Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Easy Braised Cod, Fennel & Tomatoes

It's a nice day outside.  I probably should be out grilling, but I bought this cod when it was raining outside and I'm definitely going to use it.  So voila, here's some easy braised cod.  It doesn't take very long at all and it uses relatively few ingredients.  Why not do it?  And cod smells and tastes so buttery, even when you don't use butter.


Ingredients

  • 1 to 11/2 # of cod
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bulb fennel, quartered, core cut away, thinly sliced
  • 1 small to medium yellow skinned onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 small to medium tomatoes, diced/chopped
  • Black pepper
  • Chopped fennel fronds and/or dill

Directions


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Rinse fish and squeeze lemon juice over it. Season the fish with a little salt and reserve.
  3. Heat a large oven proof pan over medium heat. Add olive oil, fennel and onion and season with salt. Sauté fennel and onions 7 to 8 minutes.
  4. Add white wine and reduce till nearly dry.
  5. Add broth and tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Set fish into pan and add a fennel fronds and dill to the broth and set the pan into the hot oven to cook. 
  6. Cook 12 minutes, until fish is opaque. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Latke, Master Recipe

There's nothing like some sort of fried potato thing in the mornng (afternoon or evening) to make the meal better.   Latkes are great with smoked salmon, but they're just great anytime.  I've also found that with the grated nature of latkes, I can use other root vegetables with potatoes and it works great.

Today it is raining, but I have some smoked salmon and sour cream and dill on hand.  I also have some potatoes, rutabegas and beets available.  Time for latkes.

Ingredients

  • 1# root vegetables, predominantly potato
  • ½ c. thinly sliced or minced onion
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • butter / oil for pan frying: 2-4 Tb per batch

Directions

1.       Finely grate the root vegetables – food processor disc works great.  Place grated root vegetable in water and keep there for 1-2 minutes after all grating is done.
2.       Spread root vegetables on kitchen towel and roll up like jelly roll – pressing to get as much moisture out of the root vegetables as necessary.  Note, when I use beets, I use paper towels because of the heavy dye attribute of beets.

3.       Put more dry root vegetable with onion in large bowl.  Add salt & egg and mix well
4.       Heat frying pan over medium high heat.  Add oil.  Add ¼ c. of mixture to pan and flatten.  Add a couple more in pan so that they are not touching but still can be fried. Note, when I use a 1/4 c. container to grab mixture, I like to press some moisture out of it into the sink or other container to reduce the moisture.
5.       Cook 3 minutes and flip.  Cook 4 minutes more.  Transfer to paper towel on plate.  You could keep them in oven at 200F if needed while you finish the rest of the latkes

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Scones are a Joke

Sorry, after going through the laborious, but delicious croissant creation process, the manufacturing of scones seems like a complete joke.  I could make 16 batches of scones in the same time required to make one batch of croissants.  Crazy.

But that doesn't mean scones suck.  The croissants were delicious, but scones are tasty even though the process to make them is so trivial in comparison.

I find putting on some good, driving or jamming music in the kitchen accelerates the process further, which really takes only about 10 minutes of active time and 25 minutes of baking.   The recipe that I follow is from the same book that the croissant recipe is from, Making Dough: Recipes and Ratios for Perfect Pastries by Russell van Kraayenburg.   I don't always use recipes from books.  The internet is fine for the most part, but this is a well thought, and well written compilation of recipes.

Ingredients

  • 6 oz. bread flour
  • 2 oz. cake flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 oz. granulated sugar
  • 6 oz. chocolate chips
  • 3/4 c. heavy cream
  • brown sugar for dusting

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F with rack in center of the oven.  Prepare music for quick scone making.  For this batch of scones, I was still honoring Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire and I had heard ELO while in the grocery store getting flour earlier so the tunes were Getaway and Turn to Stone during the mixing process.
  2. Mix flours, baking powder, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl till combined.
  3. Add chocolate chips and stir.
  4. Add heavy cream and continue to mix on low speed until the dough starts sticking and forms around the flat paddle.
  5. Take dough out and kneed a bit on a lightly floured surface or a silpat (my preference).
  6. Form the dough into a 4"x8" rectanguloid.  Cut in half to form 2 4"x4" squares.  Cut each square along the diagonals to create 2 sets of 4 triangular scone shapes (8 total).
  7. Place scones on parchment or silpat lined baking sheet with at least 1" between each scone.
  8. Bake in oven for 25-30 min depending on oven heat consistency and desired brownness.  The scones shown in the picture cooked for 25 mins.
  9. Let cool and eat until full.
...only minutes later...

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Blizzard Croissants

This year, we had one of the greatest snowfalls in the D.C. area's recorded history.  BWI set a record of 29.2" with variation in the region up to 12-14" less.  We had 23" at home and that near 2' of snow remained unplowed on our street for several days.
Fortunately, however, the meteorologists were pretty accurate in predicting the storm so the citizenry had several days to go out and acquire as much supplies as possible.  That being said the day after the storm, I still went out to seek some extra butter just to make croissants.  We had enough for general usage, but buttery croissants will require more.
I must say that I'm not the greatest baker, but I do enjoy baking very much.  This was my first attempt at making croissants, and they came out very nicely.

The recipe came from Making Dough: Recipes and Ratios for Perfect Pastries by Russell Van Kraayenburg.  Excellent book covering a bunch of different dough types and explaining their uses, textures, etc.  I can definitely recommend the book for those interested in learning about dough, and it's available on Amazon and I'm sure through other booksellers.

First, the mise en place - dough to the left, butter block to the right.  I did use an electric mixer and it came in handy that I have 2 bowls that work with it.

Ingredients

Dough (left side)

  • 1 1/2 c. whole milk
  • 1 Tb dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 oz. granulated sugar
  • 4 Tb. unsalted butter, melted
  • 12 oz. bread flour
  • 8 oz. cake flour
  • 2 tsp salt

Butter Block (right side)

  • 12 oz. unsalted butter, cold
  • 1/2 oz. bread flour

Final Prep

  • 1 egg beaten for egg wash

Directions 

Prep Time: ~ 8 hours;  Bake Time: ~ 45-55 minutes.

Making the Dough

  1. Heat milk in a small sauce pan until it reaches the scalding point (170F).  Take milk off heat and let cool to 115F.
  2. Warm large mixing bowl by inverting it and running hot water over the underside of the bowl trying to keep the inside as dry as possible.  After warm, make sure inside is relatively dry and then add milk  and yeast.  Use a flat paddle with the mixer. Stir the yeast for about 2-3 minutes until dissolved (or nearly completely dissolved).  Stir in sugar.  Then slowly stir in melted butter while stirring.  Continue to mix until homogenous.
  3. Add flours and salt and change mixer to dough hook.  Stir mixture at lowest speed for 1-2 minutes until dough comes together and forms a ball.  Let dough rest in the bowl and cover the bowl with a kitchen towel for 20 minutes.
  4. Transfer dough to lightly floured surface (or silpat) and shape into a rough rectangle with hands.  With a rolling pin, roll out to 12"x16" rectanguloidCarefully move the dough to a parchment paper lined baking sheet, cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 20 minutes.

Making the Butter Block

  1. In the mixer, beat the butter with a flat paddle until softened a bit.  Add the flour and mix until combined.
  2. With a spatula, transfer mixture to a piece of parchment paper.  With your hands, form the butter into a 6"x6" square.  Place another piece of parchment paper on top to protect from rolling.  Roll the square into a 12"x10" rectanguloid.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm.






Building the Croissant Dough

  1. Remove butter block from refrigerator.  Place dough on a lightly floured work surface with the short end nearest you.  Place the butter block on the bottom 2/3 of the dough (closer to you).  Fold the top, butterless third over the center third.  Fold the bottom buttery third over the middle.  Wrap dough tightly in parchment paper or kitchen towel.  Place on a baking sheet and freeze for 25 minutes.
  2. Take dough out and perform a single turn: Basically, roll the dough into a 12"x8" rectanguloid.  Score the dough into 3 sections of 4"x8".  Fold the top section into the middle.  Fold the bottom section on top of the middle.  Roll the dough into a 12"x16" rectanguloid. Score and divide into thirds and fold the top into the middle, and the bottom in afterwards.  Wrap tightly again and return to the freezer for 25 minutes.
  3. Repeat step 2 again.
  4. Repeat step 2 once more.
  5. After step 4's freezer time has expired, move the dough into the refrigerator for 35 minutes.







Croissant Time

  1. Keep oven OFF.
  2. Roll the dough out into a 9"x20" rectangle.  On one of the long sides, score a mark every 5".  On the other long side, score one mark at 2 1/2" from the top, then 5" to the next, and 5" to every next mark below.  
  3. Cut the dough into triangles from one scored mark on one side to one on the other side. 
  4. Once cut, take the side opposite the point and start rolling up the triangles into little croissant shapes.
  5. Place the croissants on a baking sheet with the point end of the wrapped triangles on the bottom so it doesn't unravel during baking.  Make sure the croissants are evenly spaced and not touching.
  6. Place the baking sheet in the OFF oven for 4 hours.  Every hour, spray the croissants with a light mist of water.  After the 4 hour period, the croissants should have about doubled in size and are very soft.  Remove croissants from oven.
  7. Preheat the oven to 425F.
  8. Brush the croissants with egg wash.  Place the croissants in the center of the oven and turn the heat of the oven down to 400F.
  9. Bake the croissants for 10 minutes.  Rotate the croissants.  Bake the croissants another 15-20 minutes until relatively golden brown.
  10. Remove croissants from oven and let cool on the baking sheet until they can be handled.  Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
So Tasty!
Much better than what I can get around town.