.
  • Bake each strand 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees until golden and toothpick comes out clean.
Merry, merry Christmas season ~

Toodles ~

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Chile verde ~


I believe there is a new Christmas tradition in the Bittersweet home. If one doesn't care for turkey, ham or red meat for holiday dinners, what is left? Why Chili Verde of course! We love this dish, it is a favorite with the young ones in the house. "We're the Bittersweet Kids!", as the littlest one calls herself and her siblings. Persistent cute little ones...wanting homemade flour tortillas for Christmas eve dinner...homemade salsa...oh, yes, it goes on.

The new tradition ~

1 1/2 lb. tomatillos, husked and washed
Oil, neutral such a vegetable or canola
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 large white onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 serrano or jalepeno, rough chop, seeds kept are optional if you want the extra heat
1/2 - 1 c. rough chopped cilantro, some stems are fine
3/4 c. chicken stock
3 + garlic cloves, peeled and rough chopped
3 lbs. pork shoulder - shoulder, shoulder, shoulder, shoulder - this is the tastiest cut. If you cannot find this, butt will do. (Don't we need to rename that, yet? Hind? Back roast? Moving on...)

  • Lightly oil tomatillos, place on a foil lined baking sheet. Roast in a 425-450 degree oven until soft and charred - 20-25 minutes. This will depend on how accurate your oven is. If you don't want to wait until they are charred, soft is fine. They will be oozing their tart delicious insides, skins broken.
  • Pre-heat the oven down to 325 degrees.
  • Generously salt and pepper the pork roast, sear in a saute pan with hot oil. Let it brown on all sides. If you feel you want to cut the roast into two smaller pieces, go sear and then braise, fine & dandy.
  • In a food processor, add the roasted tomatillos, cilantro, stock, jalepeno, garlic, additional salt and pepper if needed. Taste before using it to braise the roast, adjust if necessary.
  • In a stock pot, place the browned roast, the onions and tomatillo sauce, cover. This part is up to you. It will be done in as little as three hours, but I use bigger pieces and let it go at least four hours.
  • Here's the Me Part. I don't serve this the day I make it. I let it cool in the pan and refrigerate over night. It will congeal. The next day I will remove the pork and pull it apart in large-ish chunck (golf ball size) and put it back in the pot, then slowly reheat it.
  • Depending on how long you let it braise in the first cooking, how long you let it re-heat and how big the chunks are, you will either have chunky pork or shredded pork. Full of flavor either way.
My pictures above show swimming pork. I did 4x the recipe on that particular occasion. Perfect for freezing some to have on hand when the day is long and those cute little Bittersweet kids are usual. Someday they are going to find out that most people do not make flour tortillas. That will make them come back home once in a while ~ *weg*


Friday, December 11, 2009

Sugar cookies ~

Cookies on a cold day ~ mmmmm.

There is a book that I turn to every year during this season. It contains the most wonderful toffee recipe I've ever made. It has become a favorite Christmas cookie book. There is this sugar cookie recipe from the book. I can't speak highly enough of the recipes developed by Rose Levy Beranbaum, the high quality in the end result is always there.

I consider the lemon zest to be optional if I know these are being served with coffee.

I whip up an egg white with some water, paint it on the desired area with my finger - *shock and horrors* - then dredge it though sugar set aside in a bowl. The stamp ~ very fun.

Toodles ~

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pumpkin Streusel Tart ~

This is a design post. I had not thought of some of the items I post as that, but now I see it that way. As recipes are abundant and variations are slim on traditional goodies, what is, for me, another fun aspect to trying something "new-ish" is the way it will look in the end. I've got the taste part down.

I am sure many have thought of an idea for a finished baked item, knowing they cannot be the first, they simply have not run across it before without searching it out. I’ve done that recently, using Google’s Image search to see what is out there. I thought - Hey! Eggnog pudding. Yes, there is was. Then I thought…streusel on a pumpkin tart would be pretty. Yes, it’s out there. Nothing is new. Or is it everything old is new again?

This recipe was the inspiration. I don’t usually care for oatmeal on most items calling for streusel so I used my favorite recipe. I’m sure you all have your favorite pumpkin pie recipe and crust as well. I play around with pumpkin filling each year, but crusts, I tend to stick with a familiar pate brisee. I'm leaving the pie filling up to you. It's not as deep as a pumpkin pie, so amount and baking time will vary. I assume most know these are wandering the web looking at a baking site. *smiling*

Streusel will show up repeatedly in this blog, it is a favorite accent of mine.

This makes two 8-10 tarts.

Pate brisee ~

2 ½ c. flour

2 T. sugar
1 tsp. salt

16 T. butter, chilled, cubed
5 T. water

I do this in my food processor, adding water after the butter has been cut into the flour, the usual routine. Most of the time when I make a filled tart, I roll out this dough, forming it into the pan, then chill for an hour or two before filling and baking. If it’s a blind bake or partial, then the dough gets a chill before rolling and another chill before baking.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Brown Sugar Pudding ~

Brown Sugar Pudding ~

Foodie Friday! My first. What a wonderful way to motivate myself to slow down and find one small thing in the kitchen that is unusual and different for us to eat. I can appreciate the work and love of baking and cooking, participating in Foodie Friday makes me appreciate it a little more fully than being on automatic.

I have pudding on my brain. It’s been lingering and for me that means “go with that”. I haven’t made pudding in years. I remember it as a child, but only from a box…which I find a bit puzzling as my mother was a wonderful scratch baker. Ack! Memories of boxed cake mixes in the cupboard are surfacing as I type. Okay. I can re-write my past. Ohhmmmm(insert meditation sound of choice.)

This is from my very old, falling apart, torn, ripped up binding 1953 printing of the original 1931 version (I think) of “The Joy of Cooking”. I lifted it from home when I ran off into the world on my own in 1983. It wasn’t in grand condition then either.

I like the way the recipes are worded through out this book. It’s written of “a quick fire” instead of high heat on a burner. It writes of yeast in a way that is not available readily today. If I need to know how to skin a rabbit or squirrel with recipes to follow, I’m good to go with this version.

The original is listed under “Caramel cornstarch pudding”. I’d not seen a recipe with both cornstarch and eggs. I have a preference to stay away from cornstarch as a thickener, eggs being my choice in regards to pudding. I switched out the sugars, added a touch more butter, changed the name here because I didn’t caramelize white sugar.

Brown sugar pudding ~
(a rather soft pudding)

1 ¾ c. milk
1 c. brown sugar, firmly packed

¼ c. milk
2 T. cornstarch

2 egg yolks, slightly beaten

1/8 tsp. salt
2 T. butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • Mix the cornstarch and ¼ milk, set aside.
  • Whip the yolks slightly in a bowl.
  • Put the milk in a sauce pan over medium heat. When the chill is off, add the brown sugar, whisk to dissolve. Add the salt.
  • Stir in the cornstarch mixture, whisk for about 4-5 minutes over med-high flame.
  • Ladle out a bit of the sugar-milk mixture into the eggs to temper. Return egg mixture to pan.
  • Bring just to a boil - look for thickening and big fat busted bubbles, stirring constantly. (It will be quite foamy, but that settles after removed from the heat.)
  • Turn off the heat, whisk in the butter. Add vanilla.
  • Ladle into cups ~ or whatever your whim speaks to you.